If not for long-dead Civil War Generals Ulysses S. Grant, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and a pot of chicken and dumplings, Bitty Hollandale would never have been charged with murder. Of course, if the mule hadn’t eaten the chicken and dumplings, that would have helped a lot, too.
My name is Eureka Truevine, but my family and friends all call me Trinket. Except for my ex-husband, who’s been known to call me a few other names. That’s one of the reasons I left him and came home to take care of my parents who are in their second adolescence, having missed out on their first one for reasons of survival.
We live at Cherryhill in Mississippi, three miles outside of Holly Springs and forty-five minutes down 78 Highway southeast from Memphis, Tennessee. My father—Edward Wellford Truevine—inherited the house from my grandparents around fifty years ago. It wasn’t in great shape when he got it, but over the years he’s put money, time, and his own craftsmanship into it, and now it’s on the Holly Springs Historic Register.
Every April, Holly Springs has an annual pilgrimage tour of restored antebellum homes, with pretty girls and women in hoop skirts and high button shoes. Men and boys in Confederate uniforms stand sentry with old family Sharpshooters and cavalry swords, neither of which could do much harm to a marshmallow. It’s a big event that draws people from all over the country and gives purpose to the lives of more than a few elderly matrons and historical buffs.
This year, Bitty Hollandale cooked up a big pot of chicken and dumplings to take to Mr. Sanders, who lives in an old house off Highway 7 that the local historical society has been trying to get on the historic register for decades. Sherman Sanders is known for his fondness of chicken and dumplings, and Bitty meant to convince him to put his house on the tour. It’d been built in 1832 and kept in remarkably good shape. Most of the original furniture is in most of the original places, with most of the original wallpaper and carpets still in their original places. The only modern renovations have been electricity and what’s discreetly referred to as a water closet. It’s enough to make any Southerner drool with envy and avarice.
“Go with me, Trinket,” Bitty said to me that day in February.
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