Grayson tells cemetery stories at chamber luncheon

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, January 30, 2008

NATCHEZ — For Walt Grayson, it was a lesson learned hard: make sure you have enough time to leave the Natchez City Cemetery before you get locked in.

Grayson, a television personality and author, was the keynote speaker at the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce Quarterly luncheon.

The first time Grayson was locked in the cemetery, it was purely a matter of losing track of time, he said.

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“There is a sign on the gates that says, “Gates locked at 7 p.m.,’” he said. “It was about 5:30 when I got there, and I wanted to get some shots (for television) of long shadows coming off of the gravestones. I thought I had plenty of time.”

But as he made his way through the historic cemetery, Grayson became enamored with its history and stonework.

“I was totally mesmerized looking around at all of the statuary and wrought iron fences,” he said. “I was all the way back on Catholic Hill when I looked at my watch and realized it was 7:10 p.m.”

When he arrived back at the gates, they were padlocked. Joggers passing through the area gave Grayson the phone number of a person who could unlock the gates for him, but when he called all he got was an answering machine.

“I eventually got out, but some grounds keeper probably came through the next day and said, ‘I think those crepe myrtles used to be closer together,’” he said.

The second time, he just wanted to show his family what Grayson called his favorite place in Natchez.

“I just wanted to drive through and point out a few things,” he said. “We were in there for maybe three minutes, and we were still locked in.”

This time, the man who had the key just happened to pass Grayson as he was standing there.

“He looked at me and said, ‘Walt, is that you again?” Grayson said.

During his third trip the to the cemetery, a tour with former Natchez City Cemetery Director Don Estes, Estes gave Grayson a key, Grayson said.

“He looked at me, realized that if I’m the guy who got locked in the cemetery twice before I am probably going to lose the key, and handed it to my wife Jo,” Grayson said. “One of the keys on her key ring is to the Natchez City Cemetery.”

Grayson recently published a new book, “Looking Around Mississippi…Some More.”