Sunday, July 19, 2020

Delta Blues Trip - Leg 3 and 2a (7/18/2020)

Previously in my posts:
Discussion about  a Mississippi Delta Blues Trip
First Leg of the trip

Leg 3 - The Emmitt Till Markers

In the previous post, I shared a bunch of travelling information from Memphis to Clarksdale to Rosedale to Leland, MS.  In this post, I'm going to share a visit to a place very important to the musical genre of the blues; but, first, I want to share a visit to the lands of the heartbreaking story of Emmitt Till.  While the visit to the Till markers was the last part of the trip, I put it here (out of chronological order) because it is sad, important, but not how I want to end my tales of the trip to the Delta.

Emmitt was a 14 year old child from Chicago, IL, with a stutter and a whistle to help him stop it.  buying candy at Bryant's Grocery it's said he used the whistle technique to stop a stutter, and Caroline Bryant told her husband, Roy, that Emmitt made a pass at her.  Roy gathered some folks who dragged the 14 year old child from his uncle's house out where he was brutally murdered by being beaten, mutilated, and shot.  When his body was found three days later, and dragged from the river, a fan blade tied to his neck with barbed wire.

At 72 years old, Caroline Bryant told a reporter that it wasn't true.  But, a 14 year old boy is still dead.

While there are 51 sites in Mississippi dedicated to Emmitt Till, here are only a few, and there is a museum where you can learn more.  You'll notice that one of the markers has been shot.  It can't be replaced without being shot again and again.  I figure people there are trying to assert their superiority, but my friend Matt Ogle wrote that in his experiences "people that feel the need to prove their superiority, aren't."  Highly agreed. 

Click on Emmitt's name above to read the whole story and think about being a little 14 year old kid from the North, just here visiting family and friends, and all these things happen to you.

Click to see full size photo to read it. 

Click to see full size photo to read it. 

Click to see full size photo to read it. 

This is the river location where Emmitt was found by fishermen.  A beautiful heron flew by as I stood and looked over the water.  I don't know if that's symbolic of anything; but, I hope there's some peace for Emmitt somehow.

Backing up in time:

LEG 2A - HEADING EAST (From Leland)

So, after having eaten at Fratesi's, we started on our road east to three graves of some blues greats; but, the first stop had to be the historic Dockery Farms in Cleveland, MS.  Started in 1895 on 40 square miles of land, this property became known as a birthplace of the blues.

Having read about this place in all of the blues history books, it's been such a dream to be there - and there I was.  Nerd-grin and all!

Click on picture to open it larger to read it.

Intrigued at the fact how many people performed on the stage
at Dockery Farms: Henry Sloan, Charley Patton, Willie Brown,
Howlin' Wolf, Son House, and Robert Johnson...


While doing some research about Robert Johnson, and hearing about all the visits to Dockery Farms, there was a suggestion from a guy about where a possible crossroads would be if Robert Johnson had done such a trip to meet the devil.  And just across from Dockery Farms is a gravel and dirt road called Lusk Road, which (after passing by a graveyard) is crossed by Walker Road. 

Dockery being a place to which Johnson would have gone from Greenwood, MS, this area could have been the Devil's Crossroads, a place to visit at midnight under a full moon.

While we didn't run into any devils this day, we did see someone waiting on us when we arrived.  No other animals, no other people - nothing, just this fellow.  We went, said hi and petted it; but, we did not try to cut any deals other than to say "hay" to him.

We made our u-turn in the crossroads, and headed back to highway 8, preparing for the trip to some graves.  At the highway, we looked straight across from Lusk Road for one more view of Dockery Farms.

And the next part of our trip would take us down some dirt roads, some paved roads, and into the sweltering Mississippi Yazoo Delta heat as we visited some graves of three of the most famous blues men in my collection:  Charley Patton, B.B. King, and (of course) Robert Johnson.  (Well, again, this particular post is not in chronological order*.)

I did worry a little as we drove to visit the grave sites when there were a few sprinkles here and there, but it passed and we continued to be blessed with beautiful (albeit hot) weather!

*After Leland, we went to see the grave of Charley Patton, followed by B.B. King, then around to Dockery Farms and Crossroads #3, and then to the grave of Robert Johnson, followed by visits to the Emmitt Till markers.

No comments:

Post a Comment