Story & Photograph Carmen K. Sisson
It must have been a sight to behold in 1915 Mississippi. Gypsies — 20,000 of them — singing and dancing in the streets of Meridian, their dark-eyed children peering from the shuttered environs of horse-drawn wagons as they gathered for the funeral of queen Kelly Mitchell. Legend has it they tossed coins into her grave, the metal clinking against her silver-trimmed casket. Today, people still leave pocket change and other trinkets to please the queen. It’s a strange hodgepodge of items, a rotating tableau dependent upon the cares of the times and the whims of the visitors. A toy soldier. Cheap liquor. Bits of fruit. Word to the wise: According to superstition, Ms. Mitchell’s personal favorite was Orange Crush soda.