Rolling Fork is in the news and on my mind this week
Mississippi is known for its rich history, natural beauty and yes, even our unusual city and town names. A few of my favorite names are Soso, Mt. Olive, Biloxi, Arm, Como, Foxworth, D’Lo, Panther Burn and Duck Hill. Another interesting name that hit my radar last year was the small town of Rolling Fork in Sharkey County. When the town’s newspaper, the Deer Creek Pilot, began publishing my column last year, I was intrigued about the origin of both names, but never stopped to do a little research.
It wasn’t until the town was decimated by the deadly EF-4 tornado that hit the state March 24. Most of Rolling Fork’s businesses and homes were flattened and many residents lost their lives. Surprisingly, the newspaper office was spared. However, with no electricity in the building, editor/publisher Natalie Perkins was forced to write articles, design and compile the following week’s daily newspaper from her Anguilla home five miles away.
To say this was a herculean feat amid the destruction and chaos left by the storm would be an understatement. Perkins managed to publish what can only be described as one of the most notable newspaper editions in the state’s history. Perkins' feat in the face of disaster is preceded in magnitude only by the Biloxi Sun-Herald’s staff managing to publish its Aug. 30, 2005 edition the day after Hurricane Katrina destroyed most of the Gulf Coast.
So, to the point of my column. First, I finally took the time to learn the origin of Rolling Fork’s name. It supposedly came when the original founder named the town after a fast-moving – or rolling – part of a fork in the nearby Deer Creek. Simultaneously, I learned where the newspaper got its name.
And my second point: besides culture, tradition, history, beauty and quirky names, Mississippi is filled with wonderful, strong, caring people. In addition to Perkins, who single mindedly did whatever it took to publish a newspaper that would serve as a fitting tribute to both the town’s heartache as well as its resilience, hundreds of others descended on Rolling Fork to help in a multitude of ways.
Churches, organizations, municipalities and just ordinary Mississippians who cared and wanted to do what they could to help submerged on the small town of Rolling Fork in the days following the storm. Our people are what make Mississippi special, transcending our state’s beauty and uniqueness.
To help the Deer Creek Pilot continue to operate in the coming months as the town and surrounding counties recover, the Mississippi Press Association Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, established a Go Fund Me campaign with a goal of $15,000 to cover essential operating costs like printing and delivery.
The MPAEF also reestablished its Local Journalism Relief Fund, a campaign dedicated to help local newspapers and employees facing advertising after natural disasters. The fund provided vital support to local media following Katrina.
To make a contribution or for more information, contact the MPAEF at 601-981-3060.
In honor of our state's resilience, once again, in the face of crisis, I searched for a recipe in an old cookbook simply entitled, "The Mississippi Cookbook." It's a wonderful cookbook from the 1970's filled with tried-and-true recipes from cooks around the state. I found a recipe for hot chicken salad from a Booneville (another great city name) cook, that will translate well to modern-day Mississippi as we deal with fluctuating spring weather.
The Mississippi Cookbook's Hot Chicken Salad
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 cups chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons grated onions
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped pimento
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup grated cheese
1-1/2 cups crushed potato chips
Mix all ingredients except chips and cheese. Put into a 2-quarter casserole dish. Mix cheese and potato chips and spread over top of mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer from Mississippi. Email her at email@example.com.