A River Country Journal / Fall 2010
table of contents
people 12. Ashley Bankston makes neon part of her architectural designs
14. Donald Bender takes his bread seriously at Mockingbird Bakery
17. Dr. Du Zong Zhang preaches benefits of Chinese medicine
19. William Dunlap: An artist and his dog
37. Connie Simmons Black loves sharing her gift of music
45. Education is still a top priority for Alfred Hall II
places 22. Greenwood Army Airfield was a bustling place during World War II
30. Farmer House filled with history, character and Southern charm
features 5. Roy Martin Delta Band Festival and Christmas Parade celebrating its 75th year
8. Locals land small roles in big-screen version of The Help
40. Dove hunting in the Delta is a tradition and passion
4. From the editor 21. Calendar 47. Index to advertisers
2 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
48. Melissa Tribble, the new director of Main Street Greenwood, wants to keep its good work going
ON THE COVER: Many local people have gotten a taste of Hollywood playing small roles in the movie adaptation of the bestselling novel The Help, being filmed until October in and around Greenwood.
Editor and Publisher Tim Kalich
Managing Editor Charles Corder
Associate Editor David Monroe
Bill Burrus, Bob Darden, Jo Alice Darden, Andrea Hall, Ruth Jensen, Taylor Kuykendall, Charlie Smith
Advertising Director Larry Alderman
Linda Bassie, Susan Montgomery, Jim Stallings, Kim Turner
Photography/Graphics Joseph Cotton, Johnny Jennings, Anne Miles
Clifton Angel and Charles Brownlee
Circulation Director Shirley Cooper
Volume 6, No. 1 —————— Editorial and business offices: P.O. Box 8050 329 U.S. 82 West Greenwood, MS 38935-8050 662-453-5312 —————— Leflore Illustrated is published by Commonwealth Publishing, Inc.
Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 3
From the editor
PHOTO BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
Lights, camera ... no action O
ne evening in July, I was driving back into Greenwood with my wife, Betty Gail, from an out-of-town wedding. We decided to stop and get a bite. As we emerged from our car near the restaurant, Bryan Lott and his wife, Lenora, parked next to us. “You decided to come out early, too,” Bryan said in greeting. The remark threw me off. It was almost 8 p.m., not exactly an earlybird hour. As we approached the entrance to the restaurant, though, Bryan’s cryptic remark made sense. A sign announced the restaurant was closed for a private party for the cast and crew of The Help. The movie adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s blockbuster first novel had just begun filming that week in and around Greenwood. Bryan had lined up dozens of 1960s-era commodes critical to portraying one of the funnier episodes in the story. He was on the invitation list. I was not. Bryan, sensing my awkwardness, encouraged me to crash the party. I looked through the glass door at the muscular security guard stationed inside. I wasn’t about to risk the humiliation. Bad enough to make the faux pas of showing up uninvited at a private party. The thought of being ushered away while invited guests were arriving was mortifying. It was an omen. I was going to be on the outside looking in for the duration of this movie project. I guess it’s my own fault. When it was announced that The Help would be filmed in Greenwood, I figured the media would have plenty of access to observe the production. Shows you how little I understood about the ways of 4 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
Hollywood. DreamWorks, the studio that’s helping bankroll the production, has kept a tight rein on the flow of information. No interviews with the cast. No outside observers anywhere near the actual filming. Confidentiality contracts from everyone involved. The CIA is probably easier to penetrate. I’ve been told that the movie’s stars are nice, gracious folks who have really enjoyed their experience in Greenwood. It’s probably because we have let them do
their job without too much gawking. I expected to at least run into Emma Stone, who plays Skeeter Phelan, one of the main characters. I hear she pops in regularly at Walmart and gets her exercise on Grand Boulevard. She also doesn’t seem too worried about being inconspicuous, driving a bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle. I’ve seen her car, but no Emma. I should have tried out for a role as an extra. It seems like half the town has gotten a non-speaking part. You can tell the locals who got picked. The men have shorter haircuts, the women are sporting 6-inchhigh beehives, and they all seem to hold their posture a tad straighter than normal. I caught up with a beehive lady arriving for dinner one evening at a downtown restaurant. She was tired but glowing after a 14-hour day on the set. “I can’t tell you about it,” she said, lowering her voice while letting it slip that they did the bunny hop over and over again. Later, as she was leaving, I asked her to confirm that a loquacious diner nearby was in the movie. “I can’t tell you what part he plays,” she said, shortly before introducing me to Leslie Jordan. The 4-foot-11 actor was not as reticent. He started reciting some of his lines as the crusty editor who hires an unqualified Skeeter to take over the newspaper’s homemaker advice column. “Miss Myrna’s gone sh**-house crazy on us, drunk hair spray or something,” Jordan said in a perfectly natural Southern drawl. A few minutes later, Jordan was gone. He did, though, leave me thankful for the brief reprieve from feeling left out of the excitement. — Tim Kalich LI
Roy Martin Delta Band Festival and Christmas Parade
Still marching on STORY BY CHARLIE SMITH PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
egend holds that Roy Martin, looking to start an annual band festival in 1936, received counsel from his grandmother that it never rains on the first Friday in December. The decorated Greenwood High School band director took her prescient advice, which held true for more than 40 years. Even today, three-quarters of a century later, the now-venerable Roy Martin Delta Band Festival and Christmas Parade holds the same date on the calendar. The parade is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year with a special program. As they do every year, the bundled-up masses will gather beneath the lofty oaks of Grand Boulevard and along the historic buildings on Howard Street, waving as children ride by on floats and enjoying the distinctive sounds of the marching bands. Many of those yuletide revelers are carrying on a tradition that began when they marched in the band and now carries on to their children and grandchildren. Patricia Evansâ€™ earliest memory stretch-
Floats and bands make their way up Grand Boulevard during the Roy Martin Delta Band Festival and Christmas Parade. Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 5
6 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
Children riding on floats have been a staple of the band festival since its inception 75 years ago.
es back to when she was very young in the 1930s. At the corner where Barrett’s Drug Store stood, her uncle hefted her atop his shoulders so she could wave at Santa Claus as he passed by on his sleigh. In later years, she played the clarinet and marched as a majorette under Martin. “There was nothing more thrilling than hearing the light plant whistle blow right on the dot of five o’clock and seeing all the Christmas lights come on just as it got dark,” Evans said in an e-mail. “Then the music! One band after the other playing Christmas songs and carols.” During its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, the band festival was one of the largest in the nation, attracting huge crowds. It was said that Greenwood’s population tripled to 75,000 on parade day. Band participation topped out at 107 in 1969, according to a parade lineup published at the time. Sara Criss, the Greenwood-based correspondent for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, painted this picture of the event for readers in 1958: “GREENWOOD, Miss., Dec. 4 — Streets of Greenwood were transformed into a fantasyland of color Friday when the varied hues of more than 4,000 band uniforms mingled with an equal number of glittering instruments. “Gay Christmas decorations and a fireworks display added to the carnival atmosphere as this Delta city put out the wel-
Fireworks explode over the Yazoo River in Greenwood. The show caps the Roy Martin Delta Band Festival and Christmas Parade each year.
come mat on the occasion of the 24th annual Delta Band Festival and Winter Carnival.” For most of the event’s history the festivities lasted all day, beginning with buses filled with young musicians arriving near dawn. The band festival then marched its way across the brick-laid downtown streets in the morning, and the Winter Carnival parade rolled by in the evening. In between, children, who got the whole day off from school, roamed the crowded business district. The day ended — and still does — with a fireworks show on the banks of the Yazoo River. The Greenwood High School band director held the task of putting together the morning band festival, while the Jaycees, a civic organization for young adults, ran the Winter Carnival from its inception in 1935 through 1988. Since then, the Greenwood-Leflore County Chamber of Commerce has kept the parade going as an evening-only event. A revitalization of the parade began in 1991 when it crossed Keesler Bridge for the first time into North Greenwood. In addition, the Viking Range Corp.-led reinvigoration of downtown has helped bring the southern part of the route back to its past grandeur. So put a star next to the date on your calendar — Dec. 3, the first Friday in December. LI Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 7
Filming The Help
Ready for my close-uup Locals land small roles on big screen STORY BY TAYLOR KUYKENDALL
ven if only for a few seconds a time, some Leflore County residents will be seen on theater screens across the country. The movie adaptation of The Help, Kathryn Stockettâ€™s best-selling novel, has caused quite a buzz in Greenwood. Several local people have been able to take a turn at being in the movies. Set in 1960s Jackson, the novel and the movie follow a white college graduate who interviews black domestic workers about their white employers. The movie condenses the events of the book from three years to one â€” the summer of 1963. Filming began in July and is expected to wrap up in early October. The movie is tentatively scheduled for relase in fall 2011. Bill Clay, who runs the Greenwood Mentoring Group, was recruited off the street to portray a laborer in a cotton 8 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
All dressed up and ready to go before the cameras are, front row, from left, Kathryn Usry of Brandon, Sloane Fair of Greenwood, Lauren Miller of Ridgeland; back row, Steffany Ward of Greenwood, Amy Beckwith of Greenwood, Mary Taylor Killebrew of Greenwood, Anna Jennings of Greenwood, and Lizzie Smith of Cleveland.
From left, Jesse Primer of Canton, Russell Baxter of Greenwood, Chris Davis of Greenwood and Charles Buchanan of Tchula play musicians in the benefit scene that is set at the Robert E. Lee Hotel in Jackson.
field. He wasn’t trying to be in the movie, but a casting representative saw him walking down the street and asked if he wanted to apply. “I thought for a second and said to myself, ‘Why not?’” Clay said. “I took them my photo and application and didn’t think I would hear from them again. Two or three weeks later, I got the call.” Clay Clay said he makes only a brief appearance — if the shot is even included. But regardless of whether he makes it into the final cut of the movie, he has relished the experience. “It was just amazing seeing how all of that kind of stuff works behind the scenes,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to being able to watch the movie with an idea of what makes that big wheel turn.” He said knowing that he may soon be seen around the world is another interesting feeling. “To be a part of something so special, so global, it truly was wonderful,” Clay said. “We were very lucky as a city to be able to host such a wonderful crew.”
He said it was apparent from the way the filmmakers worked that it would be a “top-of-the-line” project — and he wouldn’t mind being involved in more films. “You know you never know how some people might perceive you,” Clay said. “But, if I never do it again, I really enjoyed the moment.” City Clerk Nick Joseph landed a role as a cigarette-smoking jourJoseph nalist in the film. “The worst part about the work was that I had to be in Clarksdale at 4:30 in the morning, so I had to be up at 2:30,” Joseph said. “But it was a lot of fun.” He said the experience, which may result in only a few seconds or minutes of screen time, took hours to film. When he first arrived on set, he was put into costume and prepared for filming. Despite all of the preparation time and waiting around, he said it was well worth it. “It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Joseph said. “It’s not anything big, but it was really fun to be a part of it.” He said when he heard about filming,
Geney Galey had her hair put up in rollers to give it that 1960s look for her scene in The Help. Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 9
he was excited and made sure he got his application in. “Sometimes I’d watch a movie and see someone and think, ‘I could do that. Why can’t I be in a movie?’” he said. “I relish the chance that I was given to finally be a part of a Hollywood film.” He said he was nervous at first but soon eased up and was able to relax on camera. He said the entire movie crew has been cordial and Greenwood is fortunate that they chose to film here. “I can’t wait to see it in theaters,” Joseph said. City Administrator Thomas Gregory said he was also excited to see his hometown on the big screen. “Just having been in Greenwood while they shot during the summer Gregory and seeing some of the scenes shot makes it interesting,” Gregory said. “I look forward to seeing my town on the big screen and how Hollywood reacts to it.” Gregory applied to be an extra so he could see the process of making a major motion picture. His part in the film is to walk off a bus after it comes to a stop. “It took two takes. I got off the bus the
10 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
Charles and Diana Cooper signed on as extras but later earned speaking roles in The Help.
first time, and they didn’t like how I was holding my hat,” Gregory said. “They told me to hold it by my side and try it again.” Gregory said the second attempt was “perfect” and they went with the scene. Though he was at the filming location all day, he said he was on the set for only about 30 minutes and on camera for about 30 seconds. “It was kind of like a ‘hurry up and wait’ situation,” he said. Gregory said he was even more excited about taking part in the film because he
thinks it will be very successful. Though many of the extras likely learned a lot about filmmaking, some picked up a few other skills. Anna Jennings, who played a bridge club member, said she had never played the card game before. “I had heard of it before because it’s so popular in the Delta, but I had never played bridge,” Jennings said. She said she and the other bridge-playing extras started seeking lessons on how to play. A crew member also gave them a few pointers. “It’s a really confusing game, so we had to get some help,” Jennings said. “We didn’t know what we were doing, but we learned how to make it look like we did.” She said she was amazed at how much work goes into creating a film. Multiple shots and angles packed hours of work into a few seconds of movie time. “Everybody on the crew had what looked like a really tough job,” Jennings said. “All the people with the movie, though, were so friendly.” Jennings said she won’t be upset if she isn’t completely visible in the scene in the final cut. “Even if you can just see my elbow in one of the shots, I’m going to be really excited,” she said. LI
Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 11
Shadow and light
Ashley Bankston, a graduate of Carroll Academy and Mississippi State University, has wanted to be an architect since she was in the fourth grade. Architecture is about more than lines on paper to her. “Architectural spaces can be transformational,” she says.
STORY BY RUTH JENSEN PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS AND RUTH JENSEN
he first time Ashley Bankston saw neon used as art, she was hooked. 12 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
As an architecture student at Mississippi State University, Bankston understood the importance of light in design, but neon was another matter. For many people, neon equals garish. Towns make regulations about the use of neon signs. “Our group was consulting with one of our professors, Spence Kellum, at his home, when I saw a neon fixture installed in his living room,” she said. “I noticed how the light filtered in the room and created a certain experience.” Bankston, 26, said she fell in love with
neon and the way it “engulfs a room” and “fills a room with energy.” All of her neon is recycled, she says. “People tear down old neon signs and throw them away. I like the idea of salvaging neon, which is made by gases in a tube. Some people see it as junk.” Bankston grew up in Carrollton and was the 2002 valedictorian at Carroll Academy. She says she developed her interest in architecture as a career when she was in elementary school. “When I was in the fourth grade, our teacher asked us to draw a picture and
Neon light and the shadows it makes are integral to Ashley Bankston’s designs.
write what we wanted to be when we grew up for open house,” she said. “I said ‘a model,’ and a classmate, Courtney Carter, had written ‘architect.’ I asked her what that meant, and she told me it was someone who designs buildings.” It was the start of a dream that has become reality. Without a lot of additional knowledge, and with only a drawing of a tennis shoe and an essay, Bankston was accepted into the architecture program at MSU. She has not looked back. “It was exactly what I was meant to do,” she said. When it comes to her work, Bankston is singularly focused — so much so that she moved into a dark, damp basement for five months while working on her fifthyear thesis project. “I had only colored light from January to May. I had to build a model, put the neon in place. It evolved into working with shadows,” she said. “It was fascinating to see the variations of experience you can achieve when you manipulate light.” This type of sacrifice was not new to her. “A lot of people don’t understand what completing architecture school requires,” she said. “You lose your friends; you live in a bubble. I was eating, sleeping and breathing architecture. It was an intense program.” But she says architecture school helped her see in a way she hadn’t before. After graduating from MSU in 2009, Bankston went to work as an intern architect at Beard + Riser Design firm in Greenwood, where she previously had
been a cooperative education student. Eventually she hopes to design high-end residences. For now, large firms that do only that are not hiring, she said, and she was happy to come back to Beard + Riser, where she feels she can learn a great deal before moving elsewhere. Bankston has her own views of what an architectural space should evoke when someone walks into it. She wants them to not just see the space but experience it — and she feels neon can help in this process. Neon can slow them down and cause them to feel something about a space, she said. “We go too fast. Sometimes we see but don’t see.” In Bankston’s designs, neon light and the shadows made by it are integral parts, not just something added on. For the thesis project, Bankston earned a jurist award from the faculty of the school, which goes “to a student who has achieved the greatest personal growth as a designer, and whose work has contributed to the overall success of the fifth-year design studio.” Bankston also earned the Bronze Medal from Tau Sigma Delta honorary society, presented by the third- and fourth-year students to a graduating fifth-year student who “in their thesis project has expanded students’ insight and awareness of architecture.” Although she has completed the first stage of her fourth-grade dream to be an architect, Bankston has much more she hopes to achieve. “Architectural spaces can be transformational,” she said. LI Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 13
Long before the sun rises, dough is rising at Mockingbird Bakery in Greenwood, where Donald Bender arrives for work between 4 and 4:30 a.m. He mixes, forms, bakes and packages every loaf that goes out of the kitchen.
rom the time the Doyton oven is fired up each morning at Mockingbird Bakery, it is eight hours of mixing, kneading, baking and slicing for Donald Bender. 14 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
STORY BY ANDREA HALL PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
The Oxford native is the sole baker at the downtown bakery, whose bread is used at Greenwood locations such as Giardina’s, Delta Bistro, Turnrow Book Co. and the Viking Cooking School and sold at the Viking Retail Store on Howard Street. “My hands touch every loaf of bread that goes out of this bakery,” he said. “I can take the credit or the blame, depending.” He likes it that way. From the moment Bender steps into
the kitchen between 4 and 4:30 a.m. each day, he has to be in the zone. Once he starts working, there is no turning back until the job is finished. There is also no such thing as a half-day for Bender, who bakes about 150 loaves of bread a day. Over the past five years he has developed a daily preparation routine to keep himself organized and focused.You can almost hear Bender’s mental checklist ticking items off as he gathers, measures and organizes. Doing the exact same thing can make the veteran baker feel a bit obsessivecompulsive some days. However, it is an integral part of the baking process to ensure ingredients aren’t left out or mea-
Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 15
sured incorrectly. One of the downsides of the lengthy baking process for breads — other than the early rising hour for Bender — is if something is mixed incorrectly, he won’t know until the next day. Because the bakery is only a one-man operation and a host of local restaurants depend on his output for their sandwiches and table breads, there is not much room for mistakes. “The hardest part about being a baker is remembering everything and being consistent. Both are key to good bread,” he said. “I want the bread you bought last year to taste exactly the same as the one you bought this year.” Bender, who used the same recipes for his standard breads such as sourdough for years, says he has hit his stride with his current set of breads. He has learned to control his environment, from the temperature of the room to the exact ingredient measurements. The process is almost choreographed as the buzz of each oven signals a do-si-do of changing one bread out for another. “I look back just four years ago, and I am embarrassed by that bread,” he said.
Sometimes he regrets not going to culinary school, but he thinks it would be a waste of time and money now. “When I go to a cooking event with professional chefs and bakers, I feel intimidated because I have never taken a biology class about how yeast works,” he said. “My education was all hands-on training.” Still, he is a continual learner of his art. “The dough is my boss and teacher,” he said.
v v v
At Mockingbird Bakery, Bender’s repertoire of breads includes everything from standard sandwich breads such as sourdough sliced loaves to the more specialized sun-dried tomato bread. Bender claims he is not a “foodie” but says being a cook first helped him become a better baker. “It helps me to know what flavors taste good together already,” he said. “Then I can introduce them into my breads.” He began baking a green chili cheddar sourdough bread because of the popularity of those two flavors together in other types of foods he has enjoyed. “I first got into green chili v v v when I lived out in Donald Bender’s bread is used throughout Greenwood at local Albuquerque,” he said. “They restaurants. Kenny Pachall of Turnrow Book Co. comes to get the Bender has come a long way bread used at its cafe for sandwiches. were in everything.” in his culinary career despite He also was recently never going to culinary school. inspired by a pecan and fig baker at the Oxford restaurant. It seemed he constantly found himself in bread he saw in New York. “After all that, we were either going to kitchens with experienced bakers willing It’s not just about tasting those ingredikill each other or get married,” he said. to teach a beginner. ents, however. “So, we got married.” Although he got his start with bread “I like when I can just look at the Bender and Foose sold the Bottletree while working at Proud Larry’s in Oxford, and were ready for some new scenery bread and see what’s in it,” he said. his first big baking gig was at the Then he can use his dough with other outside of their native state of Bottletree Bakery in Oxford. “I was bakers’ ingredients and flavors. Or he will Mississippi. While they were gone, almost fired on the first day for breaking a Bender ended up in multiple bakery tweak another bread he has seen or tasted $16,000 mixer,” he said. to make it uniquely Southern, such as kitchens across the country. Luckily, Martha Foose, Bender’s then pork cracklin’ cornbread. He picked up new skills with each boss and now wife, gave him another “People eat that up,” he said. “I like stop, from the Windsor Court Hotel in chance. It wasn’t always pretty. having those little breakthroughs, too.” New Orleans to Turtle Bread Co. in Foose, a pastry chef, called a friend Bender describes his bread as savory, Minneapolis. He worked everywhere, from Los Angeles with whom she had thanks to his love of garlic, and says there from a wholesale bread company to a previously worked to come teach the is one thing customers should not expect small mom-and-pop bakery. employees to bake breads. With some “I learned most of my techniques that I to see at the bakery — sweet breads. practice and the extra help, Bender His policy is simple: “I don’t make still use today while I was at Turtle developed his skills and became the head Bread,” he said. bread I wouldn’t eat myself.” LI 16 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
Dr. Du Zong Zhang
Seeking balance According to Chinese medical theories, the eye can reflect problems in other parts of the body. This eye chart is used to help diagnose those problems.
STORY BY RUTH JENSEN PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
alance is a recurring theme in the field of acupuncture and in the work of Dr. Du Zong Zhang. Before he became a physician by Western standards, he was already trained in the ancient Chinese art of acupuncture, which he believes can often help patients in place of more radical treatments. The difference in Western and Chinese medicine is in the idea of illness,
Zhang explains: “In Chinese medicine, you’re not sick; you’re out of balance. The theory is in tune with nature.” People think of acupuncture as the application of needles in various parts of the body, but there is a lot more to it than that, Zhang says. “Before using any needles, we assess the patient to find out which part of the body is out of balance, or has some disharmony,” he said. “There is a blockage of energy. It can be put out of balance by stress or illness. By identifying the cause, we come up with a treatment plan and apply it according to the theory of acupuncture to put the system back in balance. Acupuncture can improve the metabolism and be a helpful tool in weight loss.” Currently, Dr. Zhang works as a hospitalist at Greenwood Leflore Hospital, using the usual American-type medicine. He practices acupuncture on the side,
Dr. Du Zhong Zhang, a hospitalist at Greenwood Leflore Hospital, is trained in both Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 17
free, on hospital employees who come to him with complaints of headache, backache, or other aches and pains. Some ask for help in losing weight or quitting smoking. Deftly applying pressure in certain areas, known as pressure points, can alleviate pain and assist the body in straightening itself out. He hopes to one day practice acupuncture full time as part of a medical practice. Acupuncture incorporates an understanding of the body’s invisible energy patterns, he says. “I don’t know how the ancient people came up with the idea. Without technology, maybe they were more in tune with the body,” Zhang said. “You can liken the difference to hardware and software. Western medicine is good at the hardware — taking out a tumor, setting a broken bone. It’s not as good at software — diagnosing. Patients complain, we do expensive tests, but everything’s still negative. Acupuncture can often fix their problem.” Zhang says American doctors are beginning to be more open to the idea of acupuncture as having value, and there is now in Arizona a school of integrative medicine. “A lot of physicians are starting to get involved. You see a lot in California and New York,” he said. “In April I went to a conference of medical professionals, and there were 400 to 500 physicians present learning about acupuncture. It is even used now for cosmetic purposes, to help wrinkling and to brighten the complexion.” When he was a little boy in China, Zhang’s mother never took him to a doctor — always to an herbalist. After diagnosing his problem by checking his pulse and looking at his tongue, the herbalist would prepare a concoction of herbs that his mother would take home and make into a “tea” to give him. “It always worked,” he said. And while he’s not against medicine when it’s needed, he doesn’t use it for himself. “I’ve never taken an antibiotic in my life,” he said. The Zhang family — father, mother and four children — immigrated to Canada when Du Zong was about 15 years old, and there he lived for 10 years and went to school. He didn’t know any English until then. After completing his education, he studied acupuncture for three years before attending medical school in Nevis, 18 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
This acupuncture model shows the pressure points and meridians of the body, according to traditional Chinese medicine.
St. Kitts. Before coming to Greenwood 1Ù years ago, he completed a residency in general medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center. Zhang says he became interested in acupuncture after watching a friend’s dad at work. “I decided it was very interesting, and I saw how pain can be relieved,” he said. He had hoped to practice his specialty at Greenwood Leflore along with a local neurosurgeon, who requested his help for patients whose pain could possibly be
relieved without surgery. However, the medical group under which he is contracted turned him down on that idea, so he plans to pursue it another way. Zhang’s wife, Lina, is in nursing school. They have a 4-year-old son, Zhong, and a 2-year-old daughter, Crystal. Zhong attends the K4 program at Pillow Academy. For the busy family, and for his work, it’s all about balance: “When you restore balance, then you can self-power. You no longer need treatment.” LI
Different point of view STORY BY ANDREA HALL PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
illiam Dunlap wanted to be an artist before he even knew what one was — though he didn’t learn to paint until after college.
William Dunlap’s piece, “Landscape Askew: Delta Dog Trot,” uses its large size and tilted landscape to catch the eye of guests at The Alluvian as they enter the hotel.
“I think I have always just looked at things differently,” he said. “I am intrigued and excited by everything around me.” That can’t be denied by anyone who has walked into The Alluvian and been entranced by his “Landscape Askew: Delta Dog Trot,” the artwork prominently featured in the lobby of the downtown Greenwood hotel. With its tilted horizon line, its oversized proportion and Dunlap’s signature dog, the Webster County native wanted to create a piece that would both reflect the Delta and catch people’s eyes. Dunlap was commissioned by Stephen Perkins of Washington and Viking Range Corp. President and CEO Fred Carl to be the main artist for the Viking-owned hotel when it was undergoing total renovation before opening in May 2003. He was familiar with the landscape of the region, having painted the Flat Out series of works, but he was looking for a new way to present those alluvial plains. “I saw this as an opportunity to make my best painting I possibly could,” he said. Dunlap doesn’t just watch the world Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 19
William Dunlap shows one of his “typical” Delta landscape pieces at the Cottonlandia Museum. When he was commissioned to do the artwork for The Alluvian, he pushed himself as an artist to render something as familiar as the alluvial plains, but with a hook.
around him; he is fully engaged in the world from which he paints. Although he lived in the Delta for only three years during middle school, he has always seen the region as a source of inspiration. “Those were formative years,” he said. He returned through the years both to paint and to spend time with the friends he made along the way, including Bill and Mary Jayne Whittington, who were major influences in Greenwood’s art scene. He met the Whittingtons thanks to a Walker Percy novel. Mary Jayne Whittington saw the book in his bag and struck up a conversation, and they learned they were both from Mississippi. “There is always a Mississippi connection everywhere I go,” he said. “I’ve been dedicated to Mary Jayne ever since.” In the 1970s, he participated in a festival held in honor of the arts, and today he returns annually with the Delta Literacy Tour. He says the region is fertile land for both artists and culture. “Writers get all the ink in Mississippi, and the visual arts tend to be pushed to the side,” he said. “I love the idea any time anyone wants to spotlight art.” He was thrilled by the opportunity to create some new artwork around the hotel and cites “Delta Dog Trot” as one of his biggest accomplishments — both figuratively in terms of success and literally thanks to its size. A custom canvas — 12 feet, 2 inches by 6 feet, 6 inches — had to be made for the space. “I made it as big and strong as I could,” he said. But it isn’t just the size and the richly toned paints that make this piece stand out. Its perspective adds to its striking appearance. 20 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
“My idea to skew the landscape came from going in people’s homes and seeing a crooked picture,” he said. “I can’t help it. I always go over and straighten it. It always catches my eye.” “Delta Dog Trot” has the same effect, he says. He describes it as his hook — similar to a hook in music — and the rest of the image the bait. “Because it is askew, people have the same response I do to crooked pictures in a house,” he said. “They can’t help but look.” Dunlap remembers seeing a group of young men once in the hotel lobby as they looked at his painting. Their appearance suggested they had returned from or were going out on a hunting trip. “I didn’t ambush them and go over and ask them what they thought,” he said. “They were talking about it, and I felt good about that.” Whether the public loves or dislikes his work, his only request is that they look at it and try to experience it. “The only unacceptable response is a yawn,” he said. The Alluvian features three larger works — including “Delta Dog Trot” — and another at the spa by Dunlap. All of his works for the hotel feature his signature dog. “That dog was never alive,” he said. “It is a composite of a lot of dogs I’ve known.” Dunlap has associated dogs with the Delta since his first visit. “I always saw and envied them,” he said. “They always seemed so free running around. They are all legs, lungs and heart.” The dog has evolved over the years — whether male or female, bigger or smaller. By making the dog a stand-in symbol for people, Dunlap hopes it will bring a mirrorlike experience when they look at his
paintings. Just as Dunlap has experienced the images he paints, he wants to bring that to his audience. He studied art — along with other subjects of interest — at Mississippi College and went on to receive his master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Mississippi. His art career has taken him around the country and the world. His work resides in collections just as scattered, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, including from the Rockefeller Foundation, from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters, and the Mississippi Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. Locally, his work has been exhibited at Cottonlandia Museum and Gallery Point Leflore. Splitting his time between his three homes and studios in McLean, Va., Coral Gables, Fla., and Webster County, he is happy to have company and a couple of sets of extra eyes. He is married to artist Linda Burgess, and their greatest piece of work is their daughter, Maggie. Dunlap is a constant learner and creator when it comes to art. He always carries a camera and pad of paper in the front seat of his car with him. “I’m going to keep doing this until I can’t,” he said. “One painting leads to another and another, so until I stop, I will always have something to paint.” But he isn’t creating it just for himself. “I don’t want my work sitting in storage,” he said. “I want my art highly visible. No art takes place unless somebody sees it.” LI
Fall Events SEPTEMBER 18 — 300 Oaks Road Race, popular road race through idyllic North Greenwood that includes a 10K run, 5K run, 5K walk and 1mile fun run. A downtown concert will be held afterward.
OCTOBER 2 — Mississippi Valley State University homecoming football game, Delta Devils vs. Prairie View A&M, Greenville, 2 p.m. 2 — Mississippi Blues Fest, a twice-ayear music show at the Leflore County Civic Center featuring soul and rhythmand-blues artists, 7:30 p.m. 14-17 — Nunsense is the season-opening production of the Greenwood Little Theatre. 17 — Rhythm on the River, a blues, jazz and country music festival at Tallahatchie Flats, which recreates life on a Delta cotton plantation.
NOVEMBER 3 — Mississippi Valley State University basketball season opener, Delta Devils vs. Victory University, Leflore County Civic Center, 7 p.m. 11 — Holiday Open House, an annual tour of Greenwood businesses, is sponsored by the Greenwood-Leflore County Chamber of Commerce and includes trolley rides from downtown to Park Avenue.
DECEMBER 2 — Leflore County Courthouse lighting ceremony, nightfall. 3 — Roy Martin Delta Band Festival and Christmas Parade. The parade is celebrating its 75th anniversary with a theme of “Christmas Through the Years,” where floats representing each decade from the 1930s to the 2000s will be displayed. 16-19 — The Best Christmas Pageant Ever will run at the Greenwood Little Theatre. Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 21
During World War II, Greenwood Army Airfield stayed busy training pilots so the Army could
KEEP ’EM FLYING
The Greenwood Army Airfield’s southeast ramp is seen during an open house and airshow in 1945. Aircraft on display include, from right, a B-17 Flying Fortress, C-47 Skytrain and B-25 Mitchell.
oday, GreenwoodLeflore Airport is just a shadow of its former self. 22 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
STORY BY BOB DARDEN PHOTOS COURTESY OF ALLAN HAMMONS
Originally known as the Greenwood Army Airfield, the airport was conceived, designed and built during the early days of World War II by the U.S. Army. In its heyday, the airfield, which is in
Carroll County, featured upwards of 4,000 personnel, four 5,000-foot runways, a 50acre concrete parking apron for planes, 375 buildings including racially segregated barracks, two fire stations, a crash station, a 170-bed hospital, several hangars, a theater, a chapel, dependent housing known as “Greenaire Homes,” a Columbus & Greenville Railway spur,
numerous warehouses, a large swimming pool and a bowling alley. The airfield was the home of the 7th Basic Flying Training Group, which was assigned to the Eastern Flying Training Command. Allan Hammons of Greenwood, who has chronicled much of the airfield’s wartime history, recalls visiting the airfield as a child with his father Hammons after the U.S. government abandoned it in the early 1950s. “On Sunday afternoons, we’d go out and drive, and he’d talk about activities that were going on here in World War II,” Hammons said. “We’d drive out (U.S.) 82 toward the hills and turn in on this road. It was like a maze of streets; all of this stuff was in excellent condition. It hadn’t
been shut down but for maybe five or six years.” “There were all these streets, all these paved roads, fire hydrants. Some big buildings were left here and around, and he’d start telling me about all the activities that were there. It fascinated me,” Hammons said. The airfield’s mission was to train Army Air Corps pilots for combat as quickly and efficiently as possible. Perhaps the most famous of the airfield’s training instructors was Mickey Spillane, author of the post-war Mike Hammer detective stories. While stationed at the airfield in 1945, Spillane met and married his first wife, Mary Ann Pearce. At its peak, the airfield averaged 36,000 flight operations per month. The base consumed a million gallons of aviation fuel per month, Hammons said. Five additional mile-square grass landing fields were built near the towns of Paynes,
A group of Consolidated Vultee BT-13s flies over the Mississippi Delta. More than 200 of these aircraft and their sister BT-15s were assigned to the Basic Flying Training School at Greenwood Army Airfield.
Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 23
Greenwood Army Airfield was home to an 18-member contingent of Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs as they were known. They did flying that included flight testing and ferrying aircraft and personnel.
Oxberry, Avalon, Cruger and Tchula. Several of those fields had small control towers and landing lights for night operations. Initially, the airfield was home to about 200 Consolidated Vultee BT-13 and BT-15 basic training aircraft during the early war years. The airfield was home to the 318th Aviation Squadron — an all-black squadron — and an 18-member contingent of Women’s Airforce Pilots (WASPs), Hammons said. He said the WASPs were rated to fly everything from four-engine heavy bombers, such as the B-24 Liberator, to nimble fighter planes, such as the P-51 Mustang and the P-38 Lightning. In December 1944, the Eastern Flying Training Command turned the airfield over to the Air Transport Command’s 4th Operational Training Unit (OTU). The 590th Army Air Force Base Unit was reassigned to Greenwood Army Airfield from Brownsville Army Airfield in Texas. After the Basic Flight Training ended, the 4th OTU operated scores of AT-6 Texans, P-38 Lightnings, P-47 Thunderbolts, P-51 Mustangs and P-63 King Cobras. There were assorted multiengine aircraft on the field, as well, including B-17 Flying Fortresses, B-25 Mitchells and C-45 Expeditors. The unit’s arrival brought two new missions to the airfield. The first was fighter transition training — “taking pilots that had flown planes like the C-47, or even the B-17, and teaching them to fly fighter planes,” Hammons said. 24 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
This wartime aerial view of the Greenwood Army Airfield reservation shows the layout of the base and its several thousand acres of land. The 60-acre parking apron is the large white area with four sections. U.S. 82 (then two lanes) appears in the foreground.
The covers of the Greenwood Gremlin, the airfield’s weekly newspaper, featured the artwork of cartoonist Lawrence Bibus. He settled in Greenwood after the war and operated Bibus Nursery.
Being proficient in multi-engine aircraft doesn’t mean a pilot can successfully fly smaller, single-engine fighter aircraft, Hammons said. “It’s a totally different feel.” Also, the airfield served as an instrument training school for pilots, and more than 20 Skytrains were permanently stationed there. Hammons said flight training at the airfield stopped in late 1945. The war in the Pacific had just ended in August while Germany surrendered in May. “When the war ended, it was as if some-
one unplugged everything and left everything like it was,” Hammons said. He recalled rummaging around the longabandoned buildings back in the 1960s. “There would be rooms with old records, all kinds of forms,” he said. After the war, the War Assets Administration sold off most of the pieces of the airfield. Some of the structures reverted to the original landowners, even though they had been paid by the Army for the land outright, Hammons said. Getting everything of value out of the airbase was the goal after the war ended. “They did everything from digging up water pipes to taking down copper wire and selling tools,” Hammons said. Still, he added, “The air base still had a small presence, in terms of the military — a small detachment, all the way through 1948 or 1949. They maintained the fire station to protect the property.” At one point, the airfield was looked at as a possible site for what eventually would become Mississippi Valley State University. The school would be located 20 miles to the west in Itta Bena. He said the City Hall in Greenwood received many of the desks and other office furniture from the airfield. An airfield fire truck was also given to the city. In 1967, the city of Greenwood relocated the Greenwood Municipal Airport from an area that is now in the Greenwood-Leflore Industrial Park to the former site of the airfield. By that time, only 16 of the original wartime structures were still standing, Hammons said. LI
FALL MENU GUIDE WHAT’S ON THE MENU AT AREA RESTAURANTS? Crystal Grill Delta Bistro Flatland Grill K.K.’s Deli Lusco’s Mai Little China No Way José Town Market & Restaurant Webster’s
M26 M27 M26 M28 M27 M29 M29 M28 M25 Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / M25
M26 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / M27
Antipasto Meat & Cheese Fresh Fruit & Cheese Fresh Vegetable
baked or fried
Whole Bone-In Ham baked or smoked
Pepper-Crusted with Dip Beef Tenderloin Marinated Vegetables Stuffed Chicken Breast PoBoys Spinach & Provolone Club Sandwiches or Sausage & Mushrooms Sandwich Cold Cuts Shrimp & Grits Casserole
Homemade Salad Dressing
Shrimp & Corn Chowder Chicken & Wild Rice Vegetable Broccoli & Cheese Cream of Spinach
Potato Salad Cole Slaw Pasta Salad Baked Beans Broccoli Salad
Turkey & Ham Chefs Grilled Chicken Salad By the pint or quart Homemade Thousand Island, Chicken Salad Homemade Pimento Italian, Ranch Chipotle, Blue Cheese Cheese Pecan Cayenne Pimento Cheese Jalapeno Pimento Cheese French Bread Cornbread Muffins Homemade Rolls Tomato Bruschetta Hummus Spinach-Artichoke Warm Broccoli Crawfish-Sausage Rotel Spinach Cakes: Strawberry, Seafood Corn Dip Caramel, Chocolate We have many more! & Red Velvet Just ask! Pies: Caramel, Pecan, Lemon & Chocolate Puddings: Banana Pudding Many combinations, & Bread Pudding with including PoBoy, chocolate, white chocolate Muffuleta, or lemon sauce Reuben, Hero
Dips & Spreads
Cakes, Pies & Puddings
Hot, homemade meals to your office. Minimum: 10
Banquet rooms available fax: 455-3663
M28 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / M29
The Farmer House
Who would ever want to leave? STORY BY JO ALICE DARDEN PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
sually if you want fresh milk, you reach into a refrigerator and pour a glass from a carton. But during the 1927 flood in Greenwood, the builder and owner of one of the tall white houses on Grand Boulevard had to expend a little more effort. He brought his cow up the back stairs to the balcony. “Dr. Hunter wanted fresh milk, and he wasn’t going to let some little ol’ flood get in his way,” said Ashley Farmer, current owner with her husband, Stephen. According to the story Farmer heard from Hunter’s grandson, Ed Hunter Steele of Greenwood, the doctor kept his cow on the balcony until the Yazoo River floodwaters receded and it was safe to return her to the barn that was in the backyard. And his milk was always fresh. Many years and several owners later, the Farmers keep their milk in the fridge, but the cow story and others play a major role in Farmer’s appreciation of her home, enriching it with history, character and Southern charm. Jim Thomas of Cruger, a farmer and owner of Egypt Plantation, recalls happy times he and his brothers, Sanford Thomas and the late Bill Thomas, spent in the house when his grandparents owned it. His grandfather, James Talbert Thomas Jr., who bought the house from Dr. Hunter, made sure the Rebel flag was always hanging from the second-floor balcony, facing Grand Boulevard. 30 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
The Farmers’ Southern Greek Revival-style house was built in 1912 and faces Grand Boulevard in North Greenwood.
Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 31
Ashley Farmer chose deep salmon for the walls of the foyer to set off the colors in the painting by her sister, Jennifer Brock Kennon of Jackson. Family photos sit atop the baby grand piano.
Whatever use Mr. Thomas had for the flag, Jim Thomas said he and his brothers found another: It made an effective “wall” to duck behind after they’d thrown water balloons at passing cars on the Boulevard. “We never did find out if we’d really hit anybody,” he laughed. Thomas said he remembers “exploring” in that old hay barn in the backyard, but the barn was torn down later, and a pool was installed that is still in use today. Ashley Farmer grew up in Greenwood, the daughter of attorney Donnie and Patty Brock, graduating from Pillow Academy and then the University of Mississippi with a degree in marketing. Married in February 1991, Ashley and Stephen lived at first in his hometown of Calhoun City, and the couple was helping his mother run the family’s jewelry store in Oxford. “We wanted to come to Greenwood, and we’d been driving around, looking,” Ashley Farmer said. “We knew we wanted an older house, but we hadn’t found anything for sale that we were just in love with.” 32 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
One day in 1997, when her husband was in town without her, she said, he called to tell her, “I think I found you a house in Greenwood.” Stephen Farmer had seen the exterior of the Southern Greek Revival-style house and liked it so much that he knocked on the door to ask whether the owner might consider selling. His cold call was rewarded with an affirmative answer; the deal was done; the Farmers moved to Greenwood with their son, Sam Henry, now a seventh-grader at Pillow Academy. “I loved the house immediately, the first time I saw it,” Ashley Farmer said. “I knew it needed a lot of work, but it had such good bones.” She is a stay-at-home mom who does taxes for clients during tax season. Stephen owns Payday Loan, Payday Title Loan and LED Sign Company in Greenwood. Ashley Farmer knew instinctively the colors she wanted on the walls of the main living areas — foyer, living room, dining room, den and the bedrooms. Her guiding concept was to make her home
warm and comfortable, and all her decorating decisions flowed from that model. For design choices, she has often enlisted the help of her friend Cyndi Savage of Greenwood, a personal decorator. It’s obvious that Farmer has been successful in her objective immediately upon entering the foyer, which has been painted a rich, deep salmon. The focal point is the switchback staircase, which is open to the second floor. The salmon continues all the way up and is complemented by the house’s original dark-stained woodwork. A baby grand piano stands in one corner of the foyer, overlaid with an embroidered silk organza piano scarf Farmer found in San Francisco and topped with family photos. Behind the piano hangs a painting done by Farmer’s sister, artist Jennifer Brock Kennon of Jackson. The painting was a gift to Farmer when she was in her sister’s wedding, and Farmer chose the deep salmon shade of the foyer specifically to set off the colors in the painting. On a chest against the bottom stair wall, Farmer keeps a collection of
Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 33
Although all the walls needed painting when the Farmers bought the house, the woodwork was in perfect shape.
Waterford crystal, mostly wedding gifts, in which she lights candles for a twinkly, festive look when the Farmers entertain. Adding to the twinkly effect is the chandelier, a gift from Farmer’s mother-in-law, who found it in Italy. The woodwork was a blessing, Farmer said. Though the rest of the house had to be painted, the woodwork required no updating. The dark staining is a unifying element throughout the house. On the south side of the foyer, the living room is done in a soft, warm powder blue. The sofa and chairs are comfortable neutrals, and the fireplace is welcoming. “We found the whole fireplace at an antiques store in Grenada,” Farmer said; it was an addition. The oriental rugs in both the foyer and the living room command notice, as well. Farmer found the rugs and “just had to have them,” she said, taking out an impromptu loan from a banker friend without telling her husband. The loan was quickly repaid, and Farmer couldn’t be happier with her decision. Two matching chandeliers overlook the
living room and the dining room, gifts again from Farmer’s mother-in-law, who found them at a store on Magazine Street in New Orleans. Farmer paid particular attention to the dining room, often the heart of an elegant Southern home. “We love to entertain, and we do a lot of it,” Farmer said. “I wanted my dining room to be a place where we can just sit and talk for hours after we finish eating, and nobody wants to get up and go home.” A generously sized dining table and comfortable chairs were the obvious first steps toward that goal, and the two upholstered wing-back chairs at the ends of the table enhance the effect. To complete the look, Farmer had the walls painted dark chocolate, hung floor-length drapes of dupioni silk in dark chocolate, and added a mirror over the large sideboard. The total effect at night is shimmery, warm and inviting. One thing Farmer noticed about the house from the beginning was that it flows so beautifully, offering a significant advantage for entertaining. “We can have 200
The deep salmon of the foyer is repeated in the dupion silk drapes of the living room. 34 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
The comfortable elegance of the dining room encourages guests to stay and talk for hours after eating.
people in this house for a party, and there are no bottlenecks,” she said. On the north side of the foyer is the family’s escape hatch — the den. The sofa and chairs are downy soft, and built-in bookcases hold books and photos and memorabilia. “This is where I go to hide,” Farmer said — that is, when Sam Henry’s not using the TV for a Wii game. Adjacent to the den is the master suite, a retreat itself. Low lighting, muted shades of coffee and caramel, velvety textures on the high king-size bed and the loveseats, and more built-ins holding family treasures make the room a cocoon. Two full baths complement the suite. The other four bedrooms are upstairs, including Sam Henry’s. As with most houses, the Farmers’ is a constant work in progress. The next major project is a total kitchen remodel, including floor, countertops, cabinetry and appliances — when they can get around to it. Farmer hasn’t made all her design choices for the new kitchen yet, but one thing is certain: She’ll make it a warm and comfortable place that folks won’t want to leave. LI
Shades of chocolate and caramel, low lighting and soft textures enourage complete relaxation in the master suite.
Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 35
Connie Simmons Black
Sharing her gift of music
Connie Simmons Black was introduced to music early in her life through singing, piano and theater. Only in the last few years has she started teaching herself to play the guitar.
onnie Simmons Black had an idyllic childhood, growing up in Inverness and discovering early the gift that would become a driving force in her life.
STORY BY JO ALICE DARDEN PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
“It was so delightful,” Black said. “We’d walk home from school and stop at Brown’s Grocery Store for a snack. We never locked our doors. Everybody knew everybody else, and they all looked after each other’s children. It was a lovely way to grow up.” Now an elementary school music teacher at Pillow Academy, Black is also a member of the choir at First Presbyterian Church in Greenwood, a mover and shaker at Greenwood Little Theatre and one of the three members of the Curvettes, a
singing group. She credits her elementary and high school teachers for helping her discover the gift she enjoys sharing with others. “Miss Ann Wall was my music teacher in Inverness,” said Black, 53. “She was always holding reviews and piano recitals.” From her high school years at Indianola Academy, Black fondly remembers Grace Young, the choral director, who led her in madrigal singing, the chorus and the concert choir. Black enjoyed the sacred, classical and popular music she sang in the various groups — but then Young introduced Black to theater. Her first opportunity on stage in high Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 37
school was singing “I Cain’t Say No” from the musical Oklahoma!, and later she appeared as Marian Paroo, the librarian, in The Music Man. “Theater opened up a whole new world for me,” Black said.
v v v Black did her student teaching in elementary music education at Davis Elementary School in Greenwood under Joyanne Crump, the mother of Bill Crump of Viking Range Corp. She graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1979 and taught music for a couple of years at Central Delta Academy in Inverness, then for two years back at Davis Elementary. She moved back to Greenwood in the early 1980s and began attending First Presbyterian Church, where she met her future husband, Mickey Black, a farmer. They both enjoyed — and still enjoy — participating in the choir. Because of her featured solos in the church’s annual “living Christmas tree” outdoor performances, Black is nearly always at the top of the tree. Every year she has to compete with a loud and long train whistle as it blows through town at just the right moment. It’s a funny church tradition now, Black said; even an attempt to synchronize the performance with the train schedule last year failed. Connie and Mickey married in 1985. Their daughter, Molly, is a junior at Mississippi State University. Shortly after Black moved back to Greenwood, Celia Emmerich — wife of the then-editor of The Greenwood Commonwealth and mother of the current president of Emmerich Newspapers, Wyatt Emmerich — suggested Black
has appeared in some productions with her mom, as well, notably Oliver! and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. “Greenwood Little Theatre has been so wonderful to me,” she said. Black had a significant role in the 2009-2010 season-ending Noises Off, which called for months more preparation and rehearsal time than most plays because of its complicated plot and staging requirements. “Mickey kept wondering what could be taking up so much of my time at night,” Black said, “but he completely understood when he saw the play. That was quite a production.” Black has also appeared in theater productions of the Mid-Delta Arts Association in Indianola, where she cut her teeth on little theater under the direction of John Brindley, another early influence on her artistry. About three years ago, she played the female lead, Anna Leonowens, in the MDAA production of The King and I, with another Greenwood thespian, Eddie Amelung, as the King of Siam. Mickey Black farmed with his family for more than 40 years and decided to retire around 2000, but President George W. Bush’s administration had other plans for him. He accepted a post as director of farm services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which required him to live in Jackson for eight years and commute to Greenwood on weekends. He is now officially and emphatically retired. Around the same time, Connie Black started teaching music at Pillow Academy, took a short break and has been a full-time music teacher there since 2003. Her talents and approach seem perfectly suited to teaching the young ones about the joys of music.
“It’s your stewardship; you have to do what you can with your gift from God. Singing and music are mine, and I have to share these gifts.”
38 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
Connie Simmons Black get involved in Greenwood Little Theatre. Black needed little persuasion. “Celia directed me in so many brilliant plays in the ’80s,” Black said, ticking off My Fair Lady, Man of La Mancha, Steel Magnolias and Crimes of the Heart on her fingers, among many others. Molly
“I teach seven classes — K4 (4-yearold kindergarten) through the fifth grade — and every grade has a play every school year,” Black explained. “They love it. The plays are geared to their age groups, and they all have the best time. The music is jazzy and poppy, and they absorb it all like sponges.” Through the school year, Black said, she is always casting, rehearsing and staging the plays and helping the students learn their dialogue and their songs. She is working on different phases of three plays at any given time. As the music teacher, she sees each class only once a week for 45 minutes until about two weeks before its production, when that time expands a bit for rehearsals. “I love my job,” Black said. “I love those children — absolutely love them.” In 2005, Black added yet another feature to her marquee. Curb Service, a Greenwood-based rock band specializing in ’50s and ’60s party songs for dancing, decided it needed a “girl group” so it could broaden its repertoire and appeal for the private and charity events it played. Black, Cathy Jennings and Vicki Morgan started rehearsing in the fall of 2005 and made their debut with the band as the Curvettes at the New Year’s Eve celebration at The Alluvian. The response was phenomenal, and the Curvettes remain attached to the band. “It’s just so much fun,” Black said, “and the guys (in the band) are really pleased with our sound and the look.”
dent of the GLT board for 2010-2011, and she is playing Sister Amnesia in the season opener, Nunsense, which runs Oct. 14-17. The strong cast, which includes GLT veterans Rebecca Durden Seawright, Freda MacIntosh and Cathy Roberts, promises a couple of hours of spectacularly funny entertainment for theatergoers. “It’s a hilarious way to kick off the season, and of course, I want it to be a great, successful season,” Black said. “I don’t much like being the ‘head’ of anything, but Greenwood Little Theatre has given me so many opportunities to shine that I felt I needed to step up and
do my part. And I’ll have plenty of help and support. That’s such a great group of people to work with.” In a reflective moment, Black said she feels the completion of a circle. As Ann Wall and Grace Young and John Brindley helped shape her talent and her love of music and theater in her early years, she feels a responsibility to encourage those qualities in the young people she works with and her fellow thespians. “It’s your stewardship; you have to do what you can with your gift from God,” Black said. “Singing and music are mine, and I have to share these gifts.” LI
v v v Black appears eager to stay as active as ever in the arts. Her husband has settled into retirement with golf, gardening, working out and taking care of their “County Market puppy,” Mackie, whom Molly found in the Greenwood Market Place parking lot scrounging for food on a rainy January day and brought home. Black keeps going, non-stop. “Johnny Favara, bless his heart, always asks me to sing ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ for the Fourth of July celebration,” she said, “and every year I ask him if he’s sure he doesn’t want to give somebody else a chance, and every year he says no. I will always be available for something like that.” Black will be involved in Greenwood Little Theatre even more than usual this season. She has been elected presiFall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 39
The game bird of choice M
ourning dove hunting in the Mississippi Delta is more than just shooting at birds that appear to fly at the speed of light.
40 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
STORY AND PHOTOS BY BILL BURRUS
It’s as much about tradition as anything. It’s about the camaraderie, kids, dogs, posthunt cocktails, grilled dove breasts wrapped in bacon and good times. Oh, sure. The hunters
always want plenty of shooting because there is nothing like the thrill and challenge of knocking one of these fast-flying birds out of the sky. It’s certainly the most challenging of all wing shooting.
Dove hunting is a great way to get kids involved in the outdoors and hunting because of the simplicity of the sport. From left, Graydon McCool, 10, Thomas Burrus, 10, and Lawes McCool, 8, all of Greenwood, take aim as a large group of doves hits the pasture they were hunting in on opening day near Kosciusko.
Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 41
It can be a humbling experience even for seasoned shooters to try to knock down these tricky birds with great consistency. However, it can be outlandish fun trying. Doves have been recorded flying at speeds exceeding 40 mph and are wellknown for their erratic flight patterns. The national average is somewhere between five to seven shots taken for each dove bagged, according to reports. That equates to quite a bit of shooting when the daily bag limit in Mississippi is 15. But it’s the other ingredients that make a good dove hunt a special event. Dove hunting in the Delta is a venerable tradition, older than bourbon and nearly as beloved as college football. For Greenwood’s Michael McCool, dove hunts on his family land near Kosciusko are a tradition that started when he was a youngster and continue today. Every year on opening weekend — usually Labor Day weekend — McCool’s friends and family gather for what is often a great hunt and always a good time. McCool loves the thrill of shooting doves, but what he likes most about the sport is that it’s a great way to introduce kids to the outdoors and hunting. His two sons, Graydon, 10, and Lawes, 8, were in the field with him for the recent opening weekend hunt. “It’s just so easy to get kids involved because there’s no need for a lot of extra equipment that they might need for duck or deer hunting,” McCool said. “All they need is a shotgun and some shells. “It’s easy to have young kids along for dove hunting because they don’t have to sit still and be quiet. It’s just more conducive for kids, and they all seem to love it.” The dove fields of Mississippi are special places, where the stories and the learning process are as important as the hunting itself. For many Southern youngsters the dove field will be their formal introduction into hunting and the shooting sports. It is also the beginning of their kinship with the outdoors, the reverence toward nature that lives in all true outdoorsmen. These lessons will be the foundations of lifelong ethics, values and traditions. Vast knowledge passed on from fathers’ fathers is handed down to the next generation. The fast-paced action and the time spent afield with friends drive the passion for the sport for Greenwood’s Jim Campbell. “Dove season always signals the beginning of a new hunting season and all that is to come. I love the challenge of trying to hit that diving, darting bird and sharing 42 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
Lawes McCool, 8, of Greenwood, waits to shoot with his trusty Lab, Shrek, by his side on a recent dove hunt on his family’s farm near Kosciusko. He’s become an avid hunter at an early age after being introduced to the sport at the age of 3.
that experience with the same friends each year,” Campbell said. “One of the best feelings is being set up at daybreak, when the doves start coming in from every direction and all of us there know we are about to enjoy the privilege of one of the most intense and exciting experiences afield. It never fails to awe me all over again.” Campbell said he believes the popularity of dove hunting is growing, and one of the
GRILLED DOVE BREASTS 10 dove breasts 1/2-cup red wine 1/4-cup Italian dressing 1/2-can beer 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/2-teaspoon salt 1/2-teaspoon ground pepper In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together except dove breasts. Then add the dove breasts. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours. Remove dove breasts and save the marinade. Grill dove breasts over medium heat until golden brown but do not overcook. In a large pot, place the grilled dove breasts and the marinade you saved. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes and serve.
main reasons is the simplicity of the sport and the accessibility of places to hunt. “You don’t need a lot of gear, and farmers are pretty willing to let folks hunt doves over their cut corn fields where permission to hunt deer or ducks is so much harder, if not impossible, to come by,” Campbell said. Hunters may love the sport for different reasons, but all will agree that doves make great table fare. “There is just no other game that I hunt that I enjoy eating more than grilled doves,” said Greenwood hunter Austin Wilkey, who hosted a post-hunt cookout at his house for friends after a recent afternoon hunt just outside of Greenwood. “Marinate some breasts, add a slice of jalapeño, wrap them in bacon and put them over charcoal.” The dove is the most popular game bird in the country. In Mississippi, the annual dove harvest is also greater than that of any other game bird. Only the squirrel outranks it as the most hunted small game. According to Scott Baker, wildlife biologist with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, more than 79,000 hunters took part in the dove season in the Magnolia State last year. During the three separate seasons that run from September through mid-January, hunters harvested more than 1.4 million birds. One government report estimates that 1.3 million people hunted doves last year in the United States. LI
Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 43
Where to find the latest items that you shouldn’t do without.
A. B. NEEDLEPOINT BELTS
A. PLATFORM PUMPS. They're the rage.
Needlepoint belts for men by Smathers & Branson. Collegiate, hunting and outdoor themes available. The ultimate belt for the disinguished gentleman. Get them at Smith & Company, 211 Fulton St., Greenwood. 662-453-4411
Franco Sarto combines Italian designs with textured leathers to create the hottest look this season. These are available for $79.99 in red, black or taupe at Ola's Shoes, 417 Howard St., 662-453-1462, and Anthony's, 331 W. Park Ave., 662-455-2145
C. ZABLE BEADS
Sterling silver beads interchange to form a unique piece of jewelry. Over 600 styles to choose from, so no two collections are the same. Collect yours at Clevenger Jewelry & Gifts, 504 W. Park Ave., Greenwood. 662-453-0710
E. E. TOSHIBA LCD FLAT SCREEN. Toshiba takes the LCD flat screen to the next level of picture quality, design and features. See our large selection at JD Lanham, 215 W. Market St., Greenwood. 662-453-7131
44 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
D. WHAT’S HOT? Sequins. They are fun and flirty and always a show stopper! You'll find them at Rachael's, 201 Howard St., Greenwood. 662-453-0266
Alfred Hall II
Still learning, still teaching STORY BY BOB DARDEN PHOTOS COURTESY OF ALFRED HALL II
lthough Alfred Hall II has lived many places — including Washington, Jackson, Oxford and currently Memphis — he still calls Greenwood home. Hall, the son of longtime Leflore County educators Jean Hall and Alfred Hall, said education was always a top priority in his parents’ home. “Those were great times,” he said — and, as it turned out, they were inspirational, as well. Today, Hall, 39, who received his doctorate in education from George Mason University, is chief of staff for the Memphis City Schools. “I’ve been in this role for two years now. Prior to that, I served two years as chief academic officer and before that, a year and a half as associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction,” Hall said. He said his parents set the standard for pursuing a college education. “I remember my mother and my father continuing their education. I saw how that paid off in their careers,” he said.
v v v Athletics was also an important part of Hall’s life growing up. During his eighth- and ninth-grade years, his father coached the football team.
Alfred Hall II and his wife, LaSonya, shown here during a visit to the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, are both graduates of Jackson State University.
Later, under the leadership of head coach David Bradberry, Hall became the starting quarterback at Greenwood High School. During his senior year at Greenwood in 1987, he led the team to an undefeated regular season. “I remember Bulldog Stadium being packed,” he said. That winning streak was ultimately broken by a loss to Pascagoula in the Class 5A championship game in Jackson.
In the fall of 2007, during a home game, Hall and his teammates were honored for their achievements during his senior year. “A lot of people still remember,” he said.
v v v Hall received a full scholarship to Jackson State University, where he majored in biology. Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 45
“During my junior year, I did some research work. It was at that time that I received a calling to teach,” Hall said. “I remember calling home and telling my mother that I wanted to teach while I was young,” he said. Hall graduated from Jackson State in 1992 and returned to Greenwood High, where he taught biology and physics and also served as assistant football coach. While pursuing a master’s degree at Delta State University, Hall became involved with an undergraduate program for minorities in science. He became a mathematics and science program director and instructor of biology at Delta State. “Things were really moving,” he said. In 1995, he married the former LaSonya Harris of Jackson. Hall and his wife, a former Miss Jackson State and an aspiring educator in her own right, moved to the Washington area. There, Hall pursued his doctorate in education at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and worked with some rural education groups. Hall returned to Mississippi and became project director of the Delta Rural Systemic Initiative in Oxford. That program provides technical assistance to poor rural school districts in the Delta areas of Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. In 2001, he became director of the Urban Schools Initiative in the Memphis School District. He said addressing disparities in education is what drives him. “My mantra has been, ‘We do what we can while we can,’” he said. “Hopefully, I’ve rendered good services.” Hall’s wife, who has a doctorate in higher education, works today as deputy director of the Division of Public Services and Neighborhoods for the city of Memphis.
v v v In 2001, Hall also accepted a call into the ministry. He now is pastor of Philadelphia Missionary Baptist Church in Oxford, which has a congregation of about 300 members. “We joined the church when I worked at Ole Miss,” he said. “I had a love for the church.” In fact, an Ole Miss colleague, T.P. Vinson, assistant dean at the university’s College of Education, served as the church’s pastor at that time. When Vinson died suddenly in 2003, Hall had to make up his mind what to do. Once again, the winning high school quarterback rose to the challenge. “It was time for me to lead that church,” he said. LI 46 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
“My mantra has been, ‘We do what we can while we can.’ Hopefully, I’ve rendered good service.” Alfred Hall II
The index of advertisers Ad page
Ad page APPLIANCES
J.D. Lanham Supply Co.
ARCHITECTS Beard + Riser Architects
Gallery Point Leflore
ATTORNEYS Upshaw, Williams, Biggers & Beckham, L.L.P.
CLOTHING Anthony’s Ola’s Shoes Puddleducks Rachael’s Smith & Co. Sweet Pea, The
City of Greenwood Leflore County Board of Supervisors
Alliance Oncology-Bethesda Greenwood Leflore Hospital
HEALTH FOOD 3, 44 3, 44 43 1, 44 Back Page, 44 15
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT Greenwood-Leflore County Chamber of Commerce
ELDERLY LIVING Crystal Health & Rehab Riverview Nursing & Rehabilitation
FINANCIAL First South Farm Credit
FUNERAL HOME Williams & Lord Funeral Home Wilson & Knight Funeral Home
41 41 21
GIFTS Gift Box,The Mississippi Gift Co., The
Ginkgo Tree, The
Clevenger Jewelry & Gifts Jewelry, Etc. Russell’s Antiques & Fine Jewelry
Pioneer Credit Company 10
Leflore Ace Hardware
AUTO PARTS Delta Farm & Auto Supply
6 33 41 23 36 40 11 40 3, 44 43
Backyard Burger Crystal Grill Delta Bistro Flatland Grill Giardina’s KK’s Deli Larry’s Fish House Lusco’s Mai Little China No Way Jose! Town Market & Restaurant Webster’s Food & Drink
TREE SERVICE Greenwood Convention & Visitors Bureau
UTILITIES Greenwood Animal Hospital
Scott Petroleum Corp.
21 M26 M27 M26 33 M28 39 M27 M29 M29 M28 M25
Lap Pet Cemetery
35 11 21 11
Shane Sanders Tree Service
OFFICE EQUIPMENT MidSouth Copier Systems, Inc.
Bowie Realty, Inc. DuBard Realty
NEWSPAPER Greenwood Commonwealth, The
Leflore Steel Inside Front Cover Viking Range Corp. 15 Cottonlandia Museum
Jennings Photography Lamb’s Photography
Mississippi Delta Community College St. Francis School
Inside Back Cover
index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers
index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers
index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers
index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers Fall 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 47
Main Street Greenwood
‘Continue the success’ STORY AND PHOTO BY TAYLOR KUYKENDALL
new face is at the helm of Main Street Greenwood this year, but the mission is the
same. Greenwood native Melissa Tribble is the new director of the organization, returning to her hometown after being away for nine years. She plans to help continue the major changes she has seen happen in the city. “When I left, there were hardly any stores here. Downtown wasn’t even a place you thought about going,” Tribble said. She started the job Aug. 16. She said she is getting out and meeting the people she needs to know to do her job effectively. “The thing important to change is not to necessarily change the efforts made,” she said. “I’m not coming in to overhaul Main Street Greenwood but to continue the success of the past.” Tribble said the first goal will be to expand revitalization efforts into the parts of downtown that haven’t been touched as much yet. She is seeking input from board members and businesses on what they would like to see. She said the community has been very supportive, even approaching her in restaurants and on the street. “I don’t look to, in my first year, greatly change anything,” she said. “I would never be so arrogant to think I know the answers already.” She spent a week with former director Lise Foy to learn the basics of her job. Now she is reading more about what is going on. “I have an opportunity to come in and freshen things up and start a new phase of Main Street Greenwood,” she said. Tribble graduated from Belmont 48 / Leflore Illustrated Fall 2010
Greenwood native Melissa Tribble, the new director of Main Street Greenwood, says, “I have yet to encounter one thing that makes me doubt why I came back.”
University in Nashville, Tenn., where she earned a degree in marketing. She worked for the Nashville Technology Council, a nonprofit organization under the Chamber of Commerce umbrella. While there, she organized everything from small, intimate events to major conferences. She said she is very pleased so far with her decision to come to Greenwood. “I have yet to encounter one thing that makes me doubt why I came back,” she said. She said she has some ideas from her time in Nashville and travels to other cities that may work in Greenwood. Of course, she said, “the great dilemma is having all these great ideas, but you have to find a way to fund them.” Tribble said she is glad to continue a grant program designed to provide up to $10,000 for a facelift of the facade of busi-
nesses on Carrollton Avenue and Johnson Street. “No one wants the worn-out pair of shoes versus the brand-new ones,” she said. “The appeal of having a beautiful facade is just to get people to notice. It’s proven that it increases foot traffic.” She does plan to shift some focus toward other facets of Main Street Greenwood aside from downtown events. Tribble said the goal of Main Street Greenwood is to make Greenwood an “overall safer, warmer place to live and work and play.” She recognizes that she doesn’t know everything but plans on “moving full steam ahead so we don’t lose momentum.” “Main Street Greenwood is something I wanted to be a part of solely because of its revitalization efforts downtown,” she said. LI