Billy Ray Chitwood
Charles Wells, Wellston Publishing, a good southern twitter/writer friend of mine, has given me permission to post a little story for you. It’s a story that hopefully you will enjoy and appreciate the homespun humor of it all. Charles and I are from the south, with me a bit more ancient than Charles, but his story here rattled my rib cage and I wanted to share it. Born and bred in Appalachia many years ago, I love the people, the purity, the simplicity of life in my native south.
We people in the south get a lot of teasing about the way we talk, our drawls and our ‘you all’s.’ A lot of jokes have been created at our expense — we’re right up there with the Polish folks! It’s all okay for people to laugh at us southerners. We laugh at ourselves. Our gentility is fairly well known world-wide and gets its share of teasing. But most of the fun-poking goes to our hill people, to our rural folks who eschew formal education to work hard and play hard, who plow their fields and harvest some of the finest food for our breakfast, lunch, and dinner tables, who strum their guitars, ukuleles, banjos, fiddles, and ‘juice harps’ for a mix of music that comes straight from their hearts and souls. Maybe some of these good people get a little push from the home-brewed ‘white lightning’ and the beer they drink.
Now, the following ‘scholarly essay’ from my buddy, Charles, deals with the more colorful of our southern brothers and sisters. It’s my hope that it doesn’t offend anyone because surely we can laugh at each other. It is what makes this big country of ours such a wonderful place. We have freedom here. We can poke a little fun at college professors, CEOs, Presidents, Vice Presidents, government workers, people from the East, West, Midwest, North, and South. The courtesy may be fading fast, but I’m guessing there are a few of us southerners still opening doors for the ladies. That doesn’t mean we’re against equality for women. It just means we were raised that way. Today, though, we’re poking a little fun at my people, the ‘southern rednecks.’
Sit back, take a swig of the suds, and read Charles Wells’ account of “Billy Joe’s Night Out.”
They Call It Bubba’s Bait, Tackle, Beer and Baptist Church
There’s a small town about 15 miles from where I live in Georgia. I’m not certain if it has a legal name of incorporation or not but I am sure the people who live there, all 119 of them, could care less what you call it. After all, it’s their community and they love it. For writing about it, I’m going to call the town by the name most everyone around these parts uses, and that’s simply, “Bubba’s” but that’s the short name. The full one is “Bubba’s Bait, Tackle, Beer, and Baptist Church”.
The reason everyone calls it Bubba’s is probably because nobody has ever given this little area of God’s earth an official title of any kind. Bubba’s has been around about as long as Budweiser beer and the name sort of just blended on over to the location.
Bubba’s is located on a two lane gravel top County maintained road and has the worldly reputation as the origination of the old joke about “don’t blink or you’ll miss it”. Every place is famous for something and that is Bubba’s eruption to fame in that joke.
Bubba’s main street is about as long as a four lane interstate highway is wide. There are no city services beyond volunteer fire and county sheriff but the unspoken reputation of the area protects these people well enough. The last fire that happened was one night when Billy Joe got drunk and then got hungry so he went on home from Bubba’s Bar. Now don’t get all fussy about drinking and driving because Billy Joe took a cab, which really pissed off Carlton the man who owned it, but that’s another story for another time.
Anyhow, old Billy Joe got home and left the cab in the driveway with the motor and the meter running, then went inside his double wide trailer at 2 AM and proceeded to fry up a mess of catfish. His wife, June Ann, was sound asleep. She’d been up late watching a Honey Boo Boo marathon on TV so she didn’t hear him come in. Billy Joe got the fish grease nice and hot then dropped in three cats he’d caught the day before at the river. What he did next is where the fire came from. He passed out cold on the floor in front of the stove and that hog lard grease got so hot it finally caught fire.
Fortunately, June Ann woke up smelling the smoke and realized the trailer was on fire. She grabbed her two children and some of their clothes, and then took them outside near the road to safety. She pointed a finger at them and snapped, “Now ya’ll stay right here and don’t move or I’ll set your britches on fire, you hear me?”
When the kids nodded, she went running back inside the smoke filled house where she gathered up and saved her two cats and a parakeet from sure fire death. She got them outside with the children and then back into the trailer she went again. With much great physical effort and power, she managed to drag and roll her mama’s old sewing machine out the front door, into the yard, and safely away from the burning structure.
By that time, the volunteer fire department arrived and told her to stay put and don’t go no place. They’d do the rest. June Ann yelled at them, “Just make sure you run down the hall to my bedroom and get my daddy’s old shotgun out of there before it burns up”.
One fireman asked, “Well where your husband, Billy Joe and what’s Carlton’s Cab doing parked here in the yard with the motor running?”
Waving one hand toward the mobile home, June Ann said, “Hell I don’t know but I think I saw him lyin’ on the floor near the stove but don’t bother waking him up. He gets pretty mean after he’s been drinking all night.”
The fireman nodded then raced into the house. One of them found Billy Joe passed out near the stove and carried him outside to safety. June Ann told him to go put him back since that seemed to be where he wanted to be but they refused. Fact is Billy Joe owed Andy (the fireman) ten bucks and he wasn’t about to let that slip past.
About five minutes and a living room sofa in flames later, a medic showed up and gave Billy Joe some oxygen out of a bottle. Pretty soon, Billy Joe coughed, gagged, spit out a pile of black soot and most of the last hours worth of Budweiser. Then he looked up at his home and asked with tears in his eyes, “Can they save the tires at least? They almost brand new.”
The last crime that happened anywhere near Bubba’s was the night Carlton’s cab got stolen right out from in front of the Bar where he parked it most days. I don’t really see no need to describe that incident to the readers though. I mean, ya’ll have been paying attention so far, ain’t you?
So that’s the story behind Bubba’s Bait, Tackle, Beer, and Baptist Church. Maybe next time I write about it I’ll go over some of the finer points of the neighborhood. Might even talk about the world famous Redneck Games held a few miles away from there. It’s interesting I promise you.
Catch Charles at twitter @Charles_E_Wells or email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow his ‘Grits N Gravy’ blog.
Charles E. Wells – Wellston Publishing