A River Country Journal / Spring and Summer 2009
Browns restore old home thatâ€™s full of
Living Art-fully Character
people 4. Ben Barrentine, world traveler 10. Leflore County Supervisor Robert
table of contents
Collins brings a working man’s attitude to the courthouse 14. North Greenwood Baptist Pastor Jim Phillips fishing for more than souls 18. Musician Jimmie Lee Jr. never too busy to give God credit 32. Cindy Foose enjoys dressing children with a French flair 36. Jess Pinkston loves living life surrounded by art 44. The Barnes Family and their cleaning dynasty
6. Cottonlandia Museum, a repository for Delta history 12. Former trucker making a tasty living at the Rib Shack 27. Kevin and Patsy Brown celebrate the character of their home on Grand Boulevard 42. Best friends are baking memories at Delta Delicacies
The back porch of Patsy and Kevin Brown’s home on Grand Boulevard invites tea sipping and dozing off with a favorite book under the fan in the spring and summer.
A display at Cottonlandia Museum in Greenwood.
features 16. Mississippi-based band Crossin Dixon making a name for itself
20. Allan Hammons recalls his days of flying an Aeronca Chief
23. Antique shops are bringing a world of possibilities to Greenwood
25. Sisters Lenora Bustillos and Mary Wooden enjoy working side by side
30. Greenwood Leflore’s final resting place
38. Area residents show their characters at Greenwood Little Theatre
3. From the editor 22. Calendar 47. Index to advertisers
48. The Greenwood-Leflore Industrial Board is building relationships with the community and employers
Jess Pinkston stands in front of a painting by Mary Sims of his daughter Mary August in the living room of his Greenwood home. A portrait of his grandfather and a bust of Pinkston by Emma Knowlton Lytle are in the center.
PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated / 1
Editor and Publisher Tim Kalich
Managing Editor Jenny Humphryes
Associate Editor David Monroe
Charlie Smith, Rachel Hodge, William Browning, Ruth Jensen, Jo Alice Darden, Allan Hammons and Jim Fraiser
Advertising Director Larry Alderman
Kim Clark, Linda Bassie, Wanda Roché, Kim Badome, Susan Montgomery
Photography/Graphics Anne Miles, Joseph Cotton, Johnny Jennings
Clifton Angel and Charles Brownlee
Circulation Director Shirley Cooper
Volume 4, No. 3 —————— Editorial and business offices: P.O. Box 8050 329 Highway 82 West Greenwood, MS 38935-8050 662-453-5312 —————— Leflore Illustrated is published by Commonwealth Publishing, Inc. 2 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
From the editor
PHOTO BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
“He’s dead!” Those words jumped out of my mouth after I heard the SUV slam into Max. It was one of those accidents that you know is about to happen but are powerless to stop. Worse, it was my fault. A minute before, Betty Gail and I were chatting away, strolling the tan-and-white Beagle mix along the sidewalk on Grand Boulevard. Max, 10 months old, was straining at the leash, lurching periodically forward if he spotted a squirrel or picked up a random scent in the air. His movements hardly registered with me. We had made this walk regularly without incident. The next time he rushed forward, though, he broke free, the leash still in my hand. It took me a moment to comprehend what had happened. At the end of the leash dangled a stretched-out piece of wire and Max’s dog tag. I don’t know how I did it. I don’t remember doing it. Somehow that morning, while Max was wriggling around, I had attached the leash’s hook to the wrong ring on his collar. Max bolted ahead 20 feet, then came scampering back. Before I could put my hands on him, he ran off again. He spotted something across the road, and took off at full tilt, crossing the four lanes unharmed. A few seconds later, he headed back, not paying attention to the oncoming cars. Betty Gail saw him before the impact. I only heard it. The crack sounded like a gunshot, the vehicle hardly slowing down as it passed over his body and continued on in the opposite direction. As I rushed toward Max, I knew he was badly hurt. His back legs appeared immobile and he was starting to bleed from the mouth. As I picked him up from the road, he winced a bit, but he didn’t snap or snarl. He was in pain, and he was hoping I could save him. Just then, Sheri Brown, whose husband coached our son in Little League many years before, stopped to see if she could help. I got into the front seat, Max bleeding in my lap, and Betty Gail jumped into the back with Sherry’s daughters. I had taken a similar trip less than a year before with Chubbs, our lovable yellow Lab mix. Chubbs, after flirting with danger for 12 years, had chased one too many cars. Max was to be his emotional replacement. Like Chubbs, Max has more than a bit of yard dog in him. Even though he is half the size, he has plenty of rascality. A couple of weeks earlier, Max dug out from under his fence and treed a neighborhood cat while we were at work. I had to spring him the next day from the pound. He’s demolished every box in the garage that was at ground level, put teeth marks in most of my yard tools and eaten half of the seat off my wife’s bicycle. He’s snatched holes in our clothes, nipped at our toes and drawn blood a time or two.
Still I like him. I’m not sure why. He’s a good-looking dog. He’s sweet when he wakes up from a nap. He rides well in a car. Most of the time, though, he can be a pain. Yet I really like him. And I was praying for a miracle. When we arrived at Dr. Andy Johnson’s Greenwood Animal Hospital, he put Max on oxygen and pumped him with painkillers, sedatives and coagulants. Max was bleeding internally and going into shock. Andy told us that we were looking at a 5050 chance of survival. That, as it turns out, was a kind-hearted exaggeration. Andy later acknowledged that when he first saw Max, he didn’t expect him to last two hours. Yet, each report over the next couple of days was increasingly encouraging. His breathing moderated; the bleeding stopped; his tail was wagging; he was starting to eat. X-rays showed two fractures to Max’s pelvis, making it difficult to put weight on one of his hind legs. He’ll have to take it easy for a while, but with time the pelvis should heal enough that Max will get 60 percent movement back in the injured leg. He won’t be perfect. He’ll probably always walk with a limp, and arthritis is almost certain to set in later on. He’s still with us, though. I’ve got a feeling he will be for a long time. As Andy was keeping watch on Max during those first critical hours, he said he could tell that Max was a special patient. “This dog wants to live.” – Tim Kalich Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated / 3
WORLD traveler “I like to be adventurous and do things out of the norm.” Ben Barrentine
Ben Barrentine poses for a photo during a hike on Fox Glacier on the southern island of New Zealand. Below, he stands in front of the Skogafoss waterfall in Iceland.
Ben Barrentine living life to the fullest BY RACHEL HODGE
Many people talk about living life to the fullest, but world traveler Ben Barrentine is actually doing it. Born and reared in Greenwood, Barrentine, 31, said he was inspired as a child by the landscapes depicted by Bob Ross on the public television show The Joy of Painting, and he had always wanted to visit places outside the Mississippi Delta. But it took a major life change a few years ago to set him on his journey. “I got a divorce and had been living a couple of years like I was just going through the motions,” Barrentine said. As manager of Audio Central, he has two weeks of paid vacation each year, so he saved up, waited for his tax refund check and planned a trip to
Alaska. After the vacation, he decided travel was his new calling. He has taken a trip every year for the past six years. So far, he has been to Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Iceland, and he just returned from a trip to South Africa this spring. Barrentine said he prefers locations where he can witness “nature’s grandeur” and have once-in-a-lifetime experiences, such as hiking a volcano in Hawaii or diving in a shark cage in South Africa. “I like to be adventurous and do things out of the norm,” he said. Barrentine said his travels also have brought him to new places with his artwork. He was interested in oil
4 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
PHOTO BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
Ben Barrentine looks over some of the maps and guides he has used to plan his many trips around the world.
painting and has a degree in graphic design, but after taking several hundred photos during his trip to Alaska, he discovered a passion for photography as well. Many of his travel photos can be seen on his Web site, www.cellardoorart.com. Though he loves being able to escape from everyday life, Barrentine said he has had to make some sacrifices. He has to make it a life priority to be able to spend his time and money going out of the country each year, and many people don’t understand his desire to travel alone. “In a town our size, there aren’t many people who do these things,” Barrentine said. “I’ve talked to people who have never been out of Mississippi.” He said going alone is part of the excitement, and he has more freedom because he doesn’t have to worry about anyone else’s schedule or preferences. “I always go by myself. In all honesty, I would almost prefer to do that,” he said. Between the places he’s seen, the people he’s met and the experiences he’s had, travel has really become a spiritual and educational experience, Barrentine said. “It’s the biggest classroom. You can learn so much more than you can from books,” he said. “It’s taught me that there’s way more out there than anybody can imagine in this world.” He said he might have a family or other financial obligations later, but for now he plans to keep traveling as long as he can. “When I get older, I want to be able to look back and say I did something, I lived my life,” he said. LI Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated / 5
Educating the world about Delta history
BY JENNY HUMPHRYES
hen you walk through the doors at Cottonlandia Museum, donâ€™t be surprised to see nationally acclaimed artists, such as William Dunlap, showing their exhibits to visitors from all over the world.
And as you make your way through the 14,000square-foot facility, you will find one of the finest collections of Native American and archeology artifacts in the country, compliments of L.B. Jones and Carrie Pillow Avant. Itâ€™s so extensive that it has drawn archeologists from all over the country to the Mississippi Delta. 6 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
Jennifer Whites, seated front, is program director at Cottonlandia, and educational outreach is her main priority. Standing in back, from left, are Hugh Warren, president of the board of directors, and Dave Freeman, interim director.
PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
“Museums worldwide literally come here to study this collection,” said Hugh Warren, president of the Cottonlandia Board of Directors. Some of the collection is not insurable because it cannot be replaced. “It’s priceless,” he said. In 1985, archeologists held a conference at Cottonlandia specifically to study the artifacts, Warren said. And another group was scheduled for April to evaluate and comment on the artifact collection. v v v The museum has earned an excellent reputation around the Southeast, Warren said. Cottonlandia averages more than 7,000 visitors a year from nearly every state in the United States and at least 15 foreign countries. “We are really fortunate,” Warren said, “but there are so many people living in these communities who have never walked through the doors, and here we have people from all over the world coming in, and they give us complimentary remarks about it.” First and foremost, Warren said, people have no idea how extensive Cottonlandia’s collection of artifacts is. The museum focuses on five dimensions of local and regional history: antiques, art, archeology, animals and agriculture. All of the art is by Mississippi artists, and it’s the only forum a lot of those artists have to display their work, said Dave Freeman, interim director at Cottonlandia. “The artists and musicians here try to explain the Delta,” Warren said. For example, Dunlap, who is exhibiting his work at Cottonlandia this spring, says the slant in some of his paintings comes from his view as he is driving down the last hill into the Delta. The landscape is slanted, Warren said. “That’s where he’s getting into God’s country.”
Artist William Dunlap, left, shows off one of his pieces currently on display at the museum.
Dunlap also was instrumental in bringing a Mississippi Literary Tour group to Cottonlandia, where he spoke to them about his work. “He demanded that if they wanted to see his artwork, they had to come here,” Warren said. “He said if you want to know about the Delta, you need to come to Cottonlandia.” And all these groups spend money while in Greenwood. “People come through and ask about where to eat, where to stay and what to see,” Warren said. “We work in a lot of chamber-type information, and we direct people to spend their money for whatever they may need. “The economic impact, specifically in Greenwood, is tremendous,” he said. “We don’t have estimates. We document how many people come from this many states and this many countries, and it will blow your mind.” v v v When it comes to learning about the art, history and natural history of the Mississippi Delta, there’s no better place to visit than Cottonlandia Museum.
Cottonlandia Museum is located in the old Billups Petroleum offices off U.S. 82 in Greenwood. The museum draws more than 7,000 visitors a year from nearly every state and 15 or more different countries.
The museum’s goal is to provide a place where school children, Mississippi residents and visitors from other places can learn about the past, present and possible future of the Mississippi Delta. The museum has more than achieved that mission since it was founded 40 years ago, Warren said. In 1969, a group of men and women “determined that we needed to preserve some of this history that was fast being lost, whether it was from cleaning up fields or tearing down tenant houses or pushing down Indian mounds,” Warren said. That’s when Cottonlandia came to be. The first home of Cottonlandia was in a shotgun house on Front Street. Today, that building serves as Bo Gwin’s law office. Otis Allen was the first president of the Cottonlandia Board of Directors. J.H. Snyder was first vice president; Estes C. McDaniel was second vice president; Clay Ewing was secretary; Granville Martin Jr. was treasurer; and W.M. Whittington Jr. was designated as resident agent of the corporation. “When you go back to Simpson Hemphill as the first director, and then Peggy McCormick, who was very intelligent and very dedicated, they just made it and kept it together,” Warren said. McCormick worked as both a paid director and a volunteer for a number of years, said Freeman. “I think the people who have operated the museum have done a phenomenal job of developing it the way they have,” he said. “And in developing this, you develop your contribution to the community, and that’s what is so important,” he said. In 1971, when the old Wilson and Knight Funeral Home building became available, Cottonlandia moved into the antebellum house that sat where the current Greenwood Public Library stands today, at the corner of Cotton and Washington streets downtown. Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated 7
The funeral home had been in the old Jones-Keesler house. “The home was just a beautiful setting for a museum of this type,” Warren said. But when the house was moved to Money Road in 1976 to make way for the new library, the board purchased the old Billups Petroleum building on U.S. 82 for $150,000 as a new home for the museum. That’s where it continues to operate today. “We came out here and purchased this building, and this was done through private individual donations,” Warren said. As a matter of fact, about 70 people donated at least $1,000 each to help purchase the museum’s new home. The remainder of the purchase price was financed. Cottonlandia operates each year on a $100,000 budget. One-third comes from memberships. Just under half of the budget comes from the Leflore County Board of Supervisors. Another 20 percent comes from corporate grants. About 5 to 10 percent comes from admissions and other donations, and the city gives $5,000 a year. “We do all this on $100,000,” Warren said. “That’s why volunteers are critical. It’s barely enough for our professional staff, and they are very good stewards of our funds. “So you can see how important the Board of Supervisors is. We depend on them for half of our funding, and we value that,” he said. v v v Education and community outreach also are important to the mission of Cottonlandia. Robin Person, who was one of the first professional directors of the museum, took the programs there to a new height, Freeman said. “The underpinning was there, but Robin built on it,” Warren said. Person has moved on to a new position at Jefferson College near Natchez. Freeman is serving as interim director, and Jennifer Whites is program director. “Dave has stepped in in the interim to be our director and has done a magnificent job for us,” Warren said. “He has talents and personal traits that really add luster to his job.” Whites, a native of Pontotoc, graduated from Mississippi University for Women in Columbus. She has a routine of traveling to the county and city schools to present edu8 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
cational programs, and that’s an area the museum would like to expand. “We are trying to involve more of our citizens with Cottonlandia and what it can do as a learning institution,” Warren said. Cottonlandia’s mission isn’t to be just a repository of old stuff, but to enhance that into education and teaching, he said. The museum holds an art competition every two years, and it offers Summer Discovery classes every year. “It’s the largest of its kind in the state,” Whites said. “This summer, we will have about 54 classes with volunteer teachers.” Each teacher is provided a kit for each subject, and they use it to teach their classes, Whites said. “They don’t have to develop anything. They take our kit home, and they develop a lesson, and they come
This exhibit is among many at Cottonlandia, a repository for Delta history.
back and teach it,” she said. There are 10 students per class in two age ranges: 5- to 8-year-olds and 9- to 12year-olds. And for those students who can’t afford the class, Cottonlandia offers scholarships, Warren said. Registration for Summer Discovery is at the end of May, and classes are held in June and July. Last summer, every student who desired to be in a class got into at least one, she said. “There’s a lot of interest,” Whites said. “I think it would be a shame to have a person who wanted to be in a class not have an opportunity to come and be in at least one.” And each class always has a waiting list. “We are well-known, especially in the museum community, for this program,” Whites said. “This is our jewel in the crown.” Whites also oversees an outreach program to area schools. This year, she visited Claudine Brown Elementary and had four
classes of first-graders once a week. She gives teachers a list of things she can teach, and they choose what best correlates with what they are teaching at that time. “It enhances what they are already doing,” she said. She has kits with materials, such as arrowheads and skins, that many teachers can’t afford. “We have them, and we want them to take advantage of these,” Whites said. The kits are in a plastic container, and each one has a sponsor who pays for the materials. “We try to use the materials we have in as many ways as possible,” Whites said. “We know that every student in Leflore County doesn’t come to Summer Discovery, so we reach out to the ones who aren’t able or aren’t interested in another way,” she said. Ideally, someone from Cottonlandia would visit every school in the county, Warren said, but with a limited staff, the museum can only do so much. “We’re looking to grow the staff in that area to be able to do more,” he said. Freeman said education is the main thrust of any museum. “Education in the broadest sense is a mission of the museum, and when you can reach outside the walls of the building and take the message to them, then that’s what we’re all about,” he said. Cottonlandia also partners with Mississippi Valley State University to offer continuing education classes for teachers. Freeman said the organization would like to expand its staff for education outreach and eventually add an educational wing. The museum has many pieces of art and other artifacts it can’t exhibit because there is no more room. v v v Cottonlandia operates seven days a week with a group of about 75 volunteers. “This is a very heavily volunteer organization,” Warren said. “To be honest, without the volunteers’ help, we could not keep it open.” “The volunteers are so enthusiastic,” Whites said, “or they wouldn’t come and do as much as they do. They will do anything we ask them, from sharpening pencils to the largest task. They just want the museum to succeed.” LI
Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated / 9
Attitude Working man’s
PHOTO BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
Supervisor-businessman pushing it to the limit
BY CHARLIE SMITH
rom driving a tractor at 13 to support himself to running his own business to leading Leflore County as a supervisor, hard work has kept Robert Collins on the right track throughout life. “That’s been one of my trademarks, to go the last mile, and that’s kind of the way I am with the supervisor’s job,” the 60-year-old says. “I kind of just push it to the limit.” Since being elected in 2007, Collins has become a steadfast representative of the county at community events. Always friendly, he possesses a kind of folk wisdom, which at times makes him sound like the Yogi Berra of the Mississippi Delta. “We didn’t know too much about nothing,” he says of his childhood in Brazil in Tallahatchie County, about as country a place as you can get. Collins paid his own way from the time he was a teenager, operating a tractor for a living. Fourth grade was as far as he made it in school, not an unusual circumstance for someone from his time and place. “There just wasn’t no opportunities for bankers and people like that,” he said. “Most blacks at that time dropped out of school and went to work as a farmhand.” Over the years he has educated himself through reading and computers, which he’ll dive into like he would a truck engine. He likes a challenge, and if someone tells him he can do something, he’ll definitely try it. “Most folks will say, ‘Why do you tell people you dropped out in fourth grade?’ Well, you know, I did,” Collins said. “I think I can do most of what most people can do. I try to not shy away from things: computers, words, the bigger the word the better. I want to know what it is.” Collins advises youth today to stay in school. “I still would say to anybody now that education is the best tool there is to have,” he said. “I don’t think a kid could drop out of school in fourth grade now and accomplish anything.” 10 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
Robert Collins hasn’t let a fourth-grade education deter his ambition to succeed and serve.
Married at 18, he had his first child two years later. Collins moved his young family from the farm to the Rising Sun community just south of Greenwood in 1972. With some help and luck, they bought a home for $15,000. “The house note was $115, which was something that I hadn’t ever probably seen in my life,” Collins said. The problem was he had no job. The move came on a Saturday, and on Monday, Collins was standing in line at the old National Picture and Frame plant in Greenwood. “Everybody that would go in would come back out and say, ‘They ain’t hiring today. They ain’t hiring today,’” he recalls. Albert Tate, the man in charge of putting people to work, questioned him about his qualifications and industriousness. “You sure you want to work?” Collins remembers him asking. “I said, ‘Well, there ain’t no sure to it, I got to work.’”
He got the job and quickly gained a promotion. “I was over the whole plant at night, and I just had been there three months. I didn’t have no choice. I was hungry, man,” he said. A setback came in 1973 when the economy forced a layoff and a flood destroyed his home in Rising Sun. It was a scary time, but Collins’ reaction was to get back to work. Within two weeks he had his commercial driver’s license and had learned to drive an 18-wheeler. He started hauling asphalt and gravel for J.J. Ferguson and later operated a forklift and drove trucks at Staplcotn. Collins went out on his own in 1985 when he bought his first diesel truck from Bobby Henshaw, who owned J&N Trucking. “Mr. Henshaw was one of the very few Caucasians that helped African-Americans get their own start. He always motivated others to do for themselves,” Collins said. “If it wasn’t for him, I may have never gone into the trucking business for myself.” In 1989, he purchased a trucking company and got contracts to carry cotton and seeds from gins. He opened a diesel repair shop in 1992, Collins Truck and Tractor. The business has employed as many as 15, and four work there now. Collins still drives and works on equipment himself when it’s needed. Through the success, politics never really entered his mind. However, with the encouragement of his wife, Shemeka, he decided to run for District 5 supervisor after hearing a speech about stopping complaining and instead doing something about your community. Collins defeated incumbent Larry “Kite” Johnson in 2007 and hit the ground running. Cleaning up his district has been a major priority. Collins initiated an ordinance that allows the county to remove junk cars, cleared out ditches, supported the purchase of a new sweeper truck and purified two lakes. All the work is necessary if Leflore County’s going to make a shift from farming and industry to a tourist destination, he said. “Any town that is a tourist town, it’s a clean town,” the former cross-country trucker said. He also serves on three boards, of North Central Planning and Development District, Central Mississippi Inc. and Delta Workforce Board. Public service has been a pleasure so far, he said, and Collins looks forward to continuing. “It’s been a hell of a ride, I’ll tell you that,” he said. LI Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated / 11
PHOTO BY WILLIAM BROWNING
A weekend function at Morning Star Baptist Church led Johnny Edwards to leave the trucking business and open his own barbecue joint, The Rib Shack.
Former trucker takes to cooking BY WILLIAM BROWNING
When Johnny Edwards agreed to cook for a weekend function at Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church in the late 1990s, he was a worn-out truck driver. When a member of the congregation approached him afterward and said, “I don’t know what it is you do, but you need to be barbecuing,” he became a cook. “I got out of trucking and got into cooking,” he said. Not long after that, Edwards and his wife, Shirley, were brainstorming for a motto for The Rib Shack, the barbecue business they opened in 2002. “I said, ‘Well, let’s just tell ’em what the deal is,’” Shirley said. “We don’t give yesterday’s meat. You’re going to get it that day straight from the grill.” And so The Rib Shack’s motto became, quite naturally, “Fresh off the grill.”
W v v v
A vegetarian’s nightmare, The Rib Shack stands on the corner of Main and Palace streets. There is no place to sit, not much of a parking lot and no shade. Lazy smoke always seems to be curling up out of one of the six grills inside. Customers relay orders directly to the cook via the spoken word, not the written. It is not a place for self-important types. Edwards has no problem identifying what days The Rib Shack is open. “Wednesday through Saturday.” It’s the hours of operation that he struggles to formulate. The answer goes like this: He 12 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
arrives at 7 a.m. Meat’s on the grill by 8 a.m. Customers occasionally arrive at 9:30 a.m. to reserve an order. When pressed for a closing time, Edwards finally admitted, “We stay open ’til it’s gone.” v v v Barbecue ribs are blue-collar food. They inspire loyalty (to cooking process), secrecy (to the ingredients of rubs and sauces) and dedication (preparation takes hours). Edwards, an intense 54-year-old with thick forearms and a flat stomach, can handle all three. He mans his grills alone. He’s ex-military and won’t betray his sauces’ ingredients, but keeps the secret with a smile. “All your ingredients, you got to keep them to yourself.” However, he does have an opinion about what’s most important in the preparation of grilled meat, especially ribs. “You’ve got to get the fire right. That’s the main thing. You’ve got to know how to control the heat.” For his heat, Edwards uses a mixture of charcoal and wood. “I’m one of the last old cowboys left not using electricity,” he said. “There’s very few of us left.” The other ingredient to success, he said, is a smiling approach to customers. “If I show up with a frown on my face, folks are going to take it off,” he said. “You can’t serve people with a frown, anyway; you’ve got to serve ’em with a smile.”
v v v Though raggedness permeates the place, it’s hard to miss the signs of success hanging around The Rib Shack. For the first time in a decade, Edwards bought a new truck last year. Of his three children, one has graduated from college, one will in May and another is a junior at Jackson State University. Edwards, who to the naked eye makes his living flipping meat over a fire, has footed the bill for all that education. Shirley, who in the past has only handled “the money and taxes,” has recently expanded her role at The Rib Shack. “She’s going to start helping me see the lunch crowd through,” Johnny said. The place averages 50 customers a day, not counting a catering job here and there. About 100 pounds of ribs are sold each week. Football season is the most hectic, with spring a close second. But isn’t the summer when everyone wants ribs and grilled meat? “You’d think that, wouldn’t you?” Edwards responded. “In the summer, everyone fires up their own grills; think they don’t need me.” Come fall, though, when cool winds hit the air and people yearn for something pulled straight from a grill, Johnny Edwards will still be doing what that now deceased churchgoer told him he should be doing a decade ago: barbecuing. LI
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PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
Fishing preacher Jim Phillips fishes in the pond of Henry and Gayle Flautt. He uses the pond as a practice range. Inset below, he prepares to test a new lure.
BY WILLIAM BROWNING
ngling for the souls of men, the Rev. Jim Phillips said recently, is much like angling for fish. “There’s no doubt why Jesus picked fishermen,” he said referring to Christ rounding out the 12 Apostles with four men who fished for a living. Phillips should know. He’s been a pastor for 30 years, the last 19 at North Greenwood Baptist Church. And anyone who knows Phillips knows he’s as comfortable in a Columbia-brand fishing shirt, blue jeans and reflective sunglasses as he is at a pulpit. Since 1997, in fact, he’s been a part-time professional fisherman. “The deacons have agreed to let me do this because it’s part of my mission field,” he said while sitting in his office, Bibles and fishing poles alike close at hand. “I share Christ in the boat.” When competing in tournaments across the South, Phillips might find himself sharing a boat with a fellow fisherman whose life is in a rough spot. When he can, he offers spiritual guidance. “The chance to help someone, that’s what keeps me going,” he said. He also serves as director for the Fellowship of Christian Anglers Society, leading prayer meetings at tournaments. What about the stereotypical fisherman, his cigarette in hand and beer nearby? “Yes,” Phillips said laughing. “They can be a seedy group.” Isn’t it awkward for a preacher to share a boat with one? “I just try to live the example,” Phillips said. “If we’re out on the water, and some14 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
one apologizes for saying a cuss word, I tell them, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it. I’m just in sales, not management.’” Phillips wanted to be a fisherman before he felt the pull to preach. He grew up following not the careers of baseball or football players, but professional fishermen. A Clinton native, Phillips spent many childhood evenings and weekends on Ross Barnett Reservoir, dreaming of catching the
big one. Instead, during a church-sponsored snow-skiing trip to Colorado in 1977, the big one caught him. “That’s when God started wrestling with my heart,” he said. Waiting on a bus one morning in Breckenbridge, Colo., he said of the experience, the Lord “just got all over me.” Not long after returning to the Magnolia State, Phillips decided to follow Christ 100 percent. To do so, he felt like he needed to drop his passion for fishing. “I got rid of everything except a couple of rods and a little tackle box,” he said.
That was 1978. By 1993, Phillips had earned a doctorate in theology, married and found his way to North Greenwood Baptist Church. Serious fishing had been on the back burner for more than a decade, and Phillips thought he’d try again. He started applying, as an amateur, to fish in BassMaster Top 100 tournaments. After not being chosen for two years and with his dream flickering, he was chosen to fish in two tournaments. At the first tournament, in Georgia, he didn’t catch a single fish. But he learned about FOCUS (Fellowship of Christian Anglers Society) and got to meet childhood heroes like Roland Martin and Jimmy Houston. “I was just in hog heaven.” At the second tournament, in Alabama, he was asked to lead a prayer meeting one morning in professional fisherman Jay Yelas’ hotel room. In the words of Phillips, “God thus catapulted me into the calling of speaking to fishermen about the Lord.” He also happened to win the tournament. Today, he’s sponsored by Cannon Motor Company, Strike King Lures, Vicious Fishing, Cabelas, Sebile Lures, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Outboards, AES Optics and the Fishers of Men National Tournament Trail. And no matter where a tournament takes him – whether Jackson, West Texas or Georgia – come Sunday, he’s back in the pulpit, still fishing, but for a different catch. “You’ve got to stay at it until the task at hand is completed,” he said, comparing the search for souls to the search for fish. “There will be times when nothing’s biting, when nothing is paying attention. But you’ve got to keep fishing. You’ve got to keep the hook wet.” LI
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CDixon ROSSIN Crossin Dixon, a Mississippi-based country band, performs in Grenada.
PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
Up-and-coming band making a name for itself BY DAVID MONROE
The members of Crossin Dixon have gotten accustomed to being on the move. Sometimes, after 10 or 12 days on the road, the Mississippi-based country band might get back home and find out that night that they have to be on a plane early the next day. Then there’s this memory from lead singer Jason Miller: “I liked the one where we left Jackson, went to L.A., played 30 minutes at the House of Blues, then flew all the way back across the country to New Hampshire – in the same day, for a show the next night.” But when you’re in a band on the way up, you get sleep on an airplane or wherever else you can. And it usually takes only a couple of days’ rest before they get the itch to get back on stage. Crossin Dixon has put out three singles – “Guitar Slinger,” “Make You Mine” and “I Love My Old Bird Dog (& I Love You Too).” Their first CD, Crossin Dixon, was released digitally in December and may be downloaded at itunes.com and amazon.com. They’re getting a good response from audiences, too, and they say that makes up for the stressful schedule.
16 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
v v v
Drummer Michael Bole plays with the band during a recent performance in Grenada.
“Once you see the crowd, you’re pumped up anyway; I don’t care how tired you are,” singer-guitarist Brandon Hyde said. “No matter how tired, when you see them singing ‘Guitar Slinger’ by themselves – a cappella – that makes it worthwhile.”
Crossin Dixon was formed in 2002 by members of two other bands, Kyote Wylde and Krazy Jayne. The four members are drummer Michael Bole of Greenwood, lead singer Jason Miller of Yazoo City, and singer/guitarists Brandon Hyde of Cascilla and Charles Grantham of Seven Pines. All of them knew early in life that they wanted to go into music. They were fans of harmony-based country groups such as Alabama, the Oak Ridge Boys and Diamond Rio, among other artists. But they wanted to have a rock sound, too; their sound has been described as “Alabama on Red Bull,” and the band’s name reflects their desire to appeal to those beyond the Mason-Dixon Line. All four members sing, and they say the harmonies fell into place the first time they rehearsed. “We all looked at each other and knew we had something,” Hyde said. They got their break after playing at the club Sammy’s Live in Huntsville, Ala. They had been offered a spot opening for Jason Aldean, which they almost didn’t take because of the travel expense. But they
made it, and a listener in the audience recommended them to Michael Knox, who is now their producer. A week or so later, they were playing for Knox at a club in Nashville. In August 2006, they signed a deal with Broken Bow Records. “Being in the right place at the right time does pay off sometimes,” Miller said. v v v The band members said they’re pleased with the CD and how quickly it came together. “Our producer threw us some songs, and then we took ‘Guitar Slinger’ and a few other ones, and, I mean, the record was out before we knew it,” Hyde said. “I mean, it was a hop, skip and a jump, and it was out.” It helped that Knox already had a large portfolio of songs and had a good idea of which ones he wanted to pitch. As it turned out, they liked those songs, too. “It’s one of those CDs you can just leave in your CD player and you can listen to every song on it,” Hyde said. “And you don’t get bored, because you’ve got three different singers, plus Michael sings, too.” All of the songs were written by people outside Crossin Dixon, such as Garrett Paris, Jon Stone, John Rich and Jeffrey Steele. But all of the band members write, and they have plenty of songs or partial songs sitting around. “I’ve got more started than I’ve ever finished,” Miller said. There’s no schedule yet for the release of the next CD, but Crossin Dixon does plan to collaborate with some of the same writers. v v v The members of Crossin Dixon have paid their dues, performing not only in clubs but at colleges, weddings, proms and other gatherings. They also have performed at the Viking Classic, Thunder on Water, and festivals. At a festival in Ohio last year, they played before 55,000 people as part of a lineup that also included Aldean, Gary Allan and Trace Adkins. Many in that audience probably were there to see the more famous performers, but they still gave Crossin Dixon a great reception. “That was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Miller said. In March, they performed in Washington, D.C., at a benefit for epilepsy. And scheduled for July, sandwiched between two Mississippi dates, is a private performance in Montana. Why Montana? Someone who saw them in Louisiana
popped out there so quick,” Hyde said. “We realized all the hard years we worked for it.” The video for “I Love My Old Bird Dog” was shot in Dallas by Wes Edwards. The band members say he already had an idea in his head of what he wanted, but he also asked for their input often. They enjoyed the experiCharles Grantham, center, ence, but they also learned and Jason Miller perform on something while spending two stage with their band, Crossin days working on a video that Dixon, recently in Grenada. lasts less than four minutes. “You can gain a whole new respect for actors who shoot once decided he wanted them to play at his daughter’s wedding, so he called their book- these two-hour-long movies,” Miller said. Another Crossin Dixon single – probably ing agent a few days later. “Don’t Waste Your Pretty” – will be released “You never know when you play one in June, and more shows will follow. show what’s around the corner, what could They say they’ve learned a lot about the happen next, who’s going to see you,” Hyde business in the last two years. At times, they said. said, it feels like being 5 years old again, Then there are the radio tours, where they have to perform in a conference room – when your clothes are laid out for you and you’re told where to go and what to do. often just after getting off the road. The But Crossin Dixon is starting to take a audience might be just a few radio people or more active role in the decisions. a large group of contest winners. “This year’s going to be interesting, one Sometimes these shows air live on radio, and sometimes they don’t. Either way, there way or the other,” Miller said. And, yes, they’re still willing to play at a are no microphones and no speakers, and prom – if the price is right. LI the listeners are only a short distance away. “There’s no mercy,” Miller said. “Any mistake, they’re going to hear it. So it’s real nerve-wracking. It’s stressful.” But after doing a number of those, they found that they just needed to go in, be themselves and not think about it too much. And every so often, they’re able to strike a chord in a different way. Their song “19,” written by Jeffrey Steele, is about a 19-yearold who joins the Marines after Sept. 11, 2001. At radio shows, veterans have given Grantham pins and other items to express their appreciation. “Little stuff they’d earned from the war, they would actually come up and give to Charlie – and say, ‘Hey, man, we really appreciate what you’re singing about. It means a lot to us,’” Hyde said. “Then we knew how real everything was, you know?” v v v Crossin Dixon has gotten the hang of shooting videos, too. Their first, a performance video for “Guitar Slinger,” didn’t take long to land on Country Music Television. Just a few weeks after it was shot in the summer of 2007, the label’s vice president took it to the network. People there loved it, and soon it was in medium rotation – a rarity for a new band. The band members say it felt strange – but satisfying – the first time they saw it. “It really seemed easy because it all just Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated / 17
Jimmie Lee Jr.
gives credit to God
PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
BY DAVID MONROE
It’s a good thing Jimmie Lee Jr. loves music because it keeps him busy all the time. The Mississippi Valley State University student takes classes during the day, oversees the music ministries at two churches, and is the state organist and music director for the northern jurisdiction of the Church of God in Christ. He produced a CD by MVSU professor Alphonso Sanders and also has worked on a recording with Melvin Jackson, a saxophonist in B.B. King’s band, among other projects. And that’s not counting the time he spends practicing to keep his skills sharp. “A lot of people tell me, ‘Man, you need to rest. You can take breaks; you can go on vacation and things,’” he said. “So I’m starting to kind of incorporate that because I know further down the road that’s going to take a toll on me.” But he knows what has been driving him up to this point. “The only thing I can say is God has been helping me do this,” he said. v v v
Jimmie Lee Jr. at work in the B.B. King Recording Studio at Mississippi Valley State University. 18 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
Lee, 25, grew up in Indianola. His mother, Ruthie Lee, sings, as do some other family members. He started playing acoustic guitar at the age of 5, and his brother had one, too. But one day his brother’s guitar broke, so he broke Jimmie’s — and things went downhill from there.
“I was only 21, 22 “We fought, and both of then. Like, ‘Am I really us got a whipping, and I qualified to do this?’” he was like, ‘OK, no more guisaid. “Being nervous, I tar,’” he said. “So I gave it just went on and did it, up and went to the drums.” and as time passed, God He switched his focus to gave me wisdom on how keyboards at age 11. After to do different things.” earning a scholarship to He’s only taken on attend Saints Academy and more responsibility since College in Lexington and then. Two years ago, he play organ for its choir, he was promoted to music started thinking about purdirector of the COGIC suing music full-time. northern jurisdiction. “I didn’t really think The opportunity to about it in terms of a career work with and lead musiuntil after I got the scholarcians from all over ship to go to the private Mississippi reinforced his school,” he said. “That’s conviction that he was when it kind of opened my “I just love music so much, meant to lead. eye to thinking, ‘I can I think it would be kind of hard for me to just say, Now he works with all probably make a living ‘Well, I’m just going to produce, and I’m just going district presidents on doing this.’” what to teach choirs, and Lee spent eighth and to engineer.’ I’m going to have this urge, sometimes he travels to ninth grade there, honing I know, to want to play at least one song.” other districts to play at his skills on the piano and meetings. He also overorgan. The following year, Jimmie Lee Jr. sees the music at annual he switched to Gentry convocations, which can High School, where he include a 300-person played in the marching three hours, and someone asks for an hour choir, an orchestra and a six-piece band. band, started a jazz band and sometimes led of his time, he probably will accept. the choir. “It’s kind of hard for me to say no to peov v v “There were times when we did not have ple,” he said, “so I usually take a lot of things a choir director,” he explained. “So they that I probably shouldn’t take. ... You never Lee’s first recording project was done would call me in to just kind of maybe get know what’s going to take you to the next with Harmony, a gospel group from Boyle. the choir together to do something for a spot or what’s going to help you get to the “I actually did a lot of that in the dorm room black history program, things like that.” next open door.” while I was at MDCC,” he said. After graduating from Gentry in 2001, he Since then, his other projects have includmoved on to Mississippi Delta Community v v v ed an MVSU Christmas CD; a gospel College, where he earned an associate recording, overseen by Michael Virgil, that degree in music, specializing in percussion. Lee said he loved both piano and drums, He played drums in the marching band, but as he moved through school, he realized included several choirs; and Sanders’ first CD, Mississippi Influences. accompanied the Ambassadors Show Choir piano was what would pay the bills. He also oversaw the recording of the first on drums and also played piano in the jazz Besides, playing piano can put him in a CD by a performer he knows well: his mothband. romantic mood, pump him up or just raise er. He transferred to MVSU partly for the his spirits when he needs it. “Piano was just He said it was awkward at first working opportunity to work with Sanders, whom he like the universal thing for me, and it’s had met while a student at Gentry. Growing grown to be the thing that I love most out of with her. But because he is accustomed to leading older people as a music minister, he up around church music, Lee hadn’t been all the instruments that I play,” he said. grew more comfortable with it. Besides, he exposed to much blues and jazz, and Even as he continues working in producsaid, she’s easy to work with – and she’s the Sanders showed him some basics that made tion, he plans to keep performing, too. most important person in his life. him want to learn more. “I just love music so much, I think it “If it wasn’t for her, none of this would be Now he is on track to graduate in would be kind of hard for me to just say possible,” he said. December with a music industry degree. ‘Well, I’m just going to produce, and I’m just Even with so much going on at once, Lee “The thing that I like about being here at going to engineer,’” he said. “I’m going to said he also is thinking of ways to give back Valley is, it’s hands-on,” he said. “I’d say after have this urge, I know, to want to play at to his community and state. being here for a couple of months, they kind least one song.” For example, he would like to start a of put me in the water.” recreational and performing arts center in He said it took about a year to learn the v v v Mississippi to encourage talented people to technical side of recording. He chose to express themselves. They might think they immerse himself in it for long periods rather Lee is now vice president of the music can’t do what they see artists doing on televithan just work for an hour and go on to department at the church he grew up in — sion, but he wants to encourage them to try. something else. “A lot of times I end up Lighthouse Church of God in Christ in “We also have a lot of talent in Mississippi being up ’til 2 or 3 in the morning just workBlaine. He also is music minister at House of that a lot of people just don’t know about,” ing on music and recording,” he said. Prayer Church of God in Christ in he said. “We can do whatever we want to He admitted that sometimes he makes Greenville. do. The sky’s the limit to what we can do things harder on himself by taking on too When he was first asked to be a music and to what we can have.” LI much at once. If he has to be somewhere in minister, he had doubts. Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated / 19
From left, Walter Stitt, Allan Hammons and Gene Stitt with the 1941 Aeronca Chief on the ramp at Archer Aviation.
BY ALLAN HAMMONS
t as the summer of 1964 – a beautiful Saturday afternoon, if I recall correctly. Walker Mangum, Walter Stitt and I were doing a good job of imitating airport freeloaders. We were all in high school, and each of us saved every penny we could get our hands on for flying lessons. We would do odd jobs around the airport and were always available if a pilot needed passengers. About mid-afternoon that fateful Saturday, a derelict airplane from a previous era landed and taxied up to the hangar at what was then the Greenwood Municipal Airport. (There’s hardly a trace of this oncebusy field. In the late 1960s it was closed to create the GreenwoodLeflore Industrial Park. Its three 4,000foot runways are now covered with buildings, but if you know where to look, two sizable hangars and the concrete parking apron stand as silent reminders of a place that was pure magic for kids who loved airplanes.) The pilot of this tired old bird had been ferrying the plane from Memphis to some point south and made at least one forced landing prior to arriving at Greenwood. In an apparent complete capitulation to his circumstances, the pilot proclaimed that he would sell the 20 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
machine to anyone who would make an offer. As fate would have it, the anxious seller met an equally willing buyer – John D. Ashcraft. Now you’d have to know John to fully appreciate his ability to bargain. He never met an opportunity that he could pass up, and this was no exception. In his most disarming way with his most charming Southern voice, John cut a pretty fine deal for the old airplane. Before the engine had fully cooled, John was negotiating the second phase of his bargain. I can still remember his approach to us: “I have a proposition for you fellows. I just bought that old airplane, and if you guys will take the time to rebuild it, I will furnish all the materials. You provide the labor, and in return, you can fly it for as long as you like.” I feel certain that our collective reply had to be, “Are you kidding?” He most certainly was not, and before sundown we had taken possession of one mangy 941 Aeronca Chief. It was indeed a “dog of an airplane,” but it was ours. We wasted no time in removing the wings and devising a way of towing it into town. The tow was accomplished by removing the rudder and dropping the tail wheel inside the
yelled, “When did this thing fall in here?” Walker replied, “Just trunk of Walker’s 1962 Chevy Impala. We carefully made our a few minutes ago!” Before we could interject the truth, they way to Walker’s home, which was on the south end of Dewey had trained their spotlight on the nearby oak trees in search of Street. We performed a little more “maintenance” there and the wings. We didn’t have the heart to tell them that the wings moved the Chief once again to my house at 1409 Strong Ave. We had a little more room in my neighborhood, and we really were still at the airport. They had a real airplane crash on their hands. wanted to see if we could get the engine started. For those not By this time they had radioed a report, and all hell was about familiar with 1940s vintage light planes, electric starters were to break loose. My father, hearing the commotion, came out to nonexistent. The little 65-horsepower Continental engine had see what we were up to. He knew both policemen and really to be cranked by spinning the propeller by hand. If you’ve ever propped a plane, you know that there’s something of an art to it. rubbed it in that they had been duped. They took a lot of ribFortunately, we figured it out without losing any limbs or dig- bing around the station and made a real commitment to keep an eye on us. its. And, after a few trial-and-error attempts, we finally managed We finally hauled the wings into town on a small trailer, and to get the beast going. Now once a group of 16- and 17-year-olds the Chief became an “official project” of our Air Explorer post. get an airplane going, there’s just one logical thing to do – try it Our leader was Walter’s dad, Gene Stitt, a man of incredible out. And try it out we did. With the rudder reinstalled, yet withpatience and courage. Gene out the wings, we taxied the airarranged for the Air Explorers to plane up and down the street, use the shop at Greenwood sending neighborhood moms High School for the restoration into a mild panic. of the Chief. The winter of 1964 The Chief needed fuel, so was filled with many happy despite the fact that it was now hours removing old fabric, dark, we taxied the plane a replacing tired wooden parts, quarter-mile down to the DX and inhaling enough butyrate service station on the corner of dope fumes to permanently alter Strong Avenue and the bypass. our judgment. The restoration Today it is the site of a Double had to be performed under the Quick store. Needless to say, supervision of a licensed airplane the attendant was more than a mechanic, and we found a willbit surprised when a wingless ing partner in Peter Mulchow. airplane taxied up. A dollar put about 2 1/2 gallons (gas was Walter Stitt and Allan Hammons in the cockpit of the Chief Pete was from Germany and was cheap in those days) in the front during the winter of 1964. Air Explore Scoutmaster Gene working as an assistant to David tank, and we were off again for Stitt looks on. The photo was made in the shop on the Edwards, the chief mechanic at Archer Aviation. Pete was in his my house. south side of Greenwood High School. 20s and lived in a boarding house On the return trip we decided on Henderson Street, just a half-block south of Johnson Street. to turn on 8th Street and came face-to-face with an oncoming He would come over evenings after work and was invaluable in car (we had no lights, only a spinning propeller). The driver slammed on the brakes, went flying backward up the street and our effort. Finally, in the spring of 1965, we were done. The day of the big test flight arrived. David Edwards was then took off down Strong. We were hysterical thinking about going to do the honors. We were really anxious to see the first what the driver must have thought. takeoff, and a small crowd had formed on the ramp. I believe After getting safely back to my house, we parked the plane that Walter Stitt, the best mechanic in our group, had the honor for a few minutes and decided to restart it. Nothing doing. We of spinning the prop to bring her to life. This was quite a propped until we were blue in the face, and she just wouldn’t moment for all of us. It was a breezy day, and Dave would be go. Walker (who later became the principal architect for the taking off on Runway 33. He taxied out, ran up the engine and implementation of the MCC spacecraft trajectory system, the software used for planning and tracking launch, orbital and entry checked the mags, looked for any opposing traffic and began his takeoff roll. The Chief was finally moving with its wings on. maneuvers for the space shuttle) was in the cockpit and wisely David lifted off and climbed straight ahead. As the Chief noted that the old plane had two fuel tanks, one directly in front climbed, it began to bank to the left. The bank steepened, and of the cockpit and another behind the seats. There was a fuel we were all very curious – what was Dave doing? Suddenly the selector that would let the fuel transfer from one tank to the other in flight. We had left the selector in a position that let all of Chief banked hard in the other direction and we were really confused. Back and forth, back and forth she went. Finally, the fuel in the front tank flow by gravity into the rear tank. The Dave straightened her out and made a big slow turn to come engine was fed from the front tank, so we were simply not getback for landing. ting fuel. The easy solution was to lift the fuselage over our Once on the ground, Dave taxied back up to announce that heads and let the gas run back to the front tank. This was going well until we raised the tail a bit too high and the Chief stood up we had rigged the controls in reverse. Turn the wheel left, and the plane would bank to the right. Turn to the right, and the on its nose. Chief banked left. Dave had kept his wits and finally rationalThis wasn’t a big deal. After all, the fuel was now back in the ized that he just had to think in reverse. It could have been fatal, front tank, and Walker, who was still in the cockpit, had reset but it was just a minor bump in the road. The control wheels the selector so that the gas would stay there. Just as we were had a bicycle chain that connected both wheels together, and considering how to lower the plane back to the ground, two of we had simply installed it in reverse. “Greenwood ’s finest” passed by. The officer driving slammed The Chief provided many happy hours for the airport bums, on the brakes, leaned out the window and looked back at the and John D. Ashcraft will forever be our John D. Aircraft. scene of the crash. We could hear the bellowing 383 Golden Allan Hammons is the owner of Hammons and Associates, a Commando engine of his Plymouth police special as it tore Greenwood advertising agency. He wrote this piece originally as a tribute around the block. to John D. Ashcraft, who died March 19, 2009. LI The police car came flying back up 7th Street, and the driver Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated / 21
26 – Stars and Stripes in the Park Festival, 5 p.m., Whittington Park. Activities include games, children’s corner and inflatables, children’s parade, live entertainment, food vendors and giant fireworks show at dark. Admission is FREE!
Keep an eye out
for these! May 7 – The Greenwood-Leflore County Chamber of Commerce will host a Buisness After Hours at 5 p.m. Location TBA. 8-10 – Greenwood Little Theatre will present Beauty & the Beast. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. on May 7-9 and 2 p.m. on May 10. Call (662) 453-9837 or 453-4152 for more information. 9 – Mississippi Valley State University Commencement exercises, 10 a.m., Harrison HPER Complex. 10 – March of Dimes Walk. Registration starts at 9:30 a.m. The walk starts at 10 a.m. For more information, call Missy White at (601) 933-1071 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. 14 – The Greenwood-Leflore County Chamber of Commerce will host a Golf Scramble tournament at Greenwood Country Club. The event begins at noon. 28 – Chamber University seminar, “Quick Books,” 5:30 p.m. Reservations are required by calling (662) 453-4152. Cost is $10 for members and $20 for non-members. The program will be facilitated by Mississippi Delta Community College.
June 5 – 9th annual B.B. King International Blues Workshop, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the H.G. Carpenter Auditorium, Mississippi Valley State University. 9 – Chamber University seminar, “Marketing 101,” 5:30 p.m. Cost is $10 for chamber members and $20 for non-members. Reservations are required by calling (662) 453-4152. The program will be facilitated by Hammons & Associates. 22 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
14 – Chamber University seminar. Program TBA.
August 1 – Bikes, Blues & Bayous, 8 a.m., Howard Street. 1 - Citywide Sidewalk Sale, all day.
11 – Chamber University seminar. Program TBA.
September 19 – 28th annual 300 Oaks Road Race and River to the Rails Festival. Online registration for 300 Oaks will be available in May at www.greenwoodms.com. Online registrations are available for individuals and families of four only. All other registrations, including teams, should be done through the Greenwood-Leflore County Chamber of Commerce office. Call (662) 453-4152 for more information. For more on the River to the Rails Festival, call Main Street Greenwood at (662) 4537625 or visit its Web site, www.mainstreetgreenwood.com.
PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
These items can all be found in the showroom at Fincher’s Antiques in Greenwood.
David Pitts at Antique Wholesalers.
Antique shops bring a
World of possibilities BY RUTH JENSEN
For an antiques buff, a walk down Howard Street in Greenwood is like a visit to a candy store for a chocolate lover.
Sara Ann Carter stands among the antiques at her shop, Russell’s Antiques and Fine Jewelry, on Howard Street.
For those wanting a special piece of antique furniture or a beautiful piece of estate jewelry, this is the place to find it. Besides its attraction as a place to better your cooking skills or learn more about blues music, Greenwood is becoming an antiquing destination, according to local dealers, who say much of their business comes from out of town, and even out of state. Mike D’Angelo, a former designer at Port Eliot Furniture and Accessories, says having several antique shops in a row is a great help. “When people stay here for the weekend, they make the block,” he said. “Howard Street is a great location.” Store owners give credit to The Alluvian for adding to their customer base. “It has made a huge difference.” Walking down Howard Street, starting from the south end across from The Alluvian, you can find 18th- and 19th-century Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated / 23
European and American furniture and accessories at Russell-Thomas Antiques. Next door is Russell’s Antiques and Fine Jewelry. Down the street is Fincher’s Antiques, and on the corner of Howard and Market streets is Port Eliot Fine Furniture and Accessories, which designs reproduction furniture for today’s lifestyles based on fine antiques. Port Eliot also sells antique pieces. On West Park Avenue, there is Antique Wholesalers, where David Pitts sells what he calls “an eclectic mix of furniture and accessories.” Pitts said the visitors to Greenwood keep him in business. “I wouldn’t make a living if we didn’t have them,” he said. Gene Fincher, who owns Fincher’s Antiques, said he enjoys telling people about Greenwood. He and his wife, Pie, take a van load of antiques to about 15 shows a year. He picks up some brochures on Greenwood and takes them with him. Often he meets customers in Greenwood who remind him of speaking to them at a show. “Over the years Viking has been so successful and has done so much, people would come into my booth and talk about Viking,” he said. “I decided to start taking brochures. You’d be amazed at the people who ask where to stay, and other questions about Greenwood.” Fincher moved to Howard Street after retiring from his West Park Avenue business. He soon realized he wasn’t ready for retirement. “Greenwood is an oasis in a desert,” Fincher said. “Lots of towns are drying up. People that come here are amazed at how well Greenwood has done reclaiming downtown. Antiques are a big part of what’s going on now on Howard Street.” Sara Ann Carter, who with her husband, Gerald, owns Russell’s Antiques and Fine Jewelry, said, “People who like antiques will travel any distance if you have quality.” Carter and her brother, Russell Cohron, took over their parents’ antique business when they retired in 1977. Carter focused on acquiring and selling a large amount of estate jewelry, while Cohron bought and shipped large pieces of furniture to inns and bed-andbreakfast establishments around the country. “It was much harder then,” Cohron said. “Now it’s so much easier, with digital cameras and e-mail. I probably get 500 pictures of furniture a month, as well as lots of emails.” He and his wife, Belinda, were in the old Midway Hotel until 2001, when they sold the building. Cohron decided to get back into the business after Olde World Antiques closed. He’s enjoying the new location and getting a lot of business as people come to visit Greenwood for business or pleasure. In addition to a Web site, Cohron said he advertises 24 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
“Greenwood is an oasis in a desert.” Gene Fincher in numerous publications and gets a lot of response. The Howard Street dealers are advertising together in the specialty publication Mississippi Antiques. Cohron said he and his sister were blessed to see so much great stuff as they grew up with parents in the business. Cohron obviously enjoys his work. “It’s fun. You meet lots of nice, interesting peo-
ple. We did both of John Grisham’s houses in Oxford and Virginia.” Carter said her business is now getting fourth-generation customers, and that they come from all over the country. “We had one customer who came down from Chicago to buy an engagement ring. His fiancée was from the Delta, and she wanted a ring from here.” Carter agreed that “more is better” to entice customers here, and she said The Alluvian has brought in more customers “who know fine things.” Antiquing has a bright future in Greenwood, Cohron believes. “I have a lot of plans. People don’t have any idea how many possibilities are here.” LI
These sisters know their
PHOTO BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
Sisters Lenora Bustillos, left, and Mary Wooden own businesses in the same building on Fulton Street, where they have been for the past seven years.
Bustillos, Wooden working side by side
BY RUTH JENSEN
here’s easy conversation and lots of laughter when sisters Lenora Bustillos and Macy Wooden get together.
Some people might find it difficult to work alongside family members, but the two Greenwood businesswomen say they love every minute of it. The sisters own businesses in the same building, though with separate entrances, on Fulton Street, where they
have both been for the past seven years. Wooden moved her Professional Business Services, a tax preparation and legal forms service, to that location in 2000, and Bustillos joined her in 2002 when she moved Lenora’s Flowers and Crafts there. Talking with them, you get a sense that they’re more than sisters – they’re best friends. Wooden says that as the elder sister she has been a mentor to Bustillos, who also calls her second mom. “It’s wonderful. We work together well,” Wooden said. “We think alike most of the time. We can discuss things. We never argue. She is a replica of me. When we were young, I helped my mom to raise her. People mistake us for each other when we’re out in public. I don’t tell them any different.” Both sisters agree there are a lot of advantages to working next door to each other. One of the most valuable aspects is having Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated / 25
“I always wanted my own business,” she someone to talk to when there is a probsaid. “I had a retail business selling jewelry lem. “If I’ve had a stressful day and I’m and accessories in Greenwood and tired, I’ll take a break and dash over to Lenora’s for a visit,” Wooden said. “It helps Grenada. I had done taxes for people out of the store as a hobby. I had to decide me.” And Bustillos will go over and assist which would be more profitable, and I her sister if Lenora’s is having a quiet day. went with taxes. My goal had been to Also, if one of them is home sick or on a open an alternative legal clinic. Alix delivery, the other usually can be there to Sanders’ uncle recommended that I do it.” receive packages. So along with tax preparation, she also Not only do they work very closely together, but the two also are very active at added the legal forms as part of her service, and she feels it’s an important service. “We Jones Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. don’t give legal advice, but we can help Wooden is usher, announcer and program coordinator, and Bustillos is secretary of the with forms. If they need more, we refer them to an attorney.” choir. Even their children get She also loves her work. “My along, they say. “Mine thought the sun rose and set in her. “We talk just favorite thing is seeing a smile on a face when they pick up They would call her if they got about every their tax forms and realize they in trouble with me,” Wooden day. When we are getting money back. It said. Bustillos’ more creative side haven’t spoken makes me feel good,” Wooden said. came out early. “It started as a Of course, the reverse is also hobby in high school,” she said. to each other, I The two sisters often searched start to think I the worst thing about her job. for cypress knees to take home want to find out “When they have to pay more taxes, and I can’t figure any and paint. what’s going way around it, though I have “We loved to make them look pretty,” she said. “I always on, and I have done my best, I hate to have to tell them and see them unhapmade things, cooked, sewed, to call.” py.” started making arrangements The sisters enjoy spending and bouquets for family and Lenora Bustillos time together, but sometimes friends. It started in the house, work doesn’t allow it. But it then the garage.” won’t be too long until one After college, she worked for calls the other. the Bank of Greenwood, was in the gro“We talk just about every day. When we cery business and later went into the haven’t spoken to each other, I start to flower and crafts business full time. She says she has loved it all – even the holidays. think I want to find out what’s going on, and I have to call,” Bustillos said. Bustillos’ shop can provide everything a It’s not often that someone gets to turn a bride and groom need for the big day. hobby into a thriving business, and even “We’re a one-stop wedding shop,” she says. “You can get everything from tuxedos less often to have the opportunity to work with family members, but Bustillos and or purchasing dresses to all of the floral Wooden have managed to do both successdecorations.” fully. It’s been a great experience, they say, Wooden finds satisfaction in helping people deal with legal forms and taxes. She and they hope it will continue. Though Wooden says she is at the age of earned a degree in business and later took paralegal studies. After working with North beginning to think of retiring, Bustillos shakes her head, saying she hopes for more Mississippi Rural Legal Services and as an years working together. “It’s been fun,” insurance agent and legal secretary, she she said. LI decided to open her own business.
26 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
Character PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
Finding and celebrating
BY JO ALICE DARDEN
ome young couples might feel a little intimidated by purchasing an old house that needed a complete roof-to-foundation restoration while Dad has a more-than-full-time job and Mom is working, shuttling two youngsters and managing the family’s old-new house. But Kevin Brown says he’d do it all over again. “Patsy wanted a new house, and I wanted an old one,” Kevin said. But the couple fell in love with the 1912 Colonial on Grand Boulevard in North Greenwood when their Realtor, Dixie Kelly of DuBard Realty, showed it to them in 2007. They were living in a Vikingowned house on Poplar Street reserved for new employee transfers. Kevin had just been named chief engineer over kitchen cleanup – including dishwashers and disposals – and they had been looking for a house to purchase for a while. This one called out to them. v v v
The Browns discovered a lovely brick surround, painted it, and installed a mantelpiece and supporting bases, making the fireplace in their living room look as though it has been there since the house was built.
At first, if it had been up to Patsy, the family might not have jumped at the chance to actually move to Greenwood. “We were high school sweethearts,” said Patsy Harpole Brown; she had even been a cheerleader. The two grew up in Jackson, Tenn., and then both went to the University of Mississippi in Oxford, marrying in 1993. Patsy had a dance studio in Oxford called Tumble and Dance Co.
Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated / 27
Kevin signed on with Whirlpool and spent 10 years moving up its corporate ladder while the couple started building their family in Oxford, where their son, Garrett, was born in 1999. In 2001, Kevin was offered a job in St. Joseph, Mich. He had accepted the position but had not started working, and the couple was about to purchase an old home there, when a call came with a job offer for Kevin from Maytag – in their hometown of Jackson, Tenn. It was hardly a difficult decision. Patsy sold her dance studio to one of her employees, and the small family moved home to Jackson. “We were happy there, and we enjoyed the town and being home,” Patsy said. Their nearby families loved having them close. Their daughter, Mary Helen, was born in 2004. Kevin was actually back with Whirlpool, which had purchased Maytag. How could things get better? After about five years, Kevin got a phone call from a headhunter who was allowed to reveal it was Viking Range Corp. in Greenwood that was interested in him. A veteran of the appliance industry, Kevin recognized immediately the magnitude of the opportunity because he knew Viking’s huge name and reputation. Patsy, who had come through Greenwood on a pottery tour once, said her advice to Kevin was, “Take the interview so we can stay at The Alluvian, but don’t take the job!” Patsy didn’t count on being totally charmed by Greenwood and its residents. She was sold during her first visit. “I love the town,” Patsy said. “It has all the character Oxford has. Jackson (Tenn.) just doesn’t have that character, and that’s one thing we were looking for.” The Browns found that character in both the town and the house they bought. v v v There are varying schools of thought about how to characterize updates to an older home. Some restoration and renovation experts adopt a takeno-prisoners approach and declare nearly all modernization efforts abusive to the house. Others are more charitable, forgiving the lowered ceilings, the “popcorn” sprayed onto those ceilings and the clumsy but well-intentioned efforts to disguise old radiators with squared-off covers. The Browns seem to be more of the charitable variety. They won’t throw blame for what previous owners believed needed to be done to update the house and keep the place running. But neither are they bound by decisions those former owners made. The Browns have decided to restore the house to its 1912 version as accurately as practical for their family. The living room fireplace is a case in point. “This whole fireplace (surround) was completely covered in wood,” Patsy guesses sometime in the 1980s. The Browns started pulling away the wood façade and found a lovely brick fireplace that needed its character restored. The couple cleaned up and painted the brick, and Patsy found the perfect mahogany mantelpiece in Tupelo. Kevin built supporting bases for the two columns, and the effect is that it has been in the house since it was built. The cast iron radiators were a nice surprise, Patsy said. Throughout the house, the radiators had been “updated” with boxy wooden covers with metal screens that let the steam out but hid the radiators’ character. Patsy and Kevin pulled off the covers and repainted the radiators, restoring them to their former glory, even while installing central heat and air conditioning. One of the most ambitious projects involved the stairs. The clean architectural lines of the front stairs between the first and second floors made the Browns realize there had to be plans for bringing them up to the third floor. But they couldn’t figure out how the stairs would work. They scratched their heads; they consulted their contractor and some friends. Installing a spiral staircase, perhaps through a closet, was often suggested. But nothing felt right. They finally decided on the simplest solution: just continue the stairs, as built already, all the way up to the third floor. That’s what they did – again, the perfect solution for the restoration. 28 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
Above, the Browns fell in love with the 1912 house on Grand Boulevard as soon as they saw it. At left, Garrett Brown poses on the staircase connecting the three floors of his family’s house. Below, Kevin and Patsy Brown on the sofa in their living room.
Another, perhaps slightly less vexing problem has been finding exactly the right lighting fixtures. “Most of the light fixtures in the house disappeared before we got here,” Patsy said. So they’ve been looking for fixtures that will fit both the period and today’s higher standards of safety. One particularly charming feature is the glass and metal chandelier over the breakfast table. Made in the 1800s, it was not originally electric, but gas. Kevin rewired it so that its outer, smaller lamps are electric, and the large center light remains gas. The combination plays to great effect when the couple entertains. All the woodwork in the house is being painstakingly stripped down to the bare wood. It had been most recently painted white, and many of the rooms have transom windows over the doorways. The result resembled an old doctor’s office. The warm-up of the woodwork and the fresh coats of paint on the walls are eradicating that effect. The living room and formal dining room, both painted in snug, toasty browns that encourage conversation, have been lovingly restored and are in full use, as are the stairs, the foyer, a screened porch, a media room and study, and a full bath downstairs. Silk tapestries in rich crimsons and coffees highlight the tall windows. Many of the couple’s furnishings were perfect fits for the house.
Patsy Brown said almost all of the family’s furnishings fit perfectly into their house in Greenwood. The warm brown walls and rich red silk window treatments encourage a feeling of luxurious comfort.
“Actually,” Patsy said, “the rooms in this house are a better fit for the furniture we brought with us because they’re larger. They give us more walking-around room than we’ve had.” The kitchen and breakfast room will be finished in the next phase of the remodeling project. Already the couple has torn out seven layers of flooring and installed heart pine floorboards in the kitchen for oldSouthern ambiance. They were delighted to discover the kitchen’s original beadboard ceiling still existed in good repair when Kevin started pulling down the dropped ceilings. In the next phase, the kitchen will be reconfigured and updated with new appli-
ances, an island installed and some architectural features introduced to give weight and presence to the kitchen’s structure. So the remodeling work is ongoing. Garrett is now in the fourth grade at Pillow Academy, and next year he’ll be joined at Pillow by his sister, Mary Helen, when she leaves the Learning Tree Day Care Center, and Patsy has started teaching aerobics at Twin Rivers Recreation Inc. and continues to manage the restoration project. And she said she’s happy that she and Kevin decided he should take both the interview and the job. “I am most definitely happy,” she said. “I love the people in Greenwood and the friends I’ve made here. I hope we live here forever!” LI
1st Row: Brigitte Rhodes, Jesse Shute, Allison Pillow, Janet Edwards, Jennifer Bennett 2nd Row: Tasha Cornish, Sydni Carman, April Castle, Phyllis Baldwin, Jenny Schmitz, Patti Brown, Fran Staten 3rd Row: Jackie Brownlow, Diane Smith, Leona Thomas, Rosie Coleman, Alice Blackmon, Amanda Harris, Jeff Hardin 4th Row: Chris Ballard, Carolyn Mitchell, Allison Pillow, Kay Woods, Alison Balthrop, Katrena McDaniel, Dale Morgan
Our promise to you is to provide the highest quality healthcare services, along with respect and compassion for both patient and family.
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Conveniently located in to serve you across the Delta!
Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated / 29
PHOTO BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
Choctaw chief’s final resting place BY JIM FRAISER
Indian agent, Leflore consented to meet Old Hickory. “I, Andrew Jackson, President of the United Although his burial site is in States,” declared the latter, “know Carroll County near the site of his this man to be an honest gentleman.” long-gone mansion, Malmaison, the “I, Greenwood Leflore,” the other name of Greenwood Leflore remains countered, “Chief of the Choctaw conspicuous in all parts of his nameIndians, know him to be a damned sake city and county. rascal.” Greenwood Leflore was born on Although Jackson gave Leflore a June 3, 1800, at Le Fleur’s Bluff, near ceremonial sword and promised to do what is now known as the Old “justice,” he never removed the Capitol Museum in Jackson, to agent. Facing anger and disappointFrench Canadian trader Louis Le ment from tribal members, Leflore Fleur and the half-French, halfresigned as chief and resolved to Choctaw Rebecca Cravat. serve his adopted nation. He was Shortly after his 12th birthday, elected to the state Legislature in Leflore’s parents moved him to 1831 and 1835, and to the U.S. Choctaw County in a residence/tavSenate in 1841. ern called French Camp. With his Although Leflore flourished on his parents’ blessings, Major John 15,000 acres of farmland tended by Donley, a friend of Louis’, took the 400 slaves, he never forgot those less Choctaw-speaking Greenwood to fortunate than himself. He kept a Nashville to reside in the Donley doctor and minister on his lands to home, learn English and receive a care for his slaves’ needs, allowed quality education in Nashville and them to marry and provided them Paris. with ample housing and sustenance. While his father, Major Louis (now He lent money to many friends, called) Leflore, fought under Chief including Paul Tulane, whose later Pushmataha and alongside Andrew bequest helped found Tulane Jackson against Tecumseh’s University. Shawnees and Creeks during the War An ardent supporter of the Union, of 1812, the bright and handsome Leflore refused to support the Greenwood succeeded both in his Confederacy and predicted a disasstudies and in winning the heart of trous result for Southerners as a conDonley’s lovely daughter, Rosa. Choctaw Chief Greenwood Leflore, the namesake of On Dec. 4, 1817, 17-year-old Greenwood and Leflore County, is actually buried in sequence of secession and war. When Greenwood and 15-year-old Rosa, Carroll County near the site of his long-gone mansion, a Confederate general and old friend of Leflore’s asked for hospitality for Malmaison. despairing of gaining her father’s himself and his staff during a rainapproval, secretly married in storm, Leflore offered lodging and a Nashville. After Donley accepted what he couldn’t delay and feted the couple with extravagant dinners sumptuous dinner only if the Confederate officers would enter his home dressed as civilians and not in their gray uniforms. and balls, Greenwood returned to Mississippi with his new bride. That home, of course, was the grand two-story, white frame manFive years later, he was named chief of the Choctaws. sion, Malmaison, named for the mansion of Napoleon’s wife, Greenwood knew his people must adapt to “modern” life to surJosephine, and erected in 1854-55 by James Clark Harris with vive, so he had schools and churches built, encouraged marriage and French and Southern Colonial Revival features. Two-story grooved religious freedom, and forbade the furnishing of alcohol to tribal square columns graced four porticos that ran along all sides of the members, first punishing his own brother-in-law for violating his house. Balconies dressed with iron grillwork, a dogtrot hallway that edict. divided 14 rooms (eight of which measured 20 by 25 by 15 feet), On Sept. 27, 1830, the Choctaws ceded their remaining lands east many with large black Italian marble mantels, were highlights. The of the Mississippi in the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. Chief four-acre lawn was sodded in Bermuda grass, dotted with oak, maple, Leflore’s able diplomacy helped gain acceptance for the treaty, but it left many Choctaws bitter against their leader. Leflore answered their sugar and holly trees, and frequented by deer. One soon became a family pet fond of climbing the interior stairs to the delight of charges of bribery with the response, “What is worse, for a great govLeflore’s children. ernment to offer a bribe, or a poor Indian to take one?” These were the children of Rosa, who had died in 1829, and Prevailed upon to take his famous black carriage, with sterling silLeflore’s third wife, Priscilla Donley, Rosa’s younger sister, with ver trimmings and figured cream silk damask upholstery, to whom Leflore also eloped in 1836. Leflore had no children with Washington, D.C., to ask President Jackson to remove a corrupt
30 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
his second wife, Elizabeth Cody, cousin to the famous Buffalo Bill Cody. She died within a year of their marriage. When Leflore asked Harris the price of Malmaison’s construction, Harris replied that he sought no money, only the hand of Leflore’s daughter by Priscilla, Rebecca Cravat Leflore. The deal was consummated, and a double wedding, which also included that of Rebecca’s niece, was held on Malmaison’s grounds. Following an extravagant feast under the December sun, Leflore gifted both brides with plantations tended by a hundred slaves. Although Malmaison would burn to the ground in 1942, Leflore lived out his final days there, and he asked Priscilla to bury him wrapped in the flag of his beloved United States. He was laid to rest in the family cemetery near his home. His burial monument reads “GREENWOOD LEFLORE, Born June 30, 1800 Died, August 31, 1865. The Last Chief of the Choctaws East of the Mississippi River.” It is fitting that the city of Greenwood and county of Leflore should bear the name of a man whose legend still towers above them as Choctaw chief, devoted husband and father, man of dogged integrity, progressive lawmaker, philanthropist to people of all races and dedicated American patriot. Greenwood native Jim Fraiser is a federal administrative law judge in Tupelo, a free-lance journalist and author. LI
the charm of Downtown Greenwood
Downtown offers a superb blend of wonderful dining, fine art, antiques, festivals, special gifts, and live entertainment. Upcoming Downtown Events: June-October, 2009 Downtown Greenwood Farmers’ Market August 1, 2009 Bikes, Blues & Bayous September 18-19, 2009 River to the Rails/300 Oaks Road Race For more information on any of these events visit www.mainstreetgreenwood.com
intersecting past & future
Lise Foy, Executive Director • P.O. Box 8236 • 325 Main Street Phone 453-7625 • Fax 453-7992 • e-mail: email@example.com
Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated / 31
Dressing children with
PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
A French twist BY RUTH JENSEN
If Cindy Foose could wave a wand and get her way, she would dress America’s children more like the French and less like miniature teenagers. In fact, Foose is now working on a book proposal that will show American mothers the French way. “I was in France for 10 days visiting with a cousin who had lived there, when we were sitting in a park. I was interested to see how French mothers, who are known for their own fashion style, dressed their children,” Foose said. “I kept seeing children dressed in beautiful, classic clothes. They were heart-stopping moments. I was surprised to see dark colors like navy and black on the children, just as the mothers wore. “I tore out a page from a French magazine. It showed a child draped over her mother’s shoulder. She had on a dark charcoal yoked dress with smocking, puffed sleeves, satin piping, and pink rosy sash. It was beautiful.” As a designer of children’s handmade clothes for Creative Needle magazine for 24 years, and a much-in-demand teacher of the needle arts around the country and the world for 30 years, Foose doesn’t like “trendy” when it comes to children’s clothes. She began learning creative sewing at a young age at the side of her Aunt Carrye, who thought all young girls should know 32 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
Lola Ricketts, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Darby Ricketts, sits among the flowers in her dress created and designed by Cindy Foose for Creative Needle magazine.
how to sew. Later, she learned from a friend’s mother. As an adult, Foose has studied the needle arts extensively in Madeira, France, the British Isles and the United States. As one of the nation’s pre-eminent needleworkers and designers and an avid collector of vintage children’s clothing, Foose is definitely a classicist in how she likes to see children dressed. While working for Creative Needle, she designed and created beautiful garments with details such as hand smocking and embroidery. Foose was children’s fashion editor and then associate editor at the magazine, which has recently stopped publication because of the difficult economy. One of her jobs was to come up with a
concept that became the pictorial section in the center of the magazine with instructions for creating the design. “My job was to have the concept and then write instructions for it,” she said. Often that meant doing whatever it took to get that just right color of fabric. “I once had 35 yards of organdy strung up all over the house. I worked with the Rit people to dye embroidery thread the same as the fabric.” Though she is an expert in her field, Foose is not stuffy about her art. She tried to understand that person who sews but who is not a professional. “They just wanted to make something pretty for their child, so I made instructions easy to follow,” she said. “I like to think every garment I design is a future heirloom.”
The beautiful clothes she created through years of working with the magazine are used as samples for her classes, and sometimes they are loaned to nieces’ children. “It just proves that a well-designed classic is always in style,” she said. While working with Creative Needle, Foose also became an internationally known and in-demand teacher She traveled 30-35 weekends a year, all over the United States and to Australia and the Caribbean. She also appeared on television and in other magazines besides Creative Needle and was asked to travel to the Caribbean to help women there improve their decorative sewing skills and thus better support their families. She has been invited numerous times to teach at the Smocking Arts Guild of America’s (SAGA) national convention as well as for many guilds and shops. “Since 1986 I’ve been on their approved teacher list,” she said. “There are about 10 of us in my circle.” With her friend, Hope Carr, Foose co-authored the book, Designer Template Smocking. The two also invented and obtained an original patent for “The Smocking Board.” A couple of years ago, Foose tired of the constant travel, and when her daughter, Martha Foose, and son-in-law, Donald Bender, opened the Mockingbird Bakery, Foose decided to move to Greenwood to help them and enjoy watching her grandson, Joe, grow up. “When the skycap at the airport notices you changed luggage colors, you know you have been traveling too much,” she said. The heightened security measures that made it difficult to get through airports after 9/11 also added to her decision to cut back. Now, she accepts only four invitations a year. This year she will teach in Boston in July, at the SAGA national convention in September, in Fayetteville, Ark., in October, and Missouri in November. Though she is now teaching less, she has enjoyed it very much. “It is always a joy in my classes to watch a diverse cross-section of women in age, skill depth, and personalities meld into a cohesive group as they strive to master a new skill,” she said. “Without fail, they leave the class with new friends and pride in their accomplish-
Cindy Foose, center, shows off a child’s dress she designed and made for Creative Needle magazine. Looking on are Joe Bender, Foose’s grandson, and Lola Ricketts. Joe is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Bender, and Lola is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Darby Ricketts.
Cindy Foose sits on the sofa of her Greenwood home, wearing a pear of socks she knitted.
ments.” For the French-inspired designs, Foose has gotten help from a friend of her cousin’s, Anne Dedeyan, who is a French grandmother. Dedeyan answered a number of Foose’s questions about the ways of French mothers. She told her that, as here, many of the younger people are changing from some of the classic styles to a more trendy look, but that a core group of French families continues to dress children in classic styles. Actually, a bad economy is encouraging them to buy or make articles that can be handed down. Foose is developing clothing designs for the book, which has sparked interest from publishers through a New York-based literary agent. In addition to completely handmade items, she plans to use some ready-made articles and add detailing to them, to appeal to the person who likes special things for her child but doesn’t want to make the entire item. For her inspiration, Foose looks to anything from hand-embroidered pillowcases and table linens from the 1940s and 1950s, which she collects, to flowers on a bush, a fabric, and scrollwork on the end of a table. “I just never know,” she said. “Sometimes I just have to handle the fabric, look at it, put it on a table, live with it for a few days. I like to wait to let it tell me what it needs. “I use only natural fabrics – a lot of linen and cotton,” she said. “I like to tell my students, ‘Use the best you can afford.’” In addition to designing children’s clothes, Foose also loves to knit socks, read and study medieval history, which was her college major, and browse through museums and antiques shops. Putting a personal touch on a home or clothing is very important to Foose, who finds great satisfaction in creating something for herself or a loved one or inspiring others to do the same. LI Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated / 33
You’re at the right place. Whether you’re searching for traditional Southern fare or something more exotic, restaurants in Greenwood and the surrounding area offer a delightful experience for every palate.
Crystal Grill 423 Carrollton Avenue Greenwood
Type of cuisine: American Full Bar Hours of operation: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (Tuesday - Sunday)
Price range (per person ): Lunch: $10-$20 Dinner: $10-$20 Children’s menu
Handicapped accessible Reservations recommended Phone: (662) 453-6530
Veronica’s Custom Bakery 222 Howard Street Greenwood
Type of cuisine: Homestyle Breakfasts, Soup, Salad, Sandwiches and Pastries Hours of operation:
7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (Tuesday-Saturday) Breakfast all day Saturday, Closed January Price range (per person):
Under $10 Children’s menu
Handicapped accessible, Outdoor dining
Phone: (662) 451-9425 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web site: www.threedeuces.net
China Blossom 917 Hwy. 82 West Greenwood
Type of cuisine: Chinese & American Full Bar Hours of operation: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (Sunday), 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (Monday-Thursday), 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. (Friday & Saturday) Price range (per person ):
Lunch: under $10 Dinner: $10-$20 Children’s menu
Handicapped accessible Phone: (662) 453-3297
Carroll County Market 607-608 Lexington Street Carrollton
Type of cuisine: BBQ, Steak, Seafood, Wood-Fired Pizza Wine Menu Hours of operation: 2-6 p.m. (Monday - Wednesday) 5-9 p.m. (Thursday), 5-10 p.m. (Friday & Saturday) Price range (per person ):
Dinner $8-$30, Children’s menu Occasional Live Music Reservations recommended Outdoor smoking patio, Handicapped accessible
Phone: (662) 237-1131 Web site: www.carrollcountymarket.com 34 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
Blue Parrot Café 222 Howard Street Greenwood
Type of cuisine: Fine Latin Cuisine Full Bar Hours of operation: Occasional special & private events. Call to be put on the e-mail list. Price range (per person ):
Dinner: $15-$25 Handicapped accessible Live music Reservations recommended Phone: (662) 451-9430 E-mail: email@example.com
Web site: www.threedeuces.net
Capricorn’s Internet Cafe
42600 CR 507, Itta Bena, MS Type of cuisine: Steaks, Catfish Dinners, Bar-b-que Dinners, Daily Hot Plates, Gyros, Monte Cristos, Different Flavors of Hot Wings, Salads and Many Different Sandwiches. Fresh Baked Cakes Daily. Full Bar Hours of operation:
11 a.m.-11 p.m. (Monday-Thursday), 11 a.m.-12:30 a.m. (Friday & Saturday) Poetry With Karaoke on Friday and Saturday.
Price range (per person ): Lunch: $6.49 plus tax Occasional live music Phone (662) 254-0333
314 Howard Street, Greenwood
Type of cuisine: Italian (Fine Dining) Full Bar, Occasional Live Music Hours of operation: 5-10 p.m. (Dinner), Sunday Brunch 11-2 p.m.
Price range (per person ): Dinner:$20-$40 (per entree) Children’s menu, outdoor dining area for smokers
Handicapped accessible Occasional Live Music Reservations recommended Phone: (662) 455-4227 Web site: www.giardinas.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
722 Carrollton Avenue Greenwood
Type of cuisine: American with an Italian flare Beer and Setups: You may bring your own wine or liquor.
Hours of operation: 5 p.m.-10 p.m. (Tuesday-Saturday)
Price range (per person): Dinner $10-$30 Handicapped accessible Reservations recommended Phone: (662) 453-5365
Mai Little China 617 West Park Ave.
Highland Park Shopping Center Greenwood
Type of cuisine:Fusion Wine, Beer and Set-ups Hours of operation: Lunch: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Dinner: 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Open 1st Sunday of each month, 11am - 3 p.m. Price range (per person ):
Lunch: $10 Dinner: $10-$20, Children’s menu
Handicapped accessible Reservations recommended Phone: (662) 451-1101
117 Main Street, Greenwood
Type of cuisine: Southern Eclectic Beer, Set-ups, BYOB (Wine/Liquor) Hours of operation: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Price range (per person ): Lunch & Dinner: $4-$30
Handicapped accessible Children’s Menu Occasional Live Music Phone: (662) 455-9575 Web site: www.deltabistro.com
Sonic Drive-In 407 West Park Avenue Greenwood
Type of cuisine: American Hours of operation: 6 a.m to 11 p.m. (Sunday-Thursday) 6 a.m to midnight (Friday & Saturday)
(per person ):
Breakfast: under $4, Lunch: $5 to $6, Dinner: $5 to $6
Children’s Menu Handicapped accessible Phone: (662) 455-1131
Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated / 35
Jess Pinkston designed the pool at his family’s house in 1962 with a mosaic tile treatment depicting the Zodiac signs of the family members connected to their mother at the center.
PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
Art-fully lived BY JO ALICE DARDEN
When he’s showing his art collection at his house in Greenwood, keeping up with Jess Pinkston is a challenge. While he’ll admit to being “80s-ish,” he moves more like a man in his 40s who regularly works out, and his enthusiasm for his art is contagious – like watching a 2-year-old with a new toy. “You gotta have art,” he laughed, spreading his arms as if helpless to think otherwise. That’s Pinkston’s mantra, and he lives it every day. Although he has made his living installing pools since 1959, his house in Greenwood is a museum, and he says the condominium he owns in Oxford contains an even more extensive and valuable collection. In his Greenwood home, there is no place
36 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
for a visitor’s eye to rest. Every inch of wall space in every room is covered with beautifully framed works of art, and every horizontal space holds a sculpture. “Do you know Peter Falk?” Pinkston asks a visitor. “You mean the actor?” “Yeah, he did this painting of Ali McGraw,” he said, pointing to a large piece on his bedroom wall. Pinkston saw the painting in a gallery in New Orleans and recognized McGraw, the actress, immediately and had to have the painting. In his living room, the dominant feature is a round painting of Pinkston’s daughter, Mary August, in hot, bright colors that mesmerize the viewer. It was done by Mary Sims of Memphis, Pinkston said. When he was installing a pool for Lee and Pup
There is hardly a place in Pinkston’s Greenwood home where a visitor’s eye can rest. Favorite art pieces adorn almost all vertical space.
At left is Pinkston’s bedroom and sitting area in his Greenwood home. Center, Pinkston stands under a tree overlooking the pool he built for his family in 1962. Above, the guest bedroom of his Greenwood home contains much original art that Pinkston has commissioned or just saw and had to have.
“My fascination peaked even more when I went to countless McCarty in Merigold – he and the McCartys, the potters, have been exhibitions, shows and galleries,” he remembered. great friends for many years – the couple insisted Mary Sims do a “At about the same time, Greenwood had its own little set of painting of Pinkston. When it was finished, Sims met Mary August dilettantes,” Pinkston said, “led by Henry Flautt, Charles Bowman and said, “I have to do a painting of this girl. She is so beautiful!” and the incomparable Mary Jayne (Garrard) Whittington.” Pinkston is a major supporter of the local arts scene. He attends Then into his life came Bill Dunlap, the artist whose work now nearly all of the civic organization events involving art, such as the appears throughout the public areas of The Alluvian and The Cotton Ball, where a variety of pieces of art are featured in auctions. Alluvian Spa; and Lee and Pup McCarty, the potters; and Keith “Streeter Odom (Spencer) is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite, Dockery McLean, who ran her late husband’s Dockery Farms for favorite artists,” Pinkston said, pointing to one of her paintings hangyears and realized the significance of the farms to the world of blues; ing in the guest room. He has several others, as well. He said she and John Simmons in Memphis, owner of the Shops of John went to Italy and took many photos and then came back and paintSimmons. All of these artists heavily influenced Pinkston early in his ed Italy from those photos. He commissioned some of her work; career and became friends with him. other pieces he saw and just had to have. “Since I had no vices such as gambling, drinking or big-game A large still life by Lisa Redditt Paris of Jackson, who grew up in hunting, I started collecting art and enjoyed helping other people Greenwood, the daughter of Bardin and the late Patricia Redditt, start their collections,” Pinkston said. He even took a hangs in the living room. couple of courses in art history and art appreciation at Also in the living room, tucked away in a corner, is a Delta State University in Cleveland when he was in his sculpture of Pinkston, to which he has attached a hat and “You gotta 60s. glasses. It was done by Emma Knowlton Lytle, on her “My primary goal – and love in life – is creating a masfamily’s plantation known as Perthshire, because, he said, have art.” terpiece in someone’s backyard or their garden,” she had never done a sculpture of a man with a beard, Jess Pinkston Pinkston said. “I absolutely love building swimming and she wanted to try working with that element. She pools. If I can incorporate my own artistic feelings into a presented it to him when he finished installing her project, that makes it all the more rewarding.” swimming pool. In 1962, he and Fred Carl – the father of the current On the way to visit an original Henri Matisse watercolViking Range Corp. president – built a house in North Greenwood or, hidden behind the door in the guest bath, Pinkston pointed out for Pinkston’s family, which consisted of him and his former wife, the two original Marc Chagall paintings hanging over the entry in the late BeBe Gory Pinkston McAdoo, and their children – Andy, who kitchen. with his wife, Karen, is the fourth generation of his family to own and operate Lusco’s in Greenwood; Charlotte, who is married to Danny v v v Dale, who owns Ellendale Plantation in Glendora; Jerry, who is an insurance salesman in Greenwood; Mary August, who is married to How does one man in Greenwood come to have such a magnifiinsurance agent Rhyne Howard of Greenwood; and Holly, who is cent collection of art – and in two places? married to Bill Malouf, who owns Port Eliot in Greenwood. “The pool business has been very good to me,” Pinkston said. When the dust settled from building the house, Pinkston added a “I’ve made a lot of friends and built more than 2,000 pools.” rather spectacular pool in the backyard that was beautifully landIn 1959, he said, he was building a swimming pool for Theo scaped, with a fountain – and a mosaic in the bottom of the pool that Inman in Jackson, a gifted young lady who was the president of the Mississippi Arts Association, which was a precursor to the Mississippi illustrated the Zodiac signs of the family members, all connected to their mother in the center. Museum of Art. She was a talented artist who had a master’s degree “I laid every damn piece of this myself,” Pinkston said. in fine arts from Millsaps. Pinkston continues to design and build pools, as artistically as his Inman had worked with Karl Wolfe, a master mosaicist, on another project and commissioned him to design an underwater mosaic, a sea clients will allow. He divides his time between his home in Greenwood and his condo in Oxford, which he shares with former anemone, with aqua and blue-green and sea-green tiles, for the botOle Miss beauty Sally Scott of Gunnison. And he will always be tom of the pool Pinkston was building. searching for a painting or a sculpture that strikes his fancy to add to Pinkston and Inman formed a friendship. “She introduced me to his collection. nearly every artist in Jackson, from Marie Hull to Karl Wolfe, and “You gotta have art,” he says. LI even Miss Eudora Welty,” he said. Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated / 37
PHOTOS BY HANK LAMB From the left, Stacey Joiner, Elaine Tharpe, Steven Gray, Jessica Roberts and Ellie Aldridge were cast members for the comedic one-act play The Cinderella Syndrome at Greenwood Little Theatre. The play was put on recently to help raise money for a new curtain and rigging at the theater.
Little Theatre A place where area residents show their characters BY RACHEL HODGE
Vickie Weaver, right, and the late Duane Hurt perform in Greenwood Little Theatre’s 2006 production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. GLT keeps bringing quality entertainment to Greenwood with the help of local contributions, such as the anonymous donation recently given in memory of Hurt and the late Kate Hummel. 38 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
or more than 50 years, Greenwood Little Theatre has been a home for this town’s “characters” – from the ones who enjoy shining up on the stage to the ones who prefer to sit as quiet observers in the audience. GLT was created through the Mississippi Delta Arts Association. At the time, Mary Elizabeth McBee and Mary Jayne Whittington were co-chairmen of Project Little Theatre, and they recruited the theater’s first members. The theater held its first production on Aug. 16, 1956, in the GreenwoodLeflore Hotel dining room. The show, called Evening Dress Indispensable, was directed by Peggy McCormick. The group moved into its current building, the W.M. Whittington Jr. Playhouse, in 1967. McCormick also directed the first production there, the play You Can’t Take It With You. “We’re 53 years old, and it’s hard to say how many shows we’ve done ... but I would say we’ve done more than 225 productions. That’s a rough estimate,” said Eddie Amelung, a GLT board member and past president. In the past year, those productions have ranged from a trio of one-act plays by Tennessee Williams to the Disney favorite Beauty and the Beast.
Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated / 39
We have a place for you! Dr. Jim Phillips, Senior Pastor
North Greenwood Baptist Church 615 Grand Boulevard Greenwood 453-2801
40 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
GLT is funded mainly by donations from local contributors, including a recent anonymous donation of $1,000 given in memory of Kate Hummel and Duane Hurt, two recently deceased theater participants. Amelung, who has worked with numerous GLT productions, both on stage and behind the scenes, has been involved with the theater since he was a child, when his parents served as charter members. “I come from a long line. I guess it’s in my blood,” Amelung said. He said that through his years at the theater, the faces have been different, but the attitudes have remained the same. “Things do change because you have different people coming in ... but there’s always been an enthusiasm for the stage,” Amelung said. Cathy Roberts, who has been involved in GLT productions for about 20 years, since her oldest daughter first participated in a children’s workshop, definitely shares that enthusiasm for the stage. “I am addicted to the theater, and I’ll tell anybody that. It’s one of the best addictions you can have,” she said.
“Things do change because you’ve got different people coming in ... but there’s always been an enthusiasm for the stage.” Eddie Amelung After she retired from her job with the Mississippi Department of Corrections, Roberts got more involved at GLT and took over as director of the children’s workshops, which she still runs each summer and, for the first time this past year, during winter break. Her two daughters, Jessica and Katelin, both participated, and when they got older, they began helping her run the workshops. “Our household just started living, eating and breathing for the summer workshop,” she said. Roberts, who also teaches drama at Pillow Academy, is passionate about her work with
the children and teens at GLT. “If it’s not for my kids, that place’ll die out there,” she said. “My biggest impact at GLT is that I fight every year to do at least one production each year that involves children or teens.” Amelung agrees that it is important to involve young people, because they will keep the theater going once they grow up. He added that it’s also a good creative outlet and will help them improve their public speaking skills and confidence. Roberts said she keeps kids coming back to GLT by making sure each child gets a chance to shine on the stage and by gearing the program toward their generation. “You’ve got to change with the times. You’ve got to do something that will interest the children and spark their imaginations,” Roberts said. Amelung credits the continued success of the theater to support from the community, who participate as cast, crew and audience members at every production. He said he thinks the theater helps add to the appeal of the town, especially since Greenwood has no movie theater. LI
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PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
Does anything taste better than Grandma’s cakes? Give these a try
BY JO ALICE DARDEN
Folks in the neighborhood along Walnut Street north of West Park Avenue might notice they’re being transported occasionally by the nostalgic aroma of cakes baking – back to a time when no one could make a better caramel cake than Grandma. 42 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
Gwen Toomey, left, and Adrian Tribble, owners of Delta Delicacies, just purchased a Garland commercial convection oven to speed up their baking process.
She made the kind you always wanted to help her with, so maybe you could score a fast finger swipe of frosting when she wasn’t looking. Those cakes are still available; you just have to know where to find them. Delta Delicacies has opened a bakery on Walnut Street and is making as many homemade cakes and cookies as time allows its two owners to make. Adrian Tribble and Gwen Toomey, both teachers at Pillow Academy, have been close friends for longer than either can remember. Toomey, 53, teaches 5year-olds at Pillow, and a couple of doors down from her, Tribble, 55, teaches Essential Learning Systems reading to all grades. But after school, the teachers turn into bakers, each doing exactly what she has loved to do for years. Tribble said her family was always there for her when she made the inevitable baking mistakes or when the bakers were testing a new product, and they’re still eager to help. Her husband will often ask, hopefully, “Did you mess somethin’ up today?”
The ladies said their families always encouraged them to take their baking as far as they wanted to. Don Toomey manages Mallard’s End; he and Gwen have two children. Harry Ray Tribble co-owns the Old Time Farmers’ Market and farms with his brother Martin; Harry Ray and Adrian have four children. Every family member has been a taste-tester, and most have been pressed into service at some crunch time or other. “We used to cook cakes and take them to church,” Toomey said. And people raved. “And then we made cakes for friends’ birthdays at school,” she said. More raves. “Then Cindy Tyler (owner of Mississippi Gift Co. on Howard Street in Greenwood) was just getting into carrying cakes,” Toomey continued, “so we took her some samples.” Mississippi Gift Co. started carrying the cakes right away, and when the Mockingbird Bakery opened later, the restaurant offered the caramel, strawberry and chocolate cakes by the slice for its diners, who couldn’t get enough.
“The Lord has made all this possible. He knows what we can do.” Gwen Toomey Tyler is now shipping Delta Delicacies’ cakes to order, in two sizes, by phone at 662-455-6961 and via the store’s Web site, www.themississippigiftcompany.com. Tribble and Toomey figure their cakes have been delivered to dessert plates in at least 25 states. “We stay busy just filling orders for the store and the Internet,” said Tribble. “I can’t even tell you how grateful we are to Cindy for giving us the opportunity to sell our cakes. And Martha Foose (owner of the Mockingbird, now closed) was always helpful, too, a big cheerleader.” Tyler said the week before she learned about Delta Delicacies, she had been to market and noticed other stores selling cakes and bakery items, and that made her eager to find someone locally who could supply her with highquality baked goods. “This is so weird,” Tyler said. “The next week, the ladies called, wanting to know if I would be interested in selling their cakes. The samples were delicious, and the timing was perfect.” The bakery is wholesale; that is, you can’t go there and buy a cake. The delicacies are sold only through Mississippi Gift Co. now. “We have a lot of repeat business for the cakes in town, by phone and at the Web site,” said Tyler. “The ladies have quite a following. We get lots of e-mails complimenting them on their cakes.” The operation expanded when it moved to Walnut Street in October 2008. The ladies had been working out of a kitchen in Money, where they live, and their new location is bigger, brighter and far more convenient.
“We purchased a Garland commercial convection oven to speed up baking,” Toomey said. She demonstrated that the oven can bake, safely and with consistent results, around 15 small cake layers at once – a true time-saver. The number of orders has been steadily increasing, according to Tribble and Toomey. They thought that once they got through the Christmas holidays, when they worked every day, they could slow down a bit, but that hasn’t been the case. “There was a little period of maybe a week or two after January 1, when people started their New Year’s resolutions, when we didn’t have to work every day,” Toomey
said. “But since then, it’s been just about every day of every week.” Tribble and Toomey go to the bakery immediately after work. “We couldn’t have done this 10 or 15 years ago because of our kids,” Tribble said. “Now it’s actually relaxing. We just love what we do here.” The bakers get along well, appreciating each other’s strengths. And they are eager to experiment to see how they can make their products better and more diverse. They have recently branched out into doing grooms’ cakes for wedding receptions. Having done five so far, the ladies are planning three more for weddings this summer. They made two of their daughters’ grooms’ cakes and decided that’s something they could offer by order. Cookies are also new to Delta Delicacies’ repertoire, since the bakers just bought a bag sealer to keep the cookies fresh. They offer a moist chocolate chip cookie and a crisp, buttery lemon-lime wafer for now. They plan to try oatmeal cookies, but there hasn’t been time to develop them yet because of all the other orders they have to fill. Toomey and Tribble keep their eyes open for possibilities, however. They both love to experiment with new products, tweaking their recipes to perfection. Throughout their shared entrepreneurial experience, Toomey and Tribble have kept their feet solidly on the ground, both aware of where their success comes from. “The Lord has made all this possible in his time,” Toomey said. “He knows what we can do. He opens some doors and closes others. We just have to be here, ready to work.” LI Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated / 43
PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
The Barnes Family
DYNASTY Charlie Barnes, left, and his son, Justin, stand next to a 1,200-pound washer at Ace Linen.
BY CHARLIE SMITH
he Barnes family is Greenwood’s pre-eminent cleaning dynasty. Seven family members help run three local businesses – Ace Linen, Delta Steam Laundry and Barnes Paper and Janitorial Supply – that employ 48 overall. Eddie Barnes and his sons, Clif and Brian, work together at Barnes Paper and Janitorial, which sells cleaning supplies to businesses and the public. Eddie’s two brothers, Charles and Bob, work at Ace Linen, the family’s original business that rents towels, bib aprons, tablecloths and just about any other cloth item to businesses throughout north Mississippi. Charles’ son, Justin, works there, too, and Bob’s daughter, Marion, handles sales in the Jackson area.
Bob Barnes poses at Delta Steam Laundry, bought by the Barneses in 1987. 44 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
Although they occasionally disagree on philosophies, Eddie Barnes said those discussions are healthy, and they don’t forget that they are all working toward the same goal. “At the end of the day, we go to the back yard and we’re family again.” That attitude was instilled in them by their parents, Eddie Sr. and Helen. Their father started working in the linen business before World War II and continued managing stores for other people until retiring at 62. At 64, he re-entered the workFrom left, Brian, Eddie and Clif Barnes represent force by opening Ace Linen in the family at Barnes Paper and Janitorial Supply. Winona with his wife, one son and another man. Like the business, the family is growing. That was 1985, and two years later they Clif Barnes took over the janitorial supply were looking to expand. Delta Steam store when it opened more than five years Laundry, a Greenwood fixture since 1904, ago. His father, a 30-year veteran of Georgiabecame available, and they purchased it. Pacific, moved to Greenwood in 2006, and “Didn’t know anything about the dry Brian just came to Greenwood from cleaning business, but they wanted the stuff Brooklyn, N.Y., in February. in the back,” Eddie Barnes said. “This town’s been good to us,” Eddie By 1999, Delta Steam’s building on Main Barnes said. “The business has been good had deteriorated to the point that they to us, and it’s a good place to raise a family.” bought a new location on West Church The fourth generation of potential Street, where it remains today. Barnes cleaners and business people is In 1995, the family moved Ace Linen to here as well, and Eddie Barnes said seeing its current home on U.S. 49 S. in his granddaughter after a long day at work Greenwood, and they bought Janitorial makes all those worries melt away. “It’s Supplies of Greenwood in 2003. It was fun. It’s what the family business is all renamed a year or so later. about,” he said. LI
Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated / 45
Where to find the latest items that you shouldn’t do without.
A.EMILY RAY JEWELRY
Blue Crazy Lace Agate adorned with Aqua Verde and Indicolite Swarovski Crystals. Get yours at Clevenger Jewelry & Gifts, 504 W Park Ave., Greenwood. 662-453-0710
B. AR T FOR YOUR FACE:
Have fun with full face art. Fundraisers, birthday parties, showers and school functions. Free with birthday parties at: Artrageous Studios, 210 W. Claiborne, Greenwood, 662-453-8400 ww.artrageoustudios.com
C. BANGLE BRACELETS couldn't be
more fun, and they look mighty fine, too. You'll find this set at Russell's Antiques & Fine Jewelry on Howard Street in Greenwood. 662-453-4017
D. MAKE A STATEMENT
with fabulous Jessica Simpson reptile handbags at Anthony's on West Park Avenue and Ola's Shoes on Howard Street. The colors and shapes are so hot that you'll want to pick out more than one! 662-455-2145 & 662-453-1462
E. SO MANY COLORS. Everyone’s favorite knit shirt comes in more than 100 colors at Smith & Company, 211 Fulton St., Greenwood. 662-453-4411 46 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009
SPRING AND SUMMER 2009
of advertisers Ad page
Ad page ARCHITECTS
Beard + Riser Design
ARTS & CRAFTS Artrageous Studio
ATTORNEYS Upshaw, Williams, Biggers, Beckham & Riddick
AUTO PARTS Delta Farm & Auto Supply
BEAUTY SALONS Tangles
North Greenwood Baptist Church
COMPUTERS Patmar Computers
CORRECTIONAL FACILITY Delta Correctional Facility
13 13 40 5, 46 5, 46 45 2, 46 13 41
Riverview Nursing & Rehabilitation Golden Age Nursing Home
FLORIST Frank’s Flower Shop
Scott Petroleum Corporation
Beach Bums Fincher’s Inc. Mississippi Gift Co., The
40 17 41
GLASS Mobile Auto Glass
Leflore Ace Hardware
HEALTH CARE Continue Care Home Health & Hospice 29 Greenwood Leflore Hospital 9 Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center inside front cover Sta-Home Health & Hospice 15
Clevenger Jewelry & Gifts Jewelry, Etc. Russell’s Antiques & Fine Jewelry
11, 46 42 20
Viking Range Corp.
inside front cover
America’s Best Inn & Suites
Print Shop, The
REAL ESTATE Bowie Realty DuBard Realty
RESTAURANTS Blue Parrot Cafe Capricorn’s Internet Cafe Carroll County Market China Blossom Crystal Grill Delta Bistro Flatland Grill Giardina’s Lusco’s Mai Little China Sonic Drive-In Veronica’s Custom Bakery Webster’s
9, 34 35 34 34 34 35 39 35 35 35 35 9, 34 26
RENTAL Upchurch Rental
ROOFING Quinn Roofing & Sheet Metal
SCHOOLS Mississippi Delta Community College Mississippi Valley State University St. Francis School
45 back cover 24
SECURITY SYSTEMS Ainsworth Signs
Leflore Steel of Greenwood Pinkston-Seablue
inside back cover
MidSouth Copier Systems
Jennings Photography Lamb’s Photography
DENTAL CLINIC Cleveland Dental Clinic Delta Smile Designs Family Dentistry
COUNTY GOVERNMENT Leflore County Board of Supervisors
First South Farm Credit
CONSTRUCTION Mike Rozier Construction Co
Williams & Lord Funeral Home Wilson & Knight Funeral Home
CLOTHING Anthony’s Ola’s Shoes Puddleducks Smith & Co. Sweet Pea
CHILDCARE Learning Tree, The Susie M. Brooks Childcare Center
BOOKS Turnrow Book Co.
BEER DISTRIBUTOR Capital City Beverages
Walls Vision Center
40 22 39
TOURISM Main Street Greenwood
Greenwood Animal Hospital Four Paws Animal Health Center
index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers
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index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers index of advertisers Spring and Summer 2009 Leflore Illustrated / 47
Building BY DAVID MONROE
PHOTO BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
strong ties with employers and community
spoke. The audience included representatives from a number of major Angela Curry says the Greenwoodemployers, as well as some city and Leflore Industrial Board must have county government leaders. Those strong ties with the community and listeners heard about some programs employers of all kinds. they had not known about before. These include not just manufacturWoods discussed training options ers but also service providers, school and also told the group about a sumdistricts and others – all of which are mer employment program offered partners in economic development. through the Delta Workforce The board wants to know what Investment Area with the help of employers’ needs are, whether they federal economic stimulus funds. involve benefits, health care, training, Employers can apply to offer sumsafety, financing or anything else, Curry mer jobs to disadvantaged young said. people between the ages of 16 and “Anything that we can bring to 24 and not have to pay any of their them that will help them operate sucown money. cessfully and continue to make this “I think companies are really going community their home, that’s what we to take advantage of it,” Curry said. want to do,” she said. Curry said she would like to hold An important task of the board is to these luncheons quarterly. Through bring new jobs to Leflore County. surveys and response forms, she has However, in light of the downturn in gathered some ideas for topics, includthe national economy, it’s also imporing safety, benefits and health care. tant to pay attention to employers that “I want to have a close working are already here and encourage growth, relationship with our local companies, Curry said. where they will feel comfortable in “I would much rather grow what we calling me if they have a problem or have than recruit something totally concern and I can do the same,” she new,” she said. said. Angela Curry is executive director of the GreenwoodThis emphasis also is reflected in Another service for employers is Leflore Industrial Board. She and her board are the change in the job responsibilities of cross-training. Opportunities for that working together to bring new industry to the area, Frank Short, who manages the as well as build ties with the community and its cur- training are available through the Delta Greenwood office of the Mississippi Workforce Investment Area, and some rent employers. Development Authority. In the past, companies already have taken advanhis focus has been community sertage of them, Curry said. vices, but now it will be existing indusSo these visits certainly serve a purpose.” If an employee is trained in more than tries. If a company is considering expanding, one skill, that may reduce the chance that he Curry and Short visited all the industrial the Industrial Board can bring in people to or she will be laid off, she said. employers as part of the eSynchronous prowalk them through the process. If a comThe WIN Job Center and the Charles W. gram and got valuable feedback from them. pany is struggling or even considering Capps Jr. Technology Center in Indianola The eSynchronous program has been dis- shutting down a plant, the board can bring will play important roles in offering this traincontinued, but the visits to those employers in an MDA team to see if help is available ing. The WIN Job Center also has other proand others will continue, Curry said. somewhere. grams and information that employers can “Sometimes positive things come out of Curry said she was also encouraged by use. these visits,” she said. “We may see where a the turnout at a recent luncheon that Training will be a key to helping the comcompany has potential to grow, and you’re focused on existing industry. Chandler munity advance to the next level, Curry said, like, ‘OK, I think there’s a possibility that Russ, the director of existing business and because “the jobs that we will have opportuyou may need additional square footage and industry at MDA, and Mitzi Woods, direcnities to recruit will require a higher skill you may need to hire another 10 people.’ tor of Delta Workforce Investment Area, level.” LI 48 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2009