FRAZIER: Reflections on growing up, the strength of Rolling Fork
Published 4:00 am Saturday, April 1, 2023
Both my mom and dad grew up in Cleveland, which meant we traveled to the Delta often to visit family. Saying we went often really doesn’t seem to accurately enumerate our visits. It was more like we traveled there every weekend – that was until my brother and I got a bit older and leaving our friends behind in Vicksburg became an issue.
But before my brother and I came of age, we would load up the car on Fridays and as soon as Dad got home from work, we would head out. Back then, Highway 61 was only a two-lane road — the nice four-lane highway that now runs past Toney Town and the hospital was not built — so we left out on Old 61 that goes through Waltersville.
We traveled that road from here to Cleveland so much; I knew it like the back of my hand.
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As a little girl, I remember every time we passed the Panther Burn sign I wondered if panthers lived there. And not too far past the Panther Burn sign was a tree with a hole in it.
Not literally a hole, but when I looked at it from afar, it appeared that there was a hole that went through the middle of the branches.
I also remember the beautiful cotton fields when they were all bloomed out and folks were out picking.
Later on, it was the annoying smell of chemicals the crop dusters would spray and the large combines on the road we would get stuck behind.
Another vivid memory I have of driving through the Delta was after the 1973 flood. Water was literally up to the road. I recall being afraid if we veered ever so slightly, we might wind up underwater.
And then there was Rolling Fork.
It was the midway point between Cleveland and Vicksburg, and we never missed an opportunity to try and get Dad to stop there so we could get an ice cream cone or a soda.
Most of the time he said no, but there were those rare instances when he gave in, like when he had no choice.
My dad has an affection for easy-listening music and the minute we would get in the car, he would turn the radio on. Looking back, I think it was on purpose because there was something about that music that was like a sedative and before you knew it, we kids were out like a light.
It was on those occasions, that dad would try to ease into the little Dairy Queen-type store to purchase a Coke for himself. There was always one of these little stores in Rolling Fork, no matter how many times it might have changed names or hands.
But Dad’s plan was to no avail.
The minute the methodical sound of the wheels rolling over the smooth pavement ceased and we heard the crunching noise of gravel underneath, we popped up like jacks in the box, and of course, asked, “Can we get a Coke?”
He was busted and it was those times we got our way.
Dad would probably have benefited had there been little personal coolers like we have now. He could have kept rolling down the road with soda in hand and we wouldn’t have been the wiser.
Obviously, we don’t make those trips to Cleveland anymore, but it has been very sad to know that the little Delta town that holds precious memories for me will forever be changed.
I pray for the families that lost loved ones and I pray Rolling Fork will very soon be able to overcome the devastation left by the EF-4 tornado that destroyed their town.
I feel certain they will. Mississippians are tough, especially those from the Delta. I can vouch for that.