The Towering Past

Old grain elevators in a cotton patch, just off US Highway 65 north of Lake Village

Old grain elevators in a cotton patch, just off US Highway 65 north of Lake Village AR.

A funny thing happened on the way to shoot some old water towers in Mississippi. Just before I got to Mississippi, I ran into the grain elevators above, in Arkansas. The water tower adventure started at Lake Dick, Arkansas during a thunderstorm, all properly chronicled on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer Dot Com.  Click here to see the picture and read the “start out” of this story.

Actually, the trip from Greenville, Mississippi north to Helena, Arkansas and back home started the next morning. As the trip developed, I kept seeing these old water towers and the story of the guy on the roof who refused to be rescued came to mind. So I started shooting old water towers. They do have some staying power, even if they are no longer used. Good engineering, one would presume.

old towers

1. Tower at the site of an old cotton gin on Mississipp1 Hwy 1 near Scott MS. 2. Tower at Shaw MS (where I found an RC and Moon Pie). 3. Tower at Rosedale MS 4. Tower at Gunnison MS, notice the gap in the pipe below the bottom of the tank.

Towers two three and four almost appear to be litter mates and this is not an isolated coincidence. There must be hundreds of these towers still standing.

So, exactly what do you do with a water tower no longer in use. It costs money, snarls traffic and probably will cause a power interruption to demolish or remove them. Solution: leave ’em be.

It was snack time after the tower shot at Shaw. So I stopped at what appeared to be the busiest and most popular store and service station. Notice the terminology. This is definitely not a formula convenience store. It’s home grown. I was greeted by some sojurning customers and by the proprietress as I entered.

RC Cola and a Moon Pie. Can be a breakfast, lunch or dinner substitute or a convenient snack when the spirit moves one in that direction.

RC Cola and a Moon Pie. Can be a breakfast, lunch or dinner substitute or a convenient snack when the spirit moves one in that direction.

Thus welcomed, I  perused the drink and snack offerings. To my delight, I discovered two quintessential southern offerings, to wit: a cooler full of RC Colas and a shelf liberally stocked with Moon Pies.

Southerners need no further explanation. This is essential fare. For those of you not culturally aware of the nature of this food group, its roots are in the quarter-a-week allowance many of us experienced in childhood.

The logic was this: An RC was big.  So was a Moon Pie.  So for a dime, you could pig out and have some change left for other temporal pursuits, such as penny Fleers bubble gum. It was a practical matter.

As a result, one developed a taste for the combination. Later in early adulthood, or during continuing education,  the meal satisfied hunger when nothing else was affordable or available. The examples above are perilously tilting on the hood of my pickup, but where better to photograph this culinary delight?

voss is doss

This towering tank on top of an old building in Clarksdale MS, thusfar is a mystery.

Nearing the northern end of the journey, I wheeled into downtown Clarksdale MS to look around. They have done a pretty good job of restoring their downtown with an eclectic collection of shops, restaurants, watering holes and the like. Cruising around, I noticed a small tower/tank on top of an old building. I asked several folks if they knew what it was. They did not have a clue. Perhaps a reader has the answer.

Ground Zero Blues Club ® — Clarksdale, Mississippi

Ground Zero Blues Club ® — Clarksdale, Mississippi

Further downtown in Clarksdale is the Ground Zero Blues Club ® established in 2001 by actor Academy Award Winning Morgan Freeman, local attorney Bill Luckett and Howard Stovall of Memphis. The ambiance captures the essence of the blues. I am planning to return and hear some of its offerings and sample the cuisine.

Thanks for dropping by!

Joe Dempsey


2 Responses

  1. Joe … you simply have a great eye for things that we commonly see, but no longer think about – such as these water towers … and of course you seek to find a story of their past.

    When I travel through small towns that are obviously no longer what they were, I often wonder about the days gone by when they were much more active than today.

    Maybe it’s the fact that I’m from a small town of about 3K during my days … fewer today … the times when town was packed with people on Saturday mornings …. but today is a mere shell of those days.

    So, thanks for what you do and verifying many of my thoughts.

    • Frank, the water towers probably at one time meant that the town had achieved a new status by having running water for its citizenry. Now what was once a point of pride, stands as a “non-item,” replaced by a pump, perhaps a newer tank, or a hookup to a larger system. And life goes on.
      Thanks for the visit,

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