I was born Peggy Elaine Hussey, but I wanted to be Roy Rogers. When I was a little girl, I rode all over my daddy’s northeast Mississippi farm on a stick horse I called Trigger. Over the pastures and through the woods I galloped, trailed by my little sister Sandra on Buttermilk. Older by three years and bossier by a mile, I always took charge of our endless games of make-believe, and I always made her pretend to be Dale Evans.
My older sister Jo Ann was already a teenager while I was romping around riding Trigger and climbing trees and wading in the lake, even after Mama said not to. Jo Ann was an endless source of information. Like Billie in The Sweetest Hallelujah, I got my best information eavesdropping. I’d hide in the barn and listen to Jo Ann and one of our many cousins sitting in the hayloft telling secrets. She called me Little Miss Listener and sometimes things not so nice, but that didn’t stop my pursuit of the fascinating stories that were all around me.