Broiled Catfish

This recipe works with not much less nor much more than a pound any small lean fish. Pat whole gutted, scaled or skinned fish dry–this is an important step–score, and slather with softened butter flavored with thyme, pepper, and paprika. Place in a well-oiled pan, add  lemons with juice, and place in a very hot oven until fish flakes to the bone. A final squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of oil before serving adds much to the dish.

Fresh Peach Cobbler

For four cups of sliced fruit make two cups of simple syrup with a teaspoon of vanilla; a dust of nutmeg is a nice touch. Stew fruit in hot syrup just enough to color and flavor. Pour into a deep baking dish.

Make biscuit dough using sweet milk and sugar, knead lightly, and roll out to about a quarter inch. Cut into strips and drop by pieces into the hot fruit/syrup mixture. Spoon syrup over dropped dough. Bake in hot (350-400) oven until browned and bubbling.

If don’t serve this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream the devil will drag you to hell by your short hairs in a second flat.

Stuffed Pork Loin

Remove sinews and fat from a whole loin of pork, butterfly, and brush with corn oil seasoned with black pepper, salt, and freshly-minced garlic.

For the stuffing, use day-old cornbread moistened with butter and chicken stock seasoned with fresh rosemary (not too much!), thyme, basil, salt and pepper, along with finely-minced onions.

Stuff loin, roll, truss, brush again with seasoned oil, and roast on medium heat (300) about an hour for a ten pound loin.

Serve with Jezebel sauce.

A Farish Street Financial Timeline

 

DATE

AMOUNT ($)

SOURCE

PURPOSE

110/9/81

200,000

CDBG*Revitalization study
2

34,000

CDBGExtension of study
37/23/82

100,000

Grant, National Endowment for the Humanities via JSUHistorical survey of Farish Street
412/10/89

1,600,000

CDBGInfrastructure, business loans, housing
5

85,000

CDBGFarish Street park
611/22/94

50,000

Jackson/Hinds Co.Mary Means (Means Consulting)
711/22/95

1,500,000

State of Ms.Alamo renovation
83/7/96

130,000

National Trust for Historic Preservation/State of Ms.Renovation of Scott Ford House
9

200,000

Acquisition of property in Farish St. district
103/26/98

2,500,000

National Equity Fund; $600,000 from local banks; $350,000, CDBG (city)“Rehab” of 37 historic houses
114/27/99

6,000,000

State of Ms.Farish St. revitalization
124/27/99

6,000,000

Fannie MaeFarish St. revitalization (matching of state funds
133/23/01

1,500,000

HUD?Infrastructure
145/22/01

900,000

City of Jackson water and sewer fundInfrastructure
151/12/02

74,000

($50,000 J. Paul Getty Trust; $12,500 Ms. Dept. Archives and History; $3,500 Gannett, Inc.; $8,000 ChemFirst, Inc.)Farish St./Scott-Ford Museum
163/8/11

210,000

Civil rights grant(?)Medgar Evers House Museum
 TOTAL

21,082,000

*(Community Development Block Grant – HUD)

Not included in this document are amounts for donations of real estate (e.g.: from state of Mississippi; donation of Alamo from Sunburst Bank), funding for the Smith-Robertson Museum and contract fees paid to Performa Entertainment and subsequent developers.

1) Hester, Lea Ann. “City expected to extend study of Farish Street.” The Clarion-Ledger 19 October 1981: 1B. Print.
2) Ibid.
3) Hester, Lea Ann. “Farish: Older than thought?” The Clarion-Ledger 23 July 1801: 1B. Print.
4) Scruggs, Afi-Odelia E. “Development plan fails to revitalize Farish Street.” The Clarion-Ledger 10 December 1989: 1A. Print.
5) Ibid.
6) Simmons, Grace. “Farish Street consultants to share info.” The Clarion-Ledger 9 October 1993: (no page cited)
7) Gates, Jimmie. “Renovation closer for Farish Street’s Alamo Theatre.” The Clarion-Ledger 22 November 1995: (no page cited)
8) Harris, Barbara. The Jackson Advocate. “Farish Street Historic District gets infusion of national, state funding.” 7 March 1996: 1A. Print.
9) Ibid.
10) Fleming, Eric. “Farish Street renovation under way.” The Mississippi Link. 26 March 1998. 1A: Print.
11) Henderson, Monique H. “Draft document targets Farish St. Historic District:12M allotted for development of district.” The Clarion-Ledger. 27 April 1999. 1B Print.
12) Ibid.
13) Mayer, Greg. “$1.5M grant going to Farish Street.” The Clarion-Ledger. 22 March 2001. 1B: Print.
14) Ibid.
15) _______. “Black museum receives grant.” The Picayune Item. 12 January 2000. (no page cited)
16) Mitchell, Jerry. “$2M-plus in grants awarded to state civil rights sites.” (“$210,000 will help stabilize the foundation and repair the Medgar Evers House Museum in Jackson.”) The Clarion-Ledger. 3 August 2011. (no page cited)

farish_street_north_blog

Pickled Quail Eggs

Unless you’re one of those people who will actually cook and shell several dozen quail eggs–and get help you if you are–-then use good canned eggs and hot vinegar water (1:2) with either slit cayennes and sugar or banana peppers. They’re good for a month.

Down in Doodleville

For Jackson, Mississippi the Civil War was catastrophic, but by the 1880s, the city had begun to rebuild and slowly piece itself together along two main two axes, Capitol and State Streets.

The Pearl River provided then as it does now a natural barrier to expansion to the east, so that the city grew west along Capitol behind the bluff and north along State following the bluff. The southwesterly course of the floodplain largely prevented significant development on South State Street beyond its parallel to the divergence of the Illinois Central and Gulf & Ship Island Railroads, yet inevitably attempts were made, paramount among them the hamlet that became Duttoville.

Located south of Porter and on either side of Gallatin adjacent to the Illinois Central Railroad, Duttoville was named for Father Louis Anthony (Luigi Antonio) Dutto, one of the most fascinating figures in the ecclesiastical history of Mississippi. Dutto was born in the commune of Boves in Italy’s Piedmont region and educated at Brignole-Sale, a pontifical college in Genoa. A very learned man, Dutto was the author of The Life of Bartolome de las Cassas (published posthumously; 1902). He was ordained for the Diocese of Natchez before he was 24 years old and arrived in Jackson on August 25, 1875 to assist Fr. Picherit in attending the surrounding missions. Dutto succeeded Picherit as pastor in 1885.

Fr. Louis Dutto

According to an anecdotal biography written in 1932 by Rev. P.H. Keenen, a personal friend, “Father Dutto was a great financier, having special aptitude in this line. He was sought as adviser in matters financial by young businessmen, and his advice, when followed, usually brought success, and often wealth. . . .  He himself acquired much property. On the missions he seldom asked his people for funds—he gave instead of asking. His business acumen enabled him to do this.”

In 1886, Fr. Dutto bought land in what was then the southwestern portion of the city, which, according to the account given by McCain in The Story of Jackson, “he divided into lots on which homes were erected and gardens cultivated by certain Catholics who had to come to the city to engage in commercial and agricultural pursuits. This section is still known as Duttoville.”

By another account (Jackson Daily News, May 30, 1979 p. 15A) Dutto acquired the property in 1891 from F.A. and Mary F. Wolfe, J.W. Langley all along Gallatin Street and the I.C.R.R. and the G.&S.I. Railroad and the “Muh (pronounced as the pronoun “me”) Estate, “vast acres” of land just outside the city limits, Dutto sold lots to working class people who could not pay taxes on simple homes, including many Italian immigrants (likely the “certain Catholics” referenced above). The area soon became a thriving community with a planing mill, brickyard and other enterprises that provided work for residents, and many worked in Jackson proper. Anticipating being acquired by Jackson at an early date, the settlers, to avoid city taxes, incorporated in 1903.

Jackson topographic map, 1905

The original Duttoville was bounded on the north by Town Creek, the east by the Pearl River with the Illinois Central and Gulf & Ship Island railroads to the west. Later the village expanded west of he railroad tracks to Terry Road. The first (and only) mayor was J.R. Root; aldermen were W.L. Porter, Joe Karese and Will Muh; J.E. Robinson was town marshal, and J.W Langley was city clerk. We’re told a small jail was built but “never occupied”.

 When Jackson first attempted to incorporate Duttoville, the tiny village put up a fight. The Duttovillers went to court and fought the incorporation and won. The city of Jackson appealed, and after two years, while the case was still pending in court, the citizens of Duttoville and Mayor Hemmingway of Jackson made a compromise.

The city agreed to extend water, lights, telephone, a fire station, police protection, a grammar school (George School) and other amenities. But the area continued to be called by its original name, which in time became corrupted into “Doodleville” or “Dooleyville” both used well into the mid-20th century as a popular though derisive term for the part of town bordered by Battlefield Park on the south, Terry Road on the West, Hooker Street on the north and South Gallatin on the East, well west of the original settlement.

Belhaven resident Wilfred Cunningham, who grew up on Farish Street, remembers going to Doodleville as a very young man. “This was in the late Forties, and I was in my early teens. Anything south of Capitol Street on Farish Street we considered Doodleville,”

“The area was much more depressed than North Farish. I seem to remember the roads weren’t paved, the streets were graveled, I thought we lived poorly on Farish, but Dooley was a lot more run down.” Cunningham said.

“The houses were row houses, shotgun houses like we had on Farish. People from Doodleville would come to Farish where we had the ice cream parlors, the stores, the clubs, and the Alamo. There wasn’t any industry of any kind there for jobs, so most of the people worked in north Jackson.”

“For some reason I was always told not to let the sun go down on me there. I never ran into such a problem, but I always got the impression that there was a gang of some kind that kept Doodleville for people who lived here and weren’t friendly to outsiders.”

Jackson bluesmen Cary Lee Simmons and Bubba Brown composed the “Doodleville Blues” in the 1930s, and it was a local hit, getting lots of laughs when Simmons performed it for his friends in Jackson. He made a recording in 1967, which you can listen to here.

I got a girl in the Bamas, I got on that lived out on Bailey Hill.
I got a girl in the Bamas, and I got one that lived out on Bailey Hill.
But don’t none of them suit me like that one
I got down in Doodleville

 The womens on Farish Street shakes until they can’t be still.
I said, the womens on Farish Street shakes until they can’t be still.
But they cannot sake like those gals
Live down here in Doodleville

 Turn your lamp down low. Somebody done shot poor Bud, Buddy Will.
Turn your lamp down low. Somebody done shot Buddy Will.
I told him to stay off Mill Street and get him a gal in Doodleville.

 I won’t have a gal on Farish Street,
Wouldn’t speak to one that lived on Mill.
I won’t have a gal on Farish Street,
Wouldn’t speak to one that lived on Mill.
‘Cause the next woman I got, she got to live in Doodleville.

 They got the meat from the slaughterhouse
And the wood from Grimm Stage Mill.
They got the meat from the slaughterhouse
And the wood from Grimm Stage Mill.
And if you want to live easy, get you a girl in Doodleville.

Spoken: I got a secret for you though.
It’s a mad dog out, and boys, it ain’t been killed.
It’s a mad dog out, and boys, it ain’t been killed.
And you better be careful, careful, careful
how you doodle in Doodleville.

Even studded with jewels such as the old fire station and the magnificent Art Deco George School, Duttoville languishes in slow decay, but it’s the most fascinating neighborhood in the city of Jackson, the sad shadow of the good Father Dutto’s dream.

Make Hash

I like corned beef hash for breakfast, chicken hash for lunch, and beef hash (without gravy) any time. Such are are the rules of the universe in this modest sphere.

My hash is made with leftover/canned meats. Sometimes I’ll use leftover roast potatoes, but for breakfast hash, I’ll dice a small red potato and cook in oil until browned and done through. Don’t ask me why; if we’re incapable of the inexplicable, then we are nothing.

Sometimes I’ll throw in some onion, but I don’t belong to the bell pepper crew. Basic seasonings: salt and pepper, paprika; a little dry mustard is a nice touch.

Keep it simple. Anyone who tries to gussy up hash needs therapy.

The Existential Tomato

If you’ve never enjoyed the sensation of going out to the garden, picking a beautiful, ripe tomato (of whatever variety) and eating it right there on the spot atop of God’s good earth with the tang of that tomato plant in your nose and the warm sunshine on your face, then you’ve never had a tomato at it’s best. If you have, then you can truly say, “I know what a tomato is,” for then you have achieved an existential union with tomato-ness.

(Or maybe that’s an essential union; I forget the distinction. I think I flunked existentialism at Ole Miss, though I’m not really sure I took it in the first place, which means I might have passed the course after all.)

Vegetables prepared for the table straight from the soil are a hallmark of great Southern dinners; a luscious home-grown tomato, simply sliced and served on a plate, usually with a fragrant cantaloupe and maybe a good, dewy cucumber (all slightly chilled with a mint garnish) is a signature addition to any summer meal.

I consider a ripe tomato the crowning glory of Southern vegetables, but everybody has their own favorite; some advocate summer squash, others favor fresh beans and peas, and still others extol sweet corn. Some eccentric souls even champion okra or eggplant. But even back in the Bad Old Days when most of the country ate out of a can or from the frozen food section, people in the South knew to get their vegetables from gardens, and if they didn’t have a friend or relative they could help out by weeding and hoeing for some of the returns, they could get fine vegetables from the truck gardens and produce stands along the byways.

So when you’re out on the road this summer and you see little produce stands with signs written on brown cardboard with a magic marker, do yourself a favor by stopping by and spending a little time and a little money getting to know the foods of the South and the people who make them.

Home to the Flowers

The most evocative personal memoir to come out of Calhoun County, Mississippi, Home to the Flowers is described as an “anecdotal history” in Lives of Mississippi Authors, 1817-1967, and though it’s certainly populated with folk tales—some of them quite “earthy”—Smith’s account of his life in the area during the first two decades of the 20th century is lyrical and poignant, the detailed observations of an educated man living in a quasi-frontier setting.

Tilmon Henry Smith, son of Tilmon Holley and Fannie Hawkins Smith, was born in 1883 in Water Valley, Mississippi, and received his M.D. from the University of Tennessee in 1915. He began practicing medicine in Banner, Mississippi in 1915. He moved to New London, Ohio in 1922 where he remained until his death in 1969. His memoir, Home to the Flowers was published privately in 1964.

When Smith was six, the family moved to Pittsboro, where his father was postmaster before becoming pastor of a church in Ellzey, where they built a home, he remembers his mother surrounded with flowers, particularly roses. Young Smith attended the school there, which was established by brothers W.T. and B.G. Lowery and T.C. Lowery, who later founded Blue Mountain College. When still a boy, he and his brother started a brick manufacturing business and built the J.D. Richards store in Vardaman, which is still standing. Smith moved to Vardaman in 1901 after his father’s death. He was still in the brick business, but he also worked on Mississippi river barges and as a logger in Yazoo County to help support the family. He attended Meridian Medical College, and graduated from the University of Tennessee Medical School after a short stint in the Chicago School of Medicine. He served as the health inspector for Calhoun County throughout World War I and beyond.

Here he recounts the struggles of the people of Calhoun in the early decades of the 20th century against typhoid and the devastating influenza epidemic of 1918:

One must realize the primitiveness of our existence to understand. These people had no indoor water supply or toilet facilities. Water was secured from a well in the yard, or a spring or a creed–often a quarter of a mile away. Toilet facilities were at best an outdoor privy in the back yard. Many times, during this period, my first duty upon arriving at the patient’s home was to bring buckets of water from the spring and remove the offal from another bucket beside the bed.

This time of trial and ordeal gave me an abiding faith in people. They exhibited gallantry far beyond the call of duty. Some people had a mysterious resistance to the flue germ. A dozen people would be stricken down around them and they would nurse and care for them all. When this group was reasonably comfortable and cared for, they would walk to miles to minister to other friends or relatives who had no well person to look after them. Some people cut and ran. They used all sorts of low excuses, but it came down to the fact that they were overwhelmed by the solid fear of death. I was continuously amazed by those who really had the sand, as well as those who did not. There were so many heroes and heroines in this terrible tragedy that all cannot possibly be mentioned, but some of my expected friends let me and themselves down, as well as their dependents. I do not remember this with bitterness or condemnation, but with pity.

During the epidemic the community drunk, faced with adversity, found himself and became one of the noblest men of my acquaintance. He sobered up for the first time in years and walked the roads giving help to all in need. It was not unusual to find him carrying water to the sick in one community, and a day later he would be ten miles away cutting wood to warm another family, both of which had probably ignored him in the past. It was just as astounding to find a logging camp lady of the evening bending over the sickbed, tending the sick with all the tenderness of a Florence Nightingale. My dear old mother always referred to her in a disdainful manner as a scarlet woman. I thanked God for this scarlet woman, and learned again that nobility of the soul is sometimes lodged in strange places.