I drove by a local business last week and saw my old friend W.T. Yarbrough mowing the yard. I guess W.T. has been mowing as long as I can remember. He just keeps on going as the years progress. W.T. was riding on a big shiny orange tractor with a front end loader. It is a four-wheel drive and has all the bells and whistles. W.T. as a previous police officer and school bus driver, not unlike other business men, started out with much less expensive and sophisticated equipment and worked his way up.
Seeing W.T. brought to mind someone from my youth...many years ago; Bozo Jackson. Before W.T. there was Bozo. In the fifties, sixties, and seventies Bozo was the man in town that mowed yards and just like W.T. broke up the ground for your garden in the spring. The big difference was that Bozo used a mule-not a tractor. He always wore the same hat and looked the same to me all those years. He would always talk to me and not ignore me because I was a little kid.
Bozo didn’t have the luxury of modern equipment like W.T. now uses. For years he mowed with an old reel mower; no motor. He just pushed it and the speed of the blades was based on how fast he walked. He eventually got a lawn mower with a gasoline motor. I remember well being awakened very early in the morning by the sound of Bozo’s lawn mower engine.
I remember well Bozo mowing our yard and about every other yard in town. In the summertime regardless of where you were in Selmer, you would see Bozo mowing a yard. He must have mowed every day from daylight to dark. Bozo would come into my father’s grocery store at the end of the day to get his two dollars for mowing. Daddy would always pay him and say, “get you a Coke, Bozo.” I don’t really remember Bozo talking much. I just remember him working.
Back in those days, Selmer didn’t have the excellent city services now available. Residents would put all their trash in a fifty-five gallon drum or a brick furnace and burn it. It would eventually fill up with ashes and have to be emptied. Bozo would come around and empty them into his mule-drawn wagon and dispose of it. I remember how excited the kids in the neighborhood would be when Bozo came with his mule and wagon. He would throw us up on the mule while he gathered the burned trash remnants.
Bozo has been gone a long time. He had lots of friends in Selmer. He worked very hard his entire life like men used to do. His work was hot and dirty but it was what he did to feed his family. Everybody knew Bozo. Everybody liked Bozo. He was a very honorable man that was proud of his work.