by: C. Richard Cotton
I don’t ever think much about the concept of home; most
people probably don’t either.
couple weeks ago, I spent a long, long day in the Mississippi
Delta shooting photographs and conducting interviews for a
story about folks there for an Atlanta-area newspaper. It’s
one of the poorest parts of the country – always has
Part of the story
was about the number of people who have moved away from the
Delta to find jobs. The phenomenon is similar to the exodus
of Delta people in the middle of the last century to cities
like Chicago and Detroit. It’s happening again.
But what is also
happening is all Delta folks aren’t leaving. They’re
staying and working to save their towns, their homes. It would
take deep pockets to revive some of those towns but people
are trying. Moving to greener pastures would, indeed, be an
easy solution, an alternative one can hardly blame someone
asked the mayor of the tiny Delta village of Mayersville, whose
husband recently lost his job when the plant where he worked for
nearly two decades closed its doors, if she might end up moving
away. “This is a safe haven, I was born and raised here and
I can’t picture myself raising my three children anywhere
else,” Mayor Linda Short declared.
I got to wondering about that, the concept of home. Raised in a
military family, we moved often and almost always great distances,
once even across the Atlantic Ocean and then back across a few years
later. Moving was always part of my life; we never unpacked everything.
It was a major part of my childhood and
remained so until well into adulthood. I moved often and usually
Home was wherever I was.
And home was nowhere.
Sure, I’ve left
places where I would have rather stayed – Denmark, San Francisco,
Colorado – but it wasn’t because they elicited in me
any great feelings of being rooted. They were pleasant, fine, beautiful
places, forever burned in my mind as places to where I’d gladly
Or not. Sure, I could
make a home in any one of them or elsewhere but it wouldn’t
be home. My home is in Saltillo with my wife Terri. But, if times
got tough enough, we could pull up stakes and seek opportunity in
places with different scenery.
Which brings me back
to the Delta, where people are in a daily struggle to make ends
meet and to bring some prosperity to their hometowns. Their efforts
are worth noting, their quests are noble.
They have a home, where they were born, where they were raised,
where they raised their own children and where they want to die.
They know where they want to be buried and who will be near them
when that time comes.
doesn’t get anymore basic than that.