Friday, October 9, 2009

Highway 61 North: A Glimpse Back in Time

My post for today picks up where I ended my story yesterday -- on Highway 61 North, about 35 miles north of Vicksburg. If you haven't read yesterday's post and would like to, you can click here.

After leaving the hills of Vicksburg, Highway 61 is as about as flat and straight as a road can be, cutting through the heart of hundreds of thousands of acres of fertile Delta farmlands, literally stretching as far as the eye can see. It is also known as "the Blues Highway," because legend has it that blues music was born in the cotton fields and "juke joints" of the Mississippi Delta.

I love the Delta, because no matter how many times I go, I always find new and interesting things (to me, anyway) to capture with my camera. But on this trip, time was limited and I was "on a mission."

I recently saw a photo of an old gas pump covered with vines which was taken by my friend Marty Kittrell of Vicksburg. I loved the picture and Marty graciously told me where I could find the gas pump if I wanted to go photograph it. Now, I know that a rusty old gas pump probably doesn't sound exciting, but I love a challenge and I wanted to get a picture of that gas pump!

Since we were so close to the tiny Delta community where the pump was, we decided to try to find it. After driving around for a while with no luck, I was almost ready to give up. But as we passed by this old building ...

I saw it under the shed! -- just a glimpse of orange hidden amongst tangled vines and rusty old equipment (you'll probably have to click on the photo to enlarge it to see it).

I was delighted that we found it, but cautiously approached the shed, looking for snakes and dogs and any other dangers that could have been lurking in the weeds. This is what I saw as I got closer ...

If you enlarge the picture, you can see the price of gas back "in the good old days."

Can you remember when gas was 25 cents a gallon? Well, I couldn't, so I "googled" it and discovered that it was in 1960, so that makes this old gas pump at least 49 years old!

Here's another old pump that still stands beside the highway. It shows gas at 40 cents a gallon, which was probably during the '70s. Notice the old chair and the broom propped up behind the pump. It looks as if its owner just walked away for a minute.

I love this old "service station," and I bet they even checked your oil and cleaned your windows without being asked.

I wouldn't take anything for these pictures of the gas pumps. They took me back in time for a while, to a place where the world seemed to be a kinder, gentler place.

Speaking of kinder, gentler ... I love this old country church which stands across the street from the "service station."

This beautiful monument is beside the church, and features the Ten Commandments engraved in stone.

One of the things I love most about the church is its steeple and old bell (I guess that's actually two things) ...

Upon closer inspection, I could read the words, "Nitta Yuma Plantation," engraved across the front of the bell.

I "googled" the plantation and found that its owners had ties with the Vick family, who were among the first settlers of Vicksburg. One of the things I love about going out and taking pictures of all these places ... and, yes, even old gas pumps! ... is that I learn a little bit about them. And that's always a good thing.

It was time to turn around and head back to Vicksburg, but I couldn't pass through Rolling Fork without getting a picture of "the red barn." I've taken pictures of it on previous photo shoots, but had never captured the full length of this beautiful old Delta landmark.

Isn't it magnificent! Here is a close up I took around the end of August, when I went up to the Delta to take pictures of sunflowers.

The barn is one of the sites being considered for the South Delta Interpretive Center, which will provide information about the Delta, its culture, and its history.

Another Delta landmark that I can never resist capturing with my camera when I'm in the Delta, is this gorgeous plantion home called Mont Helena.

You can click here if you would like to read about Mont Helena, and see more pictures of it.

I hope you enjoyed seeing this small glimpse of the Delta through my camera lens. I'm going to go back again soon when the cotton fields are defoliated and ready for harvesting. They are truly awesome and look like "Mississippi snow," as far as the eye can see. I wanted to get some pictures yesterday, but it had rained earlier in the day and the cotton bolls were soggy and droopy -- not a pretty picture!


Marjorie (Molly) Smith said...

I remember when gas was 25 cents a gal. It was that cheap even in 61-62 right after I got married in Aug of 61. But that was long, long ago in a land far pictures as usual.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

I remember gas at that price! I can remember putting a dollar's worth of gas in the car and driving around all afternoon! LOL! We used to just drive around when we were young. We drove all over the place. But it was cheap to do it in those days.

Loved all your pictures. I would be willing to wager that the vacant house you photographed is antebellum, judging from the door, and it was obviously two story in its day. Probably a four room planter's cottage. The porch is obviously gone. That one window right next to the door is odd... and was probably added at a later date for some reason. Maybe they divided the room into two and wanted a window.

Loved seeing this, Janie!


Sheila :-)

Beth at Aunties said...

These pictures are amazing as usual. I remember the year (71) we got married there was a gas war going on and the price dipped to 19cents a gallon. These were fun pictures.
The alligator ones even excited me. Oh my heart... I am glad our very own Janie will brave much for our enjoyment.:)

PS I quickly went through some of your fabulous pictures I have missed and I too love the idea of the sofa table magazine basket and now I am on the watch to organize mine the same way. Simple loved the idea!
Thank you for sharing!