Farm Progress

It was no surprise but gratifying to see Southern hospitality on display for new Farm Press employee.

Ron Smith 1, Senior Content Director

April 23, 2018

2 Min Read
Tim Headren, new senior staff writer for Western Farm Press, displays a tee shirt from the Blue and White Cafe,Tunica, Miss.

Delta folks are friendly. That’s not news to anyone who has spent a little time in this fertile, unique, fascinating part of the country. Those of us who grew up in the South (My formative years occurred in South Carolina.) sometimes take for granted the welcoming smile and a “How you doin’ sweetheart?” from people we meet on the street, serve us biscuits and gravy at the local diner, or greet us at the grocery store check-out counter. It’s Southern hospitality personified.

It’s interesting, though, to see how southern manners affect someone who has never set foot on buckshot soil, eaten a meatloaf sandwich and chocolate pie at the Blue and White Café in Tunica, Mississippi, or enjoyed a hearty welcome to Mississippi from a security guard outside Abe’s barbecue in Clarksdale.

Tim Hearden, our new staff writer for Western Farm Press, came in for some Farm Press orientation from his home in Redding, California, this week, and I enjoyed introducing him to the folks at the home office and showing him a little bit of the Delta. We stopped at the Blue and White on our way down from Memphis. The meatloaf sandwich, Tim says, was delicious. The chocolate pie, however, was “the best I’ve ever eaten.”

The staff was, as usual, was cordial. Everyone welcomed us and asked, “How y’all doin’?”

Tim bought tee-shirts.

We had lunch at the Ranchero the next day with Farm Press colleagues. Tim had catfish. Well, you can’t visit Mississippi for the first time and not try the catfish. He was not disappointed.

We tried Abe’s that evening and the pork barbecue was superb. The pecan pie was delicious. The conversation with the security guard was a bonus. I told him Tim had never been to Mississippi. “Never been to Mississippi?” he asked in astonishment. “What took you so long?”

We went downtown to check out Ground Zero, the blues club created by Morgan Freeman. He was not in attendance that night, but a cheerful waitress, Teamina, took right good care of us, convinced me to try a Ghost River beer instead of what I’d usually sip on, and made sure we knew that the place is open for lunch, and southern fried chicken is on the menu.

I somehow let it slip that Tim was from California. “Well you better bring him back and get him fed,” she said. “He’s probably used to eating sprouts and salads. You need to get him some good southern cooking—fried chicken, black-eyed peas, and corn bread.” I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. Tim said” we’ll be back for lunch.” He bought two tee-shirts.

Tim says he’s not particularly surprised at the warm welcome he received in the Delta. Neither am I, it’s as natural as buckshot clay. They should put that on a tee-shirt.


About the Author(s)

Ron Smith 1

Senior Content Director, Farm Press/Farm Progress

Ron Smith has spent more than 40 years covering Sunbelt agriculture. Ron began his career in agricultural journalism as an Experiment Station and Extension editor at Clemson University, where he earned a Masters Degree in English in 1975. He served as associate editor for Southeast Farm Press from 1978 through 1989. In 1990, Smith helped launch Southern Turf Management Magazine and served as editor. He also helped launch two other regional Turf and Landscape publications and launched and edited Florida Grove and Vegetable Management for the Farm Press Group. Within two years of launch, the turf magazines were well-respected, award-winning publications. Ron has received numerous awards for writing and photography in both agriculture and landscape journalism. He is past president of The Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association and was chosen as the first media representative to the University of Georgia College of Agriculture Advisory Board. He was named Communicator of the Year for the Metropolitan Atlanta Agricultural Communicators Association. More recently, he was awarded the Norman Borlaug Lifetime Achievement Award by the Texas Plant Protection Association. Smith also worked in public relations, specializing in media relations for agricultural companies. Ron lives with his wife Pat in Johnson City, Tenn. They have two grown children, Stacey and Nick, and three grandsons, Aaron, Hunter and Walker.

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