Mississippi: So this is The Delta

The door to one of the houses in the Tallahatchie Flats.

The door to one of the houses in the Tallahatchie Flats.

The Delta.
Just what is The Mississippi Delta?

Turns out it looks a lot like Iowa.

Though known for its cotton crops, there's actually a lot of corn and even more soybeans grown in Mississippi.

Though known for its cotton crops, there’s actually a lot of corn and even more soybeans grown in Mississippi.

This is my third trip to Mississippi and the first time I’ve really been able to look around. I went down to Oxford, Miss., to visit my new friend, Alysia, a journalist in residence at Ole Miss at the Meek School of Journalism. Oxford is a small college town, much like Columbia, Mo., but smaller. So Al and I set out for The Delta on my second day there.

Either the land is low or the water table is high here, resulting in a lot of picturesque, swampy places like this.

Either the land is low or the water table is high here, whichever, it results in a lot of picturesque, swampy places like this.

We crossed the Tallahatchie River at least half a dozen times on the trip, meaning that I couldn’t help but have the lyrics of “Ode to Billie Joe” in my head all day.

Even though I’ve heard The Delta mentioned in many ways and things, I’ve never known what people meant when they talked about The Delta.

I expected to see more scenes like this, but there were scarce.

I expected to see more scenes like this, but there were scarce.

At its core, The Delta is a large agricultural region between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers. But The Delta is the people, an attitude, an economic situation. It’s not as depressed as I was expecting, but it is depressed. And rural. Very rural. Mississippi has 42,000 farms spread over 11.4 million acres of farmland (Iowa has 92,600 farms on 30.7 million acres.) And it’s full of history, predominantly Civil Rights and blues music history.

We had two primary destinations on this trip, one that Al has made many times: the grocery store in the small town of Money where Emmett Till is said to have whistled at a white woman; and Ground Zero, a blues club in Clarksdale owned by actor Morgan Freeman and attorney Bill Luckett, the mayor of Clarksdale. No, Morgan wasn’t there, but I did get to meet Bill. Al is working on a coffee table book of the club.

This is what's left of Bryant's Grocery, in Money, Miss. This is where Emmett Till whistled at a white woman, an action that got him killed and sparked the Civil Rights Movement.

This is what’s left of Bryant’s Grocery, in Money, Miss. This is where Emmett Till whistled at a white woman, an action that got him killed and sparked the Civil Rights Movement.

On the way to Clarksdale we passed the Tallahatchie Flats just outside of Greenwood, Miss. I don’t know if I’m more offended by this or not, but the tenant houses at the flats are now rented out like vacation cabins. You can rent history for a minimum of $85 a night.

This homes were moved from plantations around Mississippi to this location and now rented out to vacationers.

This homes were moved from plantations around Mississippi to this location and now rented out to vacationers. The blue door photo above is from one of these homes.

On the way down I stopped at Graceland, Elvis’ home in Memphis. I was there too late to go in but that’s ok. I’ve seen the photos on the Internet and don’t think I missed that much. You can see my pictures from there in the gallery below.

Advertisements

2 responses to “Mississippi: So this is The Delta

  1. For $85 a night, I hope for flush toilets and AC. 😉

  2. They have AC and even a deck out back, with a bbq grill. Can’t be sure about flushing toilets.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s