Life with Boone on the Back 40'
THE POND The fish at William C. (Coach) Boone's pond know when to come to be fead. His dog, BoDiddle, also knows he'll get some of the bread meant for the fish. Photo by Carisa McCain/ The Meridian Star
By Steve Swogetinsky/regional editor
Jan. 20, 2002
QUITMAN There are times when William C. "Coach" Boone may be the only person on his 40 acres of land, nestled in between the Chickasawhay River and the Archusa Water Park. But he's never alone.
He has plenty of company with his pets, the wild deer and turkeys that he feeds each day, and the fish in his pond. And when he needs somebody to talk to, there's always God.
Born and raised in Hattiesburg, Boone's family moved to the Coast after his sophomore year, where he finished an outstanding prep career at Biloxi High School. He played all sports and earned a scholarship to Perkinston Junior College where he was named "Most Athletic." (An honor he takes more pride in is his being elected "Most Friendliest Boy on Campus.) Later, he attended and graduated from Livingston (Ala.) University where he met Joyce, his "first (and only) wife."
He graduated from Livingston. After spending two years overseas in the military, Boone took a coaching job with the Quitman schools in 1957 with the plans of staying just one year.
When he came to Quitman, he and Tom Cotton made up the coaching staff. Boone was Cotton's assistant in football, and Cotton assisted Boone in basketball. In 1963, Boone became the head football coach and athletic director after Cotton moved into administration. He held that position for six years, then became the high school principal. He served in that position until 1981, and later was elected to two terms as county superintendent.
In the early 1980s, Boone purchased his land on the Chickasawhay River. It was true wilderness, hilly, lots of trees, stickers and brush. A small road led down to a smaller pond.
He did. And as he could, he made improvements.
Boone wanted to build a small cabin so he began to clear a hill just above the pond. Someone told him that the hill would wash away once he cleared it so he and Joyce put out seven bales of hay to stop the erosion until he could get the grass to grow. There was some wash, but it worked.
With the help of former ballplayers and friends, he built a nice cabin with a screened in front porch. He enlarged the pond. And he has cleared areas of land around where he plants grass and clover for the deer and turkeys. He has "shoothouses" located on each plot, but usually there's not much hunting going on in Boone's Back 40. He likes to sit and watch the wildlife put on a show.
The Boones live on Betty Circle. Their backyard is on Archusa Lake.
His dog and best buddy, "Mr. Bo-Diddle," sleeps on a blanket in his small pickup truck, and is always ready to go. It doesn't take 10 minutes for them to get to his place from home, and as he opens the gate, his cats, "You" and "You Two" are usually there to greet him.
The cab of the pickup truck fills up quickly as Boone, Mr. Bo-Diddle, You and You Two ride down the dirt road. He stops from time-to-time to put out corn for the deer. To keep the corn clean, he hangs the ears from tree limbs once, sometimes twice a day. It doesn't last long. There are eaten ears scattered on the ground from previous days.
He has feed troughs set up at different locations where he scatters corn. The covered feeders keep the food dry and clean and give the turkeys something to eat.
After he makes his rounds, Boone parks his truck next to his cabin and walks down the hill to feed the fish. Right now, the water is clear and you can see the bass and bream lining up for a treat of bread or feed.
Bo-Diddle and the cats get a piece a bread, too. "They get jealous and want some, too," Boone said.
Off to the right of the pier is a marked grave of Boone's first dog, "Bear."
Boone explained that he had some "signal words" that Bear understood. Actually, "amen" meant it was okay for him to eat.
They enjoyed many good years. But when Bear grew old and finally died, a friend made a wooden casket for the dog. Boone buried him under a nice shade tree, overlooking the pond.
Boone reflected on how he used to be involved in many community activities when he was a principal and superintendent.
He stays pretty busy now, doing radio broadcasts for the Quitman High School football and baseball games. He's been on the board of trustees for Jones Junior College for 19 years, and has served as the secretary for District 5 of the Mississippi High School Activities Association for longer than that. He is active in the First Baptist Church of Quitman. He also does mission work and checks on the elderly and shut-ins around town.
And, he spends a lot of time at his place in the woods.