Black, white and blue
I read your article about Walter Pitts in Club Ebony, and it sounds like you didn't like having the spotlight taken away from your white, cynical, obnoxious, prima donna self. I hope you got the head turning from your white Cadillac that you were hoping. Believe it or not, Cadillacs are out of style in the Delta. I guess, though, that if you drink several beers, a flask of vodka, and homemade wine with gin on top while you are "working" that it would make you a little irritable. Maybe if you had brought your own cup from the Varsity in Atlanta, you would have felt more privileged.
It's very amusing to have a "city slicker" mosey into an area that everyone else has called home for several decades and begin to criticize the local white boy that the local blacks seem to enjoy the company of. By the way, who won the dance contest? Or did you chicken out? Oh, I forgot, it was rigged because no one knew who you were, or for that matter cared. Ah, there's the rub.
I hope you had fun with your article. Being from the Mississippi Delta, I can tell you that you made no friends, not that you would be accused of that. Your cynical attitude in the first four paragraphs ruined your credibility for the rest of the article. In fact, I quit reading. Why don't you try a new approach: "When in the Delta, do as the Deltans do." And please, keep your drunken self and world-class piano friend off the road next time you come to my neighborhood.
I would love it if you asked your editor to publish this letter but I am sure that you won't.
You are not very nice to say those things about Walter. He is a sweet, gentle person and is actually quite loved in the Delta by both white and black people. You wouldn't understand because you don't truly understand the dynamics of the Delta — I wouldn't expect you to. You can't begin to get it with one week of "research."
I did enjoy reading some of your observations — your article was nice and brought back many great memories of growing up in the Delta and listening to the blues all through there. I hope you eventually have the opportunity to truly understand all you observed. Best of luck.
—Mary Pitts Huffstetler
I just finished reading you article on Mississippi blues, and I want to congratulate you on writing such a great piece.
I lived in the Delta in the '90s, teaching at Delta State in Cleveland. I wrote my dissertation (LSU) on black return migration to the Delta, and I didn't come close to capturing the modern Delta like you did in the opening story about the farmer jerk at the Indianola club. That story plays itself out everyday down there.
I once told Charles Regan Wilson (director of Ole Miss' Center for the Study of Southern Culture) that I thought the blues was dead. Maybe I was in a grumpy mood that day or maybe I was right. I just can't decide.
I'd love to read more of your stuff. Congratulations again.
Assistant Professor of Geography
Appalachian State University
Thank you very much for the great article on the Delta Blues. As a native of Cleveland, Mississippi and now Atlanta searching for good blues, I appreciate the good stories about my home state. I hope your stay in Jackson included a visit to the Subway Lounge, a true juke joint. There you would have seen the true blues like that found north of Cleveland at the Po' Monkey. The documentary Last of the Mississippi Juke Joints is a great story about these two clubs on Black Starz channel. Thanks again for your story.