“Tri State Rambles”
by George M. Moreland
The Commercial Appeal
Copies from a newspaper
article owned by Frances V. Avery.
November 29, 1929
Used with Permission. Copyright, 1929, The Commercial Appeal,
Memphis, TN, 38103.
Notice: These articles may not be
copied, downloaded or reproduced in any form or
medium without expressed,
written permission from the Commercial Appeal.
Marks Ever So Briefly.
It Rains in Mississippi.
most of last week in delightful diversions.
I spent it passing through Marks,
Miss. On Monday, en route to
Ruleville, I passed Marks and had to keep urgin’ Maggie, my car, along to keep her from stoppin’ there.
Then Tuesday, en route to Jonestown, I passed Marks
again and Maggie was so insistent on stoppin’ at Marks
that I had the hardest time imaginable makin’ her
keep pluggin’ along her way. Then Wednesday, passing through Marks
again, that car o’ mine, quite as infatuated with Marks
as her partner is, refused to move a peg when I reached Marks
but rolled in upon one of that blushing city’s handsomely paved streets and
stopped – stopped as still and remained as serene and quiet as the carcass of
see Marks has got “me an’ Maggie” both spoiled. When we
visit in that city the folks treat us both so good that whenever we start to
any place in Mississippi somehow it is nearer for
me an’ my car to go by way of Marks. The folks there treat Maggie quite as fine
as they do her partner. They’ve got
Maggie hypnotized and I wish they’d please be accomodatin’
enough to “unhypnotize”her because she refuses to
run whenever we land in that blushing city’s environs.
didn’t tarry at Marks long – just long enough
for “me an’ Maggie” to imbide some of the fragrance
that wafts from the bosom of Coldwater River and to mingle with them good Marks folks who are adept in knowin’ how to treat a vagabond just like he was a human bein’.
While I was at Marks my good friend, Dr. B.J.
Marshall, than whom Mississippi has no more splendid fellow, made me a present.
He presented me with one full gallon of – no, dear readers, do not
anticipate because it was not corn liquor that the affable dentist gave me –
one full gallon of good sorghum which, however, I did not take along with me
because, you see, if I leave my present there that’ll give me another good
excuse to visit Marks again soon to get my
gallon of sorghum.
Leaving Marks, I
headed Maggie southward – headed her down toward that historic old county of
Mississippi organized in 1833
– great county that produced the immortal George, the eloquent Money, and
many, many other Mississippians whose names glitter in a halo of grandeur in
the pages of that state’s inveigling history, I rode toward Carroll County.
a nice drive down through Mississippi toward Vaiden, one of Carroll County’s two capitals. Although I drove in a drenching rain, that
didn’t make the ride unpleasant. It
is, in fact, a pleasure to drive in Mississippi in the rain, that state
is so compellingly beautiful. Maybe
some folks will call me a crank but I do think rain is pleasant. What would the flowers do without the raindrops
to nurture them? What would the
emerald expanse of Mississippi’s landscapes be without
occasional rains to patter down upon them and strengthen them? Besides, if you could have seen the mud on
Maggie’s sides, even on her top, you might have been inclined to believe that
her appearance would have been improved considerably if I’d leave her out in
the rain a fortnight.
passed through Sumner in a downpour; glimpsed Webb through the diamond-like
raindrops; passed near Charleston in a rain so terrific that I could scarcely
see the trees that lined the roadside; hurried through Holcomb lest “me an’
Maggie” might drown in the downpour; lunched at Grenada in a rain that fell
in torrents over the beautiful expanse of Grenada County’s inviting and historic
old capital; was inspired as I wended through the mainest
street of that “jewel of Mississippi,” Duck Hill, and finally pulled up at
the excellent hotel kept by my good friends, Mrs. McCord, at Winona, in a torrent so terrific that both
me and the dusky-hued porter who unloaded my baggage were nearly drowned
before we could land inside the warm and cheerful lobby of Mrs. McCord’s
Esconced within the haven of that
Winona hotel, the rain continued with unabated zeal. Somehow I was reminded of the poet’s lines
as, sitting in my cozy chamber, I listened to the patter outside:
“How it pours, pours, pours,
In a never-ending sheet !
How it drives beneath the doors !
How it soaks the passer’s feet !
How it rattles on the shutter
How it crumples up the lawn
How ‘twill sigh, and moan, and mutter,
From darkness until dawn.”
came and the rain continued. I had
been invited by Mrs. A.A. McPherson, Vaiden lady, to visit that historic and
progressive old city of culture and progress.
Fortunate for me, Maggie is a “kiverted car”
and doesn’t leak a drop. So, leaving Winona
in a downpour, “me an’ Maggie” continued on our way to Vaiden.
Arriving at Vaiden, who should come out to greet me but
that excellent Mississippian – that talented statesman and active member of
the notorious Mississippi Legislature – A.J. Coleman. Somehow I saw Representative Coleman emerging
from the door of a drug store in the downpour of rain to greet me my mind
reverted back to a painful period in my career – period when, in all the
agony of the damned, I sat and listened to statesmen argue pro and con on the
virtues of book plant bills, the dire tragedies that would result if a cattle
tick law was passed, and much chatter about the building of highways.
But I’ll tell you folks, that fellow. A.J. Coleman, is a nice fellow – a perfectly respectable
citizen at home – even though he is a member of the Mississippi Legislature. I hope none of his friends will hold it
against him because he is a member of the Mississippi Legislature because,
meeting him at home, I am ready to testify to the fact that he is a respected
man at home. All his neighbors like
him. It really wasn’t altogether his
fault that he’s a member of the Mississippi Legislature. Somebody had to make the sacrifice. You know Carroll County must have two
representatives at Jackson. It’s really to the credit of my good
friend, Coleman, that he was willing to jeopardize his reputation by daring
to journey down to Jackson to become a member of the
At the drug store I met Dr. C.D. Alexander, who
immediately volunteered to act as my host while I sojourned at Vaiden. Although the rain fell in torrents Dr.
Alexander, affable and in fine spirits, asked me if I were ready to begin my
“sight-seeing tour” of Vaiden and vicinity.
When I protested that it was raining the talented physician only
laughed. “I’ve got a good car,” he
assured me. So in that downpour of
rain we set out to “see Carroll County.” Let me tell you, folks, those Carroll County folks – at least my good
friend, Dr. Alexander – scorn such a trifling incident as a rainstorm. All over the hills my host drove with me –
showed me more interesting things than I could write down in this column in a
month, allotting my entire space to the infatuating subject.
I have reserved much of that data assembled at Vaiden
for a Sunday story – story which, if I have succeeded in writing it
intelligently, will be a contribution to the beautiful local annals of Mississippi. I garnered rare bits of local history never
yet, as I believe, recorded in the written annals of Mississippi, complete and fine as
those annals are.
Mrs. A.A. McPherson who had invited me to Vaiden. Rain or no rain, when that delightful and
cultured lady learned that “me an’ Maggie” had arrived she hurried down town
and accorded me a welcome to her historic old city.
Nor was that all.
Those Vaiden folks entertain folks who visit them even in the
rain. If I may judge by the quality of
the entertainment accorded me in the rain I despair of stretching my
imagination to that superlative degree that would be necessary to try to
imagine what kind of entertainment Vaiden would offer if it had not been
At the noon hour with Mrs. McPherson I went over to the
beautiful home of Mrs. Ruth Hawkins where, along with Dr. and Mrs. C.D.
Alexander, Mrs. McPherson, and Mr. And Mrs. T.C. Vaiden, were served with the
most elegant lunch – fine dinner just like these Mississippians know so well
how to serve.
I never could tell you all the good things Mrs. Hawkins
had on the table to eat and modesty forbids that I even attempt to confide to
you how much of it I “put away.”
I saw many fine things while I was at Vaiden. I reveled
in history’s haunts; delved into the lofty annals of the city’s beautiful
past; assembled data on that progressive Vaiden of today; visited its
excellent high school about which I will write more fully later; and I met many
of its splendid people, but dear readers, in all frankness, I must here admit
that the tempting table of Mrs. Ruth Hawkins, Vaiden lady, was just about the
finest thing I experienced during my visit to Vaiden.
But my space is filled today. I must stop. But I will have more to say about my visit
to Vaiden in another installment of this column.
by George M. Moreland
The Commercial Appeal
Copies from a newspaper
article owned by Frances V. Avery.
November 29, 1929
Vaiden’s High School,
Vaiden Today, Goodbye, Vaiden ! A Ride Through the Night.
with Dr. C.D. Alexander and Representative A.J. Coleman as my hosts that I
journeyed – in the rain of course – up the hill slope from the business
section of Vaiden to the high school building which stands upon land deemed
for the purpose in the will of Cowles Mead Vaiden, pioneer physician,
business man and philanthropist, whose name Vaiden bears. Incidentally it might be mentioned that
this splendid pioneer, in addition to presenting the city which bears his
name with a site for its public school, also gave sites for the Episcopal,
Presbyterian, and Methodist churches, gave Bibles to the two churches first
mentioned, and at his death in 1880,
directed that the sum of $50,000 be set aside
to educate poor boys at the University of Mississippi on condition that the
state set aside a similar amount to add to the gift. This, unfortunately, the state never did.
At the high school building, I found the boys and girls
assembled in the auditorium along with several of the older people of the
city. Superintendent Dewey Denton of
the school welcomed us to the center of Vaiden’s educational activity. The Vaiden High School is a first-class
institution. Its curriculum is high
and Superintendent Denton and his able faculty are doing fine work there,
although the physical equipment at this high school, such as the building and
its furnishings, are not quite up to the high standard usually found in
Mississippi, which state is so well advanced in modern school buildings – as
well advanced probably as any state in the south. But the fact that the Vaiden High School is not quite up to date
does not in any way signify that the Vaiden High School is not a first-class
school. After all, it is the high
curriculum and the ability of the faculty that counts most of all. That Vaiden has in its able faculty and the
lofty ideals toward which they aspire.
assembling much of Vaiden’s beautiful annals, delving into the past of one of
the older settled sections of Mississippi, I next set out to see what the
Vaiden of today is doing to contribute its quota toward the building of that
greater Mississippi of tomorrow. Lofty
annals of a beautiful past are fine.
The stories of the tribulations, the hardships and the accomplishments
of those who are dead and gone should be preserved. But after all, what is of most importance
to the tri-states today is not what our grandfathers did, but what we are
doing today to maintain the lofty ideals of yesterday and to build here in
this sunny southland of ours a more progressive and a wealthier Mississippi.
I found after some investigations that, even as the old
Vaiden of the past was one of the progressive communities in the state, so,
too, that other Vaiden of today is maintaining all the aspirations, all the
progressiveness that has made that section of Carroll County famous.
The stave company at Vaiden cuts 125,000 staves per day. A big planing mill is located there which
planes 150,000 feet of lumber every day. When I inquired about the logging
activities in that vicinity I was told that so many logs are hauled in from
the hills that not even the most exacting statistician of the town could
estimate the number of feet of lumber in the rough that is hauled to Vaiden
But it was when I approached the subject of dairying
that Vaiden’s people waxed eloquent.
They talked to me with such enthusiasm about their milk cows, their
whole milk plant and their two cream stations that, had I not known I was
down in Carroll County, I might have guessed that I was up near Starkville in
Oktibbeha, over near Columbus in Lowndes, or up around Corinth in Alcorn.
It was C.L. Armstrong that furnished me with much data
on Vaiden’s present day activities.
Not long ago a “cow census” was taken at Vaiden. Within a radius of 10 miles around the town it was
found that 10,000 head of milk cows are
grazing upon the emerald hillsides of Carroll County. The pet Milk Company, with a big plant at
Kosciusko, has recently established a whole milk plant at Vaiden which is
flourishing. Two cream stations have operated profitably there for years.
Of course, the principal farm crop in that vicinity, as
in nearly all sections of Mississippi, is cotton. The fertile hills and the alluvial valley of Hayes Creek, which has been
controlled by a big drainage ditch, produce an abundance of the staple which
has made Mississippi famous.
Although cotton is the principal crop, much hay, corn,
and other crops suited to that latitude are grown with profit to the farmers.
came the time to say goodbye to Vaiden.
“Me an’ Maggie,” confirmed vagabonds that we are, can never tarry long
in any community. Our beautiful
vocation is to keep rambling here and there – anywhere in this
beautiful tri-states where we think we might find a good story.
Such habitual vagabonds as we are, me and that car o’
mine, are accustomed to saying good-bye.
We say good-bye to some community nearly every day. But when the time arrived to say good-bye
to Vaiden’s good people somehow, it seemed to me, there was a void in my
heart. It was with the greatest
reluctance that I convinced myself that I must indeed say good-bye – must
leave Vaiden. I hated to go. Although never before in my life had I
visited among them; except my good friend A.J. Coleman, until I made that
brief visit there, I knew not one man’s name in Vaiden, after my sojourn, all
too brief, it seemed to me that I was saying good-bye to old friends when I
extended my hand to say farewell to Vaiden’s good folks. It was almost like saying good-bye to
Nettleton, my boyhood home, or to Jonesboro, Hot Springs, or some other beloved bourne in my own beautiful Arkansas.
It was then that I understood that, although I lingered
at Vaiden for only a few hours, those good folks had captured my rusty old
heart. Without in any way reflecting
on any community I have visited I can frankly say that nowhere have I ever
been received more cordially than at Vaiden.
Nowhere have the people been more splendid to co-operate with me in
the assembling of such data as I needed for my stories. Nowhere else has the hospitality extended
to me seemed more sincere. It was that spontaneous kind of hospitality
which seems to spring unbidden from the heart. Everybody was kind to me. F.C. Smith, circuit clerk over at the
courthouse, took time from his work to greet me. Sam R. Wright, sheriff, promised not to
molest “me an’ Maggie” during our sojourn, while delightful circuit judge,
John F. Allen, who happened to be holding court at Vaiden during the time of
my visit there, assured me that if I ran afoul of the law he would be lenient
with me – would only give me such sentence as the law required
But I was compelled to say good-bye to Vaiden. It was getting late. Procrastination only prolonged my regret at leaving. Then I said good-bye –
“Farewell ! a word
that must be,
and hath been;
A sound which makes us linger
yet – farewell !”
one drives through Mississippi
is an interesting way. That entire
state is one grand, gorgeous dream of beauty – blissfulness.
From Vaiden I returned to Winona – hurried through that
progressive Montgomery County city in a drenching
rain. Then I turned westward. Over the hills Maggie scampered like a
two-year-old. We dipped down into deep
valleys, the rain pattering in musical monotone against my windshield and the
It was just about nightfall when, driving along the
gravel road, I saw at my left an immaculately kept burying ground. In that sacred spot by the twilight that
was falling around me I could glimpse a mausoleum of marble. Near it I saw another marble marker. Somehow I drove slowly along that stretch
of highway. There, close by the
roadside, sleeping side by side, only a space of a few yards separating the
sepulchers sleep two of the immortal men whose work placed their names near
the top of fames’ immortal scroll of great Americans. George ! Money ! Need I say more?
Night’s mantle fell in somberness around me as, through
the blinding rain, I drove past the little house, modest and now unpainted,
where Senator Money spent his boyhood.
As I reached the historic old courthouse square at Carrollton – old square where George
had his office and Money often loitered – darkness enveloped the scene. In the rain I could see as I turned the
corner a few pedestrians hurrying through the rain. The old courthouse, mellowed with the
stains of time, seemed to becon me on my way.
Over the hills through the darkness my faithful little
car bore me. The woods were deep and
dark. Somewhere out among those wooded
hills not far from the highway I was traversing stands the historic old home
of Greenwood Leflore, palatial old
Malmaison. But I had no time to
tarry. It was night. Only now and then the flickering light of
an approaching car through the dreary rain cheered me and banished
Then I descended that last long hillslope
in the darkness. I left the hills
behind and drove alone in the night through one of the greatest farming regions of the world, the
alluvial Yazoo-Mississippi delta.
I saw gleaming lights ahead. They seemed to beam rays of welcome to me,
a lone traveler, in the darkness. As I
approached nearer, the lights became brighter. I could see the silhouettes of houses. I was approaching friends – a friendly city
– because, dear readers, within a few minutes I parked Maggie in front of a
good hotel at that progressive delta city, Greenwood.