Sunday, August 27, 2017

Mother Goose Lives in Columbus, Mississippi

Mother Goose paid a visit the other day...

[Note that all facts and pictures of Edwina Williams (Mother Goose) come from the quarterly magazine Catfish Alley, Summer 2017 issue]

Edwina Williams
Photo from Catfish Alley, Summer 2017.
We were wrapping up work on Cliff's house, preparing for his move in, once the workers had finished installing the new (antique) chandeliers in the dining room, center room, foyer, hallway, guest bath, and kitchen, when Mother Goose dropped by with a friend named Charlotte. I knew immediately who Edwina Williams was when she came up the front steps of Cliff's house. Since moving to Columbus in May of 2016, it was impossible not to learn of the real-life "Mother Goose" (Edwina Williams), and I had hoped to be sitting in a restaurant when she would come in and break into song (never breaking character as she is wont to do) to the delight of the patrons. Instead, she came a-callin' to get a look at the house that neighbors had told her was being returned to a residence from it's former iteration as an appraiser's office.

Not to belabor the point, but from May until mid-August, I had been working on the house to get it ready for Cliff, and as news spread in the neighborhood that the old appraiser's office was being returned to a residence, people came to get a look at what was being done.

The guest bath in Cliff's House.
We were delighted to discover
that behind the drywall was the
original bead board. Nice and
rustic and the effect is whimsical
At first, we were standing on the sidewalk getting acquainted, and I noticed that passersby would wave and say, "Hi, Mother Goose!" Everyone knows who she is. So, then, I took Edwina and Charlotte for a quick look of the house. During the tour, I was delighted with Edwina's sense of humor. I pointed out that a French Empire chandelier was going in the dining room. She looked up at the pitiful incandescent bulb hanging haphazardly from the ceiling, and she said, "You're going to replace that with an old chandelier?" That was as if to say what a pity the dangling light bulb would be coming down. And then when I showed her the antique chandelier that was hanging in the guest bath, both Edwina and Charlotte chimed in unison, "How cute!"

As I write these posts on Mississippi, I have been struck time and again by just how varied and delightful the town of Columbus is, how historically significant in some ways, how creative it is in others, all colored by Southern hospitality and Deep South charm. One overlooks Mississippi's darker side as part of the Old South that continues to fight the Civil War, that continues to make headlines as a racially divided state and ultra conservative. It is and it is not. The "is not" part is what endears me to the state and mostly Columbus.

But I digress...

Mother Goose and Story Time at the Columbus
public library
Edwina Williams (aka Mother Goose) has been a fixture in the town of Columbus for many years. Quoting from Catfish Alley, Summer 2017 issue...

For generations of Columbus children, Mother Goose has been a source of love and affirmation, of encouragement and inspiration. For the adults, many of whom grew up on the floor of the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library listening attentively as Williams read to them during Mother Goose’s Story Time — something she has done every week since 1985 — she is easily the city’s most recognizable citizen. Her presence at an event gives the proceedings an air of legitimacy. It isn’t really a party without Mother Goose in the middle of it. And she is always in the middle of it, naturally.

And so, Edwina William's visit this month was one of the many delights I've experienced while living here in Columbus.

Cliff is now moved into his house. There's still work needed on the kitchen, but the beauty of the transformation from offices to a residence is astounding.

I just discovered Justin Johnson and wanted to share a bit of his talent on guitar. Wait for the rather messy intro to be over and then enjoy the music at around 0.55 in the video.