By Scott Coopwood, HT.com blogger
Fall in the Mississippi Delta is not the depressing event that it is in
many parts of the country and the western world. It is not the beginning
of short, dark days and hard work. Quite the opposite. The Fall in the
Delta represents the end of our rewards and a new beginning. We never
use the word Autumn for the season.
Mississippi Delta Farmers take stock, merchants follow the fortunes of
the farmers. For me, growing up in the small Delta town of Shelby the
first sign of Fall was the soothing 24/7 humming sound of the cotton
gins. My grandfather owned one and on rare occasions I was allowed to
visit. A few weeks after we heard that hum the town took on a hazy fog
from the trash being burned in the gin, which carried a wonderful smell.
Fall also meant football season. Our entire town would turn out for the
Friday night high school game. On the following day the activities would
continue with my father and many of our friends driving to Oxford to
watch the Ole Miss Rebels play. That concrete stadium seemed as big as
my whole town. Although the smell was that of Bourbon in the stands
rather than cotton gin smoke. Then we drove home from the games and
children sang songs on the back seat.
There were others in the Delta not as happy to see the Fall arrive. Poor
people still picking cotton in the fields, sometimes scrapping for
cotton if there was a wet fall, making very little, maybe
enough to cover their furnish. I was a small boy then and didn’t
realize the wider horizons of my society.
After the football season I was just as excited about the hunting
season. My father and I would pitch a tent at our hunting club on the
Mississippi River, build a fire and cook over it. We sat around the fire
and told tall hunting tales. The writer, Alexander Smith, summed up the
Fall, albeit he was not writing about the Delta, _In the entire circle
of the year there are no days so delightful as those of a fine October,
when the trees are bare to the mild heaven, and the red leaves bestrew
the road, and you can feel the breath of winter, morning and evening –
no days so calm, so tenderly solemn, and with such a reverent meekness
in the air._
There were others, not as happy as the men about the arrival of Fall,
the women. Back to school clothes in the shop windows gave them a lump
in their throats, the end of swimming, sunbathing, and the enormous
effort they put forth around the various summer parties. Their
consolation was Memphis … Levy’s, Halle on Main, and Phil A. Halle,
under the care of their mothers who covered their spending spree with a
doctor’s appointment. They had to wait their turns for Christmas and
the dances to begin.
The Mississippi Delta is at its most beautiful stage in the Fall. The
colors, the landscapes, the late afternoon sky and sunset, and the
calmness, cannot be matched.
Yes, the Fall will soon be here and this is one Mississippian who cannot
wait for its arrival and so more memories to be made.
Scott Coopwood is the owner and publisher of Delta Business Journal, Delta Magazine and The Cleveland Current. He can be reached at email@example.com