I was riding through our little town the other day and as I rode through the streets where we use to live a flood of old memories came rushing back. Our little family moved here to Tippah County, MS in the city of Ripley, forty years ago, today, July 3, 1974. During those forty years we have lost a lot of the friends we first made when we moved back to Ripley, we still have some of the friends from back then and we’ve certainly made many more in those forty years. Along with the friends come many, many priceless memories made during all those years from living in this one place.
As I was riding through the town and looking at first one house or building and then another, I was thinking about the people who use to live in those houses and some of those same people use to have businesses in those buildings. Houses where people who I don’t know live now and buildings that are either empty or have another type of business in them now owned by people I don’t know.
So many things are changing in our state, country and even in our world today that it is hard to keep up with which issue is most important. They all seem to be life altering at times and that is scary, only if we take our eyes off of our One and only stabilizing force, Jesus! Four of our original five family members were saved and baptized right here in Ripley and I praise God for that!
Our little family of five original members has grown into an extended family of twenty-four and we’re so thankful for God’s blessings that He’s poured out upon us since we’ve been here. Moma and Daddy now have nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren and I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that if Daddy were still alive these grands and great-grands would be spoiled more than they already are!
Each house I passed, I could recall that so-and-so lived there and they both passed away several years ago. Or so-and-so still lives there but their spouse died last year. Very few homes I passed still had their original owners living there although for the most part, the houses looked the same.
I couldn’t help but remember the houses my brother and sister and I would visit as teenagers and all the fun we would have with the friends that lived in those houses. Friends who have now either moved out of state or have built their own homes somewhere else, either here in Ripley or in Tippah County or one of the other counties here in Mississippi.
As I was driving and thinking, I thought of all the changes that have happened in our county over the past 30 or so years and I began to think of what changes lie in store for the grandchildren we now have over the next 30 or so years to come. There haven’t been a whole lot of changes made, the biggest I can think of has been the vote last summer to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages. Beer, wine and liquor are now legally sold here. Every convenience store and grocery store have shelves in their refrigerated sections stock full of beer and there are 3, maybe 4 wine and liquor stores that have opened up here in the city of Ripley.
With every news report coming out of Memphis, it seems the crime is going up and I’m fearful that it won’t be long, especially with our country, as a nation, in the trouble we are in now, that some of that lawlessness will eventually make its way to this quiet little town that has seemed for so long to go untouched by such things. We have had our share of criminal activity and there have been the occasional murders, but nothing to say that there is a crime spree breaking out and if we’ve had any gang activity, it hasn’t been broadcast about.
This little town’s resilience and it’s ability to remain a small Southern town has been the draw for a many a person that I’ve talked to, especially when I was working out in the public and would be the person sitting behind the desk when the new customers would come to have their electricity turned on. I never failed to ask them where they were coming from and sometimes would even venture to ask what drew them to Tippah County in their journey.
I just pray that this county can retain it’s small, Southern town resilience so that my grandchildren can one day drive down the streets of this town, who knows, maybe even forty years from today and say that they too can remember who lived in that house when…..