Thursday, August 31, 2017

"So", they asked me, "What is Eagle Forum?"

Eunie Smith on the far left and Phyllis Schlafley on the right
Eunie Smith and Anita Hogue
"So," they asked me, "What is Eagle Forum?"

How shall I answer that, I wondered. I thought for a moment before replying.

Once a group of women were strolling by a rushing river. They heard a cry from the river and saw the head of a small child bobbing about in the waves.

"We must save him!" one exclaimed.

"But the river runs swiftly there," someone else said.

"Look there comes another!"

Without another thought they clasped hands and walked out as far as they could in the rushing water, grabbing each child as they drifted by and passing the child back down the line to the safety of the shore.

More and more children were caught up in the current. Their numbers grew until they could not save them all. The women's shoes got lost in the flood as they frantically passed one child after another back to the safety of the shore. Others joined them and vast numbers strove to save the children cast into the dangerous waters. 

Finally one woman broke away from the human chain and turned barefoot to head back up the river.

"Where are you going," the others demanded. "There are more coming down the river that must be saved."

"I am going back upstream to find out who is throwing them in!" she responded.

That is the Eagle Forum.

It was the illiteracy of the students in my classrooms that caused me to turn away from the efforts to continually remediate the flood of children who had not learned to read by middle school to find out who had thrown them in. According to their records, many of my students who were having trouble reading had made As and Bs in elementary school. And yet they could not read their secondary textbooks. So I went to the local college of education library and did research on the books teaching teachers to teach reading. My own children attended a private school using the ABEKA curriculum and were reading in four year old Kindergarten using Phonics. Yet those books teaching teachers had few mentions of Phonics.

But how does an individual stand up to a well-funded, circle the wagons educational establishment? The professors in the colleges of education have careers built upon the methods taught in those hallowed halls. Administrators then use children in our schools as guinea pigs for these methods to advance their own careers. Money from the federal government is tied to certain curriculum despite the fact that that curriculum promotes a political agenda and not academic excellence.

With a story to tell about what I saw in my classrooms, I answered a call by the Alabama legislature to address a Committee that claimed to be interested in grassroots voices speaking on what works in education. The legislators could barely keep their eyes open and got up and walked around or rudely turned and whispered to their aides while citizens spoke. Regardless of the many voices that came to speak, the Alabama First plan promoting Outcome Based Education in our schools became the official document. It was written by David Hornbeck who wrote Human Capital (something I have written on in other posts).

So much for grass roots. We were merely processed under the pretense that public input was wanted.

How do I know Hornbeck wrote the document? While we were in Montgomery participating in that supposed "grassroots meeting," the friend who came with me to Montgomery, said, why not go try to speak to the Superintendent of Education and tell him what I was seeing in my classrooms? Naive as we were, we thought he might simply not be aware of something that was so obvious to those of us brave enough to come and speak. Apparently many others saw the same thing because they also testified at that hearing. I must say I was discouraged.

Though discouraged we went to seek out the Superintendent of Education. Unfortunately, he was out of town, but the Assistant Superintendent of Education spoke to us. He pointed out a man he identified as David Hornbeck who walked in and out of the Superintendent's office. He was waiting for something to come in over a fax machine. It was no doubt the plan that got promoted as our "grassroots" education plan. I think it was actually the Kentucky Plan rewritten for Alabama coming in over that fax machine.

But, at that meeting, I met Eunie Smith, now the president of the National Eagle Forum. She came up to me after I spoke and invited me to share what I had said at a meeting of an organization with which I was unfamiliar. There I was introduced to other women who shared my concern about education. This group of women constituted the Eagle Forum of Alabama. They were an impressive group of college educated or extremely intelligent self-educated women who actually did research to find out what really works in education and just why it isn't making its way into our schools.

But there were so many more issues. These dedicated woman spent hours doing research at their own cost to track the source and consequences of curriculum choices, social, governmental and cultural issues. Thus armed, these women (and many men, as well) travel to legislatures throughout the country to lobby our representatives. They are not paid lobbyists. They pay their own expenses. They are patriots who love our country. They are Christians who love our God.

Progressive education has fallen prey to the bigotry of low expectations. But, even more, the schools are now hotbeds of demagoguery promoting radical ideology.

Who will stand for the children? Who will write? Who will call? Who will persist until our legislators listen?

A group I truly admire.

The Eagle Forum.

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength 
They shall mount up with wings of eagles 
They shall run and not be weary 
They shall walk and not faint. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

What is True Bigotry

It would seem that some espouse tolerance and diversity for gender, race and religion, but not of opinion. The definition of bigotry is: "intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself." Hillary Clinton was "horrified" that people would not support the results of an election when she thought she would be the winner, and yet, her supporters are now leading the march toward anarchy with their "resistance."

I voted for President Obama. I wanted my Black students to see that people from all races have the opportunity to be successful with hard work. I have written books promoting Black History. I am disgusted with identity politics, the disrespect for the laws of our nation and the undermining of the opportunities our system of government affords All people. I am disgusted by the venom and judgmentalism spewed by those who presume they hold the "high ground" simply by calling others "racist", a slanderous accusation meant only to incite. Where is reason? Where is proof of those accusations? 

I support President Trump wholeheartedly because as a History and English teacher I have seen our Education System caught up in the bigotry of low expectations. I have seen opportunities for ALL CHILDREN lost with the shift from academics to politics. Without the open forum of ideas and the castigation of a group as "deplorable", we limit our understanding, stifle progress and undermine our nation!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Secular Humanism is now the accepted religion of our public schools.

Secular Humanism is now the accepted religion of our public schools. 

The establishment of a state religion exists now and violates our Constitution. Secular humanism is now the accepted religion of our public schools (1961 case of Torcaso v. Watkins). When people of faith abandon the field legion fills the void.
A high school coach is fired because he takes a knee in prayer to thank God that no one was injured in the football game he just coached. Someone in that crowd is offended and sues. The coach loses his job. A moral role model is fired by a batch of moral midgets. And that is legal, praised in some quarters. 
School boards across the country are intimidated. If you do not adhere to the party line you are labeled racist, an epithet that needs no validity, and that is sufficient. Because who dares defend someone against that accusation without being labeled by association even if it is untrue and slanderous? Who dares stand for right? You think those you have elected to your school board just because they attend church with you will have the moral courage to stand up against this? 
Your child's teacher says, "I am not going to just teach your child facts, I am going to teach him to think!"
Really? Sounds great doesn't it? 
We want them to think, don't we? That is the top of BLOOMS TAXONOMY, highly touted in colleges of education, the source of the national secular humanist philosophy percolating wildly in our schools. The highest level of that taxonomy is "challenging the fixed beliefs of their parents." Apparently, that is exactly what God fearing parents want for their children. 
That's why they vote to tax themselves more and more to put these experimental programs into the schools and enable administrators to use their children as guinea pigs. That is why they sit quietly on the roofs of their houses while the water rises and their children drown in illiteracy and false teachings. 
Don't think private schools are immune. They all want to shine among their peers with their progressive techniques.
We pay to send middle school teachers to conferences where they learn NOT how to be better teachers of literature, science or math, but how to help their middle school children know if they are gay, lesbian or transgendered. They have reached that higher level of thinking. So now they "all do what is right in their own eyes." (Judges 17:6)
What really happens here?
Values clarification teaches that behavior should be the result of free, uninfluenced, autonomous choice, based on personal analysis of a given situation coupled with the moment's emotions and desires. The fundamentals of modern classroom values clarification techniques are based on the ideologies of Vermont born John Dewey (1859-1952), the philosopher and author credited to have written The Humanist Manifesto I, creed of the secular humanists. Dewey was convinced that education should be experienced-based rather than academic-based, and he advocated an approach in which "the child himself should pick and choose what he wanted to study." He was convinced that education "must guide the child, so that through his participation in different types of experience, his creativity and autonomy will be cultivated rather than stifled."
Abraham Maslow and William Coulson repudiated VALUES CLARIFICATION, the method they created along with Carl Rogers because they realized realized that they had created a monster, and campaigned to stop the use of non-directive education. It was too late. The genie was out of the bottle with DARE, sex education, Conflict Resolution, and all the other forms of psychotherapeutic subject matter to be handled by teachers acting as untrained therapists. History became Social Studies, Multiculturalism supplanted time tested and revered texts and the Pandora's box toward undermining respect for our country and its founding fathers forged ahead. Deliberately. Why, every religion, every nation, every form of government (socialism, communism, capitalism, fascism) is equal, isn't it? And if you don't believe that then you are racist! Challenge that and violent acts will be perpetrated against you and free speech is denied you. You just might offend someone and the snowflakes must be protected against such incendiary words!
Recently I spoke with a new senator to the Florida legislature. I told him I wanted to talk with him about education. He said he had made a new friend who had been involved in education for 30 years whom he trusts to guide him. I cringed. This representative has rearranged the deck chairs on the Titanic for 30 years and we want to listen to him about fixing education? His answer will be more money and less testing. Something for the teachers and for the parents. 
But where are our children and grandchildren in this?
I suggest it is time to say a prayer and call for the lifeboats. And it is past time for us to look at the result of Secular Humanism controlling curriculum.












Monday, August 21, 2017

The "good people" at Charlottesville

I think those Yankee newscasters must have never heard of the United Daughters of the Confederacy when they mock the President saying he imagines there were good people standing there. I imagine honorable ladies, daughters of the Confederacy, would have stood there in quiet vigil with a permit for peaceful protest at the removal of a memorial. They were the ones Trump was referring to.

Good people. Bastions of Charlottesville society. Contributors to all the good works of the community. Remembering the fallen, Black and white, who fought for the cause of states' rights as they saw it. 
Unfortunately, there were also evil, hate-filled Klansmen and Radical White Supremacists (or those paid to pretend to be one) who care nothing for truth nor do they respect the man, Robert E. Lee, for he would have rebuked them saying: 
"I believe it to be the duty of everyone to unite in the restoration of the country and the reestablishment of peace and harmony."
The ladies of the UDC would have had nothing to do with those people. The Klan and White Supremacists DO NOT reflect the opinions or beliefs of those who honor the memories of those who fought and died in that sad, sad brothers war. 
But those ladies would revere Lee's words when he said, "A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday does not know where it is today."
So, why did Lee believe that states rights was worth fighting for? 
Robert E. Lee feared: 
"The consolidation of the states into one vast empire, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of ruin which has overwhelmed all that preceded it."
"All that the South has ever desired was that the Union, as established by our forefathers, should be preserved, and that the government as originally organized should be administered in purity and truth."
And why, though asked by Lincoln to lead the Union Army, did Lee refuse? 
"With all my devotion to the Union, and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relative, my children, my home. I have, therefore, resigned my commission in the Army..."
I imagine those little ladies would see Robert E. Lee in a different light than the hate mongerers who co-opted their peaceful purpose. Those ladies remembered a modest man who was a top graduate of the United States Military Academy and an exceptional officer and military engineer in the United States Army for 32 years. During this time, he served throughout the United States, distinguished himself during the Mexican–American War, and served as Superintendent of the United States Military Academy.
I am sure those little ladies would have been as appalled by the radicals spouting hate and invectives standing apart and removed from their little group as the rest of us are. That is not what Lee stood for. 
"Abandon your animosities and make your sons Americans!" he told those who would listen. Words that need to be remembered in this day and time when our children are taught to look at the flaws of our great country and not how those flaws have been forged in the fires of adversity to make us a stronger, better people. 
"There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil," Lee said.
Instead of erasing the memory of this evil by removing monuments, perhaps we should look beyond to where slavery still exists and attempt to eradicate it from our world today!
"What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world," Lee said. 
"What a glorious world Almighty God has given us. How thankless and ungrateful we are, and how we labor to mar his gifts," he reminded his family and friends. 
We would do well to remember his words rather than remove the memorial erected in 1924 by a man who made his fortune in Chicago real estate. He returned to Charlottesville where he was born and gave huge amounts to the University of Virginia and paid for the town library. He donated land for several parks, including one named for Lee and another for his own family. He also donated land for a black-only park named after African-American educator Booker T. Washington, according to Virginia's African American Historic Sites Database."
"A land without memories is a people without liberty." Lee wrote.
The statue of Lee, commissioned by McIntire and created by sculptors Henry Merwin Shrady and Leo Lentelli, was dedicated in 1924 in Lee Park. That urban space was renamed Emancipation Park a few months ago as part of the growing effort to challenge public honors for Confederate leaders. 
I truly believe Lee would have approved the name change. 
"So far from engaging in a war to perpetuate slavery, I am rejoiced that Slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interest of the South. So fully am I satisfied of this that I would have cheerfully lost all that I have lost by the war, and have suffered all that I have suffered to have this object attained."
Lee himself would have endorsed the removal of the monument: 
"As regards the erection of such a monument as is contemplated, my conviction is, that, however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt, in the present condition of the country, would have the effect of retarding instead of accelerating its accomplishment, and of continuing if not adding to the difficulties under which the Southern people labor," Lee said. 
Lee, who led in defeat as he did in War, would give this instruction:
"Let us pray for ourselves, that we may not lose the word “concern” out of our Christian vocabulary. Let us pray for our nation. Let us pray for those who have never known Jesus Christ and redeeming love, for moral forces everywhere, for our national leaders. Let prayer be our passion. Let prayer be our practice."

This is what the United Daughters of the Confederacy would have honored. And they are good people.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Mint Julep Trilogy offers answer for progressing toward respect for the contributions of all our nation's founders

Chapter Nine in Book 2 (Mint Juleps and Murder) of the Mint Julep Trilogy contains my answer for progressing towards respecting the contributions of all our nation's founders -- Black and White. Let us chronicle the contributions of those who labored and thus honor their legacy to all of us.

Chapter Nine
We came home having made great progress in our investigation to find a big surprise waiting for us. Several gentlemen from the coffee room at the courthouse had showed up on our veranda for our very first Five O’clock Somewhere Mint Julep time. Five O’clock Somewhere was a tradition Kevin and I had enjoyed at our “Happy Place” in Cove City. Only Kevin didn’t drink Mint Juleps. He drank the very hard to find Bartles and James Berry Wine coolers. And only one of those at that. I still have some in the refrigerator at home left over from before the SpedEx truck got him. I guess I’m still waiting for him to walk in the door one day. 
Come to think of it we never had Mint Juleps. It just seemed appropriate to serve them now since they’d had such a beneficial effect on the success of our pilot for Partyin' on the Plantation on the Dishing It Network.
The gentlemen already held a Mint Julep in their hand with fresh mint from our garden no less. We climbed the stairs rather curious as to who had been playing host when out walked our cousin, Faye Lynne. 
Well. Hell!
“I thought you were ‘chaperoning’ Estrellita, Faye Lynne,” I said while Faye Lynne air-hugged Sister. Her makeup was on too good for a close hug and her hair looked like she’d just had it done before coming to the Big House. I thought it looked like it might actually be hair that had grown back while she’d been gone, but I thought it might be real tacky to ask right now. 
From the look on her face when she’d walked through that door -- before she saw us that is -- she thought she had died and gone to heaven with all those handsome, silver haired, accomplished Southern gentlemen hanging around our back veranda. Kind of like the Saks Fifth Avenue of gentlemen whom I assume, since they were sitting on our veranda for our Five O’clock Somewhere event without their ladies, were single for some reason -- death or divorce -- and had come to see Sister and me.
Faye Lynne leaned toward me and threw me an air kiss that I dodged adroitly to take the chair she had vacated beside Harvey.
“You got any more of those Mint Juleps made?” I asked. 
“Sure do,” Faye Lynne said. “They’re Sophie’s recipe that she got from that her doctor friend and used to serve at Malabouchi.”
That intriguing opening for conversation kept Faye Lynne and Sister busy. So I decided if I was going to get a Mint Julep I’d have to get up and go get it myself. I knew soon as I did Faye Lynne was going to put her Bitty Butt into that chair and I’d never get it back, but there seemed to be no way around it because she had her drink and had brought an extra out which she gave to Sister. Of course, all the gentlemen, being well raised, were still standing. Faye Lynne never thought to tell them to sit or to sit herself so they could sit though they kept offering her their chair. 
She had herself arranged against the railing in her well-practiced most provocative manner that actually came across looking casual. But I knew the truth. 
So I got my Mint Julep and put it on a tray with a pitcher. Then I went to the back door and said, “There’s more chairs on the front veranda. So I’m headed that way.”
“Harvey?” I said and prissed my ample behind down the mahogany hall and through the double doors out onto the front veranda. Harvey followed and so did the others. 
Faye Lynne really did not know what to make of my sudden popularity. I guess it just goes to show that some of us peak young and others of us have to wait for our time to come. Sometimes it takes a real long time. I did not know what to make of this phenomenon myself!
Just as we got settled, Mick Jefferson, the videographer, came around the corner of the house with the artist he had introduced me to once before. Billie Cox had become intrigued with the faces of Cox County and was working with Mick and Natalie Roy, a sociologist Mick got involved, delving into the intricate community of the plantations of Cox County. 
Life on a plantation was much like the feudal system of the Middle Ages. Each member of the community had a job --   cook, laundress, field hand, housekeeper, brick maker, bricklayer, overseer, blacksmith, hostler, herdsman, weaver, seamstress -- and so many more. Each job was critical to the functioning of the plantation. I’ve always thought the identifier slave diminished their true value and legacy to their children and surely needed clarification. I also wondered if taking the name of owner of the plantation had prolonged that lack of a real identity. 
When I do my genealogy and track our family back to an average person living in a village in the Middle Ages, my relative could very well be serf (almost a slave), but I never see that word, just the job the person did which is pretty much how most folks got their last names originally -- Baker, Smith, Cook.
The gentlemen stood to be introduced as Billie and Mick climbed the front steps. I introduced them to Harvey Banks, retired circuit judge; Clayton Connor, retired banker; Cameron Bonner, who once owned the Ford dealership; and Osborne Frith, a former Wall Street Banker, who had bought a huge plantation house in Evalina to retire to. 
“Sit down and join us,” I said to Billie and Mick.
After the hand shaking was attended to, Billie and Mick pulled over a couple of rockers.
Sister brought out two more silver Mint Julep cups and added a celery stick along with the mint in one for Billie because he’s an artist and a vegetarian. 
“We drove up back of the house, but nobody came to the door when we knocked. We heard voices around here and decided to come around. I hope that’s all right,” Billie said in his soft cultured voice. He looked like the artist he was with his interesting dreadlocks. Billie had the kindest eyes. I think that’s why his subjects relate so well to him. 
Mick chuckled and said, “I really had hoped to see Dr. Ransom's dogs, Dido and Eudo, tonight.”
“Eudo is exhausted and already went to bed. Dido is never far away,” Sister said.
“We just wanted to tell you that your idea of inviting women to come forward with family quilts and tell their story is going over very well. There are all kinds of memories wrapped up in those quilts. Each square generates a recollection,” Mick said.
“I use the quilt as a backdrop for the photographs I take of the women for my new series of pictures,” Billie said. “Do you have a suggestion for the title?”
“How about Family Heirlooms/Mosaics of Memories?” I said.
I suggested to Natalie Roy, my sociologist friend, that she might want to start over at Gee’s Bend just nineteen miles away, in a curve of the Alabama River just north of Callerville, and sit and quilt awhile with those ladies to find out more of the history of the area. Most of them had ancestors that grew up on the Pettway Plantation.
“How did you get the idea for the quilt?” Mick asked.
“Mary, who helped me raise my children, gave me one of her mother’s quilts. I was looking at it one day and remembered Mary telling me that the squares were taken from the clothes they wore as children. So, for Mary, each square would have reminded her of one of her brothers or sisters as well as reminding her of her mother sewing the quilt together.” 
“Quilts could be a bit like memory beads of the ancient people,” Billie added.
“That was what I was thought,” I said. 
Mick hesitated and then said, “Natalie said a strange quilt came in the other day. She wanted me to tell you about it. Someone identified the quilt as one that your grandmother made and had been seen at your Aunt Alberta’s house on her bed.”
“Charlene sold it?” Sister asked.
“No, it was found dumped in the woods covered with blood wrapped around a gun.”
“Why wasn’t it taken to the authorities,” Harvey asked.
Billie said, “I gather it was found at a place where it would not have been safe for someone to admit they had been. Whoever found the quilt thought they could wash it and use it, but when they unwrapped it a gun fell out. Now what Black person is going to admit being in possession of a gun wrapped in a bloody quilt?”
The silence was eloquent. Things had changed in Alabama, but it was hard to erase the memories. Like those stitched into the quilts.
Mick said, “Florence recognized the quilt as having been the one on your aunt’s bed sometime around when your cousin Palmer was supposed to have committed suicide. She said you had been asking questions about his supposed suicide.”
 “Did anyone know what property the quilt was found on?”
“Somebody named Barton?” Mick said.
Sister and I looked at each other. That was the name of the folks that bought Aunt Alberta’s house and property so suddenly. They then turned around and sold tall but the house for a fine profit to the timber company.
“Harvey, do you know anything about the investigation into Palmer’s death,” Sister asked. 
“A little. I went through whatever records we had on file. It was a pretty cut and dried case. Pretty little widow distraught because she’d just seen her husband put his gun to his head and blow his brains out in front of her and her children while they sat on the sofa watching TV. They were all crying and wringing their hands. The sheriff was all over the news across the nation about then because he was found tied naked to a tree. So he was busy answering telephones every which way.”
“So I gather you don’t think there was much of an investigation?” I asked. 
“They found a gun in Palmer’s hand that had been shot recently. I don’t know if they actually looked for the bullet that shot him,” Harvey said trying to remember.
“Anyway, I went over to Selma today and spent a little time in the coffee room. I asked around whether anybody had any dealings with Palmer Watson. A young Montgomery lawyer happened in and told me he’d been called over to witness a new will and file it. When he found out Palmer had committed suicide, he turned around and went home. Can’t collect a fee from a dead man,” Harvey continued.
“Those names make the whole thing even more suspicious. The Bartons have had a grudge against the Palmers for a couple of generations. Kind of like the Cox County version of the Hatfields and McCoys. Your granddaddy got involved somehow. Let’s see now, how did that story go?” Cameron Bonner said. “You hear lots of jokes and good stories when you’re hanging around a car lot.”
 “Kind of like the coffee room at the courthouse,” I teased Harvey. And they said men don’t gossip!
“I think it was the Fosdicks who were the married couple. Old man Fosdick had taken him a young wife. She said she’d rather be an old man’s darlin’ than a young man’s slave. She got herself a boyfriend. The husband caught the wife fooling around with one of the Barton boys. He got his gun and set out to shoot him and found him sitting on a fence in his mama’s back yard with his two brothers. Old man Fosdick didn’t know which one for sure was the one he’d caught naked in the bed with his wife, they all looked pretty much alike, so he just chose one and shot him. In the chest. His brothers took issue with shooting one of their own, especially since it was one who hadn’t committed the crime, so they took off after Old Man Fosdick. Fosdick was old, but he was a survivor … he’d survived The War and was a tough old bird.”
“So how did Palmers get involved?” Faye Lynne asked. 
“Sophie and Dabney’s granddaddy was his doctor. The old man told him who had shot him and your granddaddy told the authorities. The authorities put the ones who shot the old man in jail.”
“And they remember that this many years after the fact?” I said.
“Well, there’s not a lot to do around here for some folks except to sharpen a grudge.” Harvey Baker said.
“Well now, what you’re saying is you think it would be payback for the Bartons to kill Palmer and own the house and property that used to be where the Palmers lived?”
“I never have figured where those Bartons get all their money,” Clayton Connor, the retired banker said. “I heard they have an airstrip out somewhere in the woods where drugs get dropped under the radar and then get distributed from that point.”
“That would be a good reason for whoever found that quilt not to let it be known where they found it.”
“But what would a bloody quilt have to do with Palmer’s suicide?” I asked.
Sister said, “What if Charlene had been having an affair with one of the Bartons. What if Charlene or one of the children caught wind of the fact that Palmer planned to rewrite his will? The one that was probated was never questioned, was it, Harvey?”
“Not to my knowledge. Cut and dried.” Harvey said.
“What if Charlene’s lover got into the house and shot Palmer, dragged his body from where it would have fallen wrapped in the quilt where he had fallen, took his own gun outside and shot it, unrolled the body in a place where it would appear that there were three solid witnesses and then took the quilt with the gun somewhere they thought no one would ever find it,” I said.
“Well now that’s a pretty complicated scenario,” said Osborne Frith who’d been listening intently to the convoluted story.
“I write novels,” I admitted. “I have a good imagination. I am always amazed at how stranger than fiction truth can actually be! How many times do you read things in the newspaper and just wonder at the avarice and stupidity of people?”
“You’re right,” Osborne Frith said. “And Cox County does have its fair share of Snopes. But an airstrip and planes dropping drugs? Connor you should be writing novels.” 
For some reason, the man’s condescension and arrogance rubbed me the wrong way.
“That’s a wild pig, isn’t it?” Faye Lynne said sweetly. She wasn’t well read, our cousin. Faulkner’s trilogy on the Snopes family wasn’t on the same shelf as BF&D Magazine. It was time for her to enter the conversation again. She’d been ignored too long.
“Not quite,” Sister said, but didn’t bother to elaborate.
“So, who’s living in Aunt Alberta’s house now?” I asked.
“Elton Barton,” Billie said. “Florence cleans for him, too. Ephraim Carter, the overseer for Waverly, also handles the grounds around that place.”
Clayton Conner stood then and must have joggled Osborne Frith’s hand because his Mint Julep spilled all over his Armani suit and down onto those fancy shoes. 
Faye Lynne jumped and tried to clean him up a bit. 
“I’ll just run into the bathroom and see what I can do with this. It is all my fault,” he said and smiled at us all showing us his perfect teeth.
Harvey had alerted us earlier to Frith’s political connections and how they had helped Harvey’s brother, the Senator. Hartwell Banks and Osborne Frith had been roommates in college. For some reason, I could not warm to him.
Harvey stood. “It’s time for me to go home.”
Faye Lynne said, “I brought a tape of the interview you did with Tony Waterman on the Wake Up Show in New Orleans.”
“Y’all want to watch it with us,” Sister asked.
We gathered in the study that used to be Aunt Anna Claire’s bedroom right off the front veranda where the only television in the house was located. Sister slipped the disk into the DVD player.
Waterman asked Sister, “How do you reconcile being a cardiologist and cooking soul food with fat back and real butter on your show?”
Sister, looking dignified and beautiful, perched primly on the edge of her chair on Waterman’s set. She hooked one foot around her other ankle like we’d been taught in our Deportment Class and said, “Well, Tony, there’s heart food and there’s soul food. One is good for the heart physically, and one ministers to our hearts soothing our souls with its familiarity, recalling those happy times with loved ones. There’s a time and a place for both of them,” she said. 
Waterman asked her lots of questions about the who, what, when and where of the show, but it was that statement that meant the most to me. Sister was a serious person and the welfare of those who respected her opinion meant a lot to her. That was an honest answer and a realistic one. No one is going to totally give up the lifestyle in which they were raised. Much relies upon genes as to general health, we sometimes speculate on whether they should be expected to totally change their traditions. I had wondered how she reconciled our new venture with her profession.
“Speaking of food,” I said. “Sister and I were thinking of going to the Cypress Ridge Dinner Club tomorrow night. Y’all want to join us there?”
Harvey said he would make the reservations and we all agreed to meet there. 
Sister, Faye Lynne, and I climbed the stairs with Gigi leading the way. Gigi would sleep outside our closed door. Adam had come in the back door while we were out on the veranda and was already asleep. We heard him snoring. 
The three of us stood outside the room with the voodoo priest’s bed and I said, “I guess you can sleep in here tonight, Faye Lynne.”
“Like hell,” Faye Lynne said. “If you won’t sleep in there why in the hell do you think I would sleep there?”
“Some of us are more sensitive than others, Faye Lynne,” I said.
“You think you’re more sensitive than I am?” Faye Lynne challenged. 
I prickled, but I don’t think it was because of any spirits. Faye Lynne just always got my hackles up.
“Well, I’m going to bed,” Sister said.
I followed. So did that damned Faye Lynne. I started to close the door to Sister’s room, but Faye Lynne pushed back. I finally gave up.
Faye Lynne had returned to Hollywood’s higher calling and Estrellita after the pilot so we had not had to figure out sleeping arrangements. But, somehow it seemed that our brave, bold Faye Lynne had returned to us fearful. I wondered what had happened. Faye Lynne would tell us in her own good time.
We all grabbed our pajamas and crossed the hall like the Three Stooges one following the other. Each of us took one of the nice slate-tiled wooden dressing rooms that held private commode and shower facilities (I chuckled when I heard Faye Lynne squeal when Madame Bovary ran out of the one she thought was hers and hers alone). Then Faye Lynne and I hurried out to make sure Sister didn’t leave us alone in that bathroom that used to be the back bedroom. We followed Sister to her king-sized bed. Sister lay down on her side of the bed. I lay down on what had now become my side of the bed. Faye Lynne just stood there beside me and waited.
“I don’t know where you’re sleeping tonight, Faye Lynne. I guess there’s a chair over there if you don’t want to sleep in Sister’s guest room,” I said.
Sister just watched. She reminded me of Ole Brer Rabbit.   
“That’s a king size bed,” Faye Lynne said.
"We’ve all slept together on a bed this size before,” she said and sat her little Bitty Butt on the bed beside me.
“We weren’t grown ladies, then, though, Faye Lynne,” I said.
She looked at me meaningfully. If she said anything about how “fluffy” I was I was going to push her Bitty Butt off onto the hardwood floor.
“If you’re going to get in this bed, why can’t you sleep in the middle?” I said.
“I might get sick with this chemotherapy and all and then you’d wake up with vomit all over you.”
I scooted over to the middle of the bed. 
I thought she was probably lying (Faye Lynne had been known to do so on occasion) because she did not want to sleep in the middle, but would you take a chance?
Sister did her usual sit up in the bed, turn the covers perfectly down and smooth out the wrinkles thing and we all lay there with our arms outside the covers looking like a trio of cadavers laid out with eyes wide open looking up at the ceiling. Skin to skin like we were in that bed, there was not much chance that we would wrinkle those covers doing any turning. At least not unless we tapped each other on the shoulder and said “turn” and we all turned together. 
“Remember how Muddy used to rub Ben Gay all over her and take out her teeth before she went to sleep?” Faye Lynne said.
“I think that’s your cue, Dabney,” Sister said.

 We were all asleep before I got to our second cousins once removed in my prayers that night.