Greenville - Cleveland - Merigold - Clarksdale August 1, 2009



Our first stop on Day 2 was Cleveland. We were looking forward to it as neither of us had ever seen Delta State and the town is supposed to have good shopping. Delta State was much bigger than either of us had thought, and it’s a truly beautiful campus – we were both impressed. Sadly, it was Saturday morning and the campus store was closed; we had wanted to buy one of their “Fighting Okra” tee shirts. They’re really the Delta State Statesmen, but some kid came up with the “fighting okra” and it caught on. It is not popular with alums apparently, but it’s cute. We did find the shopping all it was rumored to be in Cleveland, and we ended up buying a lot of gifts.


Our second stop was McCarty’s Pottery in Merigold. My, it’s well hidden. You wouldn’t think it would be hard to find anything in Merigold, but it is. I suspect that it might be the one ugly house in a pretty old neighborhood, because they’ve hidden the house behind a wall of bamboo. Even knowing the house number, you really have to look for the large number of cars parked across the street to spot the place. We met Mr. McCarty and looked around, but neither of us was in a pottery-buying mood, so off we went.


Next on the agenda was a visit to the Shack Up Inn, just outside Clarksdale. For those who aren’t familiar with it, some guys around our age hauled some former sharecroppers’ cabins to the Hopson Plantation, set them in a line, plumbed and wired them, and opened a B&B (Bed & Beer) sometime around 2000 as I recall. I stayed there in 2002, and it’s an experience. My shack was as clean as it could be (but not as clean as clean could be) – its age and history pretty much preclude the use of terms like “pristine,” “sparkling,” “antiseptic,” or even "clean" if you're totally honest. We’re talking peeling linoleum, old plank floors, etc. They wasted no money on furnishings, paint or anything like that; they kept the shacks in their original state and (apparently) used whatever furniture they found by the side of the road. The sheets (which don’t necessarily match) are worn and faded, and the towels look like those your grandmother had – with all the terry nubs worn off so that you can see through some places. The bed was comfortable, as I recall, but everything else is “to the period” so to speak. My room (my sister and I splurged on the two-bedroom shack) had a Hi-Fi that worked and plenty of records (some nailed to the wall as decorations). Our refrigerator was an old Coke machine, our kitchen and bathroom sinks had the biggest rust stains I have ever seen, and the kitchen wall was covered with newspapers from the 1960s that had been glued on for insulation – they advertised $5 dresses and stuff like that. One cute thing though: when we checked in, we found a mini Moon Pie on our pillows. (Sadly, they’ve stopped doing that. The guy at the desk told me that it turned out that rats love Moon Pies. I can only imagine.) Marian here -- Any of you who know me know that this cute little story completely ruled out any possibility in this life of my staying at this Inn. In fact, Moon Pies are also off my list...just to be safe.

Almost all the porches have an old couch, the back seat of an old car, a broken recliner or plastic chairs (something to sit on), and an old washing machine, a big console radio, a refrigerator or some other broken-down appliance. We had an old refrigerator sitting on our side porch, and various items in disrepair on the front porch. Outside walls are further decorated with hub caps or things like a large shard of broken mirror or really, any hangable piece of junk.

The Inn stays full – you have to book months in advance. When we were there, it was all booked up (except for two shacks with other guests) by a family’s family reunion. They had even booked most all the (nicer) hotel-room like rooms in the big building (the Cotton Gin Inn). There is a new luxury suite in that main building too, with a view of the stage from the room! It’s a really nice room too, and will probably be constantly sold out when there is entertainment going on. This picture of the luxury room shows a very nice flat screen television mounted on the wall above the air conditioner beside the comfy rocker. Sorta makes you want to settle down and relax a while, doesn't it? -- Marian

The Shack Up Inn isn’t for everyone (my husband wouldn’t stay there – period), but it’s an experience. When I stayed there, I couldn’t help but think of all the people who had lived (and been born and died) in my shack…what their lives had been like, how the world had looked to them…things like that. It raised my consciousness a good bit.

The Inn is especially popular during the Blues festivals, and with songwriters. The guy behind the desk told me that many songwriters want to come down there for a month or more, but that they don’t ever have that kind of availability. So…they are opening a Shackominium development across the road. Seriously. He showed me this awful looking shack that will be part of it, and then told me that the shack is beautiful on the inside. These new shacks are meant to look bad on the outside, but people can buy them and decorate them nicely or in keeping with the Inn. At first it sounded like nonsense, but a little further thought made it sound pretty good. The price will be right, and it’ll be a place to kick back or rent out to long or short term guests. With our huge generation retiring, it will probably do real well.


We tore ourselves away from the Inn to go to Clarksdale for lunch. We ate at Morgan Freeman’s club, Ground Zero, and what a kick that was! It’s a big, barn-like place downtown, and the first thing you notice when you walk in is that the walls are covered in graffiti. And, we mean covered. All the walls are covered, people have even signed the glass on framed photos, the windows, the load-bearing columns, the mirrors, walls, stalls and ceilings in the bathrooms – everything is covered in writing. Neither Marian nor I had ever written on a wall – it’s something that had never occurred to either one of us to do – but hey, we’re getting on in years and need to experience these things, so we scribbled our names (small and lightly) and now we have actually written on a wall. By the way, the club has great catfish. The picture above shows the grafitti...written in magic marker (be sure to take one with you when you visit...) almost all the way up to the top of the 12' ceilings. -- Marian

The picture above shows the ladies' restroom. I just don't know how to explain this....ladies normally are much neater than this! Even the mirror had grafitti on it. -- Marian

Next we moseyed down the street to a country store and looked around, but by then it was raining and it was mid afternoon, so we decided to forgo any further touring and head home. So off we went, and...guess what we saw out our car windows when we pulled out of Clarksdale?!? The exact same thing we had seen since we hit Greenwood the day before!!! Really, the exact same view!!! Cotton fields, corn fields, soybean fields, and barren fields – all flat as a flitter. Not a hill, not a bump, not a knoll, not a lump. Just “miles and miles of miles and miles.” That’s the Delta, for sure.

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