Where in Mississippi is...Ebenezer?
For our first venture into the world of small town Mississippi, art
director Lori Brechtel and I decided we should choose our town according
to the theme of this issue. So, with the holiday season approaching,
what better place to visit than Ebenezer? Road map in tow, gas tank on
"F," and curiosity at its height, Lori and I set out to find
Mississippi's namesake for Mr. Scrooge. Traveling west on Highway
14, we kept our eyes peeled for any signs of civilization. We passed
"The Little Red Schoolhouse," we passed a few scattered houses, and we passed cotton field after cotton field. Finally, we
topped a hill and were greeted by a Coca-Cola banner bearing the
salutation, "Welcome to Ebenezer." Neither of us claiming to
have an internal compass, we breathed a sigh of relief at this assurance
that we were in the right place. Passing under the banner, Lori and I
came to a four-way stop sign with a large white structure that appeared
to be a gas station on our left. We decided to stop in and see what we
could find out about Ebenezer. We joked about walking into the store and
casually asking whomever we met, "So, how do you feel about
Christmas?" Quickly dismissing that idea--we were pretty sure
they'd heard that before--we opted for honesty with a healthy dose
of Southern charm instead. The building seemed to be divided in half;
one side said "Siddon," and the other side said "Ole
Bridge Pottery." The pottery half was dark and locked, but we
peered in the windows and discovered that this pottery shop used to be
the Ebenezer Post Office! Mr. Billy Siddon, owner of the store occupying
the other half of the building, informed us that the post office closed
some years ago. The potter, Bubba Barton, houses his studio next door to
the old cotton gin a little ways down the road. Mr. Siddon told us that
Barton ships his pottery to retailers in Jackson, Meridian, and Memphis,
among others. The shop on the premises is his showroom. Linda Archer,
the friendly woman with a big smile working behind the counter in Mr.
Siddon's store , said she would call Mr. Barton if we wanted to
look at his pottery; that's how he gets most of his customers!
Mr. Siddon's store carries everything from plumbing supplies
to baby food to hot lunch.
"If I don't have it in the store, you probably don't
need it," Mr. Siddon told us.
We finally asked them how they felt about the upcoming holiday
season, and Linda graciously told us all about the big Christmas parade
in Ebenezer. Mr. Siddon said that he was the only "Bah-Humbug"
that didn't participate in the parade; everyone else in the town
spends weeks preparing for it. As we were leaving, I asked Mr. Siddon
and Linda if there were, by any chance, any Scrooges in Ebenezer. They
politely laughed and said, "No," not to their knowledge.
Miles away from the interstate and the nearest Wal-Mart, Ebenezer
may not bear any resemblance to that old grouch from Dickens's A
Christmas Carol, but it was a refreshing break from the busyness of
everyday life for Lori and me, as well as a welcome reminder that folks
are the same friendly, helpful folks all across the Hospitality State.
Merry Christmas, Ebenezer, we hope we'll have the chance to stop in