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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