March 4, 2001

By Staff
Stories recalled of beloved pets
To the Editor:
Buddy Bynum's column on 9-year-old Shelby Edwards' loss of her beloved puppy, Austin Jr. III, was sensitive and moving (The Meridian Star, Feb. 25).
Many, if not all, of us have suffered similar losses of pets. Young or old, the hurt lingers. I lost my all-time favorite pet, Tip, a black and white cat, on Easter morning 1952, when I was 10.
I had joined East End United Methodist Church earlier that morning. After lunch, my mother told me that Tip had been run over and killed by a car earlier that morning. Tip's death, also unreported by the driver, ruined what should have been one of the happiest days of my life, Easter, with all its candy and Easter egg hunts, but also the day that I became a Christian.
Like many others, we considered our pets members of our family. As such, we performed rather formal funerals with solemn burials, appropriate words, and wooden handmade grave markers. We grieved and had fond memories for years, some even until this day.
A child's feelings for a pet were something special in Meridian in the 1950s. Times were simpler then. We spent a lot of time with pets. We didn't have all the distractions that children have today. We played outside a lot, and our pets were right there with us.
Some of us even shared our pets with our parents. My father, John F. East, a longtime Meridian postman and bread salesman, had never been close to an animal in his life. When I paid $15 or so for a Siamese cat in 1961, he thought that I had lost my mind. However, when it became ill, he took her to the vet, sneaked out to visit her every day, and paid a vet's bill which was considerably more than $15.
When I left for Mississippi State, he adopted her. When I tried to give him the cat, Daddy said that she had already been his cat for a long time. Truthfully, she adopted him, and their relationship was something special.
One afternoon, Tammy leaped off the side of our porch to greet me as I drove up the driveway. Unfortunately, she jumped right in front of my back right tire. With her back broken, she painfully made her way to the back parking area. As she gasped for breath, my father and I helplessly stood there and watched her die.
It was more than either of us could stand. We both hopped into separate cars and left on our own. When I returned, Daddy had already buried Tammy. He never got over her death. He later got two Siamese cats, trying to replace her, but that was impossible. That time and that experience may have been the closest I ever felt to him. John F. East was a private person.
In closing, I say, "Shelby, thank God for the love and affection that you felt for Austin and that he felt for you. His life and death will have special meaning for you as you grow older and wiser.
Jeff "Corky" East
Former Meridianite, now living in Atlanta
Hearts touched
To the Editor:
Our hearts were touched when we read of the accidental death of a Lab puppy belonging to nine-year-old Shelby Edwards. (The Meridian Star, Feb. 25). We identified with the grief and pain experienced by Shelby and her parents as we had lost our beloved "Pepper Pot Poopsey Doodle" Poodle puppy over 10 years ago in a similar incident.
As our grief lessened, we analyzed the accident and realized that it was our fault, not the fault of the driver of the car, who did not see a black puppy on a dark road at night. He did stop and explained not seeing the animal. We realized that we had been irresponsible by letting the puppy get into danger. We had let him run unrestricted into a well traveled road. We hold no animosity toward the driver of the automobile.
After that incident we determined to never let any of our animals out of our absolute control. Each would be in a pen or house, on a leash or under voice control well away from any roadway. That vigilance has kept our "replacement" Poodle alive for over 10 years now.
Anne and Howard Malone
Seeks postcards
To the Editor:
I have been collecting printed picture postcards for the past nine months, particularly those with maps and lighthouses but also general view cards.
I do not have any from your area and I am hoping that some kind reader will send me one, for which I shall be most grateful.
Brian James,
P.O.Box 1492,
BH7 6YB,
Honoring the fallen
To the Editor:
I am a citizen born and raised in Mississippi and for the past year have been residing in Texas. I have watched with great interest the debate about our state flag.
I would like to remind our citizens of a similar debate, which took place 111 years ago in our House of Representatives. The debate was in regards to the erection of a monument to the Confederate Soldiers of Mississippi.
A member of the House stood up and spoke at a critical moment and his speech was reprinted in the Daily Clarion-Ledger on Feb. 23, 1890. His name was Rep. John F. Harris from Washington County. This is what he had to say:
What a scene that must have been! A former Confederate soldier and an elected black official of Mississippi lecturing a white representative and a son
of a Confederate veteran on the duties one generation has for defending the truth about the gallant deeds of another generation.
Not only did Rep. Harris vote for the funding for the monument, but all six black Representatives voted for it as well and the measure past. After this action, a few years later, our current flag came into being. It did not come about during the later turbulent times as in other states, but at a time of healing.
Can we not learn from our ancestors and see the flag issue as what it really is, a tribute to our history and an issue only for outsiders of want to fan the flames of turmoil for their own benefit and to put money in their pockets.
They do not care about Mississippi or our people!
John McInnis
Texarkana, Texas