Thursday, November 30, 2006


Nancy White Kelly

I watched the little ole man from the corner of my eye.

On our Thanksgiving journey to my brother’s house, Buddy pulled into a non-descript sandwich shop. We were tired and we were hungry. It didn’t matter what was on the menu or that ambience was lacking. We just wanted food. Turned out that this place’s specialty was spiral-sliced ham.

While we stood in the order line, scores of local people came through the squeaky cabin door to pick up pre-placed orders. That deli must have sold a hundred hams and turkeys during our brief stop. When our order eventually came up, there was only one small table available. Though unwiped, we gladly took it.

A quick sip of sweet southern tea quenched our thirst. Buddy eagerly bit into a savory sandwich stacked high with honey-baked ham. I didn’t. The white-haired man at the take-out counter continued to hold my attention. He was a short, nattily dressed gent plainly misplaced in this Mississippi neighborhood of century-old cotton patches.

When the man’s order came, he paid with a wad full of bills. Then, as if an afterthought, he sat the sacks down and turned our way. There were at least a dozen other people sitting at tables and many more were standing. For some unknown reason he headed our way. Maybe we looked like a long-time married couple who shared similar values.

He greeted us and remarked about the beautiful weather.

“Bet you never had a Thanksgiving serenade.”

“Sure haven’t, “I replied, not knowing exactly what to expect but thinking something unusual was about to happen.

He pulled a harmonica out of his suit pocket and began playing “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” We smiled and thanked him. He proceeded with “Dixie,” and few other whimsical tunes. By then all the customers were fondly watching. We nodded our appreciation. Buddy tried to engage him in conversation, but the focused man was clearly into his music, tuning out any attempt at frivolous intrusion.

Next came “How Great Thou Art” and “Amazing Grace.” And, finally, he reverently played “Taps.”

We were awed. Several patrons clapped. One man wiped away a tear. Without a word, he put the worn, silver harmonica back into his pocket, picked up his sacks, and headed out the screen door.

It was an extraordinary Thanksgiving experience, one of those treasures of serendipity that comes along unexpectedly.

1 comment:

Granniej said...


The gentleman knew your heart needed the solace of music. I'll bet the trip was nicer for that experience. I remain inspired by God's work through you and your health.

Julia Rogers