“old Miss” (A Travelers Impression)
Stepping off a late flight to Memphis,
we made our way through the stony-silence
of a nearly empty terminal…a far cry from
other big city airports (“I like it here already! ”)
Met by family at the security gate and after baggage claim
we soon were driving south. Our final destination,
Saltillo, Mississippi, a small town near Tupelo,
birthplace of Elvis Presley.
The darkness of night prevented us from seeing
the landscape, this would have to wait until tomorrow.
We awakend to the cooing of mourning doves and our
adventure in the “Deep South” was about to unfold.
The next few days were a plethora of people and events;
It was late May with daytime temperatures in the mid eighties.
It cooled down nicely after sunset. The humidity
was comfortable, nothing like expected.
A gumbo of friendly black & white folk that seem to live
harmoniously with each other, unlike the racism of 50 years ago.
I never tired of hearing people speak their wonderful southern drawl.
There was a sense of permanence, especially among the African
Americans, a noble race, made unique over hundreds
of years and generations of mixed blood.
What struck me most about the landscape was the endless sea of green
of many verieties of leafy and conifer trees, concealing vast fields planted with cotton and soybeans.
A ribbon road known as the “Natchez Trace” a two-lane highway that snakes through a seemingly endless countryside.
A unique place of beauty, meticulously maintained
by the State of Mississippi.
After a workout at an excellent gym built and maintained by a local
hospital, we were off to visit the house where Elvis was born
and the museum and chapel that honor him,
Delivered by a mid-wife in a tiny two room house, Elvis Aaron Presley was born
January 8,1935 to Vernon & Gladys Presley. Sadly, Elvis’s twin brother was still born.
Vernon was a sharecropper living in a house built with with own hands and a loan from his landlord. The house had no running water or indoor toilet. They heated and cooked with a kitchen woodstove and stored their perishable food in an icebox. All the family slept in the same bed or on floor mats.
After finding fame and fortune, Elvis once said,
“No amount of money will help me forget, growing up poor”
The hardware store still stands where Elvis bought his first guitar.
Alas, “The King has left the room”
“Old Miss” is part of the Bible Belt, as evidenced by the abundance of churches. It seemed like there was a church on every corner…Southern Baptist, Methodist and Church of Christ being the most dominate.
Grits, fried okra, fried catfish, gulf prawns, fried pickles and Barbecued pork/beef, chicken fried steak, fried green tomatoes and sweet potato pie are standard fare…with key emphisis on “Fried”.
In the final analysis, Northern Mississippi still lives the innocense of the late 50’s but has all the accouterments of the 21st century…a pleasant and friendly place to live, raise children and worship God.