How many great things can you count?

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 14, 2010

Can you list 101 reasons why you like to live in the Miss-Lou?

Come on, it shouldn’t be that hard, should it?

OK, if you can’t think of 101 reasons, how many can you think of?

Click here for the 1997 list of the 101 Great Things About Natchez.

Maybe it is human nature, but my suspicion is that it is easier to come up with things that we don’t like about where we live than it is to count our many blessings.

Annoyances are ever-present. They swirl around in our heads.I know they do in my mine sometimes — so much so that those things that make living in the Miss-Lou great go unnoticed.

When the baby is climbing the bookshelves and the computer seems to be in self-destruction mode the beautiful spring weather makes little difference.

Just this week I looked back in my e-mail to find a message that made me think twice about all my complaining. The message was marked “101 great things about Natchez.”

It had been sitting in my inbox for a few weeks. As one of the persons responsible for the Natchez Visitor’s Guide, I have been looking for interesting tidbits of information to share with tourists.

Publisher Kevin Cooper recommended the list as a possibility recently. It originally was a feature for the 1997 Profile.

Reading the list 13 years later, I was surprised to find that most of the items are still some of the area’s “great things” that make the area unique.

True, the riverboat era is behind us. The sound of the calliopes from the American Queen, Mississippi Queen and the Delta Queen (nos. 18-20) no longer echo along the bluff. Natchez-Under-the-Hill (no. 9) has seen better days, and, yes, International Paper and other industries (no. 32) have since disappeared.

Those five items, however, may be the ones on the list to have changed most significantly since 1997.

Thankfully, people are still friendly (No. 1), the Mississippi River bridges (No. 94) still make a great backdrop to some spectacular sunsets (No. 4) when you are standing on the Mississippi River bluff (No. 85), and the Christmas tree (albeit a fake one) still stands in the middle of Main Street (No. 86).

Granted, you can get mint juleps (No. 99), pralines (No. 10) and shelled pecans (No. 57) in other cities in the South. But there is only one place you can get Carriage House fried chicken and biscuits (No. 79) or get Pig Out barbecue (No. 78).

And if you are looking for something to do, the Miss-Lou still has many opportunities including the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race (No. 69), the Blessing of the Flotilla (No. 93), the Pilgrimages (Nos. 75 and 76) and the Santa Claus Parade (No. 29).

Even a few things that might be annoying could be considered plusses depending on your point of view, the list points out. One-way street signs (No. 8), carriage rides (No. 11) and tourists (No. 30) are what make Natchez the charming and unique town that it is, the list says.

And the levee (No. 14)? Well the view from the flood control device along the river in Vidalia has changed significantly since 1997.

In a couple of weeks the view along the river will change again with a newly lit bridge. Surely it should be added to the list.

Whether you agree with it or not, the list does point out one thing. No matter all the annoyances in life, there are many great things in our own backyard. We just have to remind ourselves of them from time to time.

Ben Hillyer is the web editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at