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Lights of Hope over First and Green

A late Friday night commitment here in North Carolina left me with only one option for getting to the annual Gore Springs Reunion on Saturday, May 4th by 10:00am. Yes, flying was the only way, and it would indeed be an early flight. When a red line of thunderstorm activity refused to budge off the early morning forecast, I knew I would once again miss the reunion. I had hopes of seeing so many dear, familiar faces. I had especially looked forward to the entertainment provided by any of those Shaw boys who would decide to share their talent on the old, school stage. As it turned out, both Lynn and big brother Ken did just that. Joy Marter Tippit pointed out that Mrs. Jessie Shaw, the revered music teacher of any and everybody who ever took piano lessons in both Gore Springs School and Jones Road Elementary, would indeed have been proud of the musical talent that seemingly flows in all of the Shaw veins, especially those of her grandsons.

As it turned out, Ben Shaw did not make it to the Gore Springs Reunion either. However, I soon learned he was booked to appear in concert at First and Green in downtown Grenada the next weekend of May 11. Still somewhat disappointed I had missed the reunion and admittedly needing a little “Mississippi moment”, I was determined to find my way home.

The concert was everything I had hoped it would be. Of course, Ben has a great voice, plays a mean keyboard and knows how to work a crowd. The Memphis bass player certainly added talent to the stage also. However, the audience was thrilled that Ben had informed Ken, his older brother, about mid-day on Saturday, that he expected him on stage playing the drums. Good call, Ben, good call! Plus, there is something I enjoy about younger siblings telling older siblings what to do, for they often need our guidance. Ken, who had been away from the stage for several years, responded with this comment when asked, after the concert, how he enjoyed playing the drums again alongside his brother, “It was better than Christmas!”

At one point during the intermission, I found myself standing in a close circle with Ben Shaw, Cheryl James Keen, daughter of the late John Mack James and Bobbie Jean James. As the three of us reminisced briefly before Ben continued with the night’s entertainment, I looked at him and said, “You do know you are knee-deep in Gore Springs standing in this circle!”

Yes, it all concluded eventually as a great time had by all. The evening had been full of visiting with friends, eating good food from Molly’s Place, and many making night moves all over the dance floor as if they were still teenagers. I found myself feeling somewhat nostalgic as I walked out and saw the decorative lights streaming across Green Street. Years back when downtown Grenada was full and bustling, people from Gore Springs, Holcomb, Duck Hill and many other surrounding communities, even neighboring counties poured in to shop, visit a doctor, get legal advice, take in a movie, or eat some of the best caramel pie on the face of the earth.

First and Green, Grenada, MS

People from all the surrounding communities will once again need to respond to the life that is stirring within the downtown area. It will take many folks from many walks of life finding reasons to participate in whatever event is being offered and to invest in the town’s future. Thanks to Deborah Hicks Midanek Baily, the person behind the revitalization vision, for jumpstarting the dream, for renovating one building at a time, for bringing in the Ben Shaw Band and its accompanying energy, and for stringing those lights of welcoming hope across Green Street.

May 20, 2019

Mary Jo Dyre

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