Art and Soul of the South

Vicksburg, Mississippi is a treasure all on its own- a town laying aside the Mississippi river near the Louisiana/ Mississippi border. It’s a historic town with battlegrounds and military cemeteries outlining the city, but the downtown is the true essence of Vicksburg. Very small, the downtown encompasses several city blocks, some with brick streets, and all lined with beautifully old buildings-some mimicking the architecture of New Orleans. Much of the town is under construction, being revamped to its original glory, though I feel this only adds to the town’s character. Some buildings appear to still be abandoned and the opened doors and windows swaying solitary and empty in the wind are somewhat haunting and somewhat alluring at the same time.

More unusual though, is the town’s positioning atop a hill that lay beside the Mississippi. Standing on Washington Street (the town’s main shopping and restaurant district), the Mississippi is in clear view at the bottom of a steep hill and followed by a levee adorned in hand painted murals. Confederate flags are still hung outside some of the businesses, which highlights the southern draw the town has.

The streets are lined with amazing antique stores- and when I say “antique”, I’m not referring to musty, Old Fogey-type stores, rather modern takes on beautifully salvaged classics.

Very upscale and semi-pricey, the items available in these stores are unique and artistic, and monetarily worth the character they have.

A particular store- Art and Soul of the South- was my personal favorite. Colorful, vibrant, and eccentric, Art and Soul was the only store that defeated my window shopping spree. Beautiful, vintage beaded chandeliers hung in every corner, vividly painted old furniture to bring to it a modern twist, newly dressed with fancy glass knobs and drawer pulls, and international, handmade jewelry lured me in. The window display was irresistible.

The woman working, assumably the owner, was crafting handmade, beaded jewelry (which they also offer classes on), and was extremely kind. I fell in love with a pair of earrings imported from Croatia, unlike anything I’d ever seen, and couldn’t resist the twenty-dollar price tag.

Had I had more time, money, and space in the trunk in my car, I easily could’ve left prepared to furnish that amazing home (that I don’t have).

I had lunch just down the street at a hole in the wall sandwich shop called “Fire N Ice.” I had a traditional turkey Po Boy, which is never disappointing and sat at the old fashioned ice-cream like bar and listened to the locals with amusement. Apparently one was pregnant but was trying to hold off on the birth of the child till she could be added to the father’s health insurance policy, stating that hospitals treat Medicaid patients like “$*@!,” when another local piped in with “well that’s just when you go in ‘der wit’ yer badge and a gun and tell ’em they’re gonna give you good care.” I smiled, but not in a condescending manner; it’s simply amazing to experience first-hand such different lifestyles than our own.

I walked to my car, sun shining, but with a light mist, happy with my discovery of Vicksburg. It’s a purely beautiful town with an authentic southern appeal, but more importantly, the people are real.

By: Ashley Halligan


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