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Hill Country Living

Google Car Visit Puts Water Valley ‘On The Map’

By Coulter Fussell


I can’t count the number of times people have said to me, “Wow! Water Valley is really starting to get on the map!” They kinda chuckle when they say it. Yeah, it’s funny. Water Valley is a little town and people think little things are cute and funny…like baby goats or something.
You like it and say “Aww!” but don’t really take it seriously because, I mean, come on, it’s so…little. But, for the people who live here, Water Valley has always been on our radar. And there’s a whole lot of life happening in even the smallest places. Yet sometimes it’s us saying it. We always seem a little surprised to be saying so and possibly a bit confounded as to how and why such a thing would happen. But, it’s true. Water Valley is getting on the map.
Why is it happening? A few coincidences, maybe… good timing, possibly. A rare combination of old and new; established tried-and-trues butted up against and peacefully cohabitating with the young and unproven. Who knows what perfect storm made Water Valley fodder for the magazine and feature writers of this world. Bless ’em, though. Because I credit their attention to our town for getting Water Valley on the map. The literal map. The only one that really matters. The Google map.
I saw the Google Street View car last week when I was going to work. I had never seen one in real life before. It was like spotting Sasquatch! A colorful little hatchback with what looked like an eight-foot tall planetarium projector strapped to the roof, it slowly drove past my gallery where my studio cat sat in his spot by the front window (margaritas on me if my cat gets on Google Street View!)
The driver of the car looked bored. But everybody else outside the car was excited. People on the street stopped and stared, slack-jawed. Jack Gurner has been stalking it trying to get a photo for the paper and when it drove by the post office the man in line behind me declared,”What is that?! The Martians is comin’!”
I know you all go down Water Valley’s Main Street all the time but have you all been down Water Valley’s Main Street in Google Street View lately? If not, go to your nearest computer, log onto Google Maps, type “Water Valley, MS” in the search bar, and click that boxy, little yellow man.
You are looking at Water Valley circa 2009. That’s Pre-B.T.C. Main Attraction, Caboose Boutique, B Grans, Dee Dee’s This & That, Yalobusha Brewing, D&D BBQ, J Clayton’s, Yalo Studio, Jay’s on Main, and Crawdad Hole Jr. There’s no new Herald building with no new mural, Turnage’s has an old sign, Main Street Association office hasn’t been restored, Doris’ is pale yellow, no Mechanics facade construction, no Blu-Block restoration, there’s that Pizza church thing that was there for a while and Movie Tyme (Remember movie rentals? Also, why the ‘y’? I always liked it, though.)
What in the world did we do in 2009?
Sleep all the time? No, we didn’t. Because there were no houses for us to sleep in. The 2009 Street View only shows Main Street.
But I do like the 2009 map. My favorite part is the plywood construction walls built outside what would soon become Bozarts Gallery. A small hint that something is stirring; the little glimmer, the first spark of what would become Water Valley’s renaissance.
But what I’m most hoping will come from our new found status as a map-worthy town is that auto-correct will recognize us, as well, and stop changing “Water Vallians” to “Water Balloons.”

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