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Mr. McCarty’s gift

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It’s been a while since I wrote anything on my blog, but I thought the death of Mississippi icon Lee McCarty warranted commentary since I had the pleasure of spending time with him five years ago when I visited Merigold, Mississippi, to tour and write about McCartys Pottery.

If you’ve never been, I would encourage you to put this road trip on your bucket list. I toured the pottery shop, watched pottery being made, ate at The Gallery restaurant and Crawdad’s. And some of the locals took me to the nearby Po’ Monkey Lounge, known by many as the last authentic juke joint in America.

In meeting Mr. McCarty, I met an innovative and original artist who created a special place in the Mississippi Delta with his wife, Pup McCarty. As I listened to the story of how McCartys Pottery came to be, it was evident what great admiration Mr. Lee and his late wife had for each other and how their teamwork and partnership helped create a unique brand.

Mr. Lee gave me a tour of the shop, and I took several pictures of him in the store. He was dressed very dapper. He had lunch plans, and I got the impression he loved life.

As a reporter, you learn early on that it is not ethical to accept money or gifts from people you are writing about. But I made one exception when Mr. Lee handed me a pair of McCartys Pottery earrings with the trademark Mississippi River symbol on the side of them.

I initially told him that I could not take them, but he replied, “You have to learn how to accept a gift.”

I wasn’t going to offend or insult Mr. Lee McCarty, so I proudly took home that pair of earrings. They will forever remind me of his generosity, creative spirit and the legacy he and his wife left as a gift to Mississippi.

You can listen to an audio interview here that I conducted with McCarty’s godsons, Jamie and Stephen Smith, who ran the business.


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