I recently traveled to Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi to attend Nathan Evans’ graduation from flight school.  Nathan is the husband of our granddaughter, Emily (Fox) Evans.  It’s honestly been quite a while since the wife and I have traveled that far out of state.  Let’s just say that a number of things we saw as we motored through Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi left us scratching our heads.

For instance, we were somewhere near the Tennessee/Mississippi border when we spotted a hair salon named “Glitter and Gunsmoke”.  Now, I’ve seen some odd names for beauty parlors, but that one takes the cake. All I could visualize was a full-figured pistol packin’ lady with her hair up in pink curlers getting gussied up to attend a biggo’ gun show. Perhaps the business also caters to “exotic dancers” who festoon their hair with glitter before going on stage to do their hoochie coochie dances. I swear we heard banjo music as we drove past that business.  

Not far from that business was a place called “Roy’s Grave Restoration”. And yes, it was located adjacent to a rather large cemetery.  Now, I don’t know how one would go about restoring a grave, or why one would need restoring in the first place.  However, I suppose if the headstone of a grave had been broken or somehow damaged by vandals, a restoration might be in order.  In the event a grave started to sink for whatever reason, Roy might come along and toss in a few spades full of dirt to level things up.  Scattering some grass seed might spiff things up as well. Unless he takes his business on the road, I’m not real sure how busy Roy is these days.  Based upon the location of Roy’s business, I’m wondering if he might dig a few graves on the side just to help pay the bills.

A little further down the road, we spotted a business that sells caskets.  I honestly can’t remember the name of the place, but I do remember it was in a pretty small building next to an auto repair shop.  I’m not sure if they actually manufacture caskets there or merely take orders to be filled by a much larger casket manufacturing facility. At any rate, it seemed odd that the business was located nowhere near a funeral parlor, church or even a cemetery. All I could think of was maybe they cater to the do-it-yourself family funerals.  If they had a slogan, it might go a little like this – “A tiskat a taskat, you surely need a casket!”  Or perhaps - “Bob’s Pretty Good Caskets – Remember - Bob’s the last guy on earth to let you down!”.

I’ve notice that some business owners apparently gave little or no thought about where their business is located and especially what business is located next door.  I will simply let your imagination do the work on this one – and yes it is real.  I spotted and took a photo of the “Clayton Cat Clinic” It’s located in a strip mall next door to the “Asian Wok Chinese Restaurant”.  A little more separation between the two might improve their image.

I think we were just south of Jackson, Tennessee when we spotted the “El Toro Mexican Restaurant”. It was situated next door to “Blue Flame Propane”.  Oh my!  All I could think of was the firestorm I created in my gut last time I sprinkled too much habanero sauce on my chimichanga.  Blue flames were just one of the gastric distress symptoms created by that mishap. 

Somewhere near Tishomingo, Mississippi, I spotted “Diddy’s BBQ”. The BBQ joint was located next door to the “Natchez Septic Tank Cleaning and Port-a-Potty Service”.  Had the owner given things a little more thought, he or she may have chosen to be located closer to say “Mom’s Sweet Desserts” or even “Paul’s Pickle and Onion Emporium” - anything but a company specializing in outdoor toilets and suctioning out septic tanks. Yum...

Something else we noticed had nothing to do with business names. It had to do with the agriculture of the south.  One of the first things we noticed as we entered Mississippi was what appeared to be long stretches of snow along the shoulders of U.S. Rt. 45. “This can’t be snow, unless it’s left over from last winter,” I thought as the thermometer in the car read 66 degrees. Turns out it was cotton.  Lots and lots of cotton.  It turns out that as the farmers haul their product out of the fields and off to market, big globs of fluffy white cotton blow out of the bales and alongside the roads.  I suppose that if the folks from Mississippi traveled up this way, they would wonder why our highway shoulders are littered with corn and soybeans. 

And speaking of agriculture, it seemed like every small town we drove through in Mississippi had at least one guy parked at the four-way-stop selling turnips out of the back of his pickup truck. Not being a huge fan of this root vegetable, I was unaware that the end of October was turnip pluckin’ time down south.  I do enjoy turnip greens once in a while, but have no interest in the pithy globe that accompanies the top.

Aquaculture appears to be a big deal in Mississippi.  It seemed like between every cotton field and turnip patche there was a catfish farm.  Unlike turnips, I didn’t see anyone selling catfish out of the back of their pickup truck – and that’s a shame. Chances are the frozen catfish fillets you buy down at the local supermarket were raised on a farm in Mississippi. 

I really enjoyed our trip down south. The folks we encountered were very friendly and the food down yonder was fantastic.  Which reminds me, I need to go to the store to buy some grits, a gallon of Milo’s sweet tea, some catfish fillets and a great big can of turnip greens. Mmm!

Y’all have a great week!