Tri State Rambles”

by George M. Moreland

The Commercial Appeal

Copies from a newspaper article owned by Frances V. Avery.  EWM.

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.




Luncheon Deluxe.





            I spent 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 a dodo.


You 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.


I 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.


It’s 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.


I 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 hotel.


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.”





            Morning 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 Legislature.


            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.





            It was 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 raining.


            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.





Tri State Rambles”

by George M. Moreland

The Commercial Appeal

Copies from a newspaper article owned by Frances V. Avery.  EWM.

November 29, 1929



Vaiden’s High School, Vaiden Today, Goodbye, Vaiden !  A Ride Through the Night.



            It was 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.





            After 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 annually.


            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.





            Then 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 !”





            Any way 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 window panes.


            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 loneliness.


            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.