Lucky Osborne grew up with his grandparents at the end of a country road in Mississippi. He remembers shooting alligators and ducking his grandmother's wooden spoon. And the story of an upside-down cafe sign that didn't need fixing.

Daddy Charlie and the Curious Sign

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Time now for StoryCorps. We're hearing from everyday Americans across the country talking about their lives. Today childhood memories from the Mississippi Delta. Lucky Osborne grew up in Chula, Mississippi during the 1960s. He lived with his grandparents and he came to StoryCorps with his wife Debi to remember that time.

MONTAGNE: My mother and father divorced when I was seven and we went to live with my grandparents, Mama Willie and Daddy Charlie. It was in the country, it was really in the country. We had a swamp behind the house. I used to sit in my bedroom at night on top of my bed and shoot alligators through the window with a .22 rifle. And the road ended at our garage. If somebody was coming down the road, they were either coming to see us, or they were lost.

MONTAGNE: Now, Ma Willie, I remember she was real feisty.

MONTAGNE: The guy goes out, a little while later he comes in and says, well your sign's ready, I'm ready to eat. My grandfather says, well let's go out and look at it. He went out and he looked and it was upside down. The man couldn't read. Whatever my grandfather printed on there, that's what he painted.

MONTAGNE: Well, did he keep that?

MONTAGNE: No, it stayed there for years. In fact when they sold the cafe, it was still there. And people used to ask him, said, Charlie, why don't you have that sign fixed? He says, nope, people come by here, then they'll stop and ask me why that sign's upside down. They always gonna drink a cup of coffee, eat a piece of pie, a hamburger, something. He said, it's the best advertising I ever had.


MONTAGNE: Lucky Osborne with his wife Debi at StoryCorps in Jackson, Mississippi. Their story, along with all the others, will be archived at the American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress. And you can subscribe to the project's Podcast at


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