Billy And Bubba by curtis johnson
When I was a little lad in the 50's there live a man we all called Mr. Mac With several children, he and his wife resided in a little farming community called Mattson in Northern Mississippi. Two of their children are the source of a brief story that lives in my heart. Their's is a story about two brothers who may never enter the pages of anybody's book. However, the memory of them is deep in my heart, and lest they be forgotten, I must tell you of them.
Their community consisted of people including my family whose livelihood was based solely on growing cotton, soybeans, corn, and hay. Most of the people worked long and hard hours between 6am and 6pm with a 2 hour brake for lunch. 10 hours a day and half a day on saturdays were standard fare. There was little gain for them but lots of pain in the humid and hot delta climate as they played their roles in the drama of life in the 50's and 60's.
From my recall, these brothers would best be remembered for their ability to drive tractors and handle other farm machinery. They were indeed skill laborers but never rewarded for their skill.
As it was in history, so it is presently, the grand old market economy remains in motion. With few exceptions, what ever the market will bear is what will be paid. Also, back then and back there, many labor laws never applied to the people I knew growing up. Billy and Bubba were very productive and knowledgable in their field of endeavor, but they were not owners or renters, nor were they share croppers. Like most in our community, they were not independent contractors, but simply farm workers.
In my high school graduating class of 1967, our chosen motto was "Pick your peek and climb". Billy and Bubba were much older than me, and I don't know if they even had the opportunity to finish high school. I don't know if they had thoughts of high and lofty dreams, or looked up onto the stage of life to see what grander things were out there for the offering. They never came close nor ever did they seek fortune or fame, but I shall never forget them or their names.
Billy and Bubba were more than simply field hands and tractor drivers who gave their best until they gave their last. They were not merely two brothers who worked hard and drank hard liquor. Yes, I'm certain that some others will remember the truth of their lifestyles. But if the truth be told, there was so much more to Billy and Bubba who did more than cultivate fields and drank hard liquor for cheap thrills. They did more that plant cotton seeds in the spring and harvested those same fields of cotton in the fall. If one only saw them sitting high on combines or drinking wine and whiskey to wash away their pains, then they never really saw them giving themselves so graciously to others who needed them.
In the case of Billy and Bubba, the devil's demons were constantly attempting to destroy, wreck, and ruin their lives.
Those two brothers were blessed and graced by God with a praying mother
and her prayers never feld on deaf ears. In their deep valleys of the shadows of drunkenness, when they were overwhelmed and overcome by their enemy, their troubled souls found no other source to cast away their pain and sooth their sorrows. Even so, the light of goodness still managed to shine through them. The devil's darkness could never cast a shadow over their mother's prayers.
I grew up and moved away, never having witnessed the manner of their demise. Were I at their funeral and were given the oportunity to speak of Billy and Bubba, those words would have been brief, very strong and true, and ever more sincere.
I would have made it clear that these brothers were more than met the eye on a drunkened weekend. Somewhere between their home and the cotton fields; between the dirt roads and the corn fields; between the tractor seat and the liquor store; between their birth and their burial; Billy and Bubba were gentle men with caring hearts and kind spirits. They were men who smiled without force and greeted with respect. They were tall and handsome men, mild like gentle Ben, and harmless like doves. When the written or oral history books of Mattson are opened, let it be known and said that there lived two good brothers meek and mild, name Billy and Bubba. 11012007cjPSSSctrl