I was referred to Bones because he has lived a lifestyle compared to his surroundings, and is very opinionated. I didn’t expect, however, that I would end up meeting three generations of the family that night in Pass Christian, MS. Though it’s not the intended format of the project, I decided to interview them all, in tandem. With some special instructions to allow for full answers, we accomplished the goal over some iced tea (and I managed to be the one that walked away with several souvenir mosquito bites).
The participants are as follows:
- Charles William “Bones” Rhodes – born July 30, 1947 in Hattiesburg, MS
- Honey Rhodes LeBlanc (daughter) – April 25, 1972 in Hattiesburg, MS
- Rodney LeBlanc (Honey’s husband) – born Sept. 2, 1975 in Houma, LA
- Mark Rhodes (grandson) – born April 1, 1997 in Gulfport, MS
Bones grew up in a family that was considered ‘rich’ for the time period. He stated, however, that his father didn’t tend to spend the money in a way that was extravagant. They didn’t take vacations, wear fancy clothes, or live in a particularly large home. Bones didn’t realize they were wealthy until he got his first job during high school at a local grocery store. He then saw true diversity and began to understand that the things he had taken for granted, though not earmarked as particularly fortunate, were very different from the folks he served at the store. It was this experience that drove him to live a liberal life rather unique to Mississippi.
Bones raised his own family on what they called “The Compound”, a series of homes on a single property that he received from his father. Honey recalled growing up around many families, and riding motorcycles (which Bones loves) beginning at a very young age. Bones was careful to make the distinction that these are not big hog motorcycles – that they’re not “1%-er motorcyclists”.
Alternatively, Rodney grew up a “coon-ass”, hunting, fishing, and playing sports with the other kids in his area. Mark, Rodney and Honey’s son, recalls fighting with his siblings in his youth. He laughed as he said it – “I’m just being honest.”
What really struck me during our conversation was in speaking about school. Honey, a history and algebra teacher, is worried about our youth as they come up surrounded by all the tech. Many of my interviewees have highlighted that young ones have their noses constantly down at a screen, but Honey provided insight to how it’s affecting their very ability to think. The description of her student’s ability to process was haunting.
The family had a really interesting perspective of how technology is affecting us, and where it is coming from. They discuss the laziness and apathy that technology is creating. Bones wonders at who is inventing the tech, and who has access to it based on wealth. Honey refers to the unlimited knowledge we have, but instead we sit and “crush candies”. Rodney talks about watching the men he works with offshore, and how tech has affected their work and social lives. Mark shares a perspective on apathy and global friendships. I think this conversation is a good summary of their thoughts on the matter.