Learning about Mississippi in Brookhaven

Published 11:49am Thursday, July 10, 2014

I am the new reporter with The Daily Leader, whom you’ve probably seen running around town in my bright red car. I am from Oxford and a recent graduate of Ole Miss; HOTTY TODDY. I have a degree in both journalism and art with a minor in anthropology. I have worked on several publications while in school, including the award-winning Daily Mississippian.

I am the daughter of John and Christy Williamson, both of whom worked at Ole Miss and I have two older sisters, both of whom went to Ole Miss. It’s a family thing.

I enjoy reporting and visual journalism. So far, living in Brookhaven has been an adjustment, but the overwhelmingly welcoming people I have met have made the transition to this charming town much easier.

Working in Mississippi was never my goal. It is a backward state with as many issues as fleas on my old family dog.

Buddy was a mutt my sister bought at the Tupelo flea market. My parents gave her $10 to spend on what they assumed would be a cheap toy and she came back with a scraggly puppy.

The dog immediately became a member of the family. I remember my two older sisters and I would sneak into the attic to rummage through old baby clothes that we would stuff our dog into. As far as we were concerned, Buddy was our little brother. My sisters even slept with that dog every night.

Buddy was never a particularly attractive dog. He always had fleas and in his later years he developed the mange, which would cause his scaly skin to flake off. Half of his body lost all the hair completely. His head was smaller than his neck, so his collar would easily slip off while chained up outside. My family is pretty sure he was run over at some point, but it didn’t seem to affect him much. He was a disgusting fun-loving Mississippi red dog.

When Buddy died our family was devastated. Even though he became more of a burden in his later years, I remember my older sisters bellering as we buried him in the back yard.

We waited a while before getting a new dog, but, lo and behold, we got another Mississippi red dog, Elvis, then another we found on the side of the road, Annie.

Even though I swore to myself that I would not work in Mississippi and even though my mom swore she would never have another mangy mutt in the house, we both became victims of the inevitable.

For some unknown reason our family was able to overlook all those ridiculous flaws associated with our dogs.

Mississippi is my home. Despite all its fleas, there is something compelling and loveable about this state. When I reflect on my life in Mississippi, I have the nostalgic view of growing up in beautiful Oxford.

No state has better food or more hospitable people. People are genuine and the rich culture is a point of pride. As my visiting cousin from Indiana put it, Mississippi is a beautiful cultural museum. There is no contesting the turmoil that still exists, but living here is indescribable.

I know that for the rest of my life, wherever I go I will have to defend my state to the rest of the world, but I will always stand by my mangy Mississippi. This state will always be my home.

Like my friend William Faulkner said “To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi.”

I look forward to continuing to serve the Brookhaven community. This has been a charming experience, and I have enjoyed meeting wonderful people while reporting (except for a mean woman on Walnut Street (you know who you are). Thank you for welcoming me to the area.

Katie Williamson is a news reporter for The Daily Leader. Contact her at katie.williamson@dailyleader.com.