Friday, November 17, 2006

Richer Than Most

Our old friend Clarke Stallworth is a remarkable writer. He has been a friend to Jilda and me since the early 70's. He was once the editor of the Birmingham Post Herald...or maybe it was the Birmingham News but his true love was writing.
He called Jilda one summer morning in 1987 asking if she knew of any interesting stories. Jilda was working in public relations for Wallace State Community College at the time and she had met an older fellow that lived up near Holley Pond who made guitars, fiddles and banjos.
Jilda called up Arlon Moon and asked if he would mind if Clarke came out for an interview. Arlon said y'all come on out and we'll talk a spell. I was off that day so I decided to ride up too.
It was a Friday in mid-July and we headed up to Holley Pond before lunch to avoid the afternoon heat. I took my camera and and shot some photos while Clarke did the interview.
Arlon and his family were delightful people. He told stories about their life in the country...about music and the joy of building musical instruments.
We were on the front porch just before lunchtime and I caught the aroma of chicken frying and corn bread (made from corn meal freshly ground in their mill) baking in the oven. We were starving and Clarke said "we better be heading back to Hanceville, we don't want to keep y'all from your lunch."
"There's-a-plenty for everybody, won't y'all join us." Clarke said "we wouldn't want to impose"...I started to slap him naked and hide his clothes (as aunt Ester once said).
Arlon's wife said "if we didn't want you to stay and eat, we wouldn't-a-ask you." So we stayed.
We ate not only the chicken and cornbread but fresh corn, black eyed peas, tomatoes, and hot pepper that was grown right out back.
After we stuffed ourselves, we went out on the front porch again and Arlon picked a few songs on his banjo.
They didn't have a lot of money but they were happy and as I came across this photograph tonight it occurred to me that they were richer than most folks could ever hope to be.

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