Entering the Mississippi Delta

St. Joseph, LA

St. Joseph, LA

7/11/11 – We sleep in a little this morning because we are so exhausted. I have a brief panic after we leave when I realize that I left all of my color film in our motel refrigerator. We return to pick it up and to my relief it is all there. Little Rock has a library system connected to the Arkansas History Center. Like the shared library between the City of San Jose, CA and San Jose State University this allows for a bigger and better library. The old Carnegie library that used to be here is gone. However, the old columns were preserved and are now located in front of the new library. Pine Bluff is one of the poorest and most violent cities in the U.S. Its library is a large 1960s faded beauty with a great map of the U.S. painted in front. Nick filmed Walker walking the route of our trip. We continued southeast to our last library in Arkansas at Lake Village. It is right on the water and the librarian Judi Fava is happy to bring the local community to life. The librarians that have the free time to talk are invaluable for us to understand what we are seeing. Lake Providence, LA is one of the many small, poor black communities that we will visit in the next few days. We arrive 15 minutes before they are closing. A little black girl looks up at me as I enter and announces that the library is closing. I told her that I would be quick. After a few shots of the interior I stepped back into the heat to photograph the exterior. The two friendly librarians, one white and one black, pose with one of their grandsons in front. We really feel the Mississippi Delta region beginning here. We listen to great gospel music as we drove through a vast farming region interrupted with bayous. The sun got lower in the sky and the temperature came down to around 100 degrees. This region reminds me a little of the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta in California. St. Joseph is our last library of the day and one of the best of the trip. It is a small but somewhat prosperous Delta town that is unusual because it was originally laid out like a New England village in the early 19thCentury. The library is a fascinating blend of architecture that I photographed with my medium and large format cameras. We spent the night in Natchez, MS., a quiet antebellum gem. Dinners on this trip have mostly been excellent and the Pig Out Inn amazes us again. On my computer in our motel I read a national news story that the mid-West and South have been experiencing a record heat wave. It has followed us the whole way and we have experienced 18 continuous days over 100 degrees. Yikes!

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