The PREFACE of Billy’s memoir contains the following perspectives about Jess.
“Sometime in the early years of the 1900s, Jessie’s father, Joe, settled in the valley community of Ione . . . . Arkansas. Like all small communities in its time, Ione had a general store, cotton gin, grist mill, and a community center building where folks met for pie suppers and to lend a helping hand for the needy.” (23)
Daddy describes Jess as a “moody son,” who looked to his mother [Addie Elliott] for guidance. “In and around the mountains and the Petit Jean River, the early childhood and youth of Jessie was spent.” (23)
“At night, by the light of kerosene lamps, Jessie would eat roasted peanuts and pore over the well-used copy fo the school Reader, by which the old maid school teacher (with the aid of a wooden paddle) endeavored to teach the English language, and by which Jessie learned to read and write.”
“By the time he reached early youth, Jessie could handle a team of mules and knew enough about the mechanics of farm life, that he, like three of his brothers became rural farmers.”
“From the early teens he learned to smoke, and did so with Prince Albert or Country Gentleman tobacco. He also learned that life was filled with only two choices – work and eat, or not to work.”
“His father, Joe, had a sharecropper lease on 80 acres of the best bottom land around; just west of Ione, Arkansas on the river called Petit Jean. Forty acres were devoted to rowing cotton and the other 40 acres to growing food to live on. Jessie soon discovered that work was a necessity of life.” (23-24)
If you would like to receive these posts by email, you can follow in the right sidebar.