“Guess the best thing dirt roads do…is they slow people down. The world’s too much in a hurry, and usually with no place to go. Everything flies by in a blur. And people get to where they don’t belong anywhere and ain’t from no place at all.”
If you travel I-20 east from Jackson, Mississippi, somewhere about 20 miles short of Meridian you’ll see a sign: Hickory Exit. This sign is one almost ad infinitum of green signs along a monster interstate that has sucked the life out of localism, particularly important throughout the South. But should you drive into downtown from old Highway 80, you’ll see a different sign: Welcome to Hickory, Miss. The Little Town with A Big heart. A bit more dash and devotion and emotion than: Hickory Exit.
Hickory lies in Newton County, an area rich in Southern history; much, which is not uncommon in the South, involves The War–no, not WWII. Newton County was the focal point for one of the John Wayne/John Ford often South-friendly movies about a true battle in 1863: The Battle of Newton Station. Results were heartbreaking for the Confederates but illustrated their courage and character.
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