Wednesday, November 18, 2009


One of the more interesting people that I have met while in Mississippi is an old-time fiddler named Jack Magee.

Jack Magee runs a family dental practice in Magee, MS, the hometown in which not only he grew up, but his family can be traced back to before the town was founded. I had heard of Jack long before I ever met him. Jack is known for two things: An extremely cheerful individual, and a well known fiddle player.

I've not yet had the chance to hear Jack play in person, but I have heard many recordings. A mutual friend often plays with him and has recordings of some of the sessions, and he is an amazing fiddle player. Jack himself claims that he is a part-time dentist and a full time fiddle player. At just the mention of music, Jack's face will light up with a keen interest. Jack's personality and passion for music, especially the fiddle, brings people from around the country to Jack's house once a year in an event that has been named "Jack-fest."

As mentioned above, Jack-Fest is a yearly event, held usually on Jack's birthday near the end of October. I really didn't believe such a thing would be more than a family and local friends gathering for a birthday party, however, noticing the tents, campers and people that attend Jack-fest, it's more than a birthday celebration; people come from around the country to celebrate their love for music. Jack-Fest is attended mostly by musicians, and in those old-time music and bluegrass circles, Jack Magee is well known for his Fiddle. Jack told me all are welcome to attend the yearly event, and I believe that while his talent may draw a crowd, the charismatic and friendly person behind the fiddle likely acts as a bridge to welcome people to enjoy new types of music they may not be familiar with while attending Jack-Fest, and keeps them coming back for more.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cultural Exhibit

Seeing that I am from California, I thought I would present a different cultural experience that some may not be familiar with. So, in an attempt to keep things interesting for everyone, here is an event you may not be familiar with, although I know similar events are held nationwide.

For an early Christmas present, I was flown back to California for the weekend and was able to attend the 2009 Route 66 Rendezvous in San Bernardino, Ca, an event I’ve attended for ten years and counting. The event is held from the 17th to the 20th of September every year, for the past twenty years. The event is best described as a car museum and state fair mixed together. The main event is a classic car exhibition and too many contests to mention. Also there are some rides, tours, races, concerts, and every kind of carnival faire one could desire while merrily strolling up and down rows of unique and classic cars. There are so many cars, like the ones pictured above, that even if one was to view all the car exhibits in quick passing, it would still take two full days to see every car. Also, exhibits change by day, cars are taken out and new ones are added for different contests. My favorite part of the event is on Saturday night, where they have burnout contests and the loudest car competitions.

This is a unique cultural event that everyone should experience atleast once. The cars and events appeal to just about everyone, not just gearheads. For years it has used the appreciation of classic cars to bring unlikely groups of people together within a very diverse and sometimes separated community. Sometimes the owners of some of these classic cars are not what you would expect, and often have many interesting or entertaining stories concerning their car, or the event itself. For more information on the Route 66 Rendezvous, go here:

My visit to the McCain Library

The tour of the McCain Library’s special collections was a very interesting session of class. To be honest, prior to this class I assumed that old texts were housed in repositories and museums; I am ashamed to say the storing of old texts in a library had never crossed my mind, or rather in an open library. All the texts, from the old handbooks and yearbooks of the early years of the University, to civil rights correspondence, and even antique thrones are available for study at the McCain library.

I found the children’s books, which were part of the de Grummond children’s literature exhibit to be especially interesting. While I was aware that classical tales often find their way into other cultures, I was not aware of the effect. The Cinderella books provided in our tour served to show this well. There were various ethnicities and even a Cinderella story for boys, which shows the many ways a story can be transformed for its audience. I was also interested in hear about the collection of original Curious George books and manuscripts available. Since Curious George was one of my favorite characters growing up, I will have to make tie to check out the exhibit.


My name is Ian Kross. I am originally from Lake Arrowhead, California, but I moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi in the fall of 2008 to attend the University of Southern Mississippi. The most frequent questions I am asked is why USM and why move to Mississippi? Personally I love it here, and I moved to the South for two reasons: the South is the only part of the United States that I haven’t lived in, and, being an English Major, the South provides a unique experience with having such a rich literary history. As I stated above, I am an English Major, and this is my second year at USM, transferring from a junior college in California.

Ultimately I plan on getting a Master’s in English, with plans to teach at a community college level. I am a bit of a late start to college, as some may notice. After high school I enlisted in the army, and then did some traveling and took time to decide what I wanted in my future. So far it is to become a teacher, although nothing is certain; I like to consider things when they present themselves as planning ahead has never worked out for me. I am sorry for the generic picture, I have a picture of USM that I took after my three day drive here, sadly, the picture seems to have been lost recently.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009