Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Girls From BHS "Glee Club"

Shown are Miriam Baker and some of her "glee club" girls. Other than Opal? Stovall and Ann? Green, I can't recall the others' names.

This is from 1954.


Photo courtesy of Ellen Mink

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

1959 Bearcat Football Team

The '59 'Cats. They were coached, as best I can determine, by Coach Harris??

David Palmer and Joe Cunningham were the quarterbacks.


Click on image to enlarge.

(Did check everyone's hands and fingers on this before posting!)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Another Familiar Car From the 50s

Pictured is John Olan Cunningham's Willys "Jeepster" convertible. The car was a very familiar sight as was Larry Johnson's "Official Bearcat" Ford Model A.

It was usually seen as in the upper photo, full of kids having a great time. The building in the background was "Little Joe's" Drive In in Tupelo in 1955.

Identity of the girls is up to you. I remember faces but not names very well.

The original Jeepster was produced from 1948 through 1950, although some leftover models were sold under the 1951 model year. It was powered by the 62 horsepower "Go Devil" engine, a 134 cu in (2.2 L) straight-4. A 3-speed manual transmission with optional overdrive was used.

Photos courtesy of John Olan. By the way, where is your license plate, John?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Big Sonny" Coleman

During WWll, a ritual of the city of Baldwyn was to turn off the electricity to the entire town at night several times during the month, possibly once weekly. The resulting darkness of the shut-down was a war effort conceived of the notion that enemy aircraft couldn't see any landmarks if they were invading the USA. Also, it was an energy saving gesture to let TVA conserve. The city officials said that it was doubtful that Baldwyn would ever be a target, but rather a navigation aid if the town's lights could be seen from the air in darkness. Hmmmmmm, no GPS devices in those days...

Those nights when the power was cut for up to a half-hour or so the old Emerson fan would stop, so to the porch swing and the evening mosquitoes we would go. The stillness and the quietness was unusual and eerie, to say the least.

The crickets continued their noise, and from across the cotton field from a house on Thomas Street we could hear Willie Coleman either singing or he would be playing a trumpet softly. He was a very good musician and had a nice baritone singing voice.

He was a choir member in the church on the Ripley Road north of town. On Sundays in the Summertime you could see through the open windows of the church and hear him above others in the hymns they sang.

The "gentle giant" was well liked by all. He would eat a large sack full of bologna, crackers, and hoop cheese from Cunningham's at each meal.

Sent by an anonymous reader:

Willie Coleman aka “Sonny Boy” and “Big Sonny Boy”, if you recall, was a very large black fellow who worked at various jobs around town, more especially at the cotton gin in the fall. He could carry around five hundred pound bales of cotton very easily. It was said that he weighed about as much as a bale of cotton.

It is told that when he went to his final reward, his service was at the funeral home that was once the Baldwyn News building on Front Street near Water Street. A special over sized casket was ordered and had to be twisted around and stood upright somewhat to get in through the largest door in the back.

After the services, they couldn't get Willie and the casket back out that same door for the trip to the cemetery. At last, in desperation, a large glass window in the front of the building was removed and he was taken out through it to the hearse to continue his journey.

Does anyone have a photo of Sonny? Would sure like to have a copy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Baldwyn CB Club, 1962

Jim Miller writes:

Here is a photo of our CB club about 1962. Front row left to right, Charles Morris, James Hutcheson, Raymond Miller, Jodie Mears. Second row, Morton Ricks, Gerald Hodges, B.E. Ozbirn. I don't recall the others. I am third from left on back row.

CB (Citizen's Band) low-powered communications radios for ordinary public usage were introduced in the early to mid-50s and were an instant hit. Small businesses that needed to control their delivery trucks were one intention of the devices. The costs were minimal, and sometimes the operating characteristics were, too. Changing atmospheric conditions affected the reliability of the radio equipment, sometimes causing poor results.

The phenomenon still was widely accepted and enjoyed by hobbyists. You could buy a ready to operate unit, or for the adventurous, a kit form could be built and if it worked, bragged about. Clubs formed, as new things will dictate, and CB clubs sprang up widely as an adjunct means of public service communications for entities such as law enforcement and fire departments in small towns, etc.

These Baldwynians were no exception. They performed a duty or at least trained to be of any assistance in communications to any department when needed.

Photo: Jim Miller
Click to enlarge

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Where's the Fire? Or...What's Going On?

The photo above of the Baldwyn Volunteer Fire Department in action is dated 1952. The fire is in the area above the old McGee's grocery and cafe. We have been discussing the possible cause and Jimmy Baxter described an event that might possibly be this particular fire. More on that later, if he can confirm it.

During our early years in Baldwyn, when a fire was reported or another happening of importance was needing to be announced, the person in charge "blew the fire whistle" as we used to say. That got a lot of response from the citizens. The siren was mounted about halfway up the first water tower behind city hall and could be heard for at least a mile or two. Sometimes a person in a car had to speed downtown or to a house that they knew had a telephone to report an emergency or fire.

When the siren started howling, most of the neighborhood dogs did, also. We would all stop what we were doing, run outside and scan the horizon for smoke and when spotted, make a "bee-line" for it. Some of us on bicycles would get to the fire before the truck did. Once, we saw a huge fire start at Gentry's slaughter house on North Fifth street, just up the road from the Gentry home. They were rendering "cracklins" and the pot boiled over, setting the dry grass on fire. Several of us youngsters helped get it under control before the truck got there.

If we didn't see any smoke when the siren blew, that usually meant one of two things; a false alarm or something else was up, which required a trip downtown to see what was happening. Robert Thomas and I recalled recently about one late Summer day (actually August 15, 1945) when the siren started blowing incessantly. Someone found out what it was - the Japanese had surrendered and World War 2 was over. The townspeople had predetermined that when that happened, the whole town was to meet at the First Baptist Church. That was one trip to see what was happening that everyone in town was glad to do. Business and everything came to a stop while we met at the church and gave thanks for the ending of that long, costly conflict. Now all our men could come home.

(Update: Two identical reports from readers seem to think that the fire was in a photography studio, started from chemicals used in a developer. Damage was minimal, except for water. This is the same thought that Jimmy Baxter has, who first told me the story.)

Photo from the Marie Evans Collection

Friday, October 17, 2008

Baldwyn Businesses - Tapp's Grocery

Left, Mutt Tapp, center, Jimmy Tapp, and an unknown person. This photo was made at their grocery store at the SW corner of Main and Third Street about 1952.

The product they are holding, Wonder Bread, came to Baldwyn about that time. It was advertised to "build strong bodies 7(or 12) ways" or something like that. They put on a marketing blitz of great proportions; at school they passed out a package of 2 slices to all in school, and went door-to-door giving the samples to housewives with a coupon good for a discount of the already low price of about 7 cents per loaf versus the 9 or 10 cents for Hardin's (made in Tupelo).

It finally caught on and started selling. Looking at the picture, the Tapps were coerced into pushing it as much as possible. Also employed by the store was Bernis Tapp. The store moved from near the Ritz theater to the corner maybe in 1950 . Prior to that, Jack Waters and Carl Davis had an automobile repair shop there. Bill Parton consequently bought it and ran it for some time in the '40s. Later, Parton took on a new partner, James ??? Morgan??? and moved to his home area close to Bingham's Service Station.

The store closed in the 60s and Thomas and Doris Gentry opened a flower shop there.

(Update: The fellow on the right is Mr. Nanney, father of Cecil and Grady.)

Photo from the Marie Evans collection courtesy of Clarene Evans

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Business Some of Us visited - Very Carefully

Samuel Ruey Eaton

This man owned a business quite a few of us were cautious to go to, but the powerful thirst for his illegal product wouldn't go away until we did.

Part of his obituary:

"Ruey" Eaton was a retired businessman and a member of the Methodist Church. He served the town of Jumpertown as its first mayor when the Prentiss County town was first incorporated and later served as a town alderman.

He was the author of one book, entitled "In Prison and Out," which described his experiences in the state prison at Parchman and in three federal prisons. In August of 1931 Eaton and his brother, Clovis, were found guilty in the Circuit Court of Prentiss County of murdering U. S. marshal Clyde Rivers.

Ruey spent time in Parchman prison, escaped and eluded the law officers for several months by hiding out in and around Prentiss County. After his recapture, he served time in federal prisons in Leavenworth, Atlanta and on Alcatraz Island.At Alcatraz Eaton met such infamous criminals as Machine Gun Kelly, and Doc Barber. He also shared a cell for a brief time with Al Capone.

From a commenter on another website: Some of you speak as if the moonshine days are gone. I grew up in Prentiss county Mississippi. It's a dry county to this day (this was evidently written some time ago-CH). Also, to this day I could drive 100 miles from Memphis to Jumpertown, Mississippi and drive up in the driveway of a home, flash my lights once for commercial liquor, twice for pure grain alcohol or blow the horn for Mississippi Moonshine.

The law officers know this as well as I do. As long as the family keeps the law officers’ cabinets supplied...all is well. The only trouble is when a new sheriff gets elected, somebody has to go to jail for a year or so for the sheriff to keep his campaign promise but the business never stops.

How many local proprietors did we have? The Adamses, Robinson, Lee-Ann Truck Stop, Buster Jones, and how many more? Incidentally, Ruey did own a legit business in Jumpertown, a furniture store.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Big Turnout for Local Hero who was more Important than "J. P."

Just received this photo of the parade down Main Street (also the highly trafficked US 78) in Tupelo when Elvis made his first visit to the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show on Sept 26th, 1956. If you prefer, we just called it "the fair".

There is a story that then-governor J. P. Coleman was on his way to the fairgrounds in his state-owned Lincoln with his family. He got involved in backed up traffic behind the parade, and when some kids saw the car, they descended on it screaming and running. When they found out who the occupants were, they were disgusted, and said "Aw Heck, It's just the Governor"!

That was a day to remember!

Click on image to enlarge

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Did Size Really Matter?

This is the roster of Baldwyn Bearcat players and notes the team number, position, and weight of each. It is in a program from a game against Selmer (TN) many years ago. The weight of the players in those days is comparatively small to the weight of players for high school teams these days, I find after checking a couple of school stats in Memphis.

Weight aside, these were hard-hitting boys that could really pack a punch due to proper diet, training, exercise, and DETERMINATION.

From the Ellen Mink Collection.
Click on image to enlarge.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Can You Match the Names?

Some old early and preschool photos of friends we grew up with. See if you can match the name to the photo image.


A- Ellis Christian
B- Phyllis Herring
C- Monte Caldwell
D- Herb Spivey
E- Carl Houston, Jr.
F- James "Big Apple" Tapp
G- Tom Shellnut
H- Nancy McCarthy
I- Barbara Bryson
J- Clarene Evans
K- John Melvin Duke
L- Danny Copeland
M- Joe Murray Davis
N- Marjorie Purvis
O- Norma Faye Davis
P- Rachel Christian

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Comments Post for Okeelala Festival Photos

Cynthia Mink asked "Can you make a spot on the blog where we can make comments on the festival photos?"

Certainly can, Cynthia. And while doing so, let me explain the above photo, which is included in the set.

Frieda Rogers brought the little washboard (scrub-board, we used to call it) to John Olan's and Glo's home that afternoon. Story is, I gave it to her as a gift on her 5th birthday to wash her doll's clothing and she has kept it for 60+ years!

We all certainly had a great time, especially at John and Glo's party that afternoon. Thanks to all who made it a success.

Photo by Clarene Evans - click to enlarge-

Monday, October 6, 2008

My First Encounter with "Unlucky 13"

-click to enlarge-

By Carl Houston

The top photo is of a number tag from the Prentiss County Spelling Bee on the date shown. The original tag only showed a number, in my case, 13. I had heard of the number being unlucky, but had never had any bad luck attributed to it before.

The bee was held at the Princess Theater in Booneville (most distant white building in lower photo - notice marquee) and was moderated (words given to spell) by Mrs. Martin. She was so eloquent in her pronunciation and asked each word slowly and in syllables in order for you to sort out the word makeup.

There were several of us from Baldwyn in the bee, I cannot remember all. I know Barbara Bryson and Dean Rutherford were there, maybe Brenda Waters, and the others have escaped my memory. Were any of you readers entered in the contest at that time?

The tag has a couple of holes still in it, as it was attached with a hatpin. The printing above the number was put on after the bee was concluded, and was written on there by Mrs. Anderson, the owner of the Booneville Independent newspaper, who was the sponsor.

The event was broadcast live on radio WBIP. They had a remote set up and we had to spell into the microphone, which howled with feedback sometime when you touched it, creating a distraction. That was my first time to talk on radio. I had transmitted and received on amateur radio before, but using morse code only.

Photo of the Princess Theater courtesy of Willie Weeks,
most likely from The Nunley Collection

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Howard Who?

-click to enlarge-

Milton Copeland is trying to ID this fellow named Howard. It is dated December 1943, and evidently made in Hawaii. Guesses so far are Howard Hopkins, Howard Ward and a couple of others. Any ideas?

Found in Curly Copeland's collection.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Baldwyn Blue Bell Staff 1957-77

-click to enlarge-

Most of these employees most likely started to work at the factory when it was still on North Second Street across from the Prather estate.

You will recognize most of the names and faces.

Photo by Murray Barnett
Courtesy of Milton Copeland