Walt's Look Around: Billy Jones' Little Houses - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Walt's Look Around: Billy Jones' Little Houses

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Today's story is about a man who builds the past. He does it out in his workshop behind his house. Billy Jones recreates memories from his childhood in the form of miniature houses.

They used to be all over the Delta; share-cropper houses. They were made of cypress or whatever else was handy. Most of them are gone now, torn down or burned down or scattered by a tornado or something. 

A few places like Tallahatchie Flats at Greenwood and Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale have collected a bunch together and rent them out to overnight guests. But I suspect the largest collection of any of them in any one place would be here in Billy Jones' workshop where he has recreated some memories. Small replicas of the past, a past that is passing quickly.

"My dad used to go up in the Delta when I was a child and I rode with him. And I don't know, there's something infatuating about the houses," said Billy. I got some old barn wood and I wanted to use it for something. This was years ago. And I decided, ‘You know I'll see if I can make one of these houses.' And that's how I got started doing it."

Billy estimates that was 300 or so little houses ago. Each one of them is sort of an illustrated short story. You sit and look at it and it doesn't take much to imagine what may be going on.

"What I do, I use the house for a focal point," said Billy. "And then I have what I call add-on's, the guitars and banjos and rifles and stuff like that that add to it. And try to make a little scene with it."

Billy's little houses are at the Mississippi Craftsman's Guild showroom in Ridgeland and also in the Railroad Depot in Vicksburg.

"Loretta Lynn has one of my houses," added Billy.

Billy says it takes him about six weeks to make a house. And then add to that the time it takes to carve out and string a guitar or banjo. Some folks look at them and think they can build one for themselves. They probably never do. I personally wouldn't have the patience it takes to be this meticulous.

"If you are going to do it, do as good a job as you can," said Billy.

Either that, or we can just leave it to folks like Billy Jones to do the good job, and then we can come along later and admire his work and all we have to supply is the imagination for what's going on in his little scene.

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