stmarys

This afternoon and early evening, I was away at the wedding of a cousin. She married in the chapel above — St. Mary’s Chapel, a pocket-sized Episcopal church on Laurel Hill plantation just south of Natchez, Mississippi. Here’s what it looks like from the front:

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It was really a magical place. The church was built in 1836. The big house burned in 1967, but the chapel still stands. I don’t know if it was deconsecrated or not, but it’s not in use. You feel as if you have to drive to the end of the earth to get there. I really have to plan a roadtrip back on a different day, when I can spend some time looking around the grounds and praying in the chapel. It was such a place of grace, and quite a memorable venue for a wedding. Because it was so small — the church held maybe 60 people — only family members and close friends were invited to the ceremony, which made it all the more intimate.

Julie was sick, and taking care of sick kids too, so I drove my mom and dad up. We came back to Louisiana after the service, while everybody else drove on to Natchez for the reception. My folks and I stopped at South Of The Border, a 1940s-era roadhouse on Highway 61, just below the Mississippi state line. Though I grew up here, I’d never been to the Border. It’s always been a legendary place, because it’s where my father and the men and women of his generation used to go nightclubbing back in the 1950s. The room was sedate tonight — I don’t think this place has been hopping for many years — but it was pleasant to sit and hear my folks talk about what this room was like on a Saturday night fifty years ago.

“You can’t imagine how full it was,” my dad said. “Everybody was here. Miss Maybelle ran a tight ship.”

There was dancing, and gambling (until the State Police shut that down), and drinking, and sometimes fights in the parking lot. This was the Mad Men-era supper club for our parish and the Mississippi county to our north. It was fun to order Scotch-and-sodas and hear these stories, and try to imagine what it was like back in the day. Here’s a photo of their sign out front. I hear that the Border is for sale. Don’t know if that’s true, but if it were, wouldn’t it be a lot of fun to buy it and restore it to its retro glory?