Trotting their way into history …

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 9, 2000

A bit of the old meets the new on the corner of State and Canal streets where faded fringe dances on the wind and the rumble of engines comes and goes as the traffic lights usher drivers along.

Here on one of the historic corners of Natchez, horses and mules wait patiently by the roadside for customers to accept their old-style mode of transportation and trot into history.

&uot;(Driving carriages) calms your nerves,&uot; said Margaret Folds who has been guiding the animals for two years, for one of the two companies that work the busy intersection.

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But welcome to the modern world, &uot;where people feel like they can’t take two seconds and wait at a stop sign. That’s when you get irritated, when they speed around you,&uot; Folds said.

But maybe the love-hate relationship goes both ways. Folds has noticed in her two years on the road that tourists, travelers, and foreigner’s alike, &uot;can remember the horses’ and mules’ names but they don’t remember the driver’s name.&uot;

As a horse shifts its weight to a more comfortable position, a horn honks and brakes squeak to a stop. Folds usually works with Pat, a mule who has come to know her as well as she knows him.

&uot;Pat likes cajun fries,&uot; she explains. &uot;He will eat anything that does not eat him first.&uot;

And the four-legged vegetarian talks back too, &uot;there’s some days when he tries to hide from me at work.&uot; But back on familiar streets the roadsmart animal earns his keep, &uot;I can take him anywhere in town and he figures out where he is going.&uot;

Just as motorists from Texas, Arkansas and Florida go cruising by, two more takers for a slower pace step up to the carriage and into a little piece of history.

The Dart is a weekly feature in which a reporter throws a dart at a map and finds a story wherever it lands.