What is there to say about Natchez? No one in the family is quite sure how our mother ended up there – the explanations vary – but the many children followed (except for Patty who lives in New Jersey).

Natchez is a very old town. One of the plaques, in a small park in an area called Natchez-Under-the-Hill, states that it was founded by the Spanish. That part of the town, closest to the shore and where the Isle of Capri gambling boat floats by the bank of the Mississippi river, is the oldest.

We did a walking tour of downtown Natchez, where Frank and I spotted a rainbow flag flying next to an American one over an art gallery. We all ate at King’s Tavern, purported to be the oldest building in Natchez, and haunted. Our waitress gave us the scoop on the ghosts, including her own run-in with the dead bar maid and the crying baby who’d been slammed against a stair banister and wasn’t content to go quietly into baby heaven.

There are a number of antebellum homes, and we managed to tour Melrose House. I’d never visited one of these homes before. This one can’t be called a plantation. They only had twenty-five slaves, seven of whom served the house.

Most people, of course, did not own slaves, and I’ll leave that discussion for some other time, on some other blog. But it was fascinating.

My siblings complained that the local Historical Society runs the place and keeps anything interesting from happening. They also, I’m told, keep Mississippi from having casinos on land, selling lottery tickets, or otherwise introducing vice into the Mississippi culture. That’s too bad, really, since there’s no manufacturing. The economy of Mississippi seems to be based on nothing. The young people often leave. Most of the state remains rural, and in Mississippi that means poor for the most part. My sister said several times as we drove along the highway past small communities with little but churches to interrupt the landscape, “I don’t know how they survive.” I might say the same thing about the entire state. But it is where I came from, and some part of my heart still beats there.

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