Saturday, May 31, 2008

Baldwyn Nicknames -List 1&2

From The Simon Spight Collection
-click to enlarge-

There are 3 more pages of old Baldwyn nicknames coming later. If you disagree with any, there are more than one person with the same nickname and you'll see it in the next issues.

Some of these people you won't recall, but most you will.

Feel free to add some or question some in the comments area.

The next lists will be posted Saturday, 7 June.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memories from BHS Assembly

-click to enlarge-

Pictured is the program for the 1949 piano recital.

Also pictured is the original article in the Baldwyn Weekly News of an assembly program from around 1951.

In our generation, "womanless" weddings were a good source of fun and were seen quite often. The last one I saw was in New Orleans in the late 80s at our Shrine convention.

Jo Carolyn had fortunately saved the clipping in her scrapbook. Remember this event?


A program of nuptial music by Waldeene Bishop, Mary Jo Dillard, Janie Martin, Shirley Smith, Jo Carolyn Anderson, Jeanette Gentry, Jo Anne Duncan, Dean Stovall with Gail Coggins at the piano preceded the clever wedding rites that joined the winsome See-Saw Heflin and the gallant Jap Reynolds in the shackles of ball and chain last Wednesday in assembly.

The family, consisting of Billy Dillard, mother of the bride, Archie Hall, mother of the groom, in various states of weeping and glee, entered first. To the strains of the wedding music, came the "graceful" maids, Jimmy Baxter and Alfred Michael, dressed in long formals of rainbow hues and carrying hand bouquets of azaleas.

The groom, together with the "portly" preacher, Bob Christian, who carried his Montgomery Ward catalog importantly under one arm, entered with the best man, Douglas Herring, and waited a little fearfully at the improvised altar. The entrance of the flower girls, Billy Hamblin and James Herring, was impressive.

Looking quite startling in a draped white wedding gown and wearing big brown brogans, SeeSaw Heflin entered on the arm of "her father", Mose Garrett, who a little too gladly gave the bride away. The bride also carried a lovely hand bouquet.

The only hitch in the ceremony came when the minister asked if anyone objected to the union and the brave little groom piped up that he did. One good wallop to the jaw from the non too lily white hand of the bride silenced him and Mr. Christian continued with the ceremony. After the vows were exchanged, Miss Coggins played the recessional and the entire wedding party promenaded gaily down the aisle.

-Submitted by Jo Carolyn Anderson Beebe

(Some spelling corrected from the original newspaper wedding article)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Claude Gentry and Freedom Hills

-click to enlarge-

Mr. Claude wrote a series of books on the Freedom Hills of Alabama. He was inspired quite by accident, as we'll see later in the article.

The flying "bug" bit Claude late in mid-life and after learning to fly he used his planes often to get away for various reasons. The speed of flying let him go fishing early and get back to work later in the day. He also flew many miles to research material for his books.

The photo above may have been made on an extended research trip for his book "Kit Carson" in several states, including Arizona. Pictured is traveling pal E. L. "Swede" Johnson and a relative. They had an enjoyable time except once on the return trip while trying to fly around a thunderstorm front. They were first caught in a tremendous updraft, and then a sudden downdraft. The downdraft almost became disaster. At the last minute before being slammed into the ground, the powerful Franklin engine on the Stinson Voyager finally pulled them to safety in calmer air.

Claude owned three planes, the last being the Stinson 4-passenger in the photo. Once on a Sunday afternoon, he and Duke Young chased a "UFO" that was spotted in the eastern sky. It was very high, above the ceiling limit of the Stinson. They didn't catch it or get close enough to get a good look, but it definitely had two lights in the center. They chased it from Baldwyn to near Russellville, Alabama. Afterwards, Claude said he didn't think they had chased a UFO unless, of course, it WAS a UFO.

The Freedom Hills in Alabama, a range of hill country north of Red Bay, was once a haven for unlawful people on the run from justice. It was also an area of corruption harboring bootleggers, gamblers, and others. A number of law enforcement officers went into the hills to get someone, and a lot of them were never seen again.

The hills became a place to hide as far back as when President Jackson banished the Cherokee Indians to Oklahoma (the Trail of Tears saga) partly for their support of England when we were fighting for independence. Many Indians were loaded onto barges and taken down the Tennessee River on their journey to the reservations. They got stuck on the Muscle Shoals due to low river water levels. When it became evident they would be there a long time, they escaped into the hills looking for food and never came back. That probably coined the name of the hills, "freedom".

Claude had a boathouse and cabin on Pickwick Lake in the northern part of the hills. He went there often to fish. Using his plane he could go up in the early morning, do a little fishing, and return in the early afternoon and tend to his businesses. He was told by a man he had confided in that he shouldn't fly up there anymore. He took it as a threat. It was. He later learned that his plane had been shot at with a high-powered rifle on at least one occasion. He didn't hear the shots, and luckily, they missed. He later learned he had been landing and taking off directly over the operation of a very notorious bootlegger. The bootlegger thought he might have been spying on his still. Claude drove up to the lake after that.

Claude met an Alabama sheriff, U. R. Jernigan, who was somewhat successful in capturing some wanted people in the hills. He was the real-life "Sheriff of Freedom Hills" in Claude's books.

We are now editing and will have some video later about Sheriff Jernigan, Mr. Claude, Dave Heflin and Henry Outlaw re-creating some activities in the hills.


Sources: “Fourscore and More in Dixie”, by Claude Gentry. Cherokee Indian information links, World Wide Web. Photo courtesy of Larry Johnson.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Header Photo Player ID

This post is for comments on the header photo. Looks to me like David Gentry to the right of the Center and Doug White to the left of the Center (looking at the photo). The car appears to be a 50s Plymouth or other sedan.

Is Phil the QB? That wouldn't be the correct team makeup, but OK for a photo opportunity???

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"An April Day"

By Jo Carolyn Anderson Beebe

I was four years old when the 1942 tornado hit Baldwyn. We lived in Miss Jessie Archer's house where the library is today. Lorene Grisham and her children, Betty Lane and Bobby, lived in the house too, as did Mother's cousin, Aileen Ricks Hoover. Mrs. Haddon (Ruth) Palmer had stopped by for a visit. Mother happened to look out the window and saw the tornado, and said, "Oh, Lord. There's a tornado." I remember seeing that black tail coming toward our house. We tried to get to the basement at the Christian Church, but it was too late. We all got under the bed in Aileen's room. No room for her. She lay on the bed and described what was happening outside.

After the storm passed, I was standing on the front steps and saw my daddy running home from the Carnation Milk Plant where he worked. My Great-uncle Joe who had a blacksmith shop behind Mr. Charlie Pierce's store came to the house and took me to the family farm at Frankstown in his Model A. We had to drive on the sidewalk because the street was filled with bricks from the Christian Church. We spent the night in the storm house.

When I wrote "An April Day," I didn't remember that the tornado struck in March. I also took a liberty in placing Bob and Jack's house next door to ours.

The poetic form for "An April Day" is called a sestina. See if you can figure out the pattern.


There had been an uneasiness that day.

Mother played Old Maid with us and kept us near the house.

Distant rumblings came from the southwest of our town.

Intervals of sunlight burst through scattered clouds.

But mostly there had been showers which created

a muggy, sticky, close feeling.

In the late afternoon the overcast sky--like someone feeling

sick from riding a roller coaster all day--

became a shade of yellow-green that created

an illusion of chartreuse chiffon over each house.

On the horizon the green changed to blue-black as the clouds

churned and roiled, and a hush fell upon our town.

No leaves stirred. No birds sang. Our town

lay waiting; waiting, feeling

anxious about the strange clouds.

Had it been an ordinary day,

Bob and Jack, who lived in the house

next door, would have been in our yard. They created

more noise than all the other boys put together created;

but like other mothers in our town

that afternoon, their mother kept them inside their house.

With a common worried feeling,

we watched the sky that day.

Suddenly, gone were the clouds

of fluffy chiffon. Now the dark clouds

were stirred by a whirling wind until it created

a funnel-shaped mass which turned the quiet green day

into a roaring black nightmare, and our town

was blasted by the noise of a hundred locomotives. A feeling

of turmoil filled our house.

The beast's tail dipped and twisted as it approached the house.

We screamed and ran to escape the clouds,

but there was no place to hide. With a frantic feeling,

Mother shoved us under a bed and created

as good a shelter as could be found in our town

on that April day.

We lay there listening and feeling the wind that had created

the twisting clouds. Bob and Jack's mother died in their house;

Death was all across our town; we would always be afraid of a quiet green day.


We welcome Jo Carolyn to the Bearcat friends. She is a Baldwynian but moved away at age 14. I'll bet some of you remember her (study the photo). Thanks, Jo, for your great contribution. We look forward to more. She has an article of an old wedding that we will have a good chuckle reading (if she can find it).

Monday, May 19, 2008

Baldwyn Beta Club 1961


Photo: Milton Copeland
Click to Enlarge

This is an old photo of, it is believed, the Beta Club gathering some time around 1961. Lots of familiar faces here. Want to try your guess at the names? We do have all the IDs if you hit a wall.

Thanks, good response! This may instead be members of the "B" Club (those who lettered). IDs as we have been given them:

1- Larry Carpenter, 2- Gary Norman, 3- Robert Jobe, 4- Jackie Cole, 5- Kenneth Lauderdale, 6- James Downs, 7- Johnny Miller, 8- Jerry Prather, 9- Pat Cox, 10- Jerry McGee, 11- Red Shelton, 12- David Rowan, 13- Danny Searcy, 14- David Greenhill, 15- Charles Chism, 16- J. C. Chism, 17- Robert Coggins, 18- Jerry Palmer, 19- Bobby Burns, 20- Joe Agnew, 21- Mancil Pruitt, 22- Teddy Love, 23- Robert Johnson, 24- Danny Mink, 25- Houston Wood, 26- Milton Wesson, 27- Walter Gentry, 28- Charles Pace.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Dave Heflin's

A. Name five members of the Sportsmen Quartet? Who were their sponsors on TV?

B. Where was the first Rec Center of our generation? The second?

C. What did the following kids have in common? Jill Anthony? George Mitchell?

D. What wonderful events were hosted by girls during the summers of '53-'58?
Name two of the most commonly played songs?
Games we really enjoyed at Linda Johnson's? Nancy McCarthy's? Mary Ellen Vandiver's?

E. Who claimed to have read every book in the Guntown Library?

F. Name the annual worst day of all students' lives? Hint: long line down the hall.

G. Name the local high school beauty (outstanding basketball forward) that was rumored to have dated Elvis?

H. Name at least three ways for guys to prove that you were “going steady.” Two ways for girls?
Who still has their own class ring?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Baldwyn Businesses - Ozelle's Cafe

This is the only photo we have of Leland and Ozelle Mullinix (standing) at one of their restaurants. They operated at three different locations over the years. This photo was taken about 1955 at the last location on US45 North near Thomas Street.

The first Church of Christ was built at the SW corner of main and "new" highway 45. It was later torn down and a gas station built. Later, Ozelle and Leland put in a cafe and gas station there. In 1939 they moved the restaurant to main street. It was located about 2 doors west of Tom's Drug Store.

Their previous store was bought by George Bingham, Christine's father. He operated it until 1940 and then moved to the Pan-Am station and cafe north of the school on the highway. The building at main and 45 was destroyed by the tornado in 1942, and in '45 Lucian Caldwell built his bus station and gas station on that property.

Leland, a woodworker, usually let Ozelle operate the cafe, and only helped when he wasn't busy at his home woodworking shop on North Second Street. Some good meals were provided at their cafes. One especially remembered by myself was the veal cutlet and fries platter.

A longtime cook was Mae Madison, whom you may have read about in other posts on this blog, and Don Watson may have flipped a few burgers there.

There was a jukebox that played loudly all the time and it had an outside speaker connected for the customers in cars to hear. The city wrote an ordinance -No Outside Speakers- so they moved the speaker inside and placed it in a window that was open. Problem solved.

After the restaurant business, Leland and Ozelle operated a nursing home in Booneville for several years. They both passed away in 1988, he in February and she in June.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Tupelo Swimming Pool

A favorite place in Tupelo was the swimming pool. It was the place to be in the summertime. It was very large, round, and with a diving tower in the middle which had a low diving board on one side and a higher one on the other. You had to wade out or swim to it.

Before going in you had to take a shower with water that was freezing. Before entering the pool area, you were made to walk through a low spot of chlorinated water. The chlorine smell burned your nose and took your breath. But once inside, that torture was forgotten when you saw the beauties in their tight swimsuits.

You could stay any length of time - all day if desired, for about 10 cents .

Jerry McClain

Ed. note: this is the pool we knew in the 50s. It was on, I believe, Joyner Street (or Avenue).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The 1948 State Basketball Champions

Pictured are the state champs in 1948. Front Row L to R Curtiss Greenhill, Bill Maness Rowan, Hoyt "Tooter" Woods, Thomas "Bucket" Morris, Mitchell Putt, Herman Surratt. Back Row L to R - Lowell Wallis (Mgr), Buddy Wardlaw, Wayne Parks, Hoyle Penna, Hickman Miller, James "Babe" McCarthy (Coach).

Coach McCarthy had been coach at BHS for only a short while, but piloted the amazing team above to the finals in Jackson. They played the semi-finals on a Saturday afternoon and advanced to the final that was played that same evening.

The games were broadcast on radio and after the townfolk heard the Bearcats were going to be playing for the championship that night, quite a few people loaded into cars and literally "burned the road up" going down to root for the team.

After the game was over the court was swamped by fans and the team carried high on people's shoulders. A news reporter asked Coach McCarthy if he could believe they had won. He shrugged his shoulders, put on his little grin, and said "well, that's the only reason we came down here today".

Monday, May 12, 2008

Player and Crowd Photo

-click to enlarge-
Some of you have sent e/mails and comments about the blog header photo. Here is a cropped and sharpened part that might help. I agree with all of the identifications so far. Is that Alton and Mrs. Magers to Mrs. Johnson's right?

And possibly Cynthia Lindley above Betty Smith? Phyllis Herring above Rachel?

MISS US 45; It Finally Has

US highway 45 has had three routes through Baldwyn. You probably only remember two. The highway once came through the heart of downtown and was what is now known as Second Street. It wound to the south across Twitchell Hill as the street now known as Sand Hill. Exiting town to the north it went by the high school and the brickyard area, across old North Bridge (remember moonlight nights there?) and twisting and turning, continued on to Booneville. Most of it was gravel surface past the town lines.

The first high school building built in 1929 on highway 45, now North Second Street, faced the highway looking east. That building burned in 1939 and by then the highway was to the west, so the building was rebuilt with the front to the west.

The second Street photo above is undated. It was made from atop the first water tower. Looking north, it appears that sidewalks have just been laid. The streets in town were paved in the mid to late '20s, but the asphalt residential streets were sometime later. The photo is from about 1927.

The newer highway was completed through Baldwyn in the middle '30s. Service stations sprang up nearby quickly. The Standard Station was built around 1936 by Mr. C. V. Grisham. Other owners were; Dr. Gene Caldwell, Richard Mauldin, Harold Burns, and Harliss Rutherford.
The Blue Top "Pure Oil" station was just to the north and was operated by Milton "Brownie" Coggins for many years. A Pan Am station and restaurant operated by Mr. Bingham was farther north just past the school. In later years the cafe was moved into an addition next door and operated by Mr. Bingham's daughter Christine.

To the south, the Sell-Rite service station was around for a number of years, as also was the Lee-Ann truck stop.

For many years, only one traffic light served the city of Baldwyn at Main and old 45. 50+ years later, by my count there are two, and one caution light at a four way stop near the Blue Bell building.

The signs once read: MISS US 45.

Now, many years later, it finally has missed us. It is about two miles west of downtown Baldwyn.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Remembering Mrs. Martin

The English classes at BHS would not have been as productive and we would not be as fortunate if it had not been for Mrs. Martin influencing us. We would not have a better appreciation for prose or poetry had she not taught us. Her easy class manner and a demand for excellence in learning was her major traits.

The video attached in this posting is not by any means professionally produced. However, it is of some quality in appearance, and immeasurably important due to the fact that we can see and hear her again now in the 21st century.

She will be speaking about Miss Jessie Archer, (left, at her millinery shop in photo above) a Baldwyn lady and writer of the poem "Nemo-Akim".

In the original video, Mrs. Martin reads the poem but this clip has been edited for length and does not contain that part. We wanted you to see the wonderful lady as she talked with so much eloquence. If you want, we can post the video of the poem at a later date. Meanwhile, it is posted in print elsewhere on this blog.

Please excuse the abrupt ending to the video. It had to be cut at a frame transition of the editing software. The ending words are "she had not been able to reproduce her notes".

* * * * *

The video was submitted by Dave Heflin. It was produced around 1981, with the help of Dr. Henry Outlaw and others at DSU. Edited and enhanced by Carl Houston (May 2008).

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

More "Bad" Bearcats

Photo courtesy of Larry Johnson
Click to enlarge

Early 50s Bearcat football team at the East (home) goalpost. I have them all identified but numbers 82, 83, and 85 . Of course their faces are familiar but the names escape me.

Each time I see the old structure on the left, which served as the "primer" and first grade building after the downtown elementary school burned, I think of the first day of school (1945) and Diane Stiles, the new girl I was paired with each time we assembled (boy/girl side by side) and marched up the steps and into the building. Before being seated some mornings, the pledge of allegiance to our flag was recited.

At the south end of that building, the lunchroom smells at 10 AM each morning would get us yearning for the lunch break (we were first to eat). We were herded to the playground as soon as we finished in order to make room for the next grades. That stringy canned meat from the government commodities was expertly prepared, made somewhat tasty and served a couple of times a week.

Anyone else remember the time in the lunchroom that someone put a large rubber spider on Maxine Lomenick and she turned an entire table of lunch trays over on the others sitting there?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Mid 50s BHS Event

Photo: Larry Johnson - click to enlarge

Can any of you recall what event this photo represents? Might be Mister and Miss BHS, Homecoming King and Queen, or possibly prom festivities, either junior or senior year. Sue, do you remember?

What beautiful ladies BHS Had!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Wilson Park in Okolona

-click to enlarge-

TOP: A reader sent a photo of the swimming pool to add to this post. The photo is from about 1961, but shows a good view of the pool. I cut the tops off of some people in order to view the pool better. Remember those slides? They were as much fun as the diving boards, especially when you could get away with 5 or 6 people going down at once. They didn't allow this, but we would do it whenever possible.

Center: a recent aerial view of Wilson Park. Quite a contrast to the way we knew it in the 50s.

The lower photo is in very bad condition, but has been the only one I have been able to find showing any scenes of Wilson Park. This was processed from a scratched negative by scanner and software method, and is the best that I can get it to look. Maybe someone else out there will have the time to work on it some more.

Pictured L-R, Tom, Arch, I believe Carson Baker, and Carl. The background shows the ballroom with the huge audio system that was spectacular for that time period. It was loud, and shook the windows when cranked up. Someone always came and shut it back to a lower volume after we would turn it up.

We had some good swimming parties and dances at the park. It was really worth the drive past Tupelo because of much more to see and do.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Dave Heflin's Baldwyn Trivia

Here are a few questions to ponder and see if you know the answers. If so, put your answers in the comments area. Dave will help in a couple of days - if you need it.

A. Name some tricks Joe Murray could perform?

B. Three Mayors in our generation?

C. Name the pets of Lloyd Heflin? Howard Walker? Bob Christian? Harold Murley? Betty Outlaw?

D. What professional team was hosted by a local semi-pro team? Who was the promoter and participant?

E. Describe the unusual behaviors of Fannie Bell Sloan? May Madison? Moon Mullins? Damon Williams? The Lewellen sisters? Brooks Prather?

F. Remember Pete West, a mechanic at Henderson’s Chevrolet? What unusual procedure did he practice?


First Baldwyn Trivia Quiz Answers

A. Joe Murray could headbang everything. Remember the bowl-like Coke sign at Christine's? We watched him charge and flatten it one night. Basically, he could beat you in marbles, tops, yoyos, corn cob wars, cowboys and Indians, and especially, the knife game of "splits". Many traveling salesmen lost a few quarters in "snooker" at lunchtime to him.

B. Before Lloyd Heflin was Mayor, I remember ?? Green who lived across the road from the Heflin's. They may be the same Greens that lived on Water Street near Betty Smith?

C. Howard Walker's dog was Butch (?) and Betty Outlaw's horse (?) Help us Henry! Bob Christian had a dog that did tricks, name forgotten.

E. May Madison and I ran Do Do's Steak House for two summers. Vera Barber and Do Do were working days and left the place in our charge many nights. The basement was a "colored dinning room" with a dumb waiter connecting to May in the kitchen. Many times, I heard her screaming down the shaft and running down the steep embankment and brandishing a butcher knife. But, the one scene that I thought you would remember was the Saturday afternoon Slim Weldon and maybe, Odis Mink (?) were pulling a screaming May Madison toward town hall from Larry Johnson's direction with ropes attached , leading her to jail.

F. Moon Mullins mowed yards with his tiny mower, but he spent more time in the pool room due to charging $.50/hour.

The Lewellen sisters had a habit of leaving all their lights on all night, and occasionally, neighbors heard gunshots that the sisters denied hearing.

Damon did his cigarette trick for a coin or a cigarette, but he had a weird saying with "bee, bee, bumble bee..." (help, Henry).

This list of trivia questions is not reserved for Heflin or Houston. Please bring back your sightings and jar our memories. Wimp Nichols has some wonderful stories for all you sixty plusers. We might keep on pulling questions from the Reunion Quiz, but dare to step out.

Great Fun, Dave

Friday, May 2, 2008

Baldwyn Businesses - Brownie's Blue Top

click to enlarge
Photos - Milton Copeland

These photos are from about 1943 or 44 as best as can be determined. Jack Hamblin Junior and Milton "Brownie" Coggins were in the service station business. Not really sure of their arrangement, but Jack probably worked for Brownie some around this time. They were always close friends.

In the photo you can see building supplies and piles of boards, etc. at the church across the street. It may have been there from the rebuilding after the 1942 tornado (see a previous posting). The service station was demolished in the storm, but looks as if it has recently been rebuilt and reopened. Notice the lightning arresters on top - most stations had those back in that era.

The Blue Top was originally built after the new highway was completed through town around 1937. It was built after the Standard station, immediately south, which was built in 1936. Harliss Rutherford was working for Brownie when the storm occurred. Harliss later owned and operated the Standard station for many years.

Jack Junior and Mort Gardner were in the service station business later and further south at the corner of US45 and Water Street.

Brownie operated this business until his death. It was a very busy place in the 50s. He bought and used the first tool in Baldwyn that put water and air in tractor tires. The water was used as ballast weight to assist with traction on muddy roads and fields.

The ladies are identified, but I have misplaced their names. Please help us with that, Milton Copeland. Can anyone identify the unnamed attendant? Someone thought Mitchell Putt, but if so, he was still in high school as he played on the 1948 Bearcat basketball team that won the Championship.