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Street Talk

Lying in the grass in the nether zone south of the Rice-Stix, it looked like some alien sarcophagus, left as a depository for a lost soul from place and time far away. I was at first hesitant to touch it, it seemed embedded in the earth, with hordes of fire ant minions protecting it. At the minimum, disturbing its sleep would mean ants in the pants, my pants.  

As Kagan Coughlin and I flipped the oddly key shaped chamber, Todd Sanders the Mississippi SHPO, watched carefully. Not that he was packing anything more than a pen, but he was an enforcement official of sorts. SHPO, pronounced “Ship-Oh” is the state historic preservation officer.

Underneath it was an eroded earthen chamber. It seemed deep and very biting buggy. But the object’s underside looked worse than the topside, giving not much clue to what it was. Only the hooks at the top, a faded “H”, and some larger rubber grommets gave clue that this was a signifying relic from a bygone era; a neon sign. Long gone are the pulsing glass tubes and the lettering, now just a rusting frame of its former self.

It was the Blackmur Hotel sign. Not original to the building, as neon signage was first used in 1923, and not commercially popular until the 1930s. Signs like this one were not cheap, were prominently displayed, and made me wonder how many had gazed upon it as they rested or whatever a night away at the Blackmur.

How it ended up there and where it was for the more than three decades since the hotel’s demise is a mystery. I can well imagine a strong connection in their prime, the Blackmur and the Rice-Stix. How the sign from one ended up resting by the other seems a gesture of bygone love.

The Blackmur, its mansard roof welcome and warm glowing sign long gone from Main Street.

The Rice-Stix is still there, dark and drippy, and not humming with life, but there.

The deluge last Friday late in the afternoon washed out the Farmers Market and put a damper on the first two hours of the 200 North Main Block Party. People came out after the showers and the event wasn’t canceled, it just moved indoors, as that was premise for the party all along. The idea was to go and see what has happened and is happening in those buildings. The Trusty Diner, the Main Street office, Hair Trendz, Yalo-Run Textiles, and the “Wave” building were all in action. You can’t throw a block party without lots of people pitching in. A big thanks to a many, it was a team effort. Special thanks Erika Walden and Lawton Gafford, who were the genesis of the plan. Helping out and seemingly impervious to the precipitation were the Water Valley Cheerleaders and their coach Melissa Burrell. 

Lawton says all the quirky sidewalk games will dry out and we’ll do it again.

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