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Archive for March, 2015

“Memory is the golden bridge
That keeps our hearts in touch
With all the long-past yesterdays
And things we loved so much.”
—Georgia B. Adams,
Quoted in book titled Memories of Time Past 

In my previous post titled “Delta Addenda, Etc., Part II” I interjected two subjects relating to the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in the South and Celtic “thin places,” especially my own Southeast Arkansas “thin/then places,” still special and sacred to me from my long ago youth.

In the preceding post titled “Delta Addenda, Etc., Part I” I examined several items about the Mississippi River Delta and related topics such as its disappearing plantation and cotton culture and recent winter storms that covered its ubiquitous cypress trees in a rare coating of ice and snow.

In this third post in that series I return to that first theme of items relating to the Mississippi River Delta, but including some items about the South in general.

First are three “addenda to the addenda” that I received from Joe Dempsey, Gayle Harper, and Pat Scavo after publishing Part I of the Delta Addenda post. They have to do with Joe’s visit to modern-day Lake Dick, featured in the first part, an update on Gayle’s book about her journey down the Mississippi River, and a new Southern Web site sent to me by Pat titled “The Bitter Southerner.”

These are followed by other Southern topics such as a map from Paul Talmadge of the eleven distinctive regions of the United States and a review from Pat of the sequel to the famed Southern novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

Next, there is a link to a must-see site sent to me by my cousin Kay Barrett Bell titled “10 Old School Southern Rules to Abide By in the Present.” On that subject, on March 24, Pat Scavo sent me a link to the Natchez, Mississippi, Spring Pilgrimage with many photos of Southern Belles, Beaux, and mansions.

Finally, I offer an addenda and conclusion on the subject and primary theme of the entire post and blog about the importance of “gathering up the fragments of our lives so that nothing may be lost.”

This post is long but I hope you will at least scroll down through it and read the parts that interest you. (Note: To magnify the photos, simply click on each one as you view it.)

 Addendum Post on Lake Dick, Arkansas, Project
and Photographic Trip Up the Mississippi Delta

“Woosht Ida knowed yu wuz gon discus Lake Dick.”
—Joe Dempsey’s response to my March 5 post
titled “Delta Addenda, Etc., Part I”

“We discover a place where you can still get
an RC Cola and a Moon Pie,
and we have a shot of the Ground Zero Blues Club
at Clarksdale, Mississippi.”

—Joe Dempsey, “The Lake Dick Project,”
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,
September 27, 2009

As you can see by the title and quotes above, after publishing the current post titled “Delta Addenda, Etc., Part I,” I received a very brief email response to it from Joe Dempsey, my longtime friend, Ouachita Baptist College classmate, and designer of this blog.

To that brief response Joe added a link to his Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind post published on September 27, 2009. That post begins with his visit to the Depression-era Lake Dick cooperative farm project site featured in my post. He then continues his narrative with a photographic journey from Lake Village, Arkansas, twenty-five miles below our hometown of McGehee, Arkansas. From there he crosses the Mississippi River and proceeds up the other side of the “Father of Waters” through the heart of the Mississippi Delta.

Lake Dick water tower

Lake Dick Water Tower from Joe Dempsey’s Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind on September 27, 2009

As I promised Joe, here is that link to a fascinating look not only at the present-day state of the Lake Dick area but at other sites in both the Arkansas and Mississippi Deltas.

RC and Moon Pie from Joe Dempsey's original Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind, September 27, 2009

Joe’s original caption from September 27, 2009: “RC Cola and a Moon Pie. Can be a breakfast, lunch or dinner substitute or a convenient snack when the spirit moves one in that direction.”

To follow Joe on this enjoyable and enlightening “sentimental journey” into both the long ago past and the near past, click on the title of the post, “The Lake Dick Project/The Towering Past.”

Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi

Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi, across the River from Helena, Arkansas

Update on Book about
Trip down the Mississippi River

“I’ve just been notified that Roadtrip with a Raindrop: 90 Days Along the Mississippi is a FINALIST in the competition for Foreword Review’s INDIEFAB ‘Book of the Year’ Award!”
—Author Gayle Harper in March 18 email announcement
about her upcoming book award

As noted in the quote above, Gayle Harper’s book about her voyage down the Mississippi River has been nominated as a finalist in a “Book of the Year Award.” I reviewed this book and provided more information about it and Gayle in an earlier post titled “You Might Be from the Country, If . . . Part II.” To read that post, click on the title.

Print

According to Gayle:

“The winners will be announced in June at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference to be held in San Francisco. Keep your fingers crossed, my friends . . . but, whatever happens, I am humbled and honored to have it included as a Finalist!”

Gayle Harper at book signing

Gayle Harper at book signing of Roadtrip with a Raindrop

Finally, after recommending that the reader visit the Author Facebook Page, Gayle concludes with this appeal:

“AND, while you’re on the website, if you haven’t seen the new Book Trailer yet—it’s a quick, fun, lively sampling of the spirit of Roadtrip With A Raindrop. It’s also available on You Tube. Please do share it with anyone you like!”

Roundtrip with a raindrop

To visit Gayle’s Web site, click here.

Bitter Southerner Web Site

“I am busy reading about the ‘best’ gas station food
in the Delta starting with some I know
and some I do not know!”
—Pat Scavo sharing new Southern Web site
in email dated March 5, 2015

On March 5, my 1956 McGehee High School classmate Patsy McDermott (now Pat Scavo of Hot Springs, Arkansas) sent me a link to a new Southern Web site her husband Phil had discovered titled “The Bitter Southerner.”

Later that same day Patsy Mc wrote that she was busy reading an entry on that site titled “My Southern Education” and expressed the hope that I would soon take time to read it—and indeed everything on the site. It can be reached by clicking on the title above.

Gone With the Wind as featured on the Web site "The Bitter Southerner"

Gone With the Wind photo as featured on the Web site “The Bitter Southerner”

Let me know what you think!

Note: Speaking of the Mississippi side of the Delta, on March 12 Pat sent me the following photo of the cotton gin at Dahomey Plantation from about 1900. To learn more about Dahomey Plantation, which is now up for sale for $20 million, click here or Google Dahomey Plantation.

Dahomey Plantation cotton gin in about 1900

Dahomey Plantation cotton gin in about 1900

“Where Do You Live?”

“Colin Woodard, a reporter at the Portland Press Herald and author of several books, says North America can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government.”
—Reid Wilson, “Which of the American nations do you live in?”

On January 31, 2015, Paul Talmadge sent me an interesting email tiled titled “Where Do You Live?”

As shown below, that email included a link to a site which includes a map of the United States divided into eleven distinct regions. (To view the regions more clearly, click on the map.)

Where do we live

You will note that while Northeastern Oklahoma where I have lived for the past thirty-eight years is part of the Greater Appalachia region, Southeast Arkansas where I was born and raised is in the Deep South region. This important distinction serves as the basis of my entire blog about “My Oklahomian Exile from The Holy Land” which includes all aspects of lifestyle, culture, and language.

To Kill a Mockingbird

“. . . even now the book [To Kill a Mockingbird]
sells 1 million copies a year . . .”
— Sam Tanenhaus, Tulsa World, February 22, 2015

On February 3 Pat sent me an email titled “Something to Look Forward To” with a link to an online report about the publication of the second novel by Harper Lee, the author of the best-selling Southern novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

In the report, written by Maddie Drum of Huffington Post, the reporter had this to say about the event:

“Harper Lee, the author of the beloved novel To Kill a Mockingbird, will publish a second book this summer. Go Set a Watchman was completed in the 1950s, but set aside by the writer, who went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for the only novel she ever published.”

To read the actual report, click here.

To Kill a Mockingbird

A second article titled “Why ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ remains relevant today” by Sam Tanenhaus appeared on the Opinion Page of the Tulsa World on February 22, 2015. According to the writer:

“. . .  even now . . . the book sells 1 million copies a year—holding its own against each season’s biggest releases and yielding its author an annual royalty of about $1.7 million. It’s been translated into 40 languages. One British survey ranked [it] 65th among all-time bestsellers.”

10 Old School Southern Rules

“There are rules upon rules in the South. Some spoken and some unspoken. It can be hard to keep up with all of them, and depending on where you live in the South . . . , you might adhere to some rules more than others. Here’s a list of some old school Southern rules you may not know or have forgotten.”
—Jenny Bradley, “10 Old School Southern Rules
to Abide by in the Present,”
Country Outfitter, July 1, 2014

Southern Belles and Beaux at the Natchez, MS, Spring Pilgrimage held on March 7 to April 7, 2015

Southern Belles and Beaux at the Natchez, MS, Spring Pilgrimage held from March 7 to April 7, 2015 (to magnify the photo, click on it, and then see the note and link to it below)

On March 3, 2015, my cousin Kay Barrett Bell, a native of Selma/McGehee, Arkansas, sent me an online link to an interesting site titled “10 Old School Southern Rules to Abide by in the Present.” (To read these rules, click on the title.)

Some of these tongue-in-cheek “rules” you may have seen or heard before, and some may even be considered outdated by some people’s loose standards of Southern etiquette. But they are worth a revisit, especially since the author of this blog post, an obvious Mississippi resident who comments on each rule, claims to be a fan of the Arkansas Razorbacks! Woooo pig, sooooeeey!

Would an (at least honorary) Arkie of the Covenant lie about such an important subject as good Southern manners?

Nevah, honey chile, jus’ nevah!

Now by-by, y’all . . . til’ nex’ time!

PS After I had composed this post on March 24 Pay Scavo sent me a link to the Natchez (MS) Spring Pilgrimage held from March 7 to April 7, 2015. To learn more about the pilgrimage, click here and see the link in the Sources section below.

Addenda and Conclusion

Your posts are the epitome of
southern scholarship among other things. . . .
Some of the greatest things ever written
have been written in exile. . . .
[Your] exile is the root of your genius!”
—Paul Talmadge in emails to Jimmy Peacock
on March 6 and 15

“Gathering up the fragments of the events in our lives helps us to put the proper closure to things that really matter to us. No matter what happens to us, big or small, miraculous or plain, may we remember to ‘gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’”
—Mark Bossuti-Jones, author of the daily entry for March 15
based on John 6:12 NRSV in the Episcopal devotional Forward Day By Day
www.forwardmovement.org

Whether Paul Talmadge’s comments about my “southern scholarship” and “exile [as] the root of [my] genius” are true or not, the quote from Mark Bossuti-Jones from the Episcopal daily devotional Forward Day By Day on the importance of “gather[ing] up the fragments of the events in our lives” is certainly true!

Cover of the February/March/April issue of Forward Day By Day

Cover of the February/March/April issue of Forward Day By Day

In fact, that is precisely what I have been trying to do over the past thirty-eight years of my “Oklahomian exile,” and especially over the past four years since I began not only to “gather up the fragments of the events in my life” but also to preserve them in this blog “so that nothing may be lost.”

As a Chickasaw cultural historian says in an Oklahoma TV ad for his tribe and his work in restoring and preserving its heritage: “I am trying to preserve the past for the sake of the future.”

May you also begin (or continue) to “gather up the fragments of your own life” and find some way or place to preserve them for the sake of future generations “so that nothing may be lost.”

Sources

The photos of the Lake Dick water tower, the RC and Moon Pie, and the Ground Zero Blues Club were taken from Joe Dempsey’s Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind post for September 27, 2009, at: http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photo100119/photo111.html

The link to my earlier post titled “You Might Be from the Country, If . . . Part II” was taken from:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2014/12/02/you-might-be-from-the-country-if-part-ii/

The three photos of Gayle Harper, her book, and the Mississippi River were taken from her March 18 press release at: https://www.facebook.com/GayleHarper.MississippiRiver

The Facebook link to Gayle Harper’s book about her voyage down the Mississippi River was taken from:
https://www.facebook.com/GayleHarper.MississippiRiver

The link to Gayle Harper’s Web site was taken from:
http://gayleharper.com/

The photo titled “Gone With the Wind & My Southern Education” was taken from a link sent to me by Pat Scavo on March 5 from the Web site “The Bitter Southerner” at:
http://bittersoutherner.com/

The photo of the 1900 Dahomey Plantation cotton gin was sent to me on March 12 by Pat Scavo. More about Dahomey Plantation, which is up for sale, can be found at:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/deepfriedkudzu/67901764/

The photo of the map from the site titled “Which of the 11 American nations do you live in?” by Reid Wilson was sent to me by Paul Tamaldge on January 31, 2015, and was taken from:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2013/11/08/which-of-the-11-american-nations-do-you-live-in/?tid=trending_strip_3=

The report about the publication of Harper Lee’s second novel after To Kill a Mockingbird was sent to me by Pat Scavo and was taken from:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/03/harper-lee-novel_n_6603994.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

The photo of the cover of the first edition of the book To Kill a Mockingbird was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_Kill_a_Mockingbird

The Tulsa World Online article titled “Why ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ remains relevant today” was taken from the following link on February 22, 2015:
http://www.tulsaworld.com/opinion/sam-tanenhaus-why-to-kill-a-mockingbird-remains-relevant/article_9b3b389a-b081-5256-bf55-1b20d9beefc3.html

The “10 Old School Southern Rules to Abide By in the Present” was sent to me by my cousin Kay Barrett Bell on March 3, 2015, and taken from:
http://www.countryoutfitter.com/style/10-old-school-southern-rules-abide-present/

The photo of the Natchez, MS, Spring Pilgrimage was sent to me by Pat Scavo and taken from:
http://www.natchezpilgrimage.com/natchez-spring-pilgrimage.php

The quote about gathering up the fragments of our lives was written by Mark Bossuti-Jones, author of the daily entry for March 15 in the Episcopal devotional Forward Day By Day. Copyright 2015. Used by permission. www.forwardmovement.org

The photo of the cover of the Forward By Day was taken from: Forward Day By Day: February/March/April issue. Copyright 2015. Used by permission.   www.forwardmovement.org

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Introduction

“To an Irishman [a Southerner] th’ land he lives on is like his mother. . . . . There’s no gettin’ away from it, this love of th’ land. Not if there’s a drop of Irish [Southern] blood in ya.”
—Gerald O’Hara to Irish/Southern daughter Scarlett
in Gone With the Wind

“I live on a river. I have taken
hundreds of photographs of the water. . . .
I will never have my fill of photographing the water.
It reminds me of my thirst for wholeness and connection.”

—Mark Bozzuti-Jones, author of the daily entry for March 10
in the Episcopal daily devotional Forward Day by Day
www.forwardmovement.org

I had intended to publish a different “Delta Addenda, Etc., Part II” made up of accumulated items about the Delta, the South, and a few other non-related subjects.

However, I changed my schedule when I came across some items related to the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day. These items came in the form of an online article on the celebration of this Irish saint’s holiday in the South and another on Celtic “thin places.”

Of course, that term “thin places” means to me my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas, and the Mississippi River Delta of my youth and young adulthood. So I decided to compose a new “Delta Addenda, Etc., Part II” post on these subjects. The original “Part II” post will be edited to “Part III” and will be published in a couple of weeks.

Note: To magnify the photos in this post, simply click on each one as you view it.

Southern Saint Patrick’s Day Celebrations

“Dubbed the World’s Shortest Saint Patrick’s Day Parade,
the Hot Springs [Arkansas] bash spans
a spectacularly stunted
ninety-eight feet of Bridge Street.”
—CJ Lotz, “Saint Patrick’s Day, Southern-Style,”
Garden & Gun, February-March 2015

On March 6, Pat Scavo, my high school classmate known to us still as Patsy Mc, sent me a link to an online article about “five Southern locales [to] go green (in a big way) on the luckiest day of the year.” To read that piece, click on the title above.

Of course, the reason Patsy Mc sent that piece to me is twofold: 1) Because she lives in Hot Springs, Arkansas, one of the cities featured in the short article, and; 2) Because she knew I was going to feature a segment in this post about Celtic “thin places” in Arkansas, which includes Hot Springs, a unique Ouachita Mountain retreat I have loved since I first visited it as an adolescent Delta flatlander in the late 1940s and last visited for a fifty-year class reunion in 2010.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs, Arkansas, one of the five sites of Southern-style St. Patrick’s Day celebrations

(See my earlier post featuring some curiously related Hot Springs stories titled “The Three Unwise Men: An Arkansas Christmas Memory.”)

Celtic/Southern “Thin Places”
Between Heaven and Earth

“The phrases ‘thin veil’ or ‘thin place’ pointed to
God’s Immanence in the created world
—the holy right where we are, not far away. . . .
The presence of God is palpable in these places.”
—Ann Rose, author of the daily entry for February 3
in the Episcopal daily devotional Forward Day by Day
www.forwardmovement.org

 “I discovered the Celtic saints who wrote of God’s presence
throbbing in everything in creation. . . . God speaks to us through creation.”
—Ann Rose, author of the daily entry for February 26
in the Episcopal daily devotional Forward Day by Day
|www.forwardmovement.org

In two daily entries during the month of February in the Episcopal daily devotional Forward Day by Day quoted above, Ann Rose speaks of the Celtic tradition of “thin places.” By definition, these spiritual “thin places” are where there is the closest connection between heaven and earth.

These are special places where the presence of God abides most strongly, where He is experienced most vividly, and where He speaks most intimately.

As an “Arkie of the Covenant” (of mixed English, Irish, and Scotch-Irish ancestry), who has been living for almost forty years in exile from the Holy Land (my native state of Arkansas in general and my native Southeast Arkansas in particular), I have identified and sensed these special, personal “thin places” (which I also call “then places”) in my own life and have written about them throughout this blog.

It is only natural that I should do so, especially as the years of my life and my “exile” from these precious (and now previous) places of my childhood and youth have grown longer. It is also only natural that I should do so as my advancing age and failing health have increasingly kept me from making my “semi-annual pilgrimages to the Holy Land” in which these “thin/then places” of my past are located, though unfortunately many of them have already disappeared, and others are soon to follow.

Notice how many are churches (two Baptist and two Methodist), to which I have had a special personal relationship, and how many are of the inherent twin Irish/Southern elements of land and water.

Southeast Arkansas “Thin/Then Places”
That Renew My Spirit

“Therefore we do not lose heart.
Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

—2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV

Briefly, these personal “thin/then places” can be divided into two groups for which I have provided basically seven instances and photos, each with a scriptural reference to reflect their spiritual importance to me, especially as my physical existence becomes shorter and shorter.

First is my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas, including such places as:

  1. The farmhouse without electricity, telephone, or running water in which I was born in 1938;
My birthplace in Selma, Arkansas

“Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn.” (Isaiah 51:1 NIV)

  1. The two-room elementary school I attended as a boy;
Selma Elementary School

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29 NIV)

  1. The general store/post office I frequented as often as possible; 
Selma general store in 1980s

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 NIV)

  1. The Seven Devils Swamp from which God cast me out to become “an Exiled Arkie of the Covenant” but somehow, unlike Mary Magdalene, never saw fit to cast the Seven Devils out of me;
The Seven Devils Swamp near Selma, Arkansas

“[Jesus] appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.” (Mark 16:9 KJV)

  1. The Selma Baptist Church, which my maternal grandfather co-founded and pastored in my childhood years;
Selma Baptist Church

“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.” (Psalm 122:1 KJV)

  1. The Mt. Tabor Methodist Church and Cemetery, co-founded by my Georgia Peacock ancestors and where Mari and I will be buried alongside them;
Mt. Tabor Methodist Church

“I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18 KJV)

  1. The Selma Methodist Church, the first church I ever attended and the icon, the visual image that comes to my mind most frequently when I think of Selma, my beloved birthplace and childhood home.
Selma Methodist Church

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:16 NIV)

Second is the Southeast Arkansas Delta and our hometown of McGehee, including:

  1. The First Baptist Church of McGehee where I was converted in 1949 and married in 1962;
"What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Mark 10:9 KJV)

“What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mark 10:9 KJV)

  1. The McGehee Livestock Auction where I started out life as a cowboy and where my father died on May 25, 1954, when I was fifteen, thus ending my cowboy days;
McGehee Livestock Auction at time of Arthur Peacock's death

“For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” (Psalm 50:10 KJV)

  1. Bayou Bartholomew, “the longest bayou in the world,” which passes between Selma and McGehee;
Bayou Bartholomew

“Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south.” (Psalm 126:4 KJV)

  1. The numerous cypress sloughs that dot the table-flat Delta landscape; 
Arkansas Delta cypress slough

“He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul.” (Psalm 23:2 KJV)

  1. The Delta plantation houses like Lakeport Plantation and their luxurious fields of cotton;
Lakeport Plantation amid cotton fields

“Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” (John 4:35 KJV)

  1. The quickly disappearing shotgun and dogtrot tenant farmer houses; 

Delta shotgun house side view
Delta shotgun house front view

Shotgun and dogtrot houises

“In my Father’s house are many mansions. . . . I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2 KJV)

  1. Perhaps most iconic, the Mississippi River itself, beside which Mari and I did much of our courting and where I went each time we returned to the Delta to dip my toe into the muddy water and renew my now seemingly impossible vow to one day “come home again.” 
The Delta Queen on the Mississippi River

“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life . . . proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (Rev. 22:1 KJV)

Conclusion

“Nostalgia for certain values tends to set in just as they’re disappearing. Happily, nostalgia can bring those values back, too.”
—Paul Greenberg, “It really is a wonderful life,”
Tulsa World, December 19, 2013

To me all of these “thin/then places” are not only special they are indeed sacred though some of them, like me, have changed almost beyond recognition (as shown in the “mid to late 1940’s” photo of downtown McGehee below), or been replaced (like the high school I graduated from in 1956 and the Mississippi River bridge that Mari and I crossed hundreds of times in our courtship and marriage)—or even disappeared completely (like the most popular hangout for teens in the 1950s). (Be sure to click on the photos to magnify them.)

Parade in McGehee, Arkansas, in the "mid to late 1940s"

Parade in McGehee in the “mid to late 1940s” in which the young boy riding behind the police car looks like me

McGehee High School as it looked in 1956

McGehee High School as it looked when I graduated from it in 1956

Skyway in the 1950s

The Skyway Drive-In as it looked when first built in about 1950

Old Mississippi River bridge as seen from new bridge as the old one was being dismantled in about 2010-11

Old Mississippi River bridge (background) as viewed from the new bridge (foreground) as the old one was being dismantled in about 2010-11. (Note the barges passing beneath the new bridge as the old bridge passes away, thus leaving the past behind and heading for the future.)

But whether totally changed, replaced, or gone forever,  these are unique places where indeed heaven and earth do come closest, where I feel the presence of God most strongly, and where God appears to me most vividly, and where He speaks to me most intimately.

It has now been five long years since my last “Bucket-List Trip” to visit the remaining vestiges of these special, sacred, “thin/then places.” (See my first two posts on this blog titled “My ‘Bucket-List’ Trip, Part I” and “Part II.”)

I miss them greatly, which is one reason I am literally failing in health: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It is also why four years ago in May I began to compose and publish this blog: “My Oklahomian Exile Literature by an Exiled Arkie of the Covenant.”

Like Norman Maclean, who wrote at the end of A River Runs through It, “I am haunted by waters,” I am also haunted by land, especially “the Holy Land.”

Unfortunately, as I say in one of my endless self-quotes: “Since my health has become so precarious, all of my joys must now be vicarious.”

Thank you for joining me in my ceaseless attempt to experience, even vicariously, the special “thin/then places” in my rapidly diminishing life. May you identify, revisit, and reconnect with all of your sacred “thin/then places” before they—and perhaps even you—also disappear!

Additional Links and Sources

To visit other Irish/Southern posts in this blog, go to:

“St. Patrick’s Day Tributes and Trivia,” March 14, 2012: https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/st-patricks-day-tributes-and-trivia/

“Some of My Favorite Irish Quotes,” March 21, 2012: https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/some-of-my-favorite-irish-quotes/

“Some Southern Stuff VI: Love of the Land,” April 25, 2012: https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/some-southern-stuff-vi-love-of-the-land/

“Saint Patrick and Other Irish Saints and Names,” March 10, 2014: https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/st-patrick-and-other-irish-saints-and-names/

The photo of Hot Springs was taken from a travel brochure on the sightseeing tower atop one of the mountains that surround that popular resort city.

The quote from Mark Bozzuti-Jones about his love for water and for photographing it was taken from the March 10 entry of the Episcopal daily devotional Forward Day by Day. Copyright 2015 Forward Movement. All rights reserved. Used by permission. www.forwardmovement.org

The quotes from Ann Rose about Celtic “thin places” were taken from the February 3 and 26 entries of the Episcopal daily devotional Forward Day By Day. Copyright 2015 Forward Movement. All rights reserved. Used by permission. www.forwardmovement.org

The link to the online article written by C. J. Lotz titled “Saint Patrick’s Day, Southern-Style,” as featured in the Garden & Gun Web site for February-March 2015, was sent to me on March 5 by Pat Scavo and was taken from:
http://gardenandgun.com/article/saint-patricks-day-southern-style

Most of the remaining photos were taken from my personal collection, except for the following:

The photo of the Seven Devils Swamp was taken from a November 15, 2013, article in Seark Today written by Patty Wooten and titled “Seven Devils: The Wildlife Paradise with the Ominous Name.”

The 1952 photo of my father in the ring at the McGehee Livestock Auction (no longer standing) was provided to the family by the now-defunct Arkansas Democrat.

The photo of the Arkansas cypress slough was taken from a postcard by Jenkins Enterprises at www.jenkins-enterprises.com.

The photo of Lakeport Plantation and cotton field was taken from the Lakeport Web site at http://lakeport.astate.edu/.

The photo of the Southern dogtrot house was taken from Joe Dempsey’s “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind” on 10/12/14 at:
http://corndancer.com/joephoto/photo360379/photo368.html

The photo of the Mississippi River was taken from a postcard from the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, Arkansas, at: http://www.deltaculturalcenter.com/

The photos of McGehee in “the mid to late 1940s” and the Skyway Drive-In were taken from a now unknown source.

The photo of the McGehee High School building was taken from the 1956 MHS yearbook.

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“The acquisition of memories is the business of life.”
—Carson the Butler in Downton Abbey

While I was composing the last few posts for my blog at the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 I received several tidbits and updates from friends on subjects they thought might interest me.

During that same time period I collected several other items (such as the opening quote above on memory) that seemed to fit into the theme of my entire blog.

Since I finally closed my regular blogging of the seven-part series titled “You Might Be from the Country, Parts I-VII,” I thought I would try to make up a new post to share some of these various new tidbits I have received or collected over the past few months. However, after beginning that project I discovered that there was so much material I had to divide it into two posts.

I have titled this varied collection “Delta Addenda, Etc., Parts I and II” because in fact the items in these two posts deal with more than just the Delta, as you will see as you peruse each one. But regardless of their relationship to the Delta I think you will see why they were of interest to me and to those who sent them to me.

The items in this first post do relate directly to the Mississippi River Delta and its sharecropper-tenant farmer agriculture, the historic but rapidly changing plantation culture of the Delta, the importance of the cotton industry on which the Delta depended for so long, and a couple of recent winter storms that covered the cypress sloughs of Arkansas’ “Bayou Country” in a rare blanket of snow and ice.

Lake Dick Farm Cooperative

 Lake Dick represents the most socialistically oriented of the many cooperative farms established in the 1930’s.”
—Donna R. Causey, online article about Lake Dick,
a Depression-era Arkansas farm cooperative

The first of these Delta-related subjects is a link to a site about Lake Dick, an Arkansas Delta farming cooperative, that was sent to me by Paul Talmadge on January 18.

As noted in the opening quote above, Lake Dick “represents the most socialistically oriented of the many cooperative farms” established by the U.S. government during the Great Depression.

The site contains more information about the Lake Dick cooperative with photos of some of the farmers who lived on it. It also includes a photographic section on the importance of the general store in rural Arkansas in 1938, which happens to be the year I was born in rural Southeast Arkansas and the subject of another one of my previous posts titled: “Selma Store Evokes Boyhood Memories.”

Interior of Lake Dick general store in 1938

Interior of the Lake Dick general store in 1938, the year I was born

Selma general store as it looked in the 1980s

Selma general store as it looked in the 1980s, forty years after I left Selma in the 1940s (to magnify, click on the photo)

To visit the Lake Dick site and view the photos of some of the farmers, the cooperative, and the general store there, click here.

Farm laborers at Lake Dick, Arkansas

Farm laborers at Lake Dick

For more photos, be sure to click on the other links on the Lake Dick site.

Dockery Plantation

“Listen to the sounds of [Blues singer] Charley Patton
as you travel through history back to the birthplace of the Delta Blues.”

—“A Personal Video Tour of Dockery Farms”

On January 23, Pat Scavo sent me a link to a ten-minute video tour and history of Dockery Plantation, located across the Mississippi River from our hometown of McGehee, Arkansas. The video, narrated by Blues music legend B.B. King, claims that Dockery was the birthplace of Mississippi Delta Blues music.

To view the fascinating video, click here.

Blues legend B.B. King introduces the video on Dockery Plantation

Blues music legend B.B. King introducing the video on Dockery Plantation (to magnify, click on the photo)

Empire of Cotton

“In 1862, British merchant John Benjamin Smith boasted that the manufacture of cotton yarn and cloth had become ‘the greatest industry that ever had or could by possibility have ever existed in any age or country.’”
—Glenn C. Altschuler, “Book Review:
‘Empire of Cotton: A Global Industry,’”
Tulsa World Online, January 25, 2015

On January 25, the Tulsa World published a book review about cotton production written by Glenn C. Altschuler.

According to the reviewer, the book, titled Empire of Cotton: A Global History, written by Sven Beckert, shows how the cotton industry shaped the world. Interesting, despite the decline and virtual disappearance of the once predominant Cotton Kingdom in the Arkansas Delta, it is claimed in the article that “worldwide cotton production is expected to triple or quadruple by 2050.”

To read the informative review of this book about the history and future of cotton production, which I also examined in several of my previous posts, click here.

Empire of Cotton: A Global Industry

Empire of Cotton: A Global History

A $75 Cotton Branch!

“‘Leben-cent cotton and twenty–cent meat,
now that’s a combination ya jus’ cain’t beat.
How’n the hell they ‘spect a man ta eat,
with ‘leben-cent cotton and twenty-cent meat!”
—Depression-era cotton farmer’s lament
(quoted in earlier post
“Wish I was in the Land of Cotton, Part II”)

On the subject of cotton, here is a photo of a cotton branch that was sent to me by Pat Scavo on February 15 with the cryptic note: “$75 for a branch of cotton . . . better than making a dress out of a flour sack.”

Seventy-five-dollar branch of cotton

Seventy-five-dollar branch of cotton (to magnify, click on the photo)

My wife says that at those prices cotton farmers ought to quit trying to pick and bale and sell their cotton crop as fiber and simply break off the branches, put them in vases, and sell them as art decorations!

For the source of this photo, see the Sources section at the end of the post. For links to other sources of cotton art, simply Google “cotton branch art” or “cotton stalk art.”

Delta Winter Storms and Cypress Trees,
Baby Doll House in Snow

“In the Delta, snowfall, like an alligator sighting,
is just rare enough to cause a stir
among the locals and make headlines
in the newspapers.”

—Jimmy Peacock

On February 18, 2015, the McGehee Times, our hometown newspaper, published several photos of a recent ice storm that had struck the Arkansas Delta.

Here is a photo of the cypress trees in the McGehee city park which are loaded down not with Spanish moss but with Southern ice! (To magnify, click on the fuzzy photo.)

McGehee Ice Storm

The photo caption read:

“A shot of winter weather covered trees and powerlines with ice Monday. While these reports of brief power outages in McGehee affecting nearly 1,200 customers, there were longer outages in rural areas west to Drew County [in which I was born in 1938]. Officials say the brief period of freezing rain did not cause any major road problems in the McGehee-Dermott [Mari’s 1942 birthplace] area. The storm that brought winter precipitation also brought frigid temperatures behind it. (Photo by Debbie Gilbert.)”

Shortly after I had inserted this segment about the icy cypress trees in the McGehee city park, on March 2 I received Joe Dempsey’s Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind post which contained abut thirty photos of a six-or-seven-inch snowfall in his Delta hometown of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The very first photo on that post was of a cypress-studded lake covered with snow, a much clearer photo than the one I had scanned of the McGehee ice-covered cypress trees. As Joe noted:

“Enough snow has accumulated on the boughs of these fine cypress trees to make them bend with the weight — and the snow continues to fall.”

Snow-covered cypress trees in Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Snow-covered cypress trees in Pine Bluff, Arkansas to magnify, click on the photo)

What is interesting is that Joe was the one who suggested and helped to establish the Wiley A. McGehee Memorial City Park. To view Joe’s entire Weekly Grist post with all his professional-grade photos of snowy scenes in Pine Bluff, click here.

After I had prepared this part of the post I received the following photo from Pat Scavo showing the Burrus (Baby Doll) House in Benoit, Mississippi, just across the River from McGehee, as it looked after a recent snow storm. (To learn more about this house and the Hollywood plantation on which it sits, click here.)

Snow-covered Burrus (Baby Doll) House in Benoit, MS

Snow-covered Burrus (Baby Doll) House in Benoit, MS (to magnify, click on the photo)

Sources

The photos and link to the Lake Dick farm cooperative from the 1930s were provided by Paul Talmadge from:
http://daysgoneby.me/arkansas-lake-dick-represents-socialistically-oriented-many-cooperative-farms/

The photo and link to the video about Dockery Plantation in the Mississippi River Delta was provided by Pat Scavo and taken from:
http://dockeryfarms.org/notes/personal-video-tour-dockery-farms

The link to the Tulsa World January 25 review of the book Empire of Cotton: A Global History was taken from Tulsa World Online at:
http://www.tulsaworld.com/scene/books/book-review-empire-of-cotton-a-global-history/article_13922dc7-0410-5ddf-8482-47298e985fc9.html

The photo of the cover of the book Empire of Cotton: A Global History was taken from:
http://www.amazon.com/Empire-Cotton-A-Global-History/dp/0375414142

The Depression-era poem about the price of cotton and meat was taken from a previous post titled “Wish I Was in the Land of Cotton, Part II” at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/wish-i-was-in-the-land-of-cotton-part-ii/

The photo of the cotton branch was sent to me by Pat Scavo and was taken from:
https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpa1/v/t1.0-9/s600x600/10987008_10200213783184814_5568512315629798260_n.jpg?oh=ee69e504e66a3b75df5b967cdb368f43&oe=55592E84&__gda__=1431037819_d931795680f5f11c78ef2d4be49a3159

The photo and caption of the McGehee city park with the cypress trees covered with ice were taken from the February 18, 2015, issue of the McGehee Times and used with permission.

The photo of the snow-covered cypress trees in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, was taken from Joe Dempsey’s Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind blog post published on March 1, 2015 at:
http://corndancer.com/joephoto/photo380399/photo387.html

The photo of the Burrus (Baby Doll) House in the snow in Benoit, MS, was sent to me by Pat Scavo on February 27, 2015, and was taken from:
http://www.hollywoodplantation.com/directions.html

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