Mutt

I remember a huge man with a two-day old beard holding a short cigarette in the side of his mouth. Because he was a little short of breath, he let out puffs of smoke as he gasped for air. He was rather active, but his weight made his actions slow. This is how I remember Mutt Harrell.

He was one of the few Republicans I knew as a young man. I’m not sure if he was a loyal Republican or if it was just convenient for him to get the coffee consignment to the federal prison when our president was a Republican. Of course Eisenhower was the first Republican president in my life time.

Mr. Harrell ran a salvage store on the west side of the Courthouse Square in an old rundown store. He bought unclaimed freight and displayed it in the most disorganized fashion all over the store. People liked to rummage through the stuff and buy things.

He owned a nice big house behind Melear’s Barbecue. Later the house was used as a center for senior citizens. Mutt married late in life and his wife was surely the boss. She was hard working, had a large garden, and their yard bloomed with flowers. Mutt did not appear as industrious as she, maybe because of his size.

He liked to give the appearance of being tough and ornery, but I witnessed him on two occasions that say otherwise.

He loved his wife very much but realized she was boss. He would come into Alford Brothers where as a school boy I worked in the meat department on weekends. He’d get me to cut special expensive cuts for him that few other people ever bought. He would always get me to mark the price on the tip of the wrapper so he could tear it off after checking out. He didn’t want his wife to see how much he paid.

As a young school teacher I enjoyed the hobby of photography. I had a small darkroom and made pictures for the school and the local newspaper. Mr. Harrell came to me with a small Kodak picture of his terrier dog. The dog had died and he wanted me to make an enlargement of the picture, He told me to make it life size which I did. He framed the picture and hung it in his special room of the house.

People are not always as they try to appear.