Local History

Published on January 14th, 2015 | by Rafael Alvarez

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The Great Magnolia Vagabond – No. 1

I spent New Year’s Eve 2006 in a small motel in West Point, Mississippi, some 50 miles due south of Tupelo.

WestPointRafael Why West Point, home to 11,300 souls and the seat of Clay County?

Not because Howlin’ Wolf was born nearby. Nor to see the place where America’s favorite sled—the Flexible Flyer—was in made from 1973 to 1993.

[Though I’d give anything to see the great bluesman—born Chester Burnett 114 years ago just north of West Point—howling down a North Mississippi slalom on a wooden sled!]

I was simply on the road again, wandering from the ocean on the right to the ocean on the left in a Toyota pick-up.

I’d spent the previous day in the birthplace of the King, finishing up a network pilot (Panic In Detroit) that never got made and—in a t-shirt proclaiming Robert Johnson the king of the music without which Elvis would not claim his crown—befriending a grade school classmate of Presley as I slowly made my way to Tinseltown.

All alone in West Point, Mississippi on New Year’s Eve with a bowl of noodles from a Chinese joint near the Holiday Inn at the corner of Route 45 and Lewis O’Neal Road, listening to a New Year’s Eve recording made 40 years earlier in Pittsburgh: Elvis and 16,000 acolytes singing Auld Lang Syne.  The Local Voice Ligature

This article was originally printed in The Local Voice #220 (published January 8, 2015).
To download a PDF of this issue, click here.

"The Prodigal Professor: William Weaks Morris (1934–1999)"
"THE WEIRDEST MUSIC HE EVER HEARD" by Rafael Alvarez


About the Author

Rafael Alvarez is a reporter, short story writer & screenwriter based in Baltimore. He has been visiting & writing about Mississippi since 1984. A former staff writer for HBO's "The Wire," his new book is a collection of short fiction called "Tales From the Holy Land."



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