It was probably unreasonable to believe we’d actually be able to leave UH at 9:30 Saturday morning while renting three minivans the morning of and having to coordinate four adults, one baby, and eleven college students—but I feel compelled to point out that each of us students was there on time. Even Samuel, who is notoriously late to class (when he was late for our midterm, Professor Benz put one down on the desk and said, “This is for Sam, whenever he gets here.”) It was the adults who ran late Saturday morning, having gotten held up at Enterprise, and it was closer to 10:45 when we actually shipped out for Natchez, Mississippi. Cue Spring Break!
In Natchez we drove straight to the Museum of African American History and Culture, and it was so nice of the man to still be there, because we were 45 minutes later than we were supposed to have been, and if I remember correctly, the Museum is actually closed Saturdays so it was opened specifically with our group in mind. Very nice of them to do—but, I’ll be honest: the Museum kind of bored me. But, museums tend to be hit or miss with me anyway, and it was very small, rather unimpressive overall, and already it had been a rather long day. After the Museum, dinner at King’s Tavern seemed to be a more promising affair…
It was coooold! We knew it would be, though I think none of us have really felt adequately prepared for that, but I didn’t really realize it on Saturday until we were at King’s Tavern. Fortunately it wasn’t cold inside, but since it is the oldest standing building in Natchez, from 1789, and is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of King’s former mistress, Madeleine—don’t worry, she’s playful—we had to take a look around the property. We went upstairs, and all around the outside. No signs of ghosts…Samantha claims to have seen a sign while taking a photograph of the upstairs room, but no, it’s just the lens flare. The food, chicken pot pie for me, was pretty good. The homemade Sprite was better, and the atmosphere downstairs in that brick-walled cellar room where you dine was very rustic, antique, historic. Very Natchez.
We checked in to a Super 8 for the night, and it was actually my first time in a Super 8 I think, and it was pretty nice! Of course, I think we all knew the cabins would be something of a step down from that, anyway, but hey—few things can beat a roomy bathroom and daily housekeeping service. My roommate for the night was one of my classmates, Ramsha, and I can’t say we didn’t get along, but I can say there wasn’t much interaction anyway because I, tired old lady that I am becoming, pretty much went right to bed.
Sunday did not feel at all like Sunday. My Sundays are fairly structured: get up preferably before 9:00, church at 10:00, then spend the rest of the day in Lake Jackson at Dylan’s. Not this Sunday, nope—in the morning, around 9:00, we checked out of the Super 8 and loaded up the minivans.
We didn’t leave Natchez right away, and for that I’m glad, because if we had then I would have missed out on all the appeal that downtown Natchez offers. A lot of really nice, historic buildings and houses, very picturesque, very scenic, and it’s very pretty to walk along the river. But the first and best was Steampunk Coffee Roasters…
…where I could and should have taken some better shots, but I didn’t want to be obviously snapping photos of the area behind the bar, so I just took this one as discreetly as possible and stopped there. The coffee, Coconut Joe with steamed almond milk for me, was yummy, and the laid-back vibe was even better. I would have been content to just sit inside all day. I talked briefly to one of the baristas, too, for my project, and he had a lot of personality! Got a quote I can use from him, and then Kell, one of my classmates, asked if he had any ghost stories. Apparently Natchez is full of playful ghosts; he told us about an encounter with a little boy one day when he was alone inside Steampunk. The chairs came with metal tags on them, and the tags used to hang all in a row, maybe as some sort of decoration, he made it sound like, and one day, the tags just all shifted one after the other in the same direction, as though somebody had walked alongside with an outstretched hand, running along each tag in passing. Nobody there, but there was a chill in the air, from no place.
I like the idea of Natchez as home to playful ghosts. I like the idea of playful ghosts, period, especially with all the horror movies I watch…
I think, then, naturally, ghosts like to be where the people are—because certainly no evidence of paranormal activity was to be found in Natchez City Cemetery. Too beautiful a place to haunt, perhaps, but certainly the cemetery can be characterized by the evidence of the passage of time. Crumbling rock, rusted wrought-iron fences and some broken gates. A well-kept cemetery though, I think, and very green, but I think the city kind of lets it be, in a way, lets the time pass and the stones crumble, and in that way, speak for themselves. In person I’ve never met a more beautiful cemetery, and if it did haunt me, it would haunt me in a friendlier kind of way. I can’t describe it; I can’t explain it; I just have to remember it.
When we did leave Natchez, we came here, to Tallahatchie Flats, and here we are; this is where I started. We were supposed to have also driven through Rolling Fork yesterday, and visited the ghost town of Rodney, but I don’t believe we really did either. We did have dinner in Greenwood, though, at a place called The Crystal Grill, and I think we bonded over rounds of Two Truths and A Lie.
And then. Then. It was on the way back to our cabins, and in order to return to Tallahatchie from Greenwood, there’s a bridge to drive across. I was in one van with some people, driven by Lynda, and we were behind Chanelle’s van, and Chanelle turned down this short, dark and deserted street to reach the bridge, which was close by and very visible, and we followed. But there was this single man, clean-cut, well-dressed, who wandered around holding a pamphlet or book of some kind in one hand, and Chanelle’s van slowed down a little, as in maybe this man is lost and needs directions, but then she tried to drive around him, while he is walking toward her van. She ends up getting around him. So he turns his attention to our van, and walks toward us—and the thing is, there’s no sign of distress. No clues that he could possibly need any help of any kind, and so he just keeps coming closer, even as Lynda is trying to drive around him, too, and as she steps on the gas, he gets just close enough to reach out and touch our window— …even though he doesn’t, and we make it past, and somebody comments that maybe he just needed directions, but he was too calm, and…well, that’s what Ted Bundy used to do, isn’t it?