When I told my writing group I was going to Tupelo for a weekend. the comments were varied. In summary: “Why?” “Huh?” “OMG.” “That seems odd.”
It really isn’t odd at all. My brother moved there many years ago, eventually his boys followed. They are an established part of the community. So, the purpose of the excursion was a long overdue family visit to the Dickey clan.
That’s a funny thing as well. I never realized at a gut level that there is really a bunch of Dickeys all in one area. When we grew up in North Dakota, it was our small family and the grandparents.
My brother hosted a family barbecue on his front deck. By the time everyone arrived, there were more than a dozen people, including three two-year-olds, a ten-year-old who was two when we last visited—yeah, I know—and a stray close friend or two. I looked around and marveled at the wonder of it all. (I also know that many of you are saying that is sure a small clan. Okay. I get that, too. But to me it was awesome.)
My brother asked about how Steve was handling the culture shock. Suffice it to say, he did experience a bit of that. I have some sympathy with him, having married into a large, close, citified, Jewish family.
We dined on delicious corn perfectly steamed in a cooler, radishes from the garden, salad with wild greens from the woods added, potatoes roasted in some solar powered gizmo behind the house, homemade potato salad, and steaks tied together and roasted in a cooker over homemade charcoal. I had a ride in a homemade dune buggy through the trees, mud, and hills.
The next day, a close-by restaurant opened to serve us a late lunch. That’s the total truth. The place is closed on Sundays—it is Mississippi. My niece and nephew made the arrangements with one phone call. Amazing.
The cook cooked, my nephew and a couple others of us helped set and bus the tables, and the two-year-olds acted accordingly. My brother and his wife brought their band and entertained us with their tunes. I even got to sit in on the drums for a couple of songs. (Youtube link to Dickey band.)
Then we were told to “get the hell out of Dodge” because the tornados were coming. We left early Monday morning and were in Atlanta to catch our return flight home before the huge tornado hit Tupelo, leveling over 100 houses in its path. Thank God, my relatives are fine, as are their dwellings.
My thanks to the Dickey clan for welcoming us 'home'.