Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A House Divided

Monday night was host to the game of a lifetime in the Moran house. The SEC championship between Clemson and Alabama put Pete and me at opposite goal posts. I was proud of Clemson for the undefeated season, but Pete was over the moon. He graduated from Clemson with a bachelor in economics back in 1979. I gathered a master’s degree at Alabama in 2005.
We sat in our respective corners as the game began. I drank coke out of my Bama glass and he sipped his diet drink from a Tiger tumbler. Clemson would score and he would do a little tiger dance. Bama would score and I would demurely smile. It was rather a quiet game for the first half.
After the break, Pete wanted to make a little wager. The man hates Krystal burgers and I love them. I have a hard time sitting still at Cracker Barrel, but he loves the joint. If the Crimson Tide rolls over the Tigers, I can have Krystal whenever I wish for a year, and he the same for the Cracker. Now, we were disagreeing and throwing imaginary yellow flags at every play.
This bashing of heads over a football game is rare in our family, but here in Mississippi it happens all the time. Mississippians are serious about their football and it is not unusual to have a household with more than one Ole Miss and State fan in the family.
“A House Divided” is a new picture book for children that reflects the conflict of parents who support opposite Mississippi Universities. The book opens, “Long ago, in Mississippi, a crazy decision was made to create two schools in this tiny state that still remain today.” Next to the prose is a beautiful watercolor of the state and the two schools with flags a flying.
By the second page, the author, Emily Ruff Witcher, is unable to hide her loyalty. “The first of these was THE University or Ole Miss, as it’s fondly referred. The mascot is the Rebel and ‘Hotty Toddy’ is the cheer that’s heard.” She continues, “Thirty years later another was formed State College, it once was named. And after much decision making, Mississippi State Bulldogs became its claim to fame.”
The illustrator, Joanna Keith, graduated from Mississippi State in 2007. Her watercolors are vibrant and depicts both teams equally. The sister in the story sports both cheerleading outfits and the little boy holds an Ole Miss football in one hand and a Mississippi State cowbell in the other.   
Emily Ruff Witcher has written an engaging 38 page book filled with the spirit of fair play. She is a 2002 graduate of Ole Miss and married a 2004 Bulldog. They currently live in Madison, Mississippi with their young daughter and son. Wonder what they wager during games? 

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