Page 1

FOR MEMBERS OF COAHOMA ELECTRIC POWER ASSOCIATION

A TOWN’S

WORLD WAR II SACRIFICE NOVEMBER 2021

FROM HATTIESBURG

TO THE NFL

NOVEMBER IN THE

OUTDOORS


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outdoo scene around the ‘sip

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outdoors today picture this my opinion grin ‘n’ bare it

Thanks for all you do November is a month of thanks. Of course, we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday during November, but the month also marks another occasion that inspires gratitude: Veterans Day. Veterans Day is always on Nov. 11 — the day World War I ended. Veterans Day is the date we set aside to honor the men and women of this country who wear the uniform and serve — both past and present. In Mississippi, serving in the U.S. military is a custom that goes back hundreds of years. For some, it’s about family tradition. For others, it’s about patriotism. Although we have a specific day dedicated to it, we know every day is Veterans Day in Mississippi, and for those who served, we are thankful. While November reminds us of the Mississippians who volunteered to serve their country, Today in Mississippi tells the story this month of a small town that sacrificed more than the average community. D’Lo in Simpson County had more men volunteer and fight in World War II per capita than any other city or town in the country. If you haven’t visited the D’Lo World War II memorial in town, you should take some time to make the drive. Speaking of being thankful, we received a letter from a south Louisiana woman thanking Mississippi’s electric cooperatives for sending help to restore power after Hurricane Ida swept through the state in late August. Here’s the letter from Mary Schmidt of Destrehan, Louisiana: “As a victim of Hurricane Ida’s fury, I want to take a moment to let the Mississippi cooperatives know what it feels like on our end when the calvary arrives. Two weeks without power is sustainable

as our hardy resolve is strong, but after 21 days, desperation seeps in. The parade of stately power trucks rolling into the neighborhood brought tears to the eyes and a salute of respect. Mississippi crew members were polite, respectful of our property, and reassuring. Our pole took three days to remove and replace, which included hand digging a 7-foot hole through sand and clay out of an abundance of caution for the underground wiring. We thanked them with endless bottles of water and energy drinks, topped off with evening meals of jambalaya and red beans and rice after each day of grueling work. Linemen have earned a spot at the top of the list of heroes of the storm.” Mutual aid and cooperatives assisting other cooperatives in times of crisis is part of what we do for our members and members in other states. In the case of Hurricane Ida, we had cooperative linemen work to restore power in their own areas before helping other Mississippi cooperatives restore power in their areas. After that, many of our linemen volunteered to go to Louisiana to bring the power back to residents hardest hit by Ida. So, as we sit at the Thanksgiving table this year, let’s remember to thank the military veterans and our cooperative employees who work hard to comfort all of us in times of crisis before they even serve their own families. That is the definition of sacrifice, and for that, Mississippi’s electric cooperatives say thanks.

by Michael Callahan Executive Vice President/CEO Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi

Mississippi is... It’s where I was born, not sure if it’s where I’ll die. It’s looking up and seeing pine trees shadowing the sky. It’s humidity so thick, It’s “air you can wear” It’s cooling off in a creek, not having a single care. It’s really hot summers, and pretty cool winters It’s going to church on Sunday, then to grandma’s house for dinner. It’s watermelon, tomatoes, shelling peas, and canning corn, it’s rolling down your window to hear the train blow its horn. It’s back roads and four-wheelers and riding in the mud. It’s seeing cows beside the road, just standing, chewing the cud. It’s chicken houses and soybeans as far as the eye can see. It’s sitting on the porch swing, drinking a big glass of sweet iced tea. It’s fried chicken and turnip greens and sweet potato pie. It’s laying in the grass and watching the clouds pass by. It’s riding in the truck bed, wait, we can’t do that anymore, so we buckle everybody in and head to the store. It’s getting a Coke and peanuts and passing it around. It’s getting cotton candy when the fair comes to town. It’s not about the place, no matter what you think. It’s about the people, family, friends, and everyone you meet. So, if you’re passing through from going far or near, come in and sit a spell and y’all come back, ya hear?

by Lindsay Hutson, a resident of Seminary and a member of Southern Pine Electric

What’s Mississippi to you? What do you treasure most about life in our state? Send your brief thoughts to Today in Mississippi, news@ecm.coop or mail to P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158

NOVEMBER 2021 | TODAY 3


in this issue

5 southern gardening Cotton rose is great for a winter landscape

9 scene around the ‘sip A look at special people and places in Mississippi

9

11

outdoors today November is perfect for outdoor activities

12 local news 18 feature

Classic cars and trucks were king at this year’s Cruisin’ the Coast

22

for the love of the game Larry Whigham makes it from Hattiesburg High to the NFL

18

24 on the menu

Serve up gingerbread, potato soup, and pecan Dutch Baby when folks are visiting

27 mississippi seen

A tale of Eudora Welty, Willie Morris, and William Faulkner

24

The Official Publication of the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi

Vol. 74 No. 11

OFFICERS Eddie Howard - President Randy Carroll - First Vice President Ron Barnes - Second Vice President Tim Perkins - Secretary/Treasurer Michael Callahan - Executive Vice President/CEO EDITORIAL STAFF Ron Stewart - Senior Vice President Lydia Walters - VP, Communications Steven Ward - Editor Chad Calcote - Creative Director/ Manager Elissa Fulton - Communications Specialist Rickey McMillan - Graphic Designer Kevin Wood - Graphic Designer Chris Alexander - Administrative Assistant EDITORIAL OFFICE & ADVERTISING 601-605-8600

Acceptance of advertising by Today in Mississippi does not imply endorsement of the advertised product or services by the publisher or Mississippi’s electric power associations. Product satisfaction and delivery responsibility lie solely with the advertiser. • National advertising representative: American MainStreet Publications, 800-626-1181

Circulation of this issue: 478,584

Non-member subscription price: $9.50 per year. Today in Mississippi (ISSN 1052-2433) is published 12 times a year by Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi Inc., P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158-3300, or 665 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland, MS 39157. Phone 601-605-8600. Periodical postage paid at Ridgeland, MS, and additional office. The publisher (and/or its agent) reserves the right to refuse or edit all advertising. POSTMASTER: Send all UAA to CFS. (See DMM 507.1.5.2) NON-POSTAL AND MILITARY FACILITIES: send address corrections to: Today in Mississippi, P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158-3300

www.facebook.com/TodayinMississippi www.todayinmississippi.com

On the cover Classic cars and trucks line Beach Boulevard in Bay St. Louis during the 2021 Cruisin’ the Coast event on the Mississippi Gulf Coast last month. Photo by Chad Calcote

And we think you’re going to love ours. So let’s work together: As electric cooperatives, we were built by the communities we serve—and by members just like you. 4 TODAY | NOVEMBER 2021


Cotton rose is a Southern pass-along plant that roots very easily without any special equipment.

Gardening in November brings many opportunities to change up the landscape for the cool season. But before we focus on pansies, violas and snapdragons, one of my favorite flowering landscape shrubs is just starting to show off. Cotton rose, known botanically as Hibiscus mutabilis, has begun its display of pretty pink flowers. I love the fact that the flowers — only open for a single day — exhibit color changes throughout that day. The flowers begin to open very pale pink, turning pink and then dark pink to almost red by the end of the day. On a typical day, there are loads of flowers in varying shades of white, pink, and dark pink. But don’t despair over the blooms lasting for Cotton rose has a few other just one day. This shrub common names: Confederate produces literally hundreds of flower rose, cotton rosemallow buds to enjoy. or Dixie rosemallow. The flowers are pretty big, sometimes reaching more than 6 inches across. There are selections that produce single flowers and double flowers. This flowering shrub can be quite large in the South. At my office in Biloxi, our specimens are over 10 feet tall. In areas that get a hard freeze, Cotton roses freeze back to the ground and then come back as a multistem shrub each spring. These plants tolerate a severe pruning to control their growth. Cut them back to about 6 inches in late winter to help maintain them as a smaller stature shrub. Despite cotton rose being a popular choice for Mississippi landscapes and gardens, few are to be found in garden centers. You could always ask a garden center to source plants for you, but you really don’t need to go that far. Cotton rose is a classic, Southern pass-along plant. This shrub roots very easily without any special equipment. Collect pencil-sized branches about 8 inches long, and strip off

most of the leaves. Put these cuttings, leaf end up, in a half-filled bucket. Keep the bucket out of direct sunlight and wait. In about six to eight weeks, some will have sprouted roots and be ready to transplant into a container. If you have a neighbor who has a cotton rose in his or her landscape, ask if you can collect a few cuttings. That’s why it’s called a pass-along plant. I collected about a dozen cuttings recently from our specimens at the Coastal Research and Extension Center. I’ll share the results on Southern Gardener social media. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Cotton rose has a few other common names: Confederate rose, cotton rosemallow or Dixie rosemallow. The reference to cotton makes sense, as the flower buds are round like cotton flower buds, and the wide-lobed foliage also looks like cotton leaves. Additionally, hibiscus, cotton, okra, and cacao are all members of the Malvaceae plant family. But whatever you call it, cotton rose is one flowering shrub that thrives in our Mississippi gardens and landscapes. If you don’t already have one in your yard, find a friend who can share theirs.

by Dr. Gary Bachman Gary Bachman, Ph.D., Extension/Research Professor of Horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. He is also host of “Southern Gardening” radio and TV programs. He lives in Ocean Springs and is a Singing River Electric member.

NOVEMBER 2021 | TODAY 5


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Send us photos of churches. Mississippi is filled with beautiful churches, both old and new. We want to show off our state’s gorgeous church architecture. Send us photos of old, abandoned churches or of newer, active churches. Make sure to send us the name of the church (if you know) and the location (town or city). Photos must be high-resolution JPG files of at least 1 MB in size. Please attach the photo to your email and send it to news@ecm.coop. Each entry must be accompanied by photographer’s name, address and co-op. Submission deadline: Nov. 30. Select photos will appear in the January 2022 issue.

8 TODAY | NOVEMBER 2021


scene around the ‘sip

a town’s sacrifice by Steven Ward While Mississippians celebrate Veterans Day this month on Nov. 11, remember the story of D’Lo. D’Lo, part of Southern Pine Electric’s service area is a small town in Simpson County that holds a mammoth place in the American history of World War II. According to reports, 150 men from D’Lo volunteered to fight in World War II — close to 40 percent of the town’s population at the time. All of the 150 men came back to the town after the war except for eight residents who wound up making the ultimate sacrifice for their country. D’Lo had more residents per capita fight in World War II than any other town, city or village in the United States. The town’s contribution to the war effort was so profound, Life magazine wrote a story in their July 6, 1942, issue with the headline, “The Young Men of D’Lo Have Gone to Fight.” “Their sense of pride and patriotism is a testament to who we are in the South,” said Tommy Lofton, museum director of the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby. Lofton, who interviewed many World War II veterans during his years working for the National World War II Museum, said men and women from the South and, Mississippi in particular, have always outnumbered military volunteers from other states in the wars the U.S. has fought throughout the years. “The men in D’Lo lived in a small, close knit area. Serving in the military is part of what families do down here. Southerners are very territorial about their family land and have traditionally

D’Lo, which prides itself on Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations, will hold its annual Veterans Day Program on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. at the town gazebo near D’Lo Town Hall. Call 601-847-1721 for more information.

fought to defend that land. And that extends to fighting for our country,” Lofton said. Andrew Wiest, a professor of history at The University of Southern Mississippi, said there’s a good reason why many small Southern towns have military museums. “Some of it goes back to The Civil War. There are Mississippians who have had great, great-grandfathers fight in that war and who are members of the National Guard today,” Wiest said. Wiest also said the strong religious and conservative principles of Southerners play a role in volunteering to fight for their country. “There is a concept called ‘muscular Christianity’ in the South. That’s about defending your faith. Remember the song, “onward Christian soldiers…” Right next to the D’Lo Community Center near the middle of town is a granite monument that serves as a memorial to the 150 men who left town in the 1940s to fight in World War II. The names of each resident are on the memorial. “Stories like this are important. We have to remember, because if we don’t, the sacrifices of these Mississippians will be forgotten and lost to history,” Lofton said.

NOVEMBER 2021 | TODAY 9


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hues, these streams provide a visual If a perfect month for outdoor feast. They also provide fish. Walk activities were selected here in one of these streams, and if not too Mississippi, November would be it. chilly, wade its shallows and cast Fall is in full swing, regaled in its a spinnerbait to dark holes, subfinest, the colors brilliant and sharp merged logs, and sandbar drop-offs. and whispering softly while shoutA bass or sunfish will likely oblige. ing boldly that one year is ending There’s also camping to consider. and a new year is drifting closer. November is superb for this exercise, Sprites of winter flit about, perhaps regardless of the sleeping quarters offering brief courtships with the employed. Amply warm but not hot cold but not yet committed. The during day – at least generally so. chilly morning where exhaled Such conditions lend themselves to breaths form a fleeting fog, the Colored and falling leaves, whether on water or ground, hiking, bird watching, kayaking, and gentle touch of a bashful frost are abundant in November. bicycling. There can be, what with that will not persevere much past azure skies and slanting shadows of sunrises and sunsets sunrise. These are potential histrionics of any November. and that broad assortment of woodland colors, some And the proper venue, save during those rainy days impressive photo opportunities. perhaps best suited for a soft chair and good book, is outThe night temperatures justify a campfire. Around this, side. The backyard, along a gentle stream, in the woods folks can gather and socialize. Or if the persuasion among — all such locales — will encourage merriment and a bubindividuals or groups is more philosophical, these, alone bling appreciation for this 11th month. Indeed, November or collectively, can watch and wonder as sparks drift offers tremendous gratuities to those who dress properly upward in an autumn firmament and bring to mind the for the occasion and get into natural settings generally marvels of a spectacular Creation. Few if any other not encompassed by concrete or asphalt. enterprises are more significant than recognizing that Hunting seasons are open and invite any with a propenspectacular Creation. sity for such activity. That No. 1 pursuit among hunters in the Magnolia State, deer hunting, gets a great deal of attention. So too squirrel hunting. And beagles will perform their rendition of a symphony as they chase rabbits. Some opportunities are afforded for upland birds and perhaps waterfowl, the latter a bit restricted to species and requiring some judicial research so that by Tony Kinton the hunter remains inside legal parameters. Fishing is out there as well. Tiny streams — gentle and Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. He lives in clear and in no apparent rush to get anywhere in particuCarthage and is a Central Electric member. Visit www.tonykinton.com lar — are captivating. Lined with a veritable explosion of for more information. NOVEMBER 2021 | TODAY 11


P.O. BOX 188 • 340 HOPSON STREET • LYON, MS 38645 662-624-8321 • FAX 662-624-8327 • www.coahomaepa.com • cepa@coahomaepa.com

Bylaws outline procedure for Annual Meeting Coahoma Electric Power Association will hold its Annual Meeting of the Membership at 10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, at Coahoma Electric’s Training Center in Lyon, MS. The following is an excerpt from the association’s bylaws pertaining to the Annual Meeting of the Membership.

ARTICLE III Meeting of Members • Section 3.01. Annual Meeting. For the purposes of electing Directors, hearing and passing upon reports covering the previous fiscal year, and transacting such other business as may properly come before the meeting, the annual meeting of the Members shall be held on the second Thursday of February of each year, at such place in Coahoma County, Mississippi, and beginning at such hour, as the Board of Directors shall, from year to year, fix; PROVIDED, that, for cause sufficient, the Board of Directors may fix a different date for such annual meeting not more than thirty (30) days prior or subsequent to the day otherwise established for such meeting. Failure to hold the annual meeting at the designated time and place shall not work a forfeiture or dissolution of the Association. • Section 3.02. Special Meetings. Special meetings of the Members may be called by a majority of the Board of Directors, or upon written petition submitted to the Board of Directors signed by at least three hundred (300) Members; any such petition(s) shall be submitted on forms provided by the Association, and the same shall be signed, completed and verified in the same manner as are petitions submitted under Section 4.04 of these Bylaws. Special meetings shall be held at such place within Coahoma County, Mississippi, on such date, and at such hour as the Board of Directors shall fix and determine, and the Association’s Secretary shall cause notice of any such meetings to be given as hereinafter provided. • Section 3.03. Notice of Members’ Meetings. Written or printed notice stating the place, day and hour of the meeting and, in the case of a special meeting or of an annual meeting at which business requiring special notice is to be transacted, the purpose or purposes of the meeting shall be delivered to each Member not less than fifteen (15) days nor more than twenty-five (25) days prior to the date of the meeting, either personally, by mail, or electronically, by or at the direction of the Association’s Secretary, or by the directors or members calling the meeting. Written notice of any meeting at which the Association’s certificate of incorporation will be voted on by the Members must be sent to the Members at least thirty (30) days prior to the date of the meeting, and shall identify and describe the purpose of the amendment. If Directors are to be elected at such meeting, the notice of Members’ meeting shall include a statement of the members of the Board of Directors to be elected as provided in Section 4.04. Unless specified in such notice of meeting, no matter may be acted upon at such meeting. If mailed, such notice shall

12 TODAY | NOVEMBER 2021

be deemed to be delivered when deposited in the United States mail, addressed to the Member at his or her address as it appears on the records of the Association, with postage thereon prepaid. The failure of any Member to receive such notice shall not invalidate any action which may be taken by the Members at any such meeting. • Section 3.04. Quorum. Three hundred (300) Members shall constitute a quorum at any regular or special meeting of Members. This number shall be arrived at by adding the number of Members present in person at the meeting to the number of Members represented at that meeting by valid proxies filed as provided by these Bylaws. If less than a quorum is present at any meeting of Members, the officer of the Association who is presiding at the meeting may, at the time stated in the notice and without a motion, declare the meeting adjourned and closed or he may hold the meeting open for not longer than thirty (30) minutes to see if a quorum is present within that time; and the meeting shall automatically be adjourned and closed if a quorum shall not be present at the end of said thirty (30) minute period. The Members present at a meeting at which a quorum is not present shall not have the power to take any kind of action, including, but not by way of limitations, adjourning said meeting to another time or place. • Section 3.05. Voting. Each Member who is not in a status of suspension, as provided for in Section 2.01, shall be entitled to only one vote upon each matter submitted to a vote at any meeting of the Members. A Member may vote at any such meeting either in person or by proxy. At a meeting of the Members where Directors are to be elected, all Members present in person or by proxy may cast one (1) vote for each Director to be elected; each Member may vote his or her own vote plus those proxies executed in such Member’s favor, pursuant to Section 3.06 and 3.07 of these Bylaws. Voting by Members other than Members who are natural persons shall be allowed upon the presentation to the Association, prior to or upon registration at each Member meeting, of satisfactory evidence entitling the person presenting same to vote. At all meetings of the Members, all questions shall be decided by a majority of the Members voting thereon, except as otherwise provided by law or by the Association’s Certificate of Incorporation or these Bylaws or any amendment(s) thereto. Members may not cumulate their votes. • Section 3.06. Proxies. At all meetings of the Members, a Member may vote by proxy executed in writing and signed by the Member, subject to the provisions hereinafter set forth, provided, however, any Member intending to vote by proxy must file the executed proxy at the Association’s headquarters by the close of


business on the later of the Monday preceding the annual or special ARTICLE IV meeting or three (3) business days prior to such meeting. A Member may • Section 4.04. Committee on Nominations. personally deliver his or her proxy to the said offices of the Association (a) It shall be the duty of the Board of Directors to appoint, no less or mail the proxy by United States Mail, postage prepaid, addressed to than forty (40) calendar days nor more than ninety (90) calendar days the Secretary, Coahoma Electric Power Association, P. O. Box 188, Lyon, before the date of the meeting of the Members at which Directors are Mississippi, 38645. If the proxy is sent by mail, the date of its receipt in to be elected, a Committee on Nominations consisting of not less than the Association’s office at the above address shall be its filing date. The five (5) nor more than eleven (11) Members who shall be selected with proxy must have entered thereon the name and account number of the consideration being given to provide geographic representation of the member appointed to vote the proxy. No proxy shall be voted at any Association’s service area. No existing Association employees, agents, meeting of the Members unless it shall designate the particular meeting at officers, Directors or known candidates for Director, and close relatives which it is to be voted, and no proxy shall be voted at any meeting other (as hereinafter defined) or members of the same household of existing than the one so designated, or any adjournassociation employees, agents, officers, Direcment of such meeting. No proxy shall be voted tors or known candidates for Director may serve by anyone except a Member. A Member may on such committee. The Committee on Nominaappoint any other individual Member to vote tions shall receive and consider any suggestion his or her proxy, or a Member may appoint the as to nominees submitted by Members. The COAHOMA ELECTRIC POWER ASSOCIATION individual members of the Board of Directors, Committee on Nominations shall meet at a time collectively, to vote said proxy. No Member shall and place set by the Board of Directors. The vote as proxy for more than fifty (50) Members Committee on Nominations shall prepare and at any meeting of the Members. In the event an post at the principal office of the Association at individual Member is appointed to vote as proxy Thursday, Feb 10, 2022 least thirty-five (35) calendar days before the for more than fifty (50) other Members, such meeting a list of nominations for Directors. The at 10 a.m. proxies in excess of fifty (50) shall be assigned Secretary must mail with the notice of the meetCoahoma Electric’s Training Center, Lyon MS to the Board of Directors for voting; and the ing or separately a statement of the number Members of Coahoma EPA’s proxies so assigned and those proxies appointof Directors to be elected and the names and ing the individual members of the Board of Committee on Nominations addresses of the candidates nominated by the Directors shall be voted according to the will of a Committee on Nominations. Reggie Hibbler Harvey B. Rodgers Jr. majority of the Board of Directors. The presence (b) Nominations By Petition. Any fifty (50) Hamp Bass Ann Ruscoe of a Member at a meeting of the Members shall Members acting together may make a nomiRobert A. Boyce Tommy Sides revoke a proxy theretofore executed by that nation by petition and the Secretary shall post William Peal Member, and such Member shall be entitled to such nomination at the same place where the vote at such meeting in the same manner and with the same effect as if list of nominations by the Committee on Nominations is posted. Any the proxy had not been executed. In case of a joint membership, a proxy petition for nomination shall be submitted on a form designated and may be executed by either spouse. The timely presence of either spouse provided by the Association. Each Member signing such petition shall at a meeting of the Members shall revoke a proxy theretofore executed place thereon the date of signing, address and account number of the by either of them and such joint Member (or Members) shall be entitled Member. The Secretary shall mail with the notice of the meeting or septo vote at such meeting in the same manner and with the same effect as arately a statement of the number of board members to be elected and if a proxy had not been executed. A standard proxy form shall be used the names of candidates nominated by the committees and the names of candidates nominated by petition, if any. Nominations made by petition, which identifies the Member by name and Member number, in order to assure authenticity and facilitate the tabulation of votes. If the proxy form if any, received by the close of business at least 90 calendar days before of a Member is lost, stolen, or destroyed, the Association shall furnish such the annual meeting shall be included on the official ballot. No petition may contain more than one nominee. Member with a replacement proxy form upon request, provided that the (c) Notwithstanding anything in this Section, failure to comply with any Member executes a revocation of the lost, stolen or destroyed form, to of the provisions of this Section shall not affect in any manner whatsoevbe witnessed by an employee of the Association. Blank proxy forms will er the validity of any election of Directors. not be distributed in bulk to any Member. Designation of proxies shall be upon forms prescribed by the Board of Directors and furnished by the Association and no other forms shall be recognized or accepted.

Notice to Members

ANNUAL MEETING OF MEMBERS

Happy Thanksgiving

from Coahoma Electric Power Association The business office will be closed November 25 and 26 for Thanksgiving.

In case of a power outage or emergency, please call 662-624-8321. NOVEMBER 2021 | TODAY 13


How will we charge all the new by Paul Wesslund What electric cars need to become a top choice for American drivers is a nationwide network of charging stations to ovecome fears of running out of juice on long trips. Or maybe that’s not true at all. There are already nearly one-third as many charging sites in the U.S. as there are gas stations. And that doesn’t even count the “refueling stations” found in the electric outlets of every home in America. Plus, the range of electric cars already exceeds how far most people drive in a day. Ninety percent of Americans drive less than 45 miles a day, and the average range for electric vehicles is 250 miles. The ballyhoo over charging stations has created a powerful conventional wisdom that they’re a necessary step toward overcoming the “range anxiety” about getting stranded in the middle of nowhere. Range anxiety may be the least of the reasons there aren’t more electric vehicles on the road, says Brian Sloboda, director of consumer solutions for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. “There are people who argue we need the charging network for the electric vehicle market to be successful. They might be right, but I’m not one of those people,” says Sloboda. “Let’s say your electric vehicle is only used for commuting and you’re just driving it from your home to the grocery store to work. It is very likely that you would never even use public charging stations because you can charge your EV at home for a very reasonable price.”

Sloboda is quick to list the advantages of electric vehicles, from how they affect the environment to their lower maintenance costs to the fact that you can wake up every morning with a full tank of “gas.” But he sees bigger issues than a lack of charging stations standing in the way of greater acceptance. “You have limited model availability, limited body styles, limited manufacturers, high prices and most people are unfamiliar with the technology.” But Sloboda sees those problems as solvable. Right now, you’ll pay about $10,000 extra for an electric model. But those costs are coming down as batteries get cheaper and more powerful. And competition is heating up. Every major car manufacturer has high-profile plans for electric models — Ford has announced an electric model of its popular F-150 pickup. Although electric vehicles make up less than 4% of the auto market, that’s doubled If you’re truly interested from just one year ago. in making the switch to While trends point to strong growth electric, don’t let the for electric vehicles, current charging forecasting the future infrastructure deter you. of charging stations is trickier. It’s not as easy as comparing the number of charging stations to gas stations. For one thing, people don’t have a gasoline pump in their garage, which is essentially the case with an electric. And while an internal combustion engine might take four minutes for a fill, it could take more than an hour to recharge an electric vehicle. “It’s something everyone is wrestling with,” says Sloboda. “But if you’re truly interested in making the switch to electric, don’t let the current charging infrastructure deter you. Focus on your daily driving needs, your budget and read reviews from trusted sites like Consumer Reports, Motor Trend, and Car and Driver.” Paul Wesslund writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

14 TODAY | NOVEMBER 2021


Ole Miss alumnus named 2021

by Lauren Lucas University of Mississippi alumnus Austin Sumrall recently won the 2021 Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans, Louisiana, representing the state of Mississippi in competition against respected chefs from 14 other states. The field included Sumrall’s culinary hero, Tory McPhail, longtime head chef at Commander’s Palace. Sumrall, a 2020 James Beard Award nominee, completed his first culinary competition while enrolled in the UM hospitality management program. The program hosted Austin was a work-hard, a culinary “throw play-hard student who down,” which Sumalways seemed to impress rall won. He credits this competition his professors and peers for growing his with his passion for the industry and life in general confidence, also thanking his professors for always believing in him, especially Jim Taylor, an associate professor of nutrition and hospitality management. “Austin was a work-hard, play-hard student who always seemed to impress his professors and peers with his passion for the industry and life in general,” Taylor said. A native of McComb, Sumrall started his professional career in Oxford, working at Boure restaurant while attending college. He graduated in 2010 with a bachelor of science degree in hospitality management, with the dream of opening his own restaurant. “Immersing myself in the industry both from a school and work standpoint made me feel like I was working toward my goal each and every day,” Sumrall said. He said he was speechless when he won the Great American Seafood Cook-Off, noting that having his family there made winning more special. His parents and son were in the audience and his wife, Tresse, was his sous chef for the day. For the competition, Sumrall prepared his signature progressive snapper dinner, which highlights the fish’s versatility by using it in a variety of ways. After graduating from Ole Miss, Sumrall studied at the Culinary Institute of America, earning his associate of culinary arts degree. He also gained valuable experience working at restaurants such as Cochon in New Orleans and the Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama.

In 2015, the Sumrall family moved back to Mississippi to pursue dreams of opening their own restaurant. In December 2017, they opened White Pillars in Biloxi. Owning his own restaurant has helped give Sumrall an important creative outlet, he said. “Every dish and concept we put out there is like putting a little piece of myself on a plate,” he explained. “Being able to pack out the dining rooms with people that are here to eat my food is a feeling unlike any other.”

NOVEMBER 2021 | TODAY 15


After an active year for disease-related wild bird deaths in the U.S., people should follow best practices when providing backyard feeders and water sources for wild birds this fall and winter. by Adam Rohnke Disease in wildlife populations is normal and is one of the many mechanisms that regulate wildlife populations. Many things can cause diseases in wildlife, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites, along with exosure to toxic substances. The prevalence of infectious diseases is often influenced by environmental stressors like weather, change in or loss of habitat, and reduced access to food and water. For example, harsh winters can reduce food and water availability for wild birds, causing them to concentrate at higher-than-normal levels at backyard feeders and water sources. Food and water can become contaminated with disease-causing organisms from their feces and spread easily among local bird populations. This is what led to a salmonella outbreak among songbirds and 19 humans earlier this year across eight states. Humans contracted it through contact with contaminated bird feeders, dead birds, or pets that had access to areas frequented by birds. One human case was confirmed in Mississippi. No bird cases were confirmed due to a lack of funding for surveillance. In May, reports of sick and dying birds began streaming into wildlife agencies in the states of Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia. Citizens reported finding mainly juvenile birds with crusty eyes, tremors, and paralysis. As a result, these states and others issued orders against wildlife feeding. Nearly as fast as the reports came in May and June, they dissipated to nearly zero by September. Many federal and state agencies and laboratories have been involved in trying to identify the illness. All major known bird-related diseases like West Nile, salmonella, avian influenza, and others have been ruled out. Wildlife disease specialists are not sure how it was transmitted or whether it was caused by a disease organism or something toxic in the environment. Adam Rohnke is a Mississippi State University urban wildlife extension specialist. 16 TODAY | NOVEMBER 2021

Follow CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting bird feeders and water sources for wild birds: • Clean bird feeders outside with warm, soapy water. Rinse well. If cleaning bird feeders inside, use a bathtub, or a laundry sink, and immediately clean and disinfect it. Never use the kitchen sink or any other area where food is prepared or stored. • Soak bird feeders in a bleach solution of 9 parts water to 1 part bleach for 10 minutes. • Rinse well and let dry. • Wash your hands well after cleaning feeders. • The frequency of cleaning should be determined by the amount of use. If feces are present, it’s time to clean.

Here are some other best practices: • Put out only as much seed as will be consumed in a day. Discard wet seed into a garbage receptacle. Do not dump it on the ground. • In addition to cleaning feeders and bird baths regularly, rotate the feeder station’s locations in your yard even if birds appear healthy. If rotating is not an option, consider not feeding for two to four weeks to give these areas a rest. • To minimize the possibility of pets spreading salmonella to humans, the CDC recommends keeping pets away from bird feeders, bird baths, and the areas underneath them. • People should always wash their hands with soap and water after handling bird feeders, bird baths, and dead birds and after touching pets or their toys, food and bowls.


by Susan Collins-Smith Blueberries are rock stars in the kitchen. Not only are they delicious, they also are high in fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins. For easy access to fresh blueberries, consider planting a few bushes in the backyard. Now is the perfect time. “You can plant blueberries anytime between November and February, but the ideal time is before the end of December,” said Eric Stafne, Mississippi State University Extension Service fruit and nut specialist. “Planting earlier gives the plants time to establish roots before spring and get a good start. Just keep in mind it usually takes two to three years to get a harvestable amount of fruit.” Choose bushes that are at least 18 to 24 inches tall to ensure the plant has an adequate root system. Be careful not to plant them too deeply. The root ball should be just below the surface. Trim off any dead twigs and remove any berries. This cleanup helps reduce stress on the plant. “Transplanting is a shock to the plant, so you want to make sure you reduce the stress on the plant as much as possible,” Stafne said. Rabbiteye and Southern Highbush blueberry varieties both grow well in Mississippi. Rabbiteye varieties are native to Mississippi and have been improved to grow quickly and produce large amounts of berries. Fruit ripens in June and July. These bushes require cross-pollination to produce fruit, so you’ll want to plant at least two varieties close to one another. Southern Highbush varieties produce fruit during May. Several varieties of each kind produce a range of bush sizes and fruit types. Blueberry plants are evergreen with a pretty, pink bloom in the spring, which makes them excellent landscape additions. They can be planted successfully with acid-loving ornamental landscape plants, such as azaleas, camelias and gardenias. Blueberries prefer a moist, well-drained soil enhanced with organic matter. Blueberries have shallow root systems and can’t compete well with weeds, so mulching with pine bark, pine needles, grass clippings, or leaves is recommended. Do not use barnyard manure. Mulching with pine products can help acidify the soil as well. There is no need to fertilize rabbiteye bushes the first year. Keep the plants well-watered to help establish the root system. Consistent watering is especially important once a

fertilizer schedule is begun, otherwise the plant won’t take up those nutrients. Natasha Haynes, Extension family and consumer sciences agent and Food Factor host, said there are lots of dishes these powerhouse berries can be used in, including cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, and desserts. Susan Collins-Smith is a writer for the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

INGREDIENTS 2 cups dry oatmeal (old fashioned or quick) ¼ cup brown sugar 1 cup frozen blueberries ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional) 1 teaspoon baking powder ½ teaspoon cinnamon 1 ½ cups nonfat milk ½ cup unsweetened applesauce 1 egg 1 tablespoon vegetable oil Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together the oatmeal, brown sugar, blueberries, baking powder, and cinnamon (and walnuts if you choose to add them). In a medium bowl, combine the milk, applesauce, egg, and oil. Mix well with a fork or whisk. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir well. Pour into a greased, 8-inch, square baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm. NOVEMBER 2021 | TODAY 17


18 TODAY | NOVEMBER 2021

Photos by Chad Calcote


photos by Chad Calcote

by Steven Ward One of Mississippi’s biggest annual events, Cruisin’ the Coast 2021 celebrated 25 years in October. From Oct. 3 to Oct. 10, cars from all over the country were shown off on the Mississippi Gulf Coast during an event known regionally as, “America’s Largest Block Party.” Car models from 1989 and older were eligible to participate. Woody Bailey, the event’s executive director, told The Sun Herald that the final tally this year was 9,496 registered cars from 45 states and Canada. That number broke the previous record of 8,444 vehicles from 44 states in 2019, Bailey said.

Today in Mississippi spent a couple of days at this year’s Cruisin’ the Coast to capture the sights for readers who might want to check out the event in 2022, which is slated for Oct. 2 to Oct. 9.

NOVEMBER 2021 | TODAY 19


There were 1,771 first time cruisers this year — Craig Grisoli, registration director of the event

20 TODAY | NOVEMBER 2021

Photo by Justin Hardiman


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Larry Whigham: Hattiesburg High School head football coach Willie Coats felt sorry for this wormy, 110-pound 10th grader named Larry Whigham back in 1987. Whigham had just broken his collarbone for the eighth time and asked his coach if he would let him hang around the team. “I was afraid I might get in trouble, so I asked, and coach let me manage,” said Whigham. Two years later, he came back for his senior season at 165 pounds and would become a starter at defensive end. Whigham’s final high school season was rewarding, as he and his teammates would make it to the 1989 state championship game before falling to West Point. Some might think with 10 collarbone football injuries over the years that Whigham might want to end his football career on a high note and be satisfied. Whigham had other plans. Coats worked it out for Whigham to attend a tryout at Pearl River Junior College, and the Wildcats signed him. History repeated itself for Whigham as he broke his collarbone in the first scrimmage and missed yet another football season. Even though he was injured, Whigham continued to work to get back onto the field. The next August, he reported to fall practice at 6 feet 2 inches tall, 205 pounds. It turned out that Whigham was trying to impress the new Wildcat coach, who was, who else, but Willie Coats. Coats moved Whigham to the defensive secondary, and Whigham’s football playing career blossomed overnight. During his final season at Pearl River, he intercepted five passes and was selected to play in the Mississippi Junior College AllStar game. Whigham eventually signed with Northeast Louisiana after the All-Star game. “They were a Top 10 team in Division 1-AA and going to the playoffs every year. So, I thought it was the best landing place for me,” said Whigham. His junior year he was a reserve safety, but his senior year he started at cornerback for the Warhawks. “I made the rounds in the college allstar games after my senior year. I was the only person to play in three all-star games that season. I took part in the Blue-Gray 22 TODAY | NOVEMBER 2021

from Hattiesburg to the NFL

game, East-West Shrine game, and Hula Bowl and also was invited to the NFL Combine.” The story continued for Whigham as Seattle selected him in the fourth round with the 110th pick in the 1994 draft, but the Seahawks cut him after two games. The next call came two weeks later from New England. He made his name as an elite special teams player with the Patriots for seven seasons, and in 1996, his peers named him the AFC Special Teams Player of the Year. His NFL highlights included playing in the 1997 Super Bowl against Green Bay and making the Pro Bowl in both the AFC and NFC. A regular season highlight occurred when he picked off two Dan Marino passes in a game, one for a score. Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe had Marino sign the touchdown ball and presented it to Whigham. Whigham also intercepted Marino in another regular season game. The most special highlight of his New England years was in the 1997 AFC Championship Game when he tackled Jacksonville punter Brian Barker on his own four-yard line, which resulted in a Patriots touchdown. “That was the loudest crowd noise that I think I ever heard,” said Whigham. After seven years in New England, he played his final two years with the Chicago Bears. Whigham has been inducted into the Mississippi Community College Sports Hall of Fame and also the Pearl River Hall of Fame. Today he is a businessman, living in Houston, Texas with his wife and four children.

by Dale McKee Dale McKee is a Waynesboro native who has been writing sports in Mississippi since 1973. He is a member of Dixie Electric. Contact him at ddmckee18@yahoo.com. 103⁄8 101⁄2 103⁄4

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Molasses gingerbread, pear and pecan Dutch Baby, and easy potato soup with all the fixings

Mola es Gingerbread

Makes one 10-inch ring loaf

Keep the pumpkin spice for this and that. For me, the flavors I crave as soon as there is a dip in the temperature and the fire pit is ablaze are spicy ginger and the old-fashioned sweetness of molasses. This recipe has been passed down for generations in my family. Adding boiling water helps distribute the molasses throughout the batter and gives the leavening agents, baking powder, and baking soda, a head start rising. Butter and oil keep the gingerbread incredibly moist. I find this ring loaf to be even better the next day, making it a perfect “make ahead” when expecting visitors. INGREDIENTS ½ (1 stick) salted butter, melted, and cooled ¼ cup vegetable oil ¾ cup molasses ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar 2 large eggs 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking soda ½ teaspoon baking powder 1 tablespoon ground ginger 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground cloves ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 1 cup boiling water 24 TODAY | NOVEMBER 2021

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10-inch tube pan with nonstick spray. In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, oil, molasses, brown sugar, and eggs. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir well to combine. Pour the boiling water into the batter and stir very well. Pour batter into the prepared tube pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until the top springs back lightly when touched or a cake tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.


Easy Potato Soup with all the fixings

Serves 4 to 6

Crisp bacon pieces, sharp cheddar cheese, snips of fresh chives, dollops of sour cream, and all of the classic loaded potato toppings are super on top of this easy to put together soup. Everything can be prepped ahead of company’s arrival, and the casual meal leaves the host with plenty of time for visiting. INGREDIENTS 3 tablespoons salted butter 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion 1/4 cup shredded carrots 1/4 cup chopped celery 4 cups chicken stock 3 Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 -inch pieces 1 bay leaf 1 1/2 cups half and half or heavy cream Salt and ground black pepper, to taste Optional toppings

Pear and Pecan Dutch Baby A Dutch Baby is a poofy pancake made in a hot cast iron skillet that has crispy brown edges and a custard like center. It puffs in the oven while baking like a popover and settles, leaving a perfect indentation to fill with sautéed pears and pecans that have been sweetened with maple syrup. Just mix the batter with a blender, pour into a hot skillet, bake for a bit, and there you go with a stunning breakfast with little effort. Much easier than flipping a bunch of flapjacks. I like to serve some little smoky sausages alongside my Dutch Baby.

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Do not brown. Add the stock, potatoes, carrots, celery, and bay leaf. Season with a little salt and pepper. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until potatoes begin to fall apart. Using a potato masher, press the potatoes to make a slightly chunky soup. Stir thoroughly and add the half and half. Simmer for 15 minutes over low and stirring often. Serve with your favorite baked potato toppings.

INGREDIENTS 2 large eggs 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup milk 2 tablespoons sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the topping: 1 tablespoon butter 1 pear thinly sliced 2 tablespoons chopped toasted pecans Dash of ground cinnamon 2/3 cup maple syrup Powdered sugar for dusting If desired

Place the eggs in a blender container or a 4-cup glass measuring cup if using a stick emersion blender. Blend to combine. Add the flour, milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Blend making sure the flour is fully incorporated. Let the batter sit while heating the skillet and oven. Place oven rack in middle position in the oven making sure there is plenty of room above it to rise. I usually just remove the top rack. Place a 9-inch cast iron skillet in the oven. While the batter is resting, heat oven to 425 degrees.

Martha Hall Foose, the author of “Screen Doors & Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales of a Southern Cook,” won the James Beard Award for American Cooking. Her latest collaboration is “A Good Meal is Hard to Find: Storied Recipes from the Deep South” with Amy C. Evans. Martha makes her home in the Mississippi Delta with her husband and son. She is a member of Yazoo Valley Electric Power Association.

Once the oven and skillet have heated, remove the skillet to the stove top and add the butter. Make sure the skillet gets a nice coat of the butter. Pour the batter into the hot buttered skillet and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Prepare the topping as the pancake bakes. In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat, add the pears, and cook until tender. Add the pecans, cinnamon, and syrup. Cook until warmed through. Pour into center of pancake when it comes out of the oven. NOVEMBER 2021 | TODAY 25


mississippi seen

mississippi is...

events

mississippi marketplace The 67th Pre-Thanksgiving Gospel Sing Concert. Nov. 20. South Mendenhall. Featuring The Down on the menu outdoors today Events open to the public will be East Boys, Terry Joe Terrell, Tim Frith and the Gospel Echoes, and The Revelations. New Life Fellowship. published free ofaround charge as space the allows. ‘sip 2167 Highway 49. Details: 601-906-0677. scene picture this Christmas in Columbia. Submit details at least two months prior Nov. 20-Jan. 1. Columbia. Outdoor ice-skating rink my opinion co-op involvement to the event date. Submissions must opens Nov. 20. Tickets $15. Christmas lights will shine include a phone number with area code

Nov. 27 after dark. Rides and booths open from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Lightshows and music will continue daily through the season at the top of each evening hour. Parade of Lights on Dec. 4 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Will feature dozens of decorated floats. Uplifting live music for the Light Your World event on Dec. 12 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. On Dec. 31, there will be live music and fireworks for New Year’s Eve. The festivities begin at 5 p.m. and go until midnight. Downtown Columbia. Details: www.experiencecolumbiams.com.

southern gardening for publication. Email to news@ecm.

coop. Events are subject to change or cancelation due to COVID-19. Please confirm details before traveling.

Whistlestop Weekend. Nov. 5-6. Meridian. Formerly known as the Railfest, Soule Live Steam, and The Carousel Organ Association of America’s Fall Rally. Railroad memorabilia, live steam engines, classic cars, model trains, steam musical organs, blacksmithing, antique machine shop, broom making, and antique print shop operation. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Details: 601286-7738. The Annual Holiday Missions Marketplace. Nov. 6. Puckett. Sponsored by UMW of the Puckett United Methodist Church, 6412 Highway 18 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. A rummage sale and vendors will be outside. Come inside and enjoy a homemade soup lunch, a bargain at $5 a bowl. Also shop for the holidays, and holiday casseroles and desserts will be for sale or to order ready for Thanksgiving/Christmas. Past items included: arts and crafts, woodwork/yard art, homemade goods, jewelry, purses, holiday gifts, and more. Proceeds go to help the Center Ridge Outpost, a camp for children with autism. Raffle tickets will be sold for a community basket to support our local mission, “Friends in Need.” Details: 601-214-7834. The 25th Annual Vancleave Arts and Crafts Fair and Book Sale. Nov. 20. Vancleave. More than 50 arts and craft vendors will be present with many great hand-crafted items for Christmas gift giving. Inside the library, the year’s biggest book sale will be happening. All proceeds will go toward the Friends of the Vancleave Library’s projects and programs. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Vancleave Public Library. 12604 Highway 57 in Vancleave, Jackson County. Details: 228-8264143. JGRLS.org.

grin ‘n’ bare it

Stringer Alpaca Festival. Nov. 20. Stringer. Feed the alpacas and learn how their hair is spun into yarn. Arts, crafts, food vendors available. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 383 County Road 155. Details: 716-863-4366. Trees of Christmas at Merrehope. Nov. 21-Dec. 30. Meridian. Two historic homes elaborately decorated including more than 40 trees and festive exhibits. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on four Sundays — Nov. 21, 28 and Dec. 5 and 12. 905 MLK Drive. Details: 601-483-8439. Christmas Lights at Landrum’s Homestead. Dec. 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18. Laurel. Take a Christmas walking tour of the past with thousands of Christmas lights. There will be Christmas music, Photos with Santa and a tour of the working homestead with more than 85 buildings. Hot chocolate, a marshmallow roast, funnel cakes and the open Smokehouse will be available. Tickets are $10. Children 3 and under are free. 1356 Highway 15 South. Details: 601-649-2546. Landrums.com The Life of Christ. Dec. 3. Monticello. Drive through presentation features volunteers from local churches depicting scenes from the life of Christ from birth to resurrection. A CD with music and scripture accompanies each scene. Atwood Water Park. 1362 E. Broad St. 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Details: Email Kelsey Wells at wellskelsey2@gmail.com Lakeside Treasures. Dec. 4. Columbus. Arts and crafts bazaar presented by The Friends of Lake Lowndes. 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lake Lowndes State Park. 3319 Lake Lowndes Road. Details: 205-399-1248 or 662-549-0190.

n Use your generator only outdoors, away from open windows, vents and doors. Do not use it in an attached garage. n Never plug your generator directly into your home outlet. Connecting a generator to your home’s wiring requires the professional installation of a power transfer switch. n Read and heed the manufacturer’s instructions and safety warnings.

THINK SAFETY!

26 TODAY | NOVEMBER 2021


Eudora Welty’s home in Jackson, MS

Little by little, we are creeping out from under COVID-19. Families are planning holiday gatherings again. But not like last year when at Thanksgiving and Christmas, Jo and I just sat and looked at each other and the television. We had way too much turkey for just two people. We are even getting to produce new “Mississippi Roads” shows again. Mississippi Public Broadcasting was obligated to adhere to all of the (ever-changing) CDC guidelines. So, to minimize the liability of inadvertently spreading COVID-19, the “Roads” van stayed in the parking lot for over a year. But the vaccine has given us a bit of freedom. So, we shot our newest “Roads” show on location just a few days ago. Our first outing back into the world was at the Eudora Welty House and Garden in Jackson. Since a good deal of what I do requires writing, I always hope to absorb “something” every time I visit where a writer lived. I even sat at Mark Twain’s desk in Virginia City, Nevada where he worked at a newspaper. I don’t know that I’ve ever absorbed very much. I did get a little dusty at Twain’s desk. In Eudora Welty’s house there is a floor to ceiling bookcase filled with books written by people she personally knew. I asked Jessica, our congenial hostess, if Ms. Welty knew William Faulkner. She told me they were well acquainted. Mississippi author Willie Morris told me one time that he was on live television and went on and on for 10 or 15 minutes about meeting Faulkner. Willie was invited into his living room and sat down and visited with the gentleman. Then Willie laughed and turned on that impish look he had when he was up to something and told me he had NEVER met Faulkner. He sat in Faulkner’s driveway one night while two of his buddies dared to go knock

on the door. They got invited in. Willie said he was too scared to approach the literary legend. Willie said he had simply misunderstood the host’s question and suddenly realized the way he answered implied that he had actually met Faulkner. So instead of excusing himself and correcting the answer, he just went on to tell the story the way he would have liked for it to have happened. I did get a tip from Willie about writing stories. He told me to always carry around a few blank note cards. And when something came to mind, jot it down. Anything. What someone said. Something funny that happened back in school. Anything. Then, I’d have some story starters. I did that. But when I went looking for my cards, I couldn’t find them. My only note card story will have to be about how I lost that stack of note cards. Well, we’re heading into winter. If it gets as cold as it did last year, I will have plenty of time to look for those lost cards. And I sure hope “Mississippi Roads” can find some warm, indoors roadside stops in which we can do stories for the next few months. Happy Thanksgiving!

by Walt Grayson Walt Grayson is the host of “Mississippi Roads” on Mississippi Public Broadcasting television and the author of two “Looking Around Mississippi” books and “Oh! That Reminds Me: More Mississippi Homegrown Stories.” Walt is also a reporter and 4 p.m. news anchor at WJTV in Jackson. He lives in Brandon and is a Central Electric member. Contact him at walt@waltgrayson.com.

NOVEMBER 2021 | TODAY 27


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