So Much More Than a Project: “Remembering Rat”

As many of you know, this spring I have returned to my alma mater, Ole Miss, to co-teach the depth reporting class with Bill Rose in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. This semester’s class is producing a depth report on the tradition of Delta soul food and the soulful folks behind it and enjoying it still today. Why is this project so important to me and many others? These beloved people may not be around forever, but their stories will be. I was reminded of this significance of the Delta Project when I heard the news about Frank “Rat” Ratcliff, longtime proprietor of the historic Clarksdale Riverside Hotel, where many a bluesman had hung his hat. Rat passed away less than two weeks after my visit to the Riverside with some compassionate students. Rat was not a cook, and the hotel does not serve food. However, he is the true essence of this Delta Project, as a member of that small fraternity of
old-timers who remember the way it was and consider it a moral duty to
preserve the old memories (and legends) of this distinct region. There is certainly more to come on my blog regarding my students’ experiences throughout the Delta, but now I would like to invite you all to pause to remember Rat with me. At http://www.hottytoddy.com/remembering-rat/, you can find my full account of how this man touched the lives – and culture – of many.

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