Gypsy Queen and Southern Lady? Seriously?

Kelly Mitchell, Queen of the Gypsies, inspiration for “Into The Free” by Julie Mitchell


Is that what I just said?  Well..yes.  Stay with me.

Kelly Mitchell, Queen of the Gypsies died in 1915 at 45 giving birth to her 15th child.  A local physician, paid $10,000 tried unsuccessfully to save her life.  Her husband Emil was born in Brazil, but I could not find a record of Kelly’s birth. She died in nearby Coatopa Ala, but her body was brought to Meriden, Miss for burial because it was the only place they could find with enough ice to preserve her body until the burial ceremony could be performed.  Her burial established the southern burial ground for the Mitchell tribe.  Links to a description of the elaborate  ceremony, attended by thousands,  can be found at

So just how is a Gypsy Queen, of Romani descent, clearly not born in the land where she died, how is THIS a Southern Lady?

EXACTLY!!  There is no such thing as “The Southern Lady.”  For many, and sadly, maddeningly,  the phrase conjures up visions of long skirts, verandas and magnolias.  Flirty and male-obsessed. A little daft, but to be expected in someone so beautiful.

Not. Women in the south don’t fit a mold just as they don’t in New York, or Chicago or San Francisco.  We are black and white and brown.  We work on farms, we work in the legislature. We win beauty contests, we win marathons.  We are stay-at-home moms, we fight in Afghanistan. We ride horses, we drive 18 wheelers.  We are straight, we are gay.  We are Republicans, we are Democrats (well some of us are…), we are Catholic, Baptist, agnostic, athiest (really! ) And some of us are Gypsies (more correctly Romani).

Come get to know us.  You might be very surprised.!





Follow That Bird

Heron in flight

Yesterday, driving home, to my surprise, suddenly a beautiful white heron swept down just in front of my windshield, flew ahead down the busy street for a few miles, then lifted slowly and was gone. It was an incredible experience.  I was nowhere near water, and I guess they do fly into the middle of cites, but it’s certainly a first for me.   At that  time, I was feeling a little lost, and it seemed to be saying, just keep going, follow me.  So I did.

A beautiful reminder of  how important it is to  to take care of and be taken care of nature’s creatures.

Juanita Agan



In weekly newspaper columns for the last 15 years of her life, Juanita Agan left us a priceless history of  northwest Louisiana. *  It is not a history likely to be cited in PhD theses,  but rather an honest, unpretentious account of her life as she remembered it.   She was born  in 1923 in the midst of the Great Depression and lived through World War II and the civil unrest of the 60s.  She shares with great fondness memories of people and places she loved, but she does not spare us the harsh realities of life in those times.

Juanita Murphy was born in 1923 on the eve of the Great Depression.  Her father died when she was three leaving  her mother Louannie as sole provider for the family.   Following scarce to non-existent jobs in those days,  they lived a nomadic life,  moving, often abruptly, from town to town.   Juanita attended as many as five different schools in a single year.   A true child of  the Depression, the trauma of those days never left her.  “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without, ”  was a favorite slogan.  Ever a lady, she was gentle about it, but her writing reveals her frustration that those of us in the  more fortunate post-war generations had little understanding of the hardships  her generation overcame.

Her face revealed her gentle nature, but her determined gaze and  set of her jaw are those of a true survivor, one who has weathered life’s storms and come out on the other end with grace.   She is truly a role model for us all.

I can’t say it better, so here is a link to a column she wrote about her mother.  Appropriate for Mothers Day, it is a story of love and sacrifice for a child.

You can read more at the Minden Press-Hearld under their “Life” section.





On Retirement….

Woman on beach1



Gone now
Meeting at 8
Deadline at noon
No time, no time
Faster, rush faster
They need what I do
They want what I do
They like what I do
I do what I do – well
I am well

But they are
Gone now
No meeting or
deadline at all
No need to rush
Time to think
(But I don’t want to)
They don’t want what I do
They don’t care what I do
I don’t do this well
I am not well

When there was no time
there was no muse
I did not want one
(Monsters there)
Concentrate, focus
That’s what it takes
And I’m good at it
Ennui, denial, and death
in my Muse
Call me. “Listen”
(But I’m not good at it)
I run, try to hide,
(And I’m good at it)
But my Muse is relentless
And she will be heard now
But I do not think
I will be good at it.

Louisiana Purchase

Unknown-3 “Spain, in a short while, found the territory of Louisiana so costly a burthen that, in 1781, she gladly receded it to France. But France was now in the clutches of Napoleon I, and delirious with revolution, was contending in battle with all the powers of Europe. The movement of her armies required money, and in 1803 she sold Louisiana to the United States for the sum of $15,000,000.”

from The History of Claiborne Parish, Louisiana by D. W. Harris and B. M. Hulse W. H. Stansbury & Company 24 Natchez Street New Orleans, La. 1886

Claiborne Lake
















Springtime on the lake.  So far I have seen or heard only five or six boats go by.  There are more on the lake, but the lake is just that big.  The trees that were all stem and branch last month are  in bloom now and there is a wonderful fragrance of jasmine and roses.  Magnolias and Cape Jasmine are budding out and there are berries on the blueberry and blackberry vines.

%d bloggers like this: