Hey, y’all, from Mississippi. Now that I’ve greeted you properly, I must add my disclaimer to this article. I am not originally from Mississippi, or from ‘the South’. I was born and raised in Pennsylvania. When I tell people that and then add, “But I’ve lived down here for over ten years,” they just nod and smile politely—that southern ‘bless her heart’ smile. You’re not a southerner unless you were born and bred and have at traceable family history rooted here.
That doesn’t mean Mississippi hasn’t welcomed me. I came here in 2000 to take a social service job with a non-profit organization. My first big move away from Pennsylvania. I needed to stretch beyond my boundaries and comfort zone. I couldn’t have chosen a better place for doing just that. The term ‘southern hospitality’ proves to be alive and well in Mississippi. For us Yankees, Mississippi was the state voted most fun to spell in grade school. Go ahead, spell it out. It’s lyrical.
Mississippi is a state rich with history and culture, and the small museums that have cropped up just about everywhere are testament to pride in that history.
In towns like Holly Springs, the Marshall County seat, several antebellum homes, like Walter Place still stand as proud testament to the pre-Civil War era, and house tours are year-round events. Holly Springs is the quintessential old Southern town. It’s been written about by Jan Karon and was site of filming of the movie Cookie’s Fortune.
Eateries in Mississippi feature traditional southern fare, everything from barbecue to catfish and okra to greens. In terms of commerce, Mississippi has always been associated with cotton and ‘pickers’. Today, however, machinery does the work of picking and in some areas like Tunica County, cotton fields give way to five-star hotels and casinos—part of the growing gaming industry in the state.
Mississippi is the home of Medgar Evers and site of the ‘Freedom Summer’ in 1964, and the state held a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 60’s.
Tupelo is the original home of rock and roll king, Elvis Presley.
I consider myself to be in good company with other Mississippi writers including William Faulkner, John Grisham and Tennessee Williams.
Like theirs, one of my works in progress is set in the Mississippi Delta but I’ve got other novels set in many parts of our country.
While life in Mississippi has undergone significant changes over the past decades, some things always remain the same--southern pride and southern hospitality. If you come to Mississippi, be prepared to answer two questions: Who are your people? and, Where is your church? Family and faith are held in high value. If you’re an ‘outsider’ like me, you’ll find friendly smiles and warm handshakes ready to welcome you. So, come on down!
Linda Rettstatt, writing for women--stories of strength, love, humor, and hope, is the autor of Next Time I’m Gonna Dance – 2011 EPIC e-Book Award Finalist and also awarded 2010 Champagne Books Author of the Year.
Linda's web link: http://www.lindarettstatt.com/
Linda's blog link: http://www.onewomanswrite.blogspot.com/