“I wish I could repeat those days….”
A lady who grew up in the now non-existent community of Napoleon read the piece “A Slow Drift down Pearl River.” She was kind enough to send me her description as she remembers it. Her recollections follow, in her own words.
Road Through Napoleon with Family and Friends
I grew up in the small community of Napoleon. Mississippi. When no one locked their door, people just dropped in for coffee and a little laughter.
Neighbors helped neighbors and took care of each other. A place where we didn't know that we were poor. No one went without if another had it to share. Everyone respected each other. Everyone owned two or three guns, only for hunting game that was used for food or an occasional celebration. Maybe even a needed wedding. I don’t remember.
Where have all those people gone, that made up that perfect little place where I learned to ride a horse bare back, to stop a bike by putting my foot down and remove all my toenails.
Hog killing were social events. My Uncles came and brought their family. Some of my Papa’s brothers came and there were, black men Johnny Lee is the only one I remember, who always came to help.
Uncle Phonsie used blue words Hell and Damn. I thought they were awful. Papa said “by gosh” and Honey souched him “Jhue, the baby”, that was me.
Honey and Papa were my Maternal Grandparents, Emma Della Daniels and David Jhue Murphy. I lived with them until age eleven.
Fun day for me back then was when Papa let me ride Creole while he plowed in the field, I might get to drive the sled full of fire wood and unload it by the side gate and go back with the slide to where he was or help unload hay oh yes it was a good time to be alive.
I wish I could repeat those days. There will never be another place or time like that again. There couldn't be. We have to settle for those idyllic memories
When you turned off the main hwy.# 47 I think it used to be. (the road that goes to NASA now. You first came to a road that ran parallel with the main county road at sort of an angle that went back to where Mr. Degran (Sp) lived the front of his house faced the main highway, but that was the back way in.
The next house was Emma and David Jhue Murphy, my Grandparents. A field with a lone persimmon tree in the middle across the road was Uncle Rayford and Eva Murphy field then their house. Then Uncle Charlie and Aunt Mary Murphy lived. This had been the site of the original Murphy house. Along side that house was a road that went back to the Family Cemetery, it is a place where all my memories of my childhood flood my mind. It is a private cemetery and every one who rests there is a family member. Then on further back to Murphy Bayou. Papa and I used to go fish there and set trot lines in the East Pearl River. My husband, my son and I have even camped there. My husband said once he hopes that Heaven is like that spot on earth.
Another field and the next place was the Martha and Rupert Landrum on a road that ran along side their house was the road to their daughters home, Mittie Odelia Landrum she married Stanley C. Strahan then she married Earl Breland from Bogalusa, La. They had Rupert, Don, Gail and Ronnie. They built a Log home from logs off the property. There was a huge fire place in one end of what would be the great room today. It was featured on the front page of the Time Picayune Weekly Magazine. Back in the day.
Across the street from Aunt Marth and Uncle Rube live Uncle "Phonsie" The original Phonz, and Aunt Leona. Martha and Leona were sisters and their maiden name was Boyet. My Paternal Grandmother was a Boyet. Uncle Phonsie isn’t buried there because he said “That there were too many Odd Damn gates to open”. He is buried in Covington I think.
Then back across the road was the Brick home of Lena Pearl and John Ehrman Landrum. (I use the term brick home because it was the only one I ever saw growing up in the area.)
More land and then the Orr Place this was where the Napoleon Baptist church did their Baptizing. I only went to one. Scary I thought!!
Then the Napoleon Baptist Church and across from that Uncle Willard "Willie" Hover and Aunt Pearl lived. Aunt Pearl was my Grand Mothers sister.
Then came the Wheelers and the Ruffin and then Aunt Mary and Uncle Dave Hover they ran the grocery store. Aunt "Doumie" Idumia lived across the road.
This pretty much was Napoleon.
The next road to the left once cut through Possum Walk to Logtown, if you were not afraid to cross a rickety bridge. You came out by the store that had once been Weston’s. There is a free flowing well there, Sulfur!!!! My Grandson age 3 said it tasted like “egg yogurt."
Shannon Russ Kidd