Ants Hurt

On a recent ELVIS SWIFT Dry Goods and Supply junket, I ventured down to the Mississippi Delta to visit theĀ Mississippi John Hurt Museum. The museum is the actual home of Mr. Hurt in his lifetime, filled with photographs along with memorabilia of his life and his music. What brought me there was a longtime admiration of Mississippi John Hurt, being introduced to his music at a very young age. My father was a record producer in Los Angeles, and he was always bringing home a wide variety of music in the form of 45RPM singles and 33RPM Lp albums. Of all the music that he introduced me to, various Blues, Gospel Blues and R&B artists of the late 1950’s into the 1960’s seemed to speak to me most. As I grew older and began to learn to play the guitar, I desired to play the blues, learning by listening to all of the great blues artists music. Somehow, Mr. Hurts’ style and voice especially caught my attention.

In anticipation of visiting the Mississippi John Hurt Museum in Avalon, Mississippi, I called Mr. Bailey to arrange a time for the tour. That accomplished, I left Memphis early in the morning and followed directions to the Museum which is located deep in the forest in a remote location at the end of a long winding gravel road in Avalon, Mississippi.

The weather was bright and warm when I finally arrived at the home of Mr. Hurt. It was located in a beautiful grassy meadow. Parking on the side of the road to wait for Mr. Bailey’s arrival and grabbing a bottle of water, I stepped out of the car and sat down at the edge of the road in the shade of the trees. Sitting there contemplating the scene, blue sky, buzzing insects and reveling in the quiet solitude I was very happy. After a few minutes, I suddenly felt something itching me and then suddenly stinging all over. Looking down at my chest and knees, it looked as though I was a donut with reddish brown candy sprinkles all over me. I was covered with ants. Startled and in pain, I jumped up and ran down into the forest thicket and took my shirt off. My skin was covered with ants biting all over, brushing them off I realized that I was being bitten on the legs too. Off came the boots, then socks, shorts too. Ants were everywhere biting from the feet on up. Well, I was able to brush them all away and shake them out of my garments successfully. How quickly things can change in a moment of time. Just seconds ago I was in a blissful state of joy sitting quietly in the shade of the trees and was now standing in the midst of the Mississippi Delta forest completely naked. I quickly got redressed and ran back up to the roadside and was feeling a little wobbly and light-headed from the ant bites and experience. Mr. Bailey showed up a while later, and the tour of Mr. Hurt’s home museum was a truly memorable delight.

The balance of the day got better and better. I’ll write of those events in future Essays & Yarns. Until then, a little advice – be careful where you sit, ants hurt.