The author in 1930

Sharecropper’s Son Returns With a Sequel

This White County Historical Society member published his first book at 75, and 15 years later completed his seventh, Sharecropper’s Son: The Rest of the Story. The following is an excerpt.



ne of the boys Dad teased a lot was Billy Hallum, who was about 6 years old. He adored my dad, and he’d come over and hang around a lot, and, being a very inquisitive kid, he always had a lot of questions for my dad. Like, “Mr. Best, what does Dad gummit mean?” Or, “Mr. Best, why do cows chew all the time, when they’re not eatin’?” He had so many questions that sometimes Dad would get back at him with a question of his own. One day this marathon was in full progress, and Dad said to Billy, “Billy, what was your name before you were married?” Billy scratched his head a minute and said, “I don’t know.” The next day he came back over, and he informed my dad, “Mr. Best, my mama said you wuz teasin’ me, ‘cause I ain’t never been married.”

So Dad said, “O.K., Billy. So where’s your proboscis?” Billy stooped over and patted his butt, and said, “Right there! You didn’t fool me that time, did you?” Dad doubled up with laughter.

One time he had asked Johnie Thomas what his name was before he was married. Johnie was about 6. Johnie said, “It was still Johnie, whadda you think it was?” Dad said to Billy one day, “Do you ever slumber in bed?” Billy looked real embarrassed, shrugged his shoulders and said, “Not any more!”

One day Billy was at our house, and we had an old tabby cat with a bunch of baby kittens. Billy kept playing with the kittens, and Dad told him a couple of times to stop being so rough with them. Billy persisted. Dad got up and said, “Billy, if you don’t mind me, I’m gonna cut your income off.” Billy took that seriously and left for home immediately. The next time he saw my dad he said, “My mama said I ain’t got no income!” vvv