Margaret’s Grocery

Reverend H. D. Dennis |  1916-  |  Margaret Rogers Dennis  |  dates unknown

Vicksburg, MS

Embellished visionary environment  |  Created 1994 to present

Sometimes you just get lucky.  I had been wanting to meet the Reverend Dennis and his wife Margaret for sometime, and now that I was working on the book, “Detour Art,” I knew this was the time to do it.  After a stormy drive from Kansas City, through Arkansas, down Highway 61, and finally to Vicksburg, the clouds parted just as we pulled in front of Margaret’s Grocery.

Margaret greeted us and invited us into the grocery. Margaret and her late husband ran a rural grocery outside Vicksburg on old Highway 61, until he was fatally shot by a neighborhood kid during a robbery. Margaret met Rev. Dennis through the ladies at church. They married in 1979 and began to fix up the place to attract attention, so Rev. Dennis could share the word of God. Rev. Dennis began to paint the building red, white, and some blue, but Margaret added the crowning touches of pink and yellow. Brick towers and signs abound, welcoming “Jews and Gentiles” with various symbols of the double-headed eagle of the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge, of which he is a member. The interior of the store is elaborately decorated with beads and bold paint, and as well is the church bus, which also has pews and a pulpit for preaching.

Reverend Dennis had just gotten out of the hospital the night before, (his heart – he is 91) and was still full of fire and brimstone as he began to preach…and dance.  He is an absolutely delightful man, and stubborn as a mule.  He kept refusing to return to the porch when his home health care worker came to check on him, instead insisting on showing me around his place, preaching to me all along the way.  His message came through loud and somewhat clear, “God is love, he loves all, his black brothers and white sisters…Welcome Jews and Gentiles…”  I was truly blessed to get to meet them both.