Close to Nowhere
Pop and I, daughter Dana and son Kris left Memphis, Tenn., on Jan. 26, 1986, for the last time, well, as residents of Memphis anyway. Bear in mind that I wanted to move here and had actively participated in the search for the perfect place (which we did find).
I cried all the way from Memphis to Laws Hill. Sobbed. I was terrified. While I had loved the one week a year that my family spent on my aunt’s farm growing up, I had never lived anywhere except in Memphis. And here I was, moving everything we owned to a 10x70 trailer and putting at least 75 percent of our lives in a storage shed while we built a house (“we” didn’t actually build it, Pop had cousins who were subcontractors and they built it.)
That first winter in the wilds of Mississippi, close to absolutely nowhere, was a nightmare. There was an arsonist running around setting grass fires and our tiny, little trailer was constantly filled with the smell of smoke. I thought I’d moved to Hell.
Summer came and things got better. In September 1986 I answered an ad in The South Reporter looking for a typist, part-time. I figured I could do that and still be able to take Kris back and forth to Memphis to visit all his doctors, etc.
The first time I walked into The South Reporter office, I had no premonitions; I didn’t feel the hand of fate or anything. Walter Webb, the former editor of the paper, asked me to type some stuff and we talked a bit. He told me about salary and hours. I still laugh now when I think about asking him how much vacation time there was. He just smiled and said we could talk about that later. I found out that talk was about all the vacation you got at a newspaper. Deadlines are always waiting.
After I’d worked at the paper a while, I mentioned to Walter that I felt like I could write stuff as well as some of the articles we ran. Actually, I thought I could write better. So he said to give it a try and we’d see what happens.
The first story I wrote and the first pictures I took were of a family that was walking across the United States and passing through Holly Springs. I discovered, over the years, that lot of people that cross the country come through here.
Walter was pleased with my story and eventually I was writing feature stories frequently.
Walter and I came up somehow with the idea that I could write a weekly column about moving to Mississippi and the joys and trials of living in the wilds, building a house and adjusting to life in a very rural area.
Thirty some odd years later, here I am, still writing about life in Mississippi and still loving it.
Most of you know that my health has been somewhat fragile lately. I’ve had a couple near brushes with joining Pop in Heaven and have instead lived to tell the tale.
It’s been roughly a year since I’ve actually been in The South Reporter office. I write my column at home, and will continue to do so, as long as Barry, the editor and publisher of the paper, will let me and as long as someone still reads it.
The South Reporter is including my “retirement” party in with the Holiday Open House that was held Tuesday night. As I write my column on Monday, I hope I see/saw you there.
To be continued...
(firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to reach me for any reason).