The first time I ever heard Petey Mixon’s voice, she was letting me have it.
On that particular week, I had run out of space in the paper for news, and I thought that the crossword puzzle was expendable, so I left it out.
I got a call that Friday morning from Petey, and she was pretty hot.
She told me that the only reason she received The E-T was to complete the crossword puzzle.
“It keeps my mind sharp in my old age,” she said. “None of my people are here in Sunflower County, so the only thing I care about is that crossword.”
I assured her that the crossword would be back in the next week, and we left it on cordial terms.
Over the next two years, I got to know Petey very well, covering her home community of Linn in a number of ways.
I was saddened on Saturday to learn that she had passed away.
She died at home, according to the Mississippi Firefighters Association, an organization she loved dearly.
Last winter, I had the honor of profiling Petey in our 2019 Profile edition.
Early in her adult life, Petey left the Linn community and moved to Florida, where she served as an educator for decades.
In her later years, she returned to Sunflower County, retiring in Linn, where she grew up.
She was not a normal retiree, though.
She joined the Linn Volunteer Fire Department, and she went through all of the rigorous training required to be a member.
If there was a fire, and she got the call, she would be there in her turnout gear, making sure all of the hoses were run and the firemen who were engaging the blaze inside the home had everything they needed.
Petey was the kind of person who said whatever was on her mind, and she did not care who she offended, including yours truly.
But she was a sweet and kind lady, who cared deeply for the Firefighters Association and the Mississippi Firemen’s Auxiliary.
She lamented more than once to me about the decline in membership in the auxiliary, and she worked until her death trying to get more wives to join the organization in support of their husband firefighters.
By the time we became friends, Petey admitted to me that she was actually reading the paper and enjoying it for more than just the crossword puzzle. I told her that I knew if she gave it a chance, she wouldn’t be disappointed.
On more than one occasion I traveled to The Varsity restaurant in Belzoni to have lunch with Petey and Mrs. Dot Outlaw. I ended up doing a couple of articles promoting the Firemen’s Auxiliary.
We shared a lot of laughs, and they shared a lot of wisdom accumulated over many decades.
I am going to miss my friend, and I know that there is a void in the Linn community that cannot be filled, because, as I’m sure everyone out that way will attest to, there was only one Petey Mixon.
On this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that I got that angry call two years ago and that I got to know a truly funny and special person.
We’ll miss you, Petey.