MIKE TURNER

August 15, 1954 it was hot and dry in Attala County. The temperature had been in the upper 90’s since 4 July. The last rain fell on 10 July. The pastors were now turning brown and the cattle ponds were becoming huge mud holes.

My granddaddy, Daddy Blaine had hooked a series of hoses and pipes along with any thing else he could find to drain off water from the fishing pond to the garden. It wasn’t rainwater but the parched ground and weathering vegetables seemed to be happy to have it.

Mama Blaine and I were sitting on the front porch shelling purple hull peas. I say we, actually she was shelling and I was sucking on my purple thumb thinking about going home. I lived just a half mile down the road at that time.

The only thing that was keeping me there was her talking about her life as a young girl and the things she had seen. Things like wolves dragging babies off into the woods. Mules kicking grown men in the head and them acting like children the rest of there life. Two things she could do on a hot afternoon was shell peas and keep me entertained.

I was five at the time and would start to school the first of September. I would turn six in October so I just barely made it under the wire for being old enough.

Even at that, early age something told me the first time I got on that yellow bus my life would never be the same again.

Her house had a huge front porch and it set a top of a small hill with two very large oak trees that blocked the sun and often caught a small breeze in its branches.

Something caught my attention on the dirt road. From my vantagepoint, I could look over the top of the barn that set at the bottom of the hill and across several acres of pasture. I had noticed a dust bank on top of the next hill almost two miles away.

“Mama Blaine look yonder. What’s that?”

“Must be somebody coming down the road. I can’t imagine whom. They’re sure in a hurry. Look at that dust bank they are kicking up.

“Might be a forester going up to the fire tower.”

Just the word fire tower got me excited. My dad had allowed me to climb half way up once. I had thought I could see the whole world from there. The truth was I was seeing about as much of it as I had visited up to that point.

She then squinted her eyes and said, “No, going to fast for one of them big old trucks. Might be that Sims boy driving his hot rod. I swear that boy going to kill himself in that thing some day.”

This caused me to stand up. It was always exciting to see Roger go whizzing by in his old cut away car.

Now she was standing up herself. It wasn’t unusual to go three or four days without ever seeing any one come down the road. If you were in the house and heard a vehicle coming everyone tended to go to the window to see whom it was.

That’s when she said something I had only heard on Christmas and holidays. “Gary Gene, I believe that’s a Cadillac. Must be one of the boys coming from Jackson. I wonder which. She had six grown boys. They all drove Cadillac’s and had for the most part found their fortune in Jackson. Most of them in the publishing business. They had hundreds of people going door to door all over the country selling magazines. May sound strange but it had made one a millionaire and set the rest on a road to success.

Before we could make our way to the side gate, the Cadillac had pulled up the driveway and three doors were being opened. My Uncle C. B. the richest of them all was climbing out and hugging my grandmother.

He dusted my head with his open hand and ask how I been doing.

That was when I saw Mike Turner. The only way to describe him would be to describe a pine knot. He had flaming red hair and freckles. He seemed to be all elbows and knees. He was looking down at the ground as if he wasn’t sure what to do.

Uncle C. B. said, “Gary Gene this is Mike Turner. Show him around a little would you?”

Just then the passenger door open and a young woman got out that was dressed like I had seen in magazines.

Uncle C. B. introduced her to my grandmother. As Mike and I was walking away toward the tractor shed I heard him say. “Mama this is Liz Turner. Liz is my top producer. “

I took Mike out to the tractor shed and showed him all the things that would cut a finger or toe off that I wasn’t to touch. Then we took them all down and played with them. Some how in the first few moments in the tractor shed a bond was formed between us.

Mike explained to me how his daddy had been killed in a car accident a couple of months before. He told me he was drunk at the time.

I was amazed I had never seen any one drunk and had certainly never known any one I was close to,die. I just couldn’t even imagine what my life would have been like with out my daddy.

He had been traveling with his mother all summer. They had stayed in hotels and ate every meal in restaurants. Their closet for the last six weeks had been a suitcase.

I could hardly keep my mouth from hanging open. I had never seen the inside of a restaurant and certainly not a hotel. This boy had just as well came from Mars.

A little while later Mama Blaine called us to the back door. She looked at Mike and said, “You can call me Mama Blaine, Mike. You are going to be staying with me for a while.

Mike looked at his mother with tears in his eyes and she looked back with tears in hers. “Honey we have already talked about this. You have to start school and I am on the road. I’ll be back Thanksgiving and Christmas. Next summer we will be together again. Besides, I will make sure I get by in between the holidays when we are in this part of the country.

I didn’t know what to think. I had heard of orphans but I certainly had never known one.

Mama Blaine said, “Give your mama a hug Mike. I promise you will like it here.”

Mike did like it there. He stayed for five years. The summer of his sixth year his mother remarried and was finally able to buy a house and raise her own son.

She was always there the last day of school before any holidays and they spent each summer together. Mama Blaine became as much his as any body else’s. She never made any different between him and any of her own.

I spent every day with Mike for the next year. Then we moved to town. I still spent as many weekends as possible. People said we were like brothers. Mike was my first best friend. We fought and hugged each other as well as spit on each other. We kept each other’s secrets. We pulled each other’s hair and bit each other. We got whippings together as well as long lectures. We were even blood brothers. If I recall, we got a beating for that to. We lost Daddy Blaines tools and cut down his pine tress. We took baths in the wash tube out back together. We were more than friends. We were even more than blood brothers. I haven’t seen Mike in thirty years now. Still every now and then I pass over a creek and see a couple of boys down under playing were they shouldn’t. I think of Mike.

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3 Comments on “MIKE TURNER”

  1. Jon.Jnr Says:

    Nice site – Like what you did. Wishing you and yours a very happy and prosperous new year !

  2. Jon Says:

    Here’s wishing you and yours a very happy and prosperous new year !

  3. gary Simmons Says:

    Thank you Jon and I am hoping you and your’s the same. Thank you also for visiting my blog.

    It is a new year and I will be writing more. I hope you find something of interest from time to time.

    gary


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