What The People In Alligator, Mississippi Want To Do…

Alligator, MS Sign

Today on NPR, they ran a piece entitled, ‘Soda Wars Backlash: Mississippi Passes ‘Anti-Bloomberg’ Bill‘ which…first things first, we call it ‘Coke’ no matter what flavor you’re talking about (see this nice graphic)…but the crux of it is:

On Monday, a state judge in Manhattan struck down New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s rule capping soda sizes. And lawmakers in Mississippi are taking the backlash against government regulation on food marketing one step further.

A bill now on the governor’s desk would bar counties and towns from enacting rules that require calorie counts to be posted, that cap portion sizes, or that keep toys out of kids’ meals. 


“You know what? If little Alligator, Miss., wanted to do that, that’s up to the people that live there. It is not up to the state to tell the people at the local level what to do,” Johnson says. “They’re just using this to mask what the bill is really about, which is about taking away home rule.”

Well, I can’t even mention Alligator, Mississippi without telling this story.

Aaron Kline's Whale Store, Alligator MS

This is a pic we took of Mr Kline, in the late ’90s (not sure why I have it saved in grayscale on my computer).

Alligator is a tiny-tiny little town where the most wonderous store existed…Av and I knew the owner, Aaron Kline z”l, who owned the Whale Store (why the ‘Whale Store’? He would say, ‘a whale of a store — a helluva place!‘).  Even after he closed the store and it was boarded up, we would go by just to get a glimpse every year. Mr. Kline passed away in 2011, and to get the tiniest sense of this man, here’s part of his obituary:

Aaron Kline's Whale Store, Alligator MS
(I can’t find all our pictures of our first visit with him, but this is one years later, after the store was closed for good, when the merchandise was still laid out)

Mr. Kline was born November 5, 1910, in Gorzd, Lithuania, the youngest child of Shmuel Ben-Zion and Zissie Zusmanovitz Krettinger. An avid soccer player in his youth, Mr. Kline recalled traveling with teammates from his shtetl, or village, by oxcart, to play against teams from other shtetls. He attended high school at the Kovno (Kaunas) Gymnasium and studied for two years at the University of Kaunas. With the rise and spread of Nazism through Europe in the 1930’s, Mr. Kline, whose brothers and uncles had settled in the Mississippi Delta, left Europe for the United States in 1937. He arrived in New York in July 1937 and settled in Alligator, Mississippi, where his brother Sol Kline lived, and later moved to Clarksdale. He owned and operated the Whale Store, a dry goods store in Alligator, for over 60 years…

Mr. Kline was very active at Beth Israel in Clarksdale, and we’ve been to services there before, while the building was still a synagogue. The building — just beautiful, and architecturally interesting, see below — was sold a few years ago since most of the congregants have left the area; it was deconsecrated and sold, it is now being occupied by a church, who very nicely let us in last year when we drove by and they had it open:
…the window above the ark — that fan window above — was dedicated to Mr. Kline’s parents.

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