The one thing I have found great pleasure in here is radio. I have gone a few rounds with friends these past few months on the viability of, as they call it, "terrestrial radio". I see in Memphis and the surrounding area that radio is alive and well. There is an abundance of stations, and not all are conglomerate owned. There are the standards, and a lot of religious stations (including 2 great gospel stations), but also a Funk station (oh yeah, it is a beautiful thing), lots of blues stations, jazz stations that aren't "smooth jazz:, and, the brightest spot for me, WEVL. We are often tuned to WEVL, because you never know what you are going to hear. I do know the vintage punk show is Friday mornings when I drive Rena to preschool, and Wednsday afternoon is Bashfull Bob with Sho-nuff country. He has retired this past week, but they plan to rebroadcast some of his shows, since he is a popular DJ. His shows are what would be called classic country, music that takes you back to a woodfloored dance hall, wearing the dress your mama made from a flour sack just for date nights, hair curled and set, ready to dance the night away, and maybe catch the eye of the fiddler with the deep blue eyes.
I don't think radio is dead, and stations like WEVL prove it to me, community radio proves it to me.
So this morning for me was dropping Rena off at preschool, then visiting the library and the local museum for Desoto County to see what was there.
This is my first time living in the Delta, and all I know of this area is what I read in school, which is all Conquistadors, Indians and Poineers. Then Poverty and Blues. That was the extent of what I knew. In fact, the town and county are named for Hernando DeSoto, who it is desputed was buried here.
I took out a few books: Highway 51, which is a photo book on the road, also known as "the blues highway"; With Signs Following, pictures of religious signs through the south; Eudora Welty as Photographer, which has wonderful essays also; Sputnik, Masked Men, and Midgets, about Memphis wrestlers (Elvis was a fan, even played before a few matches in the early days) Jerry Lawler gives the intro, he was a DJ befre a wrestler. Some Wrestlers from the area also recorded songs. The book is just a great look into pop culture of a time and place, and since the place is here, I had to see what it was about.
Also on my night stand but I haven't peaked at yet is Chopsticks in the Land of Cotton, about Chinese Immigrants in the delta.
The Desoto Museum was like most other small town museums, basically one room, a timeline of the areas history, witha large portion dedicated to the role the area had in the civil war. Besides Jerry Lee Lewis, who still lives here, the area boasts John Grisham, Walter Malone (poet). It was also the location where James Merideth was shot during a freedom march
This happened south of town, the shooter drove down from Memphis and targeted James, calling his name before firing shots.
Some areas of the county were considered some of the poorest in the nation, and the Catholic Church had brought Sacred Heart Southern Missions down here to Walls, a town west of Hernando, where at the time people were living in abandoned trolly cars being stored there. This begins my favorite tidbit of area history. One of those Missionaries, Fr. Gregory Bezy, began the Sacred heart Auto League to promote safe and prayerful driving, and to raise money for the mission, which provided care for the areas poor. Hence the dashboard jesus was born. Yes, you have Desoto Couty Mississippi and Fr. Gregory Bezy to thank for dashboard jesus.