Continuing with my foray into Bicentennial Bingo, we’ll be covering the spots of Mississippi Authors, State Parks, Volunteering, The Pines Region, and Mississippi Craftwork. It’s a large grouping, simply because I haven’t immersed myself properly in any of them as much as other sections, or they simply don’t warrant their own post.
But never fear. This will be interesting and while there will be information, it won’t be too much. So, let’s dive in shall we? We’re hitting Mississippi Authors first. Hurrah!
Read A Book By A Mississippi Author:
Some of you may already be ahead of me with this section. Sadly, as a native Mississippian, I really haven’t read much work by fellow Mississippians. I have read three things to be exact, just three. Four if you want to stretch it. Although one can’t really say that my reading choices aren’t eclectic.
- Black Boy – Richard Wright
- Tales of A Punk Rock Nothing – Abram Shalom Himelstein
- Shiloh – Shelby Foote
- Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies’ Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral – Gayden Metcalfe
Black Boy by Richard Wright has been on school reading lists, however, it was never on mine, but I wanted to read it anyways; and it is well worth the read. The last book is a cookbook, so does it really count that I’ve utilized recipes from it, but actually haven’t read it? Also, I do highly recommend some of the recipes in there. As a 15-year-old, I would have absolutely recommended Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing, but I’m sure I wouldn’t recommend it now. Shiloh was OK, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.
You probably have read at least the big guns of Mississippi authors. Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, and Tennessee Williams certainly come to mind. They are generally required reading at some level, but again they weren’t on mine and I just didn’t seek them out. You would think that having been in some theatre that I would have read something by Williams, but I did not.
There’s also John Grisham with all of his law books being turned into super sweaty Hollywood films. I’m not much of a fan of that particular genre. However, he did write the novella Skipping Christmas, which they later turned into the film Christmas with the Kranks. While I haven’t read that one either, my sister did fill me in on it. I did like the film and I like the concept of the storyline, so this is the piece I would recommend by him.
And who can forget Charlaine Harris, the author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels that HBO turned into the True Blood series. My sister has read all of her works and recommends to me the Harper Connelly series as well as the Aurora Teagarden series, among what Harris is actually well-known for, which would be the Sookie Stackhouse series. But I haven’t read them, because I’m honestly leaning more towards Connelly and Teagarden and our library only partially has books from the first series set.
For a more comprehensive list of Mississippi authors, I would suggest this link here.
Explore A State Park:
I have explored state parks, but mostly outside of Mississippi. In fact, the only one that I have visited is Paul B. Johnson because it is ten miles south of me. We spent a lot of time there while I was growing up; camping, fishing, day trips, Fourth of July bbq’s and watching fireworks. A full list of state parks can be found on the link for Bicentennial Bingo game square, Explore a State Park, or by clicking here.
There are various fees in Mississippi State parks. For a more concise list of fees, as well as rules look here, as I’ve only given some basics in this post (which don’t account for groups, monthly rentals, ORVs, horses, mountain bikes, etc).
- Entrance fees: $4/car + .50 cents a person over 6 people. (.50 cents per person if you are a walk-in, bus, or on a bike).
- Primitive camping: $13/night
- Standard camping (water/electricity): $18/night
- Full camping (water/electricity/sewer): $20/night
- Cabin rentals: varies between $35 – $110/night (50% deposit upfront and add $10 for weekdays)
- Fishing requires a valid Mississippi license & fees are: $5/bank & $7/boat (ages 16 – 64) | $3/bank & $6/boat (age 64+/disabled) – A license is not required ages 16 and under for fishing. The boating permit applies for water skiing as well.
- Disc Golf Rental: $3/day
- Golf: varies between state parks that offer it/$11 – $38
- Miniature Golf: $2-$4/per person
- Tennis: $3-$6
- Swimming Pool: $6 (age 13+) $4 (12 and under)
- Water slide: $11/per person
- Museum of Natural Science (where available): $6/adult, $4/child (ages 3 – 18)
- Paul B. Johnson State Park [Hattiesburg]
They offer primitive tent camping and RV, as well as a few cabins. I’ve done all three and they’re all lovely (there are extra prices for camping. There is a lake and you can boat, water ski, fish, and swimming in designated spots (though I’d personally advise against it because… alligators! Though no one has ever been attacked there, I’d just rather not take any chances). And there is plenty of nature to enjoy with some nature trails and picnic areas with tables and grills.
- Tishomingo State Park [Tishomingo]
This one I have not been to, but really want to because A: it’s in the foothills and it looks like the Gatlinburg/Cherokee area’s of the Appalachian Mountains that we would always visit. B: There is one primitive building and there are cabins and a bridge built by the WPA in the 30s, so I want to see those. They also have fishing and you can picnic and grill. But they have more hiking trails, rock climbing (with a license), and canoe’s. They even have two lakes! But then they don’t have alligators, nor the possibility of them, so I’m not surprised that they are the only park with canoes.
- Gulf Islands National Seashore [Ocean Springs]
This is actually part of the National Parks service and can be found along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, as well as parts of Florida. I’ve listed Ocean Springs because the Davis Bayou Area, I have been to, and is what is generally known as the Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi. It is sometimes listed as a museum, but really isn’t, and there’s not really another spot for it on Bicentennial Bingo than here. It just happens to be a National Park with parts of it in Mississippi. It’s just nature. There’s a small sign post of information, but really you’ll just be enjoying nature. Be careful as there are alligators here.
The Barrier Islands are part of the National Seashore as well, however one needs to hire (or own) a private boat to reach any of them except for West Ship Island, which is the only barrier island I have been to. I do not recommend it unless you really, really love the beach and the surface of the sun. You will get pretty water to swim in (which you won’t off the mainland beaches) and Fort Massachusetts is cool (but not on the registered list of historic places, and also not a museum, so it doesn’t have any other real place on the board game except here, I suppose). Personally the only reason I ever enjoyed visiting West Ship Island was for the fort. But, you can decide if a run down Civil War era fort without information is worth a ferry ride for you.
Volunteer Your Time:
I’m sadly lacking on this one as well. I have adopted cats (which counts according to the website) and I have donated gently used clothes and new toiletries and cleaning products for disaster relief in my area, and have participated in canned food drives. I have also purchased Girl Scout Cookies when I can, knowing that it goes to help the local chapters of Girl Scouts. I’ve got the giving thing down just fine, but not the donating of my time. I could do more.
However, I have donated my time during this last disaster of the tornado that came through my town. But, does it count that I could have done what was needed by myself in ten minutes? It didn’t really feel like work that needed many hands. They did ask for volunteers and I showed up and worked, but there wasn’t really much to do between the five of us. I have also volunteered my time with the elderly couple that I used to work for. I did get paid to clean their house, but there were a lot of times that I just did and helped without payment, so it does count.
The website that is supplied with Bicentennial Bingo is actually a really great source that I did not know of previously. I have it bookmarked and plan on utilizing it. Whether you live in Mississippi or are visiting, there is always something that needs doing. I think it’s a great spot on the game board.
Visit The Pines:
I have visited the Pines region on several occasions, mainly to Philiadelphia and Choctaw as I had a friend who lived there. I’ve been to Meridian a few times and there was also the one recent jaunt to Starkville two years ago. Mainly, however, I just drive through places on my way to see my friend (who has since moved) or to leave the state. There are places that I do want to go, but first I’ll discuss where I’ve actually been.
- Philadelphia, Choctaw, Pearl River, Tucker, & Bogue Chitto
Several of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians communities encircle the town of Philadelphia. My friend lived in the community of Pearl River and she drove me through Choctaw where the high school and lots of tribal businesses reside, as well as to a few other communities and the town of Philadelphia. Another friend who lives in Tucker took us through Bogue Chitto. We actually did stop at a petrol station and a play ground, so I can officially say that I have been to that community. However, I had visited this friend a lot over the years, so had been in the first four places a lot.
People will want you to visit the Neshoba County Fair, and you can if you want, but I found it to be kind of scary. However I would highly recommend the Choctaw Indian Fair, which is held every year in July; this year the 13th – the 16th. They have the Princess pageant and Stickball tournaments, as well as Social Dancing and various items for sale handmade by members of the tribe.
There is also the Choctaw Museum which I will be discussing later, as well as Nanih Waiya Cave and Mound… if you can find them. I couldn’t have, but I had people who knew how to get to them. Honestly, without my friend driving, I would have gotten us completely lost on all of those country roads… and I’m generally pretty good with direction.
There is also the Silver Star Resort & Casino. I’m not much of a gambler, but if you’re going to gamble it should be in a casino owned by Indigenous Peoples, as that money goes back into their community. So if you want to gamble, skip the coast and Tunica and go to the Silver Star. The state of Mississippi hardly sees any revenue from these casinos (the Gulf Coast and Tunica), though it was promised. The MBCI do actually see the revenue from their casino.
There’s a Philadelphia Museum, but I didn’t go, so I don’t know how it is. Small, I think was mentioned, though I’m sure it’s good. Really, I say do not skip this section and learn more about the Choctaw people through their museum, Pow-Wow’s and their Fair. Also, I’ve eaten a Peggy’s in Philadelphia (it’s listed on the official Mississippi tourism section for The Pines). I recommend Lake Tiak-O’Khata in Louisville over Peggy’s.
Mainly, I’ve just passed through here on my way to see my friend in Pearl River Community or to leave via HWY 59 for Gatlinburg/Cherokee and other places out-of-state. But, I have stopped here on occasion. My mother always made us stop so that she could eat lemon meringue pie at Weidmann’s, and that’s about the only “cultural” thing that I have done in Meridian. I do really want to view the historic opera house, which is now called the Riley Center. There’s also the proposed Institute of Southern Jewish Life Museum that they want to open.
Went here because a friend of my sister was in a play and he wanted us to see it. We passed by Mississippi State University (MSU), and I’d like to go back because they have a geoscience museum as well as an old observatory that now houses The Center for the Study of Southern Culture. I’m not really certain what that means, but it seems intriguing enough, plus it’s a historical science building. We ate at a pizza place that was actually really good. The area was beautiful. I mean nature wise. But so are parts of Pearl River and Tucker. It’s weird to me that this is called the Pines region. They do have pine trees, but their region is made up of about 80% hardwoods. We are considered the Pine Belt (though not an actual region) because we are 90% pine trees and very little hardwoods. No one’s explained that to me yet. But, yes, if you’re from an area that’s 90% pine, then you’ve never witness so many glorious hardwoods in your life! It’s just so pretty there, nature wise.
However, their downtown, while nice because they revitalized it, is also a bit weird. They have speakers that pump out soothing music like you’re in Disney World or some dystopian novel. It was nice and unsettling all at the same time. Also, Starkville is HUGE into football, which is not my cup of tea.
My friend from Pearl River lived here for a bit. I went to visit her here and we ate at a restaurant. There’s nothing really to see and I’d advice against going.
My friends family took my sister and I here, specifically to Lake Tiak-O’Khata to eat lunch. It was so quaint and cute (I know people use that in a demeaning way, but I mean it was awesome) like the sixties. Very Parent Trap film, very something that my parents would have gone to. We loved it. It was nice there and I would totally stay in one of the cabins and hang out by the lake. The food was really good. It’s not gourmet, just southern buffet fare, but really tasty (unlike some buffets you can visit). If you’re in the area, which you should be because you’ll be going to the Choctaw Indian Fair, then you should drive north a bit and eat lunch here, or perhaps stay the night.
- Bay Springs
Mainly passed through here going to see my friend, but on occasion I did stop here. My dad used to drive a delivery route and sometimes when I accompanied him, there’d be a stop in Bay Springs. I’ve really only seen a few petrol stations as those were our delivery stops.
Again mainly passed through here going to see my friend. Sadly I had a friend who lived here, but we either never had time to stop and see her, or it was after she’d moved and wasn’t home for a visit. However, one time on dad’s delivery route, we ended up here and had to stop. We were here for hours because they were fixing something on his truck. A flat tire? So, I saw up close the not very impressive strip that I’d zoomed past before in my travels. Meaning, I saw a Subway, a petrol station, and a mechanic shop and nothing remotely interesting.
Now the places I have zoomed through and never actually stopped; Enterprise, Forest, Quitman, Rose Hill, Scooba, and Moscow.
I have mentioned a few things that I want to go back and see or experience in Meridian and Starkville, but there are places that I wish to go in the Pines Region.
- French Camp Historic Area [French Camp]
I listed this in the museums section of a place I want to go, but we’re in the Pines region, and well… I still want to go to this.
- Oktibbeh Heritage Museum [Starkville]
Heritage and cultural museum of Oktibbeh county. Sure. Don’t ask me how to pronounce it either. I asked when I was there and it was difficult. Maybe it’s Oct-tibbay? Perhaps it’s Ook-tub-uh-min-nuh? I just remember that I couldn’t grasp it and it wasn’t exactly how it’s written. I mean I get Bogue Chitto (Boke ChItto – with chitto not drawn out the way southerners are want to do), or Conehatta (Cone-uh-hetta), or Chahta (chuh-tuh), but Oktibbeh through me for a loop, honestly.
- Amory Regional Museum [Amory]
A cultural and heritage museum, so sure. I would go to this if I were near or in Amory.
- Franklin Acadamy [Columbus]
The first free public school to open in the state in 1821… and it’s still open.
- Mississippi University for Women [Columbus]
Opened in 1884, MUW was the first state-supported college for women in America.
- Olde Country Bakery [Brooksville]
Yes, I would love to enjoy some Mennonite pastries and baked goods, please!!
Learn About Mississippi Craftwork:
Mississippians are big into creating art and creating craftwork. If someone isn’t doing something in fine art with oils and acrylics creating paintings, then they are certainly making craftwork of some kind or another.
- Metal sculptures (recycled or otherwise)
- Wood. Lots of wood. Furniture, bowls, decorative items, kitchen utensils, turned items.
- Glass (blowing and stained)
- Weaving (baskets and fiber art)
- Pottery (clay and ceramics)
- Stitchery and Hook art (tatting, crochet, needlepoint)
This list goes on an on. My maternal grandmother wove pinestraw baskets and created needlepoint. My father was a manufacturer of fine jewelry. My paternal grandmother created hook art (crochet and tatting). An aunt tats. A friend taught herself to sew. Another friend crochets. People back in my family whittled wood. A friend of ours’ dad creates wooden furniture from salvaged materials. Another friend of ours learned welding and created sculptures. We even have a flamingo created out of recycled metal parts… which was made by someone in this state, though it was purchased by someone from California, it still ended up back in Mississippi. There’s a local place that teaches glass blowing. My parents dabbled in stained glass.
If it’s something that can be created in an artistic manner, Mississippians are creating those items. I’ve been to local arts festivals and I have seen wood, glass, and pottery craftwork by members of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi. I once heard that Mississippi has more artists per capita than any other state. Honestly, I would believe it. You won’t be hard pressed to find people who create something, or places where you can view or purchase those pieces.
This concludes this blog post and Bicentennial Bingo squares Authors to Craftwork. Continue to Civil Rights & Asking Questions. Feel free to check back on the first two posts; Bicentennial Bingo Introduction and Visit A Museum.