Monday, June 30, 2008


by Dr. Henry E. Outlaw

The first time I saw Tice Dowd was on a cool crisp sunlit morning in the autumn of 1949 - at recess- on the playground of Baldwyn High School. I was in the fourth grade; a skinny and frail sort of boy and he was a towering black man, gray but not old; ageless, with deep set eyes that commanded respect — even from white folks.

Even young children called him Mr. Tice, but not because he expected it and not because he earned his own way — selling fish — carp and shad — on Saturday to those less fortunate ones that could not afford to buy frozen ocean perch over the counter at "Red" Cunningham's Grocery; or that he was a cooner and trained and sold fine coon dogs even to those people in the North. No, none of these, for respect can only be founded on those principles of faith and hope and courage and honor and a haughty pride that comes by going beyond doing a good job.

Tice Dowd's source of honor and pride and glory was contained within his free spirit which was released from its bond when he was proclaimed the World's champion tree climber, not by himself but by his peers, and the same proclaimed by the symbol thereon attached to his jacket for all that would see.

The tree climbing exhibitions usually embraced '"Coon on the Log" festivities held at Ratliff's Lake, east of Baldwyn beyond the Fish Lake near Palestine Church. It always happened in late summer, or at least that's when I remember it happening, I guess, because it was so hot. I know it had to be in August when the crops were laid by because most of the men folk were not working — though some never worked anyway save selling cotton and making “First Monday Trade Day” in Ripley with no intentions of trading anything of value except guns and dogs and mainly talk of the old ways.

For some reason now it seems that everything had to be just right for it to happen — the event to take place. The days had to be hot but not too hot and the corn was cracking in the shuck with nights just a little cool, and a heavy dew on the ground in the early morning and the old folks talking about the things that were left in the gardens wondering would they make until the first frost. The moon was high in the sky by early evening and the old coon searched the dry creeks for clams and crawfish. And time was marked only by the interval between the hammer of the blacksmith striking the anvil molding steel and the church bell tolling for those lost ones committed to sin and freedom from hypocrisy.

But the real dead give away was the dogs — the hounds — blue tick, red bone, black and tan and grey hounds and everything else in between female and father — all sensing the time of year when man, dog, coon and lake would all blend together, kindled with excitement and emotion, and freeze in that fleeting moment of time when one would rise up victorious and claim glory over the others and more often than not it was the night bandit of the forest that would celebrate the glory of triumph.

Now, it was in the framework of this environment and setting that Tice Dowd performed his feat of climbing trees. His act usually followed the last '"Coon on the Log" contest and the crowd would have to move from their perennial places at the south edge of the lake to a slight mound on the levee that supported one of the largest tulip trees in the county — 50 feet to the first limb — and big around too, with slick bark.

Tice would appear out of the crowd overalled, barefoot and shirtless, and inspect the tree with the crowd standing back circumferential around it and silent. And from across the lake in the pine forest came the call of the rain crow. And whip-poor-will reverberating and resonant an hour before sundown — an interface of primordial sound in that late primordial season.

He would approach the tree and place both hands on the ground right at the base and kick up his feet so that he would be upside down with his back resting against the trunk of the tree — legs pointing upward, feet and toes turned inward exerting pressure, and ankles perpendicular to the bark. With hands and arms attached firmly to the lower trunk — elbows outward with the his neck arched and his head cocked while the jugular vein bulged with blood and the aorta pounded as if a pump itself, pumping sweat from the black skin to water the tree.

So, with tree and man in correct harmony and conformation the climb began upward. As bone and muscle and tendon contracted in concert — arms and legs and body ascended at first only inches and Then a few feet and finally to the first limb and then the top — and beyond. As his soul would merge with heaven and glory and he would scream as though his lungs would burst.

"I is the tree climber! I is the tree climber! The best d--n tree climber in de whole world!
I is de world's champion tree climber! AMEN"

Henry E. Outlaw, Ph.D., was born in Tennessee and grew up in Baldwyn, Mississippi where, other than school, much of his time was spent in Palmer’s poolroom, Outlaw’s cotton gin, Bishop's Mule Barn, Davis' Sawmill, Lampkin's Barber Shop, Cunningham’s Grocery, Abe Garrett’s blacksmith shop, and Jack Jr. and Mort's Sinclair Service Station where stories were constantly spinning.”Tice Dowd” is a reflection of this background. Dr. Outlaw received his undergraduate degree from Delta State University. His Master’s and Doctorate were taken at the University of Mississippi Medical School.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


What's mainly wrong with society today is that too many Dirt Roads have been paved.

There's not a problem in America today, crime, drugs, education, divorce, delinquency that wouldn't be remedied, if we just had more Dirt Roads, because Dirt Roads give character.

People that live at the end of Dirt Roads learn early on that life is a bumpy ride.That it can jar you right down to your teeth sometimes, but it's worth it, if at the end is home...a loving spouse, happy kids and a dog.

We wouldn't have near the trouble with our educational system if our kids got their exercise walking a Dirt Road with other kids, from whom they learn how to get along.

There was less crime in our streets before they were paved.

Criminals didn't walk two dusty miles to rob or rape, if they knew they'd be welcomed by 5 barking dogs and a double barrel shotgun.

And there were no drive by shootings.

Our values were better when our roads were worse!

People did not worship their cars more than their kids, and motorists were more courteous, they didn't tailgate by riding the bumper or the guy in front would choke you with dust and bust your windshield with rocks.

Dirt Roads taught patience.

Dirt Roads were environmentally friendly, you didn't hop in your car for a quart of milk you walked to the barn for your milk.

For your mail, you walked to the mail box.

What if it rained and the Dirt Road got washed out? That was the best part, then you stayed home and had some family time, roasted marshmallows and popped popcorn and pony rode on Daddy's shoulders and learned how to make prettier quilts than anybody.

At the end of Dirt Roads, you soon learned that bad words tasted like soap.

Most paved roads lead to trouble, Dirt Roads more likely lead to a fishing creek or a swimming hole.

At the end of a Dirt Road, the only time we even locked our car was in August, because if we didn't some neighbor would fill it with too much zucchini.

At the end of a Dirt Road, there was always extra springtime income, from when city dudes would get stuck, you'd have to hitch up a team and pull them out.

Usually you got a dollar...always you got a new the end of a Dirt Road!

~As read and broadcast by Paul Harvey~

Author . . . Lee Pitts

Friday, June 27, 2008

Judge and Annie Spencer Cox Home in Old Carrollville

-image retinted to natural color-

By John Melvin Duke

This home is located in the "Old Carrollville" area. As you may know, the once-thriving town of Carrollville was moved when the railroad came through and the name was changed to Baldwyn. Carrollville was a trade center, boasting three large general stores, a shoe cobbler, school, churches,and blacksmith shops.There was an old sawmill that could be found just north of the home.

Carrollville was known as a crossroads town; the Tuscumbia to Pontotoc Road intersected with the Jacinto to Pontotoc Road there. Also the Ripley Road was then known as the Carrollville to Fulton road and bypassed the later site of Baldwyn to the west.

The Cox home is also known as the Allen Homestead. I bought property from Ms Annie Spencer in 1972 and built a home there only 100 yards from this location. I spent some time with her over the years, and she could tell you many interesting things. She told me when this home was built, they did not put a kitchen in the main house as they did not want the added risk of fire, so the kitchen was in a small house apart from the main house, and was called the "kitchen house or cook house". This small house was gone in '72, however, it was located north and west of the main home. The last time I looked the remains of the foundation was still to be seen.

If you notice the balcony on the front, this is supported by two large hand cut beams, as large as 18"x 8". These beams extend inside the house on the upper floor and are secured by oak pegs-- when I was young I worked with my grandfather doing carpenter work on this house. I helped hang wallpaper in the upper rooms. We had to tack cheesecloth to the 1x8 boards that made up the walls and then paste the paper to the cheesecloth.

Each room upstairs had it's own fireplace (you will notice in the picture there are 2 main chimneys) and each room used these chimneys, upstairs and down.

Contrary to earlier comments, I never felt the place was haunted, unless the ghosts up there liked me. I kept check on this place for a long time after she died as people liked to go up there and break in and just look around, never did much damage, mostly broken locks. This home has it place in history and I hope it remains in good care for many years too come.

Old home photo also by John Melvin. He is still actively employed and lives in Tupelo.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Baldwyn Businesses - Tom's Drug Store

-some photos will enlarge by clicking-

Sodas. Colas. Pecan sundaes. Comic books. Cigars and cigarettes. That and much more was available to us at Tom's. Also, we bought cheap Brownie cameras and film and had it sent out for processing from there after exposure. Just about anything to tickle our fancy was there for an after-school treat. Or during the summer months, one of the better coolers was a double dip of Ozark Black Walnut ice cream(10 cents). Other thirst quenchers were readily available and served by some people we can remember very fondly.

One of the photos shows the inside of the store about the time Tom Mauldin (R) bought it. To his right is Ira Caldwell, a partner or associate. He was a brother to Dr. R. B. I think I am correct in saying. The third man on the left is unidentified.

Another photo shows some Bearcats sitting around a table sippin'. Wouldn't you like to know what they were discussing at the time?!

Also, Clyde and Jimmy Tapp are shown working in the pharmacy. Clyde bought the store in the early '60s and ran it until health reasons forced him to sell.

There are two photos of our favorite milkshake and ice cream treats preparer. Marie Evans was the dominant figurine at the soda fountain for many years. She fussed at me every time I bought a pack of cigarettes or a cigar, but never refused to let me have them. Milton Nanney (her future son-in-law) and I finally started going to Cunningham's and buying a Blue Ribbon cigar to smoke while riding to Pratts in his little English Ford after school some afternoons. We went fairly regularly - we had some "holdings" out there (LOL).

Clarene, Marie's daughter, sums it up:

"Since a lot of their childhood took place after school at the soda fountain at Tom’s and Mama made their sodas, she was slap dab in the middle of the activities in which her ‘kids’ were involved. I never knew exactly how much involvement there was until I started looking through all their old photos and hearing their memories of her while they were growing up. At the reunion last October Henry Outlaw made me realize just how fondly she was remembered by them and cited her specifically as being an integral part of their childhood years. And here I was all this time thinking Mama only had two children - me and my brother- when in actuality, she had dozens. Oh, the stories she must have heard!"

The color photo is of Marie listening to music on her computer after retirement.

There was another item for sale at Tom's; you could actually get medicine there if you needed it. If you cut a finger or "scruffed" a toe, or had a rash, just stop by and they would attend to you, usually no doctor or prescription was necessary.


Credits: Photos- Clarene Evans, Ellis Christian, Dave Heflin, and book "History of Prentiss County" (1940). Text: Clarene Evans and Carl Houston.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bearcat Basketball Team

-click to enlarge-

Photo of a team from the mid-50s. Guess you all know each of them. This was one of the better teams of the time period, and they appear to be in the Baldwyn gymnasium near the East goal.

I only have one name unconfirmed, number 30.


Photo courtesy of Larry Johnson

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Old Country Doctor

Dr R. B. Caldwell

Maybe half the town of Baldwyn, now of great or little worth,
Found this healer waiting for them when they came upon the earth;
This undecorated soldier, of a hard, unequal strife,
Fought in many stubborn battles with the foes that sought their life.

In the nighttime or the daytime, he would rally brave and well,
Though the summer lark was singng or the fall leaves fell;
Knowing if he won the battle, they would praise their Maker's name,
Knowing if he lost the battle, then the doctor was to blame.

'When so many pined in sickness he had stood so strongly by,
Half the people felt a notion that the doctor would never die;
They must slowly learn the lesson how to live from day to day,
And have somehow lost their bearings-now that this landmark has gone away.

But perhaps it still is better that his busy life is done;
He has seen his patients disappearing, one by one;
He has learned that Death is master both of science and of art;
He has done his duty fairly and has acted out his part.

-Writer unknown-

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Bearcat Cuties 1955-56

There are many photos of the Bearcat ball teams that have been posted previously. We certainly do not want to forget that all-important support team, the royalty, the cheerleaders and other lovelies that got the spectators in the mood to yell for the players. We just now are happening up on some old photos of those ladies and will be putting all we find on here from time to time.

The top photo of the 1955 cheering team needs no name list for most of you, but if so, look at their megaphones for the name.

These are old Baldwyn Weekly News articles and have browned and faded over the years. Got them as sharp as possible for viewing enlarged.

From the collection of Ellis Christian

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bearcats on the battlefield

Lower color photo
by Clarene Evans
-click to enlarge-

Here are contrasting photos of Baldwyn guys at the Shiloh Military Park. One was made in 1955, the other in June 2008. The first was made during filming of the movie that is still shown at the museum/visitor center at the Park.

A number of Bearcats were involved in the filming of that movie. The top photo shows Lanny Outlaw (R) and Ted Hill (Wheeler) to his right. John Olan is also further to his right.

The lower photo was made at the mini-reunion last week and shows (L-R) Carl, John Olan, Ellis Wayne, Henry, and "Ace" McCary.

We learned a story about the cannon that we are standing by. Notice that it is still very brassy and new looking. There is no patina on the barrel. We were told by park personnel that previously that spot was occupied by a cannon that was used in the time era of the battle. Some people in the state of North Carolina wanted it back since it belonged to them, although it had been at Shiloh for many years. They enlisted the assistance of Senator Elizabeth Dole and after negotiations it was sent back to the state. The stipulation was that it had to be replaced by another one, and this is an almost new fully functional cannon. I am trying to find out more about it, the manufacturer and date, etc.

For you that are artillery enthusiasts, this cannon is in the Ruggles' Battery line, which was at the time the largest concentration of cannon ever assembled (62). That pinned down the Union troops at the battle of the Hornet's Nest, allowing the confederate infantry to encircle and capture many of the enemy.

Henry Outlaw was "killed" at this battle reenactment in 1955. More on that later...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pool Hall Baby

by Jo Carolyn Anderson Beebe

The people in the town where I was born were hard-working, trustworthy, and caring. Some might say they lived a life of simple innocence—never locking doors, inviting traveling salesmen into their homes, and leaving their babies in pool halls.

When my mother went shopping, she would often drop me off at the pool hall where I would rule the parlor from my vantage point in the middle of a pool table. The proprietor was also the rural mail carrier and a good friend of my parents. I don't remember this of course, but I can imagine Mr. Palmer surrounding me with billiard balls which I rolled into the side pockets. From time to time, Mother would walk by and sneak a look through the plate glass window to see if I was okay.

When I was older, of course, I was never allowed to go inside the pool hall. By the time I was six or seven, the pool hall became a den of iniquity and remained so until I was a teenager, and we moved away. The same men hung out there, as they did when I was holding court; however, they now were labeled drunks and loafers, and the dandies with the bow ties went by another name.

Now if it seems that my mother was irresponsible for leaving me in the pool hall with the above mentioned men, nothing could be farther from the truth. Those men respected my mother and cherished me and would have fought each other to protect me from anything vile or harmful. And when I saw them at church on Sunday, I saw my friends.

There was another store where Mother found eager babysitters—Gordon's Department Store, staffed by Mr. M. Gordon, Mrs. Gordon, and Mr. Luster Williamson. Mr. Gordon was a Jewish immigrant from Russia. He and his wife and their son, Phil, were the only Jews in town, but no one ever seemed to think about that. Those folks loved for Mother and me to come into their store, and Mother said they argued over who was going to hold me. They would tell Mother to go do her shopping. They would take care of me. I can vaguely remember strutting around on the counters as if I was on a stage. Being dressed in copies of Shirley Temple dresses made by Mother probably prompted such showing off.

By the time I was nine or ten, my favorite babysitters were Mr. and Mrs. Claude Gentry. These were the years when Daddy worked at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, helping construct the atomic energy facility. At the time, no one knew its purpose. The men just knew the government was paying their salaries. So anyway, if Mother had a women's evening meeting at church, she would have me walk to town to go to the picture show. Mr. Gentry owned the Ritz Theater, and Mrs. Gentry sold the tickets. Mr. Gentry always stood by the ticket booth, and if he didn't think the movie was appropriate for kids, he wouldn't let us buy a ticket. I remember going back to the church in tears because he wouldn't let me see "Forever Amber." But if the movie was okay, I stayed happily for the previews, RKO News, a cartoon or short subject, and the feature show. Mother would usually be waiting for me in the lobby, but if she wasn't there, Mr. and Mrs. Gentry would watch after me until she arrived.

There are many reasons for not going back to the good old days, but memories of the days of simple innocence bring a longing in my heart.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mini-Reunion, Spring 2008

A few photos of some of the attendees at the mini-reunion at Pickwick Lake last Thursday-Saturday. Starting with dinner Thursday evening at the Catfish Hotel, and ending with a rainy departure just before noon on Saturday, the group had a great time. Highlights were, of course, eating, and the Shiloh Park visit to see the movie and monuments. Friday evening we watched a DVD of old photos of the Baldwyn area.

Plans we discussed are to try to get together again in the Fall at Okelala Festival time. Henry has some unique T-shirts he thinks some of you might want to wear. He will describe them later when the design is worked out and available for you to see.

Thanks to all who came. It was good to see you-all.

Coming Thursday: A story of a cannon, and a couple of contrasting Shiloh photos.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Please, let me have a do over……

By Clarene Evans Nanney
(Second from Left)

The names of the graduating class of 2008 are now forever etched in the annuls of time, in our hearts and probably hidden somewhere on a special wall of the greatest school in North Mississippi. Walking across the stage and receiving my diploma was as special for me as it was for any one of those 51 seniors who recently received theirs and the only difference was the number of graduates.

When my class, the class of 1963 assembled for our last big march down an aisle together as a group, there were only 33 of us. Can you imagine only 33 graduates making up a graduating class? At the time though, we were one of the largest classes to ever graduate from good ol’ BHS.

I miss those days and before you know it, some of you will as well. All too soon, your childhood will be stripped from your being like a limb is wrenched from a tree during a storm. When this occurs, you suddenly have to start acting and thinking like an adult. Now trust me on this one, that time, however welcomed at the moment, will last for a long, looooooooooong time. Never again will you be that carefree, never again will you be that vulnerable.

But, having said that, I still want to go back and be a kid just one more time even if get into trouble for talking, or being late for class, or for skipping school altogether and going off to the fair or even for sneaking into Mrs. Brown’s home economics room and hemming a skirt for my girlfriend who didn’t have a clue how to sew. I think I’ve told you that story already. It really is funny and I’ll probably live to regret sharing that one!

I want to go back in time and be able to climb the bleachers to the very top row and watch the homecoming football game from there and not care how cold it gets. I want to actually learn geometry. Mrs. Vandiver was right, I did need it after all. I want to actually go back and read the "House of Seven Gables" and not just the Classic’s comic book version by the same name. I want to recite the poem about Flanders Field where poppies grow, between the crosses row by row and draw a picture to illustrate it for Mrs. Floy Bludworth . She was the one who first introduced me to poetry in the sixth grade. I want to go back and tell Mrs. Eudora Grisham Kemp that learning to diagram a sentence really does have a place in the structure of a paragraph after all. And last, but certainly not least, I want to finally find Kenya on the globe in Mrs. Hoover’s history class and be able to tell her what crops are actually grown there.

I want to learn it all this next time around. I know now that I wasted so much of what was lovingly offered to me. Eventually the childish games that at the time felt neither childish nor like games, were replaced with adulthood and the many decisions that came with that phase. The gray hairs came and were covered over with chestnut brown hair color for a while but eventually were left alone because they became too many.

The next time around I promise I will actually pay attention in class and realize what is important and what is not.

I know now that I took my childhood for granted and thought my youth would last forever. It didn’t and I want a “do over”…….please………

Friday, June 13, 2008

BCR Battleground Scenes, June 1954

Top: The Greenes.

Second: One view of the actual skirmishes on the day of battle.

Third:The Hon. Bernard Coggins taking a break.

Fourth: Bruce McElroy, "commander" of the Southern Forces that day welcomes General Nathan Bedford Forrest's niece (or granddaughter) to the reenactment.

Bottom: A "field commander" inspects his troops before the battle begins.

Thanks to Larry Johnson and Jim Greene for the photos.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

BCR 1954 Battle Reenactment Continued

-click to enlarge-

More Belles and Beaus. Seemed that the festivities were almost non-stop in the days leading up to the reenactment. The whole town and some nearby towns were anticipating the big day.

Battle planning was detailed by the group in photo 3.

The courtesy stand was kept open and had information for passersby.

Bernard and Paul Sr. were always having a good time!

All photos courtesy of Larry Johnson