Right on the side of the Carmel New Hope Road, not far off Highway 27 on the outskirts of Monticello, sits an antiquated old cattle dipping va. The stretch is aptly called Dipping Vat Curve as it is a hairpin one.
I’m sure there has been many wrecks in this sharp bend in the road, and the old dipping vat built back in 1905, if legend has it right, is a witness to them all.
If only the old darling could be speak, what a tale it could tell.
Shannon Calcote Young, who lives near the old vat, loaned me this photo and gives this testimony about the site:
“When my daddy was a young man, he had a wreck coming around that curve and was pronounced dead. They had pulled a sheet over his head and everything.
“Dr. Pace just so happened to go check on him one last time and found him slightly breathing. I’m sure glad he did, because I wouldn’t be here!”
See what I’m talking about?
By the way, I am one of Shannon’s former pastors in nearby Jayess.
Another friend, Linda Ikner says this:
“My daddy, Dexter Rutland, used to speak of the dipping vats from childhood memories. He was born in 1903 and their construction and use was set up to combat Rocky Mountain fever spread by tick bites. That was during the era of open range in Mississippi.”
It is a landmark for the area. I have passed by it many times, and every time it shouts at me loud and clear.
It is more than just a rusty tin and weathered wood structure left that somehow escaped removal; it is a reminder when this community was one in purpose.
The age old slogan of “one nation under God” that is used in the Pledge of Allegiance was actually carried out in this area when this old vat was in production and use.
The cattle dipping vat was placed by the main thoroughfare by those who wanted every cattle farm in the area be able to treat their cows in transport to and from market. It represented a time and era when neighbors knew each other by name and if one suffered, all pitched in to help.
That doesn’t mean there was no strife. Some farmers objected and dynamited the vats, a period known as the Dipping Vat wars.
On the other hand, when a barn would catch fire or a home burn down, the neighbors around pitched in to rebuild whatever was damaged or destroyed.
It was a common practice to borrow from each other, be it some flour for the evening meal and biscuit making or a dozen eggs for the family table fare.
There was no such thing as 911 or the need for such because everybody was a trusting soul and if not they would be sniffed out soon enough and dealt with.
The local folks slept behind unlocked doors and a gentleman's handshake was worth more than all contracts ever formed in present times, because a man’s word was his bond.
Those good old country gents, sadly most all gone, operated by the Golden Rule and the Royal Command of loving your neighbor and doing unto others as you would do unto yourself.
There would be a “blue law” in effect that forbade stores be opened on Sunday, and every home had a Bible. Church attendance was standard practice and the rule of the land.
No one was offended if the name of Jesus was spoken, as there was no such thing as political correctness.
Kids of those days had another kind of drug problem to deal with back then. No, not meth or speed — but church.
They were dragged to church every Sunday whether they wanted to go or not, but as a result most grew up to be decent and law-abiding citizens.
With the 4th of July upon us, wouldn’t it be a nice thought to work toward returning to our neighborly ways of the past?
No, it’s more than an old antiquated and weathered structure with rusty tin still hanging around. It is a reminder of how life used to be and how it needs to be lived out today.
Happy 4th from Afghanistan.
God bless you and God bless America.
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BRO. MALCOLM “MIKE” DYKES of Tylertown is in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where he works for DynCorp International.