Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mr. Odell Weldon

* Born: 7 Feb 1902, Waveland, Yell County, AR.
* Marriage: Eva Elizabeth Sheppard on 9 May 1921 in Havana, Yell County, AR.
* Died: 7 Mar 1975, Baldwyn, Lee Co, MS. at age 73
* Buried: Masonic Cemetery, Baldwyn, Lee Co, MS.

By Eva (Sheppard) Weldon

Information as of Nov. 1988: Other names for Odell were "J.S." and "Slim". Slim was a farmer till 1930. Started driving a truck for a lumber company, then drove a grade "A" milk truck until 1947. He took the job of police chief of Baldwyn. In 1958 Slim was hired as City Street Commissioner.

Ola Mae (Babe Sheppard) Madden and Hollis Weaver, Dave Weaver's son, related this story to me:

In 1929 Odell decided farming in Arkansas was declining so it was time to move to the Delta of Mississippi. Ben Sheppard, Odell's father-in-law, always carried a knife about six inches long and when he stopped work he pulled his knife out and whittled or sharpened the knife on his trouser leg. Ben decided to sell his farm and accompany Odell and Eva to MS. Odell's family, Ben Sheppard's family, Roy Madden and his wife Babe, and Dave Weaver's family all loaded their belongings on an open bed truck and drove to the Mississippi river crossing at Greenville, MS. They crossed and went to Coahoma County and signed on to make a crop for a landowner there. Ben had money and paid for all his supplies but Odell, Roy, and Dave got all their supplies from the Company Store on credit.

After the harvest in 1930 the land and store owner revealed to all the people they still owed the store money for supplies including Ben Sheppard. All the families got together and discussed a plan of action. Odell, Roy, and Dave went north to Baldwyn, Prentiss County, and talked to the owner of William Davis Lumber Co. and started to work. On Friday after work Odell, Roy, and Dave took a company truck, went to Coahoma County and loaded everyone's belongings and then they all went to talk to the landowner. When they told him they were leaving he said he would have them arrested and jailed. Odell said they were leaving and he could send to Prentiss County and have them arrested.

Ben told the landowner he owed him two hundred dollars for his crop, as he had no credit account. When the landowner refused to listen Ben pulled his knife and laid it against the landowner's throat and said "I'll bleed you all over the floor unless you pay me." The landowner paid, they all left and no one ever showed up in Baldwyn to arrest them.

Slim taught himself to read but he never mastered writing. He could sign his name and print very well. Slim used the initials J. S. on his driver's license, bank account, and other records. He was told in 1932 when he applied for a driver's license he needed an initial so he used those initials.

Odell was best known as Slim.

In 1966 Slim had an accident, a motor grader ran over him. He was operated on and he lost one lung, part of his stomach, part of his intestine, part of his colon, and three of his disks were fused.


Well, you learn something new every day... a little "sleuthing" on the internet provided this article - CH

Monday, April 28, 2008

1953 Halloween Party

-click to enlarge-

This was made at the Baldwyn First Baptist Church annex (old clinic) around Halloween 1953. I believe Mr. Shellnut made it with a very good quality camera.

Kids were dressed as appropriately as possible - seems no one had a witch or goblin costume. Who would want to make a witch out of those good looking girls anyway?

Sharpen up your pencils and see if you can conclude the identity of everyone. Remember, boys were dressed as girls in some cases. One boy wandered in off the street and I have blocked his face out so as not to confuse anyone - he was not part of our group.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


-click to enlarge and read-

Remember those nicknames some people had when growing up? Most have somehow stuck with them over the years. Clarene Evans Nanney recalls some of them in a Baldwyn newspaper article a year or so ago.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Baldwyn Nursing Home Visit

Photo of our recent visit to friends at the nursing home. Others also stop by almost daily to visit.

L-R: Carl Houston, Simon Spight, Bobby Nichols, John Cunningham. Seated in scooter - Elizabeth Ann (Bartlett) Pate.

Bobby's wife, Janet (Gentry) Nichols is improving after a fall at home.

Robert "See Saw" Heflin was in good spirits and pedaling heartily on a stationary bike while watching the action in the courtyard. He is improving, we're glad to report.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Baldwyn Businesses - The Ritz Theater

-click to enlarge-

by Carl Houston

Mr. Claude Gentry was one of the best guys I ever worked for. His businesses were both theaters in Baldwyn, an insurance agency, and a small grill with short orders. I worked at the Ritz for a long time. It was probably the hottest place you could work, but you got free popcorn and got to see free movies - over and over.

The projection booth upstairs in the theater is the "hot" place I am referring to. The heat was generated by carbon-arc lamps on the 35 MM projectors that shone the film onto the huge screen. It was over one hundred degrees in there in the summer, but a high velocity fan pulled cooler air (and all of the theater smells) through the projection booth. It was just right in the winter. Besides myself, projectionists were Arch Young, Billy Taylor, Wayne Stone, Roy Strickland, and a couple of others I can't recall. I think that Jim Greene was also projectionist there later. Correct me if that isn't right, Jim.

Across the street from the Ritz, the Lyric theater was another busy place. It only operated on Friday nights and Saturdays. Usually "B" westerns were shown there exclusively, but like the other, a newsreel and five minute cartoon plus some local advertisements led off the main movie.

Rarely were first-run features seen in Baldwyn, it would be about 3-6 months or longer before a "blockbuster" movie made it to town. No problem. The atmosphere in the little town was too laid back to worry about that. "Gone with the Wind", "Love Me Tender", and several other hit movies demanded an extra day of run to satisfy the crowds.

The Walt Disney classic "Song of the South" (1946) that now is shelved and locked up due to being too controversial for modern times was a very big hit with ALL the citizens of Baldwyn. When Br'er Rabbit always got the best of his foes, the entire theater crowd would go wild. See the sidebar of this Blog to preview some of that movie.

One day I was sent for at school to come up to the theater and run a part of the movie "The French Line" for the city commissioners to evaluate a song and dance number "Lookin' for Trouble" that Jane Russell did. The costume she wore was too "skimpy" and had too many "holes" in the front so it did not pass the 1954 Baldwyn censorship statutes. I had to cut that entire number out, show the movie four times, then splice it back in when we shipped the rental film back.

Incidentally, this is the theater where one local guy got more attention than anyone in any movie ever did. Harold "Snowshoe Rabbit" Murley emptied the entire patronage - upstairs and downstairs - once when he brought his pet coach whip snake "Henry" into the movie. One person saw it was real and alive and his screaming "live snake!" while running out on the tops of the seats to escape sent the message to evacuate. And so they did. Everything stopped, Claude turned the lights on and Harold was able to find Henry and leave the theater. It was quite some time before Harold was allowed back into the Ritz, and it had to be without his pet.

Although most of the movies shown at those theaters were of good quality and had a high rating, there were some young couples that sat through them twice and never saw them. You know what they were doing, don't you? That's right. Everything around you gets distracted when you're sixteen and in love. I can assure you of that.

* * * * * * * *

The city censors wanted the Jane Russell number shown twice before making up their minds....they seemed to enjoy it. You can see it at:

Monday, April 21, 2008

BHS Baseball Team

-revised photo-

One of Baldwyn's great baseball teams from the early '50s. Who can name any or all?

From Joe Cunningham: Coach Haynes was before Coach Jobe, as all of you know. He is in U of Memphis Hall of Fame and was renowned for scoring a touchdown the first time he touched the ball for Memphis State. He died of Alzheimer's.

Points from his obituary: C. PAUL HAYNES, 85, of Germantown, died Wednesday, March 15, 2006 at Bright Glade Convalescent Center. Mr. Haynes was a graduate of Jeff Davis High School and Holmes Junior College, where he was inducted into the Hall of Fame for football, basketball and track. He was the head coach at Louise, MS, Ethel, MS, and Baldwyn, MS. He was also head coach at Germantown High School, principal of Germantown Elementary School and driver education instructor. He was a long time member and deacon of Germantown Baptist Church.

Photo courtesy of Larry Johnson - click to enlarge

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Want to see more old photos!

We would like to read and publish any stories you have or see all your old photos of Baldwyn and vicinity in the 1940-1960s. If you have any to share, please do so! A short story and some ID of the people in the photos would help, but isn't necessary. We have helped ID some folks in old photos for over a year in email messages. Please scan in the best resolution and size you can and email to: or request there for a physical address to send them to. Thanks!

Is this the Tupelo Skating Rink?

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A reader from Corinth sent this photo. He (or she) is not completely sure that it was taken inside the Tupelo skating rink. It is dated 1959. Can anyone verify this? The floor layout appears to be the way I remember it. I saw it up close many times.

The Tupelo rink was located across from the Fairgrounds entrance, as best I can recall. It was near there if not directly across.

Thanks for the photo, We’ll try to get the experts here to assure the photo is or is not the Tupelo rink.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Is this the Tupelo Skating Rink?

A reader from Corinth sent this photo. He (or she) is not completely sure that it was taken inside the Tupelo skating rink. It is dated 1959. Can anyone verify this? The floor layout appears to be the way I remember it. I saw it up close many times.

The Tupelo rink was located across from the Fairgrounds entrance, as best I can recall. It was near there if not directly across.

Thanks for the photo, We’ll try to get the experts here to assure the photo is or is not the Tupelo rink.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Baldwyn Businesses - The Dairy Bar

By Larry Johnson

"My Dad had seen and tasted soft ice cream for the first time in Memphis around 1953. He contacted the distributor and arranged to buy one of the machines along with finding a source for the liquid mix that you poured into the infernal thing. The distributor came to Baldwyn and helped Daddy layout the plan for the little building which he built, I believe, in 1954. I distinctly remember the sales guy because he was driving a new Oldsmobile that had an add on that was new to me...AIR CONDITIONING. The unit was in the trunk and the air came up just inside the back window in clear plastic pipes".

"When we originally opened the thing we only had ice cream (vanilla) and milkshakes, chocolate or vanilla. We later added a hot dog warmer and that was it for the first year. The second year I talked Dad into leasing it to me and paid him a dollar amount for every can of mix I ran through. Now it was better. I added sundaes with fruit topping and could afford to hire someone to help me. Bernard Coggins' mother worked with me for most of the summer - what a nice lady - her name was Ollie. I think it was my senior year when Daddy sold it".

From Grover Thomas: "I worked there for a summer (maybe longer) on Sunday afternoons. I remember it well. When my shift was over, I'd have various milkshake spatter over my entire body. Turn the milk shake rotors on a little too soon and you'd send liquid and chunks to virtually inaccessible places. Every color imaginable was visible. Worst for me was root beer, which I detest to this day. I always spread this one for maximum effect. I think I saved every penny I earned that summer".

* * * * *

It was first bought from Mr. Johnson by Jimmy Outlaw, and later operated by Kay Poling. It was demolished and cleared to make way for the Ford dealership that opened on 1 June, 1966 ("The Way We Were", Simon Spight, 1987, p 55).

Grover's comment about root beer reminded me of the sassafras roots that grew on a hill behind the Dairy Bar near the rear of the Methodist church. I would cut some every now and then and we would make some excellent tea. It tasted similar to root beer. My grandmother really knew how to make it. -CH

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


By Bobby Hamblin

I’m sure that, growing up, many of you heard, as I did, the often-told story that Rommel, the famous German field marshall of World War II, had visited Baldwyn sometime in the 1930s. According to the story, he stayed in the Home Hotel and toured the Brice’s Cross Roads battlefield to study the cavalry tactics of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. It was from Forrest’s tactics, reportedly, that Rommel learned the skills of cavalry warfare that he employed with his tanks against the Allied Forces in North Africa. His successes in those engagements earned him the nickname “The Desert Fox.” (Later Rommel was implicated in the plot to assassinate Hitler, and he committed suicide rather than face trial for treason.)
Here is my contribution to the myth of Rommel’s visit to Baldwyn (from my forthcoming book of poems Crossroads):


Years later he would recall
how oldtimers would point
to the corner window, just there,
on the second floor
as the very room where Rommel
stayed when he came to Baldwyn
to study General Forrest’s cavalry tactics
against the Yankees at Brice’s Cross Roads.

It was almost enough to make
the Desert Fox an honorary member
of the community, the one German
who could be forgiven for his misdeeds
even as his tanks chased and crushed
American troops in the North African desert.

How exciting it must have been
to see a German officer in the 1930s,
in full military uniform,
walking the streets of our small town,
sipping coffee with locals in Gentry’s Cafe,
talking with oldtimers about Forrest,
the unschooled farmboy
who became a military genius,
tracking his cavalry’s movement
along the Baldwyn road
to ambush Sturgis’s tired
and mud-splattered army at the Crossroads.

Who started such a story? And why?
What desperate boredom and mediocrity
could require the anonymous present
to revive the heroic and legendary past?
And what small boy, of any time and place,
could ever doubt any story his elders
had convinced themselves was true?

But history always rewrites itself.
Old men die, and their myths with them,
and young boys become old men
in their turn, inventing younger myths.
Thus Forrest, the hero, in time
becomes a devil, and Rommel,
an enemy who also distrusted Hitler,
becomes a hero, the more so
because he once stayed at the Home Hotel.

(Note: perhaps someone on this site can tell me which cafĂ© the locals would have frequented in the 1930s—Gentry’s may have come later.)

None of his biographers believes that Rommel ever visited Baldwyn and Brice’s Cross Roads, though some of them acknowledge he may have been influenced by the military strategies of Forrest. But the story persisted for decades—and was even expanded and enhanced by Larry Wells, the Oxford novelist, whose novel Rommel and the Rebel (1986) not only has Rommel visit Baldwyn and Bethany but also has him drive to Oxford to spend a day conversing, drinking, and playing tennis with the famous American author William Faulkner. What kind of story is it if it can’t grow a little!

Yet, as with most good myths, there may be a kernel of truth embedded in the old story we heard. According to a 1937 newspaper story (which I have read about but never seen--Milton Copeland: have you ever seen such a story in the Baldwyn or Tupelo papers?) five German military officials (though Rommel was not among them) did visit Brice’s Cross Roads—and they could conceivably have stayed in the Home Hotel.

Do any of you remember hearing about Rommel in Baldwyn? And if so, what details of those stories do you recall?

There are additional stories of famous and infamous people visiting the area.

Famous: Edison, inventor. Has been reported to have stayed at the hotel at Guntown while demonstrating some of his inventions, ie. the electric light bulb.

Infamous: Jesse James also is thought to have stayed at the same hotel, and after checking out, a bank in Corinth was robbed of $5K with the robber making a clean get-away. Coincidence?

Frank James is listed as having been a guest at the Home Hotel. The name can be seen in the register that is preserved at the BCR museum in Baldwyn.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My Memories of "See Saw" Heflin

Robert "See Saw" Heflin

by David Heflin

Thoughts and prayers are needed for A GOOD GUY, vintage 1936 to the present while he seeks special attention in the swing bed unit of the Baldwyn Nursing Home from complications due to a Stroke earlier. Please, sometimes visit him along with Edith and T-Ann (daughter). He’s still a wonderful story teller and loves to reminisce about Baldwyn.

My memories of Robert will attempt to cover some my favorite highlights of my “adopted” big brother:

· During an elementary school stage program, his class was enacting favorite play activities with the teacher telling a story. At a given cue, Robert demonstrated his assignment by tilting his body from side to side with his arms straight out. At the top of his lungs, “SEE SAW, SEE SAW, SEE SAW…” over and over. He was strapped forever.

· Did you ever play ball at the Heflin’s? Occasionally, we timed it with Uncle Lloyd coming home for lunch or supper always carrying a sack of groceries greeted by Scrappy, the talented family German Shepherd. Soon, Aunt Ethel would yell out, “You boys want a few leftovers? Wash up and come in.” The table was covered with fresh vegetables and frequently baloney sliced to go between that fresh bread via Lloyd.- More than you could consume including cantaloupe, corn-on-the- cob and topped off with a fresh apple or peach cobbler. By the way, when the ball rested, some boys from Cemetery Road picked up the action day or night.

· See Saw led our Royal Ambassadors group at the Baptist Church. He was too young to drive so he walked us everywhere. We went to Blue Mars for a camping trip. My gear was an Army surplus cot (about 25 lbs.), a ragged quilt, and can of Spanish rice. I noticed that he didn’t bring anything. You guessed it. I shared the cot, quilt, and can of burned rice.

· We all hitch hiked to Tupelo and later, Booneville (Swimming Pool), but See Saw had a thing about going to Tupelo. One Saturday (could have been after dark, even) Bo Henry joined him. After getting let out at Five Points, they walked at least four blocks stopping at Aunt Ann’s (Miss Anna Bell Heflin, another legend for future stories). The routine was always the same, “You boys hungry?” “No ma'am.” “What you doing?” “Planning on going to the picture show.” “Got any money?” “No ma'am.” “Here’s a couple of quarters, and how much does popcorn cost?” She poured ample amount of change into See Saw’s hands.

· One recent story is an example of Robert’s amazing story telling ability. He described a basketball coach before Doc Vandiver who had a rare ability to build teams. If he noticed a junior high boy with some playground skills, he started talking to him. Then, he gave him a pair of tennis shoes plus a ball and basketball rim. Later, had the FFA construct him a backboard.

· Can you visualize the “opening jump ball” with Snow Shoe Rabbit jumping and always tipping to See Saw, who quickly flipped the ball behind his back with Harold running under the pass and scoring an easy lay up. Remember his claim to fame was that he could chase down rabbits.

Get well soon old friend. We want to hear many more Baldwyn tales and try to beat you at H-O-R-S-E. As I remember, you could put us out with a long distance hook shot, but you didn’t.

If you wish you may leave comments for See Saw in the comments area. Teresa will take them to him at the Nursing Home.

NOTE: There are many other Baldwynians that need special prayers. No name will be published here due to privacy concerns, unless requested. Think about your friends from our old times together and remember all of them in reverence. -CH

Monday, April 14, 2008

Our Old Community Center - The Tabernacle

Photos from the Simon Spight collection courtesy of John Olan -click to enlarge

UPPER: Fire claims the old downtown schoolhouse. This happened sometime before WWll was over. Had it not have burned, some of us would probably have started school there, since it was being used as an elementary school. The time has been mentioned as 1942.

The tabernacle (left) was saved and suffered no major damage. It was an all-purpose building, our community center, so to speak. Boy Scouts used it for drill practice, politicians campaigned there, quartets sang and Mr. Red Purvis held his "singing schools" in it for years. The Baldwyn Quartet (Mr. Purvis, Ellis Arnold, "Googe" Prather, and a Mr. McCarley(Roy?)) was always the headliner act at singing conventions.

Old fashioned revivals were held there in the extreme heat of the summer when the only breeze that blew in it were from cardboard hand fans. You could skate in it if the bleacher-type benches were moved against the walls. There was even some wooing there by young couples in the late evenings. It was largely open with windows that could be removed and put in place when needed.

BOTTOM - Hon. John E. Rankin gives a political speech on the stage of the old tabernacle. He was a congressman from Mississippi and came to Baldwyn on numerous occasions. He served sixteen consecutive terms (March 4, 1921 - January 3, 1953) as Mississippi's First District Representative. One source states that the couple on the left is Doc Nelson and wife. The headwear on the men would date this photo probably after WWll when the VFW was really active in town. Just a guess.

And there were lots of square dances. A Cartwright (Rebecca?) girl taught me some of those dance moves. There was a festival at the tabernacle one summer and one of the games was a pie-eating contest. This was one where you didn't use your hands to hold the pie. Bill "Horsecollar" Rowan was the undisputed winner. After finishing his entire pie rather handily, he tried some of the others that were uneaten. They had to make him stop. Before the blue ribbon was pinned on him he had to run outside to "Europe". Then he came back in to receive his prize - the ribbon and a fresh whole pie to carry home.

There were also Halloween parties there with washtubs full of floating apples to bob for, hay bales, cornstalk and pumpkin decorations. The party ended with a sudden lights-out when a "witch" held a flashlight under her chin to appear gruesome. She screamed so loudly it scared some kids rather badly.

There'll never be another like it.

More from Billy Bob Lampkin:

The tornado hit Baldwyn about 5:25 on the afternoon of March 6th. It picked up Tommy Ford's horse and carried it several yards before putting it down, running like crazy. The twister headed up the new highway and got the school auditorium, where the senior class had just finished play practice. It got the north end of the school building, the ag building, the gym, the house next door, and some of the houses along the railroad. Jack and Bob Christian's mother was killed in their house across from the school.

Just at 6:00 a very strong straight wind hit town, doing all the downtown damage. My mother and I were standing in the entranceway to Mr. Gorden's store. They were both rough. Six people were killed.

That was 1942.

That summer the grammar school burned. It took out five grades. The town enclosed and divided the tabernacle. Fourth grade took the stage. Fifth grade took the northwest room. And the other three took the other three rooms. The building in front of the tabernacle was the cafeteria. There were two outhouses - one one-holer for the boys and one two-holer for the girls - just west of the tabernacle.

The play yard equipment was moved to the corner behind the cafeteria. Not a good year.

The tabernacle was used quite a bit, especially in the summer. I think Mr. Dalton Gentry taught singing school as well as Mr. Red Purvis.

About those caps in the stage picture - they are American Legion. The Legion was started in 1919 in France. We have one of the earliest posts in the USA. They are numbered consecutively. Ask a member for our number.

The Boy Scout building (originally the school cafeteria) was a sectional building from Camp Shelby. A crew of volunteers went down before the War, took the building down in sections, brought it up, and put it back together.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Clothes Line

A clothes line was a news forecast
To neighbors passing by.
There were no secrets you could keep
When clothes were hung to dry.

It also was a friendly link

For neighbors always knew
If company had stopped on by

To spend a night or two.

For then you'd see the "fancy sheets"

And towels upon the line;
You'd see the "company table cloths"
With intricate design.

The line announced a baby's birth

To folks who lived inside
As brand new diapers were hung
So carefully with pride.

The ages of the children could

So readily be known
By watching how the sizes changed
You'd know how much they'd grown.

It also told when illness struck,

As extra sheets were hung;
Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too,
Haphazardly were strung.

It said, "Gone on vacation now"

When lines hung limp and bare.
It told, "We're back!" when full lines sagged
With not an inch to spare.

New folks in town were scorned upon

If wash was dingy gray,
As neighbors carefully raised their brows,
And looked the other way..

But clotheslines now are of the past
For dryers make work less.

Now what goes on inside a home
Is anybody's guess.

I really miss that way of life.
It was a friendly sign
When neighbors knew each other best
By what hung on the line!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sydney M. Duncan, 82

-click to enlarge-

Here is a photo from the weekly paper for the benefit of you who did not receive it from Clarene via email.

Friday, April 11, 2008

@#$*%! - Here They come Again!

Photo: Curley Copeland

Milton Copeland sent the above photo of a North American AT-6 "Texan" he found in his dad's photo album. We are reasonably sure it was made at the old Baldwyn grass airstrip, looking east at the south end of the runway near the hangars. The tree at the right would be at the little pond. The AT-6's (Advanced Trainer-6) basic design was as a trainer, with the characteristics of a high speed fighter, and was well suited to the intermediary task of training pilots before letting them loose in an actual fighter aircraft. Although not as fast as a fighter, it was easy to maintain and repair, had more maneuverability and was easier to handle. It was also very agile and aerobatic.

We will have to assume a related story here. I venture that it was possibly at the Baldwyn airport (which is puzzling due to the length of the runways) when Barry Henderson and Fred Parmenter were still in the reserve after their active duty. They were required to occasionally have a few days active duty and they would have to fly to maintain their pilot status. They would report for that duty, pick up a couple of planes, and fly for the required time.

Picture a hot, humid, lazy day downtown and being stretched out in a poolroom window wishing for a little breeze. Nothing is stirring, the town is quiet. From out of nowhere, just as thunder loudly follows lightning, a thunderous noise is suddenly causing buildings and all the windows in town to shake and vibrate and you are suddenly jolted back into conscienceness by the most deafening roar you could ever imagine.

Fred and Barry have just "buzzed" downtown. The AT-6s with the powerful 550 hp Pratt & Whitney "Wasp" radial engines with no mufflers have already cleared the downtown area, but the reverberation and window rattle is still there. The town is suddenly shaken "back to life".

They will continue to do this and put on an aerial show of dives, loops, rolls, side-by-side maneuvers and stalls in the sky above town for quite a while. Mr. Brooks Prather would get really upset and comment very vocally about it. He was also one that had been dozing on the poolroom bench when they came.

Eventually the show would be over, and everybody watching would see them "wave goodbye" by dipping their wings from side to side as they flew to the west. Then things would return to normal - or so you thought. They would go out of sight and then turn and make another surprise pass over town, rattling the windows again.

At that time you would hear a quiet little guy named Rob Mullins (thanks, JC) who hung around the poolroom seldom speaking about anything, jump up and declare "@#$*%! - here they come again!"

Turn your volume up really loud and play the short video:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Working at Hopkins Grocery

Part 3:
Behind the Meat Counter

Gerald McKibben

I spent a lot of time behind the meat counter. Richard Mauldin (He had a son that was ahead of me at BHS; I can’t remember his name) and Gene Carpenter were the butchers. It was common for workers to come in at noon and order “Twenty five cents worth of chess and crackers” at the meat counter. We would cut off a portion of hoop cheese and wrap it, along with a good number of crackers, in butcher paper, tape it shut, and mark “25c” on it for the cashier. In retrospect it seems like a meager lunch for working men. Maybe they picked up something else too.

One thing we did, which seems strange now, (we did many things that seem strange now) is to go next door to McElroy’s Lumber Co. the first thing every morning and bring over several cans of shavings from their planer mill. This we emptied out onto the floor behind the meat counter. There was a big wooden meat cutting table in the center where steaks and other meat cuts were made. Most cuts of meat required trimming to get rid of excess fat. Discarded bits of fat, bone or whatever were just raked off onto the floor, where they joined the shavings. Then at the end of the day, when the store closed, we would sweep up all the shavings with their trash, bag them up, and then mop the floor. This seemed to keep it clean, though I doubt it would meet Health Department requirements today.

Richard (“Mr. Mauldin” to me back then) was a good man to work with. He was easy going and a good and dependable employee, but he had a way of letting the Management know if there was something that displeased him. At that time the grocery stores stayed open until pretty late on Saturday nights; Hopkins was no exception. There was one man who always came in at or slightly after 10:00 every Saturday night. I remember some grumbling along about 9:45, when everyone was dead tired and there were no customers in the store. There was some cynical joking about staying open just for Mr. so and so.

Richard told me about an incident that happened once, before I started working. It seems that the store would often stay open much later than 10:00 on Saturday nights. Richard had to drive several miles to get home, and he got tired of staying at work that late. So that next Monday morning he made it a point to be a full hour late coming in to work. Now the butcher back then had some very important duties early Monday morning; that’s when the meat orders had to be phoned in for the week.

So Howard was upset with him. When Richard got there He said “Richard! Where have you been”? To which Richard replied, “I just figured if we didn’t have any certain time to quit, then we wouldn’t have any certain time to start.” He said they started closing earlier after that.

A service the store offered back then was custom butchering. You could bring in a hog (already slaughtered of course) and have it butchered to your specifications. Killing and butchering of animals on the farm is always done in cold weather, for obvious reasons. Richard had a story about that. He said one day in the middle of the summer a man came in and asked if they would butcher a hog for him. He said he asked the man why he had killed a hog at that time of year. “I didn’t kill it”, he said. “It just died”. Of course he refused to butcher it.

I’ve enjoyed recalling and writing down these events. I realize that I was thinking about that one store in that one little town, but what happened during that period was doubtless happening in small towns all across America. Small towns by and large catered to an agricultural society. Agriculture as a business is getting bigger every year; it grows with the population, and will continue to do so (as long as people like to eat and wear clothes). But the number of people who make their living on farms today is just a fraction of the number who did so fifty years ago. Economics and other factors have dictated that farms become much more efficient than the small family farms of yesteryear. And as that changed, so did our society.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Spotlight on Baldwyn Businessmen

Old low priced cameras were not known for high resolution, so I apologize for this old photo. My scanner is digital, but couldn't revive this worn and faded image. It is in a somewhat usable condition and shows one of the more colorful characters in Baldwyn many years ago.

The casual clothing in this picture gave way later to a red and white striped coat, white trousers, white shoes and a straw hat with political stickers on it. He was an entrepreneur of sorts, and was always in town on Saturdays and special days when a crowd was expected.

How many of you can recall his name (or nickname), and more importantly his sales product(s)? (Careful, guys).

After close inspection of the photo we have determined that is not a cell phone in his shirt pocket, although it looks like one!

Most of you didn't have to guess the identity. The name spelling was correct, Mr. Jess McKissick aka "The Peanut Man". He sold a variety of items which have been mentioned. The peanuts were always parched perfectly, don't think I ever saw one too burnt.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Memories of working at Hopkins Grocery

Part 2: How to Candle Eggs and Make Sack Dresses

Gerald McKibben

There were customs in the fifties related to the grocery business in a small town that young people today wouldn’t know anything about. Many farm families brought eggs to town to sell. Some of the bus riders would bring their eggs into the store the first thing after arriving. We would take the eggs into the adjoining feed room (more about the feed room later) to “candle” them. There was a wooden box, called a candler, with a light bulb, and a hole in the top too small for an egg to go through. We would place the egg in the hole and examine it briefly for a red spot. Egg shells are semi-transparent, and you can see through the entire egg with a light behind it. The reason that was necessary is because, on the farm, you would have chickens and roosters, so most of the eggs might be fertile. That’s no problem, as long as they are gathered daily and refrigerated. But if allowed to incubate for several days the embryo would begin to form and show up as a red spot. These we discarded. The rest were taken into the store for resale.

About that feed room. We sold livestock feed, in a big room accessed through swinging doors from the grocery store. Feed was sold in cloth bags, not paper ones like today. And the companies used printed designs – flowers or some decorative pattern – that the ladies would use to make dresses. After emptying the bags you could unravel the string that had been used to stitch the bag and then you would have, I suppose, a yard or so of material. Joyce reminded me that the dresses were not considered “dress” clothes, but were for everyday wear only. And an experienced seamstress could make shirts or pants from the material as well.

It took more than one bag to make a dress, so often I or one of the other boys would be called upon to go with the customer into the feed room so the lady could pick out the pattern she wanted. Sometimes the one she wanted would be under several other bags, in which case you had to remove the others to get to the desired one. The bags weighed 50 pounds. We would load the one she wanted onto those two wheel trucks and take them to their vehicle for them. Christian Dior, eat your heart out!

In the third and final part of this series I tell about working behind the meat counter.

Monday, April 7, 2008

"Our Home" Hotel - Steam Heated and Air Cooled

-click to enlarge-

by Dr. Henry Outlaw

From the Baldwyn News dated May 7, 1970 after fire completely destroyed the hotel:

Just when the hotel was erected is a matter of conjecture. Some reported it was built in 1898. However, Mrs. Tom (Lavada) Gower tells us that the hotel was already constructed when her mother was married in December of 1885. In fact she tells that her mother always related to her that the trees near the hotel were planted or transplanted on her wedding day. She further adds that there were three Walker girls who had hands in the the hotel. First, Miss Hattie Walker, Miss Mannie Walker and Miss Laurie Walker.

Regardless of the age of the hotel, it was a familiar landmark to the people of this area for many years. During its heyday it was a mecca for traveling salesman, drummers and peddlers who traveled by train in the horse and buggy days to peddle their wares. Many came for miles to stay at this hostelry and travel to Kirkville, Pratt, Bethany, Jericho, Geeville, Wheeler and other communities to sell their goods. The traveling from Baldwyn was done by horse and buggies or on horseback using the services of the local livery stable.

Noted for its' fine meals, many people of this area made it a Sunday treat to come to Baldwyn to enjoy "Sunday Dinner" in the elegantly appointed dining room. Miss Laurie Walker operated the hotel for many years. Located just across the street from the hotel was the M and O Railroad. The hotel was a beehive of activity when six passenger trains a day passed through Baldwyn. George Pearce, the porter, met each of the incoming trains to assist travelers with their baggage. He pushed a two wheel cart to and from the railroad station to meet the trains.

The register at the hotel which was kept by George Pearce now rests at the Brice's Crossroads Museum in Baldwyn. It is noted in the register that George had a fine handwriting and entered the weather for the day when he opened each new page of the register.

The following clipping is from the Baldwyn Home Journal which was found in the papers of Miss Laurie Walker after her death and passed on to us by Mrs. R.B. Caldwell. While there is no date shown on the clipping, it is assumed that this is one of the wonderful meals prepared during the days the hotel was operated by Miss Laurie.



Oyster Cocktail
Cream of Tomato Soup
Turkey with Oyster Dressing and Giblet Gravy
Cranberries, English Peas, Cream Potatoes, Escalloped Asparagus,
Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows, Pumpkins, Crystallized Apples, Peach Sweet Pickles,
Celery, Olives. Frozen Fruit Salad on Lettuce
Charlotte Rousse
Coconut Cake
Hot Rolls
Brown Bread
Coffee and Milk

Price $1.00
Please make reservations by Wednesday.

The operators of the hotel passed on several years ago and now the hotel has gone up in smoke, but there are those who still remember the days when it was the center of activity in Baldwyn.

Note: What appears to be George Pearce's two-wheeled cart is sitting near the west steps in the photo. The front of the hotel once faced the railroad, but was turned around to face the north for some reason. -CH

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Memories of Working at Hopkins Grocery

Crowd for Saturday Money Drawing in the 1950s as seen from upper floor of Tom's Drug Store
-Click to enlarge-

Part 1

Gerald McKibben

I worked there before Don did. Howard hired a lot of high school students, and his store was a good place to work. He was a good man who treated people fairly. John Howard, Hayden Nabors, Bill Hogue, and a Wildmon boy, whose first name I can’t remember, were others working there while I was there. There were possibly others also. Don remembers that our Cousin Doug Herring worked there for quite a while, and also Bobby Lytal, Larry Carpenter (Gene’s son), and Billy Ray Dobbs, though not necessarily at the same time. David Johnson later became the butcher after Richard Mauldin.

Billy Hopkins, Howard’s brother, worked at the checkout counter. Raymond Hill was also a checker. This was before he had his own furniture and appliance store. Sometimes Mildred, Howard’s wife, also checked groceries. The old cash registers were not automatic. After entering the amount of each item you had to pull that lever and that’s what printed the item on the paper tape. Billy was very efficient. But he had one customer who got into the habit of asking him to re-enter all her items to double check his work. That was time consuming, and was a real pain when things were busy and she had a large basket of items. So he devised a plan to discourage her from doing that. He rang up her basket of groceries one day and deliberately entered the wrong amount on one item, in her favor. So when she asked him to please re-enter the items, he “found” the mistake and told her she owed him a little more money than she did the first time. She never did ask him to do that again.

During the fifties buses drove to town on Saturdays from out in the country and brought people who didn’t have their own transportation or who just found it more convenient to ride the bus. Those people would come into the store and grocery shop, then when we bagged their groceries we would write their names on the bags and stack them in the floor in one corner of the store. Any perishables were bagged and labeled separately and taken back to the refrigerator or freezer section. A note to that effect was written on the bag. Later in the afternoon, after the “drawing”, when the buses were getting ready to leave, they would come and get their groceries.

There was a lot of personal service back then that you don’t get now. Those who didn’t have any transportation or anyone else to do their grocery shopping for them would phone in their orders, and they would be filled and delivered to them. One day Billy handed me a grocery list he had taken down. I collected all the items and brought them to the checkout counter. Billy reached in and pulled out a carton of Donald Duck orange juice and told me to go and exchange it for the more expensive pure product. “Mrs. so and so doesn’t want that cheap stuff”, he said.

Customers were extremely loyal in those days. Rarely would anyone trade with both of the bigger stores; you were either a Cunningham customer or a Hopkins customer. There were people who shopped at Cunningham’s who never set foot in Hopkins, and vice versa. It didn’t have anything to do with a negative opinion of the other place. But rather, I assume one reason was that you expected some degree of personal service back then, and it was to your advantage to get to know the owners well.

I mentioned how efficient Billy Hopkins was. Once, when he was breaking open rolls of coins to replenish the cash register, he hesitated with one roll and bounced it up and down in his hand a few times and then threw it down on the counter. “Count that”, he said. “It feels too light”. And sure enough, it only had 39 quarters. It amazed me that he could detect a difference of one quarter in 40.

In Part 2, I tell about how we candled eggs and helped ladies pick out material for home made dresses.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Another Bearcat Team Photo

Photo courtesy of Larry Johnson
Click to enlarge

One of the meanest of the mean to ever take to the field.

I have all identified but number 84 between Joe C. and Joe Murray.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Standing Near her Man

Click to Enlarge

Among some of you In the wild, noisy crowd at the afternoon Elvis show at the Tupelo Fair in 1956 was 14-year-old Virginia Wynette Pugh from Tremont, Mississippi. She was always called Wynette (pronounced Win-net), or Nettie, instead of Virginia. Her father was a farmer and local musician. He died of a brain tumor when Wynette was nine months of age. Her mother worked in an office and as a substitute school teacher as well as on the family farm. Wynette was raised on the Itawamba County farm of her maternal grandparents where she was born. The place was partly on the border with Alabama. As a child and teenager, she found in country music an escape from her hard life. Wynette grew up idolizing Hank Williams, Skeeter Davis, Patsy Cline, and George Jones, and would play their records over and over on the children's record player she owned, dreaming of one day being a star herself.

She attended Tremont High School, where she was an all-star basketball player. A month before graduation, she married her first husband, a construction worker, but he had trouble holding down a job, and they moved several times. One of their homes had no running water. She worked as a waitress, receptionist, a barmaid, and also worked in a shoe factory. In 1963, she attended beauty school in Tupelo and became a hairdresser - she would renew her cosmetology license every year for the rest of her life just in case she should have to go back to a daily job.

After making it in Nashville and once she was signed to Epic Records, manager Billy Sherrill suggested she change her name to make more of an impression. According to her 1979 memoirs Stand by Your Man, during their meeting Wynette was wearing her long blonde hair in a ponytail and Sherill noted that she reminded him of Debbie Reynolds in the film "Tammy and the Bachelor". He suggested "Tammy" as a possible name; thus she became Tammy Wynette.

The photo above shows Wynette and has been verified by the person who brought her to Tupelo that day, and the photographer, Terry Wood. The information is also mentioned in the Peter Guralnick book Last Train to Memphis (1994).

Baldwyn folks can be seen in the photo - Sandra Poole, Rachel Christian, Genelle Grissom, Nancy McCarthy, Brenda Waters, Frieda Rogers, and others. Why so many school children at the fair on Wednesday? It was student's (or children's) day... buses brought them from all over. Admission was $1.50.

Photos of that show by Terry Wood can be purchased at: