Our Home Town

Posted on August 22, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

I came into the house after running some errands recently and exclaimed to Bobbye, “I love my church, I love my bank, I love my barber shop, I love my hardware store, I love Clinton!” We have readily assimilated into the community and continue to be overwhelmed by the Southern hospitality and personalized service of small town business. One cannot be hurried in getting tasks done as you are always going to encounter acquaintances and strangers who engage you in conversation, asking about your family and telling you about theirs.

Clinton is not the small town of 1500 people that I grew up in; it has now expanded to a primarily residential city of 35,000 on the west side of Jackson, but it has not lost its Mayberry neighborliness and friendliness. Clerks will take time to help you find what you need but in the process will eventually link you with distant kin or common classmates from long ago.

Crape myrtles line the streets with their colorful blossoms in late summer just as the bradford pear trees cover the town in a stunning white in early spring. Being a college town on the interstate, we have our strip malls, all the fast food restaurants, franchise motels and Walmart. We have just about learned to navigate our way through the gigantic Krogers store to find what we need, but it is specialized businesses that remind us we are still “small town.” Walk into the bank or cleaners and one is likely to be greeted by name.

The Post Office has the mail up by 10:00 each day, so anytime within the next hour one of us will suggest walking to the Post Office where we will see fellow retirees picking up the daily handful of bills and the daily hype from AARP along with box stuffer coupons and advertising promos. While walking in our neighborhood it is expected practice to wave at whoever passes in a car whether you know them or not. If you’re driving the car, lifting a couple of fingers off the top of the steering wheel will suffice.

One of my favorite colloquial delights is getting a haircut; it’s not that the cut itself is such a pleasure as it is hanging out at the iconic Wayne’s Barber Shop. It’s been around for a long time. The old folks come in just to escape the heat and shoot the breeze. You hear all the hunting and fishing stories, conversations about horses and motorcycles, the weather and politics and what is really going on in town; you miss a lot if there is not a lot of wait time.

The brick streets of old town were once the center of activity with the only grocery store, drug store, bank and general store occupying the four corners of the main intersection. Now it is a interesting community of antique stores, book shops, photography studios and Lula’s Cafe.

Whatever cannot be found in Clinton is only a short drive on one of six thoroughfares that link our town to Jackson, the state capitol; in fact, the city limit signs are back to back in a couple of places where the metropolitan areas merge. The old Clinton Boulevard is an extension of Capitol Street directly out of downtown. Interstate 20, paralleling Highway 80, skirts the south side of the city, while Northside Drive, Pinehaven  and County Line Road and the Natchez Trace lead to the flourishing northside malls and businesses.

Things have changed over the years with expanding housing developments and subdivisions, one of the largest school districts in the state and occasional traffic congestion on the highway, but Clinton is our home town. We love it!

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