It was a mild sunny April afternoon on a small family farm in middle Georgia. It was Monday and washday, and Maggie Tifton was hanging out to dry her family’s clothes that she had spent the better part of the day washing. Maggie was surprised when she looked up and saw her husband Roy coming around the house leading one of the family’s mules.
Maggie said, “I didn’t expect you home this early.”
Roy said, “I pushed old Jamokey purty hard to get that northeast patch plowed so I can start planting it in a day or two. I’m gonna walk into town and try to get a little loan from the County Bank so I can buy some cotton seed.”
Maggie said, “Will you be back by supper? The last time you went to town, you didn’t get back till midnight. I heard you made a fool of yourself at Fuller’s Bar.”
Roy said, “Aw Maggie, don’t make me out to be so irresponsible. I promise I’ll be back for supper, maybe by sundown. Don’t fret none about me. Tell Joey to take care that ole Jamokey gets fed and watered real good. I drove him party hard today.”
Maggie said, “I’ll tell him, and by the way, bring back a sack of Martha White, Self-Rising flour from Mr. Johnson’s Store, that is if he’s still giving us credit.”
When Roy got to the road and headed toward town, he turned around and waved at Maggie, and she waved back.
The next morning, Maggie walked to town and went straight to the County Bank, The bank manager told her that Roy had been in the day before and asked for a loan, but that the bank had had to turn him down.”
Maggie said, “did he act letdown about that?”
The manager said, “no, he just got up and shook my hand and walked out.”
Maggie found Mr. Johnson sweeping up his store and asked him if he had seen Roy the day before.
Mr. Johnson said, “yep, Roy stopped in for a few minutes around 5 O’clock.”
Maggie said, “did he buy anything?”
“Yep, he bought a BC Headache powder and washed it down with a Cocola.”
“Did he buy anything else?”
“Yep, he bought a sack of flour.”
The town policeman, was at his desk reading the morning paper when Maggie walked in and said, “Jake, did you see Roy yesterday?”
“No, Maggie,” but I heard he was at Fuller’s Bar for a while and that he mentioned that he was thinking about going on a trip.”
The train station agent told Maggie that Roy had bought a one-way ticket to Atlanta but couldn’t say whether Roy had boarded the train.
Maggie said, “did he say anything or act out-of-the-way?”
The agent said, “no, he just took the ticket and walked out.”
The news spread quickly that Roy Tifton was missing, and people from the town and county turned out to search the Tifton farm and both sides of the road between town and the farm, but they found no clues. The Macon Telegraph devoted front-page coverage to Roy’s disappearance for two weeks, and The Georgia Bureau of Investigation got involved. A few people from Macon and Atlanta called in to report possible sightings of Roy, but none panned out. Life was hard for the Tifton family, especially during the first year after Roy’s disappearance, but somehow Maggie and the three boys managed. The government opened a munitions plant in Macon soon after the war began, and Maggie was able to land a good-paying job, and the family’s life from that point was much improved.
Five years after Roy Tifton disappeared, on a sunny April afternoon, Maggie Tifton looked across the clothesline where she was hanging clothes, and there was Roy Tifton walking toward her with a sack of flour across one shoulder.
He stopped and faced her across the clothesline. She looked him up and down and said, “Roy, you are a sorry, no-account irresponsible scoundrel and can’t be depended on to do anything right.”
Roy said. “Maggie, what do you mean? I tried to get that loan, but they turned me down. “
“Yeah, the bank manager told me.”
“I got back in time for supper just like I promised.”
“Yeah, I can see that.”
“And I remembered to bring you the sack of flour you asked me to.”
“I can see that too. But I told you to bring me a sack of “Martha White” self-rising Flour, and danged if you didn’t bring me a sack of “Southern Maiden” all-purpose flour!”