Marian and I made our first stop in Pontotoc, at The Hardware Store, Inc. Yes, it’s a real hardware store, but it’s got a pretty impressive gift shop with cute stuff and we enjoyed looking around. We contributed a little something to the local economy before heading on toward Houlka, and just outside Pontotoc I spotted the roadside park we used to stop at in the 50s. It’s closed now, but it’s still there – I couldn’t believe it.
Shortly after we passed the park, we turned off the highway to make a side trip to Algoma. Wise move. It’s just a little settlement out in the middle of nowhere, but Algoma is a surprisingly upscale community. For the most part, the houses are large, modern and lovely, the yards huge and well kept. Only about fifteen percent of the population earns below the poverty line, so compared with some of the places we've seen, Algoma’s a virtual
or Central Park South. We didn’t see much in the way of businesses in town, except for their locally-famous seafood restaurant (Seafood Junction). The only other business we saw was a quail farm and it was beautiful. Beverly Hills
Algoma has the cutest city hall ever, as you can plainly see. You can also see that the town was incorporated in 1904 and again for good measure in 1988. The “God Abides” is more than just a thought, it is what Algoma means in…Hebrew, maybe? And, judging by the number of churches in town, it may be true. God may actually abide in Algoma. Behind the town hall is a walking track, a really nice addition to their little community, and even more impressive considering that there are only about 500 people who call Algoma home. The town may not have a large population, but it’s an obvious case of quality over quantity. These are people who take pride in their houses, yards, and churches and keep them tidy. Sadly, that’s less common than one might think in backroads
A map of
Marian -- In my opinion, since New Houlka is now old and Old Houlka doesn't exist, shouldn't it just be Houlka?
Houlka was never a big town, but it was an active, viable farming community when I was little, and it’s sad to see it in such decline. It’s especially sad for me because I’m related to half the town. We don’t know each other, but we’re family. Houlka does have one highpoint though: the old
building. It’s been refurbished and it’s a treasure. Houlka School
Marian -- This house makes me smile...the little eyes, little round mouth, and perched wings....ready to take flight... If not for the chest freezer just outside the door on the right, I would swear we were looking at an UFO. Reckon what it looks like at night? Hmmm? Wonder if they could paint it orange in the fall?
I was a little disappointed to see that there was no “Welcome to Houston, birthplace of Susan Lentz” sign to greet me at Houston’s city limits, but still…the little town has some bright spots. We visited an antique store and had a delicious lunch at My Friends Place, a restaurant/gift shop in an old house. (And yes, it concerns me that Friends is not possessive, but according to their business card, that’s the way it’s spelled. I can’t do anything about it. Heaven knows, I would if I could.) Then we headed to Vardaman for dessert at Sweet Potato Sweets.
The only store we visited was
’s Drugs. Their gift shop had some cute stuff, so we shopped around a bit before heading back to the pharmacy to pay for our finds. There we met the store’s owner (?), who is also the mayor of Chandler . (Apparently, it was meet-a-mayor-day in Calhoun City .) So, we had a lovely chat with the friendly mayor Mississippi .
Bruce was the next stop, but we didn’t stop for long. We’d been there before (it’s actually the trip that started our Tiny Travels) and not much has changed. We revisited Jeffrey's, the gift shop/lunch counter, and the antique store we liked so much last time, and were sad to see the store now stocks mostly "catalog stuff."
Yes, Paris. Marian has always wanted to see Paris in the springtime, and hey, it's springtime, so we went to Paris. We could tell we were there because of the almost-perfect sign pictured here. Other than that, it was kind of hard to spot the place. Parisians could make a fortune if they built a replica of the Eiffel Tower and sold tee shirts, but they haven't opted to do either of those things, so we set off for
It was fortuitous that we made the little side trip to Paris; otherwise we never would have seen the shrimp boat sitting in the middle of a pasture. It was turned away from us, and appeared to be headed toward the horizon, or would have been if it had been moving. Which it wasn't. It's doubtful that it will ever move again, but it would be interesting to learn what a shrimp boat was doing in North Mississippi. Actually, it bore an uncanny resemblance to The African Queen.
Wow! Water Valley won the prize – or would have, had we had a prize. There’s still work to do downtown, but a lot of refurbishment has already been done and someone smart appears to be in charge. And the houses! I can’t recall running across so many gorgeous old homes in one town, virtually all of which appear to have been restored or are in the process of being restored. The neighborhoods around the downtown area are hilly and tree covered, so these gorgeous old houses are beautifully set to boot. What a jewel of a little
Our trip home took us through