Darrell H. Cooper will talk about and sign his books at Brioni’s on Sept. 17. The books are free, with donations benefitting SCAMP. Photo by Phil Custodio
BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
“The man with the simplist taste is always satisfied.”
“My daddy told me, son always wear yore spurs, you don’t never know when you might meet a wild horse.”
“If’n you don’t know the way … take the mule by the tail … he’ll take you somewhere.”
Thus says The Cornbread Philosopher in a book of the same name, filled with sayings like that, as remembered and written by Darrell Cooper of Clarkston.
“The Cornbread Philosopher is my grandfather (Asa Calvin Dedmon) – that’s what I called him,” Cooper said. “He just had a funny way of putting things. I called it cornbread. It’s not the best type of bread. On holidays, my grandmother would go to town and buy light bread – that was a treat. But she always cooked cornbread. I liked it.”
The author will share his grandfather’s and many other sayings at a booksigning event at Brioni Cafe & Deli, 7151 North Main Street in Clarkston, on Sunday, Sept. 17, from 2-4 p.m. The books are free, with donations to Clarkston SCAMP gratefully accepted.
Cooper wrote three books in the cornbread series, also including “Big Mama’s Cornbread” and “Mo’ Cornbread.”
He got the idea for them after moving to Michigan to start his business.
“I was his last grandchild, his youngest one. He was an old man by the time I was growing up. He would sit on his porch swing, sharing his southern philosophy,” Cooper said. “I started remembering some of his sayings. Maybe not all were his, just his way of saying something he’d heard. I’d use them and people would laugh.”
Sayings like “When it’s rainin’ dollars outside some folks are under the bed lookin’ for pennies,” and “I know a feller who lives by his wits – he’s most always broke.”
“I would use some of those, and people would say, ‘write them down,’ and I would write them in a spiral notebook,” the author said. “I’m not sure all are his, but if they weren’t, I sort of cornbreadized them.”
Dedmon was born in Texas in 1895 and moved to Arkansas at about age 9.
“We called him ‘big daddy,’” Cooper said. “He wasn’t a big man, but that what we called him. My grandmother was ‘Big Mama.”
He illustrated the book with old family photos and pictures from government archives, and would send them free to relatives.
“I was giving them away for years – sometimes I would see them for sale on Ebay,” the author said.
His second book was inspired by his grandmother, Anna Mae Sheets Dedmon, 1900-1989, and named after her.
“Relatives said my grandmother had sayings, too, so I made a book of those,” Cooper said.
Sayings like “A good way to git back at a man is to shave yore legs with his razor”; “After God created man, he said, ‘I can do better than that’ and created woman”; and “Don’t hit yore Mother or yore hand will come outa yore grave.”
“They’re from a woman’s view of things,” the author said.
The third book is based on sayings people would send him after receiving the first two books.
“This is the last of them. There’s not going to be no mo’ cornbread,” Cooper said.
Brioni’s owners Louise, Larry, and Robert Stakle graciously allowed use of their restaurant for the book signing, said organizer Tom Stone of Clarkston.
“The more I shared excerpts with other people, the more feedback I got that they really enjoyed these,” Stone said. “I thought to myself, it would be fun to give people more of an opportunity to get the books. Not just hand out the books, why not have the book signed and meet the author.”
The event will also benefit the local non-profit summer camp for kids with disabilities, he said.
Darrell and his wife Charlotte Cooper have lived in Clarkston since 1964.
“We like Clarkston – this is where we want to live,” Darrell said.