We wake up in this magnificent house that I spent my teenage years in. It sits on an acre of land on the main street of Port Gibson, pop. 3,000. Built in 1820, it is not overly large but has 3 bedrooms and high ceilings like your typical southern antebellum homes.
Also on the grounds is a garconairre (a room detached from the main house that, in a bygone era, housed a grown male child living at home) where I lived, and a brick dependency (a nice word for slave quarters). The dependency, back in the day, also housed the kitchen, when cooking was done with wood burning stoves, to avoid burning down the house.
Since my parents have moved to Austin and no family members still in Mississippi, we have the house up for sale and I was meeting with the real estate agent. It is interesting – we’ll be lucky to get $150K for it and the same property, on my block in Austin would be worth close to $2 million!
We spend the day working in the house and touring Mel around town, since this will probably be his last
trip there. Mel and I have been friends since the 60’s and he has visited my parents there many times.
It’s an absolutely beautiful town with huge trees making an arch over the streets and over 100 buildings
150+ years old. Unfortunately the town is slowly dying because of lack of economic opportunity and
inept local politics. Our work consists of inventorying and cataloging the furniture and fortunately Mel
likes it and thinks it will fit in our project in Apalach, either in the stores or in the rooms of the boarding
house. We also see Larry, my furniture guy, about rebuilding and refinishing an old armoire. Mel finds
a treasure trove (he thinks – my wife is skeptical) of about 75 old framed family portraits and art pieces
that have been stored in a dusty room in the brick dependency. Most are so dirty you can’t tell what’s
behind the glass. Mel takes a bucket of soap and water and some rags and goes to work. He saves about
30 and we pack them in the car with plans to decorate the walls of the boarding house.
We end the day with Southern libation and dinner of Chicken a la King and another round of fresh
vegetables. Tomorrow it’s off to Apalach.