I’d like to introduce you to my friend Gary Simmons. His family has owned the Simmons Wright General Store and Cafe in Toomsuba Mississippi since 1885. It was passed down from his great grand father, to his mother, to him. About 15 years ago, a lawyer from the state government came in and told Gary that his store was too close to the street by 20 ft. Apparently, in the 1950’s a new law was passed and the state was just now getting around to enforcing it as they wanted to build a new highway.
Well, Gary wasn’t having any of this. “The original building was built in 1885, and it was rebuilt in 1926 after a fire. There is no way I’m going to let the damned government take my property!” Exclaimed Gary. He promptly went to the state and registered his store as a historical landmark, preventing the government from doing anything. He still has lawyers come around every so often to try to get him to change his mind, and to chastise him for “trying to pull one over on Mississippi”.
I arrived at Gary’s store mid morning and joined him for a couple cups of coffee while he told me stories about the area and local culture. He hangs out there all day and is always welcoming to an ear. The store is a cafe on the bottom floor, a hardware store in the back, and an antique store on the upper level. You could spend hours looking at cool rusty old things.
Closest Supercharger – Meridian MS
1210 Bonita Lakes Circle, Meridian, MS 39301
Simmons & Wright Company
5493 Highway 11 and 80, Toomsuba, MS 39364