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Posted by on Feb 29, 2012 in 2012, Choken Word, Headline, Recovery

That small town 50 miles south of Jackson.  I can see it now.  That one road called the Boulevard that went from downtown out to the interstate.  I can see the kids in their cars with nothing better to do than to drive up and down that two mile loop.  I can see Perkins Hardware.  The parking lot where deals were made and futures paved.

I grew up in a small town.  Ten thousand souls for over fifty years. Not a new one. One dies another is born to breathe his first cry.  Recycling, reincarnating cousins, brothers and sisters in the same dank Mississippi soil.   A town stuck in stagnation.  A town last in the nation in education.  A leader  in discrimination.  I see the old plantation homes.  I see the moss hanging from the trees.  I see the tour of homes.  I see the old churches filled with old folks and new families living off of old money and new money. Doctor’s daughters. I see the lawyer’s sons.  I see the son’s of blue collar workers.  Sawmills.  Bodyshops. Empty vacant lots.  Weeds breaking through concrete, left forgotten.

I remember when the fast food restaurants moved in.  How my front yard, once silent, now within the airwaves of a Wendy’s drive-thru.  I remember when Wal-Mart moved in.  I remember the downtown where my father owned a sandwich shop.  I remember him selling ice cream from the back of an old yellow truck.  I remember the pride he had in that store when a small downtown had hope.  When America still made things.

I remember how my best friend was black.  How we grew up not knowing color.  How we played cowboys and indians.  I remember walking up to him in the hallway in first grade and how he acted like he never knew me.  Flanked on both sides by his black friends I realized I was white.  I knew then something wasn’t right.

Twenty years later I sit on Ancestry.com in another southern state.  I try and trace my family out of Mississippi.  There is nothing but that one state.  My bloodline seems to have sprung from a well beneath it.  No migrating down from New York.  No coming up from New Orleans.  Nothing but Benton Sebastian King’s John Hancock on an old census.  Tradesman in a sawmill.  Soon to be the father of many sons who gambled and drank.  One who won half of Brookhaven in a card game one glorious day.  Only to drink it all away.

Inspired by The Help by Kathryn Stockett


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