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Today is December 3, 2021

Mississippi Seen

Being thankful

By Walt Grayson

Being thankful

Little by little, we are creeping out from under COVID-19. Families are planning holiday gatherings again. But not like last year when at Thanksgiving and Christmas, Jo and I just sat and looked at each other and the television. We had way too much turkey for just two people.

We are even getting to produce new “Mississippi Roads” shows again. Mississippi Public Broadcasting was obligated to adhere to all of the (ever-changing) CDC guidelines. So, to minimize the liability of inadvertently spreading COVID-19, the “Roads” van stayed in the parking lot for over a year. But the vaccine has given us a bit of freedom. So, we shot our newest “Roads” show on location just a few days ago.

Our first outing back into the world was at the Eudora Welty House and Garden in Jackson. Since a good deal of what I do requires writing, I always hope to absorb “something” every time I visit where a writer lived. I even sat at Mark Twain’s desk in Virginia City, Nevada where he worked at a newspaper. I don’t know that I’ve ever absorbed very much. I did get a little dusty at Twain’s desk.

In Eudora Welty’s house, there is a floor-to-ceiling bookcase filled with books written by people she personally knew. I asked Jessica, our congenial hostess if Ms. Welty knew William Faulkner. She told me they were well acquainted.

Mississippi author Willie Morris told me one time that he was on live television and went on and on for 10 or 15 minutes about meeting Faulkner. Willie was invited into his living room and sat down and visited with the gentleman. Then Willie laughed and turned on that impish look he had when he was up to something and told me he had NEVER met Faulkner. He sat in Faulkner’s driveway one night while two of his buddies dared to go knock on the door. They got invited in. Willie said he was too scared to approach the literary legend.

Willie said he had simply misunderstood the host’s question and suddenly realized the way he answered implied that he had actually met Faulkner. So instead of excusing himself and correcting the answer, he just went on to tell the story the way he would have liked for it to have happened.

I did get a tip from Willie about writing stories. He told me to always carry around a few blank note cards. And when something came to mind, jot it down. Anything. What someone said. Something funny that happened back in school. Anything. Then, I’d have some story starters.

I did that. But when I went looking for my cards, I couldn’t find them. My only notecard story will have to be about how I lost that stack of note cards.

Well, we’re heading into winter. If it gets as cold as it did last year, I will have plenty of time to look for those lost cards. And I sure hope “Mississippi Roads” can find some warm, indoors roadside stops in which we can do stories for the next few months.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Walt Grayson is the host of “Mississippi Roads” on Mississippi Public Broadcasting television and the author of two “Looking Around Mississippi” books and “Oh! That Reminds Me: More Mississippi Homegrown Stories.” Walt is also a reporter and 4 p.m. news anchor at WJTV in Jackson. He lives in Brandon and is a Central Electric member. Contact him at walt@waltgrayson.com.

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