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Street Talk

Howley Is History After Five Years On Main

By Mickey Howley


In this newspaper last week in the section “Look Back in Yalobusha History” the last entry in the 5 Years Ago part was a small note about me taking the job as director of the WVMSA. I’ll just say from my perspective, it has not seemed that long. And to my way of thinking, not history either. Not just yet. Still rolling big time. At least I think so.
Speaking of rolling —I left Water Valley in my Chevy last Wednesday morning a bit late. I was driving down to Jackson.  Or trying to. Had an early afternoon appointment at Mississippi Public Broadcasting to record a piece for the Mississippi Arts Hour. Allison Winstead of the Mississippi Arts Commis-sion and Kevin Farrell of MPB were waiting. They wanted to talk Creative Economy and Creative Placemaking and use Water Valley as a positive example. So I was game.  
 I was running a bit late as I got on the big road, so set the RPMs slightly over normal cruise and the engine purred along.  The exhaust note was making that just right in-the-powerband vibe. I was making up time. Just south of Canton, in the Nissan plant zone, not one but two mobile homes wideloads were rolling slower and hogging up both lanes–killing my pace. But they slid to the side and in the distance was a half of mile of clear interstate. My cue, I thought, and my opening to get around. Immediate application of wide-open throttle. The tranny kicked out of overdrive and dropped a gear, the tachometer needle jumped up into the yellow zone. My old Chevy was pulling hard. First mobile home went past in a jiffy and still full throttle gaining on the lead one. Just as I blew by the front truck cab, heard his air horn sound off and looked in my rear view. I was leaving a jetstream contrail of white smoke. I won’t write what I said at that moment, it would not be fit for print. Or radio.
Quick glance at the gauges. Oil pressure good; engine temp okay but climbing fast. Popped the shifter into neutral and coasted to the Sowell Road exit–where there is nothing.  On the off ramp, steaming, hood open, the engine bypass coolant hose had ruptured and sprayed all the antifreeze on the exhaust manifold. I was broke down 15 miles from where I had to be. And then the phone rings. It was Alexe at the B.T.C.—she wanted to talk about refrigeration and equipment costs. We talked. The car steamed less. I was late. The tow truck came and Allison picked me up. The radio recording got done—Kevin was gracious.  
 I’m not sure what I said exactly at the studio, I was a bit frazzled. Said nice things about Water Valley and our Main Street. Or so I thought.  But if I did not say it, this is what I really meant. It has been a great thing for me personally to be the director of the WVMSA these last five years. And the reason why is I get to work with really terrific creative, energetic, enthusiastic people. Of all ages and persuasions. Everyday.  And work in a town that believes in itself. That’s a rare deal. Hear it on the Arts Hour this Sunday at 3 p.m. on MPB.
Coming this week– Water Valley’s Matt Patton with the band Drive By Truckers plays to a national audience Thursday night on the Conan O’Brien Show. This Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. upstairs at the BTC is a Loft On Main concert. Jon Dee Graham and Mike June return to the Valley–promises to be lots of fun and great music.

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