National Geographic : 1960 Nov
Smoked to a Golden Turn, Kentucky Hams Hang to Age When autumn cools the Missis sippi Valley, the scent of burning hickory pervades the air near Ar lington, Kentucky. Last winter the smoke gave flavor and color to 11,000 country hams cured by Mr. and Mrs. Curtis Harper. This winter the hams, properly aged, will sell at 85 cents a pound. Here Mrs. Harper weighs a 14-pounder. Pepper blackens the hams' faces. A Boatman on Reelfoot Lake Explores a Cypress Forest In the predawn dark of December 16, 1811, an earthquake shook the Mississippi Valley. When morn ing came, terrified inhabitants of northwest Tennessee looked out across a new lake. During the night the quake caused a land up heaval that dammed a creek and formed Reelfoot Lake. Spiked with trees, stumps, and clumps of grass, shallow Reelfoot Lake proved a natural hatchery for fish and a haunt of waterfowl. Sportsmen boating on the lake use small boats sheathed in metal for protection against snags. KODACHROMES() NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY Street, center of Negro life in Memphis, a more melancholy music was born and made famous by W. C. Handy, who wrote "Memphis Blues" and "Beale Street Blues." Memphis is the scene of the annual Cotton Carnival (page 692). It is a brilliant affair with its king, queen, and royal court; its royal barge; its fireworks and dazzling parties; also its four great parades, with dozens of floats and bands. Shantyfolk Fade From the River Scene All along the Mississippi's lower reaches we were surprised at how few shanty boats we encountered. The carefree water gypsies who dwell in these floating homes once numbered about 30,000; now only a few remain. Most shanty-boaters are English-Irish and have the love of adventure of both breeds. They enjoy the life because it gives them the 686 outdoors and freedom. Planks and packing crates floating down the river provide material to build or repair their shanties. The owners like to put on a porch behind; there they can sit and fish and chew tobacco. There is no rent to pay. No bills for water, gas, or elec tricity. Fuel can be picked up along the shore. Food can be hauled out of the river, or fish can be traded for groceries. Especially in floodtime is the river a gen erous provider. It brings barrels and boxes; tables, chairs, and beds; rowboats, clothing, and shoes; chickens and pigs. But as engi neers have gradually straightened the river, it has become a less congenial landlord to the shantyfolk. "I used to be able to paddle my skiff straight across to the other shore," said Guy Jones at Terrene Landing in Mississippi. "Not now -current's too fast."