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Tag: eudora welty

Last week, I drove through my old Belhaven neighborhood in Jackson, Mississippi, taking photos of the houses I’ve lived in. I spent two periods of my life in the neighborhood: from age 3 years to 12; and again through the decades of the 1980s and ’90s.

My life in Belhaven began in a duplex my mother rented when we moved back from Denver, Colorado, after Daddy Joe died. On this street, we ran behind the fog machine that sprayed  for mosquitos and lived to tell the tale. (The house doesn’t tilt; that’s me tilting the phone as I took a photo through the car window.)

When I was in the 5th grade, Mother bought a house (!—a single mom with 3 little girls: the older I get, the more I’m impressed with that feat). We adored the Arlington Street house. It had 7 levels (if you counted landings) and 2 balconies. As you can tell, the balcony over the front porch where we used to sleep under the stars has been removed. Who knows if they still use those French doors to go out on what is now basically a roof. The house is also painted blue where it was white then. And you can’t see the little house in the back which, though it was a real house, we used as a playhouse and where Cheep-Cheep the duck lived for a while. 

We left this house when Mother married, and we moved to North Carolina. I moved back to Jackson in 1982 to practice law and returned to my old neighborhood, kicking it off with another duplex. My unit was the downstairs screen door on the left of this yellow house.

I didn’t last long here before I moved to the Arcadia. I loved this four-plex (that’s my unit with the upstairs porch on the right), but I left it when I married. Doing my drive-by, I noticed it still has window units. 

We (actually me, though I was married) bought this wonderful little house that we extensively renovated. It’s on Pinehurst Street, right down from Eudora Welty’s house. Miss Welty is a famous short story writer. You can hardly see the house up the hill. The sign indicates it’s for sale again. 

For a brief period, I lived in exile from Belhaven. When I got divorced, I returned to the neighborhood and bought my very own house which I loved dearly. The trees around it have gotten so overgrown it, too, is almost hidden. It had a magnolia, fig, redbud, and an oak. When I married again, I commuted a while between Jackson and Memphis. I sold my house (marriage was not good for my house tenures) and rented the Love Shack behind this pink house in Belhaven. That’s an orange trailer of some sort in the driveway. You can’t see the Love Shack, but I didn’t want to leave it out of the chronology. It was tiny. It had 3 patio areas. The heating was terrible in the winter. I adored it. 

When I look at these collection of houses, I see how similar they are. My taste did not change much. As you can tell, the Belhaven neighborhood is lodged in my heart. It formed me. It might be why I’m a writer. I dream of it at night. It’s now a historic district.

Oh, and just for fun, here’s the ditch area where we kids told each other a crazy horse with red eyes reared and stamped in the darkness. We never saw the horse.

Sticky Stories

When a friend sent around a “let’s play” Facebook message about ten books that stuck with you, I made the list off the top of my head. When I finished, I realized on that list I’d included three short story collections.

Golden Apples, by Eudora Welty: a collection of interlocking stories set in Morgana, Mississippi, which I’ve read more than three but less than eight times.

Welding with Children, by Tim Gautreaux: the funniest set of short stories I’ve ever read, including the title story involving the narrators attempt to discuss the Bible with his brood of grandkids.

The Stories of John Cheever, by- you guessed it: surely the most elegant of short story writers, Cheever came into my awareness in college; thereafter, I asked for one of his collections for Christmas only to receive a large, shiny red book of his ENTIRE collection, a gift that to me still spells Christmas exuberance.

Many people write short stories because, well, they’re short. We’re almost universally taught to write short stories as a way to get our writing legs underneath us, working our way up to the novel. That’s why I did it, anyway. Now I see a new truth: I’ve stuck with the short story form because it has stuck with me.

Remember: You Cain’t Do Nothing with Love

“It Does No Good Whatsoever to Stay Bitter”

To contribute to the Betty Ford Center, an alcohol and drug treatment center, please follow the link here or visit www.bettyfordcenter.org

Listen to the story here: 

      It Does No Good Whatsoever to Stay Bitter - Ellen Morris Prewitt

Tomorrow, we are driving to the ends of the earth. We’re traveling this path because, before us, Eudora Welty’s characters left New Orleans and drove to the ends of the earth: Venice, Louisiana in “No Place for You, My Love.” Earlier in my life, after I absorbed all books I could read about King Arthur, I tromped through England visiting sites of the legend: Camelot, Tintagel, Glastonbury Tor, the field where Mordred killed Arthur. Someday, I will go to St. Petersburg because of Helen Dunmore’s novel, The Siege. A book about deprivation, starvation, and war so endeared me to St. Petersburg I want to travel halfway around the world to see it for myself.
Maybe I am too easily drawn to mystery. Maybe imagination embeds itself too deeply in my psyche, seeming all too real. I don’t know. But, tomorrow, first thing in the morning, we are driving to the ends of the earth.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

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