My mindlessness project is moving along swimmingly. Much like the mighty Mississippi below, all I do is flow.
This picture was taken from the Natchez bluffs near where I grew up. I am still as directionally challenged by this area as I was when I lived there. In order to get to Texas from here, you cross the river into Mississippi and drive south. There’s a very westward feeling about driving east and then south to get to Texas.
The Mississippi side of the river is much higher than the Louisiana side. It’s also more beautiful with rolling hills and sprawling ancient oaks. Whatever oaks grew on the delta side were long ago removed for cotton farming. There were mansions to be built on the bluffs beside those sprawling oaks, and ball gowns had to be made. Cotton created the cash needed to build a city with a cultured class.
Great fortunes were made on the cotton plantations that lined this river. Northern states and England couldn’t get enough of the fluffy white stuff. Cotton trade built historic Natchez, a place mired in its antebellum past.
When I lived there in the 50s and 60s, two industrial giants called Natchez home—International Paper and Goodyear Rubber. A port facility stayed busy all the time. The Miss-Lou area was thriving and a great place to live.
Then in the 70s the tide shifted and the plants began to shut down and the port closed. Out of desperation, the Garden Club ladies figured out how to promote their heritage with events that produced tourism dollars. Their hard work for decades has kept the town afloat and created yet another tradition in a place already steeped in traditions.
Until industry returns to this area, tourism is vital to its economic well-being. Some might call all this tourism a bit corny and old-fashioned, and they would be right. But sometimes the right thing to do is to make use of what you have, no matter how hokey it seems.
Here’s a pretty good video of modern Natchez from a tourist’s point of view. There’s even a shot from the bluff that looks just like my picture above. In my mind New Orleans will always lie in that direction.