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Along for the Ride
This month's listener ride topic:  transformation
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amy storrow

Thanks for submitting your vote to this episode's ride contest. Many of you wrote in asking if you could vote for more than one, and the final tallies were close. But one ride did prevail. Congratulations to Jay G. of Houston, Texas. His winning essay is called ....

Tallahatchie Memories

Last year I visited the Menil Collection and was pleasantly surprised to find an exhibition by William Eggleston. The collection of photographs featured my hometown in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. As I gazed at the images I remembered my childhood there. I remembered running through the fields of cotton in front of my parents home, the stalks towering above me. I remembered fishing from the Tallahatchie Bridge and running trotlines along the murky Cassidy Bayou in hopes of catching a monster catfish.

As I gazed at Eggleston’s photographs I was drawn to one of a marble angel mounted on top of a tombstone. The angel sat in silent vigilance over a graveyard near a bend in the bayou. I knew it well. As a child I had found its imminence disturbing. As an adult I now found it hauntingly beautiful.

Other memories of the bayou came to me. I remembered the sounds of the Mississippi Blues drifting through the town. Along the Cassidy Bayou there were about a dozen juke joints. Each weekend they were packed to the point that people had to stand outside in the street. The people would come from miles around to hear the local bands play. During the day the band members were cotton choppers and farmhands, but at night they were virtuosos, masters of the screaming and wailing guitars in their calloused hands. The juke joints are all gone now, torn down in the 70’s. Only memories remain of this birthplace of the Blues.

I had moved to Houston from Mississippi because of the music scene, the museums and the diversity of places such as Doville. I had found Mississippi too banal and isolated. I was reminded that sometimes we are blind to the art around us.