Meeting the Mayor of Greenville, Mississippi!
Our first stop outside of Mississippi was at Pecan Grove RV Park in Lake Village, Arkansas. This town reminded us of Chester's Mill out of the Stephen King novel, Under The Dome because we felt we were trapped in a "no-fun" zone.
There is nothing to do within a twenty mile radius of this town. And I mean, nothing! No Walmart, no Starbucks, no (safe-looking) restaurants, and nothing of historical significance. There is absolutely nothing of interest for tourists. Yikes!
When asked about a local coffee shop, they directed us to LJ's Cafe (I especially like how they put an accent mark over the "e" to class up the joint):
I don't think so!
They did have a small grocery store in "town" but we were met with such incompetence that we ended up leaving our cart and walking out as we were standing in the checkout line!
Growing desperate for something mentally stimulating, we decided to visit a small town across the river in Mississippi named Greenville. They have a small museum dedicated to the destructive flood that hit the area in 1927.
It is not a very large museum but does tell a comprehensive story of the town's history (If you're interested in reading more of their history see below).
While we were at this museum, a well-dressed African-American man and woman entered. They began talking to the curator about a second grade field trip that was about to descend on the museum the following day. As a former teacher, their conversation piqued my curiosity (and sympathy for the curator for what she was about to endure). After being drawn into the conversation, the man introduced himself as Errick D. Simmons. Turns out he's the mayor of this town and I have to say, from our short interaction, he truly is a remarkable individual. Friendly, kind, intelligent and caring. I was initially taken aback by this revelation because of his concern for the students on this field trip. As a teacher, I have met a few politicians. As they toured the schools in which I worked, they ask many of the same generic questions. "Student population.. Class size.. Curriculum.." blah blah. But the depth of interest and concern this man was expressing about the success of this trip, I thought he was a parent. But he wasn't. He was there in an official capacity (apparently, as part of a class project, second-graders throughout the town were going to be visiting various landmarks around the city).
As we talked, he told of how he is a graduate of Howard Law School and the first African-American male elected as mayor of this town. His brother (Derrick T. Simmons, a twin) is a state senator. I suppose what I found most impressive is that his parents raised two intelligent, ambitious males and they only possessed a high school education! He said they put a high priority on education.
This man truly seems to care deeply for the citizens of this town. I know nothing of his political beliefs, but I believe the townsfolk are very fortunate to have such a dedicated servant at the helm.
Greenville was once a prosperous shipping port. As county seat, it was the trading, business, and cultural center for the large cotton plantations that surrounded it. The town was destroyed during the Union Army's actions related to the siege of Vicksburg but slowly rebuilt.
In April of 1927, the levee, that separates the river waters and the town, broke after months of heavy rainfall. The breaking of the levee caused at least two million acres of land to be covered in flood waters.
Although the town rebuilt itself again, it never found its former glory and seems to have fallen into an economic decline with most of the stores along their main street boarded up. There are a few signs of rebirth with a few trendy restaurants slated to open. I wish them, and their Mayor, great success.