Greenville is a town steeped in stories, which isn’t surprising when you consider that this small city has produced more than 100 published writers, including such leading lights as Shelby Foote, Walker Percy, Ellen Douglas and Hodding Carter, III.
“And in Greenville, it isn’t just about characters, it’s also about character.”
Some stories go all the way back to the ancient Native American civilization that lived and died here, leaving behind the twelve massive and mysterious Winterville mounds. Some stories are almost biblical, like the 1927 flood, the great wave that roared through Greenville and the Delta, pitting man against nature in one of the worst natural disasters in American history. Exciting stories like these are what give the city’s half dozen museums and literary exhibits dramatic appeal.
Other stories, about good lovin’ and bad times—the blues, in other words—spill out of downtown hotspots like the Walnut Street Blues Bar. The blues are all around you in Greenville, in the air, even under your feet on the Walnut Street Sidewalk of Fame where stones are inscribed with the portraits of Delta blues legends. You’ll also want to check out historic Nelson Street where the blues first thrived. In fact, before you put on your dancing shoes, throw on some sneakers and take a walking tour of Greenville’s historic downtown, beginning with River Road Queen Welcome Center.
The ornate architecture of the River Road Queen was inspired by the Mississippi River boats where gamblers once tried their luck. Along the River today Greenville boasts five luxury casinos, each and every one a story of chance waiting to happen.
Of course, you can’t have great stories without great characters. Like S.B. Buck, who greets you at Buck’s Restaurant with a genial welcome and a killer peach cobbler. Then there are the four generations of the Signa family in the food business since 1903, feeding Greenville at Doe’s Eat Place since 1940.
And in Greenville, it isn’t just about characters, it’s also about character. Buck is an inspiring example of African American entrepreneurship, and Doe’s, by doing what it does best for 70 years, has become a national sensation, earning the 2007 James Beard American Classic Award and accolades from Bon Appetit, Food Network and Southern Living.
As for the juicy, perfectly seared, two-pound Porterhouse steak they put in front of you at Doe’s?
That’s no story. That’s pure poetry.