Life is slow in the Delta, even today. People still talk to one another face to face. It doesn’t matter where—over the supper table, in the supermarket line, or even behind a downtown building. Anyplace will serve the purpose.
What they talk about will vary.
Farmers will always talk about the weather.
Some folks will talk about their children.
Old women may wonder who is still living among those they have known.
Old men will talk about “it,” although they may have forgotten exactly what “it” was. They just know that hearing them talk about it aggravates the women.
Today, technology eliminates the problem of distance, but it doesn’t allow the ripening of tales told directly to one another unrushed and unedited.
Text-messaging wouldn’t permit the telling of a story about how a group of boys wanted one of their pack to ride a young bull and how he kept falling off— how they solved the one problem of keeping him on by tying his feet together under the bull’s middle only to create another problem of getting him off before the bull broke out of the pen with the boy still attached.
And who would expend technology to tell you how they used to transport the young German prisoners of war through downtown Lonoke, Arkansas from Camp Robinson to work on area farms and how the local girls would wave at them and how, one day, one waved back.
I feel fortunate that I heard those stories. Maybe I’ll get around to telling them to someone else.