Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Destination holiday: It's in the journey

Wick's World


Nary a cloud in the sky on the road to Memphis.

On to New Orleans our memories lent us

The journies to our past Destination Christmas

Time well spent in the car traveled with us.

As we departed our home in Moose Lake for yet another destination holiday season, talk turned to the past 42 Christmases we have spent together. Our history began at a Mardi Gras in New Orleans, so it was only natural that one day we would return with our children. That day is now.

The bright sunrise greeted our departure from Jackson, Mississippi, this morning. My wife and I reminisced about the morning in 1972 when we hitchiked out of this racially-charged city and were warned to get out of town as quick as we could.

"There's two things this town don't like — blacks and hippies," said our gracious driver.

After telling him the story of our new found love and the adventure we were undertaking, he took sympathy upon us and drove us to edge of town. A pair of 15-year old runaways drove us on to New Orleans in their parents' stolen station wagon.

This year we drove our own vehicle; no more hitchhiking. We entered the Hill Country in Missouri and pulled into a gas station. My wife saw a beat up truck with a scruffy looking hillbilly type holding a gas pump.

She screamed, "Oh my God! He's got a lit cigarette dangling from his mouth!"

I yelled, "Go! Pull over to the parking lot. I want to watch the fireball!"

After paying for the gas, I noticed a large handwritten poster taped to the door advertising the town's "Holiday Feast - 12 Pieces - 12 Wedges - Choice of side - All you can drink!"

The offer was hardly tempting and easy to turn down. As we drove through the town, which will remain nameless, we witnessed several signs of poverty. Many of the pillar posted porches were dilapidated and propped up with angled beams, or in one case, a tree pole. At the edge of town we waved goodbye to an inflated rubber Santa that the wind had laid flat on its back, belly up.

On an earlier destination Christmas, shortly after crossing the Iowa border into Missouri, we stopped at a small downtown cafe for some breakfast. It was one of those typical morning stops where the locals gathered for gossip and coffee. We no sooner sat down when sirens began wailing, an ambulance rushed by and police cars raced toward the border. A minute or so later another patron entered the cafe.

"What's going on out there, Billy?" inquired the coffee drinker in coveralls.

"Oh, just a couple Iowegians got tangled up at the border," Billy Bob replied nonchalantly.

Like Iowegians and hillbillies, many characters pepper our travels with their stories. Today starts the tales of Cajuns and Creoles, gators and crocs, food and festivals, Doctor John and the Reverend Goat, and last but not least, I'm heading to the gravesite of New Orleans' famous Voodoo Queen, Mademoiselle Marie LaVeau.


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