There ain’t no ferry down there!

Published 10:47 pm Monday, December 7, 2009

When I first saw the new directional signs to Higgins Ferry Park, I was reminded of the man who stopped at Ma Bates’ store and asked her directions to the ferry.

Ma described him as having sunglasses on top of his head and his tie “was big as a hand saw,” but it wasn’t how he looked but what he said that got him in trouble. He could have picked lots of better places to pick a fight.

I can see Ma, the way she had of jumping around and stopping with her hand on her hip and with her ever-pleasant voice, “Honey, what do you need?”

“I want to know where the ferry is,” he demanded.

“Honey, there is no ferry down there”—he interrupted her with, “Oh, yes there is. You must be mistaken”.

Whoa! “Honey, I have been here over fifty years, and I tell you, there is no ferry down there.”

He did it again! “I know that there is a ferry down there because there is a sign on the Interstate on my map. Look here: Higgins Ferry.”

Now this is exactly the kind of smart alecks that Ma ate alive! She very sweetly took him by the hand like you would a child and led him outside. “Now, what you need to do is get back in that car and stay on this road for about 3 miles. You’ll see a ramp. Just drive on down that ramp, and when your fanny starts to get wet, remember that I told you—there ain’t no ferry down there!”

Note: About the time they were building Mitchell Dam, the Higgins family lived there and did operate a ferry, approximately 80-90 years ago. Quite an operation as I understand it. It is said that after Lay Dam was built and electricity was brought to Clanton, Mr. Higgins paid to have lines run to his place at the ferry! He must have been caught like me in ‘93.

I learned many years ago not to question Ma. I have news for you—some folks would be surprised—but she knew almost everything that went down at that river, who was going down there and why!

I have more material than one might dream about. When she gives me the OK and I’m ready to “leave town,” I might get in the mood to share it.