Jimmy Reed

Jimmy Reed is an Oxford, Mississippi resident, Ole Miss alumnus, Army veteran, former Mississippi Delta cotton farmer, and retired college teacher.
Jimmy's latest book, One Hundred by Five Hundred is available at Amazon.
His collection of short stories is available via Squarebooks.com, telephone 662-236-2262.

Most Recent Articles by Jimmy Reed:

Unlucky Lucky 13

May 20, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

Unlucky Lucky 13
Some folks are naturally accident-prone. I am. My boyhood best friend and mentor, Jaybird, said I should write a collection of stories about my accidents. If I do, the first story will be about the time we discovered the honey hole.

In angling parlance, a honey hole is a place nobody else knows about, and we found one. A creek flooded its banks, filling a cow pasture, and bass were thrashing minnows in the shallows. 

No creature is deadlier at ambushing than these bucket-mouthed behemoths. Lurking in shadows, they attack anything that swims close by, and the pasture’s fence posts provided ideal cover.

I Hate That Dirty 830

May 10, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

I Hate That Dirty 830
Dust swirled behind my father’s pickup as he sped through the fields on his Mississippi Delta farm, delivering lunches to tractor drivers, one of whom was Jaybird, my boyhood best friend and mentor. The old black man and I had been riding together on his tractor since daylight.

I loved everything about that John Deere 830 — its bright green color, its long, broad nose, the large cleated tires, the engine’s powerful roar, the smell of diesel exhaust blowing in my face, and especially the big lever that engaged the clutch.

This Beats All

May 1, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

Araucana hens, CHICKEN HILTON
Cotton was my father’s whole life. On his Mississippi Delta farm, he grew it for fifty-two years, and from the time he plowed with mules until the day he shipped his last bale from his own gin, he devoted every waking minute to his crops, and for the life of him he couldn’t understand why I was interested in other things.

One day he remarked to my lifelong friend and mentor Jaybird, “If my son paid as much attention to managing this farm as he does to his honeybees, garden, ducks, geese, turkeys, guineas, and chickens, he might amount to something — especially those chickens.”

Gravy Chin

Apr 20, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

Gravy Chin
His name was Richard Mortis, but folks called him “Rigor” Mortis because, like a two-day-old corpse, he walked with robot stiffness, and when he stopped, nothing moved, except his Adam’s apple, which cycled constantly up and down his long, thin, bony neck.

My boyhood best friend and mentor Jaybird and I called him Gravy Chin because that part of his face protruded out and up, like a sockeye salmon’s lower jaw, and always glistened with the sheen of gravy grease.

Mortis grew produce on land next to my father’s Mississippi Delta farm, and sold it in town. One day, Jaybird and I were preparing to chop weeds out of cotton in a field adjoining Gravy Chin’s truck patch.

There’s No Such Thing As A Free Ride

Apr 11, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

There’s No Such Thing As A Free Ride
The July sun pecked us like a fierce-eyed fowl, and the humidity was so high we needed gills to breathe. Way out in the middle of a Mississippi Delta field, I was working alongside Jaybird, my boyhood best friend and mentor. While my schoolmates enjoyed the summer, I was chopping weeds out of cotton.

When Dad brought us lunch, I asked, “Why must I work all summer? My schoolmates don’t.”

Don’t Bet On Beatrice

Mar 31, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

Don’t Bet On Beatrice
Glaring at the Volkswagen Beetle in front of the commissary store on Dad’s Mississippi Delta cotton farm, my boyhood best friend and mentor Jaybird said, “That ain’t nothing but a coffin with wheels on it.”

The car belonged to Bennie, the rural mail carrier who always stopped at the store for the ultimate Southern snack: a Moon Pie and RC Cola.

The Craziest Pilot Who Ever Flew

Mar 21, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

The Craziest Pilot Who Ever Flew
When the caller asked if I would fly to the Gulf Coast and get his dead brother, I didn’t know what to say.

“He died while vacationing, but the local ambulance company charges too much for the trip,” he said. “If you’ll do it, I’ll rent the airplane and pay you $100.”

His offer came at an opportune time. I had completed every student pilot requirement but one — a cross-country flight requiring a refueling stop and an airport attendant’s signature in my logbook. I promised to meet him the next day.

I Won’t Die Sinning

Mar 12, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

I hope to die praying
Shortly before sundown, we drivers finished cultivating my father’s Mississippi Delta cotton fields, and no sooner had we parked our tractors than a long, steady, soaking summer rain began drumming on the shed’s tin roof — just what the bolls needed to finish filling with fiber.

As the thirsty earth drank its fill, we knew this downpour wasn’t just a “sharrain” (Dad’s way of saying “shower of rain”), but what he called a “sho-nuff, chunk-floatin’ crop maker.”

Can And Will

Mar 2, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

Can And Will
At her country store, Maya Angelou’s grandmother tolerated a few customers who were chronic complainers, but no matter how tough things got, her outlook on life remained positive, and she instilled that attitude in her granddaughter.

Once, when a bellyacher entered the store, she told Maya to listen. Sure enough, he whined about everything — work, weather, and so on. After he left, Maya’s grandmother spoke words of wisdom that became a guiding principle of Maya’s life:

A Crawfish Cook Calamity

Feb 20, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

A Crawfish Cook Calamity

That warm, spring Mississippi Delta Saturday was ideal for doing anything outdoors, but the calamitous way it turned out was less than ideal.

When it comes to preparing delicious, deep-south cuisine, nobody outperformed my lifelong best friend and mentor, the old black man known affectionately by all as Jaybird. When we asked him to boil several hundred pounds of crawfish, he said, “Sho’ — get the water boilin’; let’s enjoy some country-style cuttin’ up.”

“Tio Amo”,  Two Words that Lasted a Lifetime for my Grandparents

Feb 10, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

Ti Amo
Pietro Menotti stood on a ship’s deck among throngs of weary, penniless immigrants like himself. Staring into the haze of a hot summer day, he saw the first of two women who would determine the course of his life.

She was the mighty lady with a torch whose message to foreign lands had attracted millions: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The Mother of Exiles brought tears to Pietro’s eyes. Another woman brought his heart into his throat. She was the petite, raven-haired beauty standing next to him on Ellis Island. The name on her tattered suitcase was Videlma Zepponi. In his eyes, she was an angel sent to earth by the God they both worshipped. 

You’ll Love Flying The Pup

Jan 30, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

You’ll Love Flying The Pup
Inflated egos are dangerous. When my flight instructor certified that I was a licensed pilot, my ego and I were flying high … too high, as was made terrifyingly evident the day I flew the Pup.

Elliott, a student pilot, was constructing an ultra-light, tube-and-fabric, aircraft known as the N3 Pup, and asked me to go with him to look at one that was completed.

The Pup resembled my airplane, a J-3 Piper Cub, but was much smaller — indeed tiny. After discussing its construction, Elliott asked Susanne, the owner, about its flight characteristics.

Slick Willy

Jan 20, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

Slick Willy
In barbershops, even the most sanctimonious listeners accept professional grade lying as entertaining tall tales.

One day, while Larry the barber clipped the white scraggly hackles festooning my haggard old head, he related a tall tale, after which one of the waiting customers said, “Reed, you make a living out of lying by writing stories that never fall within the realm of truthfulness; tell us one that will top Larry’s.”

“I’ll bet the cost of this haircut that he can’t,” Larry boasted.


Jan 10, 2018 — Jimmy Reed


Wintertime winds are brutal in the Mississippi Delta. They are soaking with humidity, and howl unchecked across ironing-board flat fields. Delta folks call these winds “cuttin’ body hawks.”

At daybreak one freezing January morning, the body hawk unleashed its full fury upon us two duck hunters: my lifelong best friend and mentor, the beloved old black man everyone called Jaybird, and me.

Just as we stepped into a field of rice stubble in which we had built a blind, I looked down and spotted a shivering puppy, crying pitifully. He resembled a Doberman pinscher — solid black with rust-colored jaw patches and feet, and a long nose. When I squatted before him, his dull, mucous-clouded eyes, filled with fear and hopelessness, looked straight into mine.

It Is Well, It Is Well, With My Soul

Dec 24, 2017 — Jimmy Reed

Holis Ibsen
In the wee hours of the morning on December 2, 2017, Annabelle, the “baby” of our three daughters, completed the most trying ordeal of her young life. Our baby had a baby!

However, the young woman lying in the hospital bed was not aglow with her usual gorgeous good looks. Instead, she was the picture of utter exhaustion. Her golden blond hair was soaked with sweat, dark circles sagged beneath her eyes, her cheeks were devoid of color, and her lips still bore the grimace of pain. Thirty-one hours of agonizing labor failed to deliver the baby, and it had to be taken by Caesarian section.

Along with her husband Ken, who never left her side during the painful ordeal, we stood silently as she lay in troubled sleep. Finally, her eyes flickered open and she greeted us with a weak smile.

Good Will To All

Dec 17, 2017 — Jimmy Reed

Good Will To All
That cold Christmas Eve, my boyhood best friend and mentor Jaybird leaned on the porch rail of his home, looking across Mississippi Delta cotton fields he had worked in since he was a boy.

In moon-blanched stillness, the fields were taking their winter rest.

Conquer Yourself First

Dec 7, 2017 — Jimmy Reed

Conquer Yourself First
Many lessons my boyhood best friend and mentor Jaybird taught me seemed foolish at the time, but along with me they matured, and now serve as guideposts in my life. One of those lessons was about kindness.

Jaybird believed that no act of kindness, however small, is wasted. Even so, the old black man sometimes displayed a less-than-kindly nature when the actions of others angered him, but if I was close by he did his best to respond in a civil manner.

On one occasion, when he reacted to a neighbor’s offending remark with a mere shrug of the shoulders and a smile, I commented that I would have reacted in a manner similar to the offender’s.

The Most Perfect Christmas Gift

Nov 27, 2017 — Jimmy Reed

The Most Perfect Christmas GiftStanding at the post office window, I placed the tattered Bible in a box, but before sealing it, I lay my hand on the little black book … and remembered.

The book and I have always been together. Periodically, when its spine and pages separate, when handling has marred the cover’s gold lettering, I mail it to a bindery.

There’s No Such Thing As Good Gossip

Nov 16, 2017 — Jimmy Reed

There’s No Such Thing As Good Gossip
Recommending a book he had just finished, a friend said, “You will love it. The author rattles skeletons in the closets of some well-known folks. The juicy gossip it contains has made the book a bestseller.”

His comment confirms what we all know: With shameful regularity, gossip attracts even the most virtuous souls, and for those of us nowhere close to being in the most-virtuous-souls category, its appeal reaches intoxicating proportions.

A Blessing Above All Others

Nov 6, 2017 — Jimmy Reed

Thanksgiving, A Blessing Above All Others
For progressive secularists, mendacious media milquetoasts, Hollywood’s hedonistic heretics, and self-proclaimed, politically elite glitterati — who not only refuse to recognize Thanksgiving as a reaffirmation of faith in God, but also strive to impose their non-belief on those who do — this uniquely American holiday is nothing more than a time to oversleep, overeat, overspend, and over-party.

How sad. How wrong. How sinful. To those heathenish, unholy hellions, I speak one word: Freedom.