Twelve years ago I left Jackson, Mississippi, a big ole country town suffering from an identity crisis, and moved to Starkville looking for a “little ole country town” that could quench my desire for a simpler life.
Well, today, I returned to Jackson and actually got off the interstate for the first time in 11 years to revisit some of my old haunts. Guess what! They were all gone – replaced with a big beautiful new city that conjured up thoughts of Atlantis.
I was blown away by the clean new shopping areas and sprawling residential communities that were well planned and a joy to behold. Actually, I hardly got past the one-time bedroom community of Madison on my pilgrimage, except to visit the Mississippi Agricultural Museum.
That’s my cousin, Doug McCall (above) dining on the world famous fried chicken. He is a budding author who has just released his second book “By Proxy: A Final Good Deed.”
I met two of my favorite cousins and my new friend Marion, and we dined in style at Juleps, a relatively new and delightful Highland Village eatery. We feasted on what USA Today has identified as the nation’s Best Fried Chicken. I totally agree. ( I had eggs benedict served on fried green tomatoes – if I’d died of a heart attack, I’d have died happy.)
Next we visited The Fresh Market at the Renaissance Shopping Village – a shopper’s dream. Let me offer a tip – if you’re going to Jackson, start your day at The Fresh Market in Madison, because you can nibble your way through some pretty fancy vittles free of charge.
We traveled south on I-55 to the Ag Museum and marveled how far Mississippi has traveled in the past 65 years. Did you know that as recently as 1945, only 19 percent of rural Mississippi households had electricity or running water?
Thank goodness I didn’t come along until 1947 when the two amenities had made their way to my hometown.
My cousin Nancy from Houston and her friend Marion were great companions for the day trip.
If you’ve never been to the ag museum, you must put it on your bucket list. You will take a trip through an authentic, recreated rural community, circa maybe 1890. The structures were moved from points across the state to give you a composite of what life was like around the turn of the 20th century.
You can wander through an authentic 1850’s homestead, a country doctor’s office, a two-room school house, and reminisce at the old country store where you can still buy a Coke and a bag of peanuts – at today’s prices.
What fun. I made the trip home on the Natchez trace and it was the perfect ending for the perfect day. Now I’m off to bed with Doug’s new “Who Done It” – remember that name – Doug McCall. He’s a MSU graduate and just like John Gresham I predict he will be a best seller.