Tuesday, March 9, 2010

crossing the mississippi -----------------------------

Well, let me say that my newfayund luuuv for nawthen Mizsippi is a thing of profayund pleashah, dahlin. I finding myself wondering about rentals in Water Valley, which is only 20 minutes from Oxford and, according to the editor of the local paper who was kind enough to share an old family scandal from the papers with me today, where the young hip wannabe Oxfordites are moving to as we speak. I hear tell my great

grandfather was quite the rake, causing a town scandal that raised a few hackles and set tongues to wagging for weeks. the newspaper man is emailing me a copy of the front page from 1915 and I can't wait to read all about it.

I have to say, the downtowns here in northern MS are nothin like those sad specimens that lay like weeping blights on the land in Texas or even Arizona or Arkansas. Mississippi, at least up north here, seems to have its act together, havin the energy to save what's cool about the old downtowns, revitalizing them. We saw a touch of that in TN too, but it seems like every single town of any size at all in northern MS is determined to revamp downtown and make it a happenin place again, all the while preserving the charm of the old buildings and relegating things like the local Walfarts and such to way outta town. Saw any number of buildings in Water Valley, New Albany, and other towns that are just waiting for the right person to come along and bring them to life again or have been lucky enough to have that happen already. It was inspiring. Real estate is cheap and the countryside is truly beautiful. We had lunch (an 8-oyster Po Boy sandwich and sweet tea) at Ajax on the square in Oxford. A cool bar, great menu and jukebox, and funky collection of people of all stripes and ages. Felt right at home.

Ol' Miss is a really beautiful campus. Every bit as verdant and spacious, replete with dozens of brick classical buildings and leafy roads, as any ivy league school. I had no idea so many generations of my family graduated from there, especially the law school, so if any of you youngsters wanna go, yer a shoe-in. And law school, well, that's always held a certain appeal for me.

Everyone is so friendly here. Polite too! Do anything for ya. Genuinely open and cheerful folks. Saw a few sourpusses in the local Walfart (needed cooler supplies, feel bad to be in there but the local Piggly Wiggly just didn't have what we were lookin for), mostly old guys in overalls, but that's to be expected; they are, after all, in that sinful store.

We found (I.T. )great great grandfather's grave and his wife (number one); I see wife number two wasn't permitted in the family plot. The cemetery fellas, William especially, were so helpful, in the rain no less. William even called up a local guy with the same last name as me to see if he had any family history to share. I mean, everyone just leans over backwards. Other family members we recognized (Boyds) in the ground as well. Auntie D gave me the deed to the space that's left in the plot and T says she wants to be buried there, her ashes anyway. We could squeeze any number of us in there, cremated and without the coffin rigamarole. Little stones to mark our passing.

Tomorrow, on to Ripley and, we hope, a key to the missing link, Isaac (b. 1771) and Lovey's graves and, hopefully, clues to their origins in North Carolina. What's left of the day devoted to Memphis, a visit to the Lorraine motel museum, Graceland's gates, and some real tasty barbeque a friend insists we sample. Can't wait.

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