Before the Snow Fell

We made the drive to
Calhoun County in my
brother's "big truck"!
I love that truck.
It serves as transportation,
a drive-in picnic
extravaganza device
at one of three fast-food
restaurants in the small
Mississippi town of Bruce,
and a proverbial roller coaster
ride when my brother
brakes for George's Chicken
in New Albany.

We knew the snow was coming, but it wouldn't have mattered. We would likely have gone anyway, for my brother's truck would have pulled every hill and bottomed out every hollow in Calhoun.

It was a windy day.

Mike and Gloria are our family genealogists, and they know where all our forebears are buried in these hills of Calhoun County. They also know old home sites, specifically of our grandmother, Mama Smith, where she lived with her family in Sarepta before she and Papa married. That's a great story for later with lots of pictures and memories.

I had wanted to be here for the homecoming and burial of Clayton Hellums' remains, but seeing his burial site and the old church where he taught Sunday School when he was a young man and before World War II... well, that was the next best thing. You see, one of the great ties that bind is that Clayton Hellums had our same kin... those men who went off to fight the Civil War and who died at Gettysburg. Clayton, like those earlier Clarks, gave his life for this country, though in a distinctively different war. Nevertheless, freedom came at great price, whether for the Confederacy in Virginia or the USA in Europe.

This post is dedicated to my friend, Gerard Louis. Gerard is, in my imagination, an outstanding French patriot, who would not stop until the remains of several of our country's sons who fell in the Foret de Parroy in France at the hands of the Germans in World War II were uncovered. He found the leading piece of evidence that they were there in that certain spot where the tank burned, and he saw the excavation through to the end, then participated in the patriotic and spiritual ceremony in his country in a way that made us all proud.

I told Gerard I went to the Mississippi gravesite and would post a picture. I'm sure he has seen many, but this one is from me.

Thanks, again, Gerard. When I think of you, I think of the many times my Mama Smith showed me the handsome photo of Clayton and told me the story. I think I speak for most of Clayton's cousins who heard that same story every time we went to our Mama's picture drawer. It was so poignant, I had to tell it in my book, House Not Made With Hands.

Again... God bless you and the other French patriots who helped to get Clayton back home.

Jane Bennett Gaddy


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