A conversation with Floyd

orange mound, the coliseum, and big bill’s annual mens fellowship

By Duy Nguyen

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I was fortunate enough to cross paths with Floyd on more than one occasion. On our first encounter, he was elbow deep seasoning a whole hog with some secret dry rub for Big Bills Annual Men’s Fellowship. I was curious as to what this “men’s fellowship” was all about but I was invited to attend so I got to find out first hand.

Now, it was pitched to me as generally a fun event for the men folk. Fishing, Food Need I say more? Well there was plenty more but Fellowship was a common theme. Oh and no alcohol, the people running the show were adamant men could have fun and enjoy each other’s company without any extra influences. And and in the words of Big Bill

“Now we won’t run off the women if they show up or anything like that but we might put them to work, washing dishes or serving or something. Hopefully, that will deter them from attending.

The event is open to everyone. There’s no entry fee but the food is well worth a donation. Before we get to the stats on the game that was served I want to speak a little more on the history of the event. It really started with a group of eight friends that grew up together, played football against one another and decided they would take a weekend out of the year and just hangout. Well soon enough, that number grew to 30, then 200, then 500. Granted, when I went the weather was rainy and cold attendance was an easy 200 people that weathered the storm to be there. And you could tell everyone wanted to be there. Some started really early because the fish were biting and with four lakes available on Big Bill’s property (which is where this is held nowadays to accommodate the crowd) you can start at anytime and reel them in! A big breakfast is served with the works sausage, eggs, biscuits and so much more. They also serve a giant lunch, now here’s where the stat’s need to be listed:

1 whole hog (seasoned and smoked the whole day before the event)
a couple rabbits

some turkey

15 raccoons

70 or so ducks

200-300 quail

a couple hundred fish (all caught by Floyd allegedly)

I asked him what he though was special about the food. He said it was about “teaching the kids not everything comes from a can”. He was paying homage to the ways of the old and showing the younger generation that you can make good food and source in locally. Almost every ingredient was from someone’s land either down the road or brought in from across the state. I had never had raccoon and was definitely a bit apprehensive. I tried it was great but like everything else. There was a story behind. Floyd told me that back in the day when protein was scarce families would catch and prepare what they could to get by. The raccoon served was the best around, as someone’s mother who had been making it for years had perfected the technique and I would definitely tell everyone to try some because just by eating food you’ve never had before, you get a small glimpse into a lost way of life.

Not to abruptly switch subjects but, Floyd is from Orange Mound and he dropped some knowledge as to its beginnings. The area started off as a plantation. They were growing pecan trees by the acre in the area. If you see some of the houses around here, they still have pecan trees in the yards. But a young man one day decided to sell the land and let the black community build up their own area.

“Orange Mound at the time was Black Wall Street”

Floyd was saddened by how the area was just left in the past as everyone else around it seemed to progress. Floyd believes access is the issue. A solid education system with proper healthcare can turn this area around but it was like area was just left to solve those issues on its own whereas other areas have assistance and people that actually care.

This is why Floyd is interested in re-opening the Mid-South Coliseum. He remembers seeing James Brown and many other acts (I mention Soul Brother No. 1 because I got to see him live before he past away soon after and he was everything I had seen about him in recordings). The coliseum was just a place where everyone came together to enjoy whatever event was going on in or around the space.

The Coliseum would make for a once again amazing space with all that’s going on around it. Floyd stated that athletics and community activities bring people together. So that stable living conditions can be built and thus families can begin to raise the next generation under better and brighter conditions. A better future, who doesn’t want that?

Big Bill’s Annual Mens Fellowship

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