Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Mary Beth Kornely tells of a recent opportunity to do some exploring in West Point, MS.
Recently Franciscan Sisters at St. Francis of Assisi Convent in Greenwood, MS did more Mississippi exploring and expanding of our knowledge about this wonderful state. We started a day trip with the early Mass, followed by breakfast a half hour down the road at the Waffle House and then continued East to the other side of the state. Our first goal was to check out West Point. Since we have all worked in West Point, Nebraska, we were curious to see what this one offers. It is considered a small town of about 10,000. While driving around, we spotted the West Point Cattle Yard. That rang a bell since cattle is a big entity in Nebraska. We also were aware of Scott Knobbe from WP Nebraska (also with a cattle connection) marrying a girl from WP Mississippi. This necessitated a stop to chat with the two people in the office of this building. Scott no longer was in town, but was back in WP Nebraska. However, by the delightful conversation we had, we knew they were calling him on the phone as soon as we walked out the door.
After finishing our sight seeing in this town, we reached near-by Columbus, Mississippi, a college town that provided lots to see. Driving into the campus of the Mississippi University for Women, we learned some of the history from the entrance guard, which included the tunnels that ran from the river to the bell tower where wounded soldiers were carried to escape the “enemy” during the Civil War. Uh…. could the enemy be us? We had a good laugh as we drove through the campus. After doing a lot of sitting, a walk on a new walking bridge over the river provided a nice change. Retracing our steps over the bridge as we headed back to our car, a young woman approached us and wanted our picture for their local newspaper. A fellow reporter had called her to come out and get a picture of this “surreal sight” of us walking on this bridge. We never know how we are going to be perceived. Our picture did appear on the front page a few days later.
Discovering we were only a block away from their Visitor’s Center, we stopped into the building which was the home of Tennessee Williams for his first 3 years of life. This stop alerted us to the over 600 buildings that were part of the city from the antebellum and post civil war era. A slow tour of several city streets revealed the beauty of many of the homes from that time in history. This led us to Friendship Cemetery – a 65 acre cemetery from pre-civil war and after. Dates on tombstones were impressive along with the large areas of stones for the Unknown Confederate Soldiers. In addition, buried in Friendship Cemetery are veterans of the American Revolution, The War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Supposedly this cemetery is the site of the first Memorial Day celebration, started by the young women of the town who decorated the graves of the fallen soldiers.
With breakfast worn off, it was time to find a local establishment for a mid-afternoon lunch. The reporter had suggested “Jones Café”. If we had walked back out based on the condition of the place, we would never have had the opportunity to still expound on the experience. There was a row of tables in the middle that were clean enough to sit at. It seemed most (if not all) of the traffic that did come in was for carry outs. The menu is not hard to re-call. Entrée included a choice of a pork chop, ground steak, BBQ chicken or fried chicken. Three sides could be selected from lima beans, corn, black-eyed peas, sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes. Then a choice of a roll or corn bread and sweet tea or lemonade topped it off. There were birthday signs on the wall for the owner along with a sign that seem to represent the span of years of her life, which was well past. Another Mississippi experience for sure. We arrived home amazed once again at the diversity of the state and happy for the opportunity to have another Southern Experience.