Sharecropping in the Mississippi Delta
Eddie and Maudie Dye were Keith Lunceford's grandparents. Eddie Dye was a sharecropper on Billy Howell's plantation. A stern no-nonsense man, he was ready to help friend or family. He and his wife, Maudie, lived at Big Creek in a house owned by Billy Howell. Maudie was keeper of the home, a great seamstress and cook. But she was a disciplinarian and would send one of the kids to get a "king switch" when she saw the need.
Eddie and Maudie Dye's Big Creek home was just a few miles outside Clarksdale, Mississippi. There were cotton fields as far as the eye could see. Behind the house was a chicken coop, and they enjoyed the eggs and an occasional fried chicken. There was a garden where they raised a wide variety of vegetables. They enjoyed the fresh vegetables, and many items were canned for food throughout the year. Down the road they would pick delicious dewberries when they were in season.
It was in Clarksdale at the crossroads of Highways 49 and 61 where Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the devil in order to play great blues music. Clarksdale is home to famous blues musicians like Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, W.C. Handy, and Son House. The Delta Blues Museum is located there.
Three generations lived in the Big Creek home when Keith was growing up there. This made the Dye clan rather large, and on Sundays they would take up a whole pew at church services. In the Dye home the Bible was read and respected. Keith's father was in the army in Korea during much of this time.
For a number of years, Keith Lunceford has been writing down his memories of growing up at Big Creek. When you read his stories and listen to him as he talkes about those years, you hear the respect in his voice for the people who surrounded him and helped shape him into the person he is today. It was from his parents, grandparents, the Dye and Lunceford families, Easter Johnson, and a whole host of friends that he learned faith, character, and love.