A Shoofly Way of Life
- story by Ellis Anderson, artwork by Zita Waller
One of the most satisfying creative moments in my life? The instant I hit the button changing www.bslfourthward.com to www.bslshoofly.com.
The original Bay St. Louis 4th Ward Cleaver — a folksy neighborhood online newsletter, began in 2011. We graduated to a higher level of communications in 2014, becoming a sponsor supported magazine. For nearly two years, we've been showcasing writing and photography by more than a dozen dedicated contributors each month.
Now, with the support of loyal readers and sponsors, we feel it’s time for a name that reflects how far we’ve come, and who we are now. That’s why from here on out, we are the Shoofly Magazine.
The Bay St. Louis is still part of our name despite stats that show our readership extends far beyond the city limits. The Bay is home to our headquarters, and it’s where this artistic enterprise began.
But the Shoofly – like the Cleaver - remains committed to featuring people and events in our sister city of Waveland, as well as Diamondhead, Kiln, and Pass Christian happenings (and human-interest stories) as space permits.
The name change is a relief in some ways. Our readers long ago dropped the Fourth Ward part of the name, so our publication became known around the coast as simply "the Cleaver." Without good old “Ward” attached, when the name was mentioned, people who weren’t regular readers were inclined to visualize a horror movie prop.
That made my job as the chief photographer difficult. Sometimes I’d be covering an event and ask parents if I could take their kids’ pictures for the Cleaver. Often, they’d recoil, then gather their young ones and herd them away from me with all due speed.
But while the name Shoofly doesn’t bring any sharp kitchen implements to mind, it’s still an unfamiliar term to out-of-towners and new residents.
How'd they get the name? According to historian Charles Gray, the word “shoofly” is derived from the French word for cauliflower, “choufleur,” because of the way the white deck blossoms around the base of a tree. Our own shoofly oak in Bay St. Louis is even registered under its French alias and bears a plaque to prove it.
The Shoofly seems to represents a part of our coast culture that has been overrun by the mad rush of modernization. Conversing quietly with neighbors in the shade - above the biting pests where the breezes pass more freely - seems like a pastime worth reviving.
So I’m thinking that the shoofly should take its rightful place in the dictionary again. Then Mississippi shooflys (shooflies?) might start popping up all over the place. We could even send our coast shoofly consultants to other cities to teach the art of building and relaxing on shooflies. The country would be better - and more beautiful - for it. “Across the land, this hue and cry: ‘Every town needs its own shoofly!’”
The top 10 finalists will have their work prominently featured in the Shoofly, while the winner will get:
- A night for two at the legendary Hotel Monteleone in the New Orleans French Quarter
- Breakfast for two at “Criollo,” in theHotel Monteleone
- A $200 gift certificate from the contest sponsor, Bay Life Gifts & Gallery
The contest opens Friday, July 1 and the deadline for entering is 11 p.m. Monday, August 15.
But wait! There’s more!
The judge is Malcolm White, director of the Mississippi Arts Commission (and part-time Bay St. Louis resident). What fun!
The top 10 finalist pieces will be shown in Bay Life & Gifts for the entire month of September.
And in the fall, we’ll have a Shoofly photography contest AND a Shoofly writing contest! Stay tuned for details.
Meanwhile, click here for the Shoofly art contest details and rules.
We'd like to thank you for being here with us as we grow and do our best to serve the people of the Bay and the Mississippi coast. We couldn’t be prouder to be here.
And while our name has changed, some things never will: we plan to keep on savoring the breezes off the water and relaxing in the shade with our neighbors, sitting on the sweet Shoofly.