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Fourth of July FireworksPosted Monday, July 2, 2012, at 3:32 AM
In 1953, merchants at Canalou's seven small grocery stores agreed to stay open for business on the Fourth of July.
That included Tootie Ralph's combo grocery/whiskey store, the scene of some real Fourth of July fireworks when Ralph, a former resident of Dexter, got into an argument with an area farm laborer about which farmer had the first cotton bloom that crop-growth season.
The argument got so heated,the store owner brandished a pistol and the farm worker produced a knife that resulted in the last old Wild West-style life-and-death skirmish on Canalou's mile-long Main Street.
Both combatants received major wounds, but thankfully, none proved fatal. As a nine-year-old boy at the time, I recall seeing extensive bandages on and about Mr. Ralph's upper torso after he'd been treated at Dr. Sam Sarno's office in Morehouse.
Ironically, neither combatant owned a clod of farm dirt.
All stores in the small New Madrid County farm hamlet remained closed on subsequent Fourth of July holidays...
Today, there are no businesses that line Canalou's now-ghostly-appearing Main Street!
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Retired recently as world-traveled newspaperman, career made possible by late Superintendent of Schools Robert L. Rasche, about to have Bootheel life book published by SEMO State University. Loved farm life, but knew at five years old, didn't want to be a "cotton picker" when I grew up.
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