The idea came suddenly and without warning.
The weather was perfect this last weekend. The mood was right. And the road was wide open for the taking.
My mother and I on a whim decided to explore a place we knew nothing about, never heard of, didn’t know existed.
Jumping into my mother’s car, we headed towards my hometown of Natchez. But we took a sudden turn to the right of the familiar highway.
There was a ghost town by the name of Rodney about 30-something miles northeast of Natchez. With a full tank of gas and a few cold soda pops, my mother and I headed off of an adventure. Deeply intrigued and a little uncertain, the concrete pavement of the road soon melted away to a narrow gravel road, surrounded by hunting camps and deep woods.
“Are you sure about this,” Momma asked, locking her car door.
“I know, right,” I asked. “I feel like this is the beginning of a horror movie or something.”
But despite our uneasiness, we continued on down the shaded road where the trees began to appear like skeletons, reaching towards the sky.
A few brief moments, we slowed down to debate on turning around. But that inner drive, that inner spirit inside of you that tells you “just around the corner, keep going” was too loud to ignore.
So we pressed on.
Then there was a clearing, and the ruins of Rodney appeared.
The land that was once covered in prosperity was a time capsule of ghosts and stillness. The wind even seemed to stop as we crept down the dusty road.
And there was only one way in and one way out.
I admit, there was just a plain old uneasy feeling about the place. Momma and I agreed that it almost felt like we weren’t supposed to be there.
“I think we’re here,” I said. “This place is abandoned pretty much.”
I later discovered the community once had about 20 stores, a few churches, a newspaper, and the state’s first opera house.
But now it was all empty buildings, lonesome roads, floating legends, forgotten memories.
We soon noticed a church building that remained in a pretty solid condition. There was even a historic marker outside her walls. Slowly creeping by the church, we gazed up at her aging bricks.
“That’s pretty cool,” I said. “We should get out and check it out.”
But mere seconds after I said that, the front door of the church flung open. A lady appeared in the doorway, and she stared us down.
“Jamie,” Momma said. “Jamie, Jamie!”
“Hang on,” I bellowed, scared out of my wits.
Out of panic, I slammed on the gas pedal. I wasn’t sure if that was a ghost or an angry resident left behind.
Momma and I made it down the road, but it began to become really narrow. Suddenly, a small farm appeared in the distance.
An old house remained on the lot, and it appeared as if no one was there.
“Just get us out of here,” Momma said. “It’s starting to feel really creepy.”
But as I pulled into the only remaining spot with enough room to turn around, the screen door of the what we thought was abandoned farm house eased open.
A man appeared on the porch with a dead stare.
“Oh, Lord...just let me get out of here and I will never snoop around again,” I shouted, as Momma began to whimper.
“Get back to the highway,” she cried.
I must have swung that town car around in two flat seconds. Not sure if was superior driving skills or pure fear. But I was getting out of Rodney, Mississippi.
Coming like Uncle Jessie from the Dukes of Hazzard around the final curve of the ghost town, we made our way out of Rodney.
As our courage returned, we vowed to return...with my husband Jason.
“You know what,” I asked, as we made our way back to Highway 61. “I bet that lady in the church was just a tourist too. We probably scared her to death. And that man probably just lives alone and isn’t used to traffic.”
But my voice continued to crack as I made my way down the highway.
We survived our adventure with a few extra gray hairs and one heck of a story.
And I am sure we left those in Rodney with a story to tell too.