Page 1

Delta

MAY/JUNE 2020

m

a

g

a

z

i

n

e

Paddling the Swamplands

4

Treasure troves for Delta outdoor enthusiasts

Crumb Crusts

3 Chilled pies to try this month

Gardening Wisdom 3 Rules for Success


Touching lives. Powering the future. At Entergy Mississippi, the communities we serve are the communities we call home. That’s why we stay active and involved – because we know our responsibility reaches beyond the power grid. So, we invest in education and industry, while developing new solutions to power tomorrow. As a community, our successes fuel each other. We’re all on a circuit. And together, we power life. entergybrightfuture.com

A message from Entergy Mississippi, LLC ©2018 Entergy Services, LLC All Rights Reserved.

WE’VE BEEN HERE FOR YOU FOR 100 YEARS AND

ARE READY TO SERVE YOU FOR 100 MORE www.planters-bank.com 2 | may/june 2020


S Spring Sprin Spri Spr p Ma Mar Mark Marke Market M MEMPHIS, TN | MAY 29-31, 2020 | AGRICENTER INTL.

S Shopt Shop Sho h the t theM h Mark Mar M Market Marke a food...gifts...art...home decor...fashion...jewelry...children’s items... Enjoy shopping more than 175 shops from across the South! (OPEN TO THE PUBLIC)

www.themarketshows.com

662.890.3359


Try our at-home sleep apnea test. Do you snore? Are you constantly tired? Is your sleep unrestful? You are not alone. These are common symptoms of a condition called sleep apnea that affects a large percentage of Americans. The diagnosis can often be established using sleep testing in the comfort of your own home. The Sleep Center at Baptist North Mississippi can help.

Benefits include: •

Equipment is easy to use in your own home

Physician-guided program

The screening is covered by most insurance plans

Helps you determine if further testing is needed

Please call 662-636-2250 to learn more or schedule an appointment with one of our sleep experts.

Get Better. baptistonline.org/northmiss


The 2020 Greenwood Airshow has been postponed until 2021. While we’re disappointed about cancelling the show, we felt it was our only option. It’s been a very trying time for everyone, so let’s hope that blue skies lie ahead. We promise a bigger and better airshow next year. See you June 5, 2021!

2 0 2 0

6 | may/june 2020


YOU WANT A BETTER COMMERCIAL BANKER. REGIONS IS WHERE YOU’LL FIND ONE. EXPECT BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE THAT GOES BEYOND THE BALANCE SHEET. There will come a moment when you realize your Regions Commercial Relationship Manager is someone who will bring you a lot more than just ways to raise capital. You’ll see we’re here to demonstrate our value to you as local, knowledgeable business consultants. You’ll find we ask smart questions, listen to your answers and deliver smart solutions for your business. You’ll know we’re true partners. In that moment, you’ll realize you made the right choice.

LET’S START THE CONVERSATION TODAY. Walt Stephens | Commercial Banking 662.433.6685 | walt.stephens@regions.com

Commercial Banking | Treasury Management | Capital Markets | Wealth Management © 2020 Regions Bank. All loans and lines subject to credit approval, terms and conditions. | Regions and the Regions logo are registered trademarks of Regions Bank. The LifeGreen color is a trademark of Regions Bank.


Delta m

a

g

a

z

i

n

e

Publisher: j. Scott Coopwood Editor: Cindy Coopwood Managing Editor: Pam Parker Contributing Editors: Hank Burdine, maude Schuyler Clay, noel Workman, Roger Stolle Digital Editor: Phil Schank Consultant: Samir Husni, Ph.D. Graphic Designers: Sandra Goff, maggi mosco Contributing Writers: Susan montgomery, angela Rogalski, Liza jones, Katie Tims, Wade Wineman, Todd Davis, Robin Whitfield, Sherry Lucas, Susan marquez, max Wellman Photography: johnny jennings, Greg Campbell, Robin Whitfield, Hart Henson, Larry Pace, melanie Thortis, Bill Powell, Will jacks, Bridgette aikens, Blake Crocker, Kaye Schultz, Charles Coleman, Rory Doyle, austin Britt Account Executives: joy Bateman, janice Fullen, Leathe Greenlee, Cristen Hemmins, Kristy Kitchings, Wendy mize, ann nestler, Cadey True Circulation: Holly Tharp Accounting Manager: emma jean Thompson POSTMASTER: Send all address changes to Delta Magazine, PO Box 117, Cleveland, mS 38732

ADVERTISING: For advertising information, please call (662) 843-2700 or email Delta Magazine accepts no responsibility for unsolicited materials or photos and in general does not return them to sender. Photography obtained for editorial usage is owned by Delta Magazine and may not be released for commercial use such as in advertisements and may not be purchased from the magazine for any reason. all editorial and advertising information is taken from sources considered to be authoritative, but the publication cannot guarantee their accuracy. neither that information nor any opinion expressed on the pages of Delta Magazine in any way constitutes a solicitation for the sale or purchase of securities mentioned. no material in Delta Magazine may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the publication. Delta Magazine is published bimonthly by Coopwood magazines, Inc., 125 South Court St., Cleveland, mS 38732-2626. Periodicals postage paid at Cleveland, mS and additional mailing office. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Delta Magazine, PO Box 117, Cleveland, mS 38732-0117. Delta Magazine (uSPS#022-954)

Delta Magazine is published six times a year by Coopwood Magazines, Inc. EDITORIAL & BUSINESS OFFICE ADDRESSES: Mailing Address: PO Box 117, Cleveland, mS 38732 Shipping Address: 125 South Court Street, Cleveland, mS 38732 E-mail: publisher@deltamagazine.com editor@deltamagazine.com

deltamagazine.com Subscriptions: $28 per year Š2020 Coopwood magazines, Inc.

8 | may/june 2020


from the editor

Easter Sunday “home church” via livestream in our den!

Love in the time of Corona nlike the 1985 novel Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García márquez that tells the story of a forbidden affair of the heart interrupted by parental disapproval, only to be rediscovered late in life, love in the time of corona, means something entirely different. all our lives have been dominated by the news of the coronavirus and its effects. many of us have loved ones who have contracted the virus. Thankfully most have recovered, but many have not, and the news cycle keeps us abreast of the toll it has taken worldwide. So thankful that right before sheltering in place was implemented Scott and I got in a We’ve also seen our economy completely implode. I don’t know one person who hasn’t quick trip to D.C. to see our son Jordan. Above been affected financially in some way. job losses, workers furloughed, businesses closed—at with Jordan and Scott in The White House. least temporarily—the list goes on. Small businesses everywhere seem to be barely surviving, but we’ve seen them adapt in creative ways to stay afloat. There have been other types of repercussions. Canceled plans for one. Big things. In our family alone, our daughter Travis, who is a senior in high school, has missed her senior prom, tennis season, will almost certainly not have a traditional graduation ceremony, and no senior dance recital. Two of my nephews have lost their jobs, at least in the meantime. my niece, like many spring brides, had to make a decision about her wedding, which would have been today as I write, april 18. It was to have been a traditional affair held in Livingston at Bridlewood, with many family and friends in attendance. many couples have moved their wedding dates, but she opted to stick to her schedule and forego the rest—and got married in her back yard in nashville—with only her husband, maid of honor and officiant in attendance. Our family and friends all watched on Zoom. It’s not what she wanted or expected, but it was still a joyful day and spoke to their resilience in the face of disappointment. It was a much needed moment of joy for all of us and an enduring expression of love in the time of corona. While at the National Museum of African and in that spirit, I must say that in spite of the unquestionable difficulties American history, we we are all going through, there have been many bright spots. many families stumbled across a have spent much more time together. as a culture we’ve gone from being tribute to Mississippi endlessly “too busy” like hamsters on a treadmill, to having aLL our plans John Hurt, page 23. cancelled. Whether taking walks, riding bikes, or nesting at home, families are doing it together. People are learning, or relearning to cook—and to cook with whatever is on hand. The world has become quieter—in a good way. We’ve learned to just be. This experience has helped clarify many things. What’s truly important (missing seeing my parents at easter really stung). How we spend our time. Who we spend it with. and how well we adapt in difficult circumstances. We’ve learned we are not in control, and it’s okay. These are good things. We are learning a lot about what we treasure and why. I believe that through the hurt, disappointments, and the bright spots, we will come out of this forever changed. and I believe that most of all, we will have learned a lot about love—in the time of corona. DM

U

Katherine and Kevin Carr, my niece and her new husband were married in her back yard in Nashville. The family joined in and watched their special ceremony on Zoom!

Cindy Coopwood Editor @cindycoopwood cindy@deltamagazine.com

10 | may/june 2020


12 retirement communities with one mission... 1. HERNANDO WESLEY MEADOWS Independent Living and Assisted Living Phone: 662-429-2070 2. CLARKSDALE FLOWERS MANOR Cottage & Independent Living and Personal Care Phone: 662-627-2222

...to serve older adults in the spirit of Christian love.

1

3

2

4 5

3. TUPELO TRACEWAY Cottage & Independent Living, Assisted Living, Supportive Living Green House速 Homes, and Short-Term Rehab Phone: 662-844-1441

6

4.WEST POINT DUGAN Supportive Living and Short-Term Rehab Phone: 662-494-3640

7 8

9

5. WEST POINT THE HENRY CLAY Independent Living Phone: 662-494-1079 6. COLUMBUS TRINITY PLACE Independent Living, Personal Care, Supportive Living and Short-Term Rehab Phone: 662-327-6716 7. YAZOO CITY MARTHA COKER Supportive Living Green House速 Homes and Short-Term Rehab Phone: 662-746-4621 8. RAYMOND RIGGS MANOR Garden Homes & Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Support Green House速 Homes Phone: 601-857-5011

10

11

www.mss.org 9. MERIDIAN ALDERSGATE Cottage & Independent Living and Assisted Living Phone: 601-482-5561 10. HATTIESBURG WESLEY MANOR Independent Living Phone: 601-264-8847 11. LEAKESVILLE TURNER-DUVALL Independent Living Phone: 601-394-2621

12

12. GULFPORT SEASHORE HIGHLANDS Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Support Apartments & Memory Support Green House速 Home Phone: 228-831-7000


contents may/june Volume 17 No. 6

38

departments

28 Reviews BOOKS of new releases and

SHOPPING 30 Shop Local for Moms, Dads & Grads 32 ART Jennie Lee Gorton: what Deltans are reading

66

38 MUSIC

The Grandma Moses of the Delta The Weeks: Launched from the Delta, these Indie rockers have built a loyal following across the South

66 HOME/GARDEN Plan, Plant, Enjoy, Repeat: Mark Kennedy’s tips for successful, lush gardens

90 FOOD Summer desserts:

Chilled pies with crumb crusts

56

84

94 HISTORY What’s in a name?

The Chickasaw connection to a Tunica County landmark

features

44 52 56 78

GAS STATION CUISINE

CARROLL COUNTY COLLECTOR

What every Deltan knows, but remains one of the region’s best kept secrets

PADDLING THE SWAMPLANDS

The driving force behind Jim Neill’s ever growing motorcycle collection

Scenic swamps are a treasure trove for the Delta’s outdoor enthusiasts

SPRING PARTIES

Not your Mother’s Tea Party: A proper tea for little girls 13 Going on Fabulous: A leap year birthday party to remember, page 84

in every issue 15 Letters 18 On the Road Where we’ve been, where we’re going next

22 Off the Beaten Path Roaming the Real and Rustic Delta

24 Hot Topics 100 Delta Seen Pages of snapshots from area fundraisers, art openings and social events

104 The Final Word by Max Wellman ON THE COVER: Paddling the swamp at Mathew’s Brake near Greenwood. Photo by Hart Henson 12 | may/june 2020


Against the Grain Mercan le ................... 880 Highway 64 ............... 870.739.3305 Front Row Bou que & Gi Shop .................... 9 Shafer ..................... 870.739.3955 House of MJ .............................................. 2688 Highway 77 .............. 870.636.1854 The Merry Magnolia ................................ 194 Military Road ............. 870.739.5527 Marion Consignment ............................... 1813 Highway 77 .............. 870.733.0944 Swan Furniture & Gi s ............................. 3712 Highway 64 .............. 870.739.3614 The Speckled Egg Bou que ............................5100 I-55 .................... 870.739.1315 Trendie Chix Bou que ............................. 2688 Highway 77 .............. 870.514.2219 Trendz......................................................... 78 Court Street ............... 901.494.7095 Cli ’s Auto Parts ........................................ 120 Block Street ............... 870.739.4458


Y’all Said

Cocktail

Chic

Find nostalgia in every item of the

SOCIAL MEDIA COMMENTS @deltamagazine

We Asked... Delta families are finding creative ways to stay busy during the COVID-19 crisis— gardening, cooking, exercising or learning a new hobby! We wanted to know what our readers were doing to stay busy while sheltering in place?

Delta Magazine

Gift Collection Call or come by our office to shop our gift collection at 125 South Court Street, Cleveland, 662.843.2700.

We adopted a kitten, Cleo, from the local shelter. We have plenty of time to be amused by her antics. – Alison Callahan I have cleaned and cleaned things out and mowed my yard. Then, I hung a string of my colorful scarves out front for a cheerful Spring display. – Kaye King Hello from West Point, MS but born and raised in Yazoo City. I have been catching up on my “DIY” projects during quarantine. My first completion is a hand towel bar that I made from sentimental pieces. The wood is from an old cypress fence at my childhood home in Yazoo and the towel bar as well. The spindles are from an estate sale in West Point. BTW, the painting in the picture is by my daughter when she was ten years old. Always enjoy the Delta Magazine, – Andrea Broadaway Cohen

We’re “buzzed” about our exclusive linen hand towels, $22 each

Working jigsaw puzzles, walking outside and playing cards and scrabble! – Anna Tyner

Crocheting mask bands and cooking a lot! – Teresa Whitlock Adams I am getting my yard all done. – Nancy Hughes Baking bread!!! Organizing photos. Jigsaw puzzles. Reading. Movies. – Anne Martin Vetrano Projects, like scanning old pics into computer. – Penny Perry

Here’s what they said:

Making masks! – Lea Margaret Hamilton Like our official Delta Magazine Page Twitter @Delta_Mag Instagram @deltamagazine

To subscribe, call

662.843.2700 or visit

deltamagazine.com

14 | may/june 2020

Listening to podcasts with my daughter. Working from home and giving blood for our hospitals with Mississippi Blood Services. Facetiming relatives to check on them. Cooking more than I have in years. Planning and working on projects for the summer. Sitting on the front porch watching the lake water rise. Listening to all my favorite music with our piles of books beside us in the library and exercising. – Sherry Cleveland

On The Edit, we asked our readers, “Time to get our yards looking good…what’s your least favorite part of yard work?” Weeding is my least favorite part of yard work! – Kay Bradley The heat! – Kay Coleman Weed eating. Always makes my arms and shoulders ache so much. – Cristen Hemmins Trying to dig in this Mississippi red clay! – Betty Musselwhite Bloom


LETTERS

Delta

MARCH/APRIL 2020

m

a

g

a

z

i

n

e

The

Wedding Issue

I want to thank you for the opportunity to have my novel, New Madrid, listed in Delta Magazine. my wife, mary Catherine, and I have looked forward for years to each new issue of Delta Magazine. The people at Delta Magazine have captured the essence and charm of our Delta. Malcolm Bailey Clarksdale, Mississippi

I’d like to thank you for the great promotion you assisted us with in The Edit e-newsletter for our 4th annual Landscaping Camp at the university of mississippi, and as well as last year. The Edit is quite an inspiring, warm and beautiful online social media reaching so many people. you certainly delivered with a number of people registering after seeing it online on The Edit, coming from as far as north Carolina. unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 we had to cancel this year’s camp but will definitely be advertising with you again next year. Rosie Vassallo Oxford, Mississippi

SEND COMMENTS AND LETTERS TO: editor@deltamagazine.com or Delta Magazine PO Box 117 Cleveland, MS 38732 DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 15


Fleeting Beauty

PHOTO BY AUSTIN BRITT

The scientific name for daylily is Hermerocallis, derived from two Greek words meaning “beauty” and “day,” referring to the fact the beautiful flowers only bloom for one day before fading. However, the plants make up for their temporary show by having many flower buds on one stalk. These ruby-red stunners and many other colorful varieties are bred by Hilliard Lawler of Indianola and grace the family property along Indian Bayou every year. DM


ON THE ROAD

where we’ve been, where to go next

BOLIVAR COUNTY

e

ak W o N e v a e L

MALVINA

Late afternoon boat ride. – NANCY FRANKLIN

Two country dogs suspiciously eyeing an unhappy opossum. – WILL JACKS

CLARKSDALE

PHOTO OPS & A salute to Delta greats, John Lee Hooker, Little Milton, and Muddy Waters at The Delta Blues Museum. – ALEX STOTTS

MONEY

A Walk in the Past YAZOO CITY

A hometown salute to Jerry Clower. Always a good time at the Tallahatchie Tavern.

18 | may/june 2020


ARKANSAS

ISLAND 62

Sandbar solitude on a back channel of the Mississippi River. – ROBIN WHITFIELD

COAHOMA COUNTY Beautiful cypress brake on Lake Chicot. – ANNE CERANTI

Back Roads

FUNKY STOPS Roaming the real and rustic Delta

A long and lonely stretch of Delta road.

– STEPHEN LITTLE

CLARKSDALE

LITTLE YAZOO

Front porch of Ground Zero Blues Club—a welcoming sight. – BRENDA MIMS

The historical Anding Oil City Road. – JAY SODAY

Instagram users, follow @deltamagazine and see #DMphotoops

DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 19


20 | may/june 2020


Begin your blues journey at Tunica’s Gateway to the Blues Museum located on Highway 61—the Blues Highway. See the story of the blues come to life in all its tormented and anguished glory. You’ll experience interactive exhibits, artwork and more—including a recording studio where you’ll learn the basics of blues music with a chance to record your very own blues song. So, before you trek through blues country, get in a blues state-of-mind at the Gateway to the Blues Museum. VISIT tunicatravel.com/blues

CALL 888.4TUNICA

TWITTER @TunicaMS | @TunicaBlues

FACEBOOK facebook.com/TunicaMS


OFF THE BEATEN PATH roaming the real and rustic Delta

LA PETITE ABEILLE—THE LITTLE BEE Luxury shops across the nation are abuzz with these handcrafted candles hailing from Vicksburg Tucked away in beautiful, historic downtown Vicksburg on the bluffs overlooking the mississippi River is one of the Delta’s most unique businesses, La Petite abeille—the state’s premier pure beeswax chandlery. Owner Ruth Wilkerson’s interest (obsession?) in hand-rolled beeswax candles began over twenty years ago when she discovered some at an antique store in her hometown of monroe, Louisiana. “after those, there was seriously no substitute—I was hooked on the beauty of beeswax,” explains Wilkerson. Fast forward several years, which included a move to Vicksburg, and the Wilkersons were hosting a black-tie event at their home. “I wanted the party lit entirely in beeswax candles, but found them impossible to find, so decided to attempt making my own,” she says. needless to say, Wilkerson’s first attempt was unsuccessful, but she became a woman on a mission—researching and teaching herself by trial and error while her young sons napped. Then, in 2003 while shopping at a favorite store in jackson, Wilkerson mentioned she was a beeswax chandler (candle-maker) and the owner wanted to see some of her samples. “Her customers’ response was positive, and so began the process of branding, experimenting with packaging, developing product standards, researching and sourcing top quality materials… There is SO much more to quality candle making than meets the eye, and I only aimed to offer the finest,” says Wilkerson. The rest, as they say, is history. as for the name, La Petite Abeille translates from French to The Little Bee. Wilkerson has always been drawn to the napoleonic bee in art and in all it symbolizes—and it’s a nod to her roots. “I am of French descent on my father’s side, and it also gives a wink to my Louisiana heritage.” now with a staff of four, including herself, custom orders in an array of twenty-eight colors—many with her unique sparkle finish—are hand crafted, packaged and shipped to high-end retailers. La Petite abeille has a nationwide clientele. “We market exclusively to upscale gift, wedding registry, interior design, gourmet, and fine antique stores. The line is a luxury brand, and I knew it wasn’t for everyone, so from the beginning my marketing needed to be very selective.” She continues, “I am also very client centered. That may sound cliche’, but you really have to be in a luxury market space. my clients are highly visual, tactile, business-minded creatives. It is important to me that they never have to worry or wonder about having their perfect candles, enabling them to move on to what’s next.” 22 | may/june 2020

Follow her Instagram @lapetiteabeille_thelittlebee and you will see posts from the finest interior designers, antique stores and national magazine covers such as Elle Decor where her candles have been used. Check the website for more information and a listing of local merchants that carry La Petite abeille candles. 620 Crawford Street, Vicksburg 601.415.2101, thelittlebee.net


MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT MUSEUM This hard-to-find little gem is worth the trip for Blues aficionados The first part of the drive to the mississippi john Hurt museum in avalon is on state highway, mississippi 7, but the rest of it involves country roads. Certainly most first-time visitors to the Hurt museum will want a guide to show them the way. “just tell them to call me,” says Floyd Bailey, longtime vice president of the mississippi john Hurt Foundation. Hurt is known as one of the most influential and iconic american country blues singers and guitarists, although his notoriety didn’t come until late in life. The foundation that bears his name was created in 1999 through the efforts of mary Frances Hurt Wright of Chicago, the blues singer’s granddaughter, along with a dedicated group of supporters, Bailey among them. Bailey never actually met john Hurt, but he feels like he did. “I met him through his granddaughter, and I met her at a family reunion,” he explains. This led to his involvement with the museum project. The Hurt’s home in avalon was moved from its original location to its current location in the wooded Carroll County hills and set it up as a museum. “Whatever renovation was done to the house, I did it,” says Bailey, who is in the construction trade. The emphasis was to preserve the structure so that it remained historically accurate. Inside the small shotgun-style building are pieces of Hurt’s memorabilia. Hurt’s gravesite, although not on the property, is nearby. He died in 1966. The foundation sponsors an annual festival that last fall drew large crowds for a weekend that included a headlining concert by blues singer Taj mahal as well as performances by numerous blues musicians. Blues music on Saturday was followed by gospel on Sunday at the St. james church building, which Wright also had moved to the museum site. Those who might not be familiar with Hurt will enjoy listening to his recordings on youTube, where you can hear him singing and picking ballads such as “Frankie” and a well known favorite, “avalon Blues.” With the latter, he softly croons, “avalon, my home town, always on my mind.” although Hurt traveled and performed widely late in life, it appears he was a homebody at heart. Hurt was born in 1893 in Teoc, but was raised in the nearby community of avalon. He taught himself to play the guitar as a boy and later he worked as a farmhand. In the 1920s made several recordings that ultimately did not sell well, although his significant talent was well-noted. His soft and intricate playing style weren’t well received by the party and dance crowds at the time. But over 35 years later with the resurgence of folk music and an interest in blues music,

Exhibit in National African American History museum in D.C.

Hurt’s music was rediscovered. He was in his 70s, when a scholar named Tom Hoskins discovered that mississippi john Hurt, was alive and well. Hoskins sought him out and helped kick start his late-inlife music career. He performed at, among other venues, the newport Folk Festival and even appeared on “The Tonight Show with johnny Carson.” He also recorded for the Library of Congress. Well known artist, Bonnie Raitt, who is also a huge Hurt fan, has helped spread his name world-wide as have other musicians. There’s a mississippi Blues Trail marker on the way up to the museum. The Hurt Foundation’s website has a map and directions. But these include advice such as, “ a bit down the road on your right are the remains of the Valley Store and the Blues Trail marker. Follow the pavement for a bit until you come to the only four-way intersection in the area. It’s easy to miss because two of the directions aren’t paved.” So visitors might want to take Floyd Bailey up on his offer as a personal guide. avoid trying to use GPS, he warns. “GPS and all that will fool you,” Bailey explains. musicians might want to bring an instrument, perhaps a guitar. There’s something about sitting on the front porch of the museum that calls for a tune. Floyd Bailey can be reached at 662.299.1574. DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 23


HOT TOPICS PORCH & PARLOR DINING & HOSPITALITY Turn of the century elegance meets Southern hospitality and great food The gas lights, book shelves, and elegance of the new Overton Square restaurant evoke the turn of the twentieth century. Porch & Parlor, which opened in February, is housed at 2125 madison in a circa 1908 building. “We tried to embrace the era,” says Russ Graham, who owns the Flight Restaurant Group along with partner Tom Powers. Their restaurants include Flight, Southern Social, and Coastal Fish Company. The era between the end of the Franco Prussian War and World War I (1871 to 1914) was known as the Belle epoque (“Beautiful age”) era in France. “Champagne flowed,” says Graham. Impressionist painters, including Renoir and monet, were the rage. So impressionist works line the restaurant walls. all the booths in the “parlor” section of the restaurant, which seats thirty-six people, are made of real leather. Bookshelves line the walls. The elegant dining room seats sixty people. and the bar seats another fifty-four. The wide, welcoming porch on the front will seat sixty-five. Graham describes the food as “Southern-style steakhouse. So, in addition to, say, a Wagyu filet, you can add fried green tomatoes and collard greens to your meal. The quality of the steaks can’t be found anywhere else in memphis,” Graham says. Paul Walsh is executive chef. eduardo murillo is the corporate executive chef. If you’re wondering why a wooden bear head is in the center of the arch over the bar, it’s because it’s supposed to be a likeness of natch, a Southern black bear who was the mascot of the old memphis Turtles baseball team in 1908. Because of natch, the memphis Zoo eventually was built, Graham says. The restaurant is curve shaped because that part of Cooper and madison was the “end of the city,” Graham says. Trolleys coming from Downtown would turn around at that corner and return Downtown. Porch & Parlor, like the other Flight Restaurant Group restaurants, will be open 365 days a year. Porch & Parlor is open for dinner only, but eventually, will also be open for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.

1

24 | may/june 2020

2125 Madison Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 901.725.4000, porchandparlor.com


PEYTON ALDRIDGE Local musician achieves dream of being on American Idol BY ANGELA ROGALSKI

American Idol has boosted many singing careers and opened a lot of doors for up and coming talent. Peyton aldridge is no exception. Last month, the Cleveland resident appeared on this year’s season of the show and made it all the way to the last round of Hollywood Week, which was the Top 60. aldridge and a friend of his had been singing and playing within the state for years when he decided to audition. “In 2011, my guitar buddy, john Balducci and I, started playing music all over mississippi,” says aldridge. “We play country, rock and roll, and today’s hits. I had tried out for American Idol once before in 2013 and didn’t make it. I got the big no,” he laughs. However, that didn’t deter aldridge. Last fall he tried out again—a process that began online in October, and after many rounds of auditions, he made it. “I tried out again just for the heck of it,” he adds. “It had always been a dream of mine to be on American Idol. you have to go through so many auditions before getting to the celebrity judges. I did three rounds before getting to Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry.” after aldridge’s online audition, he then traveled to mobile, alabama for another one. Then, after making it through that round he went to nashville. after getting the “yes” in nashville, he went to Savannah, Georgia to appear in front of the celebrity judges. “I received a yes from all three judges, I headed to Los angeles,” he says. “and that was right before Christmas.” making it onto the show and all the way into the Top 60 has opened many doors for aldridge, who has now recorded two songs he co-wrote with Stephen Sylvester, another artist he met while on American Idol. “Hometown Girl,” and “all Because of you” are available on apple music. aldridge, a basketball coach at Bayou academy, is also a full-time student at Delta State university. He and his wife have a three-year-old little girl and live in Cleveland. He says that just because he didn’t go all the way this time around on American Idol, doesn’t mean aldridge doesn’t have future plans. He is still determined to pursue a musical career. “I’m going back and I’m making it next year!”

2

@thepeytonaldridge

@PeytonAldridgeOfficalFanPage DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 25


HEATON PECANS is a family business that began as a fruit stand selling peaches and pecans from our family orchard. We are still family owned today! With the holidays fast approaching, our customized gift packs make the perfect treat for your clients, friends and families. Drop by today to see our expanded selection of gifts for the whole family. “Your holiday shopping in a nutshell!”

Hwy 161 N • Clarksdale, MS www.heatonpecans.com 1.800.451.6081 26 | may/june 2020


DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 27


BOOKS Blackwood by Michael Farris Smith (Little, Brown and Company) michael Farris Smith is one of the most skilled writers of Southern noir and has become a favorite mississippi author. mississippi, the place and the characters therein, is a thrilling inspiration and subject, and in his newest novel, Blackwood, he takes us deep within the suffocating kudzu to experience what lurks within. Smith always starts his novels with a boom, and this story is no exception. after experiencing trauma as a boy in the fictional town of Red Bluff, Colburn returns as an adult. He’s not the only newcomer passing through, and the town in the hills is shaken when people start to vanish. just outside of town, in the valley and ridges, below the creepy, consuming, and choking kudzu, lies a darkness they must enter to find the missing. The way Smith wrote this novel, flowing like connecting vines, makes this book exciting and fast. This spooky story is bound to make Michael Farris Smith you shiver. (Liza jones) The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich (Harper Collins Publishers) It’s always a pleasure to read Louise erdrich, and her newest novel, The Night Watchman, based on her grandfather, is no exception. This is wonderful historical fiction with characters that you will root for as they fight for their identity and rights. Set in 1953, this novel follows the storyline of several connected characters, weaving their individual stories into one. Thomas is the night watchman of the jewelry plant on a north Dakota reservation. When he learns the government is planning to pass a new law which will strip native americans of their rights, he makes a plan to stop lawmakers. He and others will fight for their community like the real-life heroes these characters are based on. Political and personal, while simultaneously sparse and poetic, erdrich has a magical way of getting you involved. Once you’re inside this world with these flawed and loveable characters, you’ll want to see them through. (Liza jones)

Buzzworthy Comments

We asked Facebook friends and Delta Magazine Fan Page Group members to share with us their favorite book that was turned into a movie. o Ewin Henson, Lawyer Greenwood, Mississippi

A Tale of Two Cities because it shows how people can give it all for others. o Carol Ann Manning, Retired Moselle, Mississippi

To Kill a Mockingbird. This classic shows how things where in the south years ago. It shows the black/ white relationships accurately. It is beautifully written. Louise Erdrich

o Beverly Tindall, Retired Greenwood, Mississippi

Writers & Lovers by Lily King (Grove Atlantic) Lily King’s newest novel, Writers & Lovers, is a beautiful delight. you will never visit a restaurant or read a book the same way again. enter into the falling-apart life of Casey Peabody, a waitress with mounting debt living in her brother’s friend’s potting shed in Boston. She’s been writing the same novel for six years, moving from city to city, from heartbreak to heartbreak. One by one, her friends have abandoned a life of art for a life of security, but in her early thirties, she is holding on by a thin thread to what she feels called to do, while grieving the recent loss of her mother. Casey and her life are the simple hooks of this story. King is such a master storyteller that you need nothing else, rooting for this lost but strong woman in all her tender moments. Poignant scenes of hard work, creativity, romance, and grief resonate on every moving page. (Liza jones)

For the Record Books Delta Magazine fans are currently reading

o Mary Hagwood Mullins

The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante

o Beja Regan Everett Witch of Yazoo by Charles Everett

o Lisa Parker Tankersley Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

o Karen Vincent

Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon 28 | may/june 2020

o Susan Huff

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

o Kimberly Macione Butler Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

o Jason Heavner

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

o Norman Orr

On Fire by John O’Leary

The Help. Because a lot of it was made in Greenwood and those of us who live here enjoyed seeing the production take place. o Carol Huffstickler Brewer, Restaurant server Como, Mississippi

Fried Green Tomatoes. Because...it is just great!

Lily King

o Evelyn McDowell Sullivan Blue Moon by Lee Child

o Sonya Kimbrell A Mother’s Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to your Soul by Holly Pierlot

o Steven Craddock

Barksdale’s Charge by Philip Thomas Tucker

o Tamar Miller Burrell

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern


The Unwilling by John Hart (St. Martins Press) Set in the South at the height of the Vietnam War, The Unwilling combines crime, suspense and searing glimpses into the human mind and soul in New York Times bestselling author john Hart’s singular style. Gibby’s older brothers have already been to war. One died there. The other came back misunderstood and hard, a decorated killer now freshly released from a three-year stint in prison. jason won’t speak of the war or of his time behind bars, but he wants a relationship with the younger brother he hasn’t known for years. Determined to make that connection, he coaxes Gibby into a day at the lake: long hours of sunshine and whisky and older women. But, the day turns ugly when the four encounter a prison transfer bus on a stretch of empty road. Beautiful but drunk, one of the women taunts the prisoners, leading to a riot on the bus. The woman finds it funny in the moment, but is savagely murdered soon after. (Special/Dm Staff )

The Devil’s Bones by Carolyn Haines (Minotaur Books) The latest novel in the series that Kirkus Reviews characterizes as “Stephanie Plum meets the ya-ya Sisterhood” featuring sassy Southern private investigator Sarah Booth Delaney. as Sarah Booth sees it, easter weekend is a time to celebrate life in all its many forms. So when the newly-pregnant Tinkie invites her and Cece on a girls’ trip to Lucedale, mississippi to celebrate that spring has official sprung, unfortunately, for Sarah Booth and the gang, someone doesn’t seem appreciate this season of new life. easter morning has just dawned when the trio find themselves at the mount of Olives―with a dead body at their feet. (Special/Dm Staff )

The Nemesis Manifesto by Eric Van Lustbader (Tom Doherty Associates) Russian meddling, american fragmentation, and global politics collide in this action-packed, international thriller. In The Nemesis Manifesto, New York Times bestselling author eric Van Lustbader, “the master of the smart thriller,” delivers an epic and harrowing adventure of the predatory forces that are threatening the very fabric of democracy and kicks off a compelling new series with a singular new hero for our time. evan Ryder is a lone wolf, a field agent for a black-ops arm of the DOD, who has survived unspeakable tragedy and dedicated her life to protecting her country. When her fellow agents begin to be systematically eliminated, evan must unravel the thread that ties them all together...and before her name comes up on the kill list. (Special/Dm Staff) DM

EXPERIENCE THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA through prehistoric fossils, Native American pottery, Civil War history, cotton farming and regional art. • 12,000-year-old Mastodon • 14th Century Pottery

• Spanish Colonial Beads • World War II • Civil War

• Swamp Room • Art Gallery

• Children’s Discovery Room

1608 Highway 82 West Greenwood, Mississippi Mon - Sat 9a.m. - 5p.m. Phone: 662-453-0925 museumofthemississippidelta.com

DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 29


SHOPPING Spring Tees for the guys are always appreciated. The Sportsman, Greenville, @the_sportsman_inc

For the mom with a green thumb—a beautiful arrangement to enjoy that can also be planted in the garden! Millstone Market and Nursery, Germantown, @millstonenursery

Morning coffee + lots of love. This adorable mug pulls double-duty! H Squared Boutique, Cleveland, @hsquaredboutique

Shop Local for

Moms, Dads &Grads Serious shoppers have not been deterred by COVID-19—but never has it been more important to support our local retailers. So as stores everywhere are accommodating shoppers with curbside pickup, online orders, even home deliveries (and will hopefully re-open soon), remember them when you’re looking for the perfect gift for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Graduation. We’ve searched their Instagrams and websites for great gift ideas from local shops across the region! She’ll love a stack of Musgrove & Main bangles. Lulu’s, Oxford, @shopluox The perfect compromise—a recliner that has all the comfort without sacrificing style. Dad will be forever grateful! Miskelly Furniture, Pearl, @miskellyfurniture

That beach trip may be delayed for now but Moms and girl grads will be ready with a Maria Victoria tote! Finchers, Greenwood, @finchersinc 30 | may/june 2020

A Duck Head Trucker hat is a great graduation happy for the guys. The Rogue, Jackson, @theroguejxn


For the reader on your list. A signed copy from their favorite author is the perfect gift. Turnrow Books, Greenwood, @turnrowbooks

Fun sunnies make for happy grads! Lavender Lane, Indianola, @lavenderlaneindianola

Gorgeous hand-blown, colored glassware will make Mom smile! Mod + Proper, Cleveland, @modandproper

To keep mosquitos at bay in style, the Patio Egg diffuser is a must! Keep It Casual, Tupelo, @keepitcasualstore

Keep cool and hydrated with a Mountain Khaki backpack cooler. Abraham’s, Indianola, @abrahams_indianola

Mom, Dad, and the hummingbirds will love these vintage ruby feeders for the yard or patio. Fountain’s Green Grow-Cery, Greenville, @shopfountains

This blush pink Vietri bud vase will soon be one of Mom’s favorites! Rosson Co., Cleveland, @rossoncompany

Keep him looking good and summer-ready with new Southern Tide swim trunks. Neilson’s Department Store, Oxford, @neilsonsdepartmentstore Everyone will love a fresh new scent for spring—Lemongrass & Ginger Nest Candle. Provision Oxford, @provisionoxford DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 31


ART

Church on Brooks Plantation at Drew, Miss. August, 1971

GRANDMAe Delta h t f o MOSES “I wouldn’t live anywhere in the world but Mississippi.” BY HANK BURDINE

randma Moses, the American folk painter known for her documentation of rural life, painted scenes she remembered from growing up as a child during the first half of the last century in upstate New York and Virginia. She did not start

G

painting until her seventies and continued on until her death at 101. Her nostalgic scenes of rural America, which she originally sold at country fairs along with her prize-winning pickles, gained her national recognition. 32 | may/june 2020

JLG


WILL JACKS

Jennie Lee in her garden with several of her paintings, many of which portrayed her love of cotton. Tire Swing and Barn along with Cotton Field.

gin, and most had a church built out of cypress and painted white. There was another artist during the middle of the last century who On some weekends, a family would hitch their mule up to a also later in her life began painting scenes that depicted everyday wagon and ride to town. But there wasn’t a lot of money passing country life—but in the mississippi Delta. jennie Lee Gorton hands in those days until the crop came in, so most weekends painted scenes she remembered of the arkansas and mississippi were spent around the plantation commissary, visiting and Deltas during the early years of the twentieth century. Both artists listening to the traveling blues were self-taught, and both painted musicians that passed through. from the heart. Folk art is very african american families along revealing and although it’s usually with many white families, and more utilitarian than aesthetic, it Italian immigrants, all shared the has a way of portraying real life and life of tenant farmers on farms real people. throughout the Delta. It was a way Cotton was King in the of life back in those days, and the arkansas and mississippi Deltas at Great Depression was just around the turn of the last century and the the corner. sharecropping system was most While living in Pine Bluff, common with large farms dotted arkansas, jennie Lee met Doy with tenant houses and out Gorton from marks, mississippi, buildings scattered among the and they married in june of 1926. fields. moving back to marks, Doy most farms at that time still had became a traveling salesman for a wooded bottomlands with sloughs Deserted Cabin in Mississippi, December, 1967 wholesale grocery company. In 1929 and bayous beyond the fertile farmable they moved to Ruleville. jennie Lee would travel with her husband ridges. These woods were loaded with huge oak and gum trees visiting the many plantations and smaller farms throughout the and towering bald cypress. a small steam-driven groundhog mississippi Delta. She had grown up outdoors and was always sawmill could take timber saw logs and turn them into boards and picking flowers, adoring the color and wildness and the natural lumber with which to build houses and barns. most of the tenant order of God’s creation. jennie Lee vividly remembered those houses were either swoop-roofed one-room houses or “shotgun” times traveling around the Delta while taking in her surroundings houses consisting of three rooms in a row with all the doors lined and interacting with the people. as the Depression took hold, up. These were economical and simple to build and were built out Doy was fortunate to be able to continue his work in sales for the of cypress that lasted a very long time without having to be painted. wholesale grocery company. He traveled from place to place, jennie Lee grew up in the early 1900s among all the rural scenes selling and delivering his wares, and taking orders from plantation prevalent during that time. every large farm had its own cotton DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 33


WILL JACKS

WILL JACKS

commissaries. Times were very tight. The primary subject matter of jennie jennie Lee recalled in an oral history Lee’s paintings is all about early recorded for the university of agricultural life in the Delta, the life she Southern mississippi, “We always remembered. “you can’t separate cotton said that we were not poor; we just from the mississippi Delta. all my didn’t have any money.” paintings are around and about cotton, “Ruleville was one of the greatest and I love cotton. Cotton is just so places in the world to live; I lived pretty,” she is recorded as saying. Her there eleven years. everyone I knew paintings depict everyday life in the helped everyone else. If anyone came Delta from the turn of the century until to you and said they were hungry, about 1950 when tractors took the place they were never turned down; they of mules and the tenant houses began were fed. We got by because we all being torn down as the outward depended on each other.” all families migration of families started to take had a garden back then, and the Big Mule Barn and Houses. Jennie Lee often put names of place. One tractor could farm the same plantations and farms on her paintings, such as this one plantations had huge gardens for all that depicts the No Mistake Plantation in Alligator. acreage as nine families with nine mules. the tenants. “everybody had gardens Once the families left, the houses were in Ruleville. I even had a flower torn down and cotton planted through garden; I had the prettiest flowers the old yards and gardens. But jennie there.” Lee had a photographic memory, and jennie Lee’s best friend was my she had also taken pictures. aunt elodie Rule magee and she Once her kids were older and were in spent many days in the Rule Flower school, jennie Lee helped neil Rogers Shop helping to arrange flowers for with his flower and landscaping business funerals and weddings and other in Greenville. She was always busy with special events. Times were certainly her hands, planting and pruning hard, but a beautiful flower flowers, cutting and picking blooms, arrangement could make one feel just and arranging them into beautiful a little better about their plight in life. arrangements, just as she had done at The Gortons moved to Greenville Rule Flower Shop while living in in 1940 when Doy took a job with Wash Day Down on the Farm Ruleville. When she was not immersed the Itzig Company, a big wholesale in flowers, she painted as a hobby. grocer. By this time, they had started jennie Lee turned her garage into a family, and jennie Lee stayed at home raising three children. a studio where she would go out and paint. all of her paintings are around 1961 jennie Lee needed a picture to hang and went to buy of rural life in the Delta, cotton country. Her paintings are of Delta one, but realizing they were so expensive, she just decided, “I am cotton plantations, gins, barns, cotton houses, and tenant houses going to paint me one.” and she painted it. with women doing laundry out in the yard while children play and dogs snooze on the porch as chickens scratch around in the bare dirt. There was always a hand-operated pitcher pump in the front yard for water and a #3 washtub on the side of the house for washing clothes. a cast iron kettle is shown in some yards with a fire underneath it for heating wash water. “I never know

Most of Jennie Lee’s paintings have a written description on the back of each canvas explaining what the picture is about.

34 | may/june 2020


what I’m going to paint; half the time I just put something down and get started. I just paint, and if the color is not right, I just paint over it and keep on until I achieve what I want. I paint with oils on canvas. acrylics dry too fast, and I just don’t like water colors. I like oil; I just do oil paintings.” Her paintings are vivid with color and content as they depict in a primitive manner the way of life in the Delta during the early part of the 1900s. By the mid-70s, jennie Lee had painted many pictures, giving most of them away to friends and family. “I’ve never considered myself great in any manner; I’ve stayed just the same from the first day. I do think that I do things, and I do things well, but I’ve just always gotten so much pleasure out of it. I just kept painting and thinking that maybe I had something. all of the tenant houses and small cotton gins on the plantations are gone. There is nothing that you can see as it was. I’ve never been a person to make money. I would just paint my pictures, and if someone saw one and liked it, I would just give it to them,” she said. Thinking she would like to paint a collection and possibly sell it to a collector, she sent out some letters. One letter was returned Doy and Jennie Lee Gorton from the Smithsonian Institute. The Smithsonian wanted her to take some pictures of Jennie Lee vividly some of her paintings and send remembered those them to Washington. after times traveling around sending the photographs, the Delta while taking jennie Lee received a letter from Richard ahlborn, curator in her surroundings of the Division of Community and interacting with Life at the Smithsonian, saying that her paintings were the people. “charming and delightful” and that they were “proud of what you have done for the South, that your paintings will preserve history.” In a following letter on august 2, 1978, he stated, “In my opinion, your renditions are not only accurate in their details of objects and activities, but also portray much of the atmosphere of agricultural life as carried on early in this century in the deep rural South.” Two paintings were chosen to hang in the Smithsonian, “Taking the Cotton to the Gin” and “Shotgun House.” and during the years of the Reagan Presidency, press secretary Larry Speakes brought and had hung in the White House three of jennie Lee Gorton’s original paintings. jennie Lee once stated, “When I look back and think about my paintings, I could just work on them for weeks and weeks, but you have to stop somewhere. It’s never been that important that they had to be perfect. I don’t try to make them perfect.” Well, jennie Lee, they were perfect enough to hang in the Smithsonian Institute and the White House. DM DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 35


unlock the he

charm m WE’RE SOCIAL

T h e Key to t h e S o u t h

@VisitVicksburg

VISIT VICKSBURG.COM

36 | may/june 2020


MUSIC

THE

WEEKS Indie rockers launched from the Delta have loyal following across the South BY SHERRY LUCAS • PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRIDGETTE AIKENS

he boys were fourteen to fifteen years old when they started The Weeks—a venture they’ve now been on for half their lives. The Florence, Mississippi-born, Nashvillebased independent rock ‘n’ roll band recently marked its fourteenth year of catchy tunes and rocking live shows.

T

38 | may/june 2020


DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 39


40 | may/june 2020

“It’s kind of weird to be the two punk twins in your school. you stand out a little bit.” Cyle recalls riding to jackson—the nine miles like an eternity to a kid with parents behind the wheel—to see local bands Colour Revolt and Champagne Heights. “To us, they were, like, the biggest bands in

people to let us play.” ey built a local fan base doing just that. e Weeks’ full-length debut, Cadillac Comeback on the esperanza Plantation label, was released in 2008. after high school, the Barnes brothers went to Delta State for two years; Williams joined them in Cleveland for a bit. Bone was at Belhaven university, and e Weeks rocked on, playing as much as possible in the Delta and around the state. It was a key time to create. e Delta still ranks among Cyle’s favorite places. “If you’re wanting to play music or do art (he and Cain do both), Delta State was a good place for it.... you kind of sequester yourself in the middle of these fields, and there’s just an amazing group of people there to do the same thing.” e long stretches of road were perfect for driving and thinking, gathering inspiration from power lines that look like crosses, churches that’d seen better days, and the utter dependence on agriculture and the elements. “e Delta makes you think about community quite a bit, and that’s something we try to make stand out in our music and the way we handle ourselves.” experiencing blues music firsthand was a bonus, and dancing, carefree, at Po’ monkey’s Lounge (still in operation at the time) was just about the best feeling ever, he says. Hey joe’s, the downtown Cleveland burger joint and venue for live original music opened during that time and has since become a convenient stopover on the indie circuit for bands en route to South by Southwest in austin, or weekend gigs in Dallas, memphis, atlanta, new Orleans and more. e Weeks was there at the start. “When we opened ten years ago, they were, like, the very first band that ever played here,” says Hey joe’s owner justin Huerta. In the venue’s early days, e Weeks played there so often—thirty to forty shows, he estimates—they were practically the spot’s de facto house band. e Barnes twins, DSu students at the time, hung out there frequently, and back in the day before booking agents and managers for e Weeks, they’d just say, “Hey, mind if we play TASHA HUERTA

e new single “is Dance,” released in early march, celebrates that anniversary and steps out with the promise of a new one a month in 2020. With close to ten albums and ePs under their belts, they’re eager to get back on the road to rock their latest, last summer’s Two Moons. Four from e Weeks’ original lineup—twin brothers Cyle and Cain Barnes (lead vocalist/lyricist and drummer, respectively), Damien Bone (bassist), and Sam Williams (guitarist)—still ply the trade and mine the groove together in an outfit that just gets tighter with time. (Chaz Lindsay, part of the band at its start, moved on to other pursuits toward the end of high school, and admiral Collier rotated through years later.) “We’ve all been in this band since we were fourteen, and I’ve been with my twin brother since birth, so that helps a lot,” Cyle Barnes says of their long-time bonds and small-town roots. “If you find a couple of other weird people that are as weird as you in a town of four thousand people, you just kind of stick together and hold on.” Weird? Rebellious rock ‘n’ roll and angsty teenagers, plus spiky hair and plaid pants.

the world.... We’d drive up there, and we’d dance around and go crazy, probably at bars we really weren’t supposed to be at.” as bands moved on or left for college, “We figured the easiest way to keep getting in the bars and keep getting to hang out was to start a band ourselves and convince some


The Weeks band members are Cyle Barnes (center front, in black) and (from left) Sam Williams, Cain Barnes and Damien Bone.

tonight?” Huerta says, and all their friends from the art department would come out to see them. at a crossroads of college or music, e Weeks made a bold move. Destination: nashville, where they’d make it have to happen. “We should have had more money with us when we came to nashville. and more of a plan would probably have been smart also,” he says with a chuckle. “But if people

are gung-ho about doing something, it’s kind of hard to get them to do something else.” eir mississippi mindset came in handy, “just being happy with the people you’re with,” Cyle says. as poor kids in an unfamiliar spot, “We definitely had to make do. “It was like getting thrown into the deep end of the pool.” e Weeks worked hard to set themselves apart from the crowd of

other bands there to do the same thing. ey toured with junior astronomers, north mississippi all-Stars, e meat Puppets, and more. e Weeks signed with Kings of Leon’s label, Serpents and Snakes, releasing albums Gutter Gaunt Gangster and Dear Bo Jackson and the eP Buttons, and toured with the band. malcolm White, whose Hal & mal’s is a steady source of live music in jackson, used to see the Barnes brothers hanging DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 41


TASHA HUERTA TASHA HUERTA

The Weeks performing to a standing-room-only crowd at Hey Joe’s in Cleveland.

around Cups in Fondren. “ey always looked like musicians and were always friendly and social. Later, I saw them as e Weeks, playing Hal & mal’s and around town. en one day, they blew up! next thing I know, they are famous. “I’ve enjoyed their music and have loved seeing them navigate ‘the business,’” White says. “Rock ‘n’ roll is a hard life and a tough career, but they seem to be born for it.” e Weeks’ Two Moons is a point of pride for the band, self-driven and produced and mixed in nashville by eric masse and anna Liddell. “I think it’s one of our best,” Cyle says, and its songs, lyrically, are some of his favorites. e set envelops songs that rock and some more serious. e love song “Scared 42 | may/june 2020

of the Sunshine” is actually written from the perspective of his australian shepherd/Great Pyrenees mix, Delta, Cyle lets on with a laugh. “Too much Light” addresses growing up different in a small Southern town and feeling misunderstood. “just understand that there are a million other people that feel that way, and it’s not going to last forever,” Cyle says. e focus on grades, a career path, and all that is fine, “But I think somewhere there needs to be someone telling kids, ‘e weird part of you...is what makes you you, and you should hold on to that.’” a Southern flare for storytelling threads through their songs, as does imagery from their home state. “I’m genuinely proud of where I’m from. I’ve seen people do

amazing things from mississippi. I think we’re happier with what we’ve got,” Cyle says. missing their music live? just hold on. “If it’s been a while since we’ve been to your coast or your town...we are planning a trip shortly, I promise you that.” In fact e Weeks came back and played Hey joe’s 10th anniversary this past august, packing the patio. a crowd crammed in for shoulder-to-shoulder fun when the band played an indoors show in February. “It’s huge,” Huerta says. “anytime they play, they’re going to sell out.... ey’re the biggest band around right now that can play and sell out consistently, and they’re just fun, good guys. DM


GRAMMY Museum ! Mississippi presents

VISIT US 800 W. Sunflower Rd. Cleveland, MS 38732 www.grammymuseumms.org @GRAMMYMuseumMS


Gas Station

CUISINE The Region’s Best Kept Secrets

COURTESY OF DOUBLE QUICK

BY LIZA JONES

44 | may/june 2020


DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 45


LIZA JONES

I

COURTESY OF TASTE OF INDIA

La Sierrita, Greenville

COURTESY OF DOUBLE QUICK

Taste of India, Leland

Double Quick, Greenwood

46 | may/june 2020

t’s inevitable that in a rural region like the Delta, where little towns and cities are scattered all over the place, driving becomes a way of life. It stands to reason that because of this, gas stations became meeting places—social, commercial, and most especially, culinary meccas. In any given Delta town, you are likely to find more people at the main gas station than at the grocery store, if there is one. These hubs in the form of truck stops, fuel stations, and convenient stores come in different shapes and sizes, or rather, in all tastes and flavors, with specialties to set them apart. The adventurous tourist could find any kind of unexpected, appetizing food gem by stopping at a roadside location for some kind of need, like a bottle of water. What they end up with is something they didn’t know they needed, like a chicken biscuit. For all intents and purposes, a gourmet gas station is considered any restaurant that has fuel pumps or that once had fuel pumps. active or dried up, the fuel pumps become secondary to the cuisine. The vestigial pumps or a service station structure give the restaurant a certain magnetism. This is because gas station dining is a mainstay of Southern culture. It’s a comfort thing, and always a speedy and delicious answer. Stafford Shurden from Drew recently started an online video series called the Gas Station Tailgate Review, in which he tastes and rates gas station food in the Delta and all over mississippi. “The gas station is a continuation of the commissaries of the plantations that dotted the landscape,” Shurden says. “Those commissaries were a hub of commerce for farms all over. Today’s gas stations serve that same purpose.” Places like Fratesi Grocery and Services Station in Leland, Delta Fast Food in Cleveland, Betty’s Place in Indianola, and maddox Grocery in avon have become legendary, visited by people who come from all over to taste their specialties, and the specialties are important—the uniqueness is what sets them apart and makes them individually memorable. The customer comes away remembering the food in conjunction with the place, and it sticks.


RORY DOYLE

Stafford’s Picks... The Biscuit Pit, Grenada “The minute you walk up to the counter to order and see a thousand pounds of flour on a palate on the floor, you know you are in the right place. One word: Homemade.”

Restauranteur and food lover, Stafford Shurden has spent the past serveral months travelling the region documenting his gas station food discoveries on Facebook. The following are some of his comments and findings. Best Burger: Barbies, Friars Point Best Fried Chicken: mr. jiffy, Batesville Best Sandwich: Bassie’s Store, Gunnison Best Breakfast: The Biscuit Pit, Grenada

Nookies, all locations “Whether you are in Cleveland, Holcomb, or somewhere else, you know if you see the Nookies’ sign that means fresh fried pork skins. They fry them in house daily and you can taste the difference. It is a great low carb snack.” Double Quick, Moorehead “I have not tried all forty-five Double Quicks, but so far the Moorehead is tops all around, but they should be known for fried chicken livers. The store is always busy so that means the food is always fresh.”

Best Snack: Pork Skins made daily, all nookies locations Best Chicken Livers: Double Quick moorehead Best Ribs: Saturday’s at Family market, Crowder Best Ethnic: mike’s Time Saver, Southaven

Barbie’s, Friars Point “History comes alive in the second oldest town on the Mississippi River in Mississippi. It makes the burger taste even better. Get it double meat and double cheese. No regrets.”

Mr. Jiffy, Batesville “I have eaten fried chicken in hundreds of places, but this is unbeatable. It is light and crispy and not greasy at all. It’s everything fried chicken should be.”

Family Market, Crowder “Crowder is one of those places that you don’t pass through. You have to be going there and on Saturday’s people certainly do. They come for the best ribs all around and I have heard the best mac and cheese. They were out of the mac and cheese by 11:15 so if you make the drive, get there early!”

Mike’s Time Saver, Southaven “This unassuming Marathon station on Getwell in Southaven is a hidden jewel. There is no sign to tell you you’re there. They have the normal fried chicken, but they also have great breakfast burritos, lunch burritos, quesadillas, and much more ready-to-go gas station style. Don’t be in a rush to order because there will be a line!” DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 47


Stafford rated Bassie’s Service Station in Gunnison as having the best sandwich.

48 | may/june 2020

dream was to get married and open a restaurant of their own. They had a partner in mind, and when he backed out, they decided to go ahead and open it on their own. In December of 2014, their dream was realized when the owner of an old truck stop rented his property to them. The midway Truck Stop: motel & Café sign still stands at this location on the outskirts of Greenville, but you have to be looking for La Sierrita—the sign hangs in front of where the fuel pumps used to be, in green, white, and red. Otherwise, you could easily miss it. named after maricela’s town in mexico, La Sierrita offers an extensive, genuine mexican menu. The salsa is impeccable with cilantro and the right amount of heat. The Chorizo cheese dip is not to be missed. They’re known for their torta Cubana, a dressed sandwich stuffed to the brim with sauce, meat, and cheese. and the menu overwhelms with all kinds of mexican fare: fajitas, tacos, nachos, burritos, RORY DOYLE

For instance, Roy’s Store near Chatham Brothers pizza is a godsend everywhere for on Lake Washington is an attraction in the hungry remote traveler or the isolated every sense of the word. The proprietors farm family unable to have pizza delivered. rent out fishing cabins, and Outside of the chicken or pizza box, half of the store is filled with supplies. In the store, you feel a sense of place as soon as you walk in and look at the collection of old-timey things that decorate the old store and restaurant. But it’s the hot menu that keeps you there, most notably, the hot breakfast. most service stations don’t have a complete kitchen in the back to cook up anything the heart desires first thing in the morning. Dodge’s Store in Cleveland. Surrounded by any number of locals, tourists, hunters, fishers, and farmers however, there are a couple of wonderful discussing business and life over coffee, you ethnic food options, remarkable in their could have a full plate of eggs and French authenticity: toast, made to order, all inside a service La Sierrita on Highway 82 east in station and store. Greenville was opened by maricela and Of course everyone knows that Double Refujio Garcia, who met in Greenville after Quick chicken is some of the best fried she moved here from Texas. She was chicken out there, especially at the location working in childcare, and he was working on main Street in Greenwood. and Hunt’s at various restaurants in the area. Their


Fratesi Grocery in Leland.

tostadas, and more. In truth, they have the kind of menu that really doesn’t disappoint. any of the dishes served with a cold, mexican beer to wash it down would gratify anyone with a hankering for authentic mexican food. It’s clear their ingredients are fresh, and in keeping with the culture of fuel stops, their service is fast, but the food is also cooked perfectly. Vestiges of the old truck stop are obvious in the restaurant, as there is an old shower in the bathroom, now made into a changing room to accommodate families with children. along with the front of the building where the fuel pumps used to be, the walls of the restaurant pay homage to the old truck stop the building once was: trucks driving on scenic highways are painted above the booths and tables. all in all, La Sierrita is a welcoming place with superior flavor to back it up. In Leland, off north Broad Street, you can find the only Indian cuisine around. a nameless convenience store, with old Pure fuel pumps, stands right across from Deer Creek. There’s only an advertisement for Bud Light outside the store. Inside the store is everything a convenience store in the

Delta should be: drinks, gum, Kool-aid pickles, snacks, pickled eggs, beer, and some random gifts and oddities. you’d think you were in a regular convenience store until you see a binder with “a Taste of India” on the front. It stands on top of cookie tins, next to Ritz Cracker sleeves to the right of the cash

For all intents and purposes, a gourmet gas station is considered any restaurant that has fuel pumps or that once had fuel pumps. Active or dried up, the fuel pumps become secondary to the cuisine. register. There’s a picture of the Taj mahal, their phone number, and their website on the front of this binder. Thumbing through it, customers find pages and pages of authentic Indian dishes, divided by type: appetizers, chicken delicacies, goat and lamb, vegetarian delights, rice, naan and parantha, additions, desserts and drinks. Behind the counter, inside the kitchen, one woman works hard to complete a

catering order. She carries large amounts of takeout food to a man who will deliver the food to a local business just in time for lunch. There is no place to sit inside the convenience store so it’s takeout only. It seems best to call ahead too, as the convenient store gets busy around noon. What catches my eye is the Dal makhani dish: slow-cooked lentils with onions, tomatoes, and garlic. I decide it would be best with a side of naan, which is leavened, oven-baked flatbread. It’s excellent food, aromatic and satiating, and as is always the case when I eat Indian food, I feel uplifted and healthy after I’m finished. Shurden articulates exactly what I was thinking after exploring ethnic food at these service stations. He says roadside locations are: “incredibly democratic, being owned by all ethnicities, especially immigrants, and that exposes us to new foods from all around the world.” These ethnic gourmet gas stations are just a taste of the melting pot represented here in the Delta and in our country, and thank goodness for these places, and all the other tasty pit stops that add to the Delta identity. DM DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 49


50 | may/june 2020


Motorcycles still drive this boy at heart Childhood memories and nostalgia are the driving force behind Jim Neill’s ever growing motorcycle collection BY SUSAN MONTGOMERY • PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHNNY JENNINGS

JIM NEILL yearned for a motorcycle when he was a boy. Now, at age fifty-six, he owns 170 vintage bikes that are mostly sheltered in a six-thousandsquare-foot metal building at his home in McCarley. Neill grew up in McCarley, a community located in the hills of Carroll County. There was a country motocross track behind his family’s place, and he’d go over there with his friends. It all started when he was nine.

52 | may/june 2020


DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 53


Neill in his “man cave” attached to the building that houses his motorcycle collection.

neill said he thought then, “man, I sure would like to have a motorcycle.” nobody in his family, except for an uncle, had one, and really his folks weren’t interested. But he had the bug and started learning about motorcycles. “I collected a lot of motorcycle brochures,” he explained. Some were picked up during family trips to jackson, which allowed him to stop by dealerships to collect brochures while he admired the bikes. Finally, in 1973, neill’s dad bought him a used Honda CL125, which set him up to ride with buddies. “We’d ride those during the day and on the weekends; we’d camp out half the night,” neill said. It was great. Three or four years later, he got a 1976 Honda XL125. “I probably would have been in the eighth grade. I would go to school on it some, but not much,” he said. It was for fun, not transportation.

54 | may/june 2020

The XL125 was followed by a motocross Honda CR125 elsinore. “That’s what is called a scramble type, mostly a street bike, but it has a high muffler, so it can be ridden off road.” and before he graduated from high school, he acquired a Suzuki Rm125. He did some motocross racing in mississippi towns such as Greenville and Philadelphia, but “mainly I would just ride where I lived. Several of my friends from Leflore County would come ride with me on the weekends.” But he was growing up. He went to college and worked for Georgia Pacific and the former newsprint South. He and his wife, april, married and had three children, james, eighteen, Will eleven and Georgia who is five. at one point the neills lived near Vaiden, in 2007 they built a house in mcCarley. “In the meantime, when I was about

thirty, I started buying these vintage bikes.” He would find ads for them in the Commercial Appeal and the Clarion-Ledger. “I didn’t start buying a lot of motorcycles until I discovered eBay,” neill said. “Sometimes, I bought about thirty or so a year.” He began to purchase bikes—those that tugged at his sentimental attachments— because they also “are a real good investment.” He said a vintage bike might be worth anywhere between “$1,500 up to about $12,000. Really and truly, I have a handful that are probably worth more.” The main reason he buys the bikes has nothing to do with their monetary value. He looked for bikes that reminded him of the joys of the good times from his youth. “I bought most of the bikes my buddies had, all of the ones I remembered them having.


All makes and models of motorcycles can be found in Neill’s collection.

That was what I grew up wanting when I was a young guy. I bought things I had wanted as a boy.” He continued. “Things rocked on. I go to three motorcycle events a year.” One is in jefferson, Texas, where motocross bikes are raced. another is a huge yearly event in Lexington, Ohio, at the mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. “There’s a big track up there,” he said. It encompasses a “car track, a motorcycle track, motocross and enduro trials.” The latter are timed events in wooded areas. and he goes to an event in Leeds, alabama, in the fall. Leeds, which is outside of Birmingham, is the home of the Barber Vintage Festival and the Barber Vintage motorsports museum. “That’s a good place to buy and sell bikes. I usually take two and come home with four.”

When he is considering buying a vintage bike, he thinks like the collector he is. The question mostly is “How original is it? I like a motorcycle to be pretty much all original, in really good condition, and with low miles. I love a good-looking street bike and a goodlooking dirt bike. “another factor might be that I don’t have it already and it is what one of my friends had back in the day. That is the one I would probably buy.” “I also find a lot of bikes for other people,” he added, perhaps a friend with a similar criteria. “It’s usually when they are looking for one like they had growing up. and now, he just wants one like what he had as a kid.” Back in mcCarley, neill’s collection draws longtime buddies and other vintage motorcycle enthusiasts. The collection’s

“museum” has a well-furnished, decorated, and equipped kitchen and lounge area, so it’s a hospitable place to gather. “Old friends, they like it. They love it. People come out sometimes. We will discuss the bikes.” everybody will thumb through magazines and his library of brochures. neill, who is also Carroll County’s Beat 1 supervisor, has some packed days, both because of the demands of his real estate business and his work for the county. He does ride a motorcycle every couple of weeks. The neills have four hundred acres on their place with a seven-acre lake beside the motorcycle building. Getting out on a bike recenters him. “It’s a real good kind of feeling of freedom, like next to nature. you are in the open air.” That’s just right for someone who still values what it is like to be a kid. DM

DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 55


Paddling the

Robin Whitfield explores Lee Tartt Nature Preserve’s Chakchiuma Swamp in Grenada, Mississippi.

56 | may/june 2020


Swamplands of the Mississippi Delta Scenic swamps, cypress brakes and abundant wildlife are a treasure trove at the fingertips of outdoor enthusiasts BY DR. TODD DAVIS AND ROBIN WHITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROBIN WHITFIELD, HART HENSON AND LARRY PACE

he Mississippi Delta is best known as the catalyst for rock ‘n’ roll by way of Delta blues music. It is the home of Conway Twitty, Sam Cooke, and B. B. King, as well as the burial site for the legendary Robert Johnson.

T

The National Park Service refers to the Mississippi Delta as “the cradle of American culture.” What people may not know is the Delta was a vast jungle of swamps and canebrakes. During the twentieth century, commercial agricultural significantly impacted the region through deforestation for its rich sediment and optimum growing conditions. Annual flooding was controlled by the construction of a

complex levee system yielding civilizations to sprout. The area is an agricultural portrait of success with small jewels of nature offering public access scattered within the Delta’s landscape. The Mississippi Delta is a large, flat, fertile region in west-central Mississippi formed by the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers. The Mississippi Delta, although a floodplain of the Mississippi River, is the actual delta of the Yazoo River. Some seventy miles wide at the greatest point and stretching nearly two hundred miles south of Memphis to Vicksburg, the Delta is 4.4 million acres of sedimentary flatland. Indigenous people settled, inhabited, and thrived within the Mississippi Delta region from 700 A.D. well into the

DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 57


Clay Davis exploring in the lotus at Mathews Brake.

Kendall Horne at Mathews Brake.

58 | may/june 2020

sixteenth century. They farmed, hunted, and traded using the mississippi River as transportation. Canoes dug out of bald cypress trees were used to transport goods and explore the Delta. The first european to explore the Delta and cross the mississippi River was Spain’s Hernando de Soto during his quest for gold and silver in 1541. Sadly, his expedition introduced not only contagious diseases among the native americans that would nearly wipe out the population but also a combative relationship triggering numerous battles killing many. The europeaninfluenced Delta of today emerged after the signing of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830 forcing native peoples west. although most of the Delta is comprised of expansive croplands, there are pockets of unique outdoor opportunities. From swamps, small rivers, and hardwood wetlands, the region provides glimpses of the original landscape prior to cropland expansion. Distinctive conifer and broadleaf trees blanket region. The bald cypress, cousin to the famous redwoods of California, is the most iconic conifer of the area while the water tupelo is its broadleaf counterpart. Together they make up the cypress tupelo swamps loved by songbirds, waterfowl, and a great diversity of aquatic plants and animals. The forest understory provides habitat for native wildlife but also serves migrating visitors. yearlong residents roam the wooded areas including opossum, bobcat, raccoon, black bear, and the state mammal,

the white-tailed deer. In the treetops, habitat is provided for the southern flying squirrel, bald eagle, red-shouldered hawk, and red bats. In the wetlands, the american alligator, river otter, and beaver thrive alongside a variety of snake, turtle, and freshwater fish and mussel species. Birds, like the downy woodpecker, barred owl, pileated woodpecker, and northern cardinal, are permanent residents. The mississippi Flyway funnels millions of non-resident birds through the Delta. This has created a hot spot for thousands of birding enthusiasts to track, observe, and identify unique species found in one location. Wildlife researchers estimate 320350 species, including 40 percent of all waterfowl, utilize this flyway to access warmer climates. Colorful neotropical migratory birds like warblers, cuckoos, and tanagers come from Central america each spring to breed in the bottomland forests. The prothonotary warbler is a unique and welcomed visitor from Central and South america. Breeding in hardwood swamps, these small, golden warblers nest in the cavities of old cypress trees, sometimes using old woodpecker holes. Sadly, deforestation and habitat depletion has significantly diminished migratory and resident birdlife. Some estimates suggest only 2 percent of natural Delta habitat exists for wildlife, making these spaces important to preserve and better understand their impact. With several public access points to lake or swamp waters, the Delta provides a


the nearly 2,500 acres are comprised of shallow bottom brush and cypress swamp with a 1,800-acre oxbow lake. The lake provides habitat for thirty thousand waterfowl in the winter months. Several species of wading birds such as egrets, herons, and the rare visitation of wood storks and roseate spoonbills frequent the refuge. Wildlife managers estimate that over 225 species of migratory birds visit mathews Brake, with over seventy species using the region for breeding.

Observing nutria at Mathews Brake.

portal to exploration connecting people with nature. The areas discussed below are mostly covered in water year round, allowing a canoe or kayak to serve as the perfect vehicle. Kayaks and canoes are quiet, easy to transport, require little skill to maneuver, and are environmentally friendly. It should be noted, the four areas discussed here are approved paddling destinations on city, state, or federal lands. much of the mississippi Delta is comprised

of private land and has strict laws forbidding trespassing, even paddling. Be sure you contact your local agency governing land and property prior to paddling any bodies of water.

Mathews Brake National Wildlife Refuge Mathews Brake is a national Wildlife Refuge operated by the united States Fish and Wildlife Service. established in 1980,

LOOK FOR: wood ducks, snowy egrets, great egret, prothonotary warblers, black-bellied whistling ducks, roseate spoonbills, and yellow-crowned night herons. American alligators and American lotus are abundant. DIRECTIONS: Refuge is nine miles south of Greenwood and five miles west of Sidon, Mississippi, between Highway 49E and Highway 7. Paved and graveled county roads provide access. From Highway 49S use School Street east to County Road 511 east (aka Phillipston Road). At the junction, take County Road 249/250 south to Mathews Brake Road (County Road 249) south. ACCESS: A boat access ramp will be on the right 1.5 miles from County Road 250/249 split.

Hart Henson paddles through lotus blooms in July at Mathews Brake.

DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 59


Ancient cypress at Sky Lake.

Sky Lake Wildlife Management Area Sky Lake WMA, considered a mississippi natural wonder, is a 3,500-acre lake owned by the mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks. a partnership between the Sky Lake Wildlife management area (Wma) and the u.S. army Corps of engineers assists in supporting this important historical region. Dr. Stahle, the director of the Tree Ring Laboratory at the university of arkansas and a leading american dendrochronologist stated, “Based on our field inspections and core samplings, I can state with certainty that Sky Lake contains some of the largest and oldest bald cypress trees that remain on earth, and they have international scientific significance.� a functioning backwater ecosystem, Sky Lake offers outdoor recreationalists an amazing 2.6-mile paddling trail exploring the heart of what

Hart Henson exploring near the Sky Lake boardwalk.

60 | may/june 2020

Great Egret

experts believe are ancient 1000-yr-old-plus bald cypress trees. The trail is divided into four segments and uses colored signs to designate each section. along this trail, one can paddle beside the former recordholding bald cypress tree. now the second largest tree in mississippi and the largest in Sky Lake, this tree measures forty-six feet nine inches in circumference, nearly fifteen feet in diameter, and just over seventy feet high. Like other lakes and swamps in the Delta, Sky Lake is an important habitat for wildlife including snakes, frogs, turtles, and american alligators, along with shorebirds and neotropical songbirds.

Paddlers can view ancient cypress close up at Sky Lake.

LOOK FOR: Pileated woodpecker, prothonotary warbler, roseate spoonbill, and wood ducks as well as the non-poisonous broad-banded water snake, one of many snake species. DIRECTIONS: The boardwalk is located at the Sky Lake Wildlife Management Area, which is north of Belzoni. At the intersection of US Highway 49W and Highways 12 and 7 (at Belzoni), turn east onto Highway 7 (1st Street). At the first traffic light, the intersection of Highway 7 (also named Martin Luther King Drive) and Hayden Street, turn left. When the road forks at Old Highway 49 and Highway 7, bear right on Highway 7 and continue for approximately 4.9 miles to the intersection of Four Mile Road. Turn left and travel


Tandem kayaking at Lee Tartt Nature allows paddlers to explore the Chakchiuma Swamp in Grenada, Mississippi.

Water Tupelo at Lee Tartt Nature Preserve’s Chakchiuma Swamp in Grenada, Mississippi. Barred Owl

approximately 0.9 miles to the intersection of Simmons Road. Turn left on Simmons Road and travel approximately 0.8 miles, staying on the blacktop, to the entrance of the facility, which will be on the right. ACCESS: Public parking, a picnic pavilion, and public restrooms are available. In addition, a 1,700-foot-long elevated boardwalk allows visitors to access the forest. A kayak ramp is adjacent to boardwalk entrance.

Lee Tartt Nature Preserve Lee Tartt Nature Preserve, although not technically in the mississippi Delta, is a must-paddle area in the flood plain of the

yalobusha River. Owned by the City of Grenada and managed by Friends of Chakchiuma Swamp, this amazing area is located just a few miles east of the Delta. Lee Tartt nature Preserve is a threehundred-acre wetland parcel along the yalobusha River. just 0.25-miles from the city center, the urban preserve is comprised of oxbow lakes and a bottomland forest, providing a rich habitat for birdlife, aquatic animals, and snakes. The area prides itself on providing opportunities between users and nature by preserving the cultural and natural landscape through responsible recreation and creative interaction.

LOOK FOR: Prothonotary warbler, barred owl, red-shouldered hawk, river otter, great blue heron, white tail deer, and raccoon. DIRECTIONS: 320 South Main Street, Grenada, Mississippi 38901. From the Grenada City Center, take Main Street north .25 miles. The preserve is located adjacent to the Yalobusha River. Find more info at friends-of-cs.org ACCESS: A short boardwalk with an observation patio is present. A small clearing is available to launch canoes and kayaks just to the right of the boardwalk entrance.

Paddling through Duck Weed at Lee Tartt Nature Preserve.

Author, Dr. Todd Davis and daughter, Zoey, out for a microadventure on the Chakchiuma Swamp in Grenada, Mississippi DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 61


River Otter

Tallahatchie National Wildlife Refuge Tallahatchie National Wildlife Refuge is managed by the united States Fish and Wildlife Service. This 4,200-acre refuge, established in 1990, affords two small and narrow oxbow lakes. Tippo Bayou and Long Branch, both with thriving hardwood bottomland swamps, support numerous species including wintering waterfowl and wading birds. Beautiful bald cypress and water tupelo dominate the forest and wetland area. LOOK FOR: Wood ducks, hooded mergansers, herons, egrets, fresh water mussels, spotted gar, and swamp crayfish. DIRECTIONS: Tallahatchie National Wildlife Refuge is located on the north and south sides of Highway 8, nine miles west of Holcomb. Please note that gated roads are open from mid-September through May 1.

Sunset paddling at Tippo Bayou.

ACCESS: A unique feature to this refuge is a two-tier observation deck, a three-story observation tower, and boat ramp accessible from Highway 8. There is no boat launch fee and parking is available.

Best time to visit these areas migratory bird season (late fall to early spring) is the most ideal time to visit with moderate to low temperatures and optimal water level. early spring can have extreme

Jason Gorski fly-fishing at Mathews Brake. Wood Duck 62 | may/june 2020


Paddlers explore unique tree life on Tippo Bayou in the Tallahatchie NWR.

Prothonotary Warbler

high water conditions that may inhibit paddling. Summer can be extremely hot, and water levels can fluctuate. Paddling is best in the morning and evening when wildlife is most active and conditions are cooler.

Paddling access point Tippo Bayou.

Know before you go ensure you have appropriate paddling gear and equipment, including a personal floatation device (PFD), plenty of drinking water, insect repellent, and sunscreen. Some of the areas listed do not have consistent cellular phone connectivity, so inform a friend or relative of your whereabouts and

your float plan. Poison ivy and thorny vegetation are present along the sides of bodies of water, so beware. Watch your step; venomous snakes and other wildlife can be found on hiking trails and roads. It is illegal to harass or injure any wildlife (including snakes) while on the refuge. DM DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 63


64 | may/june 2020


LANDSCAPE DESIGN THAT TAKES YOU FROM PAPER TO PINE STRAW

BRANTLEY SNIPES, PLA 662-458-0886

TOMMY WALTON 662-645-1730

AR TIDMORE ART T TI TIDMOR TID TIDM TIDMO 662-588-8608


HOME/GARDEN

Plan, Plant, Enjoy, Repeat Mark Kennedy’s guidelines for achieving luscious gardens year after year PHOTOGRAPHY BY GREG CAMPBELL

G

ardening in the Delta is not for the faint of heart. Among the many challenges are insanely hot summer heat, below-freezing temperatures in the winter, defiant soil, too much rain, not enough rain, too sunny, too shady, aggressive weeds, hungry and stinging insects, overly zealous Bermuda grass, plus a whole lot of work to keep everything growing. Not to mention the mosquitos, aphids, and fire ants!

is is why mark Kennedy is a breath of fresh garden air and is here to share a few tips on how to navigate the trenches. By trial and error, along with a whole lot of experimentation, passion, and hard work, this weekend gardener has built his own version of horticulture heaven in the mississippi Delta. mark lives and works in memphis during the week, then commutes on the weekends to the moon Lake home he shares

66 | may/june 2020

with Scott omas. It’s here that mark and Scott have created their version of beauty, serenity, and production. e beauty is the ample supply of flowers and plants, humming birds, honey bees and butterflies. Serenity arrives with the chirping birds, delicate scents, and the trickling of cascading water from the waterfall on the patio. Production is the fruit, vegetables, and herbs scattered throughout the gardens that bring joy all summer long. mark does all of the gardening at the house, and faces the same challenges that most of us do, having only the weekends to work in the gardens—and with fourteen gardens that can be a daunting task. “If I can do it, anyone can,” mark says happily. His list for success is a mile long and six years deep, but it all starts with three simple rules. “If you build your beds correctly, do your homework, and then make a plan, gardening can really be relaxing, therapeutic and enjoyable,” mark adds “and gardening should be fun and not a chore, right?”


Wave petunias (the purple flowers) are one of Mark’s favorite annuals. They are readily available at garden centers and come in pink pots. “Wave petunias will fill in a garden and give you instant color,” Mark says.

DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 67


Make Your Bed

The vegetable garden is a prime example of how important it is to work with the soil and build the beds correctly. Here it is primed for planting in spring.

The finished vegetable garden produces bounty all summer long. 68 | may/june 2020

“If you do it right in the beginning, your life will be magical and you will be rewarded with bountiful gardens that you will enjoy for years to come.” Pearls of wisdom coming from someone, who like most of us, tried it the hard way. “Prior to building the lake house, I, like many of us, just went to the garden center, picked out the flowers that I liked, and expected them to grow with a little watering here and there,” mark says. “Trust me, in the South it doesn’t work that way. I never really looked at the little sticks or gave any thought as to how the end result would look like or paid much attention to the dirt, or where the sun came up and set. ese are all so important when starting out.” mark changed his ways when they built the lake house, mapping out exactly what they wanted before a plant was ever bought and that meant first making sure any clay was gone and adding sand, garden soil, manure (Black Kow found at Lowe’s) to the beds and tilling it all together. “Watch this,” mark says, as he plunges his hand five inches deep into the rich fertile soil of his front flower bed that hasn’t had anything added to it since last fall. “e key to great gardens


Mark mixes it up in his gardens, planting a wide array of annuals, perennials, flowers, herbs, bushes and trees next to each other. The creative juxtaposition sets the stage for the same gardens to be new gardens—always beautiful and different every year. Plus, the smells that herbs emit help deter garden pests and eliminates the need for insecticide.

is all about the ground and starting your beds off right, just like you would do with your child on their first day of school. Do that and you will actually have fun in your gardens. So let’s review. e worst thing that frustrates a new gardener is not seeing the fruits of their labor, so what is his secret? “nothing is going to grow in clay,” he answers, so when preparing your beds, you want to till at least a foot deep and remove as much clay as you can. Once you have removed the clay, fill back in with a third of sand, a third of garden soil, and a third of cow manure and work it all in together. While this may be a little bit of an investment, the rewards will far outweigh the initial cost, and you won’t ever have to worry about them again. In the fall you will add a layer of raked fallen leaves to your bed and a light dusting of mulch. is breaks down through the winter and adds richness to the soil. In spring each year, add a

The walkway leading from the driveway welcomes guests with a glorious floral burst all summer long.

light dusting of Black Kow manure, and that is all it takes. “year after year, the beds will get deeper and richer—to the point you will hardly need a garden tool,” mark promises. “now that is what I call fun.” Side note: mark says that if you have established gardens you don’t want to till up, you can add sand and manure around the plants. It takes a bit longer, but it will improve your soil dramatically.

DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 69


70 | may/june 2020


BEFORE

Do your Homework “If you just go out and buy lots of pretty plants without a plan, you are setting yourself up for frustration and possible failure,” mark notes. at’s why, he underlines, it is so important to do your groundwork and homework ahead of time. Before you buy one single plant after your flower beds are ready, write down on a note pad where the sun comes up and where it sets, noting exactly how much sun each section of your house gets. is is key to happy, thriving, bountiful plants. also, take into consideration shade trees and how much shade they cast throughout your garden during the day, as this also plays in to your overall garden health. Consider how much you want to spend and how many gardens you want. mark suggests the new gardener start with one or two and do those right—as opposed to a bunch. Flowers and plants can get costly and quickly frustrate a new gardener. Start slowly. ere’s no doubt about it: Delta summers are harsh. Plants that start off colorful and healthy in april can become victims in august of a Darwinian garden experiment gone wrong. “each garden should have a story, to which you want to add a cast of characters that complement the story,” mark says. “It is very important to know what plants like to hang out with one another.” an example would be shade versus sun. Hydrangeas, hostas, and impatiens are shade-loving plants that love to be watered daily, as opposed to Knock Out roses that want full sun and only want to be watered once every three to four days or so.

The house while still under construction and with a bare yard.

AFTER

The finished masterpiece is proof of what planning, patience, and taking a few risks can accomplish.

A sunny spot near the pier is set off with a simple trough of petunias.

DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 71


Beautiful containers grace the deck overlooking the backyard and out onto the lake. The one below shows off a thriller, a filler and a spiller.

Seek counsel from an experienced gardener or a reputable garden store. mark purchases all of his plants in memphis from Dan West Garden Center and Lowe’s Garden center off Perkins. e manager at Lowe’s worked closely for many years with the former curator of the butterfly garden at the memphis zoo. ese two ladies really helped mark take his butterfly gardens to a new level. Kenneth mabry and the staff at Dan West Garden have been in business for as long as mark can remember, which is well over thirty years. Both places have large varieties of plants and flowers and are the very knowledgeable. mark advises to always consult with someone when you visit a garden center and to be patient and deliberate when mapping out your plan. He also suggests taking a day to go to one of these centers when you have plenty of time, and learn first from these mentors before buying a single plant. Take notes, look and look and look, and learn what plants like to be together. en go home and fill out the details of your plan. Once your plan is set, you will then know exactly what you need and buying will be a breeze.

72 | may/june 2020


Herbs mixed with impatiens, the colorful highlight in this shade garden along the front of the house, are among the many plants that love low light and lots of water.

These Star Gazer lilies are a gorgeous feature. Every year after Easter Mark transplants potted plants into his gardens. The lilies add a rich array of beautiful scents and colors, which is perfect for the butterflies and hummingbirds.

Black-Eyed Susans are a favorite because of their color, beauty, and year-after-year heartiness.

DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 73


The well-appointed patio area is not only beautiful and peaceful, but it also offers a spectacular view of Moon Lake.

Mark Kennedy (left) and Scott Thomas, along with their dogs, Gretchen and Bailey, at their home at Paradise Point on Moon Lake. 74 | may/june 2020


Every year Mark replaces some of his annual flowers with perennials, which come back bigger and more beautiful the next season. In the fall, Mark allows the plants to die and drop their leaves in the beds; in the spring he adds very little mulch. “Butterflies and other critters lay their eggs in the flowers that humming birds like,” Mark says. “As the plants die, all that debris goes down to the ground. That protects them through the winter and in the spring they become new butterflies.”

DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 75


Mark and Scott designed their gardens to attract butterflies and hummingbirds, which are particularly attracted to flowers that smell sweet and have long stems, such as Lantana.

Make A Plan

Peach cobbler anyone? The gardens feature full-sized trees, such as this peach tree, along with smaller patio trees—Meyer Lemon, key lime and orange—that are kept in the greenhouse during the colder months.

This sunny garden is deliberately planned to be at one with nature. The Butterfly Bush (the tall shrub with the long purple flower) is one of Mark’s favorites because it’s especially popular with the butterflies and hummingbirds.

76 | may/june 2020

ere is a purpose for every garden: feeding the soul and taking in nature. Harvesting fresh fruits and vegetables, enjoying pops of brilliant color outside, plucking stems to put in vases, keeping up with the joneses, impressing the garden club, or simply doing just enough from being deemed a barren land. “ink about what excites you, what relaxes you, what works good for you,” mark advises. make a solid plan/goal before you start to plant your garden. is goal/plan steers the process on your path to success, from plant buying to planting to long-term maintenance. Remember, mark emphasizes it is okay for your PLan to be just that—yOuR PLan. Do what makes you happy and fits your tastes and budget and the rewards will be that much sweeter. “Our gardens are all about bringing nature in,” mark says about his objective. “everything here is designed to be a songbird, butterfly, hummingbird, honey bee sanctuary. Our gardens are helping the environment, plus the bees and butterflies help pollinate everything around them.” mark used to take the symmetrical approach to his gardens. But now he mixes it up with flowers, vegetables, herbs, fruit trees, and berries. all of the above grow next to each other in various stages throughout the gardens. Doing this, mark explains, has eliminated the need for insecticide. “again, it’s all about preserving nature with our gardens,” he says. “We want it to be as inviting and as natural as possible.” Sometimes—especially when time and funds are limited—the ideal garden plan may seem out of reach; mark understands this. His gardens have been a work in progress now for six years. He, like many of us, works full time and is on a budget, too. “you don’t have to do it all at once,” mark reminds. “Start slow and do one garden right” he suggests. Once you have one garden right with the things you love, then you will be more inclined to add to them year after year. Before you know it, you will be hooked.” and it’s that reward that mark finds pleasing about his garden, and six years into it, they are now up to fourteen gardens. “With all that is going on in the world right now, to be able to come down to the lake house and take a walk around the property and see something new growing excites me,” mark says happily. “ere is nothing better than picking a cherry tomato right off the vine and eating it. “e sounds of the birds, the waterfall, the sweet smell of the flowers, the buzzing of the honey bees, and butterflies fluttering around making me feel like the luckiest guy in the world. all of this, overlooking moon Lake and we are able to share it with all of our friends and family and moon Lake family. Life doesn’t get much sweeter than that.” DM


MAKE PLANS TO SPEND

FATHER’S DAY WEEKEND IN

LELAND EK DUCK L RE

HALF MARATHON

www.hotterthanhades. racesonline.com or @HotterThanHadesHalfMarathon on Facebook

E2

MS

JUN

HOTTER THAN HADES

NCH

DEER

AU

C

Support the Leland Chamber of Commerce as we host the 2020 Hotter Than Hades Half Marathon on Saturday, June 20 and the 2020 Deer Creek Duck Launch on Sunday, June 21. While you are here, enjoy our fine restaurants, museums, parks, overnight accommodations, and other attractions.

1, 2

020 • LELAN

D,

Come join us on the banks of Deer Creek as we launch another flock of ducks!

For more information: lelandcoc@gmail.com or (662) 379-3764

DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 77


SPRING PARTIES

Not your Mother’s tea party A lavishly set table and piles of treats made this a Big Time for Little Girls BY SUSAN MARQUEZ • PHOTOGRAPHY BY WILLIAM POWELL

hat’s more Southern than a group of well-dressed ladies gathering in a stately home for high tea?

W

Imagine that scene with a dozen fouryear-old girls, filled to the brim with sugar and spice and everything nice. each little one dressed to the nines in her best party dress and gloves with flowers in her hair. That was the scene at an “over the top” tea party in the 1908 home of marcia Walt, presented by her daughter, Price Rosson, who along with her husband, Ryan, own Rosson Co. in Cleveland. “We love being involved in the community,” says Price. “When Presbyterian Day School had their community-wide online auction, we offered to sponsor a tea party as a prize.” Proceeds from the online auction, called eagle’s Flight, go toward enhancing the technology and classroom experience at the school. While the auction featured many amazing items, one of the “big ticket” items that bidders clamored over was the little

78 | may/june 2020


The sweets are where we really went over the top and had so much fun. We wanted to bring in all the details and whimsical color. This is the part the kids always love and totally dove into! - PrICe roSSon

AbouT THe Menu A traditional english tea has three basic courses—savory, neutral and sweet—all of which convert easily to being kid friendly. The delicious bite-sized treats on this menu included finger sandwiches, mini cupcakes, petits fours, and French macarons and instead of traditional tea, a choice of sweet tea and lemonade were offered. use this menu as inspiration for your next birthday or special event!

Three Course Menu—for the K-5 Set SAVORY: Finger sandwiches are the norm

Instead of traditional cucumber or egg and olive, keep it kid friendly ✤ Peanut butter and jelly on white bread cut into rounds ✤ Turkey and cheese on Hawaiian rolls

NEUTRAL: Something crunchy

We substituted a crunchy/salty treat for traditional scones and jam ✤ Party mix and pretzels served in adorable paper party cups

SWEET: Go all out

Roses and hydrangeas from Marcia’s yard are mounded in an Annie Glass bowl on the server.

Feel free to use locally purchased goodies and remember presentation is everything! ✤ Petit fours adorned with fresh flowers and accented with sugar pearls sprinkled throughout, from Cleveland Fresh in Cleveland ✤ Macarons in a rainbow assortment, from La Brioche in Jackson ✤ Custom unicorn and mermaid cupcakes, from The Prickly Hippie in Ridgeland

DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 79


Price takes a moment to welcome the girls and explain a little about the courses and etiquette of a tea.

girls’ tea party. “The moms got together and bid on it so their daughters could participate,” recalls Price. “I had no idea it would be so popular!” The event was an end-of-summer backto-school affair held on a sunny afternoon. “We wanted to do something meaningful and special, providing a proper tea experience, and not holding back because they were five-year-olds, but just switching the gears a little bit,” Price explains. The day of the party, the girls showed up in cotton organza dresses in various pastel colors. They were welcomed into the foyer of the Walt home, kicking off the fun with what might be called “hair flair.” In lieu of the traditional hats, there were felt flowers made by maggie Harrison of Love For Sale. “So when the girls and their moms arrived they got busy making hair pieces with ribbons and the flowers,” says Price. There were also pearls and gloves for each of them. “most of them wore the gloves, but one little girl just carried hers,” laughs Price. and, of course, no little girls’ party would be complete without feather boas. 80 | may/june 2020


Personalized Limoges “macaron” boxes pulled double-duty as place markers and favors.

The home, which is where Price grew up, has large pocket doors that open into the dining room, which were kept closed to set the stage for a big reveal when all the girls had finished accessorizing. “When they were ready, I took a few minutes to explain the tea to them and we opened the doors to the smorgasbord. It was super over the top!” upon entering, the girls were amazed by the beautifully set dining room table absolutely loaded with delightful goodies. (See menu) each girl found the place card with her name to know where to sit. The “place cards” were petite hand-calligraphed Limoges boxes which doubled as a gift for each girl. marcia and Price used a generous layer of fresh moss to cover the table and tucked bright wildflowers in every available space. “We served on vintage silver and crystal cake stands of various heights, creating a lot of depth and dimension on the table. I especially loved the base of the silver Lazy Susan,” says Price. mother and daughter make a good team when it comes to entertaining and table settings. marcia is widely know in the community to have a

Tiers of cut glass pedestals and silver trays elevated the menu of treats from simple to spectacular.

DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 81


natural flair—and a seemingly endless supply of table linens and serving pieces— which she often shares for local events. Price expounds, “Typically, I dream it up! and thank goodness, mama helps execute whatever I get myself into. In the process I’ve learned so much from her.” Rosson Co. specializes in china and crystal for wedding registries, as well as 82 | may/june 2020

custom jewelry and jewelry repairs—so needless to say the choices for the tablescape were endless. “We set the table with juliska dinnerware in the Country estate pattern,” says Price. “It’s a beautiful toile pattern with a different hand-drawn picture of an english estate on each piece.” Rosson Co. is committed to sharing Southern hospitality, love, and time around the table. “We

bought the store in 2017, one hundred years after it was originally opened by the Lowery Brothers,” says Price. The Rossons are the fourth owners of the store, where they are carrying on long-standing traditions while creating new ones for a modern world. While they may not have fully appreciated the grandeur of the home and the beautiful table setting, marcia says the girls certainly knew they were doing something very special. “Some of the girls strutted around a bit, as if they were modeling,” she laughs. “They all looked adorable, and you could tell they enjoyed the experience of doing something a little more fancy than they are used to.” after the tea, the girls retreated to the wide wooden front porch to pose for group pictures between the home’s stately columns. “It was really fun,” says marcia. “The girls kept looking at themselves in the mirror, and I think they felt so special. Welcoming the girls and their moms into our home was an absolute joy!” DM


www.joysartofdining.com

THERE ARE STILL GIFT OCCASIONS!

The Art of Dining® in Memphis 3 Cookbook, restaurant guide, art book, travel book. . . it’s the perfect gift! Joy Bateman’s The Art of Dining® series of books is available at Novel–online and by phone order, with temporary curbside service.

(901) 922-5526 www.novelmemphis.com DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 83


n o g n i 13 go

s u o l Fabu

This Birthday party “leaps” into a Breakfast at Tiffany’s theme making it a night to remember BY SHERRY LUCAS • PHOTOGRAPHY MELANIE THORTIS

84 | may/june 2020


S

tart Lisa Chudy Dyess down a party path and she is on it for the distance, squeezing every last detail from a theme and putting every idea in the service of fun. Cardboard gets a colorful transformation, and the local Dollar Tree gets a blitzkrieg of shopping, and it all swirls together in an event that spells special with a capital S.

Such was the case when Dyess’s pal Sandra Giddens, a Leap year baby, was about to have only her thirteenth birthday ever. all it took was a past picture of Giddens’s own teenage daughter, ava, in a Breakfast at Tiffany’s costume and classic audrey Hepburn pose to get the gears turning. “It was the cutest, most precious picture I had ever seen,” Dyess says. When she walked into Brooks Collection Vault, a fine jewelry and luxury goods boutique in Highland Village, “everything just kind of came together like a whirlwind in my head.” With owner Brooks Poole on board and accommodating, Dyess and Giddens combined creative fervor and closet stashes to pull the party off. using the classic Tiffany & Co. font, a Sandra & Co. logo prevailed, as did the robin’s egg hue known as Tiffany Blue, with ribbons of white. Guests walked a red carpet to enter, greeted by nine-foot-tall Tiffany & Co.-style gift boxes and giant inflatable diamond rings. To honor Giddens big day, goodie bags were filled with favors any thirteen-year-old would love—Tiffany perfume samples, bedazzled Ring Pops, blue gourmet cotton candy, blue rock candy sticks, pompom key chains, blue emi jay hair ties, tiny champagne bottles of jellybeans and m&ms, mardi Gras pearls, and sunglasses. Blue nail polish boasted, “‘mani’ thanks for coming, Darling!” tags. audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly visage graced cookies by Stacy anderson; other cookies, and petits fours, too, were iced to resemble the Tiffany blue boxes that set women’s hearts aflutter. The birthday

Sandra Giddens channels Audrey Hepburn glamour as she makes the grand entrance to her “13th” birthday party!

Giant Tiffany blue gift boxes flank the entrance at the new Brooks Collection Vault at Highland Village.

DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 85


86 | may/june 2020


cake, by Dyess’s friend Kristen mullen, was an even bigger version of the iconic gift box with white bow. Ingrid Taylor handled the party menu’s savory side. nods to the 1961 movie, from audrey Hepburn cutouts to quotes by the star, abounded. an old typewriter held the lyrics to “moon River.” elbow-length black gloves laid in wait for photo fun at the Sandra & Co. backdrop. Giddens’s one-time Halloween creation—a wearable Chanel handbag—fit right in with the decor, as did her own Breakfast at Tiffany’s Barbie. Collaboration fueled the Breakfast at Tiffany’s-themed success, Dyess says. “We had so much fun... We absolutely just played.” Ross and Sarah Reily’s daughter, Parker, handled the balloon garlands that festooned Vault’s display windows in blue, pearl white, and silver. Blanc de Bleu sparkling wine brought in the perfect shade of blue bubbly. Bling-bling flashy rings were scattered about for pickup fun. “everything I do always has a bit of whimsy in it,” Dyess says. “I don’t know if I’ve ever decorated for a party where I didn’t use an inflatable, a mannequin, or cardboard.” Ring Pops show up a lot, too. “I’ve always said I should have been a preschool teacher because all my ideas are so elementary!” says Dyess, the type who gets an adrenaline rush at places like Dollar Tree and mardi Gras Spot. “I couldn’t visualize my end result if my life depended on it. all I know is I use things I like; I make it work; and it’s going to be fabulous.”

“It was fabulous,” Giddens confirms. “She did an amazing, amazing job. Her mind just goes a million places, and it’s so great... She doesn’t stop. She really is an energizer bunny, and she just has a touch. She’s a real artist.” “Out of the box and just spectacularly fun,” Poole says of the party at Vault. The store has hosted occasions before, such as trunk shows and a men’s whiskey event, but “we never had a celebration quite like the Breakfast at Tiffany’s birthday party”—all glamour and whimsy in the unique space. Dyess grew up in Cleveland, with deep Delta roots. Her grandfather started the accounting department at Delta State university, and while Dyess claims she missed the numbers gene, she’s capitalizing on a family heritage of design and humor. DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 87


Sandra Giddens’ leap year birthday party was celebrated Saturday, February 29. The party gave a nod to actress Audrey Hepburn and the 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The Giddens family, pictured from left, George, John, Sandra, Alex and Ava.

Sandra Giddens, Sheila Bossier and Lisa Dyess socialize at the party.

Brooks Poole poses outside the jewelry store. 88 | may/june 2020


Giddens’ aunt, Yvonne Counce, left, and mother, Yvette Sturgis, pose for a photograph.

She credits her mom, Kay yurkow Chudy, for lessons of laughter and fun in dealing with life. “I do not take myself seriously. I never have.” Her penchant for design and whimsy finds outlets in school functions and also interior design and party planning, to the point that it’s turned into a sideline business fed by word of mouth. “If it’s anything creative, I’m on it,” says Dyess, who majored in art at Delta State and has done everything from funeral-scapes to painting a mack Truck to creating pointillism paintings for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. When it comes to parties, make it personal, Dyess says. “I always like to personalize everything I do so that every guest feels special.” She wants their takeaway to include a keepsake to remember the fun day. “I guess that’s why I like to use a bit of whimsy, because my mom always said, ‘no matter where you are, pretend like you’re the host of every party. That way, all will feel welcome, and you’ll never feel insecure.’ “you always want people to feel warm and welcome,” Dyess says. “I do think that’s a Delta thing. I think Delta people are huggers. I think Delta people love; they hug, and they want everybody to feel welcome.” DM

Dyess also designed the Vault store window.

Lisa Chudy Dyess’s party notions are like a champagne fountain—bubbly, overflowing, irresistible. Hosting a tea party? How about handkerchiefs with iron-on monograms, tied with a pretty bow for a take-home memento? Pajamas and pancakes party? Fill little makeup bags with samples and emblazon them with guests’ names in vinyl. For a butterfly party once, she created wing pops, a twist on ring Pops with plastic butterfly wings. For a Hangout Fest-themed senior party, she airbrushed trucker hats and beaded sunglasses, scrolling through kids’ Instagram accounts to get a feel for their lingo and add that personal touch. She brushed color on watercolor paper, then ran it through the printer for hand-painted invitations. Fabric- and crochetwrapped trees gave a festival vibe onsite, and she recycled those plastic butterflies on festival headbands. “When you have a vision and you’re out of budget and your vision’s not complete...that’s when my creativity kicks in,” Dyess says. “That’s when it gets fun for me.”

DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 89


FOOD

3

Chilled Pies with Crumb Crusts And that’s the way the COOKIE CRUMBLES

RECIPES AND PHOTOS BY CINDY COOPWOOD

CRUMB CRUSTS ARE THE GOLD STANDARD FOR MOST CHILLED OR FROZEN PIES. Favorites such as key lime, lemon icebox, cheesecakes, and ice cream pies are all enhanced by their crunchy butteriness. Almost any cookie crumbs will do—chocolate or vanilla wafers, pecan shortbread, even oreos, but graham crackers are the go-to. Speaking of crackers, more savory options work just as well—think saltines, ritz—or even pretzels. Just remember whatever your recipe calls for, the method will stay the same.

90 | may/june 2020


CLASSIC CRUMB CRUST This basic recipe can be used for most dishes that call for a crumb crust. We usually add the extra sugar and a pinch of salt to bring out the buttery flavor, but it’s optional depending on your preference and the recipe. For a 9-inch pie crust 2 8 ¼ ¼

cups ground cookie crumbs tablespoons melted butter sugar, optional teaspoon salt, optional

Break the cookies/crackers into smaller pieces. To turn those pieces into crumbs, use a food processor pulsing in short bursts until crumbs are the desired texture. alternately, you may place cookies or crackers in a large ziplock bag, pressing out air and roll with a rolling pin back and forth until cookies are ground. Pour the crumbs and melted butter into a large mixing bowl. If your recipe calls for added sugar, it should be mixed into the graham cracker crumbs before adding the butter. you can also add a pinch of salt to set off the sweet flavor. Stir the butter into the crumbs with a fork until the butter is evenly distributed and pour the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate. Spread the mixture evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Press firmly to be sure the crust is well compacted. Bake crust 8 to 10 minutes. Let it cool completely before adding the filling.

Tip If fresh strawberries are not

available, frozen strawberries will do in a pinch

STRAWBERRY PRETZEL PIE Sweet and salty at it’s finest. This pie is cool, refreshing and bursting with berry flavor—everything a summer dessert should be. 1 2 ¾ ½ 2 1

classic crumb crust (made with pretzels) cups finely ground pretzel sticks cup butter, melted cup firmly packed light brown sugar cups sliced fresh strawberries can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together pretzel crumbs, butter and sugar; firmly press into a 9-inch pie plate, bringing crumbs up the sides of the pan. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Blend strawberries in a food processor until finely chopped, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. In a medium bowl, beat condensed milk and next 2 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. (use the whisk attachment if using a stand mixer.) add strawberries; beat

4 ounces cream cheese, softened (half an 8-ounce block) 1½ ounces strawberry gelatin (half of a 3-ounce package) 2 cups whipping cream, divided ¾ cup powdered sugar, divided

at low speed just until blended. Transfer to a large bowl. Beat ¾ cup of the whipping cream at high speed until soft peaks begin to form, adding ¼ cup of the sugar; gently fold whipped cream into strawberry mixture. Spoon mixture into crust then, cover and freeze 6 to 8 hours or until firm. Beat remaining 1¼ cups whipping cream at high speed until foamy; gradually add remaining ½ cup of sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Spread whipped cream over pie. Freeze 1 hour or until cream is firm. Garnish with additional strawberries if desired. DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 91


HOT FUDGE PEANUT BUTTER ICE CREAM PIE This may be our favorite ice cream dessert yet! As the temps get warmer, there’s nothing better to cap off a summer cookout than this creamy, frozen pie that has everyone’s favorite combo— peanut butter and chocolate. 1 classic crumb crust

(made with chocolate wafers and chilled) ½ 4 1 ¼

cup creamy peanut butter cups vanilla ice cream, softened cup whipping cream cup powdered sugar hot fudge topping salted dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Microwave peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl until melted and smooth, about 30 seconds. Let stand at room temperature several minutes, stirring until smooth. Place ice cream in a large bowl. Using a hand-held mixer (or stand mixer if preferred) beat on medium-low until smooth, about 30 seconds. Drizzle melted peanut butter into ice cream, beating on low just until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Spread ice cream mixture into chilled pie shell. Cover and freeze until firm, about 8 hours. Before serving, set pie out at room temperature about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, beat cream at a medium-high speed until foamy, then gradually add powdered sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Spread whipped cream evenly over pie. If desired, warm fudge topping just before serving. Drizzle over each serving, and sprinkle with coarsely chopped peanuts.

Tip

A secret to keeping the pie neat is to use a hot knife for slicing each serving. Dip the blade in a glass of very hot water, then wipe it off before slicing into the pie. Repeat before cutting each new slice.

92 | may/june 2020


Tip

Lightly spray plastic wrap with cooking spray to prevent sticking to pie when freezing.

LEMON-BUTTERMILK ICEBOX PIE a touch of buttermilk adds a creamy tartness that sets off this classic summer recipe. 1 classic crumb crust

(made with graham crackers) 1 1 ½ 3 Ÿ

can sweetened condensed milk tablespoon loosely packed lemon zest cup fresh lemon juice large egg yolks cup buttermilk Optional garnishes: Sweetened whipped cream, lemon curd, fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl, using a handheld mixer or a whisk, beat egg yolks well until they become pale. In a separate bowl stir sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and zest together; gradually add lemon mixture to egg yolks, whisking until thoroughly blended; whisk in buttermilk. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes or until set around edges. Cool on a wire rack. Cover pie with lightly greased (with cooking spray) plastic wrap, and freeze 4 to 6 hours. Top with a dollop of whipped cream, lemon curd and fresh blueberries.

Tip These original chocolate wafers

can be hard to find, if so, Oreos are a great. substitute.

DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 93


HISTORY

WHAT’S IN A NAME? The unlikely Chickasaw connection to a Tunica County landmark STORY AND PHOTOS COURTESY OF WADE WINEMAN

Scene showing McKinney Bayou as it appears today.

94 | may/june 2020


Located along the mainline Mississippi River levee on the western side of our Delta in northwest Tunica County is a site which is associated with an obscure tidbit of Delta trivia: the McKinney Bayou Pumping Station, or, as it is sometimes referred to, the Fox Island Pumping Station. To most Tunica Countians, however, it is best known simply as “the pumping station.” What makes this site unique is that it is the only site along the mainline levee where a tributary enters the mississippi River directly, other than that where the yazoo River enters the big river just north of Vicksburg; this includes the entire length of the mainline levees of both the mississippi Levee Board District (headquartered at Greenville, mississippi) and the yazoomississippi Delta Levee District (headquartered at Clarksdale, mississippi). according to the Corps of engineers, the area handled by the pumping station—the mcKinney Bayou drainage basin—consists of 42.6 square miles and approximately 27,300 acres lying along the western side of Tunica County. Before the first levees were built, mcKinney Bayou flowed directly into the mississippi River, but after levee construction, the southern end of the bayou was cut off from the river, necessitating the

design of an alternate system of drainage for the large basin. This drainage problem was solved in 1917 with the installation of the first prototype of the mcKinney Bayou Pumping Station, a steam-powered plant. The original pumping station was improved in 1928 with the installation of an electric-powered pump; then, in 1962, a new, larger plant was constructed, and it is still in operation today. (1) The pumping station obviously obtained its name from mcKinney Bayou, but what is generally unknown is how the name mcKinney came to be so prominently associated with both of these features. To answer this question, one must look far back into the annals of Tunica County. To most readers, the name mcKinney would probably evoke images of settlers of Scottish descent who perhaps migrated in

Chickasaw Chief Tishomingo

PHOTOS COURTESYWAD

The Levee Board pumping station: namesake of the McKinney family. DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 95


Tunica County Township map, showing the location of the homestead of “Mrs. McKinnie” (sic), located near the present-day site of Austin, MS. This site was located on property owned by Polly McKinney, daughter of Isaac McKinney.

earlier times from the east coast to the northwest part of the mississippi Territory. many would be surprised to learn, however, that the mcKinney name so associated with Tunica County originated not with settlers of Scottish descent but with a Chickasaw family named mcKinney. Some historians believe that as many as one-fourth to one-fifth of the Chickasaw population had european surnames. names such as Willis, mitchell, Hancock, Fulson, jefferson, Perry, mcIntosh, Cooper, and moore are just a few of the european surnames represented among the deeds of conveyance executed by Chickasaws in the Tunica County land records. and of the members of the Chickasaw nation who signed the Chickasaw Constitution, almost two-thirds had european names. This 96 | may/june 2020

prevalence of european surnames likely came from two sources: intermarriage and missionary efforts. The Chickasaws had a long history of intermarriage with europeans, dating to the 1700s when traders migrating west began to marry Chickasaw women. another factor was the increasing spread of Christianity among american Indian nations during the era. In many cases, those who adopted the Christian faith through the influence of missionaries—who were typically european—would then assume european surnames. Chickasaws followed a system of matrilineal descent, in which tribal leadership and status were passed down through the mother’s hereditary line. This system of descent afforded the offspring of

mixed marriages considerable respect within the tribe, and these children acquired additional status because their bilingualism made them better able to negotiate with traders and represent the tribe in negotiations with the uS government. (2) Historians believe that the Chickasaws once controlled most of northern mississippi—as well as the western third of what is now the state of Tennessee and a small part of northwest alabama—from as early as the 1300s. When de Soto passed through what is now mississippi Territory in 1540-41, members of the Chickasaw nation were those who continually harassed the Spaniards along the way, even routing them in a major attack in northeastern mississippi. Some even believe that Tunica County was the home of the legendary


1839 chart showing land owners along the Miss. River. Shows Isaac McKinney name, located near town of Peyton, which was county seat of Tunica County for a brief period.

Chickasaw chieftain Chisca and was where the royal province of Quizquiz was located. Because of their relatively small population, the Chickasaws placed great emphasis on military capability and over time became known as the most-warlike tribe in the entire southeast. The governor of French Louisiana wrote in 1726 that the Chickasaws “breathe nothing but war and are unquestionably the bravest of the continent.” Similarly, decades later, British Indian Superintendent john Stuart called them “the bravest Indians on the Continent.” The Chickasaws themselves claimed that they had “only to beat drums in our cabins” to scare the Choctaws away from attacking their villages. (3) although most early american Indian inhabitants of Tunica County were thought to be Chickasaws, a small settlement of Tunica Indians still resided in the southwest corner of the county as late as the early eighteenth century. at that time, it is thought that the Tunicas were driven out by

Chickasaw indian

the Chickasaws, eventually relocating to the south end of the Delta, near the yazoo River just north of Vicksburg, and later to Louisiana. The loess-bluff hills in southeastern Louisiana are known to this day as the Tunica Hills. By the time Tunica County was formed—on February 9,

1836—almost all of the residents of the new county were Chickasaws. By the early nineteenth century, wildgame populations had decreased to such an extent that many of the Chickasaws became dependent on crop cultivation. Following the invention of the cotton gin, some Chickasaws began growing cotton, using negro slaves as field laborers. But it would not be long before white settlers, in steadily increasing numbers, began clamoring for possession of american Indian lands. The result was that between 1801 and 1834, the Chickasaws signed a series of treaties, gradually relinquishing all of their lands and agreeing to migrate to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). The last two of these treaties were the Treaty of Pontotoc Creek in 1832 and a supplementary treaty in 1834, the Treaty with the Chickasaw. (4) The final treaty provided that each adult Chickasaw, in accordance with size of family and number of slaves owned, was to receive an allotment of land to sell in fee, ranging DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 97


Historical marker in Memphis showing the original route of the Trail of Tears.

98 | may/june 2020

from one section (generally 640 acres) to five sections in size. most of this land would later be sold for prices ranging from $1.25 to $10 per acre. The treaty also made provision for payment for improvements made to the land. additional land, over and above that allotted to individuals, was to be sold by the government and placed in trust for the benefit of the Chickasaw nation. (5) just prior to migration, the mcKinney family may have been one of the most prominent Chickasaw families in northwest mississippi. although a dearth of nativeamerican genealogical information now exists, making it difficult to conclusively prove the mcKinneys’ importance, Tunica County land records provide interesting clues. according to those records, Isaac mcKinney and his wife, Lakerah, conveyed two tracts of land by deed; however, one deed was lost in a courthouse fire many years ago. an interesting aspect of Isaac mcKinney’s surviving deed is that it was the first deed ever recorded in the land records of Tunica County, being recorded at page a1, the first page of the first deed book used in the land records. It appears that Isaac mcKinney had a son named Charles edward and a daughter named Polly, who also conveyed two tracts of land, in separate deeds, one conveyed solely under the name, “Polly mcKinney,” and one styled as, “Polly mcKinney, alias Polly Simon,” the latter being a deed she presumably conveyed as the wife of a man named Simon. all of these mcKinney tracts were located relatively near the stream that would later be officially known as mcKinney Bayou. among the many deeds recorded in the land records of Tunica County involving Chickasaw nation members, those executed by the mcKinney family members are among those with the highest sale prices. another indicator of Isaac mcKinney’s possible affluence was that he was a slaveholder, evidenced by a power-ofattorney document filed in 1841 in the courthouse authorizing his agent to sell a “twenty-two-year-old negro slave.” and, according to the Inventory of the County archives for mississippi, Isaac mcKinney was also a member of the Tunica County Board of Police, an elected, five-member organization established by the 1832 mississippi Constitution to serve as the county’s governing body, similar to today’s Board of Supervisors. It appears that the mcKinneys’ status in the area, along with

the location of the mcKinney land, were both important factors in the naming of the eponymous bayou (and pumping station). The beginning of the end of the Chickasaws as a mississippi population occurred on july 4, 1837, when approximately three thousand of the Chickasaws’ total population of 4,914 members (along with 1,156 slaves) began migrating to Oklahoma to undertake what has been referred to as “The Great Removal.” It is believed that Isaac mcKinney never participated in the migration to Oklahoma, instead remaining in his Tunica County homeland until his death in 1845. His name appears in the 1840 Tunica County Census, but no mcKinney name is shown in the 1850 Census. When their journey began, the initial group of migrating Chickasaws crossed the mississippi from memphis, following the same route used by other southeast tribes during earlier migrations, a route later referred to as, the “Trail of Tears,” so-called because of the hardships endured by many who made the trip. The Chickasaw exodus was not fully completed until later because smaller groups continued moving west over a period of twelve to fifteen years. although it has been variously reported for many years that the death total for all american Indian tribes during removal was many thousands, the number has been disputed, and the actual total may have been less than five hundred. although the Chickasaws survived the journey in relatively better fashion than most other tribes, it is believed that they experienced some loss of life en route, primarily from illnesses. With removal, the once-brilliant glow of the Chickasaw nation within our state was extinguished. The Chickasaws may now be gone, but they will never be forgotten. In their wake remain such place-names as Itawamba, Iuka, Tishomingo, Tippah, Okolona, Pontotoc, Tallahatchie, yocona, Tupelo, Oktibbeha, and Panola, ensuring that their culture will be forever imprinted on north mississippi. DM (1) (footnote- US Corps Engnrs. And Tunica Times) (2) (footnote- Southern Indians and Anthropologists: Culture, Politics, and Identity, Issue 35, edited by Lisa J. Lefler, Frederic Wright Gleach University of Georgia Press, 2002) (3) Chickasaws: The Unconquerable People, by Greg O’Brien, retrieved from the website mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us, (4) www.utm.edu/departments/special_collections/wc_hist/chksaw.php (5) (From The Old Southwest, 1795-1830, by Thomas D. Clark and John D. W. Guice, Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1995.


Walker Farms

3,400± Acre Premier High Fence Property

• • • • • • • • •

One of the Finest Properties in the Southeast Primary Lodge, Guest House, Bunk House 100+ Acres of Wildlife Plots with Stands Intensively Managed Whitetail Herd Outstanding Duck & Turkey Habitat Traversed by the Big Black River Multiple Storage Buildings Located in Montgomery County. MS Seller Will Divide Adam Hester, Land Realtor Tom Smith Land and Homes Adam@TomSmithLand.com 601.898.2772 office 601.506.5058 cell Andrew LoCicero, Land Realtor Heritage Properties, Inc. Andrew.LoCicero@me.com 601.605.1015 office 850.502.6683 cell

www.TomSmithLand.com


DELTA SEEN

Queen Becky Nowell and King Dr. Wayne Blansett

Raymond Huerta, Haley Kelly and Sandy Huerta

Children’s Benefit Ball presented by the Junior Auxiliary of Cleveland on February 21

Ladies of the Junior Auxiliary of Cleveland

Kerri Mosco, Mitzi Garrett, Kim Buering, with Stephanie Robin and Nat McKnight and McKenzie McGarrh

Neal Kimbrell, Paige Smith and Julia Clark Kimbrell Lauren Caston, Georgia Tindall and Casey Andrews

Nat McKnight and Henry Mosco 100 | may/june 2020

Heather and Will Sledge

Morgan Herbert, Morgan McNeer and Alex Cummins

Jim, Jack, Kingsley and Wesley Ann Warrington


Crystal Ball of the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi at the Southaven Arena in Southaven on January 18. Photos by Kaye Schultz and Charles Coleman

Sandy and Mat Lipscomb

Tom and Michelle Espy

Carmen and John David Wheeler

Tina and Russ O’Keefe

Eliza, George and Mary Chandler Cossar

DELTA SEEN

Danny and Jane Williams, Gary Gainspoletti, Amy Chatham, Lynn and Delbert Hosemann and Jamey Agostinelli Gainspoletti

Michael Bellipanni, Keith Fulcher, Elizabeth Bellipanni, Pat Kerr Tigrett, Lataisha Jackson, Mack Holt and Jeremy Park

Bethany Denley, Kellie Jones, Linda Worsham and Ashley Pollan

Ann and John Lamar

Scott and Natasha Hollis

Hu, Ashley and Wade Meena

Daren Musselwhite and Dan Cordell

Dr. Bryant and Ann Christopher Trotter

Tom Pittman, Lillian Hilson, Jimmy Creekmore, Wade Creekmore and Jim Richmond DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 101


DELTA SEEN

Caroline McIntosh, Lea Margaret Hamilton and Nicole Boyd

A selection of photos from the Bachelor’s Club Ball and Delta Debutante Ball on December 27 and 28

Katherine Dickson and Tyler Dickerson

Dr. Cooper and Caroline McIntosh with daughter Ella and her escort Drake Coleman

Alex Sirven, Sara Katherine Waller and George, Christie and Ann Elizabeth Walker, Andrew LoCicero and Ella McIntosh and Anna Renfro Caroline Walker Tyler Dickerson

Sidney Dean, Mary Mitchell, Olivia Thigpen and Lindsey Nosef

Sara Grea Walker, Lillie Walker, Mary Mitchell and Carlisle Yoste

Mary Mitchell, John Martin Walker, Carlisle Yoste, Anthony Boudreaux, Sara Grea Walker and Lillie Walker 102 | may/june 2020

Brad and Elizabeth Hathaway with Paige and Neal Suares


DELTA SEEN

A Selection of Photos by Delta Magazine Readers

Kirkham Povall, Ned Mitchell, Cindy Coopwood, Don and Nancy Barrett, and retired UGA Coach Vince Dooley, and Barbara Dooley with Bill Lester at Dockery Plantation

Judith and Jerry Lee Lewis and Governor Phil Bryant

Clevelanders enjoying Madi Gras fun: Back row, Eric Pentecost, Allen Pongetti, Curtis Hood, Gary Pongetti, Kim Pongetti, Teresa Pongetti; Front row, Ashley Williams, Franklin Williams, Jennifer Pongetti, Layla Ruth Pongetti, Tenhet Pongetti, Ellis Burd and Nolan Williams

Don Barrett and Van Hipp

Chris Blakely and granddaughter Magnolia Rose, aka “Mags”

Rogers Varner, Rooster Chenault, Markham Dossett and Bill Dossett

Wesley, Lilou and Georgia Tindall

Jamey and Gary Gainspoletti

Lily and Scarlet Hemmins after Oxford High School’s Spring Meredith and Susannah Wessel with Caroline Hendon on a Spring Break college Orchestra concert tour

Craig Campany, Scott Coopwood, Jim Sears, Oscar Adams and Stephen Smith at Bar Fontaine DeLTa maGaZIne 2020

| 103


Thefinalword

From the mountains to the Delta grew up in Montana, butte, Montana, the True West. Home to cattle ranchers and dirt switchbacks winding through pristine wilderness areas toward some of the most remote parts of the country. e West has been my familial home since my ancestors got off the boat from Ireland and Italy early in the twentieth century. ey didn’t stop until they reached Butte, and that’s where we’ve been ever since––well, until now. I can still hear the faint ancestral echoes of my forefathers calling “Go West, young man” as I sit on my porch watching the sun set over the mississippi Delta. While my family went (and remains) West, I came South, hoping to thaw my bones and see rivers bigger and deeper than any that had graced my environment growing up. moving to the Delta came as a shock––to my friends, to my family, and to myself. all I knew about mississippi was what I could glean from reading William Faulkner or listening to Robert johnson. While I knew nothing about this part of the country, I did know that there had to be some sort of romantic magnetism that produced such masterpieces as As I Lay Dying and “Cross Road Blues.” So I left montana and I packed my books and ample amounts of paper to become a writer and to live with the woman that I had fallen in love with during college. I came to the Delta for love and I’ve found love in turn––in the friendly and welcoming faces, in the thunderstorms that make me scoff at the blizzards I grew up with, in the vast expanse of land that makes me wonder if montana should in fact be dubbed “e Big Sky State.” Still, when I call and talk to my friends and family, there’s always the same

I

Max Wellman is a writer from Butte, Montana. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English Writing from Montana State University, he moved to Leland, Mississippi to read, write, and explore southern culture. Wellman currently works as a freelance copyeditor and writer and is the co-founder and lead editor of The Hyalite, an online publication focused on arts and culture in Montana.

104 | may/june 2020

BY MAX WELLMAN

questions: “Why did you move South? When are you coming home?” For the latter I have no answer, only time will tell, but for the former I respond with words of wisdom given to me by a gentleman who, much like myself, moved to the Delta when he was a young man. When I asked him why he moved to Greenville, he responded: “Why did anyone move anywhere for anything? a woman.” is turn of the phrase has stuck with me ever since that day––I find myself using it often––but the longer I live in the Delta, the more I realize that while I moved here for love, I stay for a different reason: I stay for the overpowering hum of cicadas and the rain that drums on my tin roof. I stay for the intimate conversations I have on the street with complete strangers, and for the catfish and fried chicken and blues and everything one needs to be happy, comfortable, and content. I stay for the inexplicable passion this land seems to hold. Part of me still misses the West, the mountains and the long winters, but I find comfort knowing that here in the Delta, I’m welcomed. my accent may be that of a yank, but I’m treated all the same. Here, with the absence of snow and frozen ground, I’ve found a second home, a home where I fell in love with a landscape and a community that has a way of making me feel like the Delta is the exact place that I’m supposed to be. I’ll never understand the intricacies inherent within the Delta, I don’t think any outsider truly could, but that doesn’t matter. all I need to understand is that the historic flood plains between the mississippi and yazoo River are beautiful, flat, and friendly. (But I guess I better check in again once I’ve survived a Delta Summer.) DM


Profile for Delta Magazine

Delta Magazine May/June 2020  

Our mission is to bring our readers the uniqueness of the Mississippi Delta and to celebrate the lifestyle enjoyed here. With each issue we...

Delta Magazine May/June 2020  

Our mission is to bring our readers the uniqueness of the Mississippi Delta and to celebrate the lifestyle enjoyed here. With each issue we...