“Someday all you may have left . . . are memories that make you smile.”
—Andrea Eger, “Godfather a precious memory for a smile,”
Tulsa World, June 15, 2009
This post and the two or three to follow it should bring the total number of visits to my blog (with more than one hundred posts) to fifty thousand and beyond.
As such I hope to mark these milestones with primarily new quotes, photos, and links to other sites and videos that I have accumulated since I published the first ninety-nine posts. Interspersed are some others that I featured in earlier posts on these subjects.
I must give credit to my longtime friend and McGehee High School classmate from the Class of 1956, Pat Scavo (known to us then as Patsy McDermott) who has provided me much of the information and many of the photos and sources in the posts in this series.
As indicated by the title, I begin this particular post with quotes, photos, and links and videos about our hometown of McGehee, Arkansas, the Mississippi River, and the Arkansas Delta and cotton production.
As always, my insertions in the quotes are set in brackets, and my comments after the quotes are set in parentheses. My emphases in the quotes are set in italics.
The American Queen on the Mississippi River which passes near my hometown of McGehee, Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo)
“‘This trip [a youth church mission trip from Colorado to McGehee, Arkansas] is really a cross-cultural experience for our students. There’s so much we can learn from each other. The hospitality here, you just cannot describe it in words.’
“The students agree that they have witnessed McGehee’s ‘southern hospitality.’
“‘So many people have opened their doors,’ said 17-year-old Jon Comisky. ‘We’ll take back the hospitality with us. My mom’s from the south, but it’s nice to kind of see it. We’ll bring back home the relationships we’ve built here.’
“‘This is my first mission trip,’ said 16-year-old Meredith Miller. ‘It’s been really awesome and this community has been so welcoming. We were sitting at the Ritz [Cafe] the other day just watching people wave at one another at the stop sign. We don’t really see that at home. We don’t take this hospitality for granted.’
“Some of their experiences this week will include eating barbecue on the Mississippi River, fishing at Lake Chicot State Park, local boat tours, shooting skeet, and riding tractors.
The Mississippi River at Potlatch Bend near McGehee, Arkansas, the exact spot where Mari and I once caught a five-gallon bucket full of crawdads before we were married (to magnify, click on the photo; to view a musical video made at this spot, click on the link to “You Are the River” in the sources section at the end of this post.)
“The group is also hosting a Vacation Bible School at First Presbyterian Church of McGehee and will participate in a gospel sing-in sponsored by the Delta Minister’s Fellowship Thursday night at the church. The community is invited to the gospel sing-in at 6:00 p.m. Thursday with a potluck meal to follow.”
—Rachel Denton Freeze,
“Community opens doors
to Colorado volunteers,”
McGehee Dermott Times-News, July 18, 2012
To view a slideshow of photos of McGehee, Arkansas, from the past, and the 1965 graduating class of McGehee High School, prepared and set to music by McGehee native David Kersh, click here.
The Mississippi River
“Muddy Mississippi River water leaves a stain on the soul that is virtually impossible to get out, assuming any fool would try. Heaven better look a lot like home or I’m comin’ back to haunt the Delta Queen.”
The Delta Queen awaiting return to the Mississippi River (to magnify, click on the photo)
To view a Web site about the return of the Delta Queen to the Mississippi River, click here.
The Delta Queen (to magnify, click on the photo)
“The Mississippi River is the nation’s primary transportation channel for oil, coal, sand, gravel, steel, and agricultural products, serving as a lifeline to the world. . . . . The Mississippi River is one of the world’s largest river systems in size, habitat diversity, and biological productivity. . . .
“Agriculture has been the predominant use for land in the Mississippi basin for nearly 200 years. The agricultural products and the major agribusiness industry that has developed in the basin produces 92% of the nation’s agricultural exports, 78% of the world’s exports in feed grains and soybeans, and most of the livestock and hogs produced nationally. Sixty percent of all grain exported from the United States is shipped on the Mississippi River through the Port of New Orleans and the Port of South Louisiana.
A Mississippi River towboat pushing barges downstream (to magnify, click on the photo)
“Local farmers have access to a public port on the Mississippi River—the Chicot-Desha Metropolitan Port at Yellow Bend. . . . This week marks the port’s 20th anniversary. . . .
“River transport has a number of advantages over other methods. . . .
“For example, it would take 60 semi-trucks or 15 railcars to equal the amount of grain one barge can carry. A single towboat can transport up to 30 barges at one time down the river. In reality, it would take 1,800 eighteen-wheeler trucks or 450 railcars to transport the same amount of grain to New Orleans. . . .
“Kenny Gober, . . . on the board of directors for the port, says he sees a bright future.
“‘For me, I would like the people of Arkansas to realize that they have the greatest interstate highway system in the world running down the east side of their state.’”
—Jessica Whitaker, “Local port offers vital service to farmers,”
The [McGehee-Dermott, Arkansas] Times-News,
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Sunset on the Mississippi River near McGehee, Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo)
To view a Web site of Gayle Harper’s trip down the Mississippi River from its source to the Gulf of Mexico, especially the posts on Arkansas City and Lake Village, Arkansas, click here and then click here.
To view an update/book on Gayle Harper’s 90-day trip down the Mississippi River, go to www.gayleharper.com. To read her entry on cotton production in the Missouri Bootheel, “where the Mid-West ends and the South begins,” see the Delta-Cotton section below.
The American Queen on the Mississippi River in a side view (to magnify, click on the photo)
To view a video of Paul Robeson singing “Old Man River” from the musical Showboat, click here.
To read a review of a book on the Mississippi River titled Old Man River: The Mississippi River in North American History by Paul Schneider, as recommended in Parade magazine, the Sunday supplement, click here.
To read about a book titled “The Sultana Tragedy: America’s Greatest Maritime Disaster” published in 1992 by Pelican Publishing Company in New Orleans and copyedited by Jimmy Peacock, click here.
The Kate Adams Mississippi riverboat (to magnify, click on the photo)
To read an article in Arkansas News titled “Kate Adams wears history well” by columnist Joe Mosby posted on September 7, 2013, click here.
To read an article in Oxford American titled “Arterial America: Dispatch from the Mississippi River” by John Cline, click here.
To read an interview with Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly, authors of The Tilted World about the historic 1927 Mississippi River Flood, click here. (Warning: reader discretion advised due to some coarse language.)
To read Joe Dempsey’s recent blog post about a photographic trip down the Arkansas and Mississippi river levees from Pine Bluff to Arkansas City, click here.
“I have a love-hate relationship with the Delta;
I hate I love it so.”
—Danny Lynchard, a native of Cleveland, MS
“I have loved my time with old friends, new friends, and mostly the Mississippi Delta, the nearest thing we have to a foreign country.”
–Jane Robbins Kerr, quoted in
“American South Red and Blue,”
The Southern Register, Summer 2013
“Fields are deathly silent,
Where the cotton used to grow.
I’m a stranger in a land
That I used to know.
In a land, a land I’ve not forgotten,
–”Far Away” from the movie All the Pretty Horses
(To hear this plaintive song sung by Marty Stuart, click here.)
In regard to the once abundant cotton fields of the Arkansas Delta, many of which are now “deathly silent,” my longtime friend and classmate Pat Scavo (Patsy Mc) recently sent me email reports after her trip to OWLFEST in our hometown of McGehee:
“I will tell you this . . . not much cotton to look at . . . almost everyone has switched to corn and soybeans. I was really surprised that there were hardly any cotton fields left . . . And another part of the equation is that all the gins are going out of business because of the lack of production, and that makes the decision not to plant cotton become easier to make. When we stopped at the Pickens [Plantation], it was the same thing. That was very disappointing. However, the food [at the Pickens Restaurant in the former plantation commissary] was good!”
Note: In an email dated October 14, Pat quoted Taylor Prewitt, who owns a sizeable acreage in SEARK: “The Pickens cotton must have been picked and [the] fields cleared. Besides ours, I think the Pickens cotton may have been the only cotton from PB [Pine Bluff] to McGehee [about sixty miles].”
To read more about the Pickens Plantation, the largest in our home county, click here. For more information about the Pickens Restaurant and Commissary (plantation store), click here.
Finally, Patsy Mc noted sadly: “Soon the only cotton left ‘in the fields down home’ will be at the Lakeport Plantation.”
Cotton fields ready for harvest at the Lakeport Plantation in the Arkansas Delta with the Mississippi River bridge in the background (to magnify, click on the photo)
A close-up view of the Lakeport Plantation and its luxurious cotton fields (to magnify, click on the photo)
To view a six-minute video titled “Balancing Act” about the Arkansas Delta, including the phrase, “a love-hate relationship,” click here and then click on the video icon on the top right of the opening page:
To view a video on the making of a movie about the Delta, click here.
Cotton chopper in Marianna, Arkansas, in the Delta of the past (to magnify, click on the photo)
Palmer’s Folly, a restored Delta plantation home near Holly Grove, Arkansas, where Mari and I started out teaching when we got married in 1962 (to magnify, click on the photo)
Tragedy of the burning down of the restored Palmer’s Folly, a Delta plantation home near Holly Grove, Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo)
The restored Burris House (also called the Baby Doll House) and fields of cotton in bloom near Benoit, MS (across the Mississippi River from McGehee, AR), where the 1950s movie Baby Doll was filmed (to magnify, click on the photo)
Close-up view of the recently restored Burris (Baby Doll) House, now being called the Hollywood Plantation, near Benoit, Mississippi (to magnify, click on the photo)
To read about a book about the rigors of pioneer life in the Arkansas and Mississippi Deltas titled Trials of the Earth: The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton, click here.
Several years ago someone gave my teacher-wife Mari some seeds to produce colored cotton to show her students, which she does each year by planting the seeds in our backyard in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. To read more about colored cotton, click here. For photos of different colors of cotton, search for Images of Colored Cotton.
Part of Mari’s crop of brown cotton so far this fall (to magnify, click on photo)
To visit Gayle Harper’s Web site titled “A Little Cotton Pickin’ Lesson: Roadtripping with a Raindrop Lesson #11” featuring cotton production in in the Missouri Bootheel “where the Mid-west becomes the South.” click here.
To view a Web site featuring handmade Mississippi jewelry and a cotton boll necklace that I purchased for Mari on her recent birthday, click here.
To view a video of Star Trek actor George Takei (Mr. Sulu) talking about his family’s internment in a WWII Japanese-American Relocation Camp in the Delta near McGehee, Arkansas, click here.
World War II Japanese-American internment camp cemetery in the Delta near McGehee, Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo)
To read an earlier post about the opening of the WWII Japanese-American Internment Camps Museum in McGehee, Arkansas, click here:
To read a review of a book titled Camp Nine about the Rohwer Japanese-American Internment Camp near McGehee, Arkansas, with many quotes and photos of the Arkansas Delta, click here.
To read a book titled The Red Kimono about the same camp from the perspective of one of the Japanese families interned there, click here:
Source of Photos and Links
The photos of the American Queen on the Mississippi River; Potlatch Bend on the Mississippi; and the sunset on the Mississippi were provided by Pat Scavo. To view the musical video titled “You Are the River” click on the Web site below:
The photo of the Mississippi River towboat pushing barges downstream was taken from the book The Mississippi River by Ann McCarthy.
The first photo of the Delta Queen and the article about its return to the Mississippi River was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from this Web site:
The second photo of the Delta Queen was also provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from the Stewart Files at this Web site:
The article about Gayle Harper’s trip down the Mississippi River was provided by Pat Scavo and taken from this Web site:
The information about the book “Old Man River: The Mississippi River in North American History” by Paul Schneider was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from this Web site: http://www.amazon.com/Old-Man-River-Mississippi-American/dp/080509136X
The information about the book “The Sultana Tragedy: America’s Greatest Maritime Disaster” was taken from this Web site:
The information about the Arkansas News article titled “Kate Adams wears history well” by columnist Joe Mosby was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from this Web site:
The information about the article in Oxford American titled “Arterial America: Dispatch from the Mississippi River” by John Cline was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from this Web site:
The interview with Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly, authors of The Tilted World about the 1927 Mississippi River Flood was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from this Web site:
The update and book about Gayle Harper’s 90-day trip down the Mississippi River was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from this Web site: www.gayleharper.com
The photos of Lakeport Plantation and its cotton fields were provided by Pat Scavo and were taken from the following Web sites:
http://lakeport.astate.edu/ and https://scontent-b-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/994951_10151698243249142_146830523_n.jpg
The photo of the cotton chopper in Marianna, Arkansas, was provided by Pat Scavo. It was obviously taken from a book titled A Photographic Legacy by I. Wilmer Counts Jr. published in 1979 in Bloomington, Indiana, and was captioned “Carl Mydans, June, 1936 Storefront in downtown Marianna.”
The two photos of Palmer’s Folly plantation home near Holly Grove, Arkansas; the photo of the Burris (Baby Doll) House and cotton fields in bloom near Benoit, Mississippi; and the WWII Japanese-American internment camp cemetery near McGehee, Arkansas; were all provided by Pat Scavo. For more information about the Burris (Baby Doll) House, now called the Hollywood Plantation, visit its Web site at: http://www.hollywoodplantation.com/index.html.
The information about the book Trials of the Earth: The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from this Web site:
The article titled “A Little Cotton Pickin’ Lesson: Roadtripping with a Raindrop Lesson #11” was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from this Web site:
The information about the Web site with the cotton boll necklace and other handmade Mississippi/cotton jewelry was provided by Pat Scavo and was taken from this Web site: http://www.jewelrybyrandy.com/