Ponyville Episode 3: Across the Deep South

Day 3 on the road has just finished, and now, we’re in Chattanooga and “pulling for the barn” in that we’re ready to get home.  Fortunately, today was a beautiful day for driving with plenty of sun and temperatures in the 70s.  Almost warm enough for the top to be down but not quite at high speeds.  Still, we enjoyed ourselves.

First, we dropped down into the Mississippi Delta of northwestern Mississippi.  If you’ve never been there, one thing that’s noticeable is the distinct change in landscape.  Within mere feet, we went from rolling hills to land as flat as a tabletop.  I did some work in this area about nine or so years ago, and ever since then, it’s been an area that’s intrigued me.  My impressions from back then was that it’s the land time forgot, and I think that still holds true today.  It’s a poor area (nine years ago the three counties, Bolivar, Coahoma, and Tunica) were the three poorest counties in the country.  But from what I remember, it’s a relatively diverse area thanks to its history.

The land was actually settled and put into agricultural use only after the levies were built to control the floods of the neighboring Mississippi River.  Once the levies were finished, crops were planted, especially cotton.  This meant that people had to farm the fields.  After the Civil War, the landowners still needed labor.  So in came various migrant laborers, including Chinese, Italian, African American, and others.  Today, that’s evident that the diversity remains in effect.

Another interesting facet of the Delta as a whole, which runs essentially from Tennessee (or maybe further north too) down to Louisiana is its history surrounding the Great Flood of 1927.  Long story short, the flood caused the Great Migration of African Americans up North as well as served as the event that put Hoover eventually into the White House.  For more about this event and everything leading up to it, I recommend the book Rising Tide by John M. Barry.  It’s an extraordinary book.

So once we saw the Delta, we headed east, finally and passed through Oxford, home to Ole Miss as well as John Grisham.  Then it was on to Tuscumbia, Alabama where Steve’s maternal grandparents lived.  We saw the house where they lived as well as the log cabin where she was born.  It was neat to see some family history.

Finally, it was on to Chattanooga.  We’re tired, but it was a good evening filled with taking the daughter of two of our friends to supper before settling into our hotel.  Tomorrow will be our last day of driving that will hopefully send us to Cary in good fashion.

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