I’ve written a weekly newspaper column for over 25 years, once was syndicated nationally in almost 100 papers, but Mercury Syndications went bust years ago with about nine months of my money, and I re-grouped closer to home, sending this column to several dozen papers in four states. At any rate, since I travel a lot on speaking engagements, one of the most common questions I am asked is, “Now, tell me again, how did that Virgin Killer get that name?”

Regular readers (surely there’s more than one!) are familiar with some of the nicknames of regular characters: Bravo Charlie, Mountain Willy, Birdlegs, Dude, Deadeye, Boateater, Napalm Morgan, Admiral Drake, and others. They usually appear in my books and magazine articles, as well.

Daughter B.C.’s best friend in high school and college was a blonde whose biological father didn’t hunt, like my family grew up doing. Once B.C. (dubbed Bravo Charlie by a fellow Navy officer on a trip to D.C.) was accompanied by Sherry on a plantation dove hunt when the girls were barely teenagers. She was shooting a .20 gauge pump that her granddad had left her, while Sherry watched unarmed. After B.C. had killed her limit, she persuaded Sherry to try shooting. Just as I drove up, the blonde stood and fired, bringing down the first bird she ever shouldered a gun at! She became famous as “The Virgin Killer,” although some readers managed to miss that explanation and jumped to their own conclusions.

Most of the several hundred kids who grew up out here at Brownspur got taught gun safety along the way, and as far as I know, there’s never been but one person who has been shot accidentally out here, and he was my yankee son-in-law. When Eddie rushed into the house with a slightly bleeding pinkie, result of a ricochet, I washed it off, put a band-aid on it, and sent him back out, assuring him that the Mississippi Game Laws did not say a word about it being illegal to shoot yankees, and as a strict matter of fact, several Neill and Colquitt forebears had made quite a career out of doing that very thing.

So, the Virgin Killer got plenty of gun training and usage during her years of feeding out here at Brownspur, because we pretty well subscribe to eating what you shoot, excusing the aforesaid yankees, or snakes, coyotes, and other varmints. I’m sure she did eat some meals with her biological parents in town, but very few, it seemed to me. We came to consider her as one of our own, and I want to say that we’ve raised a lot of those kind of kids, and I’d like to thank those parents for sharing their kids with us so much. Lordee, how they have enriched our lives! I have said many times that Betsy and I have been so blessed by the kids that our kids were raised with, especially those who nearly lived out here at Brownspur.

The Virgin Killer was one of those, of course. She and Bravo Charlie graduated from high school and college together, successfully invaded Europe, and still hold reunions in Florida, among other places. Then she fell in love with a young man named D.J., and they married in Atlanta, with her Uncle Bob and Aunt Betsy happily in attendance. From that point on, her nickname was suspect.

Sure enough, we got the call only four months after Bravo Charlie and John had presented us with our first grandchild, a boy named Sean Robert Irwin, called “Sir” because of his monogram. In Wilmington, North Carolina, the Virgin Killer had birthed a baby boy in March. The biological grandparents were assigned to travel to the east coast to inspect the kid, whom I understand will be called “Jakey Bob” after me, of course. They carried my gift, the traditional “Cartridge in a Bare Tree,” which insures that baby boys born into this family will not be gunshy. Basically, I send enough cartridges, from which the proud father may select one to fire out the window once the baby and mother return from the hospital. Works every time, and I know it will in Wilmington.

The Virgin Killer had a baby boy, and her Uncle Bob is proud to have fed her stuff like Possum Lasagna and Cold Chittlin’ Salad for all those years!


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