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Street Talk

 Snooky Williams died last week. If you have been on this Main Street for 50 years or five minutes, chances are you met Snooky and became his friend. Heck, he’s the only guy in the state of Mississippi, other than Elvis, who could go by one name. Snooky had a few years on Elvis, by the way. 

When news of his passing was posted, I got messages from Maine to California, even from Hiroshima, Japan asking if it was true. Legit questions, as Snooky was a prankster. But it was true I said. Mind you, I’m not kin or related in anyway and have only known him a short 15 years.  We didn’t have an official relationship, though at times I have felt like his press agent. 

What I heard from those who knew him for years or just a day was a profound sadness at his passing and deep gratitude for knowing him. I have to agree, I have never met anyone quite like him.

There’s people you will miss and then there are people who you feel lucky to have known and the joy of knowing them overcomes any sorrow of their leaving. That’s Snooky.

I met Snooky in a bar on this Main Street. Yes, there once was a bar on Main Street, owned by Becky and John Tatum. Back around 2003 I was in it and met Mary Lou and Snooky. They had an informal regular thing there once a week. That was my introduction into real Water Valley. 

 In those 15 years, I have had the pleasure of being in the company of Mary Lou and Snooky at costume parties, Thacker Mountain Radio, Neshoba County Fair, Good Ole Boys political rallies, art openings, big parties at their house, and countless meals on this Main Street. 

 With Snooky it did not matter if he was talking with the governor or talking to someone he just met on the sidewalk or if you were leaning in the window of his pickup, his dog riding shotgun.  He was always the same, a certain playfully accosting manner. There was this punchiness to him, not in an aggressive way, but just sparring for the fun of it. 

He said, “All my family, we came out of retail.”  Snooky was a merchant at heart and that means engaging people.

 It is my firm belief that Water Valley as a town punches above our weight class.  It is because of people like Snooky that we have been able to do that. After he retired from the daily fight of street retail, he was still the best corner man in the business.  And he always got the last punch or word in.

The last lines of the New York Times article about Water Valley are classic Snooky getting in the last say.  He’s thinking of the fight and backing those still in the ring. 

“I think right now in Water Valley, it’s the greatest opportunity since I moved here,” he said with gusto. “If I was younger, I’d be buying property. These young girls, they’ve got spunk, they’re going to make it….These girls, they are jumping on the tide, they are adjusting, finding a niche, they’re opening eyes.”

This Saturday, after Black Friday, is Shop Small Saturday. It is a nationwide campaign reminding people in their shopping for the holiday season to shop local merchants and downtown. Keep Water Valley Punchy.

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