Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Vintage View of Downtown Jackson

This image is from a post card circa 1940 showing a good view of Capitol and Pearl streets with the Heidelberg Hotel in the lower right in tan, the King Edward Hotel in the top right in red and the Standard Life building to the left.

The Heidelberg Hotel was torn down in 1977, but many of these other structures still exist.

These post cards generally begin with black and white photographs with colors added in the re-printing process.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Grocery Delivery Service In Jackson

Last week my sister mentioned a new service in Jackson that I might find useful in my new downtown apartment.  She hadn't tried it herself yet, but it seemed like a pretty good idea.

The company is AisleAte.com and their business model allows you to order regular grocery items from their website for delivery to your home or office.  Grocery shopping is not a chore I enjoy, so I was more than willing to give this new company a try.

The ordering process on their website is pretty simple and intuitive.  They have a sufficient (but not huge) selection of products at moderate prices.  The beauty of what AisleAte offers though isn't selection or low prices but the convenience of having someone bring it to you rather than having to go get it yourself.

I placed my order Friday evening for delivery Saturday.  It wasn't a huge order, but covered a fairly broad selection so I could test the water.

I have to say the test was pretty successful.  My order came complete and in good condition.  My frozen items were still frozen and the delivery was simple and easy.

The owner is David Chase, a fairly recent Millsaps graduate who opened AisleAte for business in July of 2010. Their physical plant is on Baily Ave., but their delivery range seems to cover most of Jackson and 25 neighboring zip codes.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Moral Question: Wrong Numbers

Moral Question:

If somebody calls your house, obviously the wrong number, but carries on to you as if they were talking to the party they really wanted, are you obligated to tell them they have the wrong number?

Here's the scenario: A guy calls my fax/DSL number, doesn't say "hello", doesn't say "is this such-and-such company?" he just goes into his spiel:

GUY ON PHONE: How much do you charge to convert a Chevy six cylinder

ME: forty-two thousand dollars

GUY ON PHONE:: It costs Forty-Two Thousand dollars to convert a six cylinder truck?

ME: Yeah, but we finance with only twenty seven per-cent interest.

GUY ON PHONE:: Man, you mean to tell me people pay that much for a conversion?

ME: They do if they want me to do it for them. That's how much I charge.

GUY ON PHONE:: I was thinking more along the lines of six hundred dollars.

ME: That's if you do it yourself. If you want me to do it you'll have to pay forty-two thousand dollars.

GUY ON PHONE:: Brother, I got to call you back about this. I just don't think I can go that high.

So here's my moral question: Was I obligated to tell the guy he had the wrong number or was it ok to let him hang up thinking what-ever-the-heck kind of conversion he wanted costs $42K?

What Happened to Jackson

As part of my decision to move back to Jackson, I've been reflecting a lot on the question of "what happened to Jackson?".  What made the city change so dramatically in terms of the racial and class structure of the population?

If you look at a graph of Jackson's population, you'll see that it's population peaked in the early 1980's, then had a dramatic falling off after that with significant changes in race and class.  Not only do you see this pattern in Jackson, you see it all over the South, including cities New Orleans, Memphis, Birmingham, Atlanta and others. At the same time you see a corresponding growth in what were mainly rural areas around the city.

Obviously this was an example of "white flight" changing the fabric of Jackson, growing into a full-fledged flight of the middle class regardless of race by the mid 90's.  So what caused it?  What about the 1980's broke the camel's back?

The Civil Rights Act of 1968 contained in it most of the elements of what we consider Fair Housing law.  Prior to this people (particularly in the South) used all sorts of statutorial, contractual and under-handed means to keep "white" neighborhoods "white" now made illegal by the Civil Rights Act.

Many suggest White Flight began with the fair housing laws as white people began to move away from the black people moving into their neighborhoods.  If that's so, then why did it take 15 years for the population to peak in Jackson?

One possibility might be that, when the law was passed it had no immediate provision for enforcement, but by the 1980's the federal Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity was fully operational and becoming one of the largest public advocacy departments in the US government.  There were several instances, like this, during the Civil Rights Era where the laws changed, but didn't have much effect until the feds put in some form of enforcement.

With the latest census data showing just how much Jackson changed (and how much it's shrunk) there's been a great deal of hand-wringing and rhetoric about "what are we gonna do?"  and "how are we gonna fix this?"  like they didn't know it was happening all along.

I don't fault the Civil Rights Act of 1968 at all here.  Sometimes you have to force people to do the right thing, even though doing so will cause a very damaging resistance.   That's been the history of the civil rights movement in the South since the move for emancipation began in the 19th century.

This isn't the first time the city of Jackson found itself suffering mightily from these social changes either:  the end of slavery meant burning Jackson to the ground. We did recover though, and rebuild, and even with the Great Depression, Jackson began to thrive again by the 1930's.

The ancient Greeks believed you had to suffer from your hubris before you began to recover from it.  Maybe Jackson's slump is just our suffering from the hubris of the Jim Crow mentality we followed for many years.  I think Jackson, and many of the cities in the same situation, will recover.  It won't be immediate, but we've recovered from worse before.