Wednesday, December 31, 2008
The men and ladies of the photo were hard-working and honest people. Their best pickers could easily pick 300 or more pounds of cotton in a long hot day; even some ladies could almost do that, too. If they could keep that up, they could get 4-5 bales a week to the gin. Remember-all hand picked.
In the season start, the first bale ginned reaped some kind of recognition - either the prestige, or maybe there was a prize of some sort. The McCarthy and the Outlaw-Lewellyn gins ran all day and all night in the peak season.
Does anyone remember what the Pratts community cotton picking was? Neighbor helping neighbor?
Thank goodness for modern harvesting machinery.
Posted by Carl Houston at 4:50 AM
Monday, December 29, 2008
Pictured here is a man we have talked about on the blog before. Some of you probably can recall Mr. Taylor - he had a lot of satisfied customers who came back to him for work when he was an auto mechanic in Baldwyn many years ago. He once did some work for me on an old blue Buick; and it was a good, reasonably priced job if I remember correctly.
He was driven to and from work and assisted by his son, Billy Joe, during his work day. However, he did the work with little or no assistance. I heard that he may have had some jobs that he did at home, after dark, and needed little or no lighting for that ( that may have been a pun).
I recall that Mr. Taylor worked for C. A. Houston at his garage on Twitchell Hill. That was where I had my work done.
These days, technicians, as they are now known, rely on computers and on-board diagnostics to determine a problem with an automobile. Wonder if a blind technician could do as good a job as Mr. Taylor did???
Incidentally, John Melvin, do you remember once you pushed me all the way back to Baldwyn when that same old blue Buick broke a fuel pump arm in front of Ruff's dairy just north of Tupelo in the middle of the night? If I didn't thank you at that time, I do now!
Posted by Carl Houston at 2:23 AM
Friday, December 26, 2008
The bird was a sight! He came into the poolroom, sat on parking meters when told to, and would stay where he was put until time to go. When James started to leave, Polka Dot had better be on the bike, or he would start his "poderacking" sound and take off from his perch and get under way.
Some other kids had unusual pets from time to time; raccoons, possum, and a goat or two was seen accompanying folks around.
Can you remember anyone with pets as such?
Clipping from an old album from an anonymous donor.
Posted by Carl Houston at 1:17 PM
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
May all you Baldwyn Bearcats and your families have the most joyous Christmas and New Year.
We wish the most bountiful blessings to you for the coming year.
Thank all of you who have made this a good year for remembering our heritage and the good times we had long ago.
We sincerely offer our gratitude to you for your help in making the BBB a success.
Posted by Carl Houston at 4:37 PM
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Thanks to those of you who have sent old photos, they are always appreciated.
Aaron and Linda - Dean on Main Street in front of Shellnut's - Cynthia and Betty - and:
Care to guess who is the pretty girl in the next to lower photo? We know.... and:
Who is Martha Jo's "admirer"??? We don't know....
Middle photos courtesy of Betty Massengill and Cynthia Mink. Top photo courtesy of Ellis Wayne Christian.
(before you correct me on where Dean is, remember that M. Gorden's in the background is across Main street.)
Posted by Carl Houston at 7:05 PM
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
The parade was winding down at this location when I took the photo. It started and eventually ended in front of the Baptist Church, with Santa "taking orders" from the younger children waiting there.
I recall one other Christmas when Santa was in a small enclosure in front of M. Gorden's store. We were trying to determine who was "Santa" and that time it turned out to be Mort Gardner.
Those Christmases were some of the better ones of our lives.
The guy to the second left of the truck rear appears to be Ellis Christian with a child on his back. Can you confirm this, Ellis?
Posted by Carl Houston at 9:49 AM
Saturday, December 13, 2008
This couple's life was fascinating a half-century ago. While going through an old scrapbook recently we discovered this article, tattered and faded, but that brought their story back very vividly. They loved to mentor to younger prospective ham operators and pilots, and many of the readers of this blog will recall additional stories about John and Helen, I'll bet.
From an old scrapbook loaned by an anonymous reader.
Click on images to enlarge. Please pardon the missing words on the frayed edges.
Posted by Carl Houston at 5:15 AM
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The vehicle shown in the photo with Cynthia Mink and ??? is strangely familiar... I seem to remember it, but can't really recall its' purpose or owner. Several Baldwyn men had vehicles similar to that and charged people to ride to destinations, like a Mr. Morris whom I rode to school with in a modified Ford "woodie" on bad weather days. He charged just a few cents per trip or a dollar or so a week.
School children, Blue Bell workers and others that needed a ride were patrons of these "taxi" operators, long before Otis Mink and The Adams' taxi service. Also, I remember a Mr. Reynolds that had such a service with a wood-covered-bed truck, as did my uncle, Bob Bartlett, before he moved to New Orleans in the late 40s. They both were in the "taxi" business.
Does anyone recognize the rig? It appears to be on a new-looking Chevy pickup truck, and is apparently home-built to slide in and out like some of the more recent camping units.
In the Claude Gentry movie clips of the 1940 decade, there are quite a few of these wooden buses shown transporting kids to Cedar Hill school.
Can anyone identify the background and home in the photo?
Photo sent by Cynthia Mink
Posted by Carl Houston at 4:10 AM
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Once, Baldwyn had beauty and personality contests for the youngsters.
From the middle 40s, the above photo from Sue Downs Houston shows her and Tom Shellnut as "Little Mister" and "Little Miss Baldwyn".
"We were 5 years old, and that year Tootsie McCary Morris was Miss Baldwyn. Tommy said that David Gentry was first runner up. I can't remember who the girl was."
Can anyone help with that?
Thanks, Sue. Ya'll were a very cute couple!
Posted by Carl Houston at 3:57 AM
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Shown is the familiar Cushman motor scooter that belonged to J. M. (Melvin) Duke in the 50s. (Incidentally that is not Melvin sitting on it!) Betty Smith is ready to take off for a spin, it appears.
The old scooter came from Chicago or somewhere, and was really utilized for transportation by J. M. and friends.
A little research IDs it a "50-series" model, produced first in 1946. Compare the two photos. The Buick trim (the round "portholes") were added by J. M. Also, my recollection of the scooter (which I rode several times) was that it had plenty of power and ran good, but the handlebar throttle broke and no replacement was available. For a long time it ran on the streets in idle position, but Melvin would reach down between his feet and open the throttle "butterfly" valve to get more power when needed to get up the hill in town and elsewhere. He finally added a throttle cable and handle that had to be pulled straight up to accelerate and pushed down to slow the machine. It was mounted on the side of the body, and worked well.
Melvin, let me know if that about sums it up....
If anyone has a photo of the old 3-wheeled scooter that Darrel "Dog" Mathis rode, please send a copy, preferably of him doing doughnuts in the center of town, trying to get the front wheels off the ground.
Wallis Nelson, do you have a photo of your scooter?
Photo courtesy of Betty Smith via Cynthia Mink
Made in the Duke front yard on West Main Street. The driveway in the background is to the Roy Rogers' (Frieda) home.
Posted by Carl Houston at 11:23 AM
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Crowds walked shoulder
to shoulder going nowhere
Crossed the street to McElroy’s Grocery
Ambled up the sidewalk
for two city blocks
Passed Tom’s Drugstore
Passed the Golden Rule Five and Dime
Crossed the street at the Lyric Theater
Headed back toward the grocery store
Passed Kirk’s Hardware
Passed the pool hall
Crossed the street to McElroy’s Grocery . . .
It was an endless journey
for hundreds of us
every Saturday night in Baldwyn.
The lucky ones picked up a date
and surrounded by envious eyes,
“Just to talk, you know,”
escaped into an unlocked car,
owner unknown and not caring.
Old people no longer needing
to flirt and stroll
sat in cars along the curb
watching the parade,
Their shopping done,
Their hamburger and coke
at Al’s Café finished,
Their muffled conversations
drifted out to the passers-by.
The aroma of popcorn
from the Ritz Theater
mingled with the smell
of animals from Bishop’s Feed Store and mule barn.
Laughter from little boys
bouncing on cotton bales,
Shouts of friendship drifted
above Main Street
every Saturday night in Baldwyn.
By Jo Carolyn Anderson Beebe
Top - Milton Copeland
Bottom - Marie Evans collection
Posted by Carl Houston at 5:31 PM
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
By Dr. Henry Outlaw
This is Dave Heflin and kids rafting down the Nantahala river in North Carolina. During his long tenure at Delta State he took thousands of students whitewater canoeing, kayaking and rafting in North Carolina, Arkansas, Alabama, Maine, Wyoming, and Montana.
His son Land is a world class whitewater river runner and was featured on the Discovery Channel a couple of years back.
Posted by Carl Houston at 5:31 AM
Monday, November 17, 2008
These are a couple of photos of the intersection of highways MS-30 and US-45 at Frankstown. They are dated, and approximately 15 or so years apart. As you can see, US-45 wasn't paved at the time of the older photo (neither was 30).
Most of the buildings are still there! Also pictured is the gin, which still remains, but is not used as such.
Most of the buildings are still there! Also pictured is the gin, which still remains, but is not used as such.
We discussed in an earlier post how US 45 once came through the center of the town of Baldwyn (Second Street) and moved farther West in the mid-30s to what is now 4th Street, and eventually was four-laned and moved even farther West.
Photos courtesy of Jim Miller
Posted by Carl Houston at 6:40 PM
Friday, November 7, 2008
Many of us were gone from Baldwyn and have never known much about this fire at BHS.
We lost our old high school building to a very spectacular fire on October 21, 1991. It burned completely despite efforts of the Baldwyn fire fighters and several from the surrounding communities. The debris smoldered for days after.
The person who intentionally set the fire was apprehended and if he is still in prison, I wish who might know to advise us by a comment. Also would like to know why he did it. I see that he was 18 and a sophomore, and evidently in trouble over other matters. Wonder if he was behind due to academics and if that was the reason? The name Calomese is prevalent with Baldwyn education; Dunbar Calomese was the principal of the school on Cemetery Road in the 40s-50s.
I included a photo of Mrs. Ella Herring (Phyllis' Mom) and how she and others were very saddened by the loss of the school building. Incidentally, this was the second time it was lost to fire, and was torn up badly in the 1942 storm.
Also, the old gymnasium was lost to a storm and torn down in early 2000 (hope that is right). So, there is nothing left there as we remember it in our days of attendance, not even a football field. The drainage ditch under the field was sealed to prevent access when a child was either trapped in the entrance or was hiding out there. He was found safe, however.
My apologies on the poor quality of the photos and arsonist column. Did the best I could with what I had.
Posted by Carl Houston at 8:31 AM
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
By Tom Shellnut
These are photos of the 1942 tornado. The top one is probably of my grandmother's house with two walls standing.
The interesting feature of this photo is in the lower left hand corner -- an imposing structure which I believe is the old school house which was on the square where the "new" Caldwell clinic/hospital was built in the 50's. The camera is pointed toward the southeast toward the old school.
My recollection of that day:
My Mother, my Grandmother, my brother and I were in the house that March afternoon. Mrs. James Nanney was paying a visit, and when the proverbial freight train sound came up, they all went into the dining room with me, a 17 month old, in tow. The storm came through from the southwest, lifted the house up some feet off the ground. The house exploded and rained everything back down on us. It later became apparent that the dining room floor was the only one the remained intact. God was watching out for us. The dining room floor is probably the floor you see in the picture.
Daddy was uptown at the store and came running down along with the other men of the town to see about us and get us out of the wreckage. Some began to dig into the debris, and when they uncovered one of us down to the waist, they started pulling to get us out. Daddy, with a cool head, stopped them and said to slow down and get more lumber away from us before pulling and injuring us.
The Caldwell clinic was there about a block away to the east of the First Baptist Church. We were taken there for a look-see. Mother was hysterical as I appeared covered in blood. She was sure I was a goner. Dr. R. B. after looking closely at me said, "all this child needs is soap and water." The red bricks of the chimney of the house which had been built in 1875 had disintegrated, and the red brick dust combined with my tears made me look like I was bleeding to death.
The James Mack Jones family took us in for a while until we bought the brick house at the corner of Water and South Second. Coincidentally, Dr. R.B. built that house the same year Dr. Mike Caldwell was born, in the early 20's. (Actually 1921, Tom. Source: info from the Baldwyn library.- Carl)
Most of us who can remember that awful day have a story to tell, I'll bet. I know Herb Spivey does, he was very lucky to come out of a debris-filled basement, also.
I remember that my Dad, Mom and I were coming home on West Main and got to the point where we had to seek shelter immediately. Dad pulled the car into the old Jett Ford driveway and next to the embankment at Mrs. Orr's home, under the still-standing-today pecan trees. Not a great place, but it turned out well. The trees bent and popped, but only lost a few limbs. We were there only a few minutes, but were safe and thankful. Mom shielded me (age 3) and I didn't see the tornado at all, but remember the noise it made even today. I heard that it picked up Tommy Ford's horse and put it down safely, still running... that was very close to where we were. - Carl Houston
Posted by Carl Houston at 9:18 AM
Saturday, November 1, 2008
(Could hold a large bunch of kids inside it)!
This is a really deteriorated photo of another "famous" car that was a familiar sight in Baldwyn. Billy Wayne Houston was it's owner for several years. It was seen everywhere there was any activity that was fun - Blue Mars swimming hole, "dragging" main street, Chris' Cafe, etc.
Pictured is (I believe) Herb, Charles, Ellis, Grover, Billy Wayne, Dean and some others. Is that Sue Downs in the open window? Really hard to tell due to the poor quality.
There were several times that this many kids and more would fit themselves into the tiny car. Many Sunday afternoons we would play hide-and-seek with our cars. The skinny Crosley could go places others couldn't and Billy Wayne could be "found" and beat the seeker back to the home starting point very easily. The only player that could go where he couldn't was Roy Glenn Copeland on his motorcycle.
John M. Duke related some time ago that occasionally Billy Wayne thought that the school playground needed plowing up, and he would do it with the Crosley - around and around, spinning in circles and removing all the grass he could until Mr. Baker appeared on the office steps and waved to let him know he should stop it.
One Halloween night it looked like a battleship going through town with roman cannons being shot from all the open windows.
Any other stories you can recall about this car?
Posted by Carl Houston at 6:37 PM
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The '59 'Cats. They were coached, as best I can determine, by Coach Harris??
David Palmer and Joe Cunningham were the quarterbacks.
Click on image to enlarge.
(Did check everyone's hands and fingers on this before posting!)
Posted by Carl Houston at 4:40 AM
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Pictured is John Olan Cunningham's Willys "Jeepster" convertible. The car was a very familiar sight as was Larry Johnson's "Official Bearcat" Ford Model A.
It was usually seen as in the upper photo, full of kids having a great time. The building in the background was "Little Joe's" Drive In in Tupelo in 1955.
Identity of the girls is up to you. I remember faces but not names very well.
The original Jeepster was produced from 1948 through 1950, although some leftover models were sold under the 1951 model year. It was powered by the 62 horsepower "Go Devil" engine, a 134 cu in (2.2 L) straight-4. A 3-speed manual transmission with optional overdrive was used.
Photos courtesy of John Olan. By the way, where is your license plate, John?
Posted by Carl Houston at 4:43 AM
Thursday, October 23, 2008
During WWll, a ritual of the city of Baldwyn was to turn off the electricity to the entire town at night several times during the month, possibly once weekly. The resulting darkness of the shut-down was a war effort conceived of the notion that enemy aircraft couldn't see any landmarks if they were invading the USA. Also, it was an energy saving gesture to let TVA conserve. The city officials said that it was doubtful that Baldwyn would ever be a target, but rather a navigation aid if the town's lights could be seen from the air in darkness. Hmmmmmm, no GPS devices in those days...
Those nights when the power was cut for up to a half-hour or so the old Emerson fan would stop, so to the porch swing and the evening mosquitoes we would go. The stillness and the quietness was unusual and eerie, to say the least.
The crickets continued their noise, and from across the cotton field from a house on Thomas Street we could hear Willie Coleman either singing or he would be playing a trumpet softly. He was a very good musician and had a nice baritone singing voice.
He was a choir member in the church on the Ripley Road north of town. On Sundays in the Summertime you could see through the open windows of the church and hear him above others in the hymns they sang.
The "gentle giant" was well liked by all. He would eat a large sack full of bologna, crackers, and hoop cheese from Cunningham's at each meal.
Sent by an anonymous reader:
Willie Coleman aka “Sonny Boy” and “Big Sonny Boy”, if you recall, was a very large black fellow who worked at various jobs around town, more especially at the cotton gin in the fall. He could carry around five hundred pound bales of cotton very easily. It was said that he weighed about as much as a bale of cotton.
It is told that when he went to his final reward, his service was at the funeral home that was once the Baldwyn News building on Front Street near Water Street. A special over sized casket was ordered and had to be twisted around and stood upright somewhat to get in through the largest door in the back.
After the services, they couldn't get Willie and the casket back out that same door for the trip to the cemetery. At last, in desperation, a large glass window in the front of the building was removed and he was taken out through it to the hearse to continue his journey.
Does anyone have a photo of Sonny? Would sure like to have a copy.
Posted by Carl Houston at 4:10 PM
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Jim Miller writes:
Here is a photo of our CB club about 1962. Front row left to right, Charles Morris, James Hutcheson, Raymond Miller, Jodie Mears. Second row, Morton Ricks, Gerald Hodges, B.E. Ozbirn. I don't recall the others. I am third from left on back row.
CB (Citizen's Band) low-powered communications radios for ordinary public usage were introduced in the early to mid-50s and were an instant hit. Small businesses that needed to control their delivery trucks were one intention of the devices. The costs were minimal, and sometimes the operating characteristics were, too. Changing atmospheric conditions affected the reliability of the radio equipment, sometimes causing poor results.
The phenomenon still was widely accepted and enjoyed by hobbyists. You could buy a ready to operate unit, or for the adventurous, a kit form could be built and if it worked, bragged about. Clubs formed, as new things will dictate, and CB clubs sprang up widely as an adjunct means of public service communications for entities such as law enforcement and fire departments in small towns, etc.
These Baldwynians were no exception. They performed a duty or at least trained to be of any assistance in communications to any department when needed.
Photo: Jim Miller
Click to enlarge
Posted by Carl Houston at 5:51 AM
Sunday, October 19, 2008
The photo above of the Baldwyn Volunteer Fire Department in action is dated 1952. The fire is in the area above the old McGee's grocery and cafe. We have been discussing the possible cause and Jimmy Baxter described an event that might possibly be this particular fire. More on that later, if he can confirm it.
During our early years in Baldwyn, when a fire was reported or another happening of importance was needing to be announced, the person in charge "blew the fire whistle" as we used to say. That got a lot of response from the citizens. The siren was mounted about halfway up the first water tower behind city hall and could be heard for at least a mile or two. Sometimes a person in a car had to speed downtown or to a house that they knew had a telephone to report an emergency or fire.
When the siren started howling, most of the neighborhood dogs did, also. We would all stop what we were doing, run outside and scan the horizon for smoke and when spotted, make a "bee-line" for it. Some of us on bicycles would get to the fire before the truck did. Once, we saw a huge fire start at Gentry's slaughter house on North Fifth street, just up the road from the Gentry home. They were rendering "cracklins" and the pot boiled over, setting the dry grass on fire. Several of us youngsters helped get it under control before the truck got there.
If we didn't see any smoke when the siren blew, that usually meant one of two things; a false alarm or something else was up, which required a trip downtown to see what was happening. Robert Thomas and I recalled recently about one late Summer day (actually August 15, 1945) when the siren started blowing incessantly. Someone found out what it was - the Japanese had surrendered and World War 2 was over. The townspeople had predetermined that when that happened, the whole town was to meet at the First Baptist Church. That was one trip to see what was happening that everyone in town was glad to do. Business and everything came to a stop while we met at the church and gave thanks for the ending of that long, costly conflict. Now all our men could come home.
(Update: Two identical reports from readers seem to think that the fire was in a photography studio, started from chemicals used in a developer. Damage was minimal, except for water. This is the same thought that Jimmy Baxter has, who first told me the story.)
Photo from the Marie Evans Collection
Posted by Carl Houston at 4:57 AM
Friday, October 17, 2008
Left, Mutt Tapp, center, Jimmy Tapp, and an unknown person. This photo was made at their grocery store at the SW corner of Main and Third Street about 1952.
The product they are holding, Wonder Bread, came to Baldwyn about that time. It was advertised to "build strong bodies 7(or 12) ways" or something like that. They put on a marketing blitz of great proportions; at school they passed out a package of 2 slices to all in school, and went door-to-door giving the samples to housewives with a coupon good for a discount of the already low price of about 7 cents per loaf versus the 9 or 10 cents for Hardin's (made in Tupelo).
It finally caught on and started selling. Looking at the picture, the Tapps were coerced into pushing it as much as possible. Also employed by the store was Bernis Tapp. The store moved from near the Ritz theater to the corner maybe in 1950 . Prior to that, Jack Waters and Carl Davis had an automobile repair shop there. Bill Parton consequently bought it and ran it for some time in the '40s. Later, Parton took on a new partner, James ??? Morgan??? and moved to his home area close to Bingham's Service Station.
The store closed in the 60s and Thomas and Doris Gentry opened a flower shop there.
(Update: The fellow on the right is Mr. Nanney, father of Cecil and Grady.)
Photo from the Marie Evans collection courtesy of Clarene Evans
Posted by Carl Houston at 4:49 AM
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Samuel Ruey Eaton
This man owned a business quite a few of us were cautious to go to, but the powerful thirst for his illegal product wouldn't go away until we did.
Part of his obituary:
"Ruey" Eaton was a retired businessman and a member of the Methodist Church. He served the town of Jumpertown as its first mayor when the Prentiss County town was first incorporated and later served as a town alderman.
He was the author of one book, entitled "In Prison and Out," which described his experiences in the state prison at Parchman and in three federal prisons. In August of 1931 Eaton and his brother, Clovis, were found guilty in the Circuit Court of Prentiss County of murdering U. S. marshal Clyde Rivers.
Ruey spent time in Parchman prison, escaped and eluded the law officers for several months by hiding out in and around Prentiss County. After his recapture, he served time in federal prisons in Leavenworth, Atlanta and on Alcatraz Island.At Alcatraz Eaton met such infamous criminals as Machine Gun Kelly, and Doc Barber. He also shared a cell for a brief time with Al Capone.
From a commenter on another website: Some of you speak as if the moonshine days are gone. I grew up in Prentiss county Mississippi. It's a dry county to this day (this was evidently written some time ago-CH). Also, to this day I could drive 100 miles from Memphis to Jumpertown, Mississippi and drive up in the driveway of a home, flash my lights once for commercial liquor, twice for pure grain alcohol or blow the horn for Mississippi Moonshine.
The law officers know this as well as I do. As long as the family keeps the law officers’ cabinets supplied...all is well. The only trouble is when a new sheriff gets elected, somebody has to go to jail for a year or so for the sheriff to keep his campaign promise but the business never stops.
How many local proprietors did we have? The Adamses, Robinson, Lee-Ann Truck Stop, Buster Jones, and how many more? Incidentally, Ruey did own a legit business in Jumpertown, a furniture store.
Posted by Carl Houston at 10:55 AM
Monday, October 13, 2008
Just received this photo of the parade down Main Street (also the highly trafficked US 78) in Tupelo when Elvis made his first visit to the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show on Sept 26th, 1956. If you prefer, we just called it "the fair".
There is a story that then-governor J. P. Coleman was on his way to the fairgrounds in his state-owned Lincoln with his family. He got involved in backed up traffic behind the parade, and when some kids saw the car, they descended on it screaming and running. When they found out who the occupants were, they were disgusted, and said "Aw Heck, It's just the Governor"!
That was a day to remember!
Click on image to enlarge
Posted by Carl Houston at 3:37 AM
Saturday, October 11, 2008
This is the roster of Baldwyn Bearcat players and notes the team number, position, and weight of each. It is in a program from a game against Selmer (TN) many years ago. The weight of the players in those days is comparatively small to the weight of players for high school teams these days, I find after checking a couple of school stats in Memphis.
Weight aside, these were hard-hitting boys that could really pack a punch due to proper diet, training, exercise, and DETERMINATION.
From the Ellen Mink Collection.
Click on image to enlarge.
Posted by Carl Houston at 3:45 PM