Mattson ~ A place unforgotten
By Curtis L. Johnson, Sr.
In these United States of America, there is a little town not very far off the beaten path.
Neither gold nor silver has ever been mined in or near this town of fertile delta soil.
No sweet crude runs beneath its ground, but a gentle and quiet place awaits those who toil.
And leading to the heart of this little town, there is a paved road crossing highway 49.
But please take your time if you should decide to visit this little blessed town.
Because it is a place where time, it seems, stands still, and life is lived in moments.
Because it is a different place and time, where it seems the sand in the hour glass ceased to fall.
And because it is a place where the minutes are golden, and the moments are sometimes magical.
From Memphis, Tennessee, one would take U S highway 61 to Clarksdale, Mississippi.
I am certain there is a sign that points to this town just west of highway 49.
But please do not anticipate a police car, traffic jams, or even stop lights.
And please donít expect a scenic park, or even a small shopping mall.
This town is about 70 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee, near Clarksdale, Mississippi.
Yes, I am certain that you won't find a Broadway show or a lot of fun places to go.
But please observe the quietness, and notice the train line that runs straight through town.
This town is about 10 miles south of Clarksdale, Mississippi, just off U S highway 49.
Yes, a lot of people I once knew there have moved away and others have died.
My father, my maternal- and my paternal-grandparents died and were buried there.
It wasnít long after my grandma died that our dear mother decided to move away.
I moved away many years ago, and none of my siblings live there any more.
But I know this little town, even though its people and social structure have changed.
The first 17 years of my life were spent in this little town, where I was born in 1949.
The people of this town were strong; and my 6360 days in this town were all long.
The minutes there were golden because they belonged to me, given by God alone.
The minutes were golden because I was blessed to live more than 9 million minutes there.
The minutes were golden, and I treasured each one to make the best of each one of them.
This town of my birth and rearing was sometimes a depressing, but mostly a happy place.
Yes, I tell you, that those golden minutes also came with many a blessed and magical moment.
Yes, there were many spiritual moments with God, and some special moments with dear people.
Yes, I also tell you, that sometimes this town did not act, look, or even feel like the America we read about; however, the spirit of freedom flowed like blood through every vein.
But this town too was also America, because we all loved freedom, baseball, and apple pie.
This town too was also America, because we also dreamed, worked hard, and went to church.
This town too was also America, because I learned how to read, write, and do arithmetic.
From the many pages of history, there are people, places, and things that are soon forgotten.
But I well remember a people and a place about a mile west of that U S 49 Highway.
If you should determine to visit this town and someone meets you at the door with a frown, the chances are great that you took a wrong turn and entered the wrong town.
If you are greeted at the door with a smile and someone says to you, ďCome on in for a while, and make yourself right at home," the chances are great that you are in the place where I used to roam.
If late at night you hear the sounds of crickets, or if on early mornings you hear roosters crowing, or if you see pig pins and chicken coops, I suspect that you have found the right place.
If in the early fall you see white fields of cotton waiting and pleading to be harvested;
if you see cotton gins, combines, tractors, and cotton pickers;
if by chance you see chinaberry trees near by and pecan trees in the distance;
if you observe a cotton or corn field where tin roof homes and out houses use to be;
chances are great that you have reached the town of my early years;
chances are great that you have arrived at the place where kids used to run, playing hide and seek, jumping rope, shooting marbles and popping sling shots, and never bothering about worries or fears.
I know that things have changed and people are not as poor as we used to be,
but I suspect that time has left us a trace.
Itís a trace of how the privileged with plenty used to contrast with the under privileged in poverty.
Itís a trace of how people used to survive with help from their God, help from their friend Uncle Sam, and help from neighborhood friends who cared and shared.
Itís a trace of how a lot of times people survived day by day, simply because they wanted to.
So, if you should ever decide to visit my little hometown unknown by millions from afar;
If you should ever wish to tour a place unforgotten by me and others from Mattson, Mississippi;
Be focused to see a place of simplicity
Be ready to acquire a taste for humility
Be honored to walk on grounds of stability
Be prepared to pause and embrace less activity
Be wise enough to understand the meaning of civility
Be more determined to love others with all of your ability
Be sure to listen for the sweet sounds of quietness and peaceful tranquility.
Read more of Rev. Johnson's stories:
More Than Race
Man, Mule and Mouse
Want to leave a comment about Curtis Johnson's moving prose poem?
Please visit our Message Board
or write Ye Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back to USADEEPSOUTH - I index page
Back to USADEEPSOUTH - II index page