Wednesday, June 27, 2018

End of the Road

I find the last day of a solo road trip a little sad.  I knew the following day and from then on I would be in the company of friends and family, which is far from a bad thing, but that feeling of traveling alone, being one with your thoughts, free to do whatever you chose without compromise, is gone until the next time.  I assume there will always be a next time, but in truth travels end.  There is a last trip somewhere out there for all of us.  I hope mine is far off.  Yours too.
That last day all I had to do was angle across the bottom of Mississippi, cross over a tiny part of Alabama and head into the panhandle of Florida, where I would settle into Pensacola and meet my golfing buddies from Ottawa the following day.  The end was in sight.

From Natchez I got on Highway 61 (Dylan anyone?) toward Fayette, took 28 to Union Church and then 550 to Brookhaven.  I was in the Mississippi boondocks;  pine trees, pickups, and coon dogs.  Not much else.  I began to wonder if I’d waited too long to fill up on gas.  Then I happened upon the Community Grocery and the oldest gas pump I have seen in quite some time.

As you can see there was no credit card slot in that pump, so I went inside to pay, a rare occurrence for me anymore.  They were cooking lunch in there.  Aptly named, Community Grocery was less gas station and more general store/restaurant. 

“What’s for lunch?”
“Beans, greens and ham hocks.  Fried chicken if you want it.  But it’s not ready.”

“That’s OK I had breakfast not long ago.  Not to be nosy, but who are you cooking for?  There’s not a lot of traffic heading your way where I came from.”
“They’s loggin’.  Come noon will have hungry loggin’ men in here.  Truck drivers, skidder operators, chain saw men.”

“Well, it smells good.”
“Don’t matter how good it is.”

She got a lot louder.
“They got nowhere else to eat anyway lessen they bring their own lunch.” Ain’t that right Audrey?”

Audrey, an older woman in a hair net who was standing over a huge steaming stock pot, let out a big laugh and the woman I was speaking to joined her.  They made me feel like they were glad to see me.
I cruised the shelves for a snack to go, picked up a few cans of V-8, but couldn’t find the moon pies.  I settled on a bag of peanuts.

When I took my stuff back to the counter the woman looked at my V-8 and immediately went to the kitchen for a dish towel, returning to vigorously clean off the top of the cans.
“You don’t have to do that ma’am.”

“Yes I do.  That’s filthy.  You don’t want to put that nasty can up to your mouth do you?”
I hadn’t noticed.  But I think some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet live in the South.

“Thanks.  Say where are the Moon Pies?  I haven’t been seeing any in the stores.”
“I don’t know what’s happened to those Moon Pie people but my bake goods man hasn’t brought me any in months.  I don’t know if they went out of business or what but I don’t get any no more.”

I kind of wished I could have stayed for lunch at the Community Grocery but I had a ways to go yet on those slow two lane roads so I said good bye to Audrey and her friend and was off.
It was a beautifully bright day for travelling.  I passed through Brookhaven and Monticello on Route 84, then to 27 to 586.  I steered the Buick on a slow glide through the small towns of Darbun and Foxworth.  In Columbia I turned south on 13 which carried me to Lampton, Pine Bur, and finally Lumberton.

In Lumberton I was seriously held up by a train which did not move.  Even a train that it switching, moving up and back, changing cars, offers hope but that damned train just sat there.  I circled back downtown and found myself on a main street.  Lumberton was not jumping with activity.  But there on a corner, under a beach umbrella by a pickup truck, was the guy I’d been waiting to talk to the whole trip.  As old as me, he had on bib overalls and was wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat.
On the tailgate of his pickup truck and folding tables on both sides was a whole array of great looking vegetables.  I parked the Buick and went over for a chat.     

“How you doing today sir?”
He eyed me suspiciously.  I don’t know how I looked to him.  I was wearing a Titleist hat with a Cubs logo.  Could be it was how I sounded.  Or maybe he saw my Illinois license plates. 

“Not worth a shit.  How about you?”
“Is business that slow?”

“Business?  You mean selling vegetables?  Hell this is just a hobby.  Gives me an excuse to get out of the house.” 
He looked away.  He was chewing something.  Could have been tobacco but he didn’t spit.

“Well that train has me boxed in here so I figured I’d stop for lunch.   You got a recommendation?”
“Just two places really.  You got Wards over there (pointing), burgers and fries and shit.  But if you want a real meal, I mean plate lunch specials, a meal of honest to God food, you’d want to go across the street to Fiorella’s.”

“So have you lived here a while?”
“I lived here till I graduated high school and joined the Navy.  Made a career of it.  Been all around the world and couldn’t wait to get back to Lumberton.”

“Has it changed much?”
“Has it changed much?  Are you kiddin’?  It’s gone to hell.  All around here used to be full of pecan (he pronounced it pee con) trees.  Farmers on little farms, raising kids, good families.  It was a hustling town, Lumberton was, till they built the interstate.  Ruined the god damned place.  This town’s population is 2,226 and dropping like a stone.  Hell, nobody comes through here anymore.”

He thought for a moment, looked at the Buick, looked at me again.
“So what are you doin’ here?”

“I’m going to Florida the slow way.  Wanted to see a different part of the country.  Meet people like you.”
“People like me?  Who do you think I am?

“Southern man about my age living in a small town.  I’m a Northern man kind of like you, live in a little bit bigger town, hundred miles southwest of Chicago, have a garden.  I mean, we’re both Americans.  We can’t be that different can we?”
“Oh you might be surprised.  I’m guessing you’re a Democrat.”

“I am.  And I’m guessing you’re not.”
“No shit Sherlock, what was your first clue?”

He gave me a big smile.  He had giant teeth.  False I’m guessing.
“I dunno.  Might have been the hat.”

 He laughed. 
“How is your guy doing you think?”

“The Donald?  He’s tearing it up.  Making a big damn mess of things.  That’s exactly what I hoped he’d do.  Scare the hell out of both parties.  We’ve had it both ways down south here and there’s not been a dime’s worth of difference between Republicans and Democrats till now.”
“You think that’s the way to go?”

“Well nobody was doing shit for us before.  You know what it’s like to live in a little town in nowhere America these days?  Not like it used to be I’ll tell you.  Whole damn countryside is owned by lumber companies.  All you can do is work for somebody else.  No jobs that pay anything anymore.  I’m glad my parents aren’t here to see this.”
“Hell they’re dissolving our school district.  Half of its going to Purvis and half to Poplarville.  We won the 2A state football title in 2004 and 2005, now we’re 1A and they’ll probably end up closin’ the damn school altogether. 

“Why is that?”
“You know why as well as I do.  Nobody’s got any money.  You can’t tax a damn turnip.”

“Yeah, and God knows we can’t raise taxes on those lumber companies.  Might hurt them.  In fact he cut their taxes.”
He ignored that comment.  Had I ignored his?

“Lumberton is fading away.  And nobody does shit about it.”
“Do you think your president’s going to change that?”

“He can’t do any worse.  I hope somebody’s listening.  We’re tired of getting taken for granted. Something’s gotta change.  And I think he’s the guy to do it.”
“Yeah, well I don’t.  I think he’s going to do a lot of damage to a lot of people before he’s through.  Already has if you ask me.”

We were both quiet.
“Those are sure nice sweet potatoes,” I said.  “I’ve tried growing them but never had any luck.  I can grow regular potatoes, but sweet potatoes never seem to turn out.”

“You need a lot of heat to grow good sweet potatoes.  They grow good in red dirt.  Loose red dirt.  Not that hard clay.”
“If I had a kitchen I’d buy some of your produce.  It’s nice looking.”

“Thanks.  Keeps me sane, growing this stuff.  Like I say it’s mostly a hobby.”
A diesel engine revved up and we heard the boom of empty train cars jerking along the track.

“Guess  I’ll head over to Fiorella’s and get some lunch.  Nice talking to you.”
“Nice talking to you.  Sorry if I got carried away.”

“That’s OK.  Me too.  Lot of it going around these days, that getting carried away.  You got a legitimate gripe.  We just don’t agree on how to fix it.”
“Yeah.  Don’t suppose we will anytime soon neither. But enjoy your trip.”

We shook hands.  I should have gotten his name, like that woman who made the bread pudding in Arkansas.  They are the unsung voices, the undiscovered talent in today’s America.
At Fiorella’s, save for kids coming in to put money in a gumball machine, I was the only customer at 1:30 in the afternoon.  The waitress sat me at a table near the counter and told me about that day’s special.  Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green beans.  Rice pudding or ice cream for dessert. 

“The mashed potatoes are real,” she said.
“That’s unusual.”

“Yeah, well that’s the kind of place we are.”
“Does your meat loaf come with have that canned brown gravy all over it?”

“Doesn’t have to, I can leave it off.  It’s fresh too.  This pan came out of the oven about 10:30.”
“I’ll have the meatloaf, skip the gravy.  Glass of milk.  Rice pudding for dessert.”

My lunch came up quickly and it was good.  As I ate the waitress sat at the counter with a giant glass of pop checking her phone.
“How’s that meatloaf?”

“I like it.  I like being in a real restaurant, and not a chain.”
“A chain?”

“Yeah you know.  Olive Garden.  Denny’s.  McDonald’s.”
“Well, Fiorella’s is kind of a chain.   We got three restaurants.  This is the original but we opened one in Purvis and another in Poplarville.  In Poplarville we got beer, and we’re trying new things on the menu.”

“Like what?”
“Like poppers.  Jalapeno’s filled with cream cheese and stuff.  They’re selling good.  I think we’re going to have them at all three places pretty soon.”

“I work all three restaurants.  I got three kids and need the hours.  Tell you the truth, I don’t much like the work but I love my customers.”
I could have stayed in Lumberton and talked to more folks but I knew I had to be on my way.  I was headed to the gulf coast, Mobile Alabama, and into the Florida panhandle where I would end my trip.  I gassed up before I left town.  Lumberton turned out to be my last stop before Pensacola.

From Lumberton I cut over on 13 through Carnes and Fruitland Park to Wiggins.  There I picked up 26 to Lucedale, then got on 98, which turned into 42 at the Alabama line.  Before I knew it I was into Mobile and on that long causeway which is I 10.  The sun was behind me on the bay and the water sparkled.  The causeway took me over to Spanish Fort, then Ensley, and finally Pensacola where the solo road trip ended.  I hope the Buick and I get out on the road for another trip next year.  I’m undecided as to whether I should keep telling you all about them however.  We’ll see what happens.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Night in Natchez

I knew nothing about Natchez.  I went there on the recommendation of a good guy I’ve gotten to know from Louisiana.  Hearing I was roughly following the Mississippi down to Florida, he said if I was anywhere near Natchez it was worth seeing.  So I went.
From Bostrop I drove toward Sterlington and headed the direction of Monroe.  In Columbia I turned on 4 East following it through Gilbert, Jigger, and Ft. Necessity.  I picked up 425 S. again there and crossed the Mississippi River for the last time, entering the State of Mississippi into the town of Natchez.

I went up a hill from the river, and drove through a town that looked much like any other.  I pulled into a gas station, filled up while I was there, and made an inquiry of a guy at the pump across from me.
“Guy told me there were old mansions and stuff in this town.  Where would I head to see them?”

“You’re over the hill.  You want to  down the hill to see old town.  Did you cross the river just back there?”
He pointed in the direction from where I came.

“Go back that way.  As you head down the hill take a right on any of several streets. You won’t miss the old town.  It’s big and fancy.” 

That it certainly is.  When cotton was king in the south the bluff in Natchez, facing the river with views of the Louisiana shore, became the favored building site for rich plantation owners to put their mansions, outdoing each other with architects, sparing no cost for design or furnishing.  It’s a spectacular display of antebellum southern lavishness, if you’re into that kind of thing.  There is something about regular people marveling the rich, from any time period including the present, that I don’t understand.  But hey, using an old river saying, whatever floats your boat.
I turned onto a street that gently swept through old trees, huge yards, and gigantic stone buildings.  I guided the Buick into a driveway with a sign pointing the way to a parking lot, a property obviously open to the public.  It was close to five.  As I walked towards an outbuilding behind a split rail fence I encountered two people in period costume.  An older woman in a long gingham dress walked towards me.   Behind her a young man was locking a door.  They were obviously leaving. The woman spoke to me.

“You can come back tomorrow morning for the tour if you’d like, but we’re closed now.”
As her words ended she sucked on one of those electronic cigarettes whose tip glows blue when you draw on it.  Vaping is the term I hear.  When she exhaled a cloud of white curled up around her big bonnet.  The boy behind her, in knickers, high socks, and suspenders was on his cell phone texting.  He didn’t look up.  Something about people depicting life 180 years ago using modern devices is weird but I get it.  They were off the clock.  I caught them at a bad time.

“I’m just trying to get oriented.  I plan to stay the night in Natchez.  Can you suggest a hotel? “
“Darryl, get this man a pamphlet will you?”

Darryl looked up from his phone, not terribly pleased, offered a smile (fake, I could tell), turned back, unlocked the door and went inside.
“I could tell you about hotels but Natchez is a bed and breakfast town.  Your best bet is Googling a list of B+B’s.  They’re all in the old part of town, you can get a good deal, and the breakfasts are to die for.”

Darryl handed me a pamphlet.
“You’ll find some in there but there’s more on line.  Really.  It’s the way to go.  Enjoy Natchez.”

I took her advice and ended up at Choctaw House.   The host at the bed and breakfast, or more accurately, splendid mansion with breakfast, was a southern gentleman, previously from Marlsgate, a plantation showplace in rural Arkansas.  Choctaw House is a four story Natchez mansion.  Architects call it transitional, containing the general Federal style while blending Greek Revival details.  I don’t know what that means at all.
It’s a damned big structure though, tall and built right out to the sidewalk in 1836 for a guy named Joseph Neibert, a southern real estate speculator.  I was shown into one of four guest rooms found in the above ground basement that once housed slaves.  That floor, once simple and crude, is now decked out with huge four poster beds, elegant bathrooms, and antique furniture.  Everything above, three floors of it, is parquet floors, shiny hardwood, elegant wallpaper, sweeping staircase, high ceilings, you name it.  Mr. Neibert didn’t look to be worried about expense.  If it was expensive in 1836 it went into this house.  You got your double porches, formal garden in the back, a view sweeping down to the river, and a widow’s walk on top.  It’s a helluva of a place.

My host explained that he provided the bed in this bed and breakfast deal, and assured me I didn’t want to eat his cooking so he would give me a voucher at Dunleith Historic Inn down the street which qualified me for a tour of that mansion, and of course he would give me a tour of Choctaw House whenever I chose.  I told him I was mostly hungry at the moment and would most likely take him up on that tour in the morning .  He recommended Cotton Alley for supper, three blocks over and one block down the hill.  He was a smooth talker, dapper little southern man with a handlebar mustache and carefully combed white hair.  He looked like a shrunken Colonel Sanders.      
Cotton Alley was an old restaurant with a small menu and great food.  I had a cup of gumbo and crawfish etouffee with a glass of wine.  After dinner I asked the waitress if they served Sazeracs, a rye whiskey cocktail.   She leaned down and spoke softly.

“Our bartender is new and has been looking drink recipes up in a book behind the bar for a week.  If you want a really good Sazerac go up the hill to King’s Tavern and have Ricky Woolfolk make it for you.  He makes the best cocktails in town.  Tell him Sarah sent you.”
Why stop going where people send you and taking their advice when it’s working for you?  I paid my bill and strolled up the hill in search of some joint called King’s Tavern.

Natchez has live oak trees and pretty vines that climb up fences and posts and break out into blooms, some red, some purple, which smell wonderful.  That night offered a kind of quiet that wraps around you.  It was warm even though it was of February and a slow stroll up the hill on dimly lit brick streets seemed the perfect thing to do.
Kings Tavern, as it turns out, is not only the oldest building in Natchez, but the oldest in the entire Mississippi territory.  It was built in 1769 as some kind of block house attached to a fort and has operated as a tavern and an inn more or less continuously since 1789.  It was the favorite place for riverboat men to hang out after they had delivered their goods on the Natchez docks.

Before steam engines and the locks and dams on the river commercial traffic was carried out by wooden barges that could float down the river but had no power to return upstream.  So they dismantled the boats, sold the lumber, and returned north overland via the Natchez Trace Pathway.  Many of the first buildings in Natchez, including King’s Tavern, were built from that lumber.  Stepping into that tavern,  through a small wooden door over a raised threshold, into a big room with low ceilings of exposed hardwood joists, dim lights, wooden tables and benches, made me feel as if I was stepping back in time.
Behind the bar was a friendly guy framed by rows and rows of whiskey bottles.  There’s something about being in well stocked bar that I find very comforting. 

“Are you Ricky?”

“Sarah down at Cotton Alley says you make the best Sazerac in town?.
“She did?  I’m going to have to buy that girl a drink soon.  What kind of whiskey would you like in that Sazerac  sir?”

“Pick me out a good one.”
He did.  Ricky Woolfolk’s Sazerac was so good I had another before making my way down the hill to Choctaw House.    Lying alone in that big four poster bed I thought it would be an excellent night to have a companion on the trip.  Travelling alone offers lots of freedom, an advantage not to be taken lightly, but it has its downside as well. 

I went to sleep thinking of Choctaw House as it was before the civil war, well aware that I was sleeping in luxury in a place once crude and inhabited by slaves, people owned by others, who were bought and sold, considered assets not unlike a herd of cows.  Funny how the past continues to affect the future.
Once my host heard that I was up in the morning he came down and inquired how I liked my coffee.  He made his with a New Orleans blend that included chickory.

“Not everybody likes it.”
“That’ll do fine.  I’ll take it black.”

He talked entirely too much for that early hour but I listened politely.  Southern history seemed to just roll out of his mouth.
He had purchased Choctaw House as a business venture to showcase his family’s art collection.  His family owned at its height a 7,000 acre cotton farm in Arkansas.  His great great grandfather (there is possibly another great there) just as short as he, was the original cotton planter.  He was awarded a land grant, given the land in other words, for most of that acreage and bought the rest for sometimes under a dollar an acre.

It was said in those days, according to my host, that if a man could plant and sell three consecutive cotton crops he would have made his fortune.  His grandfather did that, and following his success married a beautiful woman nearly six feet tall, took her on a grand tour of Europe that lasted nearly a year, and for three years following their return large wooden crates containing all manner of art, brocaded cloth, custom made furniture, silverware, dishes, and most importantly to him, fine porcelain all signed by a Frenchman named Jacob Petit were unloaded on the river docks and hauled up the hill by slaves to their plantation mansion, where the mere presence of those objects  loudly proclaimed their owners' wealth. 
“So did you become a cotton farmer?” I asked.

“Heavens no.  I studied art history.  My life has been devoted to the care and the preservation of these things.  I’ll show you after your breakfast.”
The Dunleith Inn is another imposing mansion on the Natchez river bluff.  Breakfast was served in a converted horse barn on the grounds of the mansion.  Fancy is the only word to describe that layout; heavy silver, nice table cloths, delicious omelet.  The staff there almost insisted I take the free tour of the mansion, but I figured one mansion was plenty, and I still had Choctaw House to get through.

My host began the tour outside by bringing me up the sweeping double staircase that leads to the big entrance and into the dining room of that old mansion, as invited dinner guests might enter the mansion.  The table was set with more dishes than I have ever seen in my life.  According to him his family owns seven sets of Jacob Petit dishes.  He also dropped the name of the silversmith who made the utensils.  There had to a dozen pieces of silver at each place setting.  A big ass crystal chandelier hung over the table.  I don’t know about you but I get nervous around all that breakable expensive stuff.  I know it was beautiful and valuable, but to me it was over the top gaudy.  If there is an opposite of Zen simplicity, the dining room table at Choctaw House is it.
It was that way through the entire house. Chock full of porcelain.  My host kept picking up pieces of it and showing me the signature on the bottom.  I believed him after the first one but he persisted.
One of his favorites was not a Petit piece but rather a figure of a pretty woman leaning out an upstairs window of a tall skinny house, waving a red kerchief.  He explained that the brothels in Amsterdam, in the red light district, gave their best and most loyal patrons a piece of this porcelain in gratitude for all the money they spent at their establishments.  The southern men, returning to America, often gave them to their wives who thought they were lovely, and were none the wiser.  His eyes twinkled when he told stories.  He was full of them I tell you.
He explained the origin of the curtains, the bedspreads, the step stools used to climb up into the canopy beds, the painting on the walls, the busts, the fireplace andirons.  By the third floor I’d about had it, but he just kept talking.

The fourth floor was the best, lots of windows and light, and a staircase leading to the roof. 
“If the weather is good on New Year’s Day we always have a party on the roof.  My serving boys hate those parties, they have to carry all the food and drinks up from the kitchen on the first floor.  But my it is a fine place to party.  Would you like to see it?”

On the very top of Choctaw House you realize the real beauty of Natchez.  It’s the valley, the bluff, and of course the river, the central feature of that part of the warm and rich south.  You can have the art, I’ll take the geography.
As we went back down the staircase I saw a curious painting on the wall.  It depicted a flood.  In the swollen river were black people on the roof of a building floating downstream.  One of the men was trying to pull a mule up on the roof.  A woman was reaching out to a child in the water.  And on the bluff, on a widow’s walk high above like the one I had just been standing on, was a handsomely dressed white couple, the woman in a long hooped dress, the man with a tie and hat.  They were waving at the struggling black people below.  Waving.

“You like that painting?”
“Not especially no.”

“A man wants to buy the rights of that painting from me and produce a set of prints.  I’m not sure I should let him.”
“I’d get as far away from that painting as I could if I were you.”

My host looked at me curiously.
“Well, you’re a Yankee and I understand how you might feel.  But it was a way of life.”

“How many slaves did your family own?”
“We can’t exactly tell, but we believe over 200 at one point.”

“How did your family and those slaves the Civil War and the end of slavery?”
“Well even though we lost the war we didn’t lose our money.  My great great grand daddy had confederate money of course but he also had money in European banks and Northern banks.  They hedged their bets.  And they adapted quickly to a new business model after their slaves were “freed.”

“What business model was that?”
“Share cropping.  The slaves had nowhere to go and no means to get there so the landowners sold them their mules, assigned them a patch of land, built them a shack and the cotton continued to grow.  And the people that owned the land still made money.  It would never be like before but the South still offered the rich a good life.”

That’s kind of what I was thinking when I went to sleep in the slave quarters.  The rich stay rich, and the rest of us look in from the outside.  I think that’s life in America.   

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Lunch in Louisiana

Soon after I crossed the Louisiana state line, traveling south on Route 425, I stopped In Bostrop for an oyster po’boy sandwich.   I’d been imagining that sandwich for quite a while.  Sam’s Southern Eatery looked to be the ideal place.  Old.  Their sign could have dated back to the 60’s.  I realized Sam might be long gone, but there were lots of cars in the parking lot.  When I entered I was slammed by with smell of hot seafood in deep fryers.  Fried shrimp baskets were their specialty.  I had my mind on oysters.
Back in the nineties a couple from Louisiana bought Fred’s Carry Outs across the street from the YSB office on Madison and made a go of it for only a short time.  They occasionally put a spicy shrimp po’boy on special and I inquired about oyster po’boys.  They reported they wouldn’t serve them because they just could not find good oysters in Illinois.

Around the holidays I brought them a container of oysters from Kroger, the kind they sell for Christmas and New Years’s Eve up north, and asked if they could Cajun them up for me in a po’boy.  The woman cooking laughed, declared it was the first time anyone had ever walked in with their own sandwich makings, but made it for me.  She said the oysters were pitiful.  Claimed you had to have oysters just shucked from the gulf for a proper oyster po’boy.  I thought it was delightful.  She suggested I get the real thing in Louisiana, and that was exactly what I was doing.
My order was up.  On the plate in front of me were light tan nuggets of fried oysters laid in a row between two sides of a  fresh baked baguette.  They were dressed with lettuce, tomato,and mayo.  On top of it I added several shakes of Crystal hot sauce. 

As soon as I bit into that sandwich from Sam’s Southern Eatery I understood what my old neighbors across the street meant when they said you had to have fresh shucked gulf oysters for a proper oyster po’boy.  If you find yourself in Louisiana, get yourself to a good place like Sam’s Southern Eatery in Bostrop.  You’ll understand what I’m talking about.   
Sam’s Southern Eatery was ringed with trees busting with beautiful white blooms.  It was the end of February in Louisiana and spring had arrived.  I asked the teen age girl who took my order what kind of trees those might be and she didn’t know.  Halfway through my po’boy I inquired of the nice old couple at a booth near me what those trees were and they smiled, looked at each other, and replied

“We can’t tell you, but aren’t they beautiful?”
I agreed that they were.

“You lived in Bostrop a long time?”
They laughed.

“All our lives,” the woman said.  “You’d think we’d know what those trees are don’t you?  I guess we just take them for granted.”
As I walked through the door on my way to the car a man approached the restaurant.

“Excuse me sir, do you know the name of these trees that are blooming here?”
“No idea.”

I concluded if the people of Bostrop could enjoy those trees for what they were, beautiful and in bloom, without knowing their name far be it from me to wonder any further.  Who does it matter?  I resolved to simply enjoy them,  just like I enjoyed that po'boy sandwich.
I got back in the Buick and headed for Natchez.