Walking buddies preside over session each day

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

Court is in session at the Natchez Mall every Monday through Saturday starting at 9 a.m.

But don&8217;t expect the truth and nothing but the truth from the nine court &8216;justices&8217; who sit on the bench.

In fact some might call them court jesters.

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For the past 16 years, a group of Natchez men have convened at center court in the mall to exercise and then to discuss the important issues of the day.

And when you plead your case, don&8217;t expect any words of wisdom from these wise guys.

&8220;Wisdom?&8221; Robert Martello said with a laugh. &8220;It&8217;s a lie session, mostly.&8221;

Martello held court Monday morning with Bernard Tradewell, Blake Wadsworth, Tex Reed, James Rehms, Bill Kennon and Premo Stallone.

Each morning, excluding Sundays, these Natchez men, ranging in age from 64 to 86, exercise walk through the mall hallways and then spend the rest of their time together talking the morning away, sitting on one of the benches in the mall.

&8220;We do a half an hour walking and then an hour talking,&8221; Martello said.

&8220;We do a little looking, too,&8221; Kennon said slyly with a smile as they watch shoppers pass by.

Since his heart bypass surgery more than 16 years ago, Kennon started walking the halls for his health.

Three other members of the group also have had heart bypass operations.

Not wanting to fool with the hot temperatures and the sometimes hilly terrain, Kennon and friends chose the friendly climate of the mall.

&8220;I&8217;m not very far from my next cup of coffee,&8221; Martello said.

It&8217;s the coffee that may be the biggest draw for these young at heart men. With steaming cups in hand, the group discussed everything from local news and politics to sports.

But don&8217;t ask them to agree on any of those issues, especially about sports.

Of the group of seven who came to mall Monday, two were diehard

Ole Miss fans, three rooted for Louisiana State University and one proudly supported the University of Southern Mississippi.

And then there is Reed.

&8220;He&8217;s for whoever will get him his next cup of coffee,&8221; Martello said.