The year 2012 went in a blur, a happy blur. I finished the year storytelling at Beau Rivage, located in Biloxi. The months preceding were equally exciting – Jackson, Greenville, and stops in Jackson, plus a couple of gigs as far north as Tupelo. As with my storytelling colleagues, I am thrilled that the art has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity.
Yes, it’s been quite a ride in my once new 2013 model SUV. Traveling 35,000 miles in just 14 months is almost unbelievable, especially since 32,000 of them were on Mississippi roads. Ah, that’s where this traveling journal becomes interesting. Read along and take the ride with me.
You see I didn’t travel that first mile with an extended plan — about where my footprints and fingerprints would appear in almost every Mississippi County – really I didn’t. It just sort of evolved. Today, as my eyes search old calendars, the memories flood my mind – such good times and great people, but after all, this is a Mississippi extended trip. Uh-huh.
I began 2013 with a stop in Newton County via one of my favorite thoroughfares located in East Central Mississippi, the Andrew Jackson Military Road (also known as Highway 492). I must say I never miss an opportunity to travel the old military highway, and as I drive, I call forth the rich history of the area.
I then angled south on Highway 15 toward the town of Decatur – very historic community and home of East Central Community College as well as home to a collection of the best documented histories of East Central Mississippi, the Newton County Archives. When in the Newton County area, I usually stop in the town of Newton and browse one of the interesting shops, but on this day, I visited an elementary school — fun, fun, fun!.
In February I was off to Laurel, Collins, Quitman, and Jackson. I visited a school in Laurel, a sweet DAR Chapter in Collins, a historic event in Quitman, and a DAR event in Jackson. The invitations stated: Stories, stories – tell me your stories, and I did, at each and every stop.
In March, I took off to Lake Tiak O-Khata in Louisville, back to the town of Decatur, and over to the sweet, historic town of Enterprise. Right now I must emphasize if you have never visited Tiak O-Khata or Enterprise, shame-on-you. You must add these two locations in your next travel plans.
The lake is a family owned resort with a conference center, motel, lakeside cabins, RV Park, and the best-of-the-best full service restaurant located in the entire state, I’m just saying. Plus a history that will bring a taste of Mississippi history and heritage. Lake Tiak O-Khata means Lake of the Pines in Choctaw. Check it out: www.itok.com
Again, Mississippi history and heritage are the mainstays of the beautiful hamlet known as Enterprise, located in Clarke County as well as the sweet town of Quitman, also located in Clarke County. My invitations from these two communities both involved celebrations of local and state history. I loved it!
I greeted April with a stop in Philadelphia, Raymond, Hickory, and a return trip to Quitman. Again, and always a great joy, were the requests for stories and I’ve got ‘em! As May entered my world, followed by June, I celebrated in Union, DeKalb, Long Creek, and a return trip to Philadelphia, and with each stop I discovered the good, God-fearing, kindhearted, and generous people of Mississippi, who always greeted me with a smile and hug. Oh, how I love each of you!
Then, the traveling stopped.
Dear friends, I suffered an accident on June 13, with broken bones, stitches, and damaged teeth. For a while, I could only type with one lefty-finger, but, hey – I did it! The stories must go on. I have even developed some new material for my telling, because you see even if my bones were broken, my mind clicked along.
Yes, indeed – look for some new material coming forth – heh, heh.
Finally, today, I want to humbly thank each of you who called, sent a card, brought a meal, sent an email or FB message, ran an errand, sent flowers, made a personal visit, but most especially, lifted a prayer in my name. You are the best!
Anne B. McKee is a storyteller and writer. See her website: www.annemckee.net