Mercy…Lord have mercy

Remember the days when you used to sit on your parents’ porch while watching a Civil War re-enactment and laugh in amusement as half the town (who has also gathered with you in the front yard) shouts with glee as the first Union soldier hits the ground after a fatal bullet wound to the gut?

Me too.

Western Days proved to be everything I hoped it would be and more. I have to admit that I was a little nervous about the re-enactment. I was afraid I had hyped it up so big in my head and would ultimately be disappointed in the cheesiness of it all.

I’m happy to report there was just the right amount of cheese.

In a salute to the weekend, I’ve decided to narrow down the countless stellar moments to a simple top 10 list. Enjoy!

10. They draw names to see who will “have” to be the Union soldiers. Alas, someone has to do it. And the funny thing is that there is a gentleman on the loud speaker explaining that these Union solders are strong Southern men who just happened to draw the short stick.

9. Early on Saturday morning, my Daddy had been driving around on the golf cart checking to see if the chili cook-off people needed anything. Big Johh, who cooks his chili in what appears to be an old school bus, asked my Daddy if he knew Lincee Ray. He said he did and asked how Big John knew me. Apparently, Big John couldn’t recall the city in which the Battle of Crawford/Chili Cook-Off/Western Days Extravaganza was taking place and so he Google searched. Naturally, popped up and a new fan was born. Clearly, Big John is awesome in my book. Even if his chili didn’t receive first place, he’s a winner in my heart.

8. My first surreal moment was watching the Confederate soldier watch the UT game on my Daddy’s ginormous screen TV through the window of the den.

7. My second surreal moment was watching the Confederate soldier pour a bottle of Shiner Bock into his tin cup. You know…so he could remain authentic. Then he went to the port-a-john.

6. The cannon fire was severe. They warned you to hold your ears and listen for the ready…aim…FIRE! But it still startled everyone. This is my first attempt to take a picture.

Here is my second.

And here’s cute Sam with his ear phones on. Little guy didn’t even flinch when the cannons went off!

5. My Daddy did not participate in the battle, but did wear somewhat of a costume. He kept saying all morning long, “Oh Belvedere! Come here boy!” That combined with his Macabee beer shirt I bought him in Israel (the shirt says: “The beer the chosen people chose” on the back) made for an interesting fashion weekend.

4. The battle lasted about 45 minutes each day. And each day, the South won. We were down on Sunday, but fought back with the Union soldiers shot the little boy carrying the flag as well as our medic. OH NO YOU DIDN’T! This is a picture right before the doctor went down…

3. The ball in the driveway was a sight. The men were still in colonial uniforms but the women changed into fancy gowns and attached their holiday hair. They learned the Virginia Reel and waltzed and the Pattycake Prance. They kept yelling for “Jamie” to come join the fun. My sister unwillingly obliged. But then we realized some solider dude was named Jaime and they were calling him. Awkward!

2. The children of Western Days…
Benjamin playing in a potted plant.

Sam playing in a Confederate tent.

Random re-enactment boys playing on a pile of dirt.

Best t-shirt ever.

1. My favorite moment of the weekend was when the Confederate soldiers were lining up for battle. They began marching down the driveway past the house where I was standing taking photos. A few steps in, the general calls out, “Gents! Eyes right!” They all turn and look in my direction and the general says, “MERCY!” and the boys answer, “LORD HAVE MERCY!”

I think I actually swooned.

I love my roots. Reese Witherspoon’s line in Sweet Home Alabama rings true when she says, “It feels right in the city, but then I come here and it feels right too.” Sure my accent gets a little thick when I go home and I’m amazed at some of the things I see and hear, but there’s a little twinge of nostalgia too. A longing for a simpler life. Parades that consist of little league football boys, horses and Miss Hallsville contestants. A funnel cake stand in your back yard. A pile of dirt or hay stack to play on. Reconnecting with the guy you shared your locker with for four years in high school (HEY BOBBY!) and dragging Daddy’s old lazy boy out on the back porch so Mimi can elevate her leg while watching the battle and sending the cousins to fetch her samples of chili. Weekends and memories like this help make me who I am. And I loved every minute of it!

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October 7, 2008 3:27 pm

Thanks for making this cloudy Monday afternoon a little brighter!

October 7, 2008 3:55 pm

I wish I could have been there! As a small town native in a big city, you reminded me just how much I love my roots, too.

October 7, 2008 4:06 pm

I. AM. JEALOUS!! Your family is clearly awesome and it looks like you had a great time back home!!

October 7, 2008 5:26 pm

Aww! That sounds like so much fun! Love all the pics, and I now hope I’ll be able to participate in something like this someday!

Aunt B
Aunt B
October 7, 2008 5:36 pm

Small towns rock! I bet the parade started with the biggest fire truck in the barn (sirens blaring) leading the pack and the lawmen on horses bring up the rear with everyone standing for the American flag EVERY time it passed by….I also will lay money on everyone getting there early and staying late-leaving bone-butt tired, and for most folks, absolutely happy they were there! I miss my small home town!

October 7, 2008 9:52 pm

I’m a Houston girl transplanted to Longview….I’ve got to make it over to Western Days one of these years! My only experience is being detoured around town trying to make it to Marshall for a baseball game. Love your blog!

October 8, 2008 5:32 am

My favorite part was that they have to explain that there are no actual yankees, just unfortunate southerners chosen to act out the parts of those bullies! I enjoyed reading about Western Days 🙂

Tropic Girl
October 8, 2008 6:31 am

That “Lord Have Mercy” thing? I’d have swooned too. And then kissed them all. Okay, so I would have tried to restrain myself, maybe. Cool post!

October 8, 2008 7:19 am

My favorite picture is the little boy holding a gun to his friend’s head. Teachin’ em early! 🙂

October 8, 2008 8:20 am

Love the stories! Small town life is wonderful. I saw the greatest thing the other day that I’m sure you can relate to, embroidered on a tea towel “The great thing about living in a small town is even if I don’t know what I’m doing someone else always does!” So true, so true!

October 8, 2008 10:04 am

Lincee…loved the whole thing! I talked to Jill and she said it was so fun. Thanks for the recap. Miss you!

October 8, 2008 10:27 am

LOL. . I love it!!! The men who drew the short stick! Your Dad laid out on the front porch! Mimi having your cousins “fetch” her some chili samples! The “Lord, have mercy!”! The soldier watching the UT game through the den window! The other soldier drinking Shiner Bock from his tin cup (cheers)! Your sister reluctantly going out to dance, only to find out they were hollering (yes, I said it) for someone else! This is why I’ve been a faithful reader for what. . 4 years now?? Love it!!!! Thanks for sharing!!

October 8, 2008 1:14 pm

Too much fun!

Tater Mama
October 8, 2008 1:41 pm

Loved it! Just LOVED it!

October 9, 2008 10:18 am

I live in the big city of Altanta these days but grew up in a suburb of Birmingham Alabama. While not quite as small town, I definitely have been missing my roots lately and that simpler pace of life I experienced in my college days esp (Auburn University in the metropolis of Auburn AL). I think every good Southern girl owes Reese for her wonderful movie. Thanks for bringing some fun Southern memories… I’m feeling like I need a big Dr Pepper right now!

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