Special to 0-A News
From Walter Albritton, Senior Pastor Trinity UMC
For Sunday, July 11, 1999
When I was a boy growing up
on a farm, I thought my daddy was the smartest man in the world
even though he never finished high school. Then one day I found
out why he was so smart. He knew J. E. Morris.
J. E. Morris was the County Agent. That was his identity back then. I never knew that "county agents" worked for something called the Auburn Extension Service. Now I believe it is known as the "Alabama Cooperative Extension System" and connected with Alabama A&M as well as Auburn University. But the two words, "county agent," were powerful words, something like "OO7." If you were the county agent, you were one smart dude. You were somebody!
Slowly I became aware that my dad admired and respected J. E. Morris as he did few other men. And why not? Morris was willing to teach my dad how to make a living with our small farm. By listening to J. E. Morris, my dad got better and better at growing cotton and corn, and vegetables in our garden. He got so good at it that the government finally started paying my dad NOT to grow cotton. I reckon that's as good as it gets in farming.
I first heard about Auburn when J. E. Morris would drive out, 15 miles from his office in Wetumpka, to talk to my dad. When Morris was driving away, my dad would say, "Son, Mr. Morris is a smart man because he went to Auburn. I hope you can go to Auburn one day." And one day I did, though not to Ag School as my dad had hoped I would.
Now, years later, like my dad once did I am getting wiser by paying attention to one of those Auburn Extension people who may be even smarter than J. E. Morris. His name is Jeff Clary, the County Extension Coordinator.
Like J. E. Morris, Jeff will talk to anyone who desires help whether farmer or not. And believe me, he knows just about everything about things that grow. He is so helpful that if you are not careful, Jeff will tell you more than you want to know - and you'll like what he says.
This week I hit the jackpot. After confessing my need to know about strawberries, peach trees, squirrels and chipmunks, Jeff came by with a dozen handbooks or "circulars," enough late night reading material for a month.
The best gift of all from Jeff was a wild game recipe book telling me how to cook squirrel pie, stew, and even "white squirrel gravy." I am already planning a late summer neighborhood squirrel feast and, if Stan Martin and Jim Jackson will help me, we'll barbeque a bunch of the little rascals.
Of special interest to me is the circular about chipmunks and the suggestions for "exclusion," and "habitat modification." Yeah, I would like to modify their habitats- so much that they would move up the street and camp out in Earl Ballard's backyard. I know Kate would love to raise chipmunks.
The best news is that the day Jeff gave me a circular on backyard tomatoes, my own tomatoes began to ripen! Now we are eating our very own tomatoes.
I know my dad would be proud. And J. E. Morris too.
So today I thank my friend Jeff Clary for reminding me that our country has been blessed for a long time to have folks like J. E. Morris and Jeff Clary around to help us learn how to use the good earth.