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Daytripping: New Albany to Como, Mississippi

The Como Inn on Main gathering hall Photo: Robyn Loonan Gibson

Our annual sisters’ trip to the beach having been cancelled due to circumstances beyond our control, the four “Loonan girls” were looking around for a closer location suitable for at least a long weekend get-away. We enjoy having some time away, just the four of us, to recharge our “sisterness.” Having visited Como, Mississippi, for the first time several months previously, I suggested we consider it for our quick trip.

Como Inn on Main, Como, MS

Como Inn on Main, Como, MS

The location was perfect.  Como is about 75 miles from New Albany, and within easy driving distance of Memphis (Beale St.), Oxford (Restaurants), Sardis (Lake) and Batesville (Outlet Mall) and Tunica (money extractors). Luckily, we were able to book four rooms for a March weekend at the Como Inn on Main Bed & Breakfast. At their website (http://comoinnms.com/) you can view rooms, make reservations and even tell Innkeeper Ms Francis what kind of snacks you’d like to have.

We arrived on a Friday afternoon to find the town of around 1300 bustling with traffic most little towns only dream of. From the late 1880s until the Great Depression, thanks to King Cotton and the railroad that still runs through the middle of town, Como had more millionaires per capita than almost anywhere in the U.S. Reminders of that hey-day are clearly visible in the downtown area. Like many small southern, agrarian towns, though, Como has seen hard times in the decades since the Depression. In recent years, Como has reinvented itself and is now a popular entertainment destination and artist community known for its numerous and famous blues artists. Como is one of only a few locations along the Mississippi Blues Trail to have three Blues Trail Markers. Mississippi Fred McDowell, Napolian Strickland, and Otha Turner are honored.

Como Inn on Main, Library Photo: Robyn Loonan Gibson

Como Inn on Main, Library
Photo: Robyn Loonan Gibson

The Stairs Photo: Robyn Loonan Gibson

The Stairs
Photo: Robyn Loonan Gibson

Our destination, Como Inn on Main, proved to be a shabby chic-looking building about in the center of the downtown area, directly facing a railroad track and having a wonderful view of  the line of beautiful homes just beyond the tracks, that give testimony to Como’s glory days. The Inn has been in operation since 2009, on the top floor of what is known as the  Popular Price Store-Van Der Vyver building, built in 1899, and on the National Historic Register. Guests have access to six individually decorated rooms (each with a private bath), as well as a library, a large and nicely decorated gathering hall and a covered back porch, perfect for smoking, eating, talking, laughing–all of which we did. It also had The Stairs, a well-worn pathway that looked to be half way to the moon when standing at the bottom looking up, or half way to Hell when looking down from the top.

Bedroom, Como Inn on Main Photo: Robyn Loonan Gibson

Bedroom, Como Inn on Main
Photo: Robyn Loonan Gibson

The Inn’s bedrooms, baths and common areas were scrupulously clean, and the modern kitchen was well-stocked with coffee, juices, bagels, home-made breads and pastries, cereals, snacks and fresh fruits. There were plenty of plates, cups, glasses, etc.–again, all sparkling clean and ready to use. The beds were very comfortable; we all slept well in our pretty rooms. In the early evening, we met a couple from Indianola, Mississippi, who were having a repeat visit to the Como Inn to visit area antique stores and eat at the Como Steakhouse. We enjoyed “visiting” with them, and it almost seemed possible that Lynne may have been a long-lost sister. On Saturday evening, a third couple arrived. They were to be picked up early Sunday morning by a fishing guide for a day of fishing on Sardis Lake. So there you have it: there are lots of reasons to make a trip to Como.

Gathering Hall, Como Inn on Main Photo: Robyn Loonan Gibson

Gathering Hall, Como Inn on Main
Photo: Robyn Loonan Gibson

Como’s Main Street is lined with popular restaurants, antique stores, other shopping venues, and even the Delta Recording Studio. As you would expect in a town known for its blues, some restaurants have live music. We had the Como Steak House and the Thai Hut in our sights, because of previous experience or high recommendations. Do not miss the Como Steak House if you are anywhere in the Como area; there may be a wait, but, trust us, it is worth it–and make sure you arrive there very hungry.

We were also able to enjoy a late lunch at El Rio Mexican Restaurant, and the smells from the Windy City Grille next door to the Inn made us regret not having time for at least one more meal. But the biggest food event in Como that weekend, hands down, was the one at the Inn’s Event Center, following a local funeral on Saturday. Food and drink poured in for hours, and a good time was had by all. We estimated that over 30% of the local population was in attendance. Knowing those Southern events as I  do, I imagine we could have easily joined them for dinner, but we waited for traffic to clear enough for two sisters to venture across the street and bring back some delicious ‘take-out’ from the Thai Hut.

On Saturday, after being sternly reminded by sister Robyn that “none of us needs anything,” we ventured out to the local antique/vintage stores. Robyn found the first irresistible treasures, and I fell in love with the second, and the third. I think we all were at least a little guilty. Speaking of guilt, something called Bliss Ice Cream, a local wonder that came with names such as Como Crunch and Sweet Potato something-or-other, was being sold from a freezer box in one of the antique stores.

View from the porch Photo: Robyn Loonan Gibson

View from the porch
Photo: Robyn Loonan Gibson

After buying out the stores in Como, we started out for Batesville to look around, but took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up on a general tour of the area–damn GPS! So we had a quick drive by of the beautiful Como houses, the largest Magnolia tree any of us have ever seen and a rather large piece of property in the boonies surrounded by a fence decorated with hundreds (many hundreds) of small American flags. All those sights were charming in their own way. We returned to Como just in time to get one of the last parking places within reasonable walking distance of the inn, as the post-funeral event was cranking up next door. We spent the evening in conversation, laughter, tea, coffee and trips to the porch for cigarettes.

Note: Travellers are only at the half-way mark of The Stairs Photo: Robyn Loonan Gibson

Note: Travellers are only at the half-way landing of The Stairs
Photo: Robyn Loonan Gibson

On Sunday we enjoyed our last run at the kitchen goodies, said our good-byes to our fellow guests and, in my case, managed to drag around long enough that someone else lugged my bag down The Stairs. We struck out for home, planning to stop somewhere for lunch (my turn to treat) along the way. Kim and I followed Robyn and Susan; Robyn followed her damn GPS, which made sure we missed every major highway and lunch spot between Como and Oxford. At Oxford, Kim and I decided to skip lunch and follow a known route down Hwy 30 to New Albany. Robyn and Susan continued on to Tupelo by some interesting route or another. I’m pretty sure Robyn’s GPS is set to “scenic route only,” but, as a result, I  still have all the lunch money in my wallet.

It was a weekend filled with fun that we all enjoyed. Many thanks to all my sisters, who know how to have a good time under all circumstances.

Editor’s notes:

  • Como is a perfect spot for a single day trip for musical events, art shows, eating at the famous Como Steak House, etc.
  • If you have more than one day to spend on your trip, there are lots of things in Como with which to pass the time. For more information about Como’s attractions, see this interesting blog I ran across on the subject.  http://tinytravelsthroughmississippi.blogspot.com/2012/04/como.html
  • In the spirit of full disclosure, I must mention that some of our baths had a serious sulphurous odor to the water. My bath, the kitchen and other guest baths did not seem to be similarly afflicted, and we have no explanation for that. It was a glitch, and we did not take it as an indictment of those who occupied the affected guest rooms.
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