Saturday, March 29, 2008
I visited some familiar ground a few weeks ago. I went to Ripley, Mississippi to attend my Aunt Ermie's funeral. She had run a sandwich shop for 42 years selling the most delicious slugburgers in all of North Mississippi. It seemed like she was closed during each of my infrequent visits over the last 20 years or so and I had planned on a visit this month, but she died a week before. Maybe her grandson Bruce will keep the place going.
I took some snapshots of the courthous and of the public library. The Ripley Public Library has a special place in my heart. It's the first library I can remember. It's where I got my first library card. I don't recall the title of the book, but I vaguely remember a yellow race car was on the cover. I never had any business in the courthouse, but I visited the square often as a child. There doesn't seem to be much there now.
It was strange being in Ripley. I know the town as if I had lived there my whole life, yet I only lived there a year and then visited once a year until I was around 20. When I visit I feel like such an outsider, yet I'm filled with a flood wash of memories and love for the place. I want to tell everyone I see, "I'm not an intruder, I'm as much a North Mississippi resident as ya'll." Yet, when it's time to leave I know that I am truly a Tennessean to my core. Some things can't ever be recaptured.
Like 6-10 cousins and 5-6 adults all sleeping in Grandma Bridges's tiny 4 room house. It's still there on Cooper Street with its tin roof and front porch. When I was a child I thought this porch was massive. Time has shrunk its dimensions, but not my memories.
I'll visit Ripley again. I'd like to come check out the First Monday flea market again. There will undoubtedly be more funerals - a sad, but mortal fact. And I will likely go through the same emotions - excitement at traversing familiar terrain as I barrell down through Bolivar, TN heading toward the Mississippi state line (oh how tremendous it was every July when my mother and I would drive down) and then through Walnut and Falkner on Highway 15. And then the natural regret of leaving when I come back to Tennessee. Here's one last pic taken through the car window since I didn't want to disturb or freak anybody out. It's the house I lived in when my parents ran Raney's Cafe on 15. It was right down the street from the Cafe next door to a smoke belching shoe factory (it's now the Ashley plant).