Day 6: Southern Hospitality

Howells- Restaurant in Back

09:55 I sit down to breakfast at Howell’s, an establishment housed in a former roller skating rink that is a equal parts furniture and art store and restaurant.  I’m treated to a delicious breakfast by the extended Adams family, linked by blood, friendship, or both.

12:07 “I might could answer some of your questions, and I might not could answer some of your questions.”   I am fascinated by the structure of this statement, and just adore it.

12:53 I hop a car for an extensive tour of Yazoo City with with my adopted hosts D’Ann & Libby Adams, daughter and daughter-in-law of the Mama Jo’ and Babes Adams.  The two smart women, both middle-aged teachers, tell me everything about the area that comes to mind, from the fact that Yazoo lacks the preserved river front that other cities in the Mississippi Delta have to the legend of E.A. Smith (Mr. Smitty) who made a fortune selling black market tires after a flood in the mid-20th century.

14:06 We make a stop at Glenwood Cemetery, where we are treated to a presentation of the story of the “Yazoo Witch” by Ms. Vay, a electrically energetic 84 year old owner of a local funeral home.  Local legend attributes the Great Fire of 1904, which burned down most of the town, to a mean and ugly old witch who lived on the town outskirts in the swamps and was universally hated by Yazoo residents.  She had promised to return a year after her death to set the town aflame, and purportedly had broken through enormous chains that had been placed over her grave.  Ms. Vay has a bit of trouble getting into character without her black robe and hat, but I think the small sacrifice in performance quality is well worth avoiding costume in 90+ heat and humidity.

Me & the Witch of Yazoo

14:39 D’Ann drives me and Libby through West Second Street, a grimly poor section of Yazoo.  Yazoo was once a prosperous town and occupies a naturally beautiful place, “where the hills meet the delta”, that has just fallen on hard times.

Hard Times in Yazoo

15:05 We pass well-named Yazoo landmarks: Goose Egg Park, Thrill Hill, Bell Road.

15:21 D’Ann takes me back out to her house so I can see the 2010 tornado’s devastation in daylight.  She and Libby recount their experience taking shelter from the storm, only to resurface less than ten minutes later to see their lives cracked, shattered, splintered, and strewn out all over the place.  It is really moving to hear their story while in the very place it all happened with twisted, wreaked trees lingering tragically around us.

Tornado Aftermath

19:49 Paul, Libby, and D’Ann take me to P Reaux’s, a small restaurant by the tracks where Fletcher Cox’s sister works.  I’ve spent the past couple days searching for Fletcher Cox, a 21-year old rookie signed to the Eagles in this year’s draft, picked twelfth in the first round, but tonight leads me no closer to finding him.  The food, fried pickles and a fried catfish po boy, is delicious.

21:56 The four of us have decided to attend the truck races deep in the black night countryside.  My descriptive powers cannot accurately depict how loud these monstrous trucks were.  Stripped down to their frames and outfitted with roll cages and $35,000 engines, these trucks were loud enough to shout down gunfire, or plane engines, or rocket ships, and there were nearly a hundred of them!  What impresses me more than the zero to ninety in under four seconds and a hundred yards is the unflinching unprotected ears of youngsters too small to ride roller coasters.

Truck Races

A Couple of Monsters

01:28 We get back into downtown Cadillac, where the streets are filled with thugs in pimped out cars bumping music.

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