Everything is coming up Roses….so to speak
The dear wife’s roses bloomed all over (being a vet, I want to say “hell and back”) but, being an aging husband who wants to keep the peace, I’ll just leave it at “all over.” The rambling pink roses are my efforts to preserve some of the wonderful past we experienced when we first moved to Cedar View, Mississippi, just south of Olive Branch. That was something like shortly after the last ice age—the mid-1980’s. On the drive down Highway 78, you now pass the Goodman Road exit where Kroger, Papa Johns, Sears and a couple motels now stand. That was once Mr. Crumpler’s cow pasture. I remember like it was yesterday when black and white cows grazed peacefully in the pool of misty white fog that always hung in that creek-bottom till it melted away in the late morning sun.
The next exit off of Highway 78 was Highway 305, AKA Cockrum Street, and if you turned south, rambling roses grew all along the highway right-of-way. Back then 305 was two narrow lanes bordered by barbed wire fences and piles of Kudzu. As the years passed, the roses dwindled along with the Kudzu, and in 2015…or maybe it was 2014, the highway had been widened, and new subdivisions had sprung-up, and they were staking out a new church where the last of the roses grew in a roadside ditch. I went up there one day with my shovel and some buckets and dug up as many as I could. Those are the pink ones you see in the photo.
The first time I ever saw Olive Branch, Mississippi was in 1965 when I worked a summer job as a brush cutter with a survey firm out of Memphis, called Moser Engineering. We left the recently completed I-55 just south of Memphis at the Horn Lake Exit, and drove Goodman Road eastward. The five-lane thoroughfare it is now, wasn’t even imagined back then. It turned to gravel about a quarter-mile after we left the interstate, and there was nothing more than a farm house here and there for twelve miles or so.
We ate lunch with city officials that day at the Olive Branch Country Club, where I was pretty certain I had reached the outermost limits of civilization. Moser Engineering was laying out the right-of-way for a new four-lane divided highway planned to run parallel to what is now called Old 78. Four years later, during my senior year of high school, I returned to Olive Branch, making several trips to Maywood, the now forever gone swimming pool with spring fountains and sand beaches—one that will never know any comparison—but that’s another story for another time.
Janet and I have lived out in the country south of Olive Branch for thirty-something years, and I think the locals are just about to accept us as something other than foreigners. Subdivisions surround us, and the urban sprawl of gas stations and drug stores is coming ever closer, but I think the roots are now too deeply sunk. Best wishes to all my readers and my vet friends. And I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record (You young folks ask your mother or grandmother, she’ll explain the term), but the next novel is coming later in the summer.