Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Bless the Beasts and the Children

Jackie K. Cooper

Last weekend was the "Cherry Blossom Festival/Mulberry Street Arts and Crafts Show" in Macon, Georgia. For the past five or six years my fellow author Jackie White and I have had a booth at this event. We sell copies of our books and have a great time. This year we both had a new book to sell. She had a mystery titled MOCKINGBIRD IN THE MOONLIGHT and I had a collection of short stories titled THE BOOKBINDER.

Last year the weather was awful. It rained so hard that Sunday's events were cancelled. Usually, the Arts and Crafts Festival is held on both Saturday and Sunday. The year before that I had almost frozen to death. You never know what the weather is going to be like in middle Georgia in March.

This year the weather was predicted to be clear and hot—and it was. The temperature climbed up into the mid-eighties on Saturday and to near ninety on Sunday. Luckily, we have a tent that keeps us covered and out of the sun. It did get a little warm but nothing like it was out in the open.

My friend Jackie White is an animal lover. Every year she would observe the pets being strolled down the street in front of our tent and comment about how hot and thirsty they looked. This year she decided to do something about it. She brought a metal bowl and some containers of water, along with her books. She also had a sign that read, "Dog Refreshment Center."

The water and the sign were a big success. People were amazed that we had refreshments for their pets. And boy, did those dogs lap it up. We had dogs of all sizes stopping by for a drink. One dog was as big as a Shetland pony, and another was one of those tiny nervous dogs that looked like he could be stepped on and destroyed.

As happy as I was about the dog refreshment idea, I wish we had also had baby bonnets to hand out. I saw way too many babies in strollers with nothing covering their heads. I hope their parents had slathered them with sunscreen, but I don't think so. As the day progressed, I saw little people getting pinker and pinker.

What really confused me was that most people brought their pets and babies out in the middle of the day. The Festival went from ten in the morning to six at night but the big crowds were out around the noon hour—the hottest part of the day. In the late afternoon as the weather got cooler, the crowds got smaller.

I have a feeling there were a lot of babies having a hard time sleeping Saturday and Sunday nights because they were sunburned.

Next year when we are preparing our tent and other paraphernalia for the Festival, maybe we will remember to bring the bowl back along with the water. And maybe we will have a "Bonnet for Baby" sign put up, too. Or maybe the Festival planners can come up with a cheaply made baby cap that will have the Cherry Blossom logo on it.

Better yet let's add the logo of "Bless the beasts and the children." That says it all.


Jackie K. Cooper was born in South Carolina and now lives in Georgia. He is familiar to people living in the middle Georgia area as the "entertainment man" since his entertainment reviews run in newspapers and are shown on television there. His short stories have been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio. He also keeps active appearing as an after dinner speaker for various events.

Cooper has lived an exceptionally interesting life and portions of it are contained in his first book Journey of a Gentle Southern Man. The journey continued in Chances and Choices.

Jackie's first two books, Journey of a Gentle Southern Man and Chances and Choices, were reprinted and published by Mercer University Press in July 2004. His third book Halfway Home was published by Mercer University Press in October 2004.

Cooper's fourth book, released in 2006, is The Bookbinder.

Visit his website, or email Jackie

© Jackie K. Cooper

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012