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Saturday, August 4, 2012

A report on Natchez 1932

Natchez, Mississippi, 1932 -- Two years ago we were in Natchez on a business trip.  My husband, looking out of the hotel window, called my attention to an amusing sight.  

Rumbling down the middle of Main Street was a wagon pulled by an old horse.  The reins hung loose along his back and he threaded his way through the traffic at a lazy gait, an ancient straw hat set rakishly on his head.  

The negro driver was fast asleep, slumped down in his seat with his mouth wide open.  The wagon was loaded with large boxes of nationally advertised food products.  What matter if they reached their destination after an hour or so delay?  Even time moves slowly in Natchez.

"How would you like to live in Natchez?" Bill asked, laughing, and I said I'd love it.

That was in jest, of course, but after two years here we are.

~ Sue Brown Hays

I ran across this delightful description of Natchez a few days ago when I was handed a letter written by a Mr. Bill Hays of Baton Rouge, who was trying to find a descendant of my uncle Balfour Miller.  Sometime in the 1930s, Mr. Hay's father owned and operated a tire store in Natchez for about a year.

 "When we lived in Natchez I was about a year old," said Bill, Jr.  "My parents rented a house in town. They both noticed the house had unusual noises from time to time.

"Being from old houses, and as they were in Natchez; they told one another it was merely a ghost. They even named her 'Anna Belle.'

"There was a trap door in the hall which went to the cellar. When my father had to work late, Mother would put the rocker over the hole and rock me until he returned."

After a year or so Bill's father returned to a job with Goodrich Tire Co.  

"As we were leaving Daddy opened a small door to the cellar to find it had been recently occupied by a couple of bums.  He said he told the landlord who did not seem to be concerned.  

"I remember them saying that old house must have been a duplex.  They just never knew it."

Mrs. Hays was a writer, and wrote a mystery novel set in Natchez in the 1940s called Go Down, Death.   I found a copy of the book online and am so looking forward to reading it.

Also included with the letter was a cute poem Mrs. Hays had penned around 1932.    It was written on Eola Hotel letterhead, where she was staying while her husband traveled out of town with a tire company.

I have a feeling I would've liked Mrs. Hays, and hope she had fond memories of the Eola and Natchez.


  1. Love these pics of the Eola. I remember how it looked in my childhood. Don't you see Miss Sophie Lemlie sitting there in the Eola lobby in her usual chair.

  2. I feel so lucky to be here. Dial-up is most certainly HELL. First my browser decided that your link was likely "a Scam" and after 15 min. I was able to desensitize that response. Next, my browser told me that you were not available because I was "not connected to the internet," although I surely was! By hitting the reload button (typically between 20 and 120 times) I connected. Next, your page would only load partially. Another 15 min and I had the whole page. They didn't have problems like this in Natchez in 1932 I'll bet. BTW, nice site!