Monday, March 02, 2009
Beauty and terror
Natchez was a wonderful place to grow up -- full of interesting people and places. We loved participating in the spring pilgrimage every year -- photo above is of me and my brother Kevin, all dressed up for the pageant.
But there was a dark side to Natchez in the 1960s during the Civil Rights movement. My father was the town's pathologist and coroner and every Saturday night, it seemed, he was called out to attend to some brutal murder scene. Because I was a small child, I thought these murders were a normal part of life. I had no idea that the era I was growing up in was an especially violent one.
My father would come home with pictures and tales of each slaying -- a bomb planted in a car, a man set on fire or shot. It was horrifying.
When we would drive past rural gas stations, my father would say, "That's one of their meeting places."
"Meeting place? Of who?" we would ask.
"The KKK," he'd reply.
I recently came across some additional photos of Natchez during my youth. I debated about putting these up, but if these guys decided it was OK to march in public in Natchez in the '60s, then they can march again in this blog. I'll make a concession and not put their names here, even though they are printed on the back of the photos.