By Joyce Caughron Rhodes
How quick a memory can pop into our minds and linger for awhile. We go back with that memory into another time and place. My thoughts were on how timid, shy and bashful I was for a very long time. My first remembrance of this was when I was Five years old, in Kindergarten.
I didnít want anyone to see me eat or drink, but we were required to clean our plates and drink our milk before we could go to the playgrounds. The girl next to me had already finished everything and had gone to play. My plate was empty but I hadnít touched my milk. I took my neighborís empty glass and put mine in her place. I didnít think it would matter, so out I went to play. Well, to my surprise the
teacher called the girl back and had her to drink ìher milk.î I didnít know this until later when she told me, ìI thought I drank my milk.î I had to confess it was mine. Then when we were living in Obion, I wasnít any better.
If I was with Momma and she stopped to talk to someone, I hid behind her. Later, when I could walk to town by myself, I would check out both sides of the street. If there were two people on one side and three on the other, then I would go to the side with less people and I would criss-cross both sides, depending on how many people were on each side till I got to town.
By the time I was thirteen, I was still very shy. It was the fall of the year and the Bisbee Comedians Tent show came into town. Some of you may remember this because they also came to Tiptonville. They arrived with about five or six large trucks with their name in large letters across the sides of the trucks and these were followed by cars and trailers. Everyone in town knew they had arrived and were glad. My two brothers, Gary and Donald, were there to greet them. They wanted a job helping to put up the
tent. I donít remember if they were paid or given passes to the shows.
It seemed the Bisbee Comedians knew just when to come. Many people had worked for weeks picking cotton, saving their money for this event. During this period of time, people did not have televisions, computers or cell phones so this was entertainment at its best. The tent was large, filled with row after rows of seats. They had a nice stage and a section for their band.
Mr. Bisbee and his wife were the owners and he played the part of Mahala, the Master Magician. He could make things disappear and even cut a woman in two. Then they had Boob Brasfield, the comedian, with his red wig, baggy pants, and big handkerchief; telling all kinds of jokes. They would present a three-act play and during the intermission, clowns would walk down the aisles, selling boxes of cracker jacks or candy. In some of the boxes would be a winning ticket for some ëgreat prize.í You would take your ticket up to the stage all excited. The girls in the short costumes would take the ticket, look at the number and give you your prize, very few would win something like a large stuffed bear.
In between one of the acts, a singer and also the drummer, Billy Choate sang a love song.
I was lucky enough that night to be on the second row, having stood in line for over an hour, to get my ticket, anyway, while he was singing this song, he pointed to me. I was so embarrassed. I looked behind me, trying to make people think he wasnít pointing to me, but he shook his head “No,” and pointed to me again. I could have died from of all this attention. I believe this public exposure was the beginning of me getting over my shyness.