Burning Hot Thank You from the 5th Mississippi Book Festival

Thank you to everyone who came out to see us and the other authors participating in the Mississippi Book Festival over the weekend. It was a huge honor to sit beside Marshall Ramsey and the other authors on our panel and talk about Hidden History of the Mississippi Sound in front of a standing-room-only crowd of hundreds. We about melted, but we’d do it every day if we could!

Three new projects upcoming…

Ryan and I are happy to announce we will begin working on three major new projects soon.

First, we will tackle the Hidden History of Dallas for the History Press. We have grown to love exploring the history of some of the South’s most interesting corners, and HHD will be our biggest book yet.

Second, we will be turning our attention again toward Jackson for a food-focused book about Jackson’s classic restaurants (that includes great restaurants from Madison and Rankin Counties as well). The restaurants book is going to be packed with mouth-watering photos. We’re boning up on our food-photography skills.

Third, we will be offering audiobook versions of Hidden History of Jackson and Hidden History of the Mississippi Sound very soon. We are staying busy – thank you for your interest and support!

Thank you!

To everyone who came out for the Hidden History of the Mississippi Sound releases at Pass Christian Books and Lemuria! We had great crowds at both venues, and we enjoyed talking about the book.

Fresh Water for De Vaca

When Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca floated into Mississippi Sound with 240 of his Spanish compatriots in 1528, he and his men were dying of thirst. They’d been traveling by raft along the coasts of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, and were so desperate for fresh water that they began drinking the water of the Mississippi Sound. A number of those who drank from the sound subsequently died due to the water’s high salinity. They were drinking seawater.

If Cabeza de Vaca were to float through the sound today, though, he and his men could drink freely of the sound’s water without worrying about ingesting too much salt. On May 17, 2019, the salinity of Mississippi Sound reached 1 part per thousand — low enough that it is considered freshwater by some measures. The normal salinity of seawater is around 35 parts per thousand, by contrast.

The drastically lowered levels of salinity in the sound can be attributed to the opening of the Bonnet Carre spillway on the Mississippi River. Water from the swollen Mississippi pours into Lake Pontchartrain via the spillway, and is then pushed in Mississippi Sound. Although the sound seems to the casual observer to be its normal self (other than an unusually brown tinge), the influx of freshwater has actually damaged the sound’s ecosystem. Dozens of turtles and dolphins have died, and Mississippi’s oyster industry has been hammered.

Officials make the infrequent decision to open the Bonnet Carre spillway when they fear flooding in New Orleans. But many people don’t realize the impact the spillway’s opening has on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Ryan Bradley, an oysterman from Pass Christian, Miss., wrote in February about the true and largely unknown impact environmental degradation (including changes in salinity) has played on Mississippi’s oyster industry. The numbers are shocking: in the mid 2000s, oystermen were harvesting 500,000 sacks of oysters from Mississippi waters. Now the number is 3,500. Mississippi’s oyster industry has collapsed.

The Foreman Family spent last Christmas in Bay St. Louis, Miss., and for Christmas dinner everyone wanted oysters. We visited the waterfront wholesaler in Pass Christian and bought several dozen. It wasn’t until we arrived back home that we noticed all the oysters had been harvested in Texas. We couldn’t get our hands on Mississippi-grown oysters, because there no longer were any.

Bienville, Snaky Gentleman

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, gentleman, commandant, governor, respectable and respected Frenchman and Christian. And yet, underneath his noble bearing and dignified clothes, his body was covered in various religious and serpentine tattoos. Bienville liked to show them off when he went into battle…in the nude.

Read the full story of Bienville and his tattoos in Hidden History of the Mississippi Sound, out June 24, 2019.