Every little kid growing up in Mississippi knows it’s spelled, “M i crooked letter crooked letter i, crooked letter crooked letter i, humpback humpback i.” Last week I made my first trip in eight years to my home state of 43 years.
Family and friends are a little older, the little kids have gotten bigger and babies have come along. I now have great-great-nieces and –nephews!
My buddy Chris Smith accompanied me on the trip, made possible when my niece Jeanette Hill Bradshaw and her husband Ray made two 1,000-mile roundtrips to fetch us, then bring us home.
The week-long stay was in the Richland home of Jeanette, Ray and their son Michael. All three did everything to make the visit perfect. (I should say that Michael’s Nissan Versa, loaned for the trip, was the smoothest backseat ride I’ve ever had!)
On Sunday, 14 September, Jeanette and Ray hosted “B.J.’s Homecoming Party,” attended by family and friends, at a beautiful park near their home (photos below). Everyone had a ball visiting and enjoying covered-dish specialties of great Southern cooks – male and female.
In Mississippi, it’s a given, “It always turns cold just before the State Fair.” So, with sunny days and nippy breezes, we escaped the state’s unrelenting humidty and heat. Chris and Michael spent Monday afternoon in the pool and came out shivering. The patio hot tub was on the fritz so I missed a first – and a chance to do a little Autumn skinny-dipping. (Are you getting a visual?)
Monday night we made a trip into the city where we dined at The Elite, landmark restaurant at the heart of Jackson on Capitol Street.
On Tuesday my brother Isaac Lafayette Turner, Jr. and his wife Glo of Wesson came to spend the day, and Isaac’s tales of battling his son Brad’s (shall we say aggressive) Nubian ram will one day make their way onto this blog – expletives deleted! We laughed the afternoon away!
My son, Ladd Frazier, hosted a dinner at his Pearl home on Tuesday night. Everyone talked the night away on his deck after baby-back ribs, potato salad, baked beans, rolls and iced tea.
Jeanette, Michael, Ladd, Chris and I spent Wednesday in historic Vicksburg enjoying a terrific luncheon buffet at the Rainbow casino and “free play” on the slots at the Horizon. Four of us won a little cash and Ladd made up for his loss at the all-you-can-eat buffet!
We posed for photos in front of beautiful murals, painted along the Mississippi River levee and with Civil War cannons, which defended the town during the Yankee siege.
We crossed the river bridge, with the state line marker at its midpoint, for two reasons: so Chris could say he traveled in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, and to build high hopes when each of us bought a $163 million Powerball ticket!
Our final two days were restful and fun with Jeanette and Ray showing off their cooking skills (recipes below). You’ve gotta love a man who slips into the kitchen at 10 p.m. to make us a fresh peach cobbler and shares jars of his home-canned muscadine jelly and red pepper jelly. Jeanette is carrying on the good-cook tradition of her mother (and my sister) Mary Bell Turner Hill and grandmother, Ruth Marie Timmons Turner, my mother.
Friday there were souvenirs to buy for Chris’ folks and a must-have purchase of two things I cannot get in South Carolina: Blackburn’s Syrup and Mississippi tomatoes. Of course, no trip home is complete without Krystal burgers and catfish and hushpuppies!
Bathroom scales? What bathroom scales?
Mississippi is known not only as “The Magnolia State,” but as “The Hospitality State” as well. My hearfelt thanks to all who made the week extra special for Chris and me. Good eating is a Southern tradition, so I’ll close with these words from newspaper “socieity pages” of the past:
“Delicious refreshments were served, and a good time was had by all.”
Four photos and five fantastic, taste-tested recipes follow this post. Enjoy!