Letters for 05-18-2017

Among many things, Ronnie was an inspiration
Until recently, Ronnie Dean was my
oldest childhood friend. 307 West Bayou
Street in Farmerville was my second home
growing up, and 310 West Jackson was
my third home. Ronnie lived on 310 West
Jackson with Uncle Palmer, Aunt Rhee and
Pal. Right in the middle of course were the
Baughmans – Mitzi and Lynn. Boy what
fun times we had!! Fishing on D’Arbonne
Creek with cane poles before there was a
Lake D’Arbonne and running wild in the
neighborhood, sometimes even past dark.
My first memory of Ronnie, I must have
been seven or eight. We were at the movie
in Farmerville (yes there was one) on the
front row. Seems like it was “The Killer
Shrews,” and it must have scared Ronnie
really bad cause I don’t remember ever
going to the movies with Ronnie again. I
know it scared the heck out of me. Anyhow,
the Deans were only one of the very unique
families in Farmerville. They had the only
bomb shelter I had ever seen. Turns out it
was really a tornado shelter, but Pal told me
it was a bomb shelter and unfortunately, I
believed everything he said. Including what
he and Ronnie later told me about Santa
Claus. That’s a whole ‘nother story.
We ate almost every Sunday dinner
at Mammy’s (Mom Mitch) house – fried
chicken, turnip greens, corn bread and
butter beans. Then I was off for play time
with Pal and Ronnie at the Deans or in the
big pasture out back, the barn or down at
the little brook. When Pal discovered girls,it was then just me and Ronnie. Ronnie was
a constant in my world and could be relied
on to be in his rocking chair in the front
room at any given time.
Ronnie was really quite the mischievous
one, and I had always thought he was totally
innocent. I guess his brother Pal did a good
job covering for him. On one recent visit,
he told my wife Carly and I about shooting
out the street lights with Pal’s BB gun. I
was shocked and asked him if they were
too bright? He said, “No, I just liked the
sound it made.” We laughed until we cried.
I told him some people in my hometown of
Carbondale, Colorado shot out the street
lights cause they were too bright and blotted
out the Milky Way. I told him he would
be considered something of a savant in
Carbondale. He acted like he knew what
that meant, but I am not really sure he did,
because I’m not sure I do.
I am so proud to be kind of from Farmerville.
I’m also proud of Ronnie Dean for so
many reasons. Ronnie was born prema-turely and had a learning disability, what we
would call today a special needs child. However,
he worked as a caretaker at the Union
Parish Courthouse for over 30 years life
and even after Aunt Rhee passed on several
years ago Ronnie kept on living by himself
on Jackson Street. Mostly self-reliant and
personally responsible with the help of community.
Even though his kidneys failed and
he went to dialysis twice a week, he never
complained. Sure Meals on Wheels came by
but he fixed his own breakfast and supper.
And oh did he love the Farmerville Farmers
football team so much he never missed
a game thanks to Donnie and Mitzi Gates.
He called in the weather report every day to
the National Weather Service in Shreveport.
Carly and I were honored to get to hear him
do it about a year ago. We even filmed him.
He was in the pew at First Baptist Church
every Sunday with Mrs. Mary Hill. Ronnie
Dean was one of my heroes.
Farmerville and Ronnie Dean will always
hold a special place in my heart. We
should all learn a lesson from Ronnie on
how to live in grace and Farmerville on
what it means to really be a community. I
say to all of you “Well played.”
I am missing the end of an era. I am
missing North Louisiana. And I am really
missing my friend Ronnie Dean.
Frosty Merriott may be reached by
calling 970.704.1101 or emailing frosty@