In my own words…
Yard rolling' grows into a crazy tradition
Oct. 7, 2001
Roll'em, roll'em, roll'em. It's that time of the year again! Yes, yes, yes. Homecomings, parties, elections, football, tradition.
In Meridian and Lauderdale County we go to bed on a given night in a perfectly quiet landscape. Trees have green leaves. Flowers have yellow, red, purple and white blossoms. Mail boxes are clean. Fences are immaculate. All is right with the world.
The morning brings a new kind of beauty, however. From street to shining street and road to bumpy road, we awake to the magnificent sight of aesthetically chosen white toilet tissue draping from each and every stately oak, soaring pine, neatly trimmed shrub, available fence and carefully painted mail box. What a glorious sight!
Beautiful gray Spanish moss cascades from the flora and fauna (though not from the mail boxes) in South Alabama, Louisiana and the Everglades of Florida. Here, we have very little Spanish moss. Here, we create a substitute.
Overnight, an exuberantly abundant growth of man-made, articulately symmetrized, decorative white tissue moss appears from the staggering heights to the grassy ground at homes where abide certain chosen boys and girls.
Hey, hey, hooray, kids! I know this is fun. It is even funny. I enjoy the spirit of what you have chosen to do. Once considered a malicious prank, "rolling" has now a grown into a popular tradition.
In most cases, the mess is duly cleaned up by the perpetrator, but not always. In some cases, the paper turns gray and is hanging tenaciously to the limbs, fences, poles and wires of some places the following Fourth of July or Labor Day.
Sometimes Momma and Daddy put the object of the paper affection to work right away with yard rakes, ladders, fishing poles, brooms and a "Cheez !!! I din do it. Whah, ah gotta clean it up?" attitude.
I totally understand that this artistic drapery denotes a certain recognition. The young luminary at the decorated premises is either one of the more popular people in a given group, school or organization, or has done something special to rate this highly salutatory recognition.
Point of wonder: Do any of you secretly get out at night and roll your own yard just for status? Why not? One of my little buddies made his folks leave his coveted symbol for three days while he had Momma take pictures of him with his main one and all his friends. Momma and Daddy had to wait for the development of the evidentiary shots, just in case the first batch didn't turn out! I ain't lyin'!
A Momma, whose name is Deb, was talking to me about this the other day. She has a couple of popular teenagers and was not completely overjoyed that her hibiscus was wrapped in this papier napery. She had no problem with the clean-up, however.
Deb is one of those Moms who runs a little contest at her house: Everybody who does what Deb says does not end up grounded, car-less, TV-less, phone-less, or worse.
Now, you must realize that the reason Deb was speaking to me on this matter is that she knows I am an old sage, raised during the 40's and 50's (yes, children, there were such times) in the poor, red clay hills of Tishomingo County, Mississippi.
Here's the way the conversations went:
I stared at her a moment or two in disbelief. Then I answered, truthfully.
An' that's the truth. I never saw a roll of toilet tissue until I was 23 years old. And THAT was in the original wrapper like it came from Kroger's Grocery, sitting in the middle of my Maw Pace's coffee table,
decorated all around with corn shucks and ivy. It was the CENTER-Piece, brother, the center-piece in her living room!
Deb's husband chimed in about then.
He hung his head a mite sheepishly and said, "Yep!"
Ah, to be young again and have a Daddy who had enough money to give me to buy toilet paper to decorate yards with! We would have been out picking it off the trees and outta the yards, alright. But we woulda been taking it home to Momma and it would definitely been put to the right use!
I love you, kids. I love your ingenuity. I love your traditions. Keep in mind that those who do not get their yards rolled could feel mighty left out. You need to be an equal opportunity roller. Don't discriminate. Do not leave out the lowly. Do not leave out those lacking in self-esteem.
Roll'em all, little brothers and sisters. Roll'em all.
In case you tell your parents I wrote this, remember: I KNOW WHO YOU ARE!
In case you are casting jaundiced thoughts toward MY yard, I live at 31156 Alligator Drive in Sarasota, Florida.
Billy Frank Whitworth co-hosts "The Morning Show" on WMOX-AM 1010 in Meridian.