Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

James T. Buck and His Bicycle


The material in this entire blog was supposed to be included in a book. That was "Plan A." But I decided to go with "Plan B", and in that case, the "B" stands for "Blog." My decision was based the fact that including my family research material in a blog would be a much better way to circulate it. Genealogy books are absolutely wonderful, but they are generally expensive to have printed, expensive for others to purchase, and they are not always readily available unless you live near a fairly large library. The internet provides immediate access, and besides, we now really and truly live in an electronic world where computers are available to almost everyone. I really love books and libraries, I always have, but I really, really like living in the electronic age. Apparently, there are a lot of others who like visiting cyberspace as much as I do. Already, in less than 30 days, my blog has had visitors from Alabama, Alaska (would you believe "Wasilla?"), California, Colorado, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Texas, and even Brazil and the United Kingdom.

Early on in my genealogy research, I visited the Mid-Mississippi Library in Kosciusko, Mississippi. I might add here that the library in Kosciusko has some of the best genealogy resource material available anywhere. Thanks to the many compilations by Joyce Sanders and others who either work at the library now or who have worked there in the past, a wide variety of research materials are available in a comfortable and well-outfitted research room. When I signed the "Visitor's Log" for the genealogy room, I couldn't help but notice that people who came to Kosciusko to do research, including my husband and me, had come from a number of states. During the course of my own research over the past few years, I have seen evidence that people who live throughout the U. S. can trace their ancestry to an individual or a family who lived, at least for a time, in Attala County or the surrounding area.

The research room at the library in Kosciusko is where I first found out about James T. Buck and his bicycle. I was reading old newspaper articles, looking for information about my relatives. Since my mother's family is from the Coxburg/Ebenezer area around Lexington, in Holmes County, I started reading articles in a file from The Lexington Advertizer, including those written by someone named James T. Buck. As I read through the articles, I realized that Mr. Buck was a former Holmes county area resident who had returned in later years to his native state of Mississippi, and he rode a bicycle around the county, writing articles about the lives of real people. Mr. Buck wrote about people he knew (or was related to, in some cases) and other people he met along the way. James T. Buck must have been like an "early Charles Kuralt." Since he traveled in a predominantly rural area, Mr. Buck sometimes stayed overnight in the homes of some of the people he wrote about and, as he called it "broke bread with them." Although I wasn't finding much of what I had set out to find in the way of names of my family (I did find something about the Pettus family), I kept on reading. I became genuinely intrigued by the articles and how well Mr. Buck presented real people and their real life stories. His articles were sprinkled with information about births, deaths, marriages, finances, farming and crops, religion, politics, and they were delightful to read. It was apparent to me that what Mr. Buck wrote reflected both "fact" and "the human factor" and both of these elements are important to me in what I read or write, for that matter. His articles gave me insight into the people, their values, and their lives in general, in rural Holmes County, Mississippi during that time.

One of the articles that James T. Buck wrote included a commentary by an "anonymous writer" describing conditions that prevailed at the time. The words of the "anonymous writer" were these:

Too many hours that we don't toil;
Too many highways, too many cars;
Too many people behind the bars;
Too much poverty, too much wealth;
Too many people have poor health;
Too much politics, too much booze;
Too many wearing high heel shoes;
Too many loafing, too many bets;
Too many failing to pay their debts;
Too many spending their dough for gas;
Too many talking of Europe's sass;
Too many buying beyond their means;
Too many buying canned corn and beans;
Too many sowing a crop of wild oats;
Too many candidates after your votes;
Too many hiring their washing done;
Too many playing bridge for fun;
Too many looking to Uncle Sam;
Too many people don't give a d---;
Too many poets, too many prose;
Too many girls without underclothes;
Too much buying of goods on time;
Too many people don't save a dime;
Too much bail, too much play;
Too many officers on big pay;
Too much taxes, too much rent;
Too many folks spend every cent;
Too much fun, too much ease;
Too many rips in my BVD's;
Too much reform, too much law;
The darndest mess you ever saw.

Surprisingly, James T. Buck's article was published on Thursday, September 3, 1936.
Some things never change.

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