Creative Writing

Published on April 22nd, 2015 | by Rafael Alvarez


The Great Magnolia Vagabond – No. 4

Cadillacs For Literacy: Chunky Blues Festival 1988

In July of 1988, I put my wife and our three very young children on a plane to Disneyworld. Moments later, I jumped in the family station wagon with a couple of knuckle-headed friends and drove from Baltimore to Mississippi for blues and shenanigans. It was the summer that the tabloids were screaming that Elvis was alive.

[He was and he is and, oddly, the marriage did not survive.]

We landed in Chunky, a town of about 300 people due west of Meridian, for an annual blues festival. At the time, Ray Mabus – Secretary of the Navy under Obama since 2009 – was the governor of Mississippi. The favored cause of his wife at the time – the former Julie Hines – was literacy.

There, on a hill in front of the outdoor Chunky stage, was a brand new, candy apple redCadillac Cadillac to be raffled off to raise money for literacy, forever a critical issue in Mississippi.  

We passed the Jim Beam, passed the reefer, and bought tickets for the ride. 

How cool to have left home in a gray Chevy Celebrity wagon and roared back into Crabtown in a bad-ass Daddy-O ride with Left Hand Frank on the radio?

It might just have saved the marriage. The Local Voice Ligature

"Cherry in Magnolia" - Part One: Who Died and Made You Elvis?
"Mudpie Contessas" - Poetry by Elizabeth Tettleton

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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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