Jimmy Reed

Jimmy Reed is an Oxford, Mississippi resident, Ole Miss alumnus, Army veteran, former Mississippi Delta cotton farmer, and retired college teacher.
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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:

The Gift Of Honesty

Dec 16, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

The Gift Of Honesty
In Hollandale, a town near my father’s Mississippi Delta farm, Purlene and Ug Upton owned a mom-and-pop store, and paid top dollar for pecans.

One look explained Ug’s nickname: A mule kicked him on the cheek, and his jaws no longer matched, giving his face an ugly twist. The blow also affected one eye, which focused momentarily and then roamed.

The Greatest Gift Of All

Dec 6, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

The Greatest Gift Of All
[Author’s Note: Kaitlin Childress, Macey Clarkson, Irene Fondren, John Harkins, Eulita Mack, Michael Parker, Lonna Pearl, Miranda Satchell, Jacob Surrette, and Abby Williams, students in Reed’s Creative Writing class, wrote this story.]

While sipping a cup of coffee at the top of the stairs, I heard little feet pitter-pattering into the living room where a Christmas tree was surrounded by beautifully wrapped gifts. Dawn was just breaking and my grandson Corey was already up. I sat quietly, watching his excitement. The scene reminded me of a Christmas morning, long ago.

Kindling The Flame That Is God

Nov 26, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

Kindling The Flame That Is God
When my boyhood best friend and mentor Jaybird, a master teacher, intended to plant life lessons indelibly in my mind, he often clarified the unfamiliar by discussing the familiar. Once when I asked how I could serve God as well as he did, he pointed to flames flickering in his fireplace and began a lesson that made the unfamiliar familiar.

“Imagine a little flame inside you wanting to join the big flame from which it came: God Himself. Even if a man ignores his conscience — God’s voice — for so long that only a tiny spark of that little flame remains, even then it yearns to burst into a roaring blaze, signifying a loving bond with the Divine Flame that is God, the light of the universe.”

Thanksgiving At The Gin

Nov 20, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

Thanksgiving At The Gin

In 1968, when I returned to the Mississippi Delta after overseas military service, my father hired me as his farm manager.  One year, when harvest season was near, he said, “Son, we’ve got a fine cotton crop to gather. I’ll spend all my time in the fields. You’ll have to manage the gin. Jaybird will show you the works.”
Even though I found comfort in knowing that my boyhood best friend and mentor Jaybird would train me, I was still petrified. I not only had to keep the gin’s machines synchronized and running at peak efficiency, but also I had to manage an eight-man crew: four Blacks and four Hispanics.

Sometimes It Bees That Way

Nov 6, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

Sometimes a fellow stumbles into calamities worse than he could ever imagine. Consider mythological Actaeon. He and his dogs were out hunting when he spied Artemis, bathing butt-naked in a stream. Lusty, red-blooded god Actaeon froze as he ogled the gorgeous goddess.

Suddenly, Artemis spotted him, and residing higher on Mount Olympus than he, and therefore having more powers, batted her eyes, clapped her hands, turned him into a deer, and his own hounds made hash of him.

The Blessing Of Balance

Oct 27, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

The Blessing Of Balance
Until Jaybird joined his Heavenly Father, just shy of his ninetieth birthday, my boyhood best friend and mentor enjoyed good health, although the beloved old black man’s lifestyle was not entirely healthful: He smoked cigarettes and drank beer, both of which he enjoyed in moderation.

Ta-Wit All You Want

Oct 17, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

I’ve never asked Gene “Spook” Knight a question about birds he couldn’t answer. The Audubon Society should bestow upon him an honorary Ph.D. degree. Then he would be Dr. Knight, son of “Doc” Knight, the beloved University of Mississippi football team’s trainer for so many years, who patched up countless gridiron warriors and sent them back on the field to render opposing warriors in need of patching up by their trainers. Recently, my neighbor Mrs. Munn, Spook, and I were having a backyard chat, and I described a bird.

Mistuh and Miz Goat

Oct 7, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

Mistuh and Miz Goat
“He’s cute now, but won’t be long,” Mama said, when I brought home a baby goat for my daughters. As Italians are wont to do for emphasis, she fluttered her hands in my face, and said, “Remember that old Italian proverb, ‘He who lets the goat be laid on his shoulders is soon after forced to carry the cow.’”

I shrugged, as if to say what I wouldn’t dare say aloud, “Mama, that’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever said.”

Put Me In, Coach

Sep 27, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

Put Me In, Coach
In high school, football was more than a sport to me; it was an obsession. I dreamed of strapping on pads, cleats, and helmet and doing battle with worthy warriors from other schools.

At the start of my senior year, when I weighed in for the Leland High School Fighting Cubs, Coach Ruscoe snickered as he jotted down 109 pounds.

Dressed out, I resembled a malnourished mannequin. The thigh pads were halfway down my shins, the kneepads almost touched my shoes, and my helmet was a size too large. Even so, when I gazed through the facemask I felt invincible, and fantasized about crowds cheering as I streaked for glory.

You Ain’t Fishing If You Ain’t Fishing Cane

Sep 17, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

You Ain’t Fishing If You Ain’t Fishing Cane
All day long I watched the fly. My arms ached; I had a crick in my neck; I was tired and hungry … but determined not to quit.

My father, watching from the lake’s edge as he grilled hamburgers, thought I was wasting my time. Even a kingfisher seemed to smirk at the futility of my efforts as he preened himself and whizzed in blue blurs from one cypress knee to another.

My Fingers Were Crossed

Sep 7, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

Our parents believed a halo adorned my brother Rodney’s head, and horns protruded from mine. No story had two sides: I was always wrong — which was the case when we fought the Mexican standoff.

For his birthday, Mama gave Rodney a pirate outfit, complete with feather-festooned hat, Jolly Roger eye patch, and a long, curving scimitar. Rodney jabbed and slashed at me until I could take no more.

I Knotted Not Nary ’Nother Noose

Aug 28, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

I Knotted Not Nary ’Nother Noose
If my boyhood best friend and mentor Jaybird hadn’t shown me how to tie hangman’s nooses, I wouldn’t have lynched Gloria’s dolls.

My sister’s passion was dolls. In her upstairs room, they cluttered her bed, dresser, and bookshelf. These weren’t ordinary five-and-dime Raggedy Ann dolls; they were aristocratic debutantes, celebrities, princesses, and queens.

Take A Cold Tater And Wait

Aug 18, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

Take A Cold Tater And Wait
When he wasn’t busy on his Mississippi Delta cotton farm, my father visited other farmers, and sometimes took me with him. In one grower’s office a plaque with a quote by German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe read, “A useless life is an early death.”

Sufficient Unto The Day Is The Evil Thereof

Aug 8, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

On his Mississippi Delta farm, my father operated a small cotton gin, and during harvest season, my after-school and weekend job was hammering together the flat metal straps and buckles used to bind cotton bales. When my boyhood best friend and mentor Jaybird wasn’t busy doing something else, he helped me.

One-eyed Deacon, who also worked at the gin during harvest, hauled cottonseed in a trailer truck to the oil mill in town. His glass eye frightened me. Cornflower blue, it neither matched the brown one, nor was it synchronized with it. The good eye bulged like a bulldog’s, while its store-bought mate floated constantly … up, down, sideways. 


Jul 29, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

As a Little League baseball player, when I stepped to the plate, bunting was the last thing on my mind. Instead I focused on slugging the ball over the outfield fence. A bunt, I thought, was an insult to my Louisville Slugger bat.

“You ain’t big enough or strong enough yet to hit homeruns,” my boyhood best friend and mentor Jaybird said. “That will come someday. Right now, you need to get good at what you can do. Become the team’s best bunter; Coach Coleman will notice, and he’ll play you more.”

’Pologize, Dice!

Jul 19, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

’Pologize, Dice!
As a boy on my father’s Mississippi Delta farm, I looked forward to Saturdays, mainly because I didn’t have to go to school, but also because Friday’s paydays were followed by Saturday’s dice games.

I watched and listened, crouched beside Jaybird, my best friend and mentor. After I grasped the fundamentals of craps, as the old black man called the game, he loaned me some money and let me join in.

The Day Frantic Frankie Fay Flew

Jul 9, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

The Day Frantic Frankie Fay Flew
Sometimes, a well-intentioned plan to provide enjoyment for others leads to an experience one soon wants to forget. Such was the day when this old pilot and Frankie Fay flew.

“Dad, will you take us for a plane ride today?” one of my three daughters asked.

The Peanut Lady’s Paradise

Jun 29, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

The Peanut Lady’s Paradise
“He was such good man,” the tiny Oriental woman said in tortured English as she handed me a bag of peanuts. A solitary tear coursed down her leathery, grieving face. “One minute we talk, next minute he fall dead.”

She made change from a battered cash box, and then looked up at me with that courageous, stiff-upper-lip determination I had grown to admire in her. “I miss him much,” she sighed, staring past me at something only she could see, and turned to her next customer.

The Great Rainmaking Hoax

Jun 20, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

The Great Rainmaking Hoax
Because my lifelong friend and mentor Jaybird had seen hucksters, hawkers, and horse thieves come and go, the old black man often warned me: “Boy, if somebody offers you sumpin’ that sounds too good to be true, it is.” But even he fell for the great rainmaking hoax.

Before large-scale irrigation was feasible, droughts could be disastrous for Mississippi Delta farmers, as was the case one year when my father’s cotton seedlings started off well and needed only a timely rain to bloom and begin setting fruit. But no rain came.


Jun 10, 2018 — Jimmy Reed

J-3 Piper Cub
On a cold, clear February day in 1978, my eighty-year-old flight instructor unbuckled his safety harness and stepped out of the airplane.

“You’re on your own, boy,” he said. “Control the four forces — lift, drag, thrust and gravity — and you’ll be fine, but remember what I’ve always told you: If you’re going get killed in a plane crash, odds are it will happen when you first learn to fly. So, don’t do anything stupid — focus on flying the aircraft at all times.”