Chronicles of the Louisiana Trip Part IV

'On my way home I can remember all the good days.
On my way home I can remember all the best days...'

That just so happens to be one of my favorite Enya songs, but it also applied very aptly to Mom. On our drive back to good ol' mean Missouri...we passed through some of Mom's old Mississippi stomping grounds. She, Dad, and the girls lived there, many, many years before anyone except God had even thought of my existence. We passed signs for Coldwater, where the girls had gone to school. Strayhorn, the town (if it's large enough to be called that) that features so prominently in Charissa's story about the old GMC truck. If you've never read that story, remind me to show it to you sometime. If you don't split a gut laughing, I'll....I'll...well, I don't know what I'll do. But nevermind, you're sure to laugh. Anyroad, to get back to my chronicling; Mom decided to leave the beaten path to go in search of two of the houses they had lived in.

"We're pretty close. I think I can just follow my nose." Those were Mom's famous last words. We got well and thoroughly turned around.

Now, in case you've never gone into back-country Mississippi, I will sum the experience up for you in one word: suspicion. Everyone who lives in rural Mississippi knows everyone else in the area. Strangers are regarded with extreme doubt. I have learned that it is even possible to wave suspiciously. The Mississippians' innate courtesy impels them to wave in spite of their doubts, but the waves are definitely lacking in trust. We would go down one  road, past all the suspiciously waving people, then discover that it was the wrong road and have to turn around and come back. Our second advent was greeted even more doubtfully, and the wave subsided to a mere twitch of the hand. Suspicious dogs (everyone in rural Mississippi owns at least one dog) came charging out to bark at us. Suspicious horses stood squarely in the middle of the road to stare. We turned down many roads, passed many houses, but none of them were the right roads or the right houses. At last, we found our way back to civilization (aka a gas station/restaurant) and asked for directions. It was not strictly necessary for me to go inside with Mom, but I had already been exposed to the Southern method of direction-giving and I didn't want to miss out on this exciting new episode.

I think that Mom outdid even the Southernest of Southerners in her method of asking directions. She wanted to know where the house that she used to live in was. It was pretty close to that college (my dad used to teach at a Christian college) that burned down several years ago...

"Oh yes! I know where that is!" A man informed us.

"Oh yes! The college." A lady helpfully chimed in.

Then the both of them proceeded to give us directions. The man, as the first speaker, obviously felt it was his right to guide us, but the lady was just as determined to get her two cents' worth of direction-giving in. So, they both talked at the same time until the man finally was outdone. He subsided and the lady triumphantly finished with: "And you make a left off of Blue Goose Lane onto Christian College Drive."

The house wasn't there anymore. No boards, no burnt places in the grass, not even holes in the ground to show where the pillars that supported it had been. The only thing left was a rickety little shed that looked like it should have followed the house's example and disappeared years ago. It gave me an odd sensation. I had, for several hours, been driving through history. My history. Of course, I hadn't remembered any of it, but it was all a part of my heritage. Who I am. And now a piece of it was gone. Vanished. All that was left were the stories, and the memories of the older members of my family.

The other house was still there. Very much there. In fact, there was more of it than when Mom and Dad had lived in it. It was a rather prosaic, uninteresting structure, and occupied by a family with many yelling children. We pulled over to snap a few pictures, then turned our backs on rural Mississippi, it's suspicious inhabitants, and its memories of family history, and headed home.


  1. Fabulous chronicle! I especially love the paragraph about the suspicious waving. Very well written!


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