First Deer at 54, Better Late Than Never!

The Warfords are a deer and turkey hunting clan and have been as far back as anyone remembers.  All my life I have been hearing deer and turkey hunting stories. As a kid I tagged along on several deer hunting trips but was never present when a deer was killed.  My father was in the Air Force and while we visited as often as we could we were rarely in Arkansas during deer or turkey season.  We were in Germany from the time I was 13 (1973) until I was 16 (1976).  I was home for only one deer season before my grandfather passed away in 1977.

In the winter of 1976 my Pappaw sat my brother, cousin and I along a fence line on the old Griffith place and then let the hound dogs lose on the other side of the woods we were facing.   We all heard the dogs coming toward us and then we heard what we thought was a deer moving parallel to us out of sight just inside the tree line. David, Shane and I were cold and frustrated when we headed back to the truck. The day would probably have been forgotten entirely but for an incident on the way back to the truck when a flock of black birds flew too close to our little group. Without one word being said by anyone the sky was suddenly filled with buckshot.  That day has since been referred to in Warford family folklore as “the day it rained blackbirds.”

Little did I know that my first deer hunting trip would be my last for almost 40 years.   From 1976 until 2006 deer and turkey hunting stories were rarely part of my life.  Then in 2006 my oldest daughter, Melissa, married Heath Freeman.  Heath is a hunter and comes from a family where women as well as men were hunters.  It was not long until he had both of my daughters not only in the woods but killing deer and turkey.  It was good to hear deer and turkey hunting stories again. It was after all part of our family heritage.

The girls, especially Melissa have been after me to let them take me hunting.  This past week I decided to make time to go hunting.   I was counting on what my Pappaw called beginners luck and it showed up big time. We were on the deer stand about an hour when Melissa, who was acting as my guide, spotted a young buck that was not legal.  I was watching the young buck when Melissa became very excited. “Dad, dad there is a big buck coming through the woods.” He is going to pop out. Do you see him, do you see him?”  She was whispering but very excited and I was staring up and down the tree line, I could see nothing.  I was breathing hard and my glasses started to fog up. I told myself, you better calm down or you are going to mess up. You know how to shoot, focus – sight picture, breath control, trigger squeeze.  I was calming down but I still could not locate the deer. Finally I realized the deer was to my side almost behind me and my view was blocked by a cedar tree. There was a gap in the cedar tree’s branches where I might have a shot but the deer was going to have to move out a few more steps. He was an older deer and he did not get that way by being reckless. He looked back and forth before he moved as if he were about to cross a busy street.  Finally he stepped from the woods right into the only spot where I could have taken the shot. Call it beginners luck if you like but everything went perfect. I squeezed off a shot and the deer bolted down the tree line and out of sight. I was sure I had hit him but he sure did not act like it. Melissa and I ran ten yards or so in the same direction he ran and then we heard a big crash.  He had run thirty or forty yards, jumped a brush pile, a fence and fell.  I had killed my first deer. It was a nice nine pointer.  I think Melissa was as excited as I was.  I know my Pappaw would be pleased and I sure was.  It was a good hunt.  When is turkey season?

Lloyd Warford with daughter Melissa and his first deer.

Lloyd Warford with daughter Melissa and his first deer.

He is a Chip off the old Block

He or she is a chip off the old block; the apple (or acorn) does not fall far from the tree; like father like son; these are all idioms that express the same idea that children are often very much like their parents. The truth is every child is a twisted combination of the genes of two families not only do they take after Mom and Dad but the grandparent genes have a way of skipping a generation and showing up again.  I, like most parent am proud of just about everything my kids do but also like most parents I am particularly proud when I see my kids do something that reminds me of myself.  Each of my children has done things at one time or another that caused me to stand just a little bit taller and smiled just a little bit broader.  These blog post are intended to one day be put together into a book for my children. One of the Chapters will be about the times when I was not only proud of my children but when I could see the reflection of myself in them.

My youngest child Noah is fast becoming a very impressive young man.  Noah like the rest of the family loves music and can eat his weight in cheese dip. He is a straight A student like his Mom and Melissa (his oldest sister) and reads voraciously and has an artistic flair like his other sister, Kristina.

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Noah waiting to shake the hand of President Clinton

Noah is only eleven so he is still developing and trying to figure who he is and what he is going to be.  It is exciting to see him exploring the world around him, and all the different possibilities.  Whatever he decides to do with his life it is clear he has his Dad’s love of history.  I would like to say I taught him to love history but the truth is I did not have anything to do with it. He taught himself. When he was just a little fellow he got a ruler as a prize at the fall festival at church. On this ruler were the faces of all of the American Presidents. Noah wanted to know who those men where and why they were important. He has taught himself all about the presidents. He has also learned about the first ladies. Whatever he does in life I think Noah will always have an interest in the people of the past and how government works. It pleases me that he and I share this area of interest and that he came to it on his own.

It also pleases me that Noah cares about other people. This past week was Noah’s parent/teacher conference. All his teachers love him but one teacher went on and on about how he had used his share time to talk about bullying. He encouraged the other kids not to bully and to take up for others when they are bullied. Most of the other eleven years olds use they share time to tell of a new toy or a family outing.  Noah used his time to try to influence the behaviors of his friends in a positive way.  It was clear that Noah not only impressed his teacher he actually moved her.  When we ask him about it he acted like it was no big deal.

This story has been floating around in the back of my mind ever since we met with the teacher.  Noah on his own initiative at eleven used his share time to tell a story in a moving way in an effort to motivate his class mates to respond in a positive way. Hmm, who does that for a living?  Of course I first thought that is just like Dad. I am a lawyer and that is what I do. Then I thought that is also like his Grandpa Warford who was a Baptist preacher. It is also very similar to the many salesmen he has in the family like his grandpa Weir and great-uncle Chuck.  Noah has boldness, a love of people and a persuasiveness that would help him be a great salesman, preacher or lawyer. Who knows what he might be but whatever he does I hope he will always keep his love of history.

Graduation Gift from Mammaw

Londsdale Quliting Club - 3rd from left is Sallie Warford2013-11-16 014

 

 

 

 

 

My Mammaw, Sallie Warford, was a true homemaker in the way few women are these days. No offense to anyone but my Mammaw raised three boys without benefit of many of the modern appliances we have come to regard as necessities. One of many things Mammaw did to care for her family was to make quilts. The picture above is of Sallie Warford with friends from the Lonsdale Arkansas Quilting Club. Mammaw is third from the left. It is a rough estimate but we suspect this picture was taken around 1949.  What we know is we have a picture of Mammaw wearing this same dress in about 1949 or 50. Our estimate is far from precise because Mammaw was know to mend and wear clothes for years and years.  The picture could just as well have been taken in 1959.

Mammaw’s ability to mend any fabric was legendary in the Warford family. In 1977 she came a stayed with us for a few days and one day she decided to help my mom with the laundry. Well, she discovered that my brother and sister and I had all sorts of clothes that had holes in them. Now most of these were undergarments and socks and the holes were in places no one would ever see. These garments were on there way to the trash can at our house but Mammaw could not stand throwing away these clothes. Mammaw insisted on mending every garment in the house.  Where holes were to large to close with stitching she used an old tee-shirt to create a patch and plug the hole. The patches were strong and comfortable. No rough edges on the feet or bottoms of Mammaw’s family.

For graduation in 1978 Mammaw gave me a quilt as a gift. This blanket was on my bed when I was single and after I got married it has always remained nearby.  It has covered many house guest, hosted many picnics and been a play area for all my children. Eventually it was falling a part.  One year for Christmas my wife, Mandy, found a women who was able to mend it and put it back in the same condition it was in when I got it.  This was one of the most thoughtful Christmas gift I have ever received.  The quilt is in the second picture – above right.  It will always be one of my most prized possessions.

A Warford/Teague Family Mystery?

Sallie Louise Teague Warford was my paternal grandmother. I called her Mammaw. Mammaw was born February 12, 1910, at least that is what she reported throughout her adult life but census records actually call this into question. Sallie Teague show be listed with the rest of the family in the 1910 census but there is no Sallie Teague. The census does however show a Nellie Teague age 1. This raises several possibilities. Was Sallie originally called Nellie? Was Nellie another child that died before reaching her first birthday? Could Sallie have actually been born in February of 1910 or later? Did the census taker just write the name down wrong?

On ancestry.com some family trees list Nellie as a child that was born and died in about 1909 and shows Sallie being born about the same time. Other family trees list Nellie as an alternative or second name for Sallie. It is not uncommon for names to be miss-spelled or misunderstood in the handwritten census records of the early 1900s but that seems unlikely here for two reasons: first, because the name is very clearly written in 1910 (it is definitely Nellie) and second because Nellie was a family name. In fact, Sallie had an Aunt Nellie that was 11 years old in 1910.

I was hopeful that the 1920 census might resolve the question but it is anything but dispositive. The 1920 census does not show a Nellie Teague at all but shows a Sallie age 10. Again that could be because Nellie was Sallie or because Nellie had died and Sallie was not born until 1910. If Sallie was born in February 1909 then she would have been 10, on January 1, 1920 but would have been 11 when the census was completed in May 1920. If Sallie was actually born in February of 1910 she would have been 10 when the 1920 census was taken. So, the 1920 census could support either possibility.

There are many possible explanations but the two most likely explanations are either that Sallie was originally called Nellie and it was changed for some reason or Nellie was a different daughter, and Sallie was not born until 1910. If anyone out there knows the answer or has proof of Sallie’s birth date or proof that Nellie was or was not a separate daughter, I sure would like to know the answer to this mystery.

Forts and Tree Houses

When my brother, (David) sister (Karen) and I were kids one of our favorite things to do was to build a fort or tree house. We built many of them over the years using just about anything we could find. When the weather was too bad to go outside we put together forts made of sheets strung between chairs and held in place by stacks of world book encyclopedias. If we could get our hands on some cardboard that worked well to for an indoor fort. Our indoor forts were quite creative but are true masterpieces were always outdoors especially the ones we could make when we went to Papaw’s house. At Papaw’s house we had access to axes, machetes, nails, hammers, rope, and sometimes even scrap lumber. We also usually had the help of our cousins Susie and Shane. Here are a few of many childhood stories that surround these forts and tree houses.

Hardhats must be worn at all times!

My uncle Chuck worked in a plant where hardhats had to be worn at all times. Uncle Chuck said this was for safety in case someone dropped a tool or something hard from a high place. Somehow or another we appropriated several of these hardhats that we were wearing while building a fort. I was the oldest and usually develop the rules for our games. You have to have rules when you play games or everybody will just do what they want and if there’s anything first children abhor it is chaos. On this occasion we were using the shell of a camper to build our fort and I had made a strict rule that no one should be inside the camper shell without a hardhat. Everyone was dutifully following the rule and everyone was working at their assigned task. My brother David was up on top of the camper removing small nails that had once held the original outer wall in place. Shane was bringing more materials. Susie and Karen were also helping. At times they work with us and at times they played house. Sometimes they would bring us pretend lunch. I was inside the camper shell working diligently to get a nail out of an old board and when I finally prided free I was pleased with my hard work. I stood up, took my hardhat off to wipe my brow the way I’d seen the men do. All of a sudden I had a sharp pain on the crown of my head. For a split second it was like I was unconscious and I fell to my hands and knees. I shook my head trying to figure out what it happened. A large goose egg was already growing on my head. Shane was standing outside the camper shell laughing so hard he was in danger of passing out. I looked straight at him with a look that sent him running backward yelling, “he did it, he did it” pointing toward the house. I looked toward the house and I saw David already halfway to the house. He was still clutching a ball pein hammer and yelling over and over, “you said hardhats must be worn at all times, you said hardhats must be worn at all times!”

Barricades

We also love to barricade the drive way. We often did this when where waiting on our cousins or Mamaw and Papaw Griff. In this picture we have built a barricade blocking part of the drive coming up to Papaw’s house. In May of 1970 I would have been 10.

Summersaults and Nail Holes

There were two large oak trees in my Papaw and Mamaw’s yard. One day we decided we were going to build a tree house in the larger of the two. The problem was we could not reach the lowest limb even with our ladder. We were trying to figure out how to attach boards to the side of the tree that we could use as a ladder to climb up the tree. We decided it would be easier if we drove nails through the boards into the ground and then just nailed the pre-nailed boards in the tree. This was working pretty well and we had made it about five feet up off the ground. I had just finished nailing to nails into a board flipped it over and started another board when my brother jumped off the ladder and landed on two nails that were sticking up out of a board. He screamed like a little girl and started hopping all around and then did something of a somersault. Well, with all his gyrations the board came flying off of his foot and landed on the ground between him and the house. I ran over to him but before I could get there he jumped up and headed for the house and he stepped on that board again pushing those same two nails back into his foot. This time he fell on the ground and just started flopping around like a fish. I was trying but couldn’t catch hold of the board because of all the wiggling so I stepped on his foot and mashed his leg to the ground and grabbed the board. The nails were all the way through. I sat down put my feet against his behind and pushed with my feet while pulling the board and the nails came out. It was kind of painful pulling the nails out. The rubber on those shoes made a high-pitched squeak, like you get when you scratch a chalkboard. It makes me cringe to think about it. Oh, and I imagine David was hurting too.

Barbed Wire Safety Nets

David and I also had tree houses near our home in town. Although I was pretty reckless my brother David was the true wild man. Somehow or another David had figured out we could walk out on a large thick limb of an old oak tree and jump five or six feet to a smaller hardwood tree, throw our arms and legs around it as you flew by and it would spring back and forth wildly. Now this all occurred maybe twenty feet off the ground and in hindsight may have been a bit foolish but it was a heck of a lot of fun. The higher you jumped and grabbed hold of the tree the wilder the ride. David and I spent hours doing this and it was great fun until one day David leaped from the oak tree and tried to grab the hardwood at the very top and he missed the tree entirely with his hands. David’s feet caught the tree for a split second just long enough to spin him over and in a position where he was going to hit the ground head and neck first. I am standing to the side of the tree watching all this happen and I remember thinking, wheelchair! You see, my mom was always afraid one of us was going to end up in a wheelchair and if you’ve heard many of our family’s stories you know her fears were not completely unfounded. Standing there I literally thought, this is it, wheelchair! At that very second David crashed into some heavy brush and in that brush was an old rusty barb wire fence that we had never noticed before. David was wearing a heavy coat and his coat hung in the barb wire causing him to spin around and land on his feet. Other than a small hole in his coat he was fine. This was one of many times that I believe we would have been seriously injured or killed if God had not been watching over us.

The Difference in Hardwood and Softwood Trees

Hardwood trees and softwood trees have very different physical characteristics. Some of you may have taken a botany class or otherwise studied the difference in hard and softwood trees in school. I learned about the different characteristics of hard and softwood trees through a very different process. A month or two after the barbed wire safety net incident we were out at my grandparents and we spied a softwood pine tree that was growing right beside a large brush pile. Now the height of this brush pile, the height of the pine tree, the distance between them was all approximately the same as the tree swing we had been jumping and swinging on in town. This looked like a perfect tree swing. Shane, David and I debated among ourselves who would be the best to test this new tree swing and for some reason I let them talk me into being the tester. I climbed to the top of the brush pile and I checked it out and everything looked just right. Same size trees, same distance, what could go wrong? I leaped at the pine tree grabbing it perfectly with both hands and wrapped my feet around as I flew by but that tree did not bend, it did not bend even a little bit. My arms were almost yanked out of socket trying to hold on to the tree. So there is the first difference between hardwood trees and softwood trees. Hardwood trees are pliable and bend and softwood are stiff and will not bend. Now I had managed to learn this part of the lesson without suffering any pain, unfortunately, the lesson was not over. I am now about twenty feet up in the air and I have to get down and I am wearing shorts and a thin T-shirt. The second lesson was that hardwood trees have a smooth bark and softwood trees have an extremely rough bark, you know the kind that will cut your body, your hands and your arms if you try to slide down it.

Little Sister, Karen, in the Stockade

I Will Wash Your Mouth Out With Soap

The forts in the first pictures were built in 1971 when I was 12. Being a twelve year old and pretty near grown I had learned a few bad words which I shared with my siblings and cousins. We were all up in the forts having great fun and trying our new words until my little sister, Karen snitched on us to Mom. She was upset because we were keeping her locked up too long in the stockade. My Mom made all of us come into the bathroom one at a time and she washed our mouths out with soap. Let me just tell you that was some nasty tasting stuff. We learn our lesson though none of us would ever cuss again in front of Karen.

 

Tradition of Service – A Veteran’s Day Salute

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My family, like many families in this country, has a tradition of military service. We are not war mongers or part of some warrior class; no member of our family has ever attended a military academy and only one of the people pictured above sought the military as a career. I do not wish to diminish the service of those who were drafted and did there duty but I think military service at least in combat units should be on a volunteer basis.  I am of the opinion that in a free and democratic society any war that cannot be fought with volunteer troops should not be fought. There is no greater form of democracy than a muster.  A muster is an assemble in preparation for battle.  It is far to easy for politicians to vote to send other people and other people’s kids to war to permit a draft.  If the government cannot muster a volunteer army to fight a war that is a pretty good indicator the people of this nation are not behind the war and we should stay home. All that said, I am proud of my families tradition of military service.  

This picture was put together as a Veteran’s Day salute to the many members of our family that have served in the military. Left to right on top – Eddie Warford, US Army; Fred Griffith was regular Army before WWII and served most of the war in the First Special Services Force ( Devil’s Brigade); Jinnings G. Burruss was an assault boat driver, USN, and served in the Battle of Okinawan; William Armand, USMC, Vietnam; Kenneth Warford, USAF, Vietnam; David Warford, USN; Jerry Warford USAF, Vietnam; Olga Griffith, Olga was my grandmother and she was not a veteran but she was a welder and built warships during WWII and I choose to honor her with the other veterans in my family.

May God bless the many Veterans that have served this country and especially bless the many warriors that suffer still from wounds, both physical and mental.

First Day of Deer Season

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Kenneth Warford and Sally Warford in her Kitchen

Now my cousins and I called our grandmother, Mamaw, but the whole community called her, Aunt Sally. One cold November morning around 1968, or maybe 1969, I was staying with my Papaw and Mamaw. I was sleeping on the couch and I was awakened by my Papaw stoking the cast iron firebox in the corner of the living room. They were country folk of modest means and they did not have central heat and air. I’m not sure what time it was but I am guessing it was three-thirty or four o’clock in the morning. From where I was laying I could see into the kitchen that my Mamaw was cooking and a half-dozen men were sitting around the table eating. My Papaw said, “Lloyd, there are going to be a whole bunch of people in here in a minute why don’t you go back and lay down in my bed.” I could see one of my uncles, my grandfather and several men I knew from their church. I remembered then that it was the first day of deer season. I wanted to get up but I was so tired and I dozed off for just a little bit. I was startled when another group of men burst through the front door.

One of the men that came in was my cousin, Eddie, as he came in Eddie, shouted, “city boy what are you still doing in that bed don’t you know it’s the first day of deer season.” I got up and I followed the men to the kitchen. I couldn’t believe all the food that was on the table. There were all the normal things she cooked for breakfast, big homemade biscuits, slab bacon, ham, white gravy and my grandma’s specialty rice and chocolate gravy. It was a southern style breakfast feasts but there were other things you did not normally eat at breakfast like mashed potatoes and venison. I think my Mamaw might just have cooked everything she knew how to cook. Over the next hour or so one group of men after another came to the door, some knocked and some just walked in. My grandma greeted them all and offered them a plate. I have no idea how many men came through and ate that morning but I would not be surprised if it was 50 men. Now later in the day I did hear Mamaw tell my Papaw that she was getting too old to cook all night but that morning she insisted everyone eat and everyone did. In fact I am pretty sure her feelings would have been hurt if anyone had not had a full plate of food.
Some men ate and took off but most stayed. They were waiting on something. Some were concerned that it was not long until sunup. Finally a man arrived I knew him as the pastor of Ten Mile Baptist Church. The preacher wasn’t dressed for the hunt and made and excuse that he had some business to attend to that morning. One of the men joked; we ought to cut your shirttail off for missing the first day of deer season. Everyone laughed. The pastor then asked, “will everyone join me in prayer.” The Pastor asked God to bless the hunt and he pray for the safety of the men in our community. There was a hardy Amen all around and they were off.
Regrettably this was the only time I was at my grandparents for the first day of deer season. I don’t know if this was a one-time event or a community tradition. Either way it is a wonderful memory and I am glad I was there. The world has change a lot since 1969. In those days we killed deer we didn’t harvest them. I suspect my Pawpaw would snicker at harvesting deer and figure that was something some city-slicker must have come up with. There were no women on that hunt. Today both my daughters are deer hunters. I would give anything if I could send a text or email to my Papaw with a picture of one of the deer they have killed. I know that would bring my Papaw a great deal of joy.

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Papaw Warford and some of my Cousins and Family Friends

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Melissa Warford Freeman

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Kristina Warford

Eulogy of Jinnings Burruss December 23 1920 – November 3, 2013

Jinnings Burruss

Jinnings Burruss was born December 23, 1920 into a very different world than we live in today. His life would span almost a century and he saw extraordinary change. When Jinnings was born neither the star spangled banner or the pledge of allegiance had been officially adopted.  The President of the United States was Warren G. Harding.  Harding was the 29th President of the United States and Jinnings would live to see 15 more presidents.  Jinnings lived through the roaring twenties, the great depression, the Second World War, the Cold War. He saw the berlin wall go up and watched it torn down.

I don’t know who wrote Jinnings’ obituary but they did an excellent job honoring Jinnings life.  The obituary said Jinnings was raised during hard times. That is exactly how Jinnings would describe his childhood.  Jinnings was born at a time when most rural Americans had no electricity, no running water and no indoor plumbing and the Burruss family had less than most. There was no TV, no radio and only one newspaper. It was not distributed to much of the state but it didn’t matter since most Arkansans could not read.

I love history and I love talking to people older than I am about the historical events they lived through. Unfortunately it is getting harder and harder every year to find people that are older than me.  One day I was talking to Jinnings and I asked him what he could remember about when the stock market crash in 1929.  Jinnings said, well, I recon I probably heard about the stock market crash but it didn’t mean anything to us we were already poor. Jinnings and his brother Hugh were helping support the family at an age when kids today aren’t allowed to stay at home without supervision.

Jinnings Burruss was a proud veteran of World War II and it was suggested that I might wear my old army uniform today in honor of Jinnings service.  I would love to have worn my uniform but regrettably I no longer fit in my uniform. The only part of my uniform I can still get on are these airborne wings.  Today I proudly wear my airborne wings in honor of my fellow veteran Seaman Jinnings Burruss.

When Jinnings joined the Navy he boarded a train in rural Arkansas and got off at the “U.S. Naval Training Center, the Bronx, New York City.  It was a great adventure. One he never forgot. The last time we talked when he was still at home he was still amazed and went on and on about what it was like for a small town country boy from Arkansas to end up in NYC.

He would go from there to California and then cross the ocean.  Jinnings would eventually take part in the Battle of Okinawa, codenamed Operation Iceberg, the battle was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific theater of World War II. Four army Divisions and 2 Marine Divisions were landed on the Island. The 82-day-long battle lasted from early April until mid-June 1945.

On the first day of the battle Jinnings was piloting one of the lead landing craft in the second wave that was to hit the beach. Jinnings could see in front of him that the landing craft in the first wave were getting stuck on a reef and were dropping their load of Marines in water that was waste deep or higher.  Jinnings orders were to drive straight into the beach. Jinnings told me, “I knew that if I went straight in I was going to get stuck on that reef and those Marines would be sitting ducks.”  I may not get this part right. I don’t know much about boats and can’t remember exactly what Jinnings said he did but somehow Jinnings turned his boat in such a way that he was able to drive it either around or over the reef.  Jinnings deliver those Marines to the beach safe and dry.  Jinnings took great pride in accomplishing his mission and putting that handful of Marines on the beach safe and dry. That first landing was only the beginning of the battle and Jinnings would spend weeks piloting his landing craft back and forth to shore carrying men, supplies and eventually wounded.

Jinnings like millions of other veterans serve his country with honor and then he came home and lived the rest of his life with the same honor. He worked hard and raised a fine family that I am proud to have married into.  When I met Jinnings he was retired but he was still working hard. He was working hard at fishing, picking pecans and tending to his garden. Every time we went to Bradford he insisted we take a bag of pecans home.

I met Jinnings and many of you in the summer of 1991 when Mandy brought me to a family picnic. I think it was the 4th of July. We had a whole table full of casseroles and ham.  For dessert we had pecan pie and homemade ice cream.  After lunch I fell asleep in a lounge chair.  I don’t think the ladies in the Burruss family were too keen on my first appearance in Bradford but before I left Jinnings eased up beside me, he put his hand on my arm, and said, “that Mandy is something special, take good care of her” and then he invited me to come back any time. He always made me feel at home. Jinnings honestly made me feel like family from my very first visit to Bradford.

In preparing this eulogy I of course racked my brain trying to think of the right words to describe Jinnings Burruss.  I was of course looking for something that would sound profound, perhaps spiritual with a little lawyer twist but what I kept thinking was Jinnings Burruss was a happy man. Jinnings Burruss was a happy man.  I began to think about how hard it is in this world of ours to be happy and how rare truly happy people are. I have been thinking about little else for three days and I am convinced that the secret to Jinnings Burruss happiness was contentment.  He loved his family, his community and he loved his life.  Jinnings Burruss coveted no man and he was content with what God had given him.  Jinnings Burruss lived the fruits of the Spirit every day. In him you could see, love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control.

Jinnings life was anything but perfect.  He endured many trials and much loss but somehow he never dwelled in the past.  He faced loss, he grieved, and then he looked to the future and lived every day with joyful anticipation.  If Jinnings could speak to each of you today I believe he would tell each of you to celebrate his life, grieve his loss and then look to your future. Live your life with joy and anticipation being content with what God gives you and most of all, be sure to make time to go fishing.

Delivered November 5, 2013, by Lloyd Warford

“I have seen whole families like that.”

1968-73 Album - 056

From L to R Lloyd Warford (me), Papaw Elmer Warford and David Warford (brother) Taken in 1968 after a deep sea fishing trip off the Coast of North Carolina on a boat called the Danco.

When I was a kid and I would say, “Papaw, I am hungry,” my Papaw would say “I have seen whole families like that.”  My Papaw was a walking encyclopedia of old sayings and I love most of them but when I was a kid I never like this one very much.  He used it all the time.  Papaw I’m thirsty. “I have seen whole families like that.” Papaw I need some money. “I have seen whole families like that.” Papaw I need a new fishing pole. “I have seen whole families like that.” This little old saying was the ultimate kid block. That saying was my Papaw’s way of telling you that you didn’t really need that and you can make do without it. He was not being unkind; he never had much money and he wanted us kids to understand the difference in wants and needs.  If Papaw got you a Safeway soda water and a moon pie for a fishing trip it was a big deal.  Most of the time before you got your moon pie and a trip to the pond there was work to be done and my Papaw never worried about child labor laws. We built fence, plowed fields, fed hogs, bailed hay and so on and so forth.

Here is the thing; every one of my Papaw’s grandkids will tell you that Papaw Warford spoiled all of us rotten.   He spoiled us with his time, his attention and his unwavering support.  When it came to his grandkids Papaw Warford was the most easygoing man I have ever known.  It didn’t matter what you did Papaw was okay with it as long as you were doing the best you could. If the field was plowed a little crooked he wasn’t worried about it.  I remember looking at a field I had plowed one time and it was a mess.  All Papaw said was “Lloyd that lower end of the field is a little catawampus but I think we can make it work.” On another occasion one of my cousins, Shane Warford, ran the tractor into a row of fence.  Papaw said “Shane, you need to be more careful next time” and that was the end of it.  There was fence to repair and nothing else needed to be said.

I now have an fourteen year old son, Noah. Of all of my Papaw’s sayings the one I hear coming out of my mouth the most is “I have seen whole families like that.” I don’t think Noah appreciates that saying any more than I did when I was a kid but I know he will someday when he has a son of his own.

Heirlooms

Without delving too far in to old English common law the basic idea behind an heirloom is that it is something passed down from generation to generation within a family. As you might imagine being the self-appointed family historian I have accumulated a number of items which I consider to be heirlooms. Most of these items have no real intrinsic value to anyone. They are important only because they represent a connection to the to those who have gone before us. My hope is to give each of my children at least one heirloom that will mean something to them.

I have always love photographs. When I was a child I would spend hours rifling through the shoe boxes full of photographs that my parents had collected over the years. As a young adult I dug all of those photographs out of shoeboxes and put them in albums. When I was in high school I wanted to be a photographer and I begged my parents for a 35mm camera. We didn’t have a lot of money at the time and cameras were quite expensive but for Christmas they managed to get me a Pentax 35mm camera.  I love that Pentax but that’s not my most important camera, my most important camera, is a Browning box camera.

This camera belonged to my grandmother, Olga Baker, Armand, Griffith. I consider this camera to be an heirloom and it is my hope that it will be passed down in our family along with the pictures here and the stories behind the camera and each of these pictures.  The first picture (above) is of the Browning camera. The second picture (below) is of my Mom using a camera just like this one to take my picture. We can’t be for sure it is this very camera because there were a couple in the family but this camera is old enough and could be the camera in the picture.  The last picture is the picture my mother took with the camera in the picture. These pictures were taken on or very close to my first birthday in August 1960.1960 - Kenneth Lloyd Warford 004

My middle child Kristina has my love for photography and pictures so much so that she has made it her profession and has started her own photography business. In May 2013 two of her pictures were published in the Arkansas Bride magazine. There are a lot of photographers in Arkansas who work hard at it every day and it was quite an accomplishment for Kristina to have to photographs selected for publication. I am so proud of Kristina for having a dream in going after it.

Whether Kristina sticks with the photography as a profession or moves on to other things I will always be proud of her photographic accomplishments and I hope she will always share my love for photography.

Kristina when I leave this world I want you to have this camera. I hope you will care for it and someday pass it on to another member of the family who loves photography asking them to safeguard this camera and these memories.

The last picture is of Kristina with her modern camera and one of her wedding portraits. See more of Kristina’s photography at http://kmwarford.zenfolio.com/

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