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Losing old friend stirs some memories

One of the charms of living as an adult in the community whereyou spent your youth is the continued relationship you have withthe parents of your childhood friends.

While those formative years were spent with their children, myadult years have been spent almost as much with their parents, andthe friendship of those parents in many ways is just as close oreven closer.

Two such parents were Fred Cannon and Bobby Jones. Fred Cannondied 10 years ago. Bobby Jones passed away Thursday morning. Theirsons were my best friends, and both fathers watched all three of usclosely, guiding us through the perils of youth.

Few may know, but Bobby Jones was once a part owner of thisnewspaper. He and my father formed a partnership for a short periodduring the 1960s where he helped with editorial responsibilities. Acommunity historian and humorist, he returned to our pages severalyears ago with a Sunday feature column. His keen knowledge ofLincoln County’s historic past and the humorous spin he would givemade excellent copy as he shared those stories with ourreaders.

A wonderful storyteller, he delighted social and civicgatherings with his wit and humor. Thankfully, just last month hesucceeded in finishing and publishing a book called, “MississippiGumbo.” It is a collection of his historical writings, plays,anecdotes and observations over the years.

Also just prior to being diagnosed with cancer only a few monthsago, his delightful tale of a community event many years ago –featuring several of our longtime prominent families — wasproduced as a one-act play and preformed by the Brookhaven LittleTheatre. As it turned out, it was a wonderful tribute to him as oneof the founding fathers of the local theatrical organization.

I have many memories of my friend, and one I had not thought ofin years until writing this. I wish I had shared it with him.

He, his son Bobby, my father and I were on a duck-huntingexcursion somewhere here in Lincoln County. It was a bitter coldafternoon, the sun had set and I was cold, very cold. There was iceon the ground.

Big Bobby, as he was sometimes called, had in his possession afake snake made of a pieces of light wood, tied together so that ithad a small amount of movement. At some point during our drivehome, turning to us from the front passenger seat, he pulled outthe snake and showed it to the two of us. He commented that it wasa bit stiff from the cold, but harmless.

Of course, the snake slipped out of his hand and landed at ourfeet in the backseat. Now don’t tell me why, but my gun was stillin my hand, loaded and pointing at the floorboard where the snakenow was.

No, I did not blow the floorboard out of the old Ford stationwagon, but oh, was I close. I think it was his scream, when herealized the seriousness of the situation that stopped me.

Every community has individuals who help bring uniqueness to thearea through their personality. Bobby Jones joins a long list ofpast Brookhavenites who have done just that. And like thoseindividuals, he not only helped us all with our remembrances of thepast, but his actions as a community leader over the years helpmake this area better and stronger.

Brookhaven will miss Bobby Jones. And I will miss an oldfriend.

Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, Miss.39602, or send e-mail to bjacobs@dailyleader.com.