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Friday, April 18, 2014

What's In A (Mississippi) Name?

Mississippi, like any other state, has towns named for a grab-bag of things: last names (McComb was named for a Colonel H.S. McComb, President of the New Orleans, Jackson, and Great Northern Railroad), other towns (Kilmichael was named for Kilmichael, Ireland), Native American names (Pascagoula means bread eater or bread people), and a various other odds and ends.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Bogue Chitto, in Lincoln County, is a Choctaw phrase meaning "big creek" (307).

Veto, in Franklin County, asked its citizens to submit name ideas when it applied for a post office. The postal authorities nixed all the names its citizens suggested and named it Veto (143).

Mahrud, in Humphrey's County, was settled by a man named T.F. Durham. He named the town after himself, but spelled it backwards (195).

Deovolente, also in Humphrey;s County, was an African-American settlement established in 1865. It means "God willing" in Latin (194).

Tallaloosa, in Marshall County, is a Native American name meaning "black rock" (336).

Buttahatchie, in Monroe Coumty, is also a Native American name. It means "river which comes from the hills" (339). I think that's downright poetic.

Locopolis, in Tallahatchie County, was a combination of two root words, loco, meaning "place", and polis, meaning "city"(467). Apparently, it was a fine place for a city.

Bovina, in Warren County, was named by a pair of comedian settlers, Cowan and Bullen (507). Get it?

Brozville, in Holmes County, was named for its first settler, Zoo Broy. Apparently the hand-written request for Broyville was a bit too messy for the short-sighted postal officials (185).

D'Lo, in Simpson County, is a shortened version of the French De Leau. It seems that the French named the Strong River this, meaning "deep water" (439).

Want to know where your town got its name? We'd be happy to oblige! Drop us a line in the comments and we'll try to track it down.
Brieger, James. Hometown, Mississippi. 1980. Print.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Happy National Bookmobile Day!

Today is National Bookmobile Day, a part of National Library Week. Bookmobiles are an important part of library history in Mississippi as they provided library services to those in rural areas who couldn't reach libraries themselves. Many people remember the bookmobile as their first library experience. Here are just a few bookmobiles from Mississippi library history:

This bookmobile served the seven Choctaw schools in Neshoba County in 1967. Librarian Inez Allen and Library Assistant Malcolm Isaac are shown here with several of their students.

This Copiah County bookmobile was brand new in 1969. It had carpet, air-conditioning, and books.

Back in 1978, these first graders at Long Creek Elementary School loved the bookmobile. Mid Mississippi Regional Library System called it their "Library on Wheels".

This converted bookmobile was on loan from the Mississippi Library Commission to Waveland, Mississippi in 1969. It served as their first library.

This snazzy bookmobile from Warren County is a converted mobile home: a Travco mobile home body on a Dodge M-375 chassis and a bookmobile-adapted interior. It held 3,000 books, in addition to several hundred records, tapes, and magazines.

When she retired in 1978 after 25 years of bookmobile service, librarian Pamela Vaughn had this to say, "Giving pleasure to older people who can no longer do all the things they once did, has made their life and mine richer... To go on any road (in the Lincoln-Lawrence-Franklin County area and know that because of the bookmobile service I now have lasting friendships along the way which have enriched my life and hopefully theirs means everything to me."

Need more bookmobile fun? ALA has provided these nifty do-it-yourself bookmobiles. Enjoy!
Mississippi Library News, March 1967
Mississippi Library News, March 1969
Mississippi Library News, September 1969
Mississippi Library News, June 1973
Mississippi Library News, June 1978
Mississippi Library News, December 1978

Friday, April 11, 2014

Book of the Day: The Drunken Botanist

The Book of the Day, The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create The World's Great Drinks by Amy Stewart, happens to be one of our new books (and graces our New Books display)! If the whimsical cover and title doesn't grab your attention, we're sure the contents will. This book contains little to well-known facts about various alcoholic drinks and the many syrups, infusions, garnishes, etc., that go in them. And if that wasn't enough, they include drink recipes!
Neat facts in this books include....
  • Drunken Lorikeets! - Eucalyptus nectar is their normal food source, but these Australian parrots become intoxicated when they consume it after it has been fermented on the tree. This causes them to be unable to fly, stumble, and become vulnerable to predators. Luckily, "bird rescue organizations routinely take in drunken lorikeets and help them sober up" (Stewart 246).
  • Waspy figs? - While figs can be distilled or infused, for example, in vodka, it's their waspy origins that stuck out to us. According to this book, around 11,000 BC figs had to "be pollinated by a wasp in order to set seed and reproduce, but the wasp lays her eggs inside that fruitlike structure and often dies inside" (270). So what happened when you picked it and opened it up? You'd find bits of wasp corpses. Today's figs have longer flowers that doesn't require the wasp to go inside the actual fruit. Some figs today don't even need to be pollinated at all.
  • Not the snails! - The book describes an "interesting" recipe following a much more normal one from the year 1737. The recipe from that era "called for boiling snails with milk, brandy, figs, and spices" (271) and was offered "to people with consumption" (271). Drink up!
This book is sure to delight if you love nuggets of information mixed with your cocktails. So come on by and check it out!

Stewart, Amy. The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create The World's Great Drinks. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill; Chapel Hill, NC 2013. Print

Friday, April 4, 2014

What would you do for a drink right now?

It's Friday and, as the old adage goes, "It's 5 o'clock somewhere!" I'm not knocking back libations at the library right now, but I believe the fellow mentioned in the article would be. While the event took place in Bowling Green, Ohio, I found the article on the front page of the March 11, 1909 issue of the Simpson County News of Mendenhall, MS.

The article reads as follows: "Claiming that her aged husband, suffering from a deep-seated thirst in a dry county, had traded her for a keg of beer that some more fortunate neighbor had succeeded in smuggling over the line, Mrs. Goddell, aged 65, of Bowling Green, O., was taken in care by the Wood county trustees. She was found living with her daughter, the latter's husband and six children, after running away from the man whom she claims bought her. The family was living in the most abject destitution."

Friday, March 28, 2014

Where Is Thumbkin?

I remember singing a song when I was little that was all about phalanges. The song didn't actually use the word phalanges--a pity, too, as it's such a delightful word--but much fun was had by all singing about each individual finger. (You can see the words here.) Here is some more fun with fingers:
  • The thumb was called the thuma in Old English (Finger). As a freshman in high school, I remember being highly amused by the meaning of thumb biting in Romeo and Juliet. When Mr. Baugh explained that scene with "No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir," I think the whole class was impressed with Shakespeare's raunchy writing (and ready to read more!)
  • The index finger was called the towcher in Old English, and the toucher in Middle English because, well, you know, you touch things with it. The Anglo-Saxons called it the scite or shooting finger (Finger).

  • In Old English, the middle finger was called long-man, just like in the nursery song (Finger).
  • The ring finger was called lec-man in Old English. Lec referred to leeches, so if you're thinking of old-timey medicine (Old English old-timey medicine) it is obviously the "medical" finger. The "Old English" weren't the only ones to label the fourth finger as medical. The Romans called the fourth finger digitus annularis, or literally, the ring finger. The Anglo-Saxons called it the gold-finger (No, not Auric Goldfinger!) This nomenclature influences us to this day. We wear our wedding rings on the fourth finger because the ancients believed that a nerve ran from that finger to our hearts. They also "used it for stirring mixtures under the notion that it would give instant warning to the heart if it came into contact with anything noxious" (Finger).

  • The Anglo-Saxons called our smallest finger the ear finger because, naturally, it's the one people use to scratch inside their ears (Finger). I've always called it my pinky, and it turns out that the Scots use the word pinky (or pinkie, if you prefer) to describe anything tiny. According to The Encyclopedia of Superstitions, "a crooked little finger is often considered a sign that the person will die rich, but this wealth is likely to have been made in a dubious way."
I hope I get to enjoy my dubiously made money some before I die!

Finger. (2012). In Brewer's dictionary of phrase and fable. Retrieved from
Pinkie. Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989. Print.!.jpg
Webster, Richard. The Encyclopedia of Superstitions. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2008. Print.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Book of the Day: The Tilted World

We have found your next great read! The Tilted World is the latest offering by Tom Franklin (Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter) and Beth Ann Fennelly (Pushcart Prize winning poet). This novel has it all--there's romance, there's mystery, there's history, there's poetry... Maybe that's why everyone here at the Mississippi Library Commission can't get enough of this engrossing read. Come check it out before someone else snatches it up!

Already finished the book and hungry for more? Whet your whistle with the authors' interview with the Oxford-American, dig deeper into the 1927 flood and check out Rising Tide, or get a feel for the times from Lanterns on the Levee, a memoir by William Alexander Percy, the head of the Greenville Red Cross during the flood.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Book of the Day: Bottle Trees...and the Whimsical Art of Garden Glass

In celebration of the second day of Spring, our Book of the Day is Bottle Trees...and the Whimsical Art of Garden Glass. The author of this wonderful little book is Mississippi's own acclaimed horticulturalist, garden writer, photographer, and host of MPB's The Gestalt Gardener, Felder Rushing. Felder takes readers across America and England (and our very own Mississippi!) with fantastic pictures illustrating the bottle tree phenomenon. Not only does Felder reflect on his own personal history with bottle trees in this book, but on the historical (and superstitious) significance of these works of yard art!

Come and visit us at the Mississippi Library Commission to check out this neat book, or get suggestions for other books by Mississippians!