To the person who broke into my Fair cabin and stole my refrigerator, deep freeze, microwave, electric skillet, folding chairs and antique round, metal floor fan:

Life has been good to me.

Until you shattered my back door and broke into my life, I have never had to deal with mean, sorry people.

As my mother always said, if you can live with it, I can live without it, but we will surely miss the antique fan.

It was a "Harold thing."

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A few weeks ago there was a wonderful surprise birthday party for Boots Howell's 90th birthday.

I mean a big surprise!

For weeks prior to the party, his wife, Millie and children, Mark, John, David, Shawn and Lannie had cleaned house indoors and out, painted, moved furniture, you name it.

They pulled it over Boots by telling him that David wanted to invite some high school buddies over for party before their high school reunion.

Boots bought that because their home on St. Francis Drive has always been open to the kids and their friends.

Before time for the guests to arrive, Boots and Millie's musically talented children, plus Mark's wife, Stephanie, grandson Cassidy Byars and niece Ann Howell, formed a parade in front of Shawn and Lannie's house and moved into St. Francis Drive.

Not until they circled Boots and Millie's driveway with horns blaring, drums beating and a big sign reading, "HAPPY 90th BIRTHDAY DADDY," did Boots realize the party was for him!

Great food for the party was provided by the children, their spouses, Ann and Mac Howell from Louisiana, Kay and David Walker from Dallas, Jane and Rusty Kynerd, Diana Howell and Jackie Sampsell.

Kay and David even had a case of champagne delivered UPS from Dallas!

Tom and Molly Turner and Karl Byars helped to make the party a huge success.

Shawn and Lannie engaged the Great Swing Band of Carey Smith, Director of Music at Meridian Community College, to play Boots and Millie's favorite music from the Greatest Generation of the 40's and 50's.

This included their favorite, "My Funny Valentine," to which they and others danced and reminisced.

More than 90 guests enjoyed the festivities.

Boots and Millie were delighted to receive Watson Lamb, Priest at St. Francis Episcopal Church and former Priest and dear friend, Hugh Jones, now of Anniston, Ala.

Boots received written birthday greetings from Sam Tomlinson, another former Priest and friend at St. Francis, who now resides in Natchez

Among the guests Boots and Millie were surprised and thrilled to see were Kate Cherry, Director of the Meridian Museum of Art and her husband, Terry, who is head of the Art Department at East Mississippi Community College; also, Dorothy Triplett, former friend at St. Francis who now lives in Jackson. Millie's cousins and accomplished artists, Denise Dengler and Jane McElwee of Meridian and Martha Hopkins of Tuscaloosa, were among the surprise guests.

Millie and Boots loved visiting with their young and old friends and former neighbors, Frankie Harpole and Billie Greenleaf.

The presence of Boots' brother, Ray Howell, along with Sara and Carl Ray, made the party more special, as did the attendance of old friend Hal Russell.

Quoting Billie Ruth Latting, "Boots and Millie surely know how to throw a party!" to which we might add, "and they have taught their children well!"

To reach the age of 90 and have your son, John, write the following on the occasion of your birthday, is all the testimony a man needs.

I see you in a red jumpsuit.

I hear you whistling while you work.

And since you work hard every day,

There's always music in your head--

An air from "Princess Ada,"

Or a tune by Benny Goodman.

The anthem of a marching band.

Some show tune that you first heard played

By a pit orchestra on Broadway

(Where you shook each musician's hand).

Through you the orchestra plays on,

For you are love unbounded.

Like music, love flows out from you--

Your solid, kind encouragement,

Your genuine admiration

For a show of integrity.

An architect may make the plan

Of exquisite geometry,

But it's the engineer who finds

The way to realize the dream

Who more delights your dancing mind.

The universe conceals secrets:

The square of the hypotenuse,

The flow of electricity.

The heroes who discover these

And other natural miracles

(Like Tesla and Pythagoras,

John Harrison's chronometer,

Or Philo Farnsworth's television)

Receive your highest accolades.

The pioneers of outer space,

Who drove the crafts called Mercury

And Gemini and Apollo--

They also rate your greatest respect.

You live through them vicariously,

And dream a future full of hope.

The high regard you show for those

Like scientists, inventors and

Musicians you feel also for

Your favorite comedians,

Like Phil Silvers and Milton Berle.

Yet none of them could surpass your

Own talents as a humorist.

You are the king of raconteurs;

And when you tell from memory

One of your lively stories,

Your face, your voice, your eyes and all

Your body transmit your delight,

Communicating everything

You've come to understand about

The absurd human condition.

For ninety years and more to come,

You've never given up on life.

Whatever comes, you make the best.

You find the gold, you pass the test.

You lighten darkness with your life.

Your smile, your whistle and your grace.

You listen to what others have to say,

Encourage them and watch them play.

And with this strength of gentleness,

You've shepherded four children through

The gates of life and taught us each

How much you love to watch us be

Exactly who we are. And we

Have learned from your humility

And humor and integrity.

We are inspired every day

By the example you have set

For how to live, for how to love.

You are the one who built it all--

The carpenter, the engineer,

Inventive and industrious,

The musical man in the red jumpsuit.

"Happy Birthday, Daddy! With love from John and Diana." And from all your friends.

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It's that time of year! Time for Operation Christmas Child, a love project which uses simple, gift-filled shoe boxes to show hurting children around the world that they are loved and at the same time, share the message of Jesus Christ, the greatest gift they can ever receive.

Kick-Off In The Park will take place Saturday, Oct. 13 from 10-12 noon, in DeWeese Park on Beacon Street, next to the Library.

At that time, shoe box packers may pick up supplies and go-boxes (preprinted shoe boxes).

Brenda Mowdy, area team coordinator, will share her experience handing out shoeboxes to children in Uganda this year.

If you are new to Operation Christmas Child, come for information on how to pack a shoe box.

If you have been doing this for years, come to be encouraged and thanked! Music, food and fun!

Quoting Franklin Graham, President of Samaritan's Purse, sponsor of Operation Christmas Child, "This year we anticipate reaching an important milestone in the history of Operation Christmas Child - 100 million gift filled shoeboxes since 1993! Your shoe boxes represent more than smiles and laughter; they become Gospel opportunities that open doors to share the love of Jesus Christ with children and their families around the world."

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After reading about our opportunity to share Christmas with children all over the world, we move on to a story in which Dr. Bill Molpus joins Joyce Meyer's Hands of Hope team for a mission in New London, South Africa.

New London is on the eastern coast of South Africa with the Indian Ocean crashing the beaches.

We drive five hours up the coast to our mission site in Coffee Bay.

We drive past Nelson Mandela's home which is difficult to see in the dark; however, we get a good close up view when we pass in the daytime a week later.

Our hotel is nice, though we cannot appreciate the view as it is dark, but we can hear the waves.

The next morning we are awe struck by the beauty of the place!

We are right on the ocean and it is fantastic!

We look at each other and those of us who were in Madagascar, where the conditions were so deplorable, ask, "Is this a mission?"

This province is the poorest province in all of South Africa.

The medical/dental need is horrendous.

A local dentist employed by the government came for a visit.

She is in charge of five clinics in the area.

Her stories of lack of instruments and supplies were appalling.

Why hire a dentist and then not equip them to do what they were hired to do?

This should not be happening in a country like South Africa!

Next week we will join Dr. Molpus when he and three other members of the Hands for Hope team continue their mission in Cape Town, which Bill describes "as one of the most beautiful cities in the world."

As a member of the team, Bill says, "We can't fix all the problems in the world, but we can make a difference. We can offer a Hand of Hope."

And all God's people say, thank God for those like you.

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The following story is not a paid advertisement for Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Pelahatchie.

Some friends of mine went there and thought it, "a secret," too good not to share.

Looking for somewhere fun to go, close to home, where the living is easy and the speed limit is 9-1/2 MPH?

Have you heard about Yogi on the Lake?

This "best kept secret" is located about one hour and fifteen minutes from Philadelphia off Highway 43 in Pelahatchie, Miss.

There you will find fun for everyone.

For children, of course, but also for parents and grandparents lucky enough to get to go along.

Built around beautiful Pelahatchie Lake, home to a variety of ducks and Canadian geese, accommodations include cabins which will sleep 6-12, RV hookups and tent sites.

On location you will find a small water park, swimming pool, pizza café, craft center for children's activities; also, a volleyball area, basketball court, putt putt golf, playground and tennis courts.

Planned activities include a hey hey ride, outdoor movies each night, candy bingo and a scavenger hunt.

Yogi Bear will visit cabins by appointment, does birthday parties and will deliver picnic baskets upon request.

Golf carts, paddle boats and large fishing boats are available for rent.

Fire pits and BBQ grills are located at each cabin/campsite.

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The Philadelphia Neshoba County Arts Council will present "The Sounds of Bluegrasss" this Saturday, Oct. 13, at 6:30 p.m. at the Ellis Theater in Historic Downtown Philadelphia.

All proceeds will go toward the restoration of the Ellis. Tickets are $10.

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This year's Octoberfest on Oct. 20 in Philadelphia will feature arts and crafts, food, music, contests and children's activities and games.

Centered inside DeWitt DeWeese Park, next to the library and extending along Water and Cherry Streets, the festivities will begin at 9 a.m.

All proceeds will go toward the Arts Council's project to restore the Ellis Theater.