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Today is August 20, 2019

Mississippi Seen

Summer Vacation

By Walt Grayson

Summer Vacation

Here was our first invitation to see the rest of the world, starting with Rock City on Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga. I saw a 
bunch of these barns in north Mississippi on our way to Grandma's house for vacation-weekends before I ever saw Rock City. 

Ah! Just the sound of it is refreshing – “Summer Vacation!” It used to mean a lot back when I was a kid. Free for the summer! We neighborhood boys who grew up together on North Broadway in Greenville would waste away our summer days riding bikes on the levee and our nights camping out in somebody’s back yard playing hide-and-seek trying to scare the kajeebers out of each other.

Or at least that’s the way the years have compressed that time period into the definitive “summer” that I think I remember. No doubt we actually did some of those things occasionally, but not all the time. I tend not to think about lawn mowing and the tedium of my paper routes and having to come inside and watch my baby brother or help shell butter beans – leaving just the fun times on the highlight reel of the “Summer of My Youth.”

Notice I mentioned no memories of Disney Land/World or the beach or trips out West. Naw, Daddy’s idea of a vacation was to pack us all up and take us to Grandma’s for the weekend. And by weekend I mean we spent either Friday OR Saturday night, not both. But when you work for a living like Daddy did, you had to be expedient with your time off – turning a family reunion into a holiday.

But like someone who has always lived in a cave and never seen the sunlight of a cross-country trek or an adventure in a National Park, I never missed it. Besides, we had a lot of fun wherever we went because when we got there, there were usually about a gazillion cousins to play with and you don’t get that in Yellowstone. Or even if you did, you can’t get off the well-marked walkway, so there goes a good game of tag out the window.

Traveling became a part of my job when I started in television. I have to admit my role model is Charles Kuralt and his “On The Road” series every Friday on the CBS evening news. And when travel is a part of your job, you don’t have to wait until summer to do it. 

We have discovered lots of places we enjoy here in Mississippi. Miz Jo and I took a road trip to the northeast part of the state (for a whole week!) with our friends Merrie and Rick Anderson from Clinton. We explored J.P. Coleman Park and Tishomingo Park and the adjoining towns and countryside. Rick is an artist and constantly snapped photographs out the window collecting elements that eventually worked their way into his paintings.

I took the picture that accompanies this article because it reminded me of those trips we made to Grandma’s when I was a kid. Back then there must have been a hundred barns in north Mississippi whose roofs beckoned us to expand our horizons, wooing us to see the rest of the world – (seven states at one time!) from Rock City. Most of those barns and roofs are gone, now.

By the way, we have visited Rock City. Took the two youngest grandkids when they were little. After going there and back home with them fighting in the back seat the whole way, I wouldn’t even take them to church in the same car after that.

Tourism in Mississippi has become a billion dollar industry. We who live here may ask, “What are people coming here to see?” Well, buy a tank of gas, put the grandkids in the back seat and go find out. After all, it is Summer Vacation time!

 

Walt Grayson is the host of “Mississippi Roads” on Mississippi Public Broadcasting television, and he is the author of two “Looking Around Mississippi” books and “Oh! That Reminds Me: More Mississippi Homegrown Stories.” Contact him at walt@waltgrayson.com.

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