December 23, 2019
A letter from my Longtime Pen Pal Minnie Mae Simmons, the first EVER Miss Bountiful Biddy. She now works in the office at the Bountiful Biddy Chicken Processing Plant at Cackle Creek, Mississippi, not far from Itta Bena. She has been my pen pal for over 45 years.
Minnie Mae Simmons
Cackle Creek, Mississippi (not far from Itta Bena)
Dear Pen Pal Johnny,
I am rushing to get this holiday letter off to you. It seems that the holiday’s kind of “snuck” up on me this year, and I have found myself in many ways at loose ends. In truth, honey, I’ve been very busy with work, community events, church and family. You know how all that can be.
First, let me tell you about Cousin Dolphus. You know he and his wife, Aunt Trixie, the last of my Mama’s sisters, and their one son, Carr, who was always a little different (he still won’t wear shoes or a shirt with his overalls, and he needs to). Wears nothing but his overalls each day and he’s over 50 and he still listens to those records, records mind you, about the Purple People Eater and last year I bought him, and I had to look in Jackson for a long time in a vintage record store, and found him that song “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.” He begins blasting that pretty early in the morning and plays it till he falls asleep around midnight. Everyone in Cackle Creek knows all the words by heart now. It’s a good thing that Aunt Trixie’s nerves are not affected. She spends of most her days, as she always has, in her house dress and house shoes watching her “stories” and reruns of “Gunsmoke” drinking coffee and chain smoking Winston 100’s. Last year, she got on a tear of making Divinity and ballooned up to 98, and she had never weighted over 90. She’s back down to about 90 now, and next month, if she lives to January 25, she will be 95, so what can you say? I guess eating two Goo Goo Clusters and drinking two RC Cola’s along with all that coffee and cigarettes has not hurt her through the years.
At work, we just had our employee Christmas Party at the Bountiful Biddy Chicken Processing Plant, and this year, we had a contest for who made the best chicken salad. I will tell you this, I think the contest was rigged. Now don’t misunderstand me, Dora Ruth Ellison and her Mama “Miss” Rouxmyra, can cook. I mean they have a gospel singing group, and “Miss Rouxmyra) makes all those pretty chiffon gowns they wear, and they have them in a rainbow of colors, lavender, deep pink, yellow, light blue, and oh can they sing, Yes indeed, and Dora Ruth can make a piano sit up and talk, when they play “Heaven’s Jubilee,” it’s a thing of beauty, and Dora Ruth’s sister, Calmina can eat that bass guitar up, and her youngest sister, Shellie Faye, can flat play the electric guitar, and their niece, Kim can eat them drums up, well, as stated, they can cook, those girls are tall even when their hair is not teased, and they can tease it high for the concerts at various churches, but they are each about 6 feet tall, and the smallest one the niece Kim, will go about 250, so they know about cooking and food, but I am thinking Pen Pal, Johnny, that the chicken salad that Dora Ruth put in the contest that won her Grand Champion and beat out my autumn chicken salad which has always been the toast of our employees, was not made by her, but by Sister Rouxmyra, her Mama, as her Mama used to cater for folks over in Meridian, and they called on her as far away as Greenville to send her famous chicken salad when they would hold that Delta Debutante Cotillion over there in the spring. Anyhow, Dora Ruth supposedly won and beat me out, but most everyone agreed they still loved my chicken salad. Dora Ruth is wearing that blue ribbon on the lapel of her dresses everywhere. She needs to be more humble, but “no,” she wants everyone to know she was the winner. They could only fit her in the front page photo for the paper, thought, poor old Miss Sally the photographer for the Cackle Creek Courier could not fit in Dora Ruth, Miss Roux Myra, Calmina and Shellie Faye all in one photo. It made them pretty mad, but when Ming’s Chinese Restaurant over in Itta Bena, gave them a gift certificate for the all you can eat buffet on Saturday evenings, they were pacified, maybe not satisfied but pacified.
Well, no matter that I didn’t win the chicken salad grand prize, I STILL am called upon in the community for events. The Grand Duchesses of the Delta had me come to their contest organization not too long ago down in Marks, Mississippi, where they are planning a Miss Cotton Blossom Pageant. I, of course, wore my new black suit and, since I was going to be addressing many of the Contestants, my crown, which is still a thing of beauty, and I keep it shined and have employed a local jeweler to replace several of the rhinestones. There’s something about putting on that tiara with the design of feathers and chicken feet all intertwined with all those sparkling rhinestones that just makes you feel great? The girls were so receptive and beautiful, but I wish they had served something else for our luncheon other than, you’ve got it, chicken salad and a fruit cup. Oh, well, the cheese straws were delicious, and the homemade lemon meringue pie was some of the best I have ever eaten.
I am going to close for now, Johnny, and I wish you and your Mama, Mrs. Mary Lou, a wonderful and Merry Christmas, and do let the fine folks who live there “Around the Banks of the Suwannee” l know that from Cackle Creek, Mississippi, that we love them and wish them a Merry Christmas and, listen, before closing, I want you to know that Cousin Janaydus has one of them “drones,” and he brought it down to north central Florida not too long ago, and no one tried to shoot it thinking it was a goose or nothing either. Anyhow, Johnny, the folks in your part of the world ought to be proud of an event like Suwannee County’s Christmas on the Square and the Festival of Lights over at Stephen Foster, and the Holiday Lights at Sprit of the Suwannee Music Park, and they ought to be proud to have a local newspaper like the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News, Mayo Free Press, that is still in tune with the local community.
Again, Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New year!! God Bless you.
With sincere affection,
Your Pen Pal,
Minnie Mae Simmons
The First Ever Miss Bountiful Biddy (and don’t forget that!!)