Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Southern Character of the Mississippi Delta - Meet "Slim"
I was driving around the Delta a few weeks ago and stopped at this old country store somewhere around Leland, Mississippi. According to my friends that were with us, the old country store is called Fratesi's, owned by Mr. Charlie Fratesi, and has been out on VFW Road forever. My wife was with me and went inside the store, while I stayed outside intrigued by the old gas pumps. As I was walking around the outside, suddenly my wife almost burst out the door and said, "You've got to some inside, now." She knows that I love to meet people of the South and talk to them, especially "characters" or Southern folks that define southern. Well folks meet my new friend. The man pictured is mostly referred to as "Slim" he said he used to play hockey back in the day. After I asked if I could take his picture, the other guys started laughing and telling him the "Show him your teeth!" It was a day I'll never forget.
Update! 4/26/2012 - Ends up this gentlemans name is Clifton Tarpley. Here is a statement from his nephew - "To say he is a simple man but a good man would be an understatement. I have fond memories of him taking me on my very first hunting trip out in the woods behind his old home there in Leland. I haven't seen him since I was a child."
Here is a statement from his niece - "He lives in a dream world and is full of a lot of tall tales. I bet you guys had a good laugh after meeting him. He is a great person and would do any thing he could for you. Did you know that there is a chicken farm right up the road from that store. Its owned by the Carvers. Slim has worked gathering, cleaning and packing eggs for these people for years. He lives in 1 of the Carvers shotgun houses between the store and chicken farm. Has no inside running water or toilet. He still lives like it was the 1940s and loves it. His life is so simple and full of dreams."
Update 7/2015 - Got this note from Mr. Tarpley's family today - "It is with deep regret that that i am letting you know, our uncle Clifton Tarpley passed away .Clifton Lee Tarpley (02 Feb 1931 - 27 Jul 2015) Your photos captured him in all his glory. Thanks for sharing them with the rest of the world. He will be missed."
His niece Debra Colburn wrote me to say - "The World lost a big Dreamer and one of the best Story tellers on Earth.....Rest in Peace Uncle Clifton and go tell the other Angels your great Adventures. Earths lost and Heavens gain !!! I love and miss dearly. - Your niece Debra Colburn Kinney."
Obituary of Clifton Tarpley
Clifton Lee "Slim" Tarpley, age 84, of Leland, fell asleep in the Lord on July 27th at Delta Regional Medical Center, Greenville, after a brief illness. Mr. Tarpley was born February 2, 1931, near Charleston, Missouri; son of the late Emmett Etheridge Tarpley, Sr., and the late Janie "Jennie" (Williamson) Tarpley. In the late 1940's the family moved from Missouri to the Mississippi Delta near Skene and Boyle. In the 1950s they returned to Missouri, and after the death of his father, Mr. Tarpley, his brother Hershel, and mother moved to Washington County, Mississippi. In the 1960's, they moved to VFW Road south of Leland, where Mr. Tarpley farmed and worked on Carver's Farm until retirement.
Besides his parents, Mr. Tarpley was preceded in death by three brothers: William Henry Tarpley, Emmett Etheridge Tarpley, Jr., and Hershel Randolph Tarpley; and by two sisters: Ella Marie (Tarpley) Sledge and Annie Belle (Tarpley) Colburn. He is survived by one brother, Leo Daniel Tarpley, Sr., of Indianola; five nieces, three nephews, and several grand-nieces and grand-nephews.
Mr. Tarpley, or "Slim" as he was known by his friends, was an avid hunter and fisherman. He was one of the last of his generation, a carefree, loving soul who lived life to the fullest in his simple, carefree way, spinning his yarns to any who would pause and lend an ear. The Rev'd Father J. David Colburn, Mr. Tarpley's nephew and pastor of St. Mary's Orthodox Church, Dayton, Tennessee, will celebrate a Requiem Liturgy for family and friends on Saturday, August 1st, at St. Mary's. Private interment will be in the Leland-Stoneville Cemetery. Well done, good and faithful servant, rest in peace in the arms of a loving Savior.
It wasn't by chance that I happened to come into the store that day. I figure the Lord wanted me to grab Slims photo for the world to see. What made it even better was Mr. Tarpley's family reconnecting to him through my photos. For full resolution photos of Mr. Tarpley goto www.gritsphotography.com and put "slim" in the search box