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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Suicide is Painless

People will go to any lengths for fame, won't they? In the May, 1800 edition of a Natchez Newspaper, Thomas Thackwood advertized his upcoming public suicide by pistol -- one shot for the abdomen and another for the brain (his own, that is), promising his audience plenty of staggering, convulsing and grinning.

Heck, if you've got nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon, why not?

"C'mon, honey! Grab the kids. Let's go to the killin'."

Not to be outdone, however, he warned readers not to be taken in by claims of Mr. Touchwood, whose public hanging, Thackwood claimed, would only be staged.

I don't blame him. If I'm going to a killing, it better be the real deal.

You can read the ad here.

And, yeah, I couldn't resist: Mr. Thackwood went out with a bang.

*Posted by Elodie
*Photo not the man in the story. Just an old photo.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wildlife Fundraiser on March 7

Friends of the St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge will host a family-oriented environmental education festival on March 7 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Vidalia Riverfront RV Park. Admission is free.

The festival will feature falcon demonstrations, an inflatable slide, hold a baby alligator, face painting, plant and animal identification, lives snakes, Boy Scout demonstrations, Black Bear obstacle course, youth longbow archery tournament and much more. Proceeds will go towards the construction of educational facilities on the refuge to be utilized by area schoolchildren for workshops, field trips, etc.

In addition, there will be an auction at 2 p.m. and youth trophy presentations at 4 p.m. It sounds like a lot of fun. Hope to see you there.

*Posted by Elodie

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Nicest Madam in Town

For years one of Natchez's most notable characters was a madam named Nellie Jackson. Her story is funny and tragic, and Nellie is greatly missed in our little river town. You can read about her here.

*Posted by Elodie
Photo of the front door at Nellie's taken by Johnny Watts, Natchez, Mississippi

A Natchez Childhood

Goodbye, Charlie

You know you've lived
too long
when you're still
alive after the trees
you planted have died
of old age.

The air is turning
and the leaves
the hurricane left
crumble underfoot
like distant memories.

The sidewalk
at Main and Commerce,
where Cee Tee, all
crossed eyes and paranoia,
combed his greasy hair.

The auditorium. Sy,
bent half in two
over a wheelbarrow
selling chewing gum and peanuts
His cowboy hat and skin,
black and lined
as a story.

Violins at night.

Nellie lost to the flames,
Dabney's beautiful eyes,
Leigh Ann's hands and
the bay gelding at the
county barn that
sixteenth summer.

Mud swirls in patterns
in the river, arrowheads
and pottery shift on
ancient sandbars,
disappear, appear again.

I thought I heard you
calling from the porch,
but it was just
the subtle thunder
of a passing storm.

by Elodie Pritchartt

*Photo of Sy, the candy man
courtesy William Stewart Collection, Historic Natchez Foundation

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

You Never Send Me Flowers Anymore

Back to 1975
When I was a freshman at the University of Mississippi, I lived in New Dorm, at that time the largest dormitory on campus.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Ole Miss, it is rife with fraternities and sororities that have a chokehold on social life at school. I was a Delta Gamma pledge that first year, sans boyfriend. Even though I was in a sorority, I never felt like part of the crowd. I always felt a bit like an outsider.

I'll never forget stepping off the elevator on the lounge floor that morning and having the scent of literally THOUSANDS of flowers hitting my senses. Every girl in that darned dorm must've gotten a bouquet of flowers...except, of course, for me.

All day girls would rush up to the desk that ran the width of the front of the dorm between the two sets of double doors out front, squealing with delight that their boyfriend had sent them flowers for Valentine's. It was a depressing cap on an already depressing day.

When I got back from my first class to find even more flowers and more screaming, ridiculous girls, I'd had it. I went up to my room and pulled out my new American Express card -- the one I'd gotten only for emergencies. Well, this was an emergency, wasn't it? I dialed the florist:

"I'd like to order some flowers, please."

"How much would you like to spend?"

"Hm...let's see. How about Make it seventy-five bucks."

In 1975 you could get a heckuva bouquet for $75.

"What would you like on the card?"

"To my darling, sweet beautiful Elodie from your secret admirer."

I left that stupid bouquet down in the lobby for two days and fielded all kinds of questions from my sorority sisters whose bouquets couldn't hold a candle to mine. It was glorious. Well, almost. I still hadn't really gotten anything from anyone.

It wasn't long before I realized that the reason I felt like such an outsider was because I wasn't the kind of girl who squeals out loud when some kid sends her flowers because it's Valentine's day and he's supposed to walk the walk. I wasn't the kind of girl who enjoys spending hours discussing what color material we were going to choose for our rush outfits the next year. Don't get me wrong; that's fine for some people, really fun stuff. Just not for me.

So I turned in my little anchor pin, put on a peasant skirt and joined the counterculture in Oxford, Mississippi, working at The Gin and The Hoka Theater, and enjoying it immensely.

If I had it to do over, I'd not have joined that sorority, but I gotta admit, I really did think it was a stroke of genius to buy those flowers and watch while those women chewed on the mystery of my secret admirer.

*In order to be truly Southern, I tried to find a photo of a heart-shaped red-velvet cake for this post, but alas, I couldn't. Hope you like the flower.

*Photograph by Elodie Pritchartt

Monday, February 9, 2009

...first things first

*Posted by Tommy

Elodie has been really putting some thought into the page and has come up with some really great ideas to add interesting and relevant content for those interested in Natchez as a tourist destination. I've come up with a few, myself, but none as gifted as Elodie's. That said, check back this week for some really cool, interesting things and please add to it as you see fit. This week Shantybellum has guests in for the Blues Foundation shindig in Memphis, Valentine lovebirds from Jackson and a mother and two sons on a cultural-heritage tour flying into and out of Jackson. She'll be visiting many sites other than Jackson -- Natchez, Indianola's BB King Museum, Clarksdale, Vicksburg, etc. The one common thread that excites me is none of them are coming to Natchez for the houses; it's to party, to learn and to love. Now THAT is a tourist destination, my friends. Let's build onto that and keep the area as the focus; not focus on one part of the area.