Houses in Jane Austen’s Life and Fiction

The Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA)–Mississippi Region is excited to host Iris Lutz, President of JASNA, the weekend of September 6-8th. The Mississippi Region of JASNA is less than two years old, but has already been recognized by the national organization for its quick buildup of membership (over 30 members across the state), interesting events (academic classes, tea parties, films and discussions), scholarship (articles by members in JASNA’s prestigious journal Persuasions), and unique Jane Austen-inspired products (t-shirts, notecards, bookmarks, earrings, and Christmas ornaments). Ms. Lutz ‘s visit is a wonderful recognition of our new region.

Ms. Lutz will be making her keynote presentation in the Ellen Douglas Meeting Room at the Eudora Welty Library on Sunday afternoon. Ms. Lutz’s powerpoint presentation is entitled “Houses in Jane Austen’s Life and Fiction.” This illustrated talk on houses in Jane Austen’s real and imagined worlds will shed light on many of the homes and estates that figured in her life and novels. The visual tour will feature houses Austen lived in and visited while in Chawton, Bath, Winchester, and Kent. Friends of the Library will help host and provide hospitality for the event.

Ms. Lutz’s program is free and open to the public. Please join JASNA-Mississippi and Friends of the Library on Sunday, September 7th, at 2:30 at the Eudora Welty Library for this exciting event.

Written by Lemuria

Let’s Talk Jackson: Positive, beautiful things

The following article was written by Billy Watkins and published on August 2, 2014 in The Clarion-Ledger.

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(Photo: Greg Jenson/The Clarion-Ledger, Greg Jenson/The Clarion-Ledger)

John Evans was born in Jackson on Aug. 13, 1950, at the old Baptist Hospital.

He grew up here, has owned a business here — Lemuria Books — for 39 years and raised a family here.

“Only time I left was to go to college at Ole Miss,” Evans says, and then laughs. “I really haven’t been much of anywhere except Jackson and Oxford.”

That last statement is a slight stretch, of course. But Evans’ point is clear: He loves Jackson. His most precious childhood memories are sewn with its thread. It bothers him that the city often gets a bad rap, even if it’s often deserved.

“It’s a matter of what you focus on,” he says. “There are so many great, positive, beautiful things about Jackson that so many people seem to either take for granted or simply forget exist.”

He is attempting to awaken the grown-ups and educate the youngsters with a new coffee table photograph book, “Jackson.” It was published by Evans and Lemuria Books. It was Evans’ brainchild, literally a second job for the past two years. And now it is his mission to get the book into as many hands as possible. He would like to recoup his printing expenses, and he won’t weep if it makes a little money. But he says success will be measured by how many people give his book — and his hometown — an open-minded chance.

“I don’t think people can flip through the pages, really look closely at the wonderful things Jackson has to offer, and then tell me that this city doesn’t have potential,” he says. “That’s our brand for the book — ‘Let’s talk Jackson.’ Let’s talk about what’s good, what’s bad, what’s possible. And let’s really talk, honestly, about what Jackson can be. Because I think the possibilities are endless.”

He isn’t blind to Jackson’s problems.

“We’ve been hit with issues like a pie in the face,” he says. “Crime is bad. The streets are bad. The water problem is bad and has caused a tremendous waste in tax dollars, according to what I read in The Clarion-Ledger this week. There has been a lack of leadership, a lack of understanding the importance of small businesses. I totally acknowledge all that. I’ve lived it.

“But I still see the beauty.”

Jackson wasn’t Mayberry when Evans was a child, but there were similarities.

His parents had rural backgrounds. His dad, John, grew up in Lake, and his mom, Dot, was raised in the tiny Scott County community of Forkville.

Evans first lived with his parents in a house across the street from what is now Belhaven University. They soon moved to a house on Avondale Drive, in the Fondren area. He would ride his bicycle to Duling Elementary, and then after school across the parking lot to Brent’s, where he would order fries and “those great malted milkshakes made the old-fashioned way.”

Evans’ world was shaken at age 12, in November 1962, when his dad died of a heart attack while mowing the yard.

His mother went to work as the Hinds County home economist. He had to get used to an empty house when he arrived after school.

“But everybody around us in the neighborhood were our friends,” he says, “so it wasn’t like I had no one to go to if I needed anything. And I was over at my friends’ houses a lot.

“So many of the friends I had back then are still among my best friends today.”

One of them, Pat Hall, has worked at Lemuria on and off for the past 35 years. She grew up one street over from Evans.

“My medical doctor was a member of my 10-year-old baseball team,” Evans says. “I’ve had a pretty good life, being able to run a bookstore in my hometown and staying in close touch with so many of the people I grew up with.”

All of those things, from the milkshakes at Brent’s to playing on the same youth baseball fields on Lakeland as his son did 28 years later, keep Evans from giving up on Jackson. It motivates him to keep others from giving up, too.

The “Jackson” photos were taken by Ken Murphy, who has done other notable photographic work in Mississippi.

His pictures of the city are stunning. More than once, I had to do a double take. “Is that really in Jackson?” I would ask myself. And then read, yes, there is a place someone can sit and fish and be alone with nature. Crane Creek, in Evans’ old neighborhood.

Among Evans’ favorite photos: bull riding at the Mississippi Black Rodeo “because of the expressions on people’s faces”; the Cherokee restaurant; Eudora Welty’s home; and a lucky shot of former Gov. William Winter standing in front of his home. “He just happened to walk out as Ken was shooting pictures,” Evans explains. “Ken asked him if he would mind being photographed, and he said he would consider it an honor. Sort of meant to be.”

After looking at the collection of photos, I can see at least part of what Evans sees.

But there is something else to remember: While Jackson is home to 175,000, this is the capital city, the only one Mississippians have. It should matter to us all, whether you’re in Corinth or Clarksdale, Oxford or Starkville, Macon or Mendenhall, Laurel or Leakesville, Petal or Pascagoula.

Whether or not you like it, Jackson will always be the face of our state in many ways. Give it a chance.

Contact Billy Watkins at (769) 257-3079 or bwatkins@jackson.gannett.com. Follow @BillyWatkins11 on Twitter.

Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. 

Written by Lemuria

Let’s Talk Jackson Guest Blog: Fire Hazards and Newsrooms

Jim PathFinder Ewing has written six books, published in English, French, German, Russian and Japanese. His latest is “Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating” (Findhorn Press, 2012). His next book — about which he is mysteriously silent — is scheduled to be released in Spring, 2015. Find him on Facebook, join him on Twitter @EdiblePrayers, or see his website,www.blueskywaters.com

Looking at the photo of The Clarion-Ledger building, there’s no clue that once it had a feisty rival called the Jackson Daily News, housed in a adjacent portion of that same building. I tell people I worked for the C-L for 32 years; but in fact, the first 10 years were with the JDN, until the papers merged in 1989. Jimmy Ward hired me. Both papers were then owned by the Hederman family. JDN folk bitterly fought to scoop the C-L. We felt like stepchildren, as we were paid less, and had a smaller staff.

We were in the old YMCA building, which is now a C-L parking lot. Gannett tore down the building. The Hedermans apparently didn’t like or trust the JDN building either. The C-L was built on a heavy concrete structure — I’m told, thinking that one day they might build upwards, as a skyscraper. The JDN building was wooden and the floors creaked when anybody walked on them. The Hedermans must have thought it was a firetrap because there were only two doors linking the second floor and both had automatic shields designed to slam shut and seal the C-L building in case of fire. The JDN portion of the building was left to its own fate.

Clarion Ledger

I used to stare at those steel doors while the JDN newsroom puffed on cigarettes, reporters carelessly flipping lit butts in the direction of waste baskets overflowing with wadded up rolls of paper from the AP machine chattering nearby. Sometimes, those rolls did smolder a bit. Nobody had heard of secondhand smoke. When I started working as an editor on the JDN city desk, they gave me a key to the newsroom. When the last Jackson Daily News rolled off the press, there were only three of us editors left.

I still have that key – to a door that no longer exists.

 

Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. 

Written by Lemuria

Let’s Talk Jackson Guest Post: Willie’s House

Written by Chris Ray

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We always felt that the house chose us as much as we chose it. Carolyn and I had been to a couple of JoAnne’s parties, the last one being the celebration of the movie release of My Dog Skip after Willie died. I was always struck with how real their home felt, surrounded by genuine laughter, someone playing the piano, curiosities and ephemera, and of course, a library’s worth of books.

When JoAnne decided that the house was too big for her to keep up, I believe that she not only wanted to find someone to buy the house, but also to honor it. Which brings up an interesting challenge: how do you make a home yours, while honoring those who came before you?

We’ve tried to do both – and I think that Willie would be happy to see that the cats from the neighborhood still hang out in the crawl space. Curious literary fans still drive by slowly. There are dozens of assorted balls and sports gear scattered about the house, garage, and yard. In fact, our son John keeps a collection of baseballs in the same small closet where Willie kept his. And the books, my gosh, the books. They are everywhere.

We have Willie’s highway map of Yazoo County framed upstairs and a photo downstairs of Willie taken by his son, David Rae. And every now and then, we will find some odd treasure that Willie had hidden or misplaced. I think Willie would like the fact that our neighbors, Governor Winter and Dick Molpus, still tell Willie stories every time we see them. Dick told me recently that Willie would walk down to his house every Christmas to say hello as part of his “once-a-year exercise.”

But I don’t think Willie would want his former home to be a shrine. Or something too precious. I think he would appreciate that the paint is peeling here and there and there’s a patch where we just can’t get grass to grow. I think he’d be happy to see it alive, with the same kind of love and laughter that you felt and heard when he lived there.

 

Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. 

Written by Lemuria

The Story of Land and Sea

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My favorite books are ones that speak to my heart and head, ones that make me think but also affect my emotions.  The Story of Land and Sea is one of these books.  With lucid prose, historical and cultural accuracy, and a set of complex yet relatable characters, this debut novel from Jackson native Katy Simpson Smith has been one of the best I’ve read this year.

The novel’s plot follows three generations—John and Helen, their daughter Tabitha, and Helen’s father Asa—as their lives twine and separate and twine together again.  Set in coastal North Carolina soon after the revolutionary war, the story’s themes of struggle and discovery mirror our then-fledgling nation’s obstacles of defining itself as something other than a former colony.   But it’s more than just a parable for our country: the characters are so compelling and relatable, even for readers seated comfortably nearly four centuries later.  John, the center of most of the plots, is a former pirate who marries Helen, daughter of the wealthy landowner Asa.  Rather than falling into the trappings of cliché, Smith keeps the plot believable by focusing on the characters’ personalities, all of whom are likable, relatable, yet capable of much unsavoriness.  (I’m being vague on purpose.  If you want to know what happens, you’ll need to come buy a copy).

The cultural and historical Katy-Smithaccuracy of this story is another place my affinity rests.  Smith has a PhD in history from UNC, and she applies her knowledge of early America without turning the novel into a textbook.  The sentences themselves flow so easily,   I found myself lost in the beauty of the writing several times.  Here’s an example, focusing on the wedding of John and Helen:

The marriage takes place in the summer, among the heaved-up roots of the live oak, the lone tree that curves over the front lawn, bend and contorted to the shapes the easterly wind made.  Moll [a slave]  fidgets in a yellow linen dress with two petticoats and holds a spray of goldenrod that she pulled from the back garden; no one else had thought to.

With writing this good, it makes sense that one of the central images in the book is water.  Like water, this story, its characters, and its words are fluid and powerful.

 

Join us tonight at 5:00 as Katy kicks off her national book tour here at Lemuria with a reading and signing for The Story of Land and Sea!

Written by Jamie

Oz Blog: Back-to-School Round Up

(Today in Oz, we have something for your munchkins to read.)
New backpack? Check. A new size in uniforms? Check. While your child might be leaving their summer reading until the last minute (it still FEELS like summer), here’s a list to help your kids, and yourself, get in the back-to-school spirit.

Here’s the rundown:

Pre-school to Kindergarten:
Oliver and his Alligator by Paul Schmid

Oliver has a case of the first-day-of-school jitters, and stops by the swamp to pick up an alligator who helps swallow all of his worries. Great for conquering shyness. Schmid’s ne
west book, Oliver and his Egg, features an Oliver in school whose imagination runs wild when he finds a dragon egg.

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Planet Kindergarten by Sue Ganz-Schmitt

GREAT book for boys (and even girls) entering Kindergarten. The budding astronaut found in these pages will have soon-to-be kindergarteners excited about starting school. My favorite line in the book? “Then…I remember what they say at NASA: FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION.” Illustrations by Shane Prigmore are also colorful and exciting.

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First Grade:
Pinkalicious and the New Teacher by Victoria Kann

Our favorite pink-loving heroine is back just in time for school! I’ll admit, my favorite part of this book is the fold out poster that says “Reading is Pinkatastic!” I have to agree with Pinkalicious, as she discovers the joys of a new classroom. Bookmarks with that slogan are also included.

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The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Duncan’s crayons have a bone to pick with him. Yellow thinks he should be the color of the sun…but then again, so does orange. All he wants to do is color! If you do not own this book, or you have not read this book, the biggest favor you can do for yourself and your child is to purchase this hilarious read for anyone who loves to color with crayons. I’ve placed it on this back-to-school list because who doesn’t love to color??

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Rufus Goes to School by Kim T. Griswell, Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev.

With a name like Rufus Leroy Williams III, Rufus is not your average pig. While his friends are busy playing basketball, he wants to learn how to read. The catch? The principal doesn’t allow pigs to enroll in his school. Kids will love Rufus, and will most likely be one to read again and again.

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My Teacher is a Monster! (No, I am Not.) by Peter Brown

You loved Creepy Carrots and Mr. Tiger Goes Wild. This book wins the prize for BEST BACK-TO-SCHOOL BOOK of 2014! Bobby loves to fly paper airplanes, especially in class. Ms. Kirby is Bobby’s “big problem” at school because she makes him sit out at recess for throwing paper airplanes in class. But then…Bobby runs into Ms. Kirby at the park outside of school. What happens next will make you smile. You can get a signed copy here at the store!

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The Midnight Library by Kazuno Kohara

The little librarian works all night with her three assistant owls to make sure things run smoothly in the Midnight Library. However, squirrels start to play music, and a wolf begins to cry. The library stays open until the sun rises, and the illustrations and story are charming.

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The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce

While we are on the topic of libraries…this incredible book is about loving stories and books, and the journey they can take you on. Great for any age, and a must have for a personal library.

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Written by Clara

Let’s Talk Jackson Guest Post: Woodworth Chapel at Tougaloo College

Written by Seetha Srinivasan

Looking through Jackson: Photographs by Ken Murphy published by Lemuria Books, I was so pleased to see that Tougaloo College’s Woodworth Chapel was included in this book celebrating the city’s landmarks. So when Hannah at Lemuria Books asked if I would post an entry to blog about the book, I accepted with alacrity.

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Woodworth Chapel was built in 1901 by students, and is by far the most iconic structure on the 145-year-old Tougaloo College campus. A major renovation has restored the building to all its original beauty, and it is now on the National Register of Historic Places. As it well should be.

From its earliest days the chapel has been at the center of campus life. Notably during the turbulent sixties, Tougaloo was a haven for activists, and the chapel was the epicenter for the Jackson movement. Many a meeting was held there, and such leaders as Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Lewis spoke at the chapel. I taught English at Tougaloo from 1969 to 1977, and heard memorable speakers like Ambassador John Kenneth Galbraith and psychologist Kenneth Clark at the chapel. The chapel is often home to concerts, and after the ancient music group Boston Camerata performed there, their leader said that the group had not performed in a venue with better acoustics. Far and away my most unforgettable experience was being present for Fannie Lou Hamer’s appearance at Woodworth Chapel, as she recounted with power and passion her family’s struggles on the Eastland Plantation and then her political involvement. When she concluded by singing “Nobody Knows the Trouble I have Seen,” there was not a dry eye in the packed chapel.

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When we came to Tougaloo in 1969, it was on the edge of Jackson in every sense of the word. In the early 1990′s when the college hosted a lunch for business and community leaders, the venue was filled to capacity, reflecting the changing dynamics of the city. Now with Tougaloo College’s Woodworth Chapel included in this collection of photographs paying homage to Jackson, the integration of the institution, is in a sense, complete.

Tougaloo College has a venerable place in the state’s history and culture, and it is only right that Woodworth Chapel be recognized as one of Jackson’s iconic buildings. Thank you to Ken Murphy and to John Evans for giving this stately structure its due in their beautiful book Jackson.

 

Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. Please join us in celebrating Jackson on August 5th at 5:00 in Banner Hall!

Written by Lemuria

Let’s Talk Jackson: Marsha Cannon for The Scout Guide

The Following article was originally published on The Scout Guide website on August 9, 2014

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Marsha Cannon authors On Pinehurst Place, a lifestyle blog centered around art, entertaining, interiors, gardening, Jackson happenings and more. Here, she shares a recent event held in Banner Hall, tied to the release of the highly anticipated book, JACKSON…

Art Space 86 wowed us again this week with their fourth show of the year popping up in Banner Hall. The brainchild of college friends and Jackson artists David West and Jerrod Patridge, Art Space 86 is on a mission to bring art to the people of Jackson in an exciting, new way.

IT’S REALLY A SIMPLE IDEA: TAKE A VACANT SPACE, POP-UP A SHOP AND WHEN THE EVENT CLOSES, MOVE ON TO THE NEXT SPACE.

West, a Belhaven art instructor, gives a little insight into the naming of the venture – “Once we’re done, we’ll “86″ it (a restaurant term for pulling something off the menu) and we’ll be popping up somewhere else in the future.” I popped by as they were setting up so you could see that the show does quite literally “pop-up.”  The day of a show, the two friends arrive with hammers and nails to set up, as Partridge calls it, “a party based around art”…

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Each space is completely different and comes with its own challenges but Partridge says this just adds to the excitement of creatively using spaces that were not intended to be used as galleries. When they “86″ this space it looks to me like it could make it as a gallery! There is plenty of natural light…

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and the artwork shows up beautifully…

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Previous shows have not really had a theme but this one centered around Jackson – the city. Coinciding with the release of Lemuria and Ken Murphy’s book Jackson, the show featured art inspired by city venues as well as the opportunity to purchase Jackson and have it signed by Mr. Murphy. Between Art Space 86 and Lemuria, Banner Hall was brimming…

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The creative duo enjoying the event…

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participating artists…

Art Space 86 artists

I love this feature of the pop up show – a selection of works priced at, you guessed it, $86 each.

Music for each of the shows has been provided by Leo Moreira and Jesus Velazquez…

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Lemuria is doing its part in promoting Jackson with their “Let’s Talk Jackson” movement…

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colorful T-shirts and mugs carry the theme…

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There are many opportunities to meet Ken Murphy and have a book signed…

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as well as several cover choices…

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My personal choice…

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A perfect pair– Lemuria and Art Space 86… Join the conversation!

To keep up with upcoming Art Space 86 events follow them on Facebook at ART SPACE 86.

Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. 

Written by Lemuria

Let’s Talk Jackson Guest Post: We’re the Ladies in the Jackets

Written by Rebecca Wilkinson

The Mal’s St. Paddy’s Day Parade is one of the highlights of the year in Jackson, MS. Malcolm White is the creator of the parade and owner of Hal and Mal’s Restaurant.  Malcolm makes the point that the parade is beyond a traditional celebration of St. Patrick’s day, but more so it is a celebration of the city of Jackson.

I was a waitress at Hal and Mal’s in the early nineties and enjoyed “working” the parade in the restaurant. With prompting from Malcolm, Lesley McHardy and Ruma Haque formed a marching group in 1999 called the Green Ladies and asked me to join.  I jumped at the chance.  Our group has grown over the years to include 50 woman representing teachers, nurses, artists, dentists, real estate agents, bartenders, and stay-at-home moms.  On the third Saturday of every March, we unite as Green Ladies, decked out in glittery costumes and our signature green jackets.

Pre-parade preparation begins with making costumes and creating our signature throws.  Our costumes reflect the designated theme that is announced at the beginning of the year by Malcolm White.  Themes have encompassed everything from the Wizard of Oz and Elvis to recycling.  The themes have also celebrated local celebrities such as Felder Rushing, Cat Cora, Cotton Baronich, and The New Orleans Saints. Along with the expected beads, bouncy balls, and buttons, the green lady signature throw is a coveted collaged domino that reflects the theme of the parade.  Another Green Ladies ritual is collecting toys and monetary donations for the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital prior to the parade.  We can be spotted in full costume at Sal and Mookie’s, McDades, Hal and Mal’s, and other local business collecting donations.  Personally, I think this is the best part of participating in such an awesome group.

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Parade day begins with a brunch at the home of Kathy and Michael Potts.  Bloody marys and mimosas grease the wheel of our raucous group of gals.  We then gather in the big room at Hal and Mal’s to put the final touches on our makeup and organize our throws. The big room pre-parade ritual includes visiting with the other marching crews and reunions with out of town marchers who make it back to Jackson to participate. When one o’clock strikes we begin to make our way to the parade route.  Charley Abraham, the long time parade production wizard, begins to wrangle the marching crews into place and we begin the parade.  There is nothing like turning the corner on Capitol Street and seeing the crowds of thousands who show up for the celebration.

The official judges of the parade are the Bucket Heads.  The identity of the Bucket Heads are disguised by, well, buckets. Marching crews usually produce a skit or a dance for the judges.  Green Ladies have been known to spell out parade themed messages attached to their bloomers.  By the time we get to the judges, the bloody marys and mimosas have kicked in and the spelling of the words often get out of order.  It’s to be expected when such a good time is being had by all.

As we march past the museum and onto Court Street, we try to hold on to throws for the last of the masses.  The parade has grown over the years and the crowd just doesn’t seem to stop.  We are some of the first who arrive back at Hal and Mal’s, and it’s not over yet.  The Green Ladies escort the featured New Orleans style brass band onto the stage in the big room for one of the best dance parties in town.  We are all usually sore the next day from dancing, but it is worth it.

The Mal’s  St. Paddy’s Day Parade is the most fun event in our city.  I am so fortunate that it has become an annual celebration and that I am involved.  I can’t wait to see what the theme will be for this up coming year.

 

Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. 

Written by Lemuria

Let’s Talk Jackson: WANTED- Who is the Irish girl?

In early 2013, Ken and I had been talking about our Jackson photo book for a few months. Seriousness about our project had been growing and it was time to start if we were going to team up; the St. Patrick’s Day Parade was about to happen.

I told Ken if we were going to do this book, he would have to shoot Mal’s parade. Ken came to Jackson for this event and shot hundreds of photos. He put them on  a disc so I could study his work, and needless to say, this was the beginning of our actual project.

The St. Patrick’s Parade offered so many fine, fun photos that sorting down to just four was difficult. A favorite of mine, a photo of the parade in front of Hal and Mal’s, was last to go as our book filled up.

However, Ken captured a very special parade moment: our Irish girl (plate 10). She immediately became a favorite, and I feel her spirit reflected in this shot captures the goal of our book. She is beautiful. She is having fun. And, she is participating in one of the most celebrated events that happens in our city.

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Unfortunately, we don’t know who this special shamrock lady is. She is now #1 on our most wanted list.

For stepping forward, her reward is a free Jackson book (dust jacket of her choice), a #letstalkjackson t-shirt (a green one, no doubt), and a #letstalkjackson coffee mug.

P.S., If Ms. Shamrock would consent, we would like to make her our “Let’s Talk Jackson” poster lady!

Where are you? Who are you? Please step forward and say hi, and help us talk about Jackson!

 

Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. 

Written by John