Through all those childhood moves, Mississippi was home base. Deborah spent countless summer days in Louin, Mississippi, watching the socks spin at the washerteria, visiting Mr. Jeff Simmons’s grocery for lemon drops, a ten-ounce Coca-Cola, and a bit of conversation, plunking on the old upright piano in the unlocked Methodist church (ask her to play a hymn! Or not.), and wandering the cemetery, hanging out with long-gone kin (Each Little Bird That Sings).
It was in Mississippi that Deborah learned to love the earth from her Aunt Mitt (One Wide Sky) who grew the world’s most beautiful zinnias.
It was in Mississippi that Deborah helped shell butterbeans with her great-grandmother, Nannie, and tasted the delicacies of a southern summer kitchen: creamed corn and green beans fresh from the garden (Love, Ruby Lavender), fried catfish and hushpuppies, sweet tea, coconut cake made from scratch, and hand-cranked vanilla ice cream.
It was in Mississippi that cousin Bubba (really) stepped on a nail while staging a play with the cousins in the old high school auditorium. It was in Mississippi that the pool closed in 1964 to “everybody under the sun, no matter what color.” (Freedom Summer)
A note from Comfort again: There’s more, as Deborah is longwinded, but these pages are still under construction so you might check back later if you’re not already tired of reading about Deborah Wiles’s scintillating life. (It’s rather boring, to me, but then, I’m just the interviewer and I keep going because I’m getting paid with a lifetime supply of Tom’s Peanuts, RC Colas, and Moon Pies.)