Delta Magazine November/December 2020

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Cleveland is Calling this Holiday Season



Extended days for more distance shopping!


THE Holidays IN DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND! November 6th and 7th from 10:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. November 8th from 1:00-4:00 p.m.

Virtual tree and downtown lighting on November 14th on with a pre-show beginning at 6:45.

Stay tuned to the 50NIGHTSOFLIGHTS.COM website for additional outdoor events!




Delta m








Publisher: J. Scott Coopwood Editor: Cindy Coopwood Managing Editor: Pam Parker Contributing Editors: Hank Burdine, Maude Schuyler Clay, Noel Workman, Roger Stolle Digital Editor: Phil Schank Consultant: Samir Husni, Ph.D. Graphic Designers: Sandra Goff, Maggi Mosco Contributing Writers: Jim Beaugez, Sherry Lucas, Susan Marquez, Darden North, Aimee Robinette, Angela Rogalski, Katie Tims Photography: Tom Beck, Greg Campbell, Rory Doyle, Johnny Jennings, Logan Kirkland Account Executives: Joy Bateman, Janice Fullen, Cristen Hemmins, Kristy Kitchings, Wendy Mize, Ann Nestler, Cadey True Circulation: Holly Tharp Accounting Manager: Emma Jean Thompson PostMAstEr: Send all address changes to Delta Magazine, PO Box 117, Cleveland, MS 38732

ADvErtisinG: For advertising information, please call (662) 843-2700 or email Delta Magazine accepts no responsibility for unsolicited materials or photos and in general does not return them to sender. Photography obtained for editorial usage is owned by Delta Magazine and may not be released for commercial use such as in advertisements and may not be purchased from the magazine for any reason. All editorial and advertising information is taken from sources considered to be authoritative, but the publication cannot guarantee their accuracy. Neither that information nor any opinion expressed on the pages of Delta Magazine in any way constitutes a solicitation for the sale or purchase of securities mentioned. No material in Delta Magazine may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the publication. Delta Magazine is published bimonthly by Coopwood Magazines, Inc., 125 South Court St., Cleveland, MS 38732-2626. Periodicals postage paid at Cleveland, MS and additional mailing office. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Delta Magazine, PO Box 117, Cleveland, MS 38732-0117. Delta Magazine (USPS#022-954)

Delta Magazine is published six times a year by Coopwood Magazines, inc. EDitoriAl & BusinEss offiCE ADDrEssEs: Mailing Address: PO Box 117, Cleveland, MS 38732 shipping Address: 125 South Court Street, Cleveland, MS 38732 E-mail: subscriptions: $28 per year Š2020 Coopwood Magazines, Inc.


from the editor

Talking Turkey t’s funny the things that become traditions in a family. Collectively, we all share many similar traditions around the holidays—but families also each have their own unique customs, many of which develop accidentally. One example of this involves the Coopwood Thanksgiving turkey. This is more of a marriage tradition than one shared by the whole family. It’s a conversation Scott and I have without fail every year, and it goes something like this.



Scott: Are you planning to have turkey again for Thanksgiving? Me: Yes. Scott: I don’t know why we even have turkey; nobody likes it. Me: That’s not true. A lot of people do. Scott: It has no flavor and is dry. Me: Not if it’s cooked right, and you can eat the dark meat. Scott: If people like it so much, why do you never see turkey on restaurant menus? Me: Scott: Are we having ham too? Me: Yes.

My father, Ramon Callahan, shows off his carving skills regardless of how the turkey was cooked!

Every year. It used to bother me, but now if we didn’t have this conversation, it would make me sad. Deep down, I know he has a point about the turkey, but I have fought valiantly for its continuation as the annual centerpiece of our Thanksgiving Day meal—and I think the Pilgrims would be proud. I mean, it is referred to as “Turkey Day.” Another turkey-related tradition is the bird-cooking duty falls to my father and me. Well mostly him, but I’m around to assist and make decisions. The big family Thanksgiving gathering has usually been at our house, and with only one oven in my kitchen and all the sides to prepare (we’ll get to that later), the ambitious goal of having all the food ready at the same time essentially requires a military operation. This scenario has provided the backdrop for some interesting events. We’ve tried it all. One year we put the turkey in the oven the night before, with the timer set to come on in the wee hours—I think that worked out okay. We tried to deep fry it—but to no avail, because although Daddy brought his big aluminum fryer and the peanut oil, we forgot that we don’t actually own a propane burner. Dinner was significantly delayed that year. When we realized we could basically use our grill as an oven and cook the turkey in a large roasting pan set on the rack things got better until the year the grill caught on fire. But Daddy handled that like a champ. He simply put out the fire, brought in the blackened turkey, washed the soot off the skin at the sink, re-seasoned it, and put the bird right back on the grill. It turned out so delicious we’ve thought about duplicating the process but have been too afraid. Since it is apparent that I’m no turkey expert, we decided to focus on side dishes in this issue. And, honestly, isn’t it really the sides we all look forward to every year? In our family there are some pretty hard and fast rules about who brings what: it’s Aunt Amy’s green bean bundles, Aunt Alison’s strawberry-pretzel salad—a term used very loosely to describe what is really practically a dessert—and Nana’s dressing and homemade cranberry sauce to name a few. Our holiday meals wouldn’t be the same without them, but we have offered some alternate recipes to lighten things up a bit. Just a bit—and you can still have all the dessert you want. There’s much more in this issue to help usher in the holidays—tips for decorating for the season using your chinoiserie collection, and two homes decked out for Christmas; one a historic craftsman cottage in Cleveland and a spacious, modern home on Lake Washington. On a personal note, with all the challenges of 2020, I am incredibly grateful for the hard work of our team here at Delta Magazine and the continued support of our readers and advertisers. We are looking forward to a new year and a fresh start bringing you the content you love. I wish all of you holidays full of time spent with family and friends, and a hopeful and prosperous 2021! DM

Cindy Coopwood Last year’s Thanksgiving gathering at the Coopwood home. 10 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

Editor @cindycoopwood |

WE’VE GOT THE CURE. Being cooped up inside can cause a real case of cabin fever and the 2020 Blues, so load up the family or friends and head this way for a dose of the good kind of blues. You can start at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center—where social distancing is easy—and understand the tough road B.B. King traveled before becoming one of the most beloved musicians of all time. Ranked by Trip Advisor in the Top Ten Percent of all listed properties, the museum features films and exhibits that weave a fascinating story of an icon and his birthplace. Make sure to also stop at nearby Mississippi Blues Trail markers that further explain the important music heritage of the area. Crank up some B.B. tunes to get primed for a perfect day trip of fabulous meals from unique restaurants and shopping for locally produced gourmet food items. We can almost guarantee that the real blues will be the prescription you need.

400 Second Street •

400 Second Street •

We are following adapted tourism practices to promote responsible Travel Practices from the CDC onpractices COVID-19 the Tourism Industry. We are/ Best following adapted tourism tofor promote responsible

Travel / Best Practices from the CDC on COVID-19 for the Tourism Industry.

contents NOvEMBER/DECEMBER Volume 18 No. 3



30 Reviews BOOKS of new releases and 34 Hand-picked SHOPPING holiday happies and stocking what Deltans are reading


stuffers for everyone on your list


artist’s work is layered with deep colors and mixed materials


and ambassador traces his long journey home with new album




Modern Lake Washington home is an idyllic setting for family gatherings and holiday fun Cleveland Craftsman cottage is a nod to Christmases Past, page 84

100 FOOD

HEALTHI(ER) HOLIDAY SIDES A lighter take on favorite seasonal recipes



46 MUSIC STEVE AZAR: Mississippi musician



54 62 94 112


Spence Helms’ custom knives, uniquely beautiful and designed to hold an edge



Remembering the end of World War II and the stories we must never forget


Incorporating chinoiserie into seasonal decor

Entrepreneur is making a business of art ON THE COVER: The entrance to the Bruton home on Lake Washington is a welcoming site for guests and decked out for the holidays! Photo by Greg Campbell.


SCORED & GLAZED Your best ham ever and how to use the leftovers, page 106

THE HUNT FOR OIL IN MISSISSIPPI Tinsley Oil Field was discovered in 1939 in Yazoo County and soon became the largest oil field in the Southeastern United States

in every issue 14 18 22 26 126 132 136

Letters On the Road Off the Beaten Path Hot Topics Events Delta Seen The Final Word by Darden North













Outdoor & Hunting Guide

Wilson, Arkansas

Bows, Boats and Custom Calls Revival of a Southern Town

12 Recipes

to try this FALL

i love getting the Delta Magazine! I grew up in Webb, in Tallahatchie County, so I love the articles. As I opened the September/October issue, I saw a picture of Trustin Hick’s taxidermy shop in Shelby and recognized him immediately. My dad was a big hunter and had so many ducks, deer, squirrels, bobcats and more preserved by him. I still have a purse he made from the hide of my first deer and he also mounted the head for me. Thank you for what you do and for sharing stories of the people and places I love! Joyce Ernst Dansby Philadelphia, Mississippi in the last week, my wife and i received the first Delta Magazine of our subscription, and I want to let you know it is a superb publication. There is such a wide variety of well-written articles and fascinating information covering many different areas of the Delta.

Born and raised in Greenville, I left the Delta to pursue an aviation career after graduation from Delta State University in 1974. Over time I have lost contact with the area. Through social media accounts of the late Julia Reed and Hank Burdine (including Dust in the Road), I have immensely enjoyed their posts and have a sense of reconnection with my Delta roots including the discovery of Delta Magazine. Last fall my wife and I traveled to Cleveland to see the wonderful retrospective exhibit of Sammy Britt’s works at DSU’s Fielding Wright gallery, and it was such fun to tour the campus, see DSU students’ flying overhead, tour the Grammy Museum, visit Dockery Farms and so much more. It was wonderful to see Cleveland’s revival. Your magazine is another treasure of the area, and my wife and I can hardly wait to receive the next edition! Earl Bunker McClendon Jacksonville, Florida i just wanted to pay you a compliment for the great job you do with Delta Magazine. I have lived in California for forty years, but grew up in Jackson and went to Ole Miss under grad and graduate school. I had no intention of staying in California, but that’s just how it worked out. I run a military insurance company that began in an 8 x 10 office, but was recently recognized as one of the top 200 companies in America. I’m still working, but come back to an Ole Miss game once a year and am hosted by my closest childhood friend George Lotterhos. I was a classmate of Archie Manning and have loved seeing him over the years—he’s a true Mississippi treasure. I can’t claim to be

a very good hunter, but have loved going to Fighting Bayou as a guest of George and Billy vanDevender. I treasure my family and friends from Mississippi more than anything. Had a great trip to Italy last year with Dudley and Claire Barnes, my cousin, from Clarksdale. Such fun! My compliment to you is Delta Magazine makes me homesick. I could not pay a higher compliment. Thanks to you and your staff for the great job you do. Charles Royals San Mateo, California Just wanted to let you know how much i enjoyed the latest issue, it brought back a lot of fond memories. Jake Gibbs was at Ole Miss when I was and Al Povall’s article touched off a slew of memories—both football related and otherwise. Trustin Hicks was an institution. We were in and out of his shop and the Mitchell-Shaw Hardware across the alley buying ammo, discussing guns and hunting paraphernalia. Trustin would talk to us while he worked, answering our questions about wildlife, what he was doing, just whatever. I had not been home long from my Navy tour when the rattler got him. If memory serves, one of the things that saved him was the close proximity to the hospital down the alley. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the articles. Hope you are all well and have managed to dodge the covid virus thus far. Cheers! Will Denton Lake Martin, Alabama

SEND COMMENTS AND LETTERS TO: or Delta Magazine, PO Box 117, Cleveland, MS 38732

In Memoriam: Julia Evans Reed The entire literary world, including Delta Magazine, lost a beacon of light this August with the passing of Julia Reed. There was no greater ambassador of the Mississippi Delta. Born in Greenville on September 11, 1960, Reed fully embraced her roots and went on to become a noted author, columnist, and speaker. With her wit and intelligence, her writings captured the essence of growing up and living in the Delta and the American South as no one else could. Her boundless energy and spirit, even while ill, were unstoppable—starting an online artisanal goods company, Reed-Smythe & Company, with longtime friend Keith Meacham, building a home, and opening a bookstore (an appropriate legacy) Brown Water Books in Greenville, all in the past year. Julia was a great supporter of and generous contributor to Delta Magazine over the years. We are blessed to have known her and call her friend. 14 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

Y’all Said SOCIAL MEDIA COMMENTS @deltamagazine

We Asked... What’s your favorite thing about fall? Ankle boots and fall hats! – Caitlyn Thompson My favorite thing about September is the beginning of cooler weather and all of the harvesting we see around our land – Kay Bradley Cool, crisp days, brilliant fall colors and fresh apple cake. – Linda Smith The change of seasons! Cool breezes, beautiful sunshine, the harvest, football, and everything looks so clean! – Katherine Pearson

Editor Cindy Coopwood posted her favorite Fresh Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Icing from the iconic Jackson Junior League cookbook, Southern Sideboards on our social media, and asked—What is your favorite vintage, local church or community cookbook? Inverness Cook Book. It was my mother’s and she let me have it. What a treasure! I’ve used it so much, the spine fell apart and now I keep it in a plastic bag. – Deborah Garrard McLeod I love Maida Heatter’s cookbooks. Three new ones featuring previously published recipes were just released around and after her death at 102, but they are older more vintage recipes that were published years ago. Fantastic. – Julianne Bailey


Vintage Vicksburg – Dianne Different Your apple cake post inspired me to pull out my copy of Southern Sideboards! My grandmother made a delicious apple cake that my Daddy loved. She passed away 3 years ago but today for my Daddy’s birthday we will enjoy this treat on her vintage apple dishes and be thankful for all our sweet memories of MaPeggy. @kellykennedyart My favorite is The Pick of the Crop with the forward by Bern Keating. My copy is falling apart! @bulldogbelle76 Over the Garden Wall by the Natchez Garden Club @natchezgardenclub Recipes Worth Sharing (from America’s most loved community cookbooks) @stephtrnr

Spicy Cornmeal Crusted Simmons Catfish By Chef Steven Goff at the Delta Supper Club at Hopson Plantation - Clarksdale, MS.


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Leaves of Gold


With the changing seasons, the autumn and winter tones of the Mississippi Delta begin to arrive as displayed in this Tupelo gum brake outside of Greenwood. Nature’s amazing wonders are on display and soon the scenery and color tones will change yet again with the arrival of hard winter. DM


where we’ve been, where to go next



A limousine awaits eager blues afficionados for another Delta excursion. – ED WRIGHT

EBENEZER Ghost ad frozen in time on the side of a turn of the century building. – MORRIS MCCAIN

PHOTO OPS & Remembering one of the Delta’s blues greats. – DELTA MAGAZINE



Old stores are landmarks in this small town. – JIM HENDRIX


Mississippi John Hurt’s guitar he performed with at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival proudly on display at the National African American History Museum in D.C. – DELTA MAGAZINE


The House on Ellicott Hill, where General Andrew Ellicott first raised the American Flag over Natchez in 1797. – NATCHEZ GARDEN CLUB


2020 cotton crop was in abundance in the Delta this year. – THOMAS NEBLETT

FUNKY STOPS Roaming the real and rustic Delta GREENWOOD

Artwork found on the side of a building in the Delta’s blues capital. – ED WRIGHT


Dot the Cocker Spaniel likes watching a Delta sunset. – KENDALL HORNE

Reflections of good times on the Mississipppi Gulf Coast. – DELTA MAGAZINE Instagram users, follow @deltamagazine and see #DMphotoops


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OFF THE BEATEN PATH roaming the real and rustic Delta

GRENADA ANTIQUE MALL A bit of the old, some modern but all beautifully different BY ANGELA ROGALSKI



lamps and other vintage items, the Grenada Antique Mall offers a diverse shopping experience to those in search of antiques in general or just something beautifully different. Rosemary Couch and Swayze Johnson are associates with the antique mall. Couch says the Grenada Antique mall has been opened for over forty-two years and was once an auction house. “Billy Nail owns the Grenada Antique Mall and it used to be called CloverLeaf Auction,” Couch adds. “But, we got out of the auction business and we enjoy the antique business just as much. The business has been in the family for years, but everyone becomes family once they come into the store.” The mall is opened from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., Thursday to Saturday, and on other days by appointment only. Couch says the items they sell are from their vendors who rent out spaces inside the building. “We rent out the booth spaces for all kinds of wonderful and unique items. And, our vendors rotate, so we’re constantly adding new items. We usually have quite a lot of antique furniture, glassware and amazing lamps of all kinds. We also have people who bring in vintage items that could be described as farmhouse related, such as cast iron cookware, anvils, old dinner bells, and other vintage kitchen items.” Along with the antique shop, Grenada Antique Mall also does customized framing for customers who need that service. “We get a lot of antique frames that we offer along with the new frames we sell for people’s pictures. And, at Christmastime, we enjoy setting up multiple trees throughout the store and decorating. We also offer discounts with vendor approval around the Christmas holiday. So it’s a special time for us.” 1505 Jackson Avenue, Grenada 662.226.0511, 22 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

For the past forty-two years the Grenada Antique Mall has provided their specials offerings to people from far and wide.

JAKE’S CRAFT BBQ Serving up some of North Mississippi’s best barbecue BY ANGELA ROGALSKI



the best BBQ around. Jake Houston is owner and operator of the business, with his brother Hale Houston helping out during the pandemic’s quarantine. Jake’s Craft BBQ, serves up distinct BBQ. The sandwiches are created by Jake Houston himself. “My food truck is stationary right now. I had planned to move around with it when I started February, but when the pandemic hit, that sort of put a damper on any events I had lined up. For now, we are at 305 Jackson Avenue West on a permanent basis.” Houston graduated from Ole Miss with a degree in biology, but the food bug bit him. He had worked with a catering company and he and the head chef created the unique offerings together. “I had always loved to cook and I fell back in love with it,” Houston adds. “I had worked at another restaurant during high school and college, and my dad had a BBQ team when I was growing up, so it was always a passion of mine.” Houston is creatively adventurous when it comes to his homemade sauces and the sandwiches he designs for Jake’s Craft BBQ. “I set out to do six homemade sauces and they’re all house-made. I have seven different toppings and every component of those are also house-made. Everything I do is from scratch and handmade. I try and put a creative spin on BBQ. I do a pick-bysection menu, you choose your bread, then your meat, either smoked chicken or pulled pork, and then you pick your sauces and toppings. You can choose bacon, fried egg, cheese; we have many different toppings to choose from. I do a sandwich of the day too, which was my wife’s idea, such as a pulled pork, Texas style, white BBQ sauce and mustard dressed slaw on brioche.” 305 Jackson Avenue West, Oxford 662.801.3752, Jake’s Craft BBQ has become the talk of the town in Oxford. DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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HOT TOPICS A CUPPA JOE FROM ZOE Cleveland Coffee Shop supports ministry in Kenya zoe Coffee Co opening soon in historic downtown Cleveland will offer a collection of rich brew blends from all over the world. Owner and Cleveland native, Taylor Summers says whether you prefer light or dark roasts, flavored or even decaf, customers will have plenty of options to choose from. “Our coffee is roasted one week and sold the next. We pride ourselves on having fresh great coffee. zoe Coffee Co will also offer custom drinks such as lattes, cappuccinos, frappes, smoothies, and more at our brick and mortar location,” Summers notes. And, what’s even better than a good cup of Joe from zoe? Proceeds from the sale of coffee and all javacreated beverages will go toward sustaining zoe Ministries in Kenya. zoe Ministries is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization Summers started in 2017 with the mission of sharing life through Christ by rescuing orphaned children, and providing clean water and many other community enhancements in rural Kenya. “The entire purpose of opening the coffee shop is to raise awareness about zoe Ministries and to provide sustainability for the work being done in Kenya. With this as the heartbeat of our vision, one hundred percent of the profits from zoe Coffee Co. will go straight to the mission field to drill water wells, build widow homes, and facilitate other community enhancement projects,” says Summers. “We cannot wait to see how God uses this coffee shop to


HOLIDAY DELIGHT Festive times in Hernando Saturday, November 14 from 1 pm – 5 pm on the Town Square, Hernando Dickens of a Christmas will recreate an atmosphere of the victorian Era during the holiday season. The event is in conjunction with the Hernando Chamber of Commerce Christmas Open House when downtown businesses will be decked out to the hilt in Christmas decor, and oh yes, they will have lots of fabulous specials. visitors can enjoy a Christmas farmers market with holiday wares. Stop by for a fresh cappuccino, hot cocoa or cider, as well as other delightful treats from local farmer’s market vendors. The DeSoto Arts Council will host local artists displaying unique items at their building across the street and will have a preview at the farmer’s market. A horse-drawn carriage ride at the DeSoto County Museum with victorian tour guides who will take you back to a time during the late 1800’s. Characters will be walking and singing in the historic downtown to bring joy to the season. A Mississippi Humanities Council Storyteller will also perform on the courthouse lawn and tell tales about Christmas past in Mississippi, and just for fun register to make a festive holiday wreath with the Hernando Civic Garden Club. (DM Staff)


421 West Commerce Street, Hernando 26 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

change lives and ultimately spread the Gospel around the world.” The concept of zoe Coffee Co came to life in an effort to expand the vision of zoe Ministries here in the U.S. “This coffee shop will be so much more than coffee,” he explains. “Not only will customers have the opportunity to purchase delicious coffee, treats, and merchandise, but they will also have the opportunity to make a life-changing impact on people across the globe.” Coffee is also available for purchase right now at their online shop at (DM Staff) 106 A North Sharpe Avenue, Cleveland,

BIG RIVER BAGELS A must stop in Clarksdale for discerning foodies Marisol Doyle and Kate Gluckman are both Delta transplants who became fast friends when they moved here in 2008. Marisol is originally from Mexico, and Kate grew up in northern vermont, but they both fell in love with their new town of Cleveland. Marisol and her husband, Rory, moved to Cleveland from Phoenix, Arizona in 2009 when Rory received a graduate assistantship at Delta State. Kate moved to Cleveland with her husband, Mike, in 2013 when he accepted a position as a professor at Delta State. “We became friends instantly when we met,” says Marisol. “We eventually worked together at Mosquito Burrito in Cleveland.” The two women dreamed of having a business together that would benefit the community. In 2016, the friends began making bagels and selling them at the Cleveland Farmer’s Market, and Big River Bagels was born. “Kate was the one who inspired our bagel journey,” says Marisol, “She is a great baker and had been doing bagels for months. She’s a foodie, like me, and thought it would be a great idea to sell them at the Farmer’s Market in Cleveland. We tested recipes for months before we found one we both liked.” The duo makes many different flavors, but the best sellers are always the plain bagels and the everything bagels, which have poppy seeds, sesame seeds, salt, garlic and onion. “People buy them by the dozen,” says Marisol. They sold their bagels for a couple of summers, but when people wanted to place orders for bagels after the summer, they decided to go year ‘round. They moved the business to Clarksdale and partnered with Grillo Arts, an organization whose mission is to teach youth employment skills. “We started serving our bagels in the coffee shop they run, Maraki Roasting Company,” Kate says. “We began selling our bagels in their coffee shop.” That has expanded to offering breakfast sandwiches at Maraki on the weekends. “We are also selling our bagels at farmer’s markets in Clarksdale, Cleveland and Lyon. We are continuing to grow as we celebrate the wonderful Delta communities we love!” Big River Bagels can be special ordered. “We encourage people to follow us on Facebook or Instagram,” says Marisol. “They can see our menu and private message us, or send us an email at (Susan Marquez)


282 Sunflower Avenue, Clarksdale 662.641.0518,


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Buzzworthy Comments

Atomic Love by Jennie Fields (G. P. Putman’s Sons) Jennie Fields’ new novel, Atomic Love, contains an addictive plot. Years after the end of World War II, Rosalind Porter is still reeling from the destruction, both personal and global. She was a scientist involved in the Manhattan Project which created the nuclear bombs that dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Her lover and fellow scientist on the project, omas Weaver, coldly broke her heart, and then she was fired from her position at the lab. Now, Weaver is back in touch and desperate to be with her. e FBI, through a handsome agent named Charlie Szydlo, wants her to glean information from her ex-lover. is story’s intoxicating mix of history, relationships, romance, espionage, and science is what makes it captivating. Add a strong, smart female protagonist and it’s a scintillating read. (Liza Jones)

Jennie Fields

We asked Facebook friends and Delta Magazine Fan Page Group members to share with us their favorite children’s book. o Ann Marie Pate, Realtor

The Big Door Prize by M.O. Walsh (Penguin Random House) e Big Door Prize by M.O. Walsh, who wrote My Sunshine Away, is the perfect escape from the world we live in right now, as novels often should be. It’s a heartwarming fantasy wherein a small Southern town in Louisiana gets rocked by a new machine at the local grocery store. is machine resembles a photo booth and spits out a document that signifies what the customer is capable of achieving. For two bucks and a cheek swab, the people of Deerfield are told how much potential in life they have. What follows is all manner of commotion for this multifarious cast of rural folks. ese well-written characters are left grappling with the reality of their lives and what could have been. It’s an intriguing story—a thoughtful, entertaining read—and ultimately, it inspires the reader. (Liza Jones)

Cleveland, Mississippi

There’s a Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone. This book was one of my favorites growing up and I am glad it is one of my child’s favorites too. o Ellen Rowell Thompson, Retired teacher Birmingham, Alabama

I read The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes to my students for over thirty years and they all loved it. It is a great book about love and acceptance. M.O. Walsh

o Jack Criss, Freelance Writer Ridgeland, Mississippi

World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil (Milkweed Editions) For anyone who appreciates the majesty, intelligence, and beauty of the natural world, World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil is full of its demonstrations. Showing the reader just how magnificent this planet and its creatures are, Nezhukumatathil sews together her own life, and human life in general, with those of the most fantastic organisms on Earth. It’s a lovely book with gorgeous illustrations to go along with these touching micro-essays, which are melodic and lyrical. e short essays are incredibly pleasurable, like pretty yet nourishing little snacks. It seems as though the reader could fly through this wonderful read, yet most will want to stop and think, pause and enjoy the writing, as it should be with art. is book offers a return to the miracles of our world, the gift of nature, which is what everyone needs at this time. (Liza Jones)

I read aloud the entire Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery to my girls while they were growing up. I think I enjoyed it more than they did. o Juilanne Bailey, Attorney Cleveland, Mississippi

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

For the Record Books Delta Magazine fans are currently reading

o Katie Jane Goode

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

o Julianne Bailey

Bone China by Laura Purcell

o Joyce Kennedy

The Killing Snows by Charles Egan

o Rex Nelson

The Vapors by David Hill 30 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

o Anna Tyner

The Great Influenza by John M. Barry

o Beth Boswell Jacks Assassins, Eccentrics, Politicians and Other Persons of Interest by Curtis Wilkie

o Olive Crotwell Kitchens

Goodbye Ole Miss by Carroll Seabrook Leatherman

o Brandi Pannell Pillow

Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey

Lola Dutch by Kenneth Wright. I read this to my daughter all the time. The dust jacket turns into the cutest paper dolls and doll house. I also love to read Steam Train, Dream Train to my son. It is such a beautiful lullaby of a book that celebrates the dreamer in us all.

o Trish Kendricks Wall A Stream of Darkness by Avery Kilpatrick

o Lisa Ray Bennett Martin Luther by Eric Metaxas

o Jennifer Jones Knighten An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn

o Leigh Harris

Dimestore: A Writer’s Life by Lee Smith

In the Shadow of Faulkner by Lawrence Wells (University Press) What happens when you marry into a family that includes a Nobel Prize winner who is arguably the finest American writer of the twentieth century? Lawrence Wells, author of In Faulkner’s Shadow: A Memoir, fills this lively tale with stories that answer just that. In 1972, Wells married Dean Faulkner, the only niece of William Faulkner, and slowly found himself lost in the Faulkner mystique. While attempting to rebel against the overwhelming influence of his in-laws, Wells had a front-row seat to the various rivalries that sprouted between his wife and the members of her family, each of whom dealt in different ways with the challenges and expectations of carrying on a literary tradition. Full of personal insights, this memoir features unforgettable characters and exciting behind-the-scene moments that reveal much about modern American letters and the southern literary tradition. (Special/DM Staff )

A Garland of Bones by Carolyn Haines (Minotaur Books) Sarah Booth has traded in hosting this Christmas season for a road trip with her besties. Each little Delta town has a special Christmas activity, and Sarah Booth’s bff and detective partner, Tinkie, has arranged to rent a limo for the gang and drive to Columbus, MS, to stay in a B&B. visions of Christmas shopping, parade floats, and romantic rendezvous are already dancing in their heads. But Christmas cheer soon turns to Christmas fear when, at one event after another, people keep getting hurt. Christmas karaoke gets ugly when one singer’s microphone gives her an electric shock. A party during a historic home tour ends with a fall down the stairs for one of Columbus’s most disreputable “players.” And, when the woman who hires Sarah Booth to find the villain behind the so-called accidents is nearly killed with an arrow during a holiday mumming, Sarah Booth knows something more sinister is at work. The Christmas bells are ringing hauntingly in Columbus this year, and Sarah Booth and Tinkie―with a little help from hunky Sheriff Coleman Peters, of course―are determined to catch the wrong-doers and ensure they receive nothing but coal in their stockings. (Special/DM Staff ) The Power of One by Sister Anne Brooks and the Tutwiler Clinic (University Press) For thirty-four years Sister Anne Brooks, a Catholic nun and doctor of osteopathy, served one of the nation’s most impoverished towns and regions, Tutwiler, in Tallahatchie County in the Mississippi Delta. In 1983, she reopened the Tutwiler Clinic, which had remained closed for five years, as no other physician was willing to serve in Tallahatchie County. Starting with only two other nuns and regularly working twelve-hour days, Brooks’s patient load—in a region where seven out of ten patients that walked in her door had no way to pay for care—grew from thirty to forty individuals per month her first year to more than 8,500 annually. Whether it is Brooks’s efforts to desegregate Tutwiler or provide free healthcare, her constant devotion to others is striking. (Special/DM Staff) DM

Experience Mississippi’s Premier Christmas Shopping Destination Where you’ll find beautiful surroundings for your holiday celebrations, the perfect holiday attire for you, and the gifts you know they’ll love.

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FIND US ON FACEBOOK I-55 at Old Agency Road, Ridgeland, Mississippi | 601.519.0900 See all our retail stores and restaurants online at For leasing information, contact The Mattiace Company at 601.352.1818


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Holiday 2020 OV E R 40 Y E A R S OF T H E BE S T G OU R M ET PEC A N GIF TS

Gourmet pecan products made in the Mississippi Delta make special gifts as well as the perfect items to keep on hand for entertaining. We have a wide assortment of flavors, using only the finest ingredients and innovative recipes, and a variety of gift tins, boxes and baskets to suit any gift need.

1-800-541-6252 • Our Original Store in Indianola, Market Street in Flowood, Mall at Barnes Crossing in Tupelo Š2020 IPH, Inc.



✴ Thankful salad plates are a great addition to your Thanksgiving day table settings. The Mississippi Gift Company, Greenwood @themississippigiftcompany

✴ The cutest mini desk signs for Delta lovers!

The Mississippi Gift Company, Greenwood @themississippigiftcompany

✴ Everyone loves a bomber jacket—

and this one is extra special with gathers and shirring. So much detail! Saint, Hernando @shopsaintboutique

holiday gifts


✴ Who says new dishes are only for brides? From chargers to dessert bowls, mix in a few new pieces to freshen your holiday table! Magpie Gift and Art, Clarksdale @magpiegiftandart

✴ Keep her feet cozy with the most comfy felted slippers from Birkenstock. The Country Gentleman, Greenville @thecountrygent

✴ On Cloud running shoes for men and

For your friend who loves White Claw!

women look great and will be greatly appreciated by the athlete on your list! Kinkade’s Fine Clothing, Ridgeland @kinkadesfc

✴ The BrüMate Hopsulator Slim stainless steel cooler designed especially for slim cans! Flower Bouquet and Interiors, Clarksdale @flowerbouquetinteriors


✴ Great for the family on the go!

Specially engineered RovR coolers on wheels can go anywhere—to the campsite, a tailgate or the riverside. Rosson Co., Cleveland @rossoncompany

✴ Lavender Fields candles are a great

way to bring peace and calm into your home during the busy holidays. Hair Tenders, Greenville @hairtendersms

✴ Gorgeous and dainty, Ania

Haie pieces are wonderful gifts for any occasion! West Gate Drugs, Clarksdale @westgatedrugs

✴ Stay on the go in style with Rudy

Project’s Active Lifestyle shades. Fine Eyes, Ridgeland @fineeyeseyewear

✴ Beaded Tiana coin purses are

✴ Add to your collection of Etta B pottery

an adorable stocking stuffer for your college girl! Jane, Oxford @jane_oxfordms

holiday pieces, or give as a gift! Olive Juice Gifts, Oxford @olivejuicegifts

✴ For all the little people you love—wrap up Melissa and Doug classic toys to put under the tree! Lina’s Interiors & Antiques, Leland @linasinteriors

✴ No better gift for your girl than a personalized Stoney Clover bag in all shapes and sizes! Mimi’s on Main, Senatobia @mimisonmain

✴ Snazzy Cole Haan wingtips will update his wardrobe with a kick! Abraham’s Clothing, Cleveland @abrahamsclothingcleveland

Made in Mississippi

✴ Keep Aromatique’s Smell of

Christmas potpourri on hand for last minute hostess gifts and teacher gifts! Neysa’s Fireside Shop, Cleveland @neysasfiresideshop

✴ Shake things up with these

festive beaded martini statement earrings. Such a fun stocking stuffer! Saint, Hernando @shopsaintboutique

✴ Absolutely the best and most useful ✴ For those who love variety, a sampler box or two of

cheese straws in their stocking is sure to bring a smile. Mississippi Cheese Straw Factory, Yazoo City

stocking stuffer for everyone on your list! A USB-rechargeable lighter that uses an electric charge to flamelessly light candles, pilot lights and more. Emery Lee Boutique, Greenville DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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✴ Z-Supply loungewear is a

✴ You can’t go wrong with these sweet tins

must for your holiday movie watching marathons! Nellie Mays, Clarksdale @nellie_mays

full of encouragement and inspiration. Downtown Marketplace, Yazoo City @downtownmarketplace

✴ Perfect with jeans and ✴ We’re obsessed with these CC trinket boxes! Mod + Proper, Cleveland @modandproper

boots, a velvet vest brings a touch of everyday luxury. Lavender Lane, Indianola @lavenderlaneindianola

✴ A classic Heaton Pecan tin is a must for every holiday party! Heaton Pecans, Lyon @heatonpecans

✴ Ivory Dolce Vita mules will be a

wardrobe staple and will elevate any outfit from jeans to dresses. H Squared Boutique, Cleveland @hsquaredboutique

✴ Plants make people happy all

year and brighten up any space! Willow Botanical + Goods, Clarksdale @willowbotanicalandgoods

✴ Love the chain detail on this

classic clutch—easily transitions from work to cocktails. Good Hope General Merchandise, Yazoo City @good_hope_gm

✴ Custom pillow with home-town pride will look great on your front porch swing! Sav-Mor Drugs and Gifts, Grenada @savmordrugsandgifts

✴ Glam style meets whimsical

✴ Nothing smells like Christmas more than Thymes Frasier Fir votives… and now you can enjoy it on the road with air fresheners for your car! Fountain’s Green Grow-Cery, Greenville @shopfountains


charm with these plush pompom slippers. Young Ideas, Indianola @young_ideas

✴ Handmade soaps from Magnolia are free of

chemicals, plant-based, and oh so bubbly. Magnolia Soap & Bath Co., Renaissance, Ridgeland @magnoliasoapandbathco

✴ Squiggles rompers are so cute and comfy for playdates and little people on the go. Punkin Patch, Cleveland @punkinpatchcleveland

✴ Guys will love this Filson vest—a warm, ✴ Dazzle her with Mikimoto pearls she will

versatile layer that can be worn on its own or layered under a jacket. Oak Hall, Memphis @oakhall

treasure forever this Christmas! Diamond Brokers, Memphis @diamondbrokersofmemphis

✴ Delta folks who have moved away will

love Allyson Hardy’s small Delta landscapes tucked on a shelf, or on a bedside table to remind them of home. Cleveland Fresh, Cleveland @clevelandfresh

✴ Sure to be a sellout, the

Caty mid-calf boot in ivory leopard by Matisse is a style that only gets better with each wear. Mod + Proper, Cleveland @modandproper

✴ A decorative tray is perfect for your cocktail table or vanity. SocialXSaint, Hernando @socialxsaint

✴ ’Tis the season for nutcrackers! This

darling wool hook pillow will bring a little Christmas cheer to any room. Sugar Magnolia, Oxford @sugar_magnoliaco

✴ A stunning diamond and sapphire

✴ Get into the spirit and create a winter wonderland in your home with Simon Pearce Evergreen Trees. Provision Oxford, Oxford @provisionoxford

cross is a gift she’ll never forget. Randy Arnett Jewelers, Clarksdale @randyarnettjewelers


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From Student to Teacher Inspired by her love of beauty and masterful teachers, Allyson Hardy’s abstract works have come full circle, layered with deep colors and mixed materials BY SUSAN MARQUEZ • PHOTOGRAPHY BY RORY DOYLE


Allyson captures the light in her abstract pieces by painting in stages and using layers of color. Shown here hanging at a recent show at the Cotton House in Cleveland.


llyson Hardy always loved beautiful things. “I got that from my mother,” she says. “My mom loved and appreciated beautiful things, whether it was newly potted flowers, an antique persian rug, or a hand stitched quilt, she appreciated the beauty and uniqueness in these items. She always did a lot of creative things in our home, but was on a budget, of course, which I think drives creativity. She was a wonderful decorator and had a green thumb. Our house always looked like a magazine cover. We went to art galleries and museums, and even to see the performing arts. That helped me to become the arts advocate I am today.” Growing up in Senatobia as a young child, art classes Allyson took included instruction from noted artist Annabelle Meacham. “I felt I was good at it and that helped build my confidence.” In middle school, Allyson bonded with art teacher Terry Pegram who later taught art at Northwest. In eighth grade, Allyson’s family moved to Oxford where she continued her passion for art. Upon graduation from Oxford High School, Allyson landed at

Delta State University with a tennis scholarship. That is where she met her husband, D.D., a Cleveland native who also grew up playing tennis. “When I visited Delta State, I really liked the feel of the campus and Cleveland—I really liked the people. I felt like I had found my place in the world.” Delta State also just happened to have a top-notch art department. And, although she was undecided about her major at first, by her second semester, Allyson declared her major as art. “I actually ended up getting a degree in graphic design. I just love a good logo! But, I was also interested in interior design.” However, in 1990, computers were new on the scene and technology was advancing rapidly—more rapidly than Allyson cared to keep up with. “I quickly realized that graphic design on a computer was just not my thing. I preferred working with materials I could touch.” Heavily influenced by her professors and her time in college, some important aspects of her art education at Delta State have stuck with Allyson all these years. “One of my professors, Mary Anne Ross, loved collage and mixed media. I like the idea of mixing materials to add interest to my work. I now use things like old sheet music, pretty collage papers, DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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Allyson’s works look worn with time, with multiple layers giving each piece intense depth.

glass, acrylic pieces and gold leaf. I like hints of things that are metallic. She introduced me to Matisse and other modern masters, and I fell in love with abstract artists.” Renowned Delta artist Sammy Britt was also a big influence on Allyson. “He taught me painting in several classes. I learned to ‘paint the light,’ using layers of color to show the light. To this day, I layer my paintings a lot, and I paint in stages. Sammy appreciated that I wanted to explore other styles and allowed me to experiment. That was the beginning of my path to becoming an abstract artist.” In 1994, Allyson graduated from college, got married and moved to Memphis, where D.D. was already working. Looking for work 42 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

in the area she began teaching gifted art classes for high schoolers in Southaven, which she did for three years, followed by two years teaching Elementary art in Germantown. As life would have it, they started their family, and bought, sold and renovated a couple of houses along the way, starting in Midtown, ending up in Germantown. After teaching, she took a pause for nine years to stay home with her three children. “I enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom and taking advantage of the cultural offerings in Memphis.” While she had dabbled in photography and interior design over the years, Allyson continued to paint as well. Then in 2008, D.D.’s work brought them back home to Cleveland and the Delta she had grown to love. Allyson got a job as a gifted teacher at Hayes Cooper Center in Merigold. “It was a teaching position that allowed me the freedom to do so many creative projects with my students. At this time I began finding my style in painting again, but mostly on weekends and in the summers.” Not long after moving back to Cleveland, she put some of her work in a local store, just to see what kind of response it may get. “It got a great response—which really thrilled me.” For the last couple of years, Allyson has devoted even more of her time to her art having gone part time with teaching in order to allow more time to paint and focus on the business side of her art. Allyson’s work includes abstracts, florals and her own unique version of Delta landscapes. “So much of what people want in interiors today is all white and gray. I want to come back to color.” Her work looks worn with time, with layer upon layer that gives each piece intense depth. Allyson primarily paints with acrylics on hand built wood panels. Recently, a collection of Allyson’s work was featured at the Cotton

House hotel in downtown Cleveland. “That was a big opportunity for me,” she says. “Delta people really appreciate the arts, and Delta folks support Delta artists! It was also a wonderful chance for me to have my art exposed to people outside the local area. I got a call from the hotel one day telling me that a couple from Huntsville, Alabama loved one of the pieces displayed in the hotel so I told them to leave a check at the front desk and take it home!” Allyson currently markets her art on Instagram @artbyallysonhardy, her Facebook page Art by Allyson Hardy and her website Allyson has shown her artwork at several festivals, including the Crosstie Arts & Jazz Festival in Cleveland and Double Decker Arts Festival in Oxford. She also sells locally at Cleveland Fresh and in Memphis at Palladio Antique Market. “The holidays are big for me, as I sell lots of my small pieces. But, what I really love is painting large canvases and doing commission work.” For two years, Allyson painted in a converted outdoor shed and in her dining room. “We used to have a big house in the older part of Cleveland that had an extra space that was perfect for a painting studio. Now we live in a farmhouse outside of town. After painting in a shed for two years, we finally renovated the carport for my art studio. I hope it helps with my productivity!” The space is perfectly organized with paints and other supplies all easily within reach. There is no denying that Allyson is committed to her art. “I don’t own a piece of clothing without paint on it,” Allyson laughs. “Even the clothes I wear to church will have a spot of paint somewhere on them!” DM DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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Taking the LONG CUT Steve Azar’s My Mississippi Reunion traces his artistic—and literal—journey home BY JIM BEAUGEZ • PHOTOGRAPHY BY RORY DOYLE



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Azar performing while on tour with Bob Seger.

Steve Azar with Cedric Burnside.

mericana singer-songwriter Steve Azar’s long road home from Nashville wound through music venues across the US, down interstate highways and under big-city lights, for two decades. But it began before he ever left the Mississippi Delta.


On My Mississippi Reunion, Azar celebrates the past and the present on songs that bookend his Delta experience, written against a backdrop of seemingly endless Delta fields and dusty backroads. “This is the record I’ve always wanted to release,” says Azar from his home in Greenville. “It just took me a lifetime to do it. It’s like a big old photo album.” Azar already had his eyes fixed on the open road when he graduated from Delta State University in 1987, with two hundred shows on the calendar for the Steve Azar Band, which was managed by his brother Joe, as well as ten people on the payroll and two trucks worth of equipment to pay off. “We didn’t have a choice [but to tour],” he laughs. “Joe and I owed so much money. We had to get all that gear paid for before I could ever go to Nashville.” The aspiring star spent the next few years sharpening his songwriting and performance skills, but he was holding on to an ace. Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun, the man who launched the careers of Led zeppelin and many others, had shown interest in Azar years earlier. Now, at a meeting with Ertegun in Nashville, he hoped his time had finally arrived. 48 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

“I thought he was going to sign me,” says Azar. “Then he played me ‘Walking in Memphis,’ and he goes, ‘I’m signing you or him.’ That was my wake-up call—I didn’t have that. I’ll never forget. He says, ‘Not only do you not have it, this is going to win a Grammy.’” Ertegun was partly right. The soulful Marc Cohn song was nominated for two Grammy awards, including Song of the Year, but won neither. Instead, Cohn himself won for Best New Artist. That Cohn was a New York City session vocalist singing about Azar’s home turf only added to the sting. “I was writing about the Delta [but] I was too afraid to play that stuff for him,” Azar says. “I was told so much that, ‘You’ve got to be more commercial than being Mississippi.’ And the funny thing is, it’s been Mississippi that’s made my career.” Everything finally came together on his 2002 album Waitin’ on Joe, which spawned the hit title cut and featured Morgan Freeman and Azar’s beloved Delta in the music video. The song did well, but his breakthrough hit, “I Don’t Have to Be Me (‘Til Monday),” from the same album, spent more than four months on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at number two on the country chart. From then on, Mississippi factored more and more in Azar’s songs. The eleven-track My Mississippi Reunion compiles many of them alongside new cuts like “Rosedale,” a song inspired by a long Delta drive with his daughter. “I was taking my daughter to a track meet in Clarksdale,” he recalls, “and we went the back way [up Highway 1], the way I love to go when the fields are high. And she goes, ‘Dad, I’m going to name my first daughter Rosedale. You know you have to write me a song.’ So I wrote the song for her.” His collaboration with two-time Grammy nominee and hill

Azar with DMI student Rejohn Toten.

country blues artist Cedric Burnside on “Coldwater” had a similar start on a drive to Memphis. When he passed through the town, the opening lines to what became the song landed on him immediately: “We’re in Coldwater, and we’re in too deep.” “It hit me, what we’re going through, and I said, ‘My God, we’re in cold water.’” The song came together quickly, he says, and gave him an excuse to record with Burnside, whom he had gotten to know while playing some one-off shows together. The pair tracked at the Delta Music Institute at Delta State, where Azar mentors students as part of the artist-in-residence program. Azar also serves as the state’s official music and culture ambassador and originally wrote and recorded “One Mississippi” as the state’s official bicentennial song in 2017. Two other songs, “Rena Lara” and “Greenville,” were recorded with the Kings Men, featuring longtime bandmates of B.B. King, Elvis Presley, and Little Milton. The album’s completist theme was intentional, he says. “Instead of having half a record, and you take a turn and all of a sudden you’re in Mississippi or the Delta, I wanted to put it out as one collection and one vinyl.” While Azar is happy to be home—a place he’s been more in 2020 than any year since high school—the journey getting there hasn’t always been smooth. The road exacts a toll on performers and their loved ones that can be unpredictable. One of his bandmates went to prison for killing his girlfriend after a show, and another of his bandmates committed suicide. He managed to keep the band together for a few more years before moving to Nashville. Later, right when he was poised to follow up his biggest hits, record-label mergers sidelined his tour and squandered the momentum. While he watched former tour-mates Keith Urban and

Brad Paisley continue to rise, he wrote more than eighty new songs at the behest of a succession of new A&R label reps. Then, after progressing from performing in smoky bars to arenas and festivals, resulting in years of abuse and damage to his vocal cords, he developed a cyst. “I was losing range by the second and had a lot of noise in my throat,” he says. “It got to the point where I’d sneeze and there was nothing but blood. Every time it would start to get better, I would sneeze or something and it would rupture, and I could just taste blood.” Finally, he asked out of his contract, had throat surgery, and made Indianola on his own in 2008 before hitting the road with Bob Seger. As he watched the headliner fly in and out for shows while he was stuck on a bus, away from his family for extended runs, he realized what he was missing at home. After the tour, a more weathered and wiser Azar moved his family back to the Delta. Leaving Music City was hardly the end of his run as a hitmaker, though. Once he finally accepted that the Delta had an enormous grip on his soul, he yielded to it and found success writing about his home. In fact, “Sunshine (Everybody Needs a Little),” became a number one hit on GAC, and Taylor Swift named it her favorite song of 2010 in People magazine. He learned the value of airplanes over buses from Seger and now flies to forty or more live dates a year, while running Ride Records, hosting a radio show, and more. “When I finally realized how to say it, I had to make music that represented how I felt growing up,” he says. “It’s funny—when you’re a kid, you’re in the middle of it. It’s hard to see unless you leave it.” DM DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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Clarksdale for the Holidays!



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Form &


UniqUely beaUtifUl, Spence HelmS’ cUStom kniveS are made to Hold an edge




fine line separates art form from function, and that’s precisely where Spence Helms hones his craft. With twenty-four years

of bladesmithing to his credit, this Mississippian transformed a passing fancy into an all-consuming passion that demands time, extraordinary skill and a whole lot of patience.

From hunters in the Delta to fishermen on the Gulf to cowboys in California and at least one football aficionado in Texas, Helms Knives have gone nationwide. No cookie cutters here! That’s because each Helms knife is handmade and designed for function, longevity, and just a touch of pretty. The Tack Room Workshop Spence Helms is an electrical lineman on weekdays, but he’s a knife maker on evenings on the weekends. He and his wife, LeeAnn, along with their teenage daughter, Blake, live in Ackerman. The family shares a passion for Quarter Horses, and this is where—oddly enough—Spence’s knife making began. “I made some spurs and bits for my wife, and one day I just decided to build a knife,” he explains. “I didn’t have the equipment; I just made do with whatever I had.” It wasn’t much—an ancient belt grinder and a slew of various tools was about it. But it was enough to get the job done.

“I was so proud,” Spence says. “I showed it to my wife and told her, ‘I will never sell this knife! No money can buy this knife!’ We joke about that because now I say, ‘Nobody would want to buy that knife!’ “ He built a knife, but Spence rested on no laurels. “I didn’t want to just build something that would cut. I wanted to take it to another level,” he says. It was 1996 and the internet was just starting, so there were no digital knifemaking tutorials or how-to videos on YouTube. Word of mouth was about it. During a casual conversation Spence learned about an expert knife maker in Starkville. “Winston” was his last name. “I didn’t know his first name, but I got a Starkville phone book and I called everybody with that last name,” Spence recalls. “On the fourth try I got this guy and he told me, ‘I think you’re looking for my brother, David Winston.’ “ Spence made the call and sure enough, he was the right man. “David invited me over, and I took the little stuff I’d made and showed it to him.

Each Helms knife is completely unique. Each one is designed according to the customer’s intended purpose, style and color choices, climate where the knife will be used, and budget. Special requests are welcome. Spence says, “If you can dream it and I can cut it out of steel, it can be a knife.” DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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Spence uses various grits to grind the knife to absolute perfection. Scratches and imperfections are almost impossible to remove once the steel is heat-treated, so it’s important the blade has that perfect “fit and finish” before it is tempered at 1,850 degrees. When it comes out of the oven, the knife is blacked and must go through another lengthy sanding process to reach the finish that shines like new silver.

He said, ‘Boy, that looks good!’ I was so proud when he said that—but I think he was really just being nice,” Spence says with a laugh. Under David’s tutelage, Spence improved his skills and gradually acquired advanced equipment and tools. For several years, he regularly made the twenty-plus mile drive to Starkville to work alongside his mentor. “David really took me in and helped me,” Spence acknowledges. “He saw that I had an interest to keep getting better and better. Knife making is a challenge and it’s rewarding. It’s just in me.” Today, Spence makes his knives at home. The family’s barn is now half-horse (stalls and tack room), half-metal workshop. It’s here that Spence keeps his tools, houses his machines, and perfects his craft—one knife at a time. Metallurgy 101 When we think of “steel,” we’re thinking of carbon steel—the alloy of iron with a low percentage of carbon. Basic carbon steel worked great for medieval era swords. But it’s not as popular for knives these days, mostly because it rusts easily and tends to be brittle. 56 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

Modern bladesmiths typically use one of two other kinds of steel: ultra high carbon steel or high carbon stainless steel. Both have their positives and negatives. Ultra high carbon steel has more carbon (at least 0.5 %), which makes the metal harder. The harder the steel, the easier it is to attain a super fine, super sharp edge. Of course, the higher the carbon content, the more susceptible the steel is to rust and the harder it is to sharpen. So chromium is added to the mix. It transforms high carbon steel into stainless steel. The higher the chromium percentage, the better the rust resistance and ease of sharpening. The downside: the more “stainless” the steel becomes, the faster its edges dull. (Think of disposable razor blades.) “You have to have some rust to hold an edge,” Spence says. “It’s a trade-off. If it’s easy to sharpen, it’s easy to get dull.” Most knife makers opt for steels that combine several alloys, creating the ideal steel for whatever the cutting job demands. These steels typically fall somewhere between ultra high carbon and high carbon, and each has its own unique properties. Spence says there’s a give and take

between ultra high carbon and stainless and how each applies to the owner’s desire for edge retention, toughness, ease of sharpening, and corrosion resistance (rust). “These steels are just like shoes, everyone has his favorite—I like this, you like that, some guy’s heard a lot about that one. There’s a tradeoff for every knife.” Forging Perfection There’s a special protocol for each of Spence’s handcrafted knives. He talks personally with each customer, making notes on all the particulars: purpose, style, color, climate, special requests and, of course, budget. He encourages people to peruse the photos on his Instagram page (helms_custom_knives) for ideas. The process always begins with matching the blade with the right kind of steel. His favorite is CPM154, a quality high-carbon stainless steel that several established knife manufacturers—such as Kershaw—use for their premium blades. “Some might think of using preformulated steel as cheating, but I don’t,” Spence says. “It’s like making biscuits—they have a recipe. They pour everything in and come out with something that is always

high quality. You know exactly what you’re getting.” Basically, it’s the perfect mixture for most of Spence’s customers. In his opinion, CPM154 comes closest to being the best of all worlds (edge retention, toughness, ease of sharpening, and corrosion resistance). It’s also affordable. Spence takes the customer’s chosen template and traces it onto a steel bar. Customers may choose from the dozens of templates hanging on the wall in his workshop, or they can design something brand new. “If you can dream it and I can cut it out of steel, it can be a knife,” Spence says. First, he makes a rough cutout using an old belt grinder and 60-grit paper, and then uses a more advanced grinder to carve out the curves, edges and corners. At this point, the knife reaches its final shape. Next, Spence drills the handle holes and then mounts the knife on a powerful magnetic plate. He uses a surface grinder to make sure the knife is perfectly flat. This is an important step because air can collect in gaps during the tempering process, which compromises the integrity of the metal. Now the hardest part begins. Spence takes a Sharpie pen and traces in the line where the blade angles down toward the edge. This is called a “bevel.” “That line is always going to be in the middle of the knife,” he says. “Grinding this part is difficult and you’ve got to pay attention. The bevel angle has to be perfectly matched on both sides of the blade, otherwise it will be lopsided.” He acknowledges that he’s had more than a few lopsided results. “It took a lot of practice and sometimes it could be pretty frustrating,” Spence says. “It would be three o’clock in the morning and I’d still be in my work room. I’d grind up anything that would sit still long enough.” These days, Spence eyeballs the horizontal bevel line to confidently glide even, precise grinds along both sides. He uses various grits in this process—starting with 60 then going to 120, 220, and 320. Everything is perfectly symmetrical. “You look down the center and make sure you’re staying steady and even on both sides,” Spence emphasized. “The finer grit takes out the previous grit. You have to be careful to not get the blade too thin.” At this point Spence is not making a sharp edge—that comes later. Right now,

Each knife starts as a solid sheet of steel. Spence chooses the type of steel according to what best fits the customer’s order and budget. He also considers a knife’s four basics: edge retention, toughness, ease of sharpening, and corrosion resistance.

Spence traces a pattern on to the steel plate. Customers can choose one of Spence’s stock patterns or design their own unique patterns.

Once the pattern is cut, the handle holes are drilled and a surface grinder is used to sand the knife perfectly flat. DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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it’s all about the art. He hand sands the knife until all the scratches are removed and the metal shines like new silver. “I call this the ‘fit and finish,’ “ Spence says. “I guess you can have a correctly made ugly knife—they all cut. But finishing a knife takes it to the next level and makes it pretty. I want my knives to be pretty.” Scratches and imperfections are almost impossible to remove once the steel is heattreated, so it’s important to have perfectly smooth metal at this step in the process. Once the polish is satisfactory, Spence coats the knife in baby powder and wraps it in a stainless steel sheet that resembles aluminum foil. This sheet protects the knife until the oven heats the metal to the point where tempering begins. (Eventually the protective sheet burns off.) The knife’s steel is hardened after baking for one hour at 1,850 degrees. It comes out with a black matte coating, so Spence hand sands the knife with 400-grit paper until the shiny silver finish returns. Next he grinds out the secondary bevel, or the sharp cutting edge. Then he attaches the handle. This is also custom ordered. It can be metal, but it’s more likely to be bone, wood or a composite material. Other adornments are added upon request. Another Helms Knife is finished. Spence admits that his knives are not the easiest to sharpen, but he insists that his edges are strong enough to skin seven or eight deer before needing to be sharpened. After all, a durable sharp edge is what a knife is all about. That’s why Spence sends a hand written note and a Band-Aid with each of his knives. “No one’s complained about that yet,” he concluded with a laugh. A custom-made leather sheath is the final touch. Spence bought a sewing machine and taught himself how to stitch and tool the leather. Customers choose the individual details and whether or not they desire stamping. There are multiple styles from which to choose, although a simple sheath with a belt loop is the most popular. “Each knife has its own sheath made for it,” Spence says. “They kind of have to go hand-in-hand, and it would be tough to outsource each one and have it fit. That’s why I started doing it myself. Besides, I like that each of my knifes is totally custom— from start to finish.” DM 58 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020




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SOLDIER Remembering the end of World War II and the stories we must never forget BY KATIE TIMS • PHOTOGRAPHY BY RORY DOYLE



EvEntyfivE yEArs AGo, WorlD WAr ii EnDED. It was

really over! The soldiers came home to rejoin families, find jobs, go to school, get married, have children, live life. But, they never did say much. Self-pity wasn’t the modus operandi—not for these guys. They seldom, if ever, mentioned their wartime uncertainty, unrelenting fear, pain, second guesses. Profound heartbreak. Most World War II soldiers went to places, mentally and physically, they wished they could forget. As it’s aptly stated, war is hell. Thankfully, in the past couple of decades, Americans recognized the importance of honoring our World War II soldiers—including the 416,800 who died. In 2000, the National World War II Museum (formerly the D-Day Museum) opened in New Orleans. Then in 2004, the World War II Memorial was finished in Washington, D.C. These venues encourage remembrance and honor. Now, World War II veterans have places and times to soften stoicism for the sake of history—perhaps even absolution. Theirs are stories that Americans must never forget.


Token of Appreciation Dr. Jim Adams, didn’t fight in World War II. This Cleveland medical doctor and his three brothers—Bill, Philip and David— aren’t old enough to remember the day the war ended. However, their father was. Proof hangs on the wall of the family’s house in Rosedale, Mississippi. It’s an American Flag given to Ensign William Adams by Admiral

On September 2, 1945 the Japanese surrendered on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. U.S. General Douglass MacArthur, left, watches as the foreign minister Manoru Shigemitsu of Japan signs the surrender document that marked the end of World War II. DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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American flag given to fellow Mississippian Ensign William Adams by Admiral John S. McCain on September 2, 1945, the day of the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri.

virus.) It might have been another flag that had been aboard the John S. McCain Sr. on September 2, 1945—the day Supreme USS Missouri, or perhaps it was the one flying on the destroyer Commander Douglas MacArthur, Japanese Foreign Minister escort. Mamoru Shigemitsu, and ten others signed the formal surrender One thing is for sure: the great Admiral John S. McCain handed aboard the USS Missouri, formally ending World War II. over the special American flag to an average That day, Admiral McCain was a soldier from the Mississippi Delta. prominent representative among the “My father was always for the citizen American delegation. Ensign Adams was there solider—he was a citizen soldier,” Jim says. also. He was a crewmember on the destroyer “That was his main creed, and this flag is a escort that ferried McCain to and from the USS Missouri. Following the surrender memento of all the sacrifice. There were so ceremony, on the way back to his ship, many who died and suffered such terrible McCain asked the men, “Is there a Mississippi fates. The ones who got to go back to the farm boy on this boat?” were lucky. My dad was one of them.” “Yes sir! There’s Ensign Adams!’’ one soldier Admiral McCain died just four days later piped up. and was buried at Arlington National “That’s when he presented my father with Cemetery. His son, John S. McCain Jr., also this flag,” Jim says about what happened next. became a United States Navy Admiral, making “He was given this as a token for all the other them the only father-son admirals in US citizen soldiers. It was a prestigious memento history. Also, his late grandson, John S. McCain III served in the military and ran for representing all the sacrifices made by the US president in 2000 and 2008. average guys.” So, why did Admiral McCain give the flag Among the Adams brothers there is to the ensign from Mississippi? Because the disagreement about whether or not the flag Portrait of William Adams admiral was a native Mississippian. Back into the early 1800s, his originated from the USS Missouri. Recorded history has it that family owned a plantation in Carroll County. Captain Stuart Murray collected the American flag from the USS William Adams and his two brothers all had roles in World War Missouri and gave it to the Naval Academy Museum in October II. The oldest, Cooper, was an attorney who put his career on hold 1945. (Efforts to confirm its actual location were made, but were to be a soldier. Coincidently, Cooper had a chance encounter in the complicated by the closure of the museum due to the COvID-19 64 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

Joe Aguzzi displaying his war metals.

South Pacific that resulted in sharing of whiskey with Admiral McCain—yes, the same one! The middle brother, John Kirk, lost a kidney playing football in high school. John didn’t serve in the military, but he graduated from Princeton and became a mechanical engineer. Eventually, he worked on the Manhattan Project—the top-secret program to build the atomic bomb, which ultimately resulted in the ending of World War II. William eventually moved to the Mississippi Delta to work the farm his mother inherited from her parents. (Waxhaw Plantation, as it is known, is a few miles from Gunnison and is still operated by the Adams.) William graduated from the Naval Academy as a gunnery officer. He served first in Italy and then shipped out to the South Pacific, where he remained until the end of the war. The Adams family is one steeped long in military tradition and William, especially, was a strong supporter of citizen soldiers. “My dad believed that citizens ought fight the wars,” Jim explained. “He thought we should have standing officers, but not standing Joe Aguzzi armies that develop military adventures—‘Let’s go around the world and correct everybody else’s regimes.’ That’s not what citizen soldiers do. They fight for America.”

The Citizen Soldier Jim Adams likes to conjure the spirit of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus—the legendary Roman military leader who left his farm and family to fight for Rome. Once he gained glory and the chance for power, he gave up both to return to his simple farming life. “My dad was strictly a Cincinnantus—the idea that you lay your plow down, you go serve your country, you finish your job, and then and you go pick up you plow again,” Jim says. It was this way for the majority of American soldiers who served their country in World War II. Some fought in Europe. The rest battled in the Pacific. All of them defended our great country and its powerful standards of freedom and democracy. The war ended in September 1945, and the soldiers came home to pick up where they left off. Here in the Mississippi Delta, William Adams returned to farming near Gunnison. Brothers Jo and victor Aguzzi also worked their family farm in Cleveland. Joe Barnes became district school superintendent in Rosedale. Dutch Ehret worked for Gulf Oil for almost four decades. Nevin Sledge owned an automobile dealership and served as a Mississippi state senator. Buddy Thompson worked for Southern Bell for many years. These are just a handful of the Mississippi Delta’s many World DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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Nevin Sledge

War II veterans. The ones who remain with us are up in age (all of them in their nineties or one hundreds), but with the right conversation, each man transforms back into that citizen soldier: a brave young boy who gave up everything—family, love, job, school, safety—to fight for his country and freedom. Heroes—every one of them. Joe Aguzzi Now ninety-four, Cleveland resident Joe Aguzzi had just turned eighteen in May 1944, and a month later he entered basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama. He shipped out a few months later and joined the Army’s 63rd Infantry Division in France. Joe was a scout in this historic progress, often referred to as the “path of blood and fire.” A scout’s mission is to march forward and identify the enemy’s position, which is often achieved by being shot at. Joe managed to stay safe from January to April as the 63rd Division progressed through France and deep into Germany. Then his luck ran out. A German bullet ripped through Joe’s left thigh, shattering his femur and all but severing his femoral artery. Miraculously, Joe survived and kept his leg, but he endured several surgical procedures plus months and months of recovery. Joe was at a hospital in London when he got word that Germany had surrendered and victory in Europe was declared. It was May 8—his nineteenth birthday. 66 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020


Buddy Thompson

“Everybody was real happy!” he recalls about that moment. In September, Joe was at a hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, when he heard even better news: Japan had surrendered, and World War II was over. “I was thinking I might end up having to go up into Japan. I really didn’t want that,” Jo says, the relief still there today. He was also happy that his brother, victor, who was one of the Army Rangers who scaled the cliffs at Normandy, would also be going home. “I wanted no part of war,” Joe says. “But I still think about it every day—every time I take a step. I’ve got something to remind me.” Nevin Sledge Charles Lindbergh made his historic flight from New York to Paris in 1927, and that’s when a six-year-old Nevin Sledge from Cleveland decided he wanted to be a pilot. Following high school, Sledge started his studies at Delta State Teacher’s College [now Delta State University]. But after the bombing at Pearl Harbor, he applied for and was accepted into the Navy’s Aviation Cadet Training Program. Sledge finished pre-flight training at the University of Georgia. He was sent to Olathe Air Force Base near Kansas City and then to the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christie, Texas. After graduation, he wanted to fly B-25 fighters but was instead assigned to be a flight instructor for advanced multiple engine squadron.

Joe Barnes

In 1944 Sledge joined the Marine Transport Squadron in the Pacific. At the time, American troops were getting ready to invade Okinawa, which they did on April 1, 1945. As part of this massive effort, Sledge led a group of Marine fighter pilots flying their Cosairs from occupied Iwo Jima to Okinawa. It was a perilous journey that required instrument navigation and dodging Japanese fire from below. For this courageous act of heroism, Sledge earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was also promoted to captain. Sledge had a few other close calls while in the South Pacific, including his airplane almost being hit by a Kamikaze. One time, a radar-guided bomb passed right underneath his cockpit. It was during a routine flight from Okinawa to Iwo Jima that Sledge and his crew learned about the atomic bomb dropping on Hiroshima. “It was just unbelievable,” Sledge, now ninety-nine, recalls of his reaction. “I said to the guys, ‘This is going to stop the war!’” Three days later, on August 9, 1945, the second atomic bomb leveled Nagasaki, and the war ended shortly thereafter. “The atomic bomb saved a lot of lives—millions of lives,” Sledge concludes Buddy Thompson As a kid, ninety-three-year-old Buddy Thompson of Greenwood was determined to be a soldier. He tried to go in early, but his parents intervened and insisted he first graduate from high school. Buddy

turned seventeen in June 1944 and went straight into the Army Air Corps. “I love my country,” Buddy answered when asked why he wanted to serve. “I wanted to be in there and do something to help my country.” Born and raised in Florida, Buddy went to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi for basic training and then to gunnery school at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver. Buddy wanted to be in the heat of the battle, to go fight overseas. Instead, he was transferred to the Air Force base at Langley, virginia. He worked with personnel records and solider pay. Even though those assignments were important and necessary components of the war effort, Buddy was very disappointed. “I was frustrated because I didn’t feel like I was making a real contribution to the war,” Buddy admits about what he felt at the time. “It’s one of my biggest regrets, and I wished I could have done more to help. All those people in combat, they really suffered.” The fact is Buddy had no choice. “I had to do what they told me to do,” he agrees. “I did it well and to the best of my ability.” As for the surrender of Japan and the end of World War II in 1945, Buddy remembers that day clearly. “I was overjoyed!” Buddy recalls. “Our loved ones were coming home! I was also grateful that I’d be coming back to my family.” Joe Barnes Before he was a citizen soldier, Joe Barnes, one hundred, of DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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Rosedale, now one- hundred years old, was an elementary school teacher. In early 1941 he registered for the draft and in May entered basic training at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg. He joined the Army’s 36th Infantry Division. The men of the “Fighting 36th” were the first Americans to enter combat on the European continent. Joe started off as a gunner in the mortar squad and eventually worked his way up to earn officer ranking as second lieutenant. It was dark when Joe and his platoon landed on the beach near Paestrum, Italy, in September 1943. Germans responded with a barrage of gunfire. Thankfully, Joe and his small band of troops survived and were able to join up with the rest of the 36th Infantry. That winter they battled their way north, slowly making progress along the Italian mountain range. They reached Rome in June of that year and then marched north into France. It was there, in October 1944, that a sniper’s bullet hit Joe in the right leg and severed a sensory nerve. The injury resulted in multiple surgeries and a long recovery. Joe was still in the hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan, when victory in Europe was reached. “We were all thrilled—it was over!” Joe recalls. “There was a lot of fighting to be done when I got shot, so I wasn’t there to celebrate with those who were.” Joe remembers when Japan surrendered. “There was a lot of relief when we found out we didn’t have to go to the Pacific,” he says. “We were all very happy, even through we were all back in the States where we were safe.”


Dutch Ehret Greenwood’s Dutch Ehret, ninety-six, grew up on the banks of the Mississippi River, right across from New Orleans. He graduated from high school in 1941 and got his draft notice in January 1942. Dutch completed training at Camp Hulen in Texas and was assigned to the Bofors gun—the powerful 40 mm antiaircraft weapon that could hit targets as high as twenty-two thousand feet. Dutch and his fellow soldiers learned how to operate the gun along with how to identify every kind of aircraft in preparation for making split moment decisions. On “D-Day plus 2,” Dutch landed on Omaha Beach in France with the 29th Infantry Division. The Bofors gun was pulled by a 2.5ton truck, and its operation required a four-man team. Soldiers with 50 mm guns stood guard, and it was fire from those guns that caused Dutch to lose a good part of his hearing. From Normandy to the Elbe River in Germany, the 29th Infantry cut an eleven-month swath into the Axis stronghold. Dutch remembers that last day in May 1945. “We met the Russians at the Elbe River chasing the Germans. The Germans were surrendering, and the 29th was taking their rifles and their armaments. The Germans were even surrendering their planes. The Russians came in on horseback, and they wanted something to drink. We wanted cigarettes.” A few months later, Dutch was part of the occupation forces in Germany when he received word that the Japanese had surrendered. “I love America, and I wanted to be a part of it—we were fighting for the American flag, but now I was coming home,” Dutch says. “Oh, I was happy lad!” DM


Dutch Erhet

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Statement of Ownership, management, and circulation for Delta Magazine. Publication No. 022-954 as of September 1, 2020. Six issues published bi-monthly for a subscription rate of $28 at P.O. Box 117, Cleveland, MS 38732. The names and address of the publisher and editor: Publisher and Owner, Scott Coopwood, PO Box 117, Cleveland, MS 38732; Editor, Cindy Coopwood, PO Box 117, Cleveland, MS 38732. Average No. of Copies Actual No. of Copies Each Issue During Single Issue Published Preceding 12 Months Nearest to Filing Date

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Rewired lanterns found in and Alabama antique shop are a focal point in the Bruton’s spacious kitchen.

A Home with a View Idyllic vistas paired with beautiful furnishings, make this spacious Lake Washington home the perfect setting for family gatherings and holiday fun BY SHERRY LUCAS • PHOTOGRAPHY BY GREG CAMPBELL


The French country vibe of Valerie and Jeffery Bruton’s home is fresh and inviting.


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Garlands of greenery provide a festive and welcoming touch at the home’s grand entrance and throughout the house.


he French country flair of Valerie and Jeffery Bruton’s Glen Allan home is an air kiss to Lake Washington, with lovely views

that fill nearly every window and plenty of natural light to boost the fresh, bright feel. Come Christmas, the mostly white tone on tone decor becomes an inviting canvas for pops of red and green cheer and frosty, winter white accents. The Brutons built the house in 2017, on the lake that has been a weekend destination for them both since childhood in Hollandale. “We grew up coming over here when we were younger,” valerie says. “We love the scenery, the sunsets. It’s just really peaceful.” Jeffery’s fishing boat and pontoon boat are perfect for catching crappie and excursions around the lake. “It sounds idyllic, and it really is. We love it.” Home designer Bruce Crane of Collierville, Tennessee, took full advantage of the pretty setting, with big windows


that embrace the lake from nearly every room in the house. Even walking in the front door, guests can see clear through to site’s prime draw. The builder was Mac Long of Madison. “When we started building, I kind of knew the look I wanted,” valerie says. Construction consultant Paula Hughes of Madison translated inspiration into interior flow and furnishings, and “helped me from beginning to end.” A spread on Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady’s home in Architectural Digest sparked some ideas. In the Brutons’ home, stone walls and columns bring that French country feel to the kitchen and entrance to the dining room. They built off the look from there, Hughes says, fleshing out the light, airy atmosphere with antiques from Round Top, Texas. A double island in the kitchen maximizes surface areas for prep and serving. “It works well,” Hughes says, “because in the Delta, everybody throws lots of parties.” When friends of Maddison Bruton, their nephew Owen’s wife, wanted to throw her a baby shower, the lovely views and spacious rooms made the Brutons’ home a perfect setting. The early December date brought a holiday spirit to the decor.

Pink and white striped Christmas tree ribbons on invitations by co-hostess and designer Mary Clair Cumbaa set a theme for the party and hinted that a little girl was on the way (Margaret Mayo Bruton arrived in January). Pink poinsettias and pink and white roses tied seamlessly into the spread. Light fare for the Sunday afternoon shower included cucumber rounds with salmon and capers, sandwiches, fruit salad and cookies iced in soft hues of pink, mint (pastel

versions of red and green) and white, in shapes of baby carriages, nighties, bottles, rattles and Christmas trees. Cookie creator Emily Lewis (SugarMemma in Leland) was also a co-hostess. Gold-rimmed Annieglass serving pieces flirted with gold elements in a mirror frame and more in the Brutons’ decor. “It’s a beautiful setting because it overlooks Lake Washington, and she already had her house decorated for Christmas,” says Cumbaa. “She had some great greenery, so DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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A stunning kudu stands out among the many mounts from a trip to Africa displayed in the Bruton’s trophy room. A whimsical Santa or two follow along with the African theme.

the pink ribbons really popped.” Plus, the kitchen’s double island worked wonders for party flow, with the food on one island, and beverages and shower hostess gifts on the other. “She had such a great canvas. It really laid the foundation, and accentuated everything we did.” The Brutons’ Christmas tree is a tower of 10 to 11 feet, topped by a cheery polka-dot bow with cascading ribbons that takes full advantage of room’s 12-foot ceiling. Polka dots 76 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

dance across the ornaments, too, as well as stripes and swirls, for a pattern of playfulness that tucks right into the season. “I just want it to look fun and festive,” valerie says. “We usually have Bruton Christmas here,” she adds, as well as a cookie exchange for their church, “and I want everybody to come and have a good time. I don’t want it to seem stuffy.” The Brutons’ family includes three children— Magan King (married to Keith King, with granddaughter

Ice blue and dove gray hues work well with frosty winter white in seasonal decor. DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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Old St. Nick pottery by Vietri pulls in a pop of red in the breakfast nook, and Valerie’s vast collection of Santas scattered throughout the house suggest Christmas in every corner.


Mary Waldon) and twins Madison and Michael Bruton. The fun and festive slant continues with collections of Santas, carolers and a Christmas village that, in shades of white and taupe, radiates snowy beauty and cozy warmth. Old St. Nick pottery by vietri livens up the breakfast nook with punches of bright red and elfin charm. In the kitchen, a Wolf range is ready to roar to life in the service of entertaining, and white quartzite countertops provide an appealing expanse for the same purpose. Above, a pair of lanterns, found in an Alabama antique shop and rewired for overhead lighting, provide a focal point. They caught valerie’s eye while the house was under construction, but they looked a bit rickety and “I couldn’t decide if I should get them or not.” By the time she got home without them, she was kicking herself. “They probably would have really set my kitchen off!” She called back to stake her claim, and “I’m so glad I went back and got them. … They’re beautiful. I honestly don’t know how old they are. I don’t know anything about them, but I really like the way they look!” The dining room continues that inviting French country feel, with a large farm table and a pale blue antique sideboard. Kendall Fratesi, a friend of their daughter, Magan, created the abstract painting there, picking up all the room’s hues in a calming abstract that also sets off the holiday decor in pearl and blue ornaments with a garland of greenery.

A charming Christmas village and glints of gold add a special warmth. DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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Pink poinsettias, champagne, ribbons and roses tie seamlessly into the baby shower’s color palette.


Annieglass pieces filled with SugarMemma cookies and salmon-topped cucumber rounds toast both the baby and the holiday ahead.


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Friends of Maddison Bruton enjoy a Sunday afternoon baby shower at her relatives’ home overlooking Lake Washington.

Pink ribbon was the perfect complement against fresh greenery.


The trophy room, behind barn doors right off the breakfast nook, has become a favorite family hangout spot, enticing with its homey and cozy feel, comfy sectional, cypress paneling and plantation shutters. The space was designed with Jeffery’s mounts in mind— particularly the trophies he brought home from a 2015 hunt in Africa with his brother. A zebra rug greets guests as they enter the dining room, but it’s the trophy room and its antelope mounts that truly pay tribute to that trip. A kudu head dominates the room and vaulted ceiling, and a klipspringer stands atop a high corner shelf. There in the trophy room, valerie’s penchant for collecting Santa Clauses hits a thematic peak, with one jolly fellow atop a rolling reindeer and a second St. Nick astride a giraffe. “I got those at Lagniappe in Greenville,” she says. While she typically decorates the tree and punches up the home’s holiday spirit, “They come in and do those extra touches that I think makes everything look put together.” The giraffe Santa was a particularly delightful, had-tohave find. “It’s so cute! And, I thoroughly needed another Santa Claus,” valerie says, chuckling at the size of her collection. A mix of natural and synthetic greenery brings the outdoors inside. Along with the Christmas tree, the real stuff puts that special, seasonal scent in the air. A bountiful, red-threaded green garland drapes the French doors out front. The sparse and skinny cedars, in planters that flank the entrance, are cheered up by red bows at the top. “They look like little Charlie Brown trees,” valerie says fondly. It’s a nostalgic trigger guaranteed to connect with the child in all. DM


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A Nod to

Christmas Past this craftsman cottage in cleveland is full of history, heirlooms, and whimsical collections for the holidays BY SHERRY LUCAS • PHOTOGRAPHY BY RORY DOYLE


Poinsettia cocktails and a Christmas tree festooned in nostalgia greet guests at Frank and Elizabeth Melton’s home in Cleveland.


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The Melton’s holiday table is set with Kutani Crane by Wedgwood, Strasbourg sterling by Gorham and other family heirloom pieces. Turquoise linen napkins add an unexpected pop of color. Traditional greenery with touches of red bring the season’s festive spirit to the Meltons’ Craftsman Cottage.

lizabeth and Frank Melton’s Christmas decor prompts a trip through the past that soon turns into a tour of the family tree. roots reach back generations and branches stretch into stories.


Ornaments’ lineage links them to loved ones long gone. Decorating the Melton tree probably takes three times longer than it should, as reminiscing pays homage to family heirlooms and cherished ancestors. “There’s not an ornament on the tree that doesn’t have some sort of meaning, either from my childhood, or Frank’s side of the family, or our travels,” Elizabeth says. The antique toy truck and excavator tucked under the tree that were her father’s toys when he was a young boy, now bring back special memories of how close they were, and how much she misses him. It was Frank’s idea to give them a spot under the tree, she says, “and it meant a lot.” Leftover from his childhood and stashed in their attic for years, they came Elizabeth’s way when her mother moved. “He just took such good care of them, and they look pristine,” along with directions on how to work the excavator’s stillintact string. Tatted snowflakes, cross, bell and glass ball ornaments trace back 86 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

to Frank’s grandmother, who made them by hand. The occasional refresh with a wash, dry, and heavy starch keep them snow-white and showy. “We absolutely treasure those,” Frank says. “I loved my grandmother so and remember her through those ornaments every year. It’s very touching.” Their Cleveland home holds plenty of history of its own. More than a century ago, the 1913 Craftsman cottage was “out in the country” and surrounded by cotton fields. It marks one of the highest elevations in town, the story goes, situated on Jones Bayou ridge encompassing more than an acre in what is now the town’s Founders Historic District, within the Cleveland Preservation District. Perhaps an abundance of courtship optimism led the home’s builder, Robert Nugent Somerville, to tell his Tennessee fiancée, Keith Frazier, that it was on a hill. “A little white lie there,” Frank chuckles, as he shares the home’s history from the book Wanderer from the Delta, written decades later by their daughter Keith Somerville Dockery McLean. Robert’s younger sister, the trailblazing lawyer, feminist, politician, and judge, Lucy Somerville Howorth and her husband, Joseph, built the house next door in the 1930s.

The Meltons are only the third owners of the cottage. Delta State University professor Arthur Whittemore and his wife, Mary, bought the house in 1974. He turned what was the original bedroom into his study, with plenty of built-ins. That era’s socializing trends also brought a few changes. A sliding glass door went into the master bedroom, and a new deck wrapped around the front of the house to view the expansive front yard. A closet was converted to a wet bar. “It’s a little unusual to walk into a house and the first thing you see is the bar,” Frank laughs. Still, “It works great for us,” he adds, and the room’s Federal style convex mirror helps lure the focus on first entrance. Elizabeth had long had her eye on the cottage. When their daughter victoria, 25, was a toddler, the Melton’s were building a home south of town. During the construction, they lived in a rental house near the cottage, which happened to be rented by dear friends at the time. With children nearly the same age, Elizabeth would often pop by with victoria in her little red wagon to visit, look around, and imagine living there. Needless to say, years later, a For Sale sign was spotted in the yard and prompted fast action. They saw the home that weekend, put in an offer Monday and sold their own house the following Friday. “It was meant to be,” she says. “It needed some tender loving care,” but from the moment of their walk-through, “We just said, ‘We’re home.’” “It’s like going to your grandparents to visit,” Frank says. “It has that heartwarming feeling, from the time you step on the front porch.” Once inside, decor and furnishings echo that warm embrace. “It’s what I like to call Attic and Estate Sale era,” Elizabeth, chuckling, says of the style. “We have just one pair of mid-century modern

Mischievous elves perched above the bar are whimsical reminders of generations past.

Vintage Twelve Days of Christmas plates by Haviland fill a custom-made plate rack just above the kitchen fireplace.


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A treasured ornament that once adorned a gift from Elizabeth’s grandmother.

Nesting Santa boxes add a tough of holiday cheer.

Champagne cocktails await guests in the living room.

A Federal style convex mirror draws the eye on first entrance.

Pristinely preserved, an antique toy truck and excavator once belonging to Elizabeth’s father are tucked under the tree each year. 88 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

Beautiful tatted ornaments were handmade by Frank’s grandmother.

leather chairs and various artwork in our home to realize we are in the new age, if you will. “It’s just a very traditional, old-fashioned, timeless home.” Heart pine floors, 11-foot ceilings, a tremendous amount of crown molding and three fireplaces (now converted to gas) are all part of its charm. They attended church with the late Keith Dockery McLean, who would come by to visit, swing on the porch, and tell them stories about the house she once called home. “She was happy somebody she knew was going to take it over,” Elizabeth says. “We had her blessing.” The Melton’s love and deep respect for the home and property led them to apply for historical designation in 2007. “We really felt it important to preserve the history of the house and the integrity of it,” Frank says. Their renovations included updating two existing bathrooms and closets, and a major redo of the kitchen, which included adding new cabinetry and granite countertops. They tore out the study’s built-ins and reclaimed the room for dining. Recessed lighting, efficient heating and air, refinished floors, modified doors and more were all part of the architecturally sensitive update. They also added a bedroom for their daughter onto the rear, replicating the original style of the cottage. The keeping area, with its pub table and fireplace, is a favorite with Frank as a perfectly peaceful site for winter mornings with his coffee and newspaper. The cypress building to the side, “The Barn” in family lingo, became an office for his work as Associate Director for Met Life Agricultural Finance. Later, they added a guest bedroom and bath, and a studio/sewing space for Elizabeth. She earned her doctorate in English and is a professor at Mississippi Delta Community

Every ornament and piece of Christmas decor holds a story for the Meltons—as a gift, a family heirloom or a special find.

College. The Barn is a perfect stay for family and friends, especially during the holidays. At Christmas, a spirit of whimsy abounds, teasing out the childlike joy at the heart of the season. They want guests to smile and feel at home the minute they walk in, Elizabeth says. “Nothing stuffy. We’re just not like that.” She is first on the scene with Christmas cheer. Frank and victoria take off for deer hunting on his family’s land in Tallahatchie County, and Elizabeth cranks up the Christmas music to full blare and dances around the house as she decorates. Nutcrackers march into place on a mantel, under a childhood portrait of victoria. Smitten with the Nutcracker story since DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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Elizabeth’s grandmother’s Boehm nativity set is displayed with the stable her father made by hand.

Above; Frank drapes the front entrance with fresh cut cedar, nandina and palmetto to welcome guests during the holidays. Right; The historic home photographed during a rare Delta snow.

childhood trips to see the ballet in Memphis, Elizabeth started the collection with a doll from her parents’ trip to Germany when she was still in elementary school. More fun than fine, the collection features more she’d pick up at discount places, until Frank declared they had enough. They range from small ornaments to foot-and-ahalf-sized soldiers. Their tree—usually, a 9- or 10-footer—never stays straight for long, Elizabeth jokes. “I have a tendency of throwing lights around the tree, like a lasso.” Nearing the top, she just has to pull it her way. “That always makes it crooked!” Their elongated front room, divided into a more formal living area on one side and den at the other end, hosts two Nativity sets— in the den her grandmother’s Boehm porcelain with the stable her father made, and the one from her own childhood on a living area antique secretary desktop. Calvary Episcopal’s annual greenery sale is their source for wreaths and garlands, and their resident landscaper (Frank) pulls in fresh cut cedar, nandina, magnolia, palmetto and more from outdoors. The Twelve Days of Christmas plates by Haviland fill a custommade plate rack just above the kitchen fireplace—a warm reminder of her grandmother on her father’s side, and the annual gift from her brother in the nation’s capital. “As family lore goes, every year a package would arrive at her house out in the country from 90 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

Washington, D.C., and it would be one of those plates.” A silver wine bucket chills champagne for Poinsettia cocktails— a sip of Christmas cheer in sparkling crystal, to spur on the stories and memories. Wise men in the guise of little mice liven up a side table. “My mother’s sister’s best friend made those,” Elizabeth says, pointing out the extra-round Mrs. Claus mouse. She’s not as small because she’s pregnant, as was Elizabeth when the mama mouse was made for her. A half dozen elves hang out in a garland of greenery above the bar, doubtless planning merry mischief. Several date back two generations. The elf Bernice, with her flirty skirt and cherry cheeks, might be the naughtiest of all, with yearly misadventures that enjoy a loyal following among Elizabeth’s Facebook friends. One sweet little ornament, Elizabeth declares “my all-time favorite.” Her paternal grandmother always topped beautifully wrapped gifts with ornaments, and this one came her way as a first grader. The treasure chest elf is a cute concoction of plastic and styrofoam, but “I just fell in love with it! I would make up stories about it.” For an only child living in the middle of the country, it sparked an imagination that swept her down paths of entertainment and joy. Like so many other festive touches, it wraps up the sentiment of the season in this historic home full of family ties, and puts a bow on top. DM

Our customers come first. Now, more than ever. New payment options for COVID-19 relief. At Entergy Mississippi, we understand the immense impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our customers and communities. And we know that now, electricity is more important than ever. So for those struggling to make ends meet, we’ve developed new payment options to provide some relief during these uncertain times. Our Enhanced Customer Assistance Plan provides flexible options to extend time to pay, waives late fees with payment arrangements and reimburses credit/debit card fees. Any customer that is experiencing financial hardship is eligible to take up to six months to pay their current bill and/or unpaid balances. For added convenience, new self-service options are available to select the extended payment arrangement that works for you. Visit, or select Deferred Payment on the Entergy Mobile App, or call 1-800-Entergy and follow our automated response system billing and payment menu.

A message from Entergy Mississippi, LLC Š2020 Entergy Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved.



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Blue &White for the Holidays



ecorating our homes for the holidays is a favorite custom, starting with the rich fall hues at Thanksgiving to the red, green, and metallic accents at Christmas. This year we’ve decided to throw something different into our


traditional seasonal decor using pieces we already have out on display—specifically blue and white chinoiserie containers and accessories. They look amazing yearround, so no need to put them away for the holidays. We mixed in favorite estate sale finds, found objects and simple yard clippings and—we think you’ll agree— ended up with stunning results!


Traditional Holiday A mix of silver dollar and seeded eucalyptus with fresh cedar cuttings ďŹ ll the chinoiserie ginger jars. The Victorian mantel is lined with more cedar, and accented with blue and white ceramic balls, pine cones, and faux red berries. Red candles glow in an antique silver candelabra snagged at an estate sale. eState Sale findS: Silver candelabra greenery/cUttingS: Cedar clippings, pine cones and eucalyptus (Cleveland Fresh) blUe and wHite: Ginger jars and ceramic ornamental balls, Rosson Co. DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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Crisp and Casual Casual assortments of dried hydrangea, pigweed, and dried crape myrtle berries fill blue and white vases, and are reflected in the vintage gold-leaf mirror. Brass candle sticks and antler sheds flank each end of a traditional white mantel which is filled in with nandina cuttings, small gourds, and pumpkins. A basket full of nandina fills the firebox which once burned coal. eState Sale findS: Gold-leaf mirror, brass candlesticks greenery/cUttingS: Nandina, dried hydrangea, dried crape myrtle berries, pigweed blUe and wHite: Vases, Delta Party Rental


Sophisticated and Unexpected Silver wine buckets lined with moss hold faux white narcissus bulbs—a classic Christmas bloom. The antique chinoiserie platter and other blue and white accents add an unexpected theme to this festive design. Vintage white pheasants and inexpensive gold-glitter balls are scattered along the lacy bunches of cedar and eucalyptus. eState Sale findS: Silver wine buckets and vintage white ceramic pheasants greenery/cUttingS: Cedar and eucalyptus clippings: faux narcissus, Rosson Co. blUe and wHite: Platter and other accents, Neysa’s Fireside Shop


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LET’S BE HONEST. Holiday meals are really about the sides. There’s a lot of talk about turkeys, spiral-cut hams and prime rib roast (if you’re lucky), but what everyone really remembers from year to year are the side dishes. And since we only get to enjoy this celebratory feast once a year, why not dig in to all the indulgent dishes we so eagerly anticipate…right? Then again, if you have a lot of leftovers, these dishes might be lurking around for several days after said holiday—so we’ve gathered some healthier options to throw into the mix. Here is our take on a few classic sides but with a tweak or two to make each one less of a splurge.

ROASTED WINTER ROOT VEGETABLES Colorful winter vegetables are a great addition to your holiday table. Save time by chopping the vegetables the night before. 4 tablespoons butter, divided ½ pound turnips, peeled and cut into chunks 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut lengthwise 1 pound red beets, peeled and coarsely chopped 1 pound small Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved ½ head of red cabbage sliced into wedges 3 tablespoons olive oil Kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper fresh rosemary or thyme sprigs

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine all vegetables in a large bowl and drizzle generously with olive oil. Toss to coat well. Divide vegetables between two aluminum foil-lined rimmed pans. Spread vegetables in a single layer in each pan, being sure not to crowd pieces. Season well with salt and pepper. Bake both pans for 20 minutes, on the middle and lower racks if possible. Stir vegetables gently and switch pans; bake 20 more minutes or until vegetables are tender. Gently loosen vegetables, adjust seasonings to taste. Sprinkle with fresh herbs.


SAUTEED GREENS BEANS WITH CHARRED PEARL ONIONS Old habits die hard, but we think you’ll love this just as much as Aunt virginia’s traditional green bean casserole. 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided 2 cups frozen pearl onions, thawed and patted dry with paper towels ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar 2 teaspoons sugar ½ teaspoon kosher salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Blanche beans in boiling water to cover in a large saucepan until tender-crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from pan and spread on paper towels to drain. Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pearl onions; stirring often, until tender, caramelized and brown, about 10 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and sugar, and cook until reduced to a light syrup consistency, 3 to 4 minutes. Add beans back to pan and sear lightly, toss with remaining tablespoon butter, season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

SAUTEED SPINACH WITH GOAT CHEESE Creamed spinach or spinach Madeleine will not be missed with the bright and fresh flavors in this quick and easy dish. 2 1 1⅓ ⅓

tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced pounds baby spinach cup (about 2 ounces) soft goat cheese, crumbled Salt and pepper to taste ½ cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans, for garnish

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute’ onion; stirring occasionally, until onion has softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Add spinach to pan, tossing until spinach has started to wilt, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange spinach on a serving platter, tossing gently with onions and leaving some onions on top. Dot with goat cheese and sprinkle with pecans if desired.


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BLACK RICE, FETA AND CRANBERRY SALAD Let this light, crunchy, nutty salad take the place of your rice consommé this year! 3 ½ ½ 1 ⅓ ¼ 2 2 ¼ ¼ ½

cups cooked black rice cup toasted chopped pecans cup dried cranberries can mandarin oranges, drained cup chopped green onions cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley tablespoons lemon juice tablespoons olive oil teaspoon salt teaspoon coarse black pepper cup crumbled feta cheese

Cook black rice according to package directions. Stir in all remaining ingredients, other than mandarin oranges and feta cheese. Adjust seasonings, and gently fold in mandarin orange segments and cheese crumbles. May be enjoyed chilled or at room temperature.

BAKED ACORN SQUASH SLICES WITH BROWN SUGAR The sweetness of acorn squash is reminiscent of sweet potatoes. This is an uncomplicated substitute for classic sugar-laden sweet potato casserole. 2 2 4 ½ ¼

acorn squash (about 3 pounds), halved and seeded tablespoons maple syrup teaspoons olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan teaspoon freshly ground black pepper teaspoon kosher salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut each squash into slices, about 1-inch thick. Combine syrup, olive oil, pepper and salt in a large bowl. Add squash, and toss to coat. Place squash on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray. Bake for 30 minutes or until tender.



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Scored & Glazed

Elevate your holiday ham with these simple techniques instead of buying a pre-sliced glazed ham this year, try your hand at scoring and baking your own. Scoring the fat layer that insulates the ham allows your glaze to seep into the cracks as it cooks, adding even more flavor. it also makes a beautiful presentation on your holiday buffet!

Scoring t he ham allows t he outer layer of fat t o get deliciously crispy!


How to score a ham • first remove any of the thick outer rind that may still be attached. • with a very sharp knife, simply start at one side close to the bottom, cutting about ⅓ of an inch into the ham. • repeat, cutting parallel lines about 1-inch apart across the whole ham. when finished, turn the ham and repeat in the opposite direction from one side to the other.

SIMPLE HAM GLAZE Some recipes recommend thickening the glaze, but adding a couple of coats—at the beginning and near the end of it’s cooking time helps seal the ham and thickens the glazed outer layer. ⅔ ¼ 2 to 3 ½

cup brown sugar cup orange juice or pineapple juice tablespoons dijon mustard or grainy mustard teaspoon garlic powder

Whisk all ingredients together. Brush a light coat of glaze over scored ham before placing in the oven. Add an additional coat of glaze, about 20 to 30 minutes before the ham is done. Repeating if necessary to reach the thickness of glaze you’re looking for. If desired, broil the last few minutes brown ham and make the glaze golden.

• Ham is now ready to glaze.


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Leftover Ham? NO PROBLEM ExTRA hAM will always come in handy. It can be diced and stirred into mac and cheese, layered into a grilled cheese sandwich, or tossed into an omelet. These recipes use leftover ham from your Christmas dinner and are a great reason to continue celebrating with brunch or lunch the following day—especially if there are still guests to feed.

BROCCOLI AND HAM CHOWDER A creamy, hearty, and cheesy way to use your leftover ham—and it’s loaded with lots of broccoli making it a meal in itself! This is the perfect cozy, filling soup to enjoy any time of year. 4 1 3 1 ¼ 4 1 2 ¾ 1½

tablespoons butter, divided cup fully cooked ham, diced cloves garlic, minced sweet onion, diced cup all-purpose flour cups chicken broth medium potato, peeled and cubed cups broccoli florets, finely chopped cup heavy cream cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, sauté ham in 1 tablespoon butter over medium, heat stirring occasionally until lightly browned. Remove ham and set aside. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in pot, then add garlic and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook mixture until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in chicken broth, stirring to smooth any lumps as flour cooks and thickens, and scraping browned bits from the bottom. Season soup base with salt and pepper at this point. Add cubed potato and bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potato is tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Slightly mash potatoes to desired consistency—we like to leave some chunky. Stir in ham, broccoli and heavy cream. Cover and simmer until broccoli is tender, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in cheese until smooth; check and adjust seasonings to taste. Top with additional cheese for garnish.



cups day-old french bread, cut into ¾ inch cubes tablespoons olive oil, divided medium onion, thinly sliced teaspoon salt pound roughly diced ham large eggs cups whole milk teaspoon dry mustard teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg teaspoons fresh thyme leaves salt and freshly ground pepper 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Grease an 8-inch baking dish (or another 1½-quart to 2-quart baking dish) and spread the cubed bread in the bottom. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and salt. Saute’ until they are lightly caramelized, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in another heavy skillet, heat the other tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and saute’ ham until it begins to get crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Set on a paper towel to drain. Whisk together the eggs, milk, dry mustard, nutmeg, and thyme. Season with about ¼ teaspoon of salt and generous quantity of pepper, or to taste. Layer the ham over the bread cubes, then spread the onions on top. Sprinkle grated Gruyere on next, and then pour the egg mixture over the entire thing. Press down on the top gently, so that all of the bread cubes soak up some of the egg mixture. Refrigerate overnight. Take the casserole out of the fridge allowing it time to warm slightly before baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake, uncovered, for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the edges are bubbling and the top begins to brown. Check for doneness by inserting a knife; if it comes out clean the casserole is ready. Baking time will depend greatly on the depth of the pan you use. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

RUSTIC HAM HASH OVER WAFFLES With extra ham, potatoes, and other veggies cluttering your fridge, you already have the key ingredients for a basic hash on hand. Throw in some herbs and a poached egg if you want a little more protein and serve it all on top of a crisp buttery waffle. 3 1 1 1

tablespoons olive oil cup chopped pieces of ham cup chopped onion cup chopped up leftover vegetables such as roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts or carrots ½ cup bell pepper chopped into small pieces 1 tablespoon chopped herb of your choice, we used parsley salt and pepper

In a medium to large size frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onions and pepper until soft. Toss in ham and stir until slightly brown. Add left over vegetables (we used roasted sweet potatoes). Decrease temperature to low. If desired top with an over-easy or gently poached egg. Serve over toasted and buttered waffles. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and garnish with a if desired. DM DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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The 32nd Annual

Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration

Southern Environments February 22-27, 2021

Photo “Floodwaters in the Fog” (2019) by Ben Hillyer |

Join us for virtual and hybrid presentations exploring Ecocriticism in Southern Studies, Nature Writing, Environmental Justice, Nature as a character, Southern Social Environments, and so much more! For more information call 601.446.1104 or email


A love of Art A passion for Business When a love of creativity, marketing, and business collide BY SUSAN MARQUEZ • PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM BECK

WAS BORN FOR THIS.” Mary Kathryn Decker states as she describes how she found her life’s calling. Her work brightens up spaces from dorm rooms to dining rooms to nurseries. “I come by my talent naturally,” the young entrepreneur/artist explains.


Artistic Delta roots run in her family. Mary Kathryn’s mother, Angel Caraway Woods, a native of Leland is a nurse by trade, but she is also an artist in her own right. “My uncle was once the mayor of Leland,” Angel says. “He was a state senator, too. He started painting at the age of seventy-eight, and he taught me to paint. Then I taught Mary Kathryn to paint.” Her husband, Woody Woods, is also an artist who studied art at Delta State. 112 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

“I remember my mom painting murals in all the schools in Madison,” says Mary Kathryn. “And every year I won the reading poster contest. That fueled my competitiveness, and my creativity. I love art and creativity, but I also love marketing and I have a passion for business.” All those loves in Mary Kathryn’s life merged unexpectedly when she was a freshman at Ole Miss. With the trend towards “decorator” dorm rooms, Mary

Decker’s signature butterfly prints are found in decor schemes from bedrooms to nurseries.

Social media launches of new products, such as the baby floor calendar and her popular stickers, keep Decker’s followers involved and almost always sellout within hours.

Small heart prints on an acrylic stand are one of Decker’s most popular sellers.

and my mom had to come in a separate car to bring my clothes!” During the school year, Mary Kathryn continued to paint. “I set up a little studio in the basement of the Tri-Delta house,” she laughs. Surprisingly, her major was not in art, but in nutrition and dietetics. But the art is what brought attention to the perky blonde, with several articles being written about her while she was at Ole Miss. And while her art business was thriving, Mary Kathryn also

completed an eight-month, 1200-hour internship in nutrition at the University of North Colorado upon graduating from Ole Miss in 2019. It was a big learning experience for her. “I was miserable. I thought I could do both nutrition and art. After all, my mother was a nurse and she always did art on the side.” Knowing she needed to figure out how to make a living with her art alone, Mary Kathryn built on her natural marketing skills

Kathryn and Angel decided to paint a large canvas themselves to decorate her dorm. “We did a large painting on the kitchen table,” recalls Mary Kathryn. “Then other girls saw it and asked me if I could paint one for them.” With her entrepreneurial spirit, Mary Kathryn started a social media page and every summer between semesters she painted hundreds of paintings. “My sophomore year, I had thirty girls waiting on paintings on move-in day. I filled my car with canvases


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Decker’s abstracts are colorful but sophisticated—and perfect for a neutral setting.

and made a plan. “I had a golden ticket my mother didn’t have early on,” she says. “I had the power of social media.” Through her Instagram account, @mkdeckerdesigns, Mary Kathryn has now developed a national following, and has shipped her paintings to almost every state. “My primary audience tends to be more in the Southeast,” she says. Mary Kathryn set her intentions and went to work, often working forty hours a week at her day job and then painting until midnight in her garage. “There was an eightweek period when I did so much. I made business cards online when I was on a break. I was mad determined!” Just as the Coronavirus pandemic was starting, Mary Kathryn quit her job and went full-time with her art business. She began working with Woody who stretched canvases and built the frames for her paintings. Together they began making prints of Mary Kathryn’s designs on the canvases, which she then embellished with gold leaf. This process enables her to create more affordable art. “These are high quality canvases, with high-quality floating frames that are affordable,” she says. “You can’t get this kind of work from China!” Mary Kathryn says the price point of her 114 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

paintings falls in the hundreds of dollars, not the thousands often spent on large canvases. And she offers free shipping anywhere in the United States. With themes of place, Mary Kathryn launched a city painting series that has been a huge hit with college towns, particularly Starkville or Oxford, and are most often found in girls’ dorm rooms at Mississippi

State and Ole Miss. However, she’s also done plenty of custom prints with a special vacation or honeymoon spot as far away as Jackson Hole, WY. Her other series include colorful hearts, abstracts, nude ladies, and this October, she launched a series with butterflies and pink ribbons that benefits the fight against breast cancer. In preparation for college move-in week this semester, Mary Kathryn had a team of nine people working to help produce the popular canvases. “There’s no way I could do this on my own,” she says. At this point, Mary Kathryn estimates she has provided canvas paintings for about 450 dorm rooms under her MKDecker Designs brand. The prints are made to order. “We work as fast as we can, but it is a long process,” she says. One of the most exciting aspects of her business is the launch of a new collection on her website. She has made stickers, reproduced her large prints in small sizes perfect for tucking on a shelf, and even created a butterfly floor calendar for babies. “We announce the launch, and we sell out within a couple of hours of posting,” she says. For those who do not want to take a chance on missing a painting during an online

Mary Kathryn with her mother, Angel Caraway Woods.

Decker’s prints are found in dorm rooms across the South.

launch, or wait for a custom painting, Mary Kathryn’s work can be found at several retail locations. “I have pieces at State Floral in Starkville, Oxford Floral in Oxford, Allies on Magnolia in Laurel, Blair House in Tupelo and Miskelly Furniture in Pearl.” Mary Kathryn lives in Tupelo with her husband, John, who is a homebuilder, but the couple plans to build a home across from her mom in Lost Rabbit in Madison—just in time to welcome the arrival of their first child next year. While she did not necessarily start out to make a living as an artist, Mary Kathryn has found her niche and built a thriving art business. “I am so blessed to have created a business that I love. I feel like this is God’s calling for me. God has always been so faithful in my life.” Mary Kathryn often writes a Bible verse on the back of her paintings. “My go-to is 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” DM DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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2021 CHRISTMAS CLUB *Annual Percentage Yields (APY) effective as of 10/19/20. Rate may change after the account is opened. No minimum balance to earn or save. APY of 0.05% will be paid on that portion of the balance over $5,000. Requires Community Bank checking account with draft to Christmas Club Account. Limit two accounts per customer. Fees may reduce earnings. All funds are paid out at the end of the account’s term in October of the calendar year in which contributions end. Ask a customer service representative for details. Penalty for early withdrawal.



JAC JA JACKSON JACKSO JACKS JACK JACKSON, M 601.899.8850 MS MS: 6 60 601 601. 601.8 601.89 601.899 601.899. 601.899.8 601.899.88 601.899.885 • GERMANTO GERMANT GERMAN GERMA GERM GER GGE GERMANTOWN GERMANTOW GERMANTOWN, T 901-758-0090 TN TN: 9 90 901 901901-7 901-75 901-758 901-758901-758-0 901-758-00 901-758-009


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THE HUNT FOR OIL in Mississippi “the discovery of the tinsley oil field in 1939 is considered in oil circles to be the most significant event to have occurred in the history of petroleum in the Southeastern United States.” – dUdley HUgHeS

A festive day in 1921 when drilling began on the No. 1 Archer well, five miles south of Satartia, Mississippi. Local citizens pooled their money to test a structure reported in U.S.G.S. Bulletin 641-D, 1916, know as the “Eldorado Monocline” in Warren County.





outh of Yazoo City and right off of highway 49 are some of the steepest hills that border the Mississippi Delta.

Bernard Bryan Jones from Kosciusko was probably the first Mississippian to become wealthy from oil. He and his brother, Montfort, found oil in Oklahoma during the decade 1910-1920. Bryan invested heavily in Mississippi oil drilling and became a great philanthropist.


Growing up, I never knew Mississippi to be a big oil producing state. I traveled through East Texas in 1958 on the way to visit kinfolks in El Paso and remember looking out the window as we got into Texas and seeing tall oil derricks erected very close to one another. I also never knew the history behind some of the men that pioneered that East Texas oil field and the fact that one of them had very strong roots in the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta. It was much later that I began to hear stories and read books about the “wildcatters” that drilled wells using “creekology” instead of professional geologist’s recommendations of where and how deep to drill. One of the greatest and savviest of those “wildcatters” was H. L. Hunt.


e gullies, crags, and ravines are not at all like the rolling and gentle hillsides we are used to seeing as we leave the Delta and travel over our great state. is is an area geographically called the ick Loess or Bluff Hill region. Between Bentonia, in the hills, and Satartia, down in the Delta, and around a small hamlet named Tinsley are some of the most uncompromising hills and deep, steep valleys one can imagine. Believe it or not, this is oil country and once had, and continues to have, a significant impact on the oil industry in the Southeastern United States.

Outcrop on the face of an enormous landslip exposing the thin bed of bentonite in the upper facies of the Yazoo clay southeast of Satartia, October 10, 1938. DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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Oxidized calcareous loess in an old road on the Bluff south of Yazoo City, November 27, 1938.

Union Producing Company Perry Estate No. 1, Mississippi’s second commercial oil well. Tinsley Oil Field. Photographed by William C. Morse, September 22, 1939.

Union Producing Company G.C. Woodruff No. 1, Mississippi’s first commercial oil well. Tinsley Dome. Photographed by William C. Morse September 22, 1939. 120 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020


Geologic section of the Bluff at the south side of Yazoo City.

The BeeJay, a boat owned by Hal Burdine, the author’s father, was requisitioned by the U.S. Navy and used as a submarine patrol boat on the Gulf Coast during World War II.

H. L. Hunt came to Lake village, Arkansas, about 1911 and began his career buying and selling cotton plantations. He was an ardent gambler and often stated that the world’s biggest and best gamblers were Delta cotton planters because they bet everything they had on rain and drought and weeds and bugs every day they woke up. Many nights H. L. Hunt, twenty-three years old at the time, would cross the Mississippi River on the ferry from Luna Landing at Lake village to Greenville and play cards at the Planters Club or the Mississippi Club on Poplar Street. According to Hunt, there were more interesting games and bigger stakes on the Mississippi side of the river. It was during this time that he met and married Lyda Bunker from Lake village.

Having made and lost several fortunes in the land business by 1921, Hunt was about to purchase a large place called Montrose Plantation in north Louisiana by paying the taxes and assuming the debt. During the negotiations, he learned about a big oil play happening in El Dorado, Arkansas. With his innate sense that something new and better was on the horizon, and a hunch that the land boom was about to bust, he pulled out of that deal, borrowed fifty dollars from friends, and went to El Dorado to open up a card game as the house and also “to see Dr. Bussey’s Armstrong No. 1, the first oil well he had ever seen.” H. L. Hunt went on to become one of the biggest independent oil producers in America, and the rest is history. In 1939, Fred Mellen, a geologist from Jackson, was mapping DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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an area in Yazoo County for the Mississippi State Geologic Survey and discovered a large surface anticline. An anticline is an arch of stratified rock in which the layers bend downward in opposite directions of the crest. While walking along Perry Creek near Tinsley, Mellen discovered a small exposure of the Moodys Branch marl at an elevation of 250 feet above its normal position. is portrayed a dome favorable for oil and gas production. e area around Tinsley was one of the poorest in the county with very few roads and most of the good roads were not even graveled. Significant about this discovery was the fact that it was made while doing basic geologic mapping, not necessarily in search for oil and gas, but a survey of all the minerals in Yazoo County. Realizing the potential, a very carefully worded and studied memorandum was released on August 16, 1939, and shortly thereafter, the G. C. Woodruff No.1 well was successfully drilled by the Union Producing Company, later to become Pennzoil Exploration and Production Company. By December of that same year, there were seven producing commercial oil wells in Yazoo County, and by 1941 there were 322 producing wells. During World War II oil was in short supply, and in 1942, the Tinsley Oil Field had delivered twenty-eight million barrels of oil to the Allied effort. e Tinsley Oil Field had emerged as the largest oil 122 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

field in the southeastern United States. By 1947 the Tinsley Oil Field became a “giant” oil field by producing over a hundred million barrels of oil. e Allies rode to victory on a “Sea of Oil,” a great bit of it from the Tinsley Oil Field. In 1930, H.L. Hunt was soon to become an immensely successful independent oilman with most of his holdings in the East Texas oilfield. Hunt’s oldest son, Hassie, aged thirteen, spent that year with his daddy living in Henderson, Texas, and working in the oilfields with him every day. In 1936, Hassie dropped out of college and went out on his own exploring for oil by buying mineral leases and drilling wells apart from his father. According to Hunt, his son had a “natural talent for the oil business and a very unusual ‘gift’ for finding oil.” Hassie Hunt showed up in Yazoo County, Mississippi, looking to buy leases and drill oil wells in the fall of 1939. He was twenty-two years old. Legend has it that Hassie Hunt would sometimes pay above the going price for the mineral leases as he was negotiating with the dirt-poor farmers and landowners. Word got back to his father in East Texas about his son’s overpayment for leases, and H. L. Hunt commented, “Now isn’t that something. Hassie Hunt paid five hundred dollars too much for a million barrels of oil!” Hassie’s efforts were instrumental in the development of the Tinsley Oil


Since it’s discovery in 1939, Tinsley Oil Field has produced over 300 million barrels of oil becoming a “Giant” oil field several times over. Throughout the ensuing years the oil flow declined to less than 1,000 barrels a day. According to independent oilman David Russell of nearby Flora, “In the middle of the year 2,000, the Denbury Company purchased the oil field and began injecting carbon dioxide (CO2) into the mature producing formations to try to recover the remaining oil. This CO2 was delivered by pipelines from the CO2 fields in and around Jackson to Tinsley. At the height of the injection project, oil production in Tinsley increased to over 10,000 barrels per day. This is an oil field that is over seventy years old!”

Stovewood and Billy Goats

Hassie Hunt, oldest son of legendary Texas oilman H. L. Hunt, was instrumental in developing the Tinsley Oil Field at the age of 22. He sometimes paid more than other bidders for the oil leases from the dirt-poor farmers and land owners. Hassie produced oil from fifty oil wells and was the second largest producer in the field.

Field. Hassie Hunt became the second largest producer in the area with fifty producing oil wells. Many of the roads and wells scattered around this desolate and diverse terrain bear the Hunt family names. By 2007, 578 oil and gas wells had been drilled around Tinsley. Since September 1, 1939, the Tinsley Oil Field has produced over three hundred million barrels of oil. Today, the Tinsley Oil Field is being revitalized by CO2 injection with CO2 pipelined in from the Jackson Dome area. According to a book by Mississippi independent oil producer Dudley J. Hughes, titled Oil in the Deep South, “e discovery of the Tinsley Oil Field in 1939 is considered in oil circles to be the most significant event to have occurred in the history of petroleum in the southeastern states.” Crude oil has to be refined to usable products, and the closest refineries to the Tinsley Oil Field at the time capable of producing the diesel, gasoline, motor oils, and lubricants needed were in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. ree weeks after completion of the Woodruff No. 1 well, four 2,000-barrel tank cars left the Tinsley Switch on the Yazoo and Mississippi valley Railroad heading for the Standard Oil Refinery in Baton Rouge. As the Allied effort in World War II increased, so did its immense need for petroleum products. e only way to get the gasoline and diesel to Europe was by oceangoing ships, and these ships had to come out of the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge and ports along the Texas Coast. Hitler’s Germany sent clandestine submarine U-Boats to patrol the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico and torpedo merchant ships and supply boats and to land ashore, sending soldiers in to sabotage and blow up facilities. Within two weeks in April of 1942, German U-Boats attacked eighteen ships, sinking ten of them. During this time of dire peril, the Intercoastal Waterway was somewhat completed to facilitate oil and gas movement inland along the Gulf Coast without having to go out in the Gulf except at predetermined places where they could be readily escorted. In an effort to thwart U-Boat intervention, an Army-Navy-

during the winter of 1990, my wife Sallie and i were sitting around the huge fireplace in my hunting cabin at willow run adjacent to leroy percy State park late one evening. we were reminiscing about family history with my mother, baby Jane rule, from ruleville, when mama began to tell a story that i had never heard before. my uncle, and namesake, frank rule, was farming part of our granddaddy word’s old home place outside of inverness about 1935. while he was taking a wagon load of cotton to the gin, he noticed the gin’s owner in a terrible altercation with a farm laborer. dogging off the mules, he jumped from the wagon and grabbed the laborer right before he delivered a deathly blow with a pickax, saving the man’s life. visibly shaken, the man whose life had just been spared grabbed my Uncle Hank and said, “frank rule, you have just saved my life! i will never forget that.” the next week, Uncle Hank was taking another load of cotton to the gin when he was approached by the owner. “frank, had you not come upon me last week when you did, that man would have surely killed me. i owe you a great deal of gratitude for saving my life. i have a small farm in the hills south of yazoo city that i cannot take care of and i want to give it to you. it is only about 320 acres, but if you take good care of it, you might turn it into a decent farm.” Uncle Hank told him that he didn’t owe him anything but that he would go down to yazoo city and look at the small farm anyway. returning later to the gin with yet another load of fine delta cotton, Uncle Hank saw the owner of the gin and responded to his generous offer after traveling to yazoo county. “mr. Jemison, that was a mighty fine offer you made me for your little farm in the hills. i went and looked at it, and yet i can readily see that it is not fit for raising anything but stovewood and billy goats! i will have to decline your kind gesture.” four years later, that 320 acres that was “not fit for raising anything but stovewood and billy goats” sat right smack dab in the middle of the tinsley oil field. c’est la vie!

– Hank burdine

Coast Guard “Sea Frontier” defense system was established creating inshore, beach, and offshore patrols. e Navy was authorized to commandeer small vessels and requisition them to patrol U.S. coastal waters and the Gulf of Mexico against German U-Boats. In the Gulf, these boats, under disguise as research or fishing vessels, ventured out twelve miles and were equipped with radios to report any U-Boat sightings. e U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary was formed to man these boats. U-boats had to surface to recharge solar batteries and were often spotted while doing so. e Coastal Picket Force did a major service in assuring the safe delivery of petroleum products to the Allied war effort. e Tinsley Oil Field, a “giant oil field” in the hills of Yazoo County, did its part to ensure all Americans and other countries across the globe the freedoms we have today. DM DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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Hernando Dickens of a Christmas, November 14 in Hernando.

Willie Nelson, November 16 in Memphis.



November 8

Yazoo City

Harvest Festival

Yazoo Traditional Christmas Open House

Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum

Downtown Yazoo City

November 4-7

November 12-14


November 15, 1 pm


November 16

Mistletoe Marketplace

Rivertown Christmas Event

Willie Nelson & Family

Mississippi Trade Mart


The Orpheum Theater

November 5-7


November 13-14


Window Wonderland Open House

Reggae Boyz (Film)

Bologna Performing Arts Center

November 14, 6:30-7 pm Cleveland

Holiday Open House Downtown Cleveland

Christmas Virtual Tree Lighting and kick off of 50 Nights of Lights

November 19, 5-7 pm

November 14, 1 pm November 7

Glen Allen

Lake Washington Antique Tractor Show Paul Love Park Tractor, trucks and farm equipment displays as well as food, vendors, and kids’ activities




November 17, 7-9 pm

Delta Blues Dulcimer Revival November 6-7, 10 am-5 pm; November 8, 1 pm-4 pm


43rd Annual Hernando Christmas Open House and Sip’n Cider



Christmas Holiday Open House November 19-21, 5-8 pm


Hernando Dickens of a Christmas

Greenwood’s Holiday Open House

Hernando Town Square Enjoy crafters and vendors with Christmas wares, historic carriage rides, Children’s ornament decorating, and selfies with Santa.

November 22, 2-5 pm


Renaissance Holiday Open House

November 28-December 31


55th Annual Christmas on Deer Creek

December 3-5


Chimneyville Arts Festival Bill Waller Craft Center

December 5, 4:30 pm

Horn Lake

4th Annual Bullfrogs and Mistletoad Christmas in the Park

December 5

Reindeer Run 5K Mistletoe Markeplace, November 4-7 in Jackson. 126 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020


Shop Oxford for the Holidays

For holiday events and happenings, go to #VisitMSResponsibly

We care about your health! For travel information on visiting Oxford and Mississippi safely, scan the QR code:

1013 Jackson Ave. East | Oxford, MS | 800.758.9177 |

Christmas on Deer Creek, November 28-December 31

December 5, 10 am-4 pm


Levee Street Marketplace Christmas Open House

December 7, 6:30 pm


63rd Annual Hernando Christmas Parade

December 12, 8-10 am


Breakfast with Santa Vicksburg Convention Center

December 12, 7:30-9:30 pm


Old Court House Museum Christmas Ball The Old Court House Museum

December 19, 10 am


Repticon Memphis Reptile and Exotic Animal Show Landers Center

December 31


New Year’s Eve Party at the Crossroads

LITERARY EVENTS KIESE LAYMON in conversation with Reverend Carolyn Coleman

How to Slowly Kill Yourself & Others in America November 9, 5 pm (Virtual event on Zoom) Square Books, RSVP Required WRIGHT THOMPSON in conversation with Julian Van Winkle


Pappyland November 16, 7 pm (Virtual event on Zoom) Ticket purchase required through Eventbrite Square Books CHARLES BAXTER in conversation with Bill Cusamano

The Sun Collective November 18, 5 pm (Virtual event on Zoom) Square Books, RSVP Required CONNOR TOWNE O’NEILL in conversation with Jerry Mitchell

Down Along with That Devil’s Bones November 3, 12 pm (Virtual event on Facebook) Lemuria Bookstore MARY ALICE WELTY WHITE, SUZANNE MARRS, AND CAROLYN BROWN in a live panel discussion November 5, 12 pm (Virtual event on Facebook) Lemuria Bookstore RICK BRAGG in conversation with Helen Ellis

Where I Come From November 10, 6 pm (Virtual event on Facebook) Lemuria Bookstore DAVID HILL in conversation with John Evans

The Vapors November 12, 6 pm (Virtual event on Facebook) Lemuria Bookstore


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The Wilson Wine Experience in Wilson, Arkansas on October 9 Photos by Joy Bateman

John and Karen Pulfer Focht

Wesley Victoria and Bill Anderson

Jeremy Stanfil and Josh Cosby

Betsy Burch, Jill Forrester and Lucie Brackin

Jill and Keith Forrester

Shirley Condon, Joy Bateman and Bill Anderson

Steve Bright, Karla Bright and Paula Grantham

Heather and Tommy Wagner



The Wilson Wine Experience, continued A selection of photos by Delta Magazine readers

Joy Bateman and Mary Connor Victoria

Justin Cissell and Mary Connor Victoria

Chef Roberto Barth

Norbert Mede

Tai Chi at the Cutrer Mansion in Clarksdale with Jeannie Roberts, Kim Wong and Cindy Mitchell

Marianne Gannon enjoys watching a parade of well-wishers on her 100th birthday at First Presbyterian Church in Greenville DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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A selection of photos by Delta Magazine readers

Debbie Adams, Allison Vandevender Davis, Demetria Taylor Raper and Merikelly Borgognoni at Airport Grocery Hank Burdine and Rick Smythe landscaping newly restored gravesite of Holt Collier, bear guide to Teddy Roosevelt

Jim and Jane Fraiser in New Orleans, Louisiana

Cary, William, and Alexis Hood taking an afternoon ride on the combine

Pillow class of 78 alums enjoying a night at Lusco’s in Greenwood, front row starting from left, Marsha Martin Antoon, Carolyn King Boswell, Ann Gill, Deleslyn Huggins Robertson, Eleanor Gill, Leigh Bell, Sybil Bledsoe Lucic and Katherine Cole; back row, Deanne Neely Hill 134 | NOvEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

Dana Gary and Eleanor Braswell at a Greenwood wedding reception


A selection of photos by Delta Magazine readers

Lisa Melton, Jennifer Levingston, Cindy Coopwood, Newby Cook, and Kelly Connell enjoy an evening at Saint Leo’s in Oxford

Beverly Tindall, Mary Peyton Barnette, Suzanne Barnette, celebrating Beverly’s 70th birthday at Ross Bridge resort in Birmingham

Britt Davis Skeet shooting in the Delta

Twins Sam and Charlie Braswell and Lillie Scout Tomlinson at Luscos in Greenwood

Laura, Erik, Prentiss and Frank Howell enjoy fall break on the Norfork River in Arkansas

Kristy and Todd Kitchings on the evening of their son’s wedding rehearsal

Junior Greenville Garden Club at a pumpkin class at Fountain’s Green Grow-cery: Standing, Arlayna Moss, Kayla Walker, Emily Johnson, Anna Holder, Brittany Frankel, Jeannie Henderson, Maddison Bruton, Emily Lewis and Nan Hines; Kneeling: Susan Lawrence, Mary Baldwin, Leathe Greenlee and Kelly McCorkle DELTA MAGAzINE 2020

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holidays remembered hristmas at home in the delta began for me in 1966 after moving with my parents from louisiana back to mississippi and to cleveland. However, prior to that, a few holidays were spent at grandmother North’s house in Belzoni where my father grew up (my cousins and I called her MeMaw, not quite the elegant southern name as her true Allie Mae Darden North). MeMaw lived in a deep, white frame house on Lee Street fronted with a wide, screened-in porch. Byrdie Faulkner lived across the street in a victorian house complete with a turret and was related, I think, to the famous author William in one way or the other. My Delta grandmother’s dining room table was surrounded by cabinets filled with cut glass, one serving piece singled out each year to serve her Christmas ambrosia. Although I still treasure her memory (she passed away during my freshman year at Ole Miss), I never relished that mixture of sour cream, chopped citrus fruit, marshmallows, and grated coconut—even with a maraschino cherry tossed in. Sometimes my father would drive the forty-five minutes or so from Cleveland to Belzoni to bring MeMaw to our small house for Christmas. Another of her Christmas traditions was to surprise her coin-collector grandson with a paper roll of fifty Indian Head pennies accumulated by my late grandfather, Linton. I had hoped to retire with that coin collection. Being an only child typically meant quiet Christmases unless there was a road trip to visit relatives, the liveliest spent at Aunt Marjorie’s house in New Albany. I remember the Livingston family room as enormous, with ceilings high enough to accommodate a gigantic tree harvested from the north Mississippi woods. My mother’s sister decorated the spruce or fir herself with those oversized, multicolored lights and


Darden North, MD, was born in Jackson and grew up in Cleveland, Mississippi. He finished Ole Miss magna cum laude and completed medical school and ob/gyn residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. North is also an author and his five mystery and thriller novels have been awarded nationally, most notably an IPPY in Southern Fiction for Points of Origin. The Friendly Enemy is North’s upcoming sixth novel and Party Favors, his seventh.



electric ornaments filled with bubbling, colored fluid. I was told my cousin once swallowed the liquid contents of one decoration, but fortunately survived to see Christmas day. My Santa stash in the corner was always dwarfed by the spread of the four New Albany cousins. To this day and much to wife Sally’s chagrin, I still like huge Christmas trees, maybe not quite the size of Aunt Marjorie’s, but as tall as my own den ceiling will allow. I remember my parents Evelyn and Bar North going to holiday parties at the Benoit Outing Club when we spent Christmas in Cleveland. ere were Christmas programs and events at school and at Calvary Episcopal Church, where I was an acolyte. I marched with the Cleveland High School band in the annual downtown parade, and it was a big deal when we were invited to appear in the Greenwood parade. Growing up in the Delta, I never got everything I wanted for Christmas—and certainly should not have—although I would have appreciated Santa’s bringing that go-kart. Later in college there were holiday parties and membership in the Greenville Bachelors Club and the Cavaliers in Greenwood, the events bridging the gap between the fall and spring semesters at Ole Miss. Sally and I had our first date at a Christmas Cavaliers Ball. Later, living in Jackson and raising our two children, I have spent time deer hunting during Christmas holidays at Clifton Plantation, which overlooks the Delta. However, the season has taken on another special dimension as a grandfather. After practicing obstetrics and gynecology for almost thirty-five years, I have certainly missed a few family holiday events and continue to appreciate every moment at home. Although I have not yet penned a Christmas-themed novel, I will continue to use some of that break time to write others. DM