This past week, I returned home to Houston, Texas from St. Simons Island, Georgia with my daughter Sarah Mac. When we passed through Mississippi, I thought I would expose her on that great Mississippian, Jerry Clower. When I was young, we liked to listen to him so I thought Sarah would like him as well. All I can tell you is she was glad to enter Louisiana and control the music again.
One of Jerry Clower’s stories struck me as we listened. It is called “Marcel is in Trouble”. In the story, Jerry goes off on a tangent that has a lot of great meaning…
“My momma had got the law to come after me. I heard him toppin’ the hill, I looked up the hill from the football field and there was that ole green car what the constable drove around in the 4th district with…had that ‘syringe’ wide open. Scared me and I run up to ’em and I said, ‘Constable, what’s wrong.’ He said, ‘Your dearest and best friend’s in bad trouble. Your momma has sent me after you.’ I said, ‘What did Marcel Ledbetter do?!?’ He said, “Jerry, he tore up a beer joint.’ Not that it made any difference what my friend had done. You know, when I was a young’in growing up if a friend’s foot slipped, you run and put your arm around him and said, ‘looky here…there’s enough of you left to salvage, and I come to hep ya.’ Now a days if a friend’s foot slips a lot of us want to know, “What’d he do?!? I ain’t gonna hep him!’ I called a brother deacon the other day, I said let’s go help a friend of ours, he’s in trouble.’ Deacon said, “I wanna know what the sorry devil done before I help him!’ I said, “Well let’s gather us up a bunch of rocks and go stone him!!!“
Wow. I’m not sure I really need to expand on that. Just remember Jerry’s line, “if a friend’s foot slipped, you run and put your arm around him and said, ‘looky here…there’s enough of you left to salvage, and I come to hep ya!’
Would that we could return to those days where we could see what’s worth salvaging in people around us and just come to ‘hep ’em’ instead of looking for rocks to carry with us.