Thursday, July 31, 2008

BHS "Primer" Kids, 1946-47

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This is the primer and first grade children in the school year 1946-47. Quite a few of these stayed and completed high school at Baldwyn. How many do you know?

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Lindley Mink, and she adds that she "borrowed" it from Wallis Nelson about 33 years ago and now wants to make sure he gets it back. Well, Wallis, at least its safe and in good condition! Looks like it has had good care and storage...

Tell Cindy how to get to your home in Foley, Alabama to return it!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My Dad, Ralph Pennington

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Story and photo by Shelaine Pennington Wise

In 1956 Patrolman Ralph Pennington and his wife Dottie moved to Baldwyn to fulfill Ralph’s job assignment with the Mississippi Highway Patrol. They were both natives of Tishomingo County. Ralph thought that Baldwyn would be a short assignment but not was not to be the case. The community embraced the young couple and a love affair with the town was born.

After turbulent times with the civil right movements (James Meredith’s enrollment at Ole Miss) and a stint as Elvis’s bodyguard at the fair in Tupelo, Ralph bought the Ford dealership from Mr. Prather. He moved the dealership from its location in town (now the home of Farmers and Merchants Bank) to highway 45. He later sold the dealership to Kenneth Windham.

Ralph passed away in 1987 at the young age of 57. Up until his death he along with Simon Spight served as the voices of the Baldwyn Bearcats Football Team.

I remember when Ralph was assigned to Baldwyn. There was law enforcement on a smaller scale in the town, as we have discussed in other postings. The MHP cleverly thought this would give small communities a better access to more modern technology in crime prevention.

Ralph was issued a patrol car that would literally “outrun it’s shadow” – a 1956 Dodge Royal with police interceptor engine and suspension, and later a ’57 model Dodge with more power. No more were the Harkey boys gonna get away from Slim Weldon down US 45. Billy Frost took a cue too, and slowed his '56 Chevy convertible to a snail’s pace through town. No more was Constable Jim Strange gonna have to try to catch anyone in his smoking (literally) ’48 Chevy 4-door family sedan.

In the photo, I recall the patrolman on the left but his name escapes me. I think it was Duggar. I was going to challenge everyone to guess who the person in the center is, but Shelaine gave it away. The photo was most likely made at the Miss-Ala Fair and Dairy Show evening (not afternoon) concert in September 1956, according to the suit Elvis is wearing.

-Carl Houston

Sunday, July 27, 2008

South Second Street 1945 – 1953

Amazing Head Count of Young People on South Second Street Circa 1945 – 1953

By Dave Heflin

South Second Street or old Highway 45, beginning at the bottom of town hill and bordering about Twitchell Hill with a few side streets had an amazing collection of youngsters on up to high schoolers, or correct me. This Blog is so much fun and feels like WE ALL just played ball, drove to Okolona last night, and hung out in Tom’s or Houston’s Drug Stores.

Here’s my left brain attempt at remembering:

Billy Shellnut - Robert Heflin
Tommy Shellnut - Junior Heflin
Jimmy Whitaker - Catherine Boren
Margie Purvis - Bobby Tom Outlaw
Lowell Wallis - Henry Earle Outlaw
Mack Walker - Betty Outlaw
?? Walker - Nan Rowan
Larry Johnson - Billy Castleberry
Robert Hugh Johnson - ? Castleberry
Knowles Charlwood (?) - Joe Murray Davis
Sandra Poole - William Leonard Davis
?? Palmer - Bobby Thompson
John Olan Cunningham - Edith Ann Gordon (visits)
Joe Cunningham - Kenneth Patton
Judy Bryant - Birdie Kaye Patton
James Byrant - Eddie Patton
Eddie Kirk - Jimmy Patton
Frank Kirk - Sue Downs
The Kirk sister? - Hayden Burns
Betty Jo Burns -Jack Province
Billy Bob Lampkin - Sarah Province
Billy Frost - Gary Norman
Martin Howard - Monte Jean Caldwell
Mary Ann McDonald - Ginger McDonald
Simon “Buddy” Spight - John Allen Lampkin
Mary Ann Heflin - David Heflin
Charles “Jap” Reynolds - Bud” Reynolds

There are some missed! Can't remember them all.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Baldwyn G.A. Group

Photo courtesy of Cynthia (Lindley) Mink

This photo is from the mid-50s and is a meeting of the Girl's Auxiliary from the local church. We are willing to bet that there are at least two of the girls shown that may be hard for some of you to remember, the one near Rachel and another near Frieda. We have them all identified.

The location is Roy Rogers' yard facing East. Note the dairy bar in the background across from the church. I am again reminded of the hill to the right where we got the sassafras roots for our spring "tonic". We called that area "golden roots" because of the color of them.. the sweet odor they put out was detectable from far away.

This also reminds us that we had some of the prettiest girls to be found anywhere right there in Baldwyn...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

More Photos of some Bad Bearcats

These are a couple of the last sharp photos we have of the Bearcat Football teams, but are some of the better ones of the senior, junior, and other players. Note Charles Cooper in the back row of the lower photo, this is the only one with he as a player and Bernard as coach (or assistant) we've posted, that I recall.

Charles was known as "Frankenstein" to younger boys in school - if they got out of line, he would put some real fear in them, helping a teacher out in the process.

Billy "Bullet" Frost looks as though he has lost a front tooth!

The upper photo shows, I believe, big Bruce Putt in the center, top row, and others that I never knew played. I think that is Billy Wayne Houston suited up, along with Bobby McCarley and Doug Pruitt.

Photos courtesy of Larry Johnson and Ellis Christian.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Baldwyn Businesses – Palmer’s Pool Room

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By Robert Palmer

The photo above is from the early 50s. Daddy (Mr. Haddon Palmer) is the one that is second from the right holding a cue with his left hand on the table. I don't have any idea who the others are but it would be fun to find out. One person that worked for him was Rob Bolton. I have no idea if he's in this picture or not.

Daddy always ran a "clean" place, made sure that no rough stuff went on. People would drop kids off as they went to shop and come back and pick them up later knowing that they would be safe and looked after. I can well remember walking up the sidewalk between Mr. Claude's theater and the pool room when the street was so crowded that you'd have to weave around people and occasionally get in the street. Automobile traffic was at a crawl because of so many people.

The pool tables in this picture are either Brunswick or A.E. Schmidt tables. I think that they are the latter, but 2 or 3 manufacturers made similar tables. They are definitely not the ones we made. Daddy started making tables in about 54' or 55' so this picture pre-dates that.

Notice in the picture that the scoring beads ran the full length of the building. Usually the snooker tables were at the front. I don't know if this is the front table or not. Best I can tell from the picture it is a pool table, not a snooker table. It cost more to play snooker because it was a much slower game.

The way you determined how many tables you could get in a room was the cue length (57") from the nose of the cushion on one table to the edge of the next table or possibly a little less. Even if your cue had to go over the edge of the next table (a straight across shot) usually you would not be in the way of the players on the next table. Every inch counted. The more tables you could get in a room, the more games you could have at a time, hence, more revenue! It was a bargain at a dime a game.


Related reading: Click on "Pool Hall Baby" in the box below, then scroll down and read Jo Carolyn's story.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mid-50s Sunday School class AT FBC Baldwyn

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Pretty sure this is a photo of my Sunday School class at First Baptist Church around 1954-55. I am at the rear of the class standing by my dad, Raymond Miller.

This classroom was the first one on the left after entering the old (Caldwell) hospital building (now converted to the Sunday School building). This building was torn down and replaced with Baldwyn State Bank, I think.

-Jim Miller
Class of 1962 BHS

This is especially a good photo for me, I see my old friend James (Tully) Lindley at the upper left seated in front of Jim.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Early 1950s Baldwyn City Leaders

Baldwyn always had a city governing staff, and these are the ones most of us were familiar with early in our life. Lloyd Heflin was mayor at the time this photo was taken. He is seated to the rear of Dr. Bryson Shirley, on the left. Then to the right is Mack Jones, Claude Gentry, Paul "Popeye" Gentry and Jett Ford. Others in the background are not recognized.

They were the decision makers of the time, and the law enforcers were Slim Weldon (city marshal), Otis Mink (night watchman) and Jim Strange (constable). Mr. Will Kilpatrick was the former night watchman and sat in the middle of town in a chair reared back on a wall asleep before going on his "door-rattling" rounds. He retired long before the group shown here was formed.

The mayor's office and jail was under the Palmer poolroom building once, but this photo was made at the city office on North Second Street across from Prather's Ford. If you recall, it was once damaged heavily by a fire that claimed two lives, but was repaired and is still in use. The city hall is now on South Second at Water Street in a newer building.

This is essentially the group I wrote about in an earlier blog post that previewed a movie entitled "The French Line" starring Jane Russell- that they deemed too risque to show to the Baldwyn patrons about 1954. The provocative dance number had to be removed. But, as I recall, they had to watch it twice just to be sure it was not proper and fitting for showing.

There was another city councilman that was pretty controversial in those days, James Preston McWhorter. He was the full-time city clerk if I am remembering correctly. I heard quite a few arguments between he and others many times.

Photo courtesy of Tootsie McVay via Dave Heflin

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mrs. Hallie Vandiver, Teacher

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Pictured above is one of my first and favorite teachers, Mrs. Hallie Vandiver, and a group of her students. This is the BHS class of 1965, and the photo is from about 1953-54. I (and most of the readers here) met her long before this photo was taken, and really had an admiration and respect for her.

Several of the kids in the photo have been ID'd, Clarene Evans got a lot of the names put to a face. Some of you may be in this photo!

Photo submitted by Robert Palmer, (right, in coat and tie). He writes: "Some of those moved, some went into First grade (remember Miss Hallie's class was called the "primer") so it got kind of mixed up after that."

Thanks Robert! Good photo and memories. Things did get a little mixed up after BHS!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Girls from Watkins Products

The photo above shows several Baldwynians in 1941 visiting the Memphis office of the J. R. Watkins company. Do you recognize any of your relatives or friends? There are so many familiar faces in the photo, but putting a name to most is tough. Mr. McCary is at the top and some of the ladies near the front are from Baldwyn.

These were sales people who came by your home and showed the 400 item catalog and took orders for the medicines, baking goods, and other household items. These were your neighbors, and you were eager to buy the products they had to offer.

Door-to-door sales people you knew were welcomed into your home then. There were many different companies that had local representatives that came by. Along with the Watkins group, there was the Stanley and several vacuum cleaner companies that would come to call. Some were welcome and some were not.

I had a girlfriend near Wheeler once (name withheld) that vowed to wait for me for however long I was away in the Army. She married while I was gone and later left her husband and ran off to parts unknown with the Standard Coffee salesman (a door-to-door routeman). Good riddance!


Photo courtesy of Tootsie McVay.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Reunion Photo

Shown above is the '57 BHS class at a reunion in about 1979. This was a full reunion, Ellis thinks, and this was made at a get-together at Bobby Corbett's home in Pratts. What a drastic change in some of the folks! Some guys had thinning hair, and others had grown more.

Would you venture the idea this was the"disco era"? The styles of clothes certainly reflect that. After 22 years, they were still a nice looking bunch!

Photo courtesy of Ellis Christian.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Claude Gentry Theater Business Interview

2 Minute Video By Dr. Henry Outlaw and Prof. Dave Heflin

Filmed at one of the Freedom Hills Seminars about 1981. With comments from Dave Heflin, Sheriff Jernigan, and Mr. Claude. The Freedom Hills in Alabama were rich in history and that is the reason that location was chosen for the seminars.

Mr. Claude wrote about the massive corruption and lawlessness perpetrated there in a series of several books. As we have read in a previous posting on this blog, he was almost a victim of gunfire on one trip to his lake home in the Hills.

Henry and Dave had a lot of fun creating these and other stories on film that we'll see here later.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Best "Sitting Spots" around Town

There were a lot of good "sitting spots" around Baldwyn when we were growing up. A good sitting spot offered coolness or warmth, girls passing by to see, friends that stopped and sat with you, and entertainment of any sort. Some I remember:

Both the drugstores, of course, reading comics and having a soda or cola.

The Palmer poolroom windows and long benches (#1 spot in the summer).

The window in front of the bank (the photo in the blog header reminded me of these). Also, the stairs going to Dr. Christian's office usually had a good cool breeze blowing upward if windows were open.

The long steps at the corner in front of old Gentry's cafe and near Howard Hopkins' store.

The nail kegs in front of Buster McElroy's, if I could catch my uncle Cliff Tapp busy away from his.

The windows in the tabernacle.

Jack Junior and Mort's Sinclair station bench; Harliss Rutherford's Standard station bench.

The Ritz Grill stools while watching Maureen at work.

The one holer behind Red Cunningham's grocery (a must)!

The old mule barn railing out back.

The long bench in front of Prather's Ford (in the summer) and the chairs around the pot bellied stove inside (in the winter).

Ozelle's Cafe, Al's Cafe, Orr's Cafe, Gentry's Cafe, McGee's Cafe, Lindsey's Cafe.

All the cool banks and wash holes and rocky rapids in Twenty Mile Creek, especially Blue Mars.

Our own porch swing at home, reading the Alley Oop and Doc Wonmug comic strip in the afternoon Memphis Press-Scimitar.

I could go on and on. Anyone else recall their favorites?

Friday, July 4, 2008

Lets take a weekend off!

This will be the last posting of the week. Many of us are having family and friends with us this weekend and want to spend as much time as possible with the grandchildren.

We certainly hope that you have an enjoyable holiday with the family. See you Monday. If you need me, I'll be on the lake....

Remember, as you celebrate, to thank our military who makes it possible for us to enjoy this blessing of freedom and liberty. They are having fireworks at their duty stations, also.

Lee Greenwood-"God Bless the USA":

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


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One of the hottest teams around Northeast Mississippi in '57 and thence one of the fiercest competitors for the Bearcats and others were these players for the Wheeler Eagles. This is their photo from the yearbook. I believe this was the team that won the state championship that year, and within a short period of time from a previous team from that school winning it.

My recollection of the players: The Saylors twins led the scoring and were the crowd draw. Billy Powell was a fast floor man and could scoot around with the ball and get others good lay-ups. The Coats brothers were good brute-force guards, and James "Pete" Dixon was an excellent forward. Although he doesn't look tall in the photo, he was and had a tremendously long reach.

Barron, Hill, and Childers were excellent shooters, and usually had a large point record after a game. Charles Brigman was a better shooter under pressure than anyone I have ever seen. When about to go across the outside line with guards crowding him, he had an excellent hook shot that usually connected with the net only, not the rim. I don't know how he could do it - he could barely see the net at times.

Wow, what some good players we had all over NE Mississippi in those days. Wheeler didn't have football, so their concentration was on round-ball almost the entire year, even in the summertime. Richard Arnold was coach that year, and for several more.

One more item; they were masters at stalling the ball, and at the last moment a toss to Dixon would cause him to do his long reach and put it near the net for an easy lay-up to any of the other players that managed to break into range. Sometimes and often, he would just turn around and toss it in himself.

At least one member of this team has passed away, M. C. Saylors.