Dempsey D. Miles: “Idle”

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Honeysuckles, Chopped Pork BBQ and Muscadine Wine

I remember walking from my grand mama’s house with my brother. We’d walkthrough the lane that was in truth a two way, one way street. I mean the signs said one way but cars went both ways and nobody seemed to mind because everybody in Starkville, Mississippi knew that the one way was a two way. The lane contained the most magical delights almost year round. There were pecan trees, peach trees, pear trees, and a long row of sugary sweet honeysuckle vines; and that was just on one side of the road. We never seemed to mind it was all on somebody else’s property. I am sure they didn’t mind sharing with all the kids who walked that lane.

My Uncle Johnny barbequed pork almost year round, no matter the season, in every type of weather. He cooked whole hogs for other folk’s barbeques and party’s. He owned a little farm, with a cinder block smoke pit in the rear. He would slow cook the hogs for long hours then once the meat cooled he would chop it up, adding grand mamma’s secret vinegar and tomato based spicy sauce. The kids made sure to hang around near enough to be unofficial, official tasters. As much as we tasted it was a wonder there was enough hog left to serve at the party. That chopped barbeque served on white bread with homemade potato salad and collard greens was always a show stopper. Add a little sweet tea, or an ice cold Budweiser, and you were in it to win it!

My other Uncle, on my Momma side liked to brew his own “shine”. That’s moonshine to everyone above the Mason-Dixon Line. He was a bit of a local legend in his day known for his jovial nature and quality of his shine. He even measured a man’s worth in increments of shine. For example, if he said a man wasn’t “worth a fifty cent shot” then you knew that person to be of low character. And who are better judges of character than shine drinking Baptist in Mississippi? My favorite was his muscadine flavored wine. He’d pay his nieces and nephews to collect ripe muscadines by the brown paper bag full; two dollars a bag, good money back in the day. He’d throw the bags in the back of his old Chevy truck and disappear off to his secret place to brew his wine. We children would always be allowed a good nip during funerals, weddings, holidays, are whenever somebody left a jug unattended and in our reach. It was always sweet going down with just the right amount of burn in the throat.

Now you tell me; ain’t I southern enough?


He sits at an outdoor table of the corner bistro adjusting his chocolate colored bow tie. He crosses his legs, the creases on his dark brown pin-striped suit standing like razor edges. The metallic mesh chair makes ugly scratching noises when he shifts in his seat. He watches the sidewalk travelers as they rush along their way, bound to the strictures of the jobs in which they toil. The rich, milk flavored chicory coffee is hot and bittersweet as he takes long, slow sips. He watches a cropped haired, brown mulatto beauty glide alone in a blue mini-skirt and towering wedged heels.He sets the fine bone china cup upon the matching saucer, settling deeper in his chair satisfied in his idle life.