Mose Thomas was a black employee of The Espy Mercantile Company, where he likely worked all of his life. Clad in a pair of blue jean overalls and donning a Headland National Bank cap, Mose was a strong, hard worker who was almost always chewing a wad of tobacco. He also had a toothpick dangling out of his mouth (yes, while he was chewing!). He'd constantly work that toothpick, sliding it completely into his mouth and flicking it vertically, and then back out again.
I worked with Mose - as did my brothers and a cousin or two - a couple of summers when I did some work for the mercantile - almost a rite of passage for the Espy boys. Sometimes I'd ride in Mose's old white-bodied, blue-cab pickup, and we'd go to various farms to check fences and feed (plus count) the cows. On occasion, we'd do something even more daring, like round up a bull so that it could be loaded onto a trailer for delivery to a pasture for breeding or sometimes to another farmer's property to close out a sale. Often there would be others out helping - my uncle and some other farm hands. I have tons of little Mose Thomas stories - as do others in my family - and my plan is to add them to this post over time.
One big love Mose Thomas had was wrestling. He would go on Saturday nights to the Houston County Farm Center to take in the action. And his wife would accompany him.
My brother Miles and I also enjoyed watching wrestling on TV, and we had our favorites. Miles loved Bullet Bob Armstrong. And, for some reason, mine was Robert Fuller. To be such fanatics, one thing Miles and I had not done was actually go to Dothan for some live action. Not long after Dad and Mom divorced, we'd go over to our grandmother's to stay the weekend with my dad. And once, Dad gave us permission to go with Mose Thomas to Dothan one Saturday night to watch some wrestling! Mose came to pick us up, at the front door, using the circular drive. And I think his wife was with him. We just got in the middle of the cab of his pickup, and he drove us the fifteen or so miles to the Farm Center in Dothan. I remember thinking it must be a bit curious that we showed up with this older black couple. But once we got our tickets and seats, well, wrestlin' took over! And the four of us whooped and hollered during all the matches! Quite a night....and a cultural experience! Have to thank my dad and Mose for making it happen!
Article on wrestling's prominence in Dothan, Alabama in the '70s & '80s here.
And perhaps one day I can find a photo of Mr. Mose Thomas and add it. How 'bout a video?!?!
Don McClendon videoing Mose
Mark Espy, Sr. talks a bit about Mose