Lost Mississippi: Mineral Wells and the Great Squirrel War — Wait, What?



In the olden days — and I'm talking, oh, 1950s here — to get to Maywood you drove out Lamar until it became Highway 78 (nowadays Old Highway 78), and you eventually reached your destination, with its blinding-white Florida sand beaches and its ice-cold water. But along the way, you passed through the little community of Mineral Wells, Mississippi, probably without even realizing it. That's how small it was.

I can vaguely remember a cluster of three or four tourist court cabins alongside the highway in the general vicinity of Mineral Wells, and sometime in the 1970s, I took the photo you see here. Rooms for five bucks? That's quite a bargain, by any standards. I never knew the name of the old motel, but if you look closely you can see holes in the metal sign that once held neon tubes, and they don't line up with the lettering on the sign, so I betcha it originally spelled out the name of the place — probably something clever and enticing like "Mineral Wells Motel."

On a more recent visit, I saw (as I already knew) that Maywood — "The Beach Within Reach" — was gone, as was this sign and any remains of the old motel.

But then I made another discovery — this one online. You see, I thought I'd check Wikipedia to see if anyone had contributed information about the history of Mineral Wells. I was mainly intrigued by the name itself. Were there mineral or "medicinal" wells around here at one point, and where were they?

Instead, I discovered that some merry prankster had used the Mineral Wells entry to discuss the Great Squirrel War, which included this information: "The great war of Squirrels, 18,000 reds for 8,000 greys. Some of the dead are still buried here today. Nuclear weapons were authorized by GSHQ (Grey Squirrel Head Quarters), however a red squirrel commando team managed to disable the nuclear weapons of mass squirrelnation."

Uh. What?

Apparently no one at Wikipedia — or anybody else in the world, for that matter — has ever checked the Mineral Wells entry to update (meaning: correct) it. Oh, it's just as well. The Great War of Squirrels is definitely more interesting than any dried-up old wells, that's for sure.

Go here and read it for yourself (while you still can): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mineral_Wells,_Mississippi

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Ask Vance

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Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and MBQ: Inside Memphis Business.  Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

You can find him from time to time in the pages of the Memphis Flyer and MBQ, on WKNO television, and on Facebook. When he is not exploring the highways and byways of Memphis, he spends his time sleeping, napping, and dozing.

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