Archived Story

Apology owed to homeowners, tourists

Published 12:12am Friday, May 3, 2013

I read with disdain the letter to the editor dated April 7 “Enlighten Tourists with Facts, Not Fiction.” As Mr. Mansell wishes to enlighten tourists (and obviously, subscribers of this newspaper) with facts, he needs to first get a few of his own correct.

Knowing the owner of the home referenced, it is my opinion that this tour is one of the best in town — both factual and fascinating. The story in question is not only substantiated by two descendants who authored books on their family home, but furthermore, the date Mr. Mansell assumed was never actually given during the tour. The entire episode should have been better researched by a historian at Mansell’s level.

The question I have is this: what was Mr. Mansell’s motive? Was it to get the facts straight? He did not. If it was instead to humiliate the gracious homeowners who help the economic impact and livelihood of this city in a very public way, then mission accomplished! He could have easily chosen the more gentlemanly course by contacting the homeowner to substantiate facts; however, because of his method a personal matter has become a business one because of his use of the National Park Service name. The Park Service should be in the business of encouraging private homeowners in their sacrificial endeavors to open their doors for the economic benefit of this community. This is all done for a constructive purpose; therefore, there does not need to be destructive criticism from this government agency.

I can also ascertain that every homeowner has made a concerted effort in the last few years to raise the bar on their presentations. They have had a tremendous success this pilgrimage season as a testament to this effort.  Moreover, from my point of view, these “gullible tourists” (as they were referred to) are not usually craving boring facts in the first place; rather, many desire and even expect well-presented tales by good storytellers (this is the South after all!). Some are even relieved when they are not always presented with a timeline or pictures of dead ancestors. Many are here for the entertainment factor and escapism from everyday drudgery. Since for the price of each home tour they can instead attend a two-hour action-packed movie, many feel this should be a consideration. Because if these visitors can be made to laugh, feel welcomed and engaged, and relish the flavor of this unique area, that to me is much more important than making sure every word is factual — we shall leave the dry stuff to the government. With no accountability to any accreditation, we in the private sector are instead making the magic happen, and people have been coming to pilgrimage for over 80 years because of it!

 

Mike Blattner 

Natchez resident

 

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    Apology and reform should come from old home people for over 8 decades taking taxpayers money for any type promotions that is in the millions that needs to end!!! As for as the tourist-tell the facts and truth is what they want and not lies and fiction!!!!!!!!!!!

  • william

    Did this article just say to make something up cause that’s what the tourist wants? The tourist just paid the price of a movie for a tour so they want to receive a show for their money? I thought the point of a tour of a historical home was to learn history of facts and truth related to the home not to be handed some piece of fiction that sounds good but isn’t true just to justify a ticket price? Thanks but no thanks, I will take the truth tour over the MGM/Disney one.

  • Anonymous

    I question, myself, some of what is fostered off as “truth” by well-meaning Natchez guides/home-owners.
    Case in point. Not too long ago I was asked by a major player with the Festival of Music if I was aware that Richard Wagner’s piano was in Natchez? He was told that it was, and could not remember whose house it was in.
    I just had to stare blankly for a minute.
    Wagner’s piano is NOT in Natchez, MS. .
    Why would someone say that? Why would a home-owner or guide make such an assertion?
    I repeat this story, which is altogether true.
    One antebellum homeowner would point lovingly to a battered grand piano, and tell the visitors that the scratches and blemishes to the case were caused by the chains, which were used to lash the piano down to the wooden cart that transported the piano to Natchez in the !800′s.
    I hope no one with a background in pianos heard or saw this, as the piano was clearly an instrument of a much later date, probably 1930′s or so.

  • Anonymous

    I read this letter with distain. Truth is stranger than fiction if you do the research. We have the history here. We don’t need to be peddling falsehoods; that would be like cheating people and that is wrong!