Home Away From Homeless (part 2)

After volumes of document requests supplied to our mortgage broker, we told him we would be out of the country on a cruise for seven days beginning March 5th, so if there could possibly be ANYTHING else he might need let us know prior to that date.  A closing date was set for the week after our return, so we and left for a much needed cruise with close friends. 

Cruise: We joined three other couples for a seven day cruise on The Norwegian Dawn to Mexico, Roatan, Belize and Mexico (again). This was R&R for all eight of us; long awaited and much needed.  While on the cruise we celebrated two important events:

(1) Three of us couples renewed our wedding vows on March 6th. The fourth couple officiated and took pictures.

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And (2) we surprised sweet husband with a belated, 70th birthday celebration.  Our friend, Kay, made tiaras with black netting for the women and the men got pointed, dunce caps (except sweet husband who wore the cake).

Sweet husband’s favorite shore excursion was to crew the 1987 America’s Cup sail boat race winner with good friend, Curt.  They raced a Canadian ship and won by mere feet.

Naturally, in spite of our telling our broker we would be out of the country, we got several urgent texts and calls while at sea ($50.00 worth) requesting yet more documents for underwriting, more signatures, etc. By the time we returned back to the wonderful shores of the USA, our closing date was delayed, the contract on our house expired and the seller’s wouldn’t extend it.  We became officially homeless.

In spite of this lovely news, we continued our pre-planned visits by spending another few days in Baton Rouge.  Then on to the metro-Jackson, Mississippi area to meet the newest grandson, visit my eldest son, my brother, several friends and Sweet husband’s other grandson who had just turned four.

aubrey prom

Above my only granddaughter dressed for Jr./Sr. prom night in Baton Rouge. 

From there we drove to Meridian to participate in the induction of two of my grandsons into a nation honor society. 

Liam and Mariner

The plan was to drive back to Tennessee to rest and pick up our “stuff” out of storage and move into our new (to us) home in Long Beach, MS…NOT!

Instead we drove to the Mississippi Gulf coast to find a home.  We gave ourselves three days.  We were successful on the second day and had a day of rest planned before heading to Tennessee to “wait” on the mortgage process (again) with a new mortgage company.

Our last evening there, I stepped off a curb in the dark and fell hard on a concrete surface.  I thought I broke my wrist, but I sprained, skinned and bruised just about everything else:  a rib, both wrists, my knee and my ankle.    At this point one might think, “Perhaps God doesn’t want us to move back to Mississippi”, but not me.  This has only made me more determined.

Speaking of God, the next day while in the ER, our friend in Alabama called to check on us.  Sweet husband told her about my fall and she insisted we come and recover at her house, which was only a two hour drive as opposed to the two to ten hour drive back to Tennessee.  We happily agreed.  Thank God for sweet Marie.

Home Away From Homeless (part 1)

condo

So we had this great, yet small, condo (1,000 sq. ft. +/-) situated at the front door of The Great Smoky Mountain National Park, our long desired retirement location. 

After much prayer and angst we decided to sell it to find something with a bit more room and a lot more autonomy (a unhappy association with our many investor neighbors was also a huge consideration).  In this decision, we failed to take into account the recent fire in Gatlinburg, which resulted in the shortage of available homes to purchase at our price point…DUH!

SIDE NOTE OF ADVICE:  If you buy a condo in a resort area, make sure that there are a large number of owner-residents onsite. We had a poor experience living in a condo community owned mostly by investors. Investors and homeowners are two different creatures…one treats it like home the other treats it like monthly income.

Pictured below are two examples of the devastating fire that swept through our beautiful park and the upper neighborhoods of Gatlinburg.

We had made plans, prior to selling, for a visit family and friends, out of state, and to go on a cruise out of New Orleans with close friends. Therefore, not being successful in finding a home to buy, in a timely manner, we packed everything and put it all into storage in time to head to Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

First stop, Orange Beach for Mardi Gras with friends. Sweet husband’s 70th birthday fell on Mardi Gras this year and his youngest daughter gave birth to her first child that very day.

Did you know that south Alabama has a replica of the Stonehenge, called “Bama-Henge”?

Above Bama-Henge

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Second stop, Biloxi, MS for a Yellowstone Employee Reunion. Wonderful friends we had made in 2015 who lived and worked with us at Grant Village.  Two fun-filled days of catching up.

YS Reunion

Prior to this trip and because housing prices were on the rise daily in Pigeon Forge, we decided to move to the Mississippi Gulf Coast (for many reasons, much too long and an unnecessary rabbit trail for this post).  WE placed an offer on a house and started the painful mortgage process…UGH! So while on the coast, we went to tour the house in Long Beach, MS we were purchasing…yep, made the offer sight unseen.  (This purchase has another chapter to it to follow in Part 3).

From there we drove to my youngest daughter’s home south of Baton Rouge for a long needed visit with a cruise sandwiched in the middle of our visit there.

Cruise blog and pictures to follow in Part 2

FEBRUARY BIRTHDAY EXCURSION

We have several family birthdays in February and since all are located in Mississippi and Louisiana we decided to take a trip down south to celebrate with them and get away from yet another snow event here in East Tennessee.  Sweet husband has a birthday tomorrow, but we will celebrate alone together.

STOP ONE: Wilmington, NC to see new friends, Mike and Karen. They live two blocks from the Atlantic, so even with the cold ocean winds, we had to walk down.

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Wilmington is home to Arlie Gardens. 67 acres of paths, lakes, formal gardens, live oaks (one is 500+ years old), 5,000 varieties of camellias, birding trails, thousands of azaleas along with historic, contemporary and primitive garden sculpture. Beautiful even in February.

STOP TWO & THREE: We visited Sweet Husband’s sister and brother-in-law, Martha & Del, in Orlando on our way to stop four and spent a couple of fun days catching up. We also met Del’s sister and husband (Eileen & Stu) in Lakeland for lunch. They are now official Snowbirds from Maine.

Also in Lakeland we toured Florida Southern College designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright. We count his architecture art work and tour each structure when possible.

STOP FOUR: We had met and developed close friendships with several people in Yellowstone with promises to visit; we keep our promises. Couple number one: Rose and Robert live in Cape Coral, Florida. They crammed in island visits, lunch on a fabulous pier and dinner with Robert’s sister and her husband.

STOP FIVE: Navarre Beach, FL to spend two nights with dear friends, Jim & Sharynn Singleton, from Mississippi, now in Florida.

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STOP SIX: Another Yellowstone couple Jerry and Mel. They live in Texas, but were visiting their son in Ocean Springs, MS. We stopped for a great lunch and sweet reunion.

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STOP SEVEN: Super Bowl Sunday in Baton Rouge with my daughter, Trish, and her family. We had two birthdays to celebrate: Nicholas #6 and Aubrey #16, sweet 16. Aubrey and I exchange flamingos from time to time and have since she was about three, so I had a special cake made for her. Our friend from The Rose Parade and co-conspirator, Teegie (who lives in Baton Rouge) joined us for dinner and the celebration the night after the super bowl.

Teegie

IMG_3791NicholasNicholas 6Aubrey 16

STOP SEVEN: Jackson, MS. We visited several close friends, John, Curt & Sherry, Kay and her Mom, Gay, my Brother (Bubba) and my sweet son Tony.

Due to circumstances beyond our control we didn’t get to see Leonard’s daughters or precious Grand-Wonder, Liam, for his 3rd birthday, but we left gifts on the porch.

Liam 3

STOP EIGHT: Didn’t happen. We hoped to spend time with my son, Joe and daughter Lorie and their precious families (no birthdays), but they were all fighting a virus and/or the crud.

FINAL STOP: An evening with Rogers and Hammerstein at the Knoxville Symphony Pops for our valentine gift to each other.

KSO

All this in only two weeks. We are getting good at this.

 

MISSISSIPPI (Please don’t touch that dial!)

Miss logo

I have been blogging over the past 16+ months about all the wonderful adventures Sweet Husband and I have been enjoying, but I have failed to mention one very important state, my home MISSISSIPPI.  Why are we so small, yet so creative?  Simply because we have to be.  There is something in the collective DNA of the people, of every race, in Mississippi who has a determined will and brotherhood connection to press on beyond the collective expectations of the rest of the world..

Sure there are and have been race issues in our state, but we faced them and even let the rest of the nation feel better about their hidden racism because they could point to us; like we were the only or (at least) the worst.  We have the same current problems many of the U.S. states face: single parent homes, poor public education, jobs shipped off to foreign countries and the systematic removal of God’s standards so desperately need to bring hope and stability to life.

We look at movies like the HELP and still hold our heads high because we know we are not that way anymore and we certainly weren’t the only ones living like that in that era.  We looked straight in the mirror and pulled up our big-boy pants and straightened thing s out.

That and the fact that we don’t toot our own trumpet is why no one knows who we really are.  Well, I’m about to toot…

The short List of Famous Mississippians (then and now)

MUSIC:  No Black. No White. Just Music.  Some see the world in black and white. Others see varying shades of gray. But, Mississippi taught the world to see … and hear … the Blues and so much more … The most revered blues highway in the world – Mississippi’s Highway 61.  Musicians from all over the world came to the Mississippi Delta to learn our special brand of music.

Mississippi Birthplace of the Blues.

  • Charlie Patton musician, Mississippi Delta
  • Robert Johnson musician, Hazlehurst
  • John Lee Hooker musician, Coahoma County
  • Muddy Waters singer, guitarist, Rolling Fork
  • Howlin’ Wolf musician, White Station
  • Little Milton musician, Inverness
  • B. B. King guitarist, Itta Bena – the undisputed KING of the blues with his sweet Lucile

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  • Bo Diddley guitarist, McComb

COUNTRY MUSIC

Charley Pride country singer, Sledge

Charlie Pride

Charlie Pride

Conway Twitty country music, Friars Point

Faith Hill singer, Jackson

LeAnn Rimes country music, Jackson

ROCK AND POP

Jimmy Buffett singer, songwriter, Pascagoula

Lance Bass singer, Laurel

Tammy Wynette country music star, Tupelo

William Grant Still composer, Woodville

Elvis Presley singer, actor, Tupelo

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley

Brandy Norwood singer, actress, McComb

ENTERTAINERS

Sela Ward actress, Meridian

Oprah Winfrey talk-show host, Kosciusko

Simbi Khali actress, Jackson

James Earl Jones entertainer, Arkabutla

Jerry Clower comedian and story teller, Liberty/Yazoo City

Morgan Freeman actor, Charleston

Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman

Jim Henson puppeteer – inventor of THE MUPPETS, Greenville/Leland

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OPERA

Leontyne Price soprano, Laurel

l. price

ARTISTS

Wyatt Waters artist, Clinton

Walter Inglis Anderson artist, Ocean Springs

WIA

Mildred Wolfe artist, Jackson

George E. Ohr artist, Biloxi

AUTHORS & WRITERS

Yes, we can read. A few of us can even write. From Pulitzer Prize winners to revolutionaries who initiated momentous cultural change … oh, yes, Mississippians can write.

No other state in the country can claim as many honored, awarded and revered writers as Mississippi. Yes, Mississippi. Where words transcend

Barry Hannah author, Clinton

Beth Henley playwright, actress, Jackson

Eudora Welty author, Jackson

Jill Conner-Browne author, Jackson (and THE Sweet Potato Queen)

Kathryn Stockett author, Jackson

Linda McClary Martin author, Jackson

Navada Barr author, Jackson

Richard Ford author, Jackson

Richard Wright author, Natchez

Richard Wright

Richard Wright

Tennessee Williams playwright, Columbus

William Cuthbert Faulkner author, New Albany

William Faulkner

William Faulkner

William Raspberry columnist, Oklaona

Willie Morris writer, Jackson

John Grisham author, Oxford

Richard Ford author, Jackson

Natasha Trethewey author, Gulfport:  an American poet who was appointed United States Poet Laureate in June 2012; she began her official duties in September.  She won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her 2006 collection Native Guard, and she is the Poet Laureate of Mississippi.  She is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University, where she also directs the Creative Writing Program.

Natasha Trethewey

Natasha Trethewey

Barry Hannah author, Meridian

Greg Iles author, Natchez

Greg Iles

Greg Iles

MISSISSIPPI PULITZER WINNERS AND FINALISTS:

1946: Hodding Carter, Editorial Writing, The Delta Democrat-Times, Greenville, MS

1948: Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire, drama

1955: William Faulkner, A Fable, Fiction

1955: Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, drama

1961: David Donald, Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War, (biography)

1963: William Faulkner, The Reivers, Fiction

1973: Eudora Welty, The Optimist’s Daughter, Fiction

Eudora Welty

Eudora Welty

1981: Beth Henley, Crimes of the Heart, drama

1984: Louis R. Harlan, Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee, 1901-1915 (biography)

1988: David Donald, Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe (biography)

1996: Richard Ford, Independence Day

2002: David Halberstam, War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton, and the Generals, general nonfiction (finalist)

2005: Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan, de Kooning: An American Master (biography)

2007: Natasha Trethewey, Native Guard, poetry

2008: David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War, history (finalist)

INVENTORS & NATIONALLY KNOWN PUBLIC FIGURES

Medgar Evers civil rights leader, Decatur

Medgar Evers

Medgar Evers

Charles Evers civil rights leader, Decatur

Theodore Bilbo public official, Poplarville

Shelby Foote historian, Greenville

Craig Claiborne columnist, restaurant critic, Sunflower

Elizabeth Lee Hazen inventor, Rich (most known for her contribution to the development of nystatin)

Elizabeth Lee Hazen

Elizabeth Lee Hazen

Famed hat maker John B. Stetson honed his skills at Dunn’s Falls near Meridian, MS.  It was here the haberdasher designed the most popular creation, a men’s hat known simply as “The Stetson.”

hat

Hartley Peavey inventor, Meridian

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A Mississippi Stereo Type. Description There are a lot of stereotypes in Mississippi. Our favorite “stereo type” is the one that resonates in the ears of music fans the world over. In 1965, Hartley Peavey started Peavey® Electronics in his dad’s basement in Meridian, Mississippi. From that small, one room operation, Peavey® has grown to encompass 1.5 million square feet of manufacturing space. A leader in manufacturing mixing consoles, amplifiers, speakers, microphones, guitars, basses, keyboards … and just about anything else that has to do with music … Peavey supplies acts from rockers 3 Doors Down, Nickelback and Kid Rock to country stars Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw and Hank Williams Jr.

Peavey also has more patents, trademarks and registered products than anyone else in the industry.

ATHELETICS

Yes, we wear shoes. A few of us even wear cleats.

Brett Favre, Kiln – The only player ever to be named the NFL Most Valuable Player three years in a row and current NFL record holder for career touchdown passes.

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Walter Payton, Columbia – over 20 years since he last took the field, “Sweetness” is still ranked among the NFL’s greatest, appearing in category after category of the NFL record books.

Jerry Rice, Starkville – the greatest receiver in NFL history, owns virtually every major career receiving record in league history.

Steve “Air” McNair – miraculously led the underdog Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship –a first for the 40-year-old franchise.

Eli Manning – led the New York Giants to a stunning win over the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

These men are just a few of Mississippi’s legendary football heroes.

Yes, Mississippi. When it comes to world-class athletes, we’re a shoe in…

Red Barber sportscaster, Columbus

Archie Manning football player, Decatur

Payton Manning football player (son of Archie, brother to Eli)

The Natchez Trace Parkway (also known as the Natchez Trace or simply the Trace) is a National Parkway in the southeastern United States that commemorates the historic Old Natchez Trace and preserves sections of the original trail. Its central feature is a two-lane parkway road that extends 444 miles from Natchez, Mississippi,

Natchez

Natchez

to Nashville, Tennessee. Access to the parkway is limited, with more than fifty access points in the states of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. The southern end of the route is in Natchez at an intersection with Liberty Road, and the northern end is northeast of Fairview, Tennessee, in the suburban community of Pasquo, Tennessee, at an intersection with Tennessee 100. In addition to Natchez and Nashville, the larger cities along the route include Jackson and Tupelo, Mississippi, and Florence, Alabama.

The All-American Road is maintained by the National Park Service, to commemorate the original route of the Natchez Trace.

The gentle sloping and curving alignment of the current route closely follows the original foot passage. Its design harkens back to the way the original interweaving trails aligned as an ancient salt-lick-to-grazing-pasture migratory route of the American Bison and other game that moved between grazing the pastures of central and western Mississippi and the salt and other mineral surface deposits of the Cumberland Plateau. The route generally traverses the tops of the low hills and ridges of the watershed divides from northeast to southwest.

Native Americans, following the “traces” of bison and other game, further improved this “walking trail” for foot-borne commerce between major villages located in middle Mississippi and central Tennessee. The route is locally circuitous; however, by traversing this route the bison, and later humans, avoided the endless, energy-taxing climbing and descending of the many hills along the way. Also avoided was the danger to a herd (or groups of human travelers) of being caught en-masse at the bottom of a hollow or valley if attacked by predators. The nature of the route, to this day, affords good all-around visibility for those who travel it.

The Unmatched Courage of a Soldier. The Ultimate Sacrifice of a Town. The Unparalleled Vision of a Workforce. Mississippi. A Legendary Force for Freedom:

One Mississippian – Lawrence “Rabbit” Kennedy – who served in the U.S. Army during Vietnam, remains one of the most decorated U.S. soldiers in history.

One small town in Mississippi – D’Lo – sent proportionally more men to serve in World War II than any other town in the country … which was literally every eligible man in town.

And for over 60 years, one Mississippi workforce – Northrop Grumman Ship Systems – has helped bring freedom to those who seek her elusive grasp the world over.

Where Is The World’s Largest Auto Plant That Was Built From Scratch?

Japan? No. Germany? No. Detroit? No.

Mississippi? You Better Believe It!

A once-barren, 1400-acre field now bears a plant that the world would envy … in Canton, Mississippi.

A state known for its agriculture now cultivates plants of a different sort. The automotive sort. In May of 2003, Nissan started production at the company’s $1.4 billion assembly plant in Canton. The 3.5 million square-foot facility has the capacity to produce 400,000 vehicles a year. Nearly a half-million automobiles a year. Right here in Mississippi.

NASA’s Center of Excellence for rocket propulsion testing isn’t in Houston, or even Florida.

NASA

It’s Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi.

As NASA’s primary center for testing and flight certifying rocket propulsion systems, Stennis was the test site for all Space Shuttle Main Engines. It is also the lead center for NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth Enterprise – where U.S. companies are assisted in environmental consulting, land use planning and natural resource management. Stennis employs about 4500 people – 1600 of whom work in the fields of science and engineering. So when you hear people say it doesn’t take rocket science to know Mississippi, they’re wrong.

Mississippi. When It Comes to Modern Medicine, We Wrote The Book.

If you listen to “Hollywood,” Mississippi should be the last place to turn for learning anything about medicine. They couldn’t be more wrong. When it comes to modern medicine, Mississippi wrote the book. Literally. While at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Mississippian Dr. Arthur Guyton wrote the Textbook of Medical Physiology, used by medical students around the world since 1956. The best-selling physiology book ever published, this textbook may very well be the best-selling medical textbook of any kind. UMC physiologist, Dr. John Hall, assisted Dr. Guyton with the ninth and tenth editions of the textbook. Upon Dr. Guyton’s death in 2003, Dr. Hall took over the textbook, thus continuing to help educate the finest future physicians in the world.

The First to Have a Change of Heart … and Lungs … and Kidneys …

Health care in Mississippi. It is by no means back-woods or antiquated. In fact, Mississippi was home to the first-ever heart transplant … and the first-ever lung transplant … and the first-ever kidney autotransplant. All performed by Mississippian Dr. James Hardy, a surgeon at Mississippi’s University Medical Center. Yes, Mississippi. We were the first in the world to have a change of heart. Now isn’t it time the rest of the world had a change of heart about Mississippi?

DANCE COMPETITION (really?)

One of the world’s most prestigious dance events, The USA International Ballet Competition is it in Moscow, Russia. Varna, Bulgaria. Helsinki, Finland. NO!  Jackson, Mississippi, USA Mississippi

It is a two-week “Olympic-style” competition where young dancers vie for gold, silver and bronze medals, as well as cash awards and scholarships. And, every four years, where is the USA Competition held? Not New York. Not even California. Since 1979, the only place in the U.S. to see the International Ballet Competition has been in Mississippi. Mississippi? World-class? We think we’ve made our point. Or, make that “pointe”.

A State of Grace

We always hear about Mississippi being last. Last in this, last in that. Well, at last, Mississippi is first … in generosity.

In 1995, the world took note of Mississippi’s generous spirit through a single, unselfish act. Ms. Oseola McCarty of Hattiesburg had made a living washing & ironing for over 75 years. As a child, she was taught to save money by her mother, a single-parent who was a cook and sold candy to make ends meet. Over the years, Oseola – who lived modestly, never even owning a car – accumulated a small fortune. In 1995, she donated $150,000 to The University of Southern Mississippi for an endowed scholarship. It was the single largest gift ever given to USM by an African-American. Having quit school in 6th grade to help take care of her ailing aunt, Oseola wanted desperately “to help somebody’s child go to college.” The Oseola McCarty Scholarship does just that by giving “priority consideration to those deserving African-American students enrolling at USM who clearly demonstrate a financial need.” Prior to her death in 1999, Ms. McCarty received scores of awards and other honors recognizing her generous spirit, including the Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second highest civilian award. But all the awards and accolades in the world could never truly match the rich, warm, humble blessing that was Ms. Oseola McCarty.

Oseola McCarty

Oseola McCarty

Mississippi, the poorest state in the union ranks number two in giving.  The average Mississippi household donated 7.2 percent of its discretionary income to charity. Residents are more likely to give cash than time: They volunteered at a rate of 21 percent, below the national average of 26 percent.

BEAUTIFUL WOMEN

Mississippi has four Miss America winners

Mary Ann Mobley, Brandon (1959)

Mary Ann

Linda Lee Meade, Natchez (1960)

Cheryl Prewitt, Ackerman (0980)

Susan Akin, Meridian (1989)

Only seven other much larger states bet us out, with 5 or 6 each.

SURVIVORS

Yes, we are.

GULFPORT, Miss. — Hurricane Katrina did not directly hit New Orleans, which flooded because of levee failures. Mississippi, it walloped.

When the hurricane roared in from the Gulf of Mexico, it crushed pretty beachfront towns like Pass Christian and Waveland under a 28-foot surge and wrecked the cities of Gulfport and Biloxi, ripping up the Port of Gulfport and tossing around the floating casinos. It spun off tornadoes, wreaking destruction far from the coast. All told, 238 people died in Mississippi, an appalling number but one mostly overshadowed by the far grimmer toll in New Orleans.

Now, it is easy to see the rebuilt and the missing: the empty lots where stately beachfront homes once stood and the new civic buildings in otherwise modest coastal communities. The population on the coast has rebounded but shifted inland somewhat, driven by safety concerns and flood insurance costs.

New Orleans may have gotten most of the attention, but the experience here may be just as instructive for those debating the weighty policy questions raised by the nation’s costliest natural disaster: what a 10-year recovery truly feels like, how to split up resources between grand ambition and pressing reality, and who is ultimately deserving of government help.

Mississippian’s did not wait for the government to come to our rescue.  We pulled together and rescued ourselves.  We got our chainsaws and our trucks, cleared roads, built temporary housing and fed everyone in need.  We lost our precious hardwood crop and hundreds of years of historical buildings, but we proved we are people of living and loving character.

I love my MISSISSIPPI – Now aren’t you glad your read this?