Natchez man takes on the city streets

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 17, 2003

William Buckles may be, as he describes, &uot;way past what the Lord had promised,&uot; but the Natchez senior citizen still has the gumption to take on the city streets.

Each month the senior citizen, who lives in the Jeffersonian Apartments on T. Waring Bennett Jr. Road, dusts off his straw hat, airs up his tires and polishes the chrome on his vintage bicycle &045; all in preparation for his monthly ride through the streets of Natchez.

But this is no joy ride for Buckles. In fact, the trip is crucial for Buckles to pay the bills.

Email newsletter signup

Buckles, who has lived in Southwest Mississippi all of his life, once drove a blue station wagon through town. But in the past few years, Buckles’ health began to deteriorate. After surgery and failing eyesight, his health deteriorated to the point where he could no longer feel safe driving.

So around the first of each month, when the weather is as good as it gets, Buckles sets off on his 7-mile bike journey to mail his bills.

With a wire basket to carry necessary items and a brightly colored American flag attached to the front of his copper colored bike, Buckles sets out from the Jeffersonian headed directly for the Tracetown Shopping Center at the intersection of highways 61 and 84.

Unlike most people who might make a similar trek, Buckles doesn’t take the scenic route enjoying the back roads of Natchez and avoiding the sometimes-congested city highways.

Buckles, instead, makes a beeline for his destination, traveling along the shoulder of the road beside automobiles, minivans and 18-wheelers. Riding as if with blinders on, Buckles keeps his concentration on the long journey ahead.

Crossing the highway several times, traversing numerous bridges on his way, Buckles makes the trip with steely resolve and speed.

&uot;Washington is closer,&uot; said Buckles. &uot;But there are less hills (to Tracetown).&uot;

In fact, Buckles only had to walk his bike up two stretches of his journey to make it to his apartment Tuesday morning.

As he puts it, &uot;I just grit my teeth and go.&uot;