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The Dart: Natchez woman remembers getting John Wayne’s autograph

NATCHEZ — Kathie Swofford said she remembers getting John Wayne’s autograph as a little girl when he came to Natchez to work on filming of “The Horse Soldiers.”

“I was walking down a hill and tried to get his autograph,” Swofford said. “Looking at him and he grabbed me by the shoulders and said, ‘Little lady, you have to watch out for these camera trucks.’ He was so tall, he blocked out the sun and he was magnificent.”

When The Dart landed near the Natchez Visitor Center on Wednesday afternoon, Swofford was working her job at the bookstore inside the Visitor Center.

Before she began working at the Natchez Visitor Center, Kathie and husband, Kearby Swofford Jr., moved back to Natchez in 2002 from Dallas, Texas, so Kathie could spend more time with her mother and father, Betty Ladner and D.L. Ladner Jr.

“I wanted to be in Natchez and I have always loved this city,” Swofford said. “I wish more people would come here and discover it. It’s just the most wonderful place ever.”

At the bookstore in the Visitor Center, Swofford works two days a week and has a five-day weekend. From being in the bookstore, Kathie Swofford said she learns a lot about Natchez.

From all of her reading and learning about Natchez, Swofford said she can lend her knowledge of the city to visitors. Swofford said she meets visitors from all over the world.

“There are people from France, Spain, Germany, China, Japan, Australia, Wales and New Zealand,” Swofford said. “It’s an amazing group that comes through here.”

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