BILLY McCORD: As I see it


The weather is absolutely beautiful, marred only by having to move the clocks back one hour this morning. I do not like the time change at all because it provides too much darkness as far as I am concerned. I realize that it may be because I am getting old and grouchy. Even if that is the reason, I am going to invest in some day bulbs which are supposed to make your house look and feel like sunshine. Feel free to give me some advice if you know anything about these bulbs.
Last week I ended by a discussion of the cross-cut saw. I said the last one Daddy had was used by me in an educational endeavor. I also promised to relate this story so I am keeping my promise.
When I arrived in the ninth grade at Bruce High School, all boys had to take a course in agriculture. I did not want to take agriculture, preferring science instead. The teacher told us we had to plan a project like making something with our hands. I had no idea what I would do. One day while at home I glanced at the old cross-cut saw in the shed and, I have no idea why, but I thought a machete could be made from the cross cut saw.
What need did I have for a machete?
My cousin enjoyed fishing, or more like setting out hooks, on the Yocona River. To do that took several canes and those things were hard to cut with a pocket knife. A machete would be the answer. I asked daddy if I could have the saw and he said sure. I suspect he never wanted to pull another one of the saws as long as he lived. Anyway “pop” saws were gaining in popularity so the cross-cut was mine. I asked the teacher about the project and he seemed encouraging. He suggested drawing a machete off on a piece of cardboard and make it fit the saw. Finally we had a cardboard machete and went to work on the saw. A machete was cut and the blade of the machete was made to be really sharp. I then made two handles of wood and installed them on the machete. The teacher thought I had done a good job, gave me an “A” on the project and told me I could take it home. My cousin and I then went fishing on the river and cut us some cane. The machete was superb for the job. The machete always went where I did in the trunk of the car I had at the time.
Run your clock back to the year 1962 and I will pick up on the machete again.
It was still riding in my trunk. On October 1, 1962, I was a student pastor on the Pittsboro Charge and was a student at Ole Miss. On September 30, 1962 it became clear to some of us that James Meredith was about to be enrolled at Ole Miss. His first day to go to school was October 1, 1962, as some of you can recall, after a night of violence. I got up to go to school and many of my folks called me and said, “Stay at home today.”
Truthfully I would have liked to have stayed home but I wanted my degree without delay. My decision was to travel to Ole Miss and be in class. From the news reports I knew Federal Marshals were now in control of the area. On the radio I heard of people being put in a quickly constructed prison cell in the Lyceum Building on campus as well as a stockade on the football field.
Suddenly it hit me hard. My machete was in the trunk of my car where it always was. But things were different that day. I faced marshals as well as troops whose patience had been lost. I could see the picture of the trunk being searched and my being locked up somewhere. Neither the Lyceum Building nor the football field looked good to me. I pulled over south of Oxford, got up and popped the trunk. I reached in, got the machete and threw it as far as I could into woods. As far as I know it still occupies a spot on the Lafayette county soil.
I still miss the machete but I have learned to live without it.

Billy McCord is a retired school administrator and a United Methodist Minister. He is Pastor of Shady Grove United Methodist Church in Calhoun County. He represents District 3 on the School Board, and is President of the Calhoun County School Board. Contact him at P.O. Box 337, Bruce, MS 38915 or by e-mail at

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