Cotton Wilson And The Owl
by Reavis E. Dixon

The authorís wifeís uncle, Paul Wilson, was born July 5, 1911, in the Ware County, Georgia, community of Bickley. He was a twin of his sister Pauline Wilson. Because of his snow white hair when a child, he was given the name "Cotton Head" which soon degenerated to simply "Cotton".

Cotton was as bright and intelligent as his peers,

Paul Wilson
but he was overly simplistic in his life style. Through out his years he made himself comfortable in long sleeve khaki shirts, blue denim overalls, high top dress shoes, and until his elderly years, he wore a twenties style cap which he finally laid aside for the more convenient baseball style cap which became quite popular in the nineteen seventies.

Along about nineteen seventy two, Cotton and I decided to spend an afternoon fishing. There is a deep lake in Hog Creek, on the Wilson property known as "The Russaw", and there we went to try our angler skills for the afternoon.

We tied a few set hooks in the branches of overhanging trees so that the live bait rested about six inches under the surface of the water. And then, we settled down to try our luck at pole fishing while we waited for larger fish to find, and take the bait on our set lines.

As the sun began to sink toward the horizon we heard the hooting of a Great Horned Owl off in the distance. Now, having been reared in the flat woods of Pierce County, Georgia, I was no stranger to the sounds of the wild world around me, and the call of the hoot owl was one of my specialties.

I answered the call of the owl, and after a few minutes it hooted again, but closer than before. After a couple of minutes, I again hooted to the owl, and when it answered, it was much nearer than it had been. This process was repeated until finally, the owl answered from a tall pine tree almost directly above the boat that we were fishing from.

Cotton looked at me with a grin of amusement on his face and exclaimed. "Aye God if you donít hush heís goíin to get in the damn boat with us"!

We caught enough fish for a family fish fry that night, and in the eyes of Cotton Wilson, God didnít make no better food than fried fish. Numerous times I have seen Cotton pass up steak for fried fish.

When Paul died on June 23, 1993, he lived upon the same plot of land where he was born eighty two years before. He never traveled further than Atlanta, Georgia, where he went to be examined for military service in the nineteen forties. A man of simple tastes, he loved home, family and friends, and he never desired to stray far from them.