A River Country Journal / Spring and Summer 2010
Spring and Summer 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 1
table of contents
people 5. Montez Carter always wanted to be a pharmacist
17. Tom Flanagan never thought he would go so far on a bicycle
Leflore County has six stops on the Blues Trail.
20. Alice Kealhofer brings unusual style and dedication to making doll clothes 22. Daryl Bush experienced the hunt of a lifetime on an African safari 25. Armor-maker Martin Hodges produces working pieces of art 42. Phil Wolfe: Businessman, police officer, supervisor and more
features 15. Christian Motorcycle Association rides for a higher purpose 29. There are more alligators in Leflore County than you might expect, but it takes work to find them 36. Every family seems to have its own favorite gravy recipe
Yes, there are alligators out there.
7. The Thompsons have built their dream home and love sharing it with family and friends 12. Blues Trail offers a map through music history 32. PureAir is a local company that has expanded its business nationwide 39. Supreme Electronics has been responding to customersâ€™ changing needs for 84 years
4. From the editor 24. Calendar 47. Index to advertisers
2 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
48. The work of the Chamber of Commerce touches everyone in the community
ON THE COVER: From left, Mia Cole, Madison Barlow and Anne Craig Melton are students of art teacher Angie Crick. They have been working on paintings for Motherâ€™s Day gifts.
COVER PHOTO BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
Editor and Publisher Tim Kalich
Managing Editor Charles Corder
Associate Editor David Monroe
Bill Burrus, Bob Darden, Andrea Hall, Charlie Smith, Taylor Kuykendall, Jo Alice Darden and Ruth Jensen
Advertising Director Larry Alderman
Linda Bassie, Susan Montgomery, Wanda Roché, Kim Turner
Photography/Graphics Joseph Cotton, Anne Miles, Johnny Jennings
Clifton Angel and Charles Brownlee
Circulation Director Shirley Cooper
Volume 5, No. 3 —————— Editorial and business offices: P.O. Box 8050 329 U.S. 82 West Greenwood, MS 38935-8050 662-453-5312 —————— Leflore Illustrated is published by Commonwealth Publishing, Inc.
Spring and Summer 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 3
From the editor
PHOTO BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
Get up and dance
hen I am at a wedding reception or party where a band is playing, I often notice a number of cute young women who would like to dance but too few of the young men seem to be asking. Such male reticence, though, doesn’t appear to terribly bother the ladies. If they aren’t asked by a member of the opposite sex, they end up dancing with each other — something that would not have happened in my high school and college days but now is common. Most young men are terribly self-conscious about dancing. Many require a liberal dose of liquid courage to get on the dance floor. I know. I used to be the same way. It wasn’t an inherited shyness, though. I grew up in an uninhibited culture. At the wedding receptions of my childhood, there seemed to always be a band playing Slavic polkas. Usually it was the same musical group — accordion player Don Lipovac and his band. My Uncle Albert was one of the smoothest on the floor. He wasn’t the most handsome man in the room — a little round, bald on top, a large nose — but he was one of the most popular when the polkas were playing. He could glide with Betty Gail and Tim Kalich such ease while doing the three-step movement, unlike the bouncy motions of the less skilled. My sisters always sought out Uncle Albert because he was a much better dancer than whomever they were with. Soon after vanity license plates were introduced, Uncle Albert mounted one on his car that fit his heritage and expertise: TANCAJ (pronounced “tawn-sigh”), which translates as “dance” from the Slovenian. My parents both liked to dance, too. My father would complain 4 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
that my mother had a hard time letting him lead, which also described their relationship away from the dance floor. Over the years, I have found that it takes less alcohol to get up my nerve to dance. If the music is good enough, I’ve gotten to where I will ask my wife, Betty Gail, to dance without having had the first drink. It helps to have a longtime partner to encourage you. Betty Gail has talked me into taking ballroom dance lessons with her on several occasions during the 26 years of our marriage. We haven’t retained a lot of what we learned from Cindy Goza or Betty Aden, but we know just enough to be dangerous. We’re not ready for “Dancing With the Stars,” but we have fun. Swing is what we do best. Betty Gail likes to turn, and I don’t mind turning her. We’ll throw in a few sugar pushes and other steps whose names I don’t recall. We haven’t tried to swing to rap music, but we can adapt the steps to most of the faster tunes from the 1960s through 1980s. We can also do a passable polka, although there’s not much opportunity for demonstrating that in the Mississippi Delta. If I have a pet peeve about dancing, it’s having to dodge those who bring their beer can or glass of wine with them to the dance floor. Most are able to juggle their drinks while shaking their hips, but invariably someone spills a drink or drops a glass, particularly if the dance floor is crowded. If there are any young men reading this, pay attention. Girls like to dance. Boys who dance with them are going to be popular. You don’t have to have alcohol to get up the nerve. Like public speaking, dancing gets easier the more you force yourself to do it. If only I had known then what I know now, I would have had a lot more fun at weddings. – Tim Kalich
PHOTO BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
Living the dream A
BY DAVID MONROE
s far back as the age of 11 or 12, Montez Carter knew he wanted to be a pharmacist.
He grew up in Ackerman, which had a corner drugstore with soda fountains and ice cream machines, and he found out how important pharmacists are in small towns. “The pharmacist was a person that so many people went and asked about all different sorts of things — medicines and ‘What do you think about this or that?’” he said. “So ever since I remember even wanting to do anything, it was wanting to be a pharmacist.” He followed his dream, earning a pharmacy degree from the University of Mississippi and then joining Greenwood Leflore Hospital about 11 years ago. He is now the hospital’s associate director for patient support services. He also has stayed busy with other endeavors, including activities related to his church, Greenwood Interfaith Ministries Community Kitchen and the United Way of Leflore County. In May 2011, Carter will become president of the United Way chapter. He will be adding more to a busy schedule, but he expects it to be worth it. “Life is about more than what you do for yourself,” he said. “It’s about what you do for others.” v v v Carter, 35, knew a little about Greenwood while he was in Ackerman. He came to Tchula every so often to visit his grandparents, and they would come to Greenwood to shop or do other things. Greenwood is different from the hills in some ways, but it wasn’t a major adjustment, he said. Once he moved to town, he got involved in New Zion Missionary Baptist Church. He later married, and he and his wife now have three children. “We’ve just gotten grounded in the community,” he said. “I like where I work; I like the church I attend and the things we do there.” After a few years at the hospital, he became interested in the administrative side of health care and decided he needed more schooling. So he enrolled in the University of Alabama’s nationally ranked Master of Business Administration program in 2005. From then until March 2007, he would drive to Tuscaloosa every other Thursday, take eight hours of classes Friday and eight more Saturday, and return home Sunday. He said the hospital was very supportive in allowing him time to do this — and he had good help at work, too.
Montez Carter, 35, is Greenwood Leflore Hospital’s associate director for patient support services. He will take over as president of the United Way of Leflore County in 2011. Spring and Summer 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 5
“I have a very experienced staff — people who’ve been here a lot longer than I have — who allowed me to be able to be away when I was,” he said. Before enrolling in the MBA program, he had overseen only the pharmacy. Afterward, he took on many of the other responsibilities he has today, including quality management, safety, medical records, infection control and accreditation services. He said his classwork made an immediate difference. He already had worked with virtually all of the hospital’s clinical departments and developed good relationships, but now he could suggest more ways to be efficient and use resources better. He said business school also taught him the importance of communication, motivation and other skills. Health care is more similar to other businesses than many in the field would like to admit, but the bottom line still must be patient care, Carter said. If the hospital does its job well, word gets around, and its patient numbers stay up, he said. “If we make sure that we keep the focus on our patients in everything that we do, then a lot of other things will fall in place,” he said. Hospital Administrator Jim Jackson said Carter took on a lot of responsibility quickly there and has done a great job. “He’s certainly interested in advancing his education and knowledge of business as well as having education on the technical side,” Jackson said. v v v Carter said his pastor, the Rev. Calvin Collins, first approached him in late 2006 about representing New Zion on the Community Kitchen’s board. He became president of the board in 2007 and served until January 2010. He also was United Way liaison for the kitchen, which got him involved with the United Way board. He said working with these groups enhanced his appreciation for how dedicated some people in this area are. He hopes to keep up the momentum the United Way has built because so many people depend on it. He also wants to extend the chapter’s footprint into surrounding communities and persuade more people in those places to help. The chapter has been meeting its fundraising goals, even in a bad economy, and he is committed to making sure they continue to reach those numbers. “We’ve hit them for the last few years, and I don’t want that to stop on my watch,” he said. “So that’ll be a challenge that I’ll definitely take on.” Jackson, a former president of the United Way, said Carter’s skills in communicating, listening, paying attention to detail and delegating responsibility will serve him well in that organization. “Montez is a people person, and I know he’s been very involved with the community,” Jackson said. LI 6 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
The Thompson House
While the steep-pitched silver roof is often the passerby's first eye-catcher, the focal point from the street is the wide, breezy wraparound front porch, which Jenny Thompson says has always been a priority in designing her dream home.
Building a dream
BY JO ALICE DARDEN
n a sunny day in Greenwood, as you turn onto Robert E. Lee Drive Extended, a shimmering vision catches your eye on the left in the near distance. All the houses along the drive are generously proportioned and stunningly beautiful, but this one pops out. The brilliant sunlight bounces off its steeply pitched, standing-seam silver metal roof, which glows above the houseâ€™s stark white beveled-edge cypress siding. Sitting yards above the ground, the structure is embraced by a wide wraparound porch that catches the breezes off the nearby river and welcomes and captivates visi-
Kenny and Jenny Thompson frequently welcome guests to their home and enjoy sitting on the porch for a visit. They feel blessed to be able to share their home with friends and family.
Spring and Summer 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 7
“God has blessed us in so many ways. It’s wonderful to be able to share those blessings with our family and friends.” Jenny Thompson tors. It’s a builder’s house – and his wife’s dream home. “I always knew I wanted a house with a wraparound porch,” said Jenny (Mitchell) Thompson, wife of Kenny Thompson of Kenneth R. Thompson Builders in Greenwood. “I wanted everything about my house to be comfortable and welcoming.” The Thompsons were high school sweethearts. Kenny graduated from Greenwood High School in 1973; Jenny graduated in 1975. Kenny’s earliest jobs were in construction, and he knew he wanted to pursue a career in the field. After earning a degree in architecture from Mississippi State, he worked for others initially, but by 1982, Kenneth Thompson Builders was open for business. Family is the couple’s number one priority. Their two daughters both live in Greenwood. Kim is married to Jim McNeer, and they have three children, all attending
Pillow Academy — Hunter, who will graduate this spring; Reed, a freshman; and Carter, a sixth-grader. The Thompsons’ second daughter, Ashley, is single. “God has blessed us in so many ways,” Jenny said, gazing out the bank of windows in the living room at the backyard, which slopes gently toward the Tallahatchie River. “It’s wonderful to be able to share those blessings with our family and friends.” The house does indeed seem to be designed with entertaining in mind. Since moving in in September 2008, the Thompsons have hosted a large wedding reception, many family gatherings, several parties and celebrations with their various church groups — they are both active in North Greenwood Baptist Church — and frequent get-togethers with their grandchildren and the friends they bring along. They always emphasize making their guests feel completely
In the attic is room for four additional rooms and baths, Kenny Thompson says. Blown foam insulation keeps the vast space at a fairly even tempurature throughout the year. 8 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
Rich colors and comfortable furnishings encourage dinner guests to linger and enjoy each other's company. “We have all our family celebrations here,” said Jenny Thompson.
at home. While Kenny and Jenny were raising their family in their former home on Centennial Drive, they were forming their vision for the house they live in now. Kenny paid close attention to houses he built for others to see what worked, what didn’t and what new trends in construction and technology he should incorporate into their new house. Jenny combed design magazines for ideas. After 22 years on Centennial Drive (where they had managed four or five major remodels), the Thompsons chose Robin Henry of Greenwood when they were ready to consult an architect. They sat down with Henry and gave him their vision; they showed him the site, and he drew up plans. The first set of plans was for a house that was larger than they wanted, so Henry downsized, and the result was the house the Thompsons built — with, as Kenny describes, “some minor cosmetic
changes.” When the site, which comprises three lots, was selected, Kenny knew he’d have to do some land-forming to support what the couple had in mind and to avoid the risk of flooding. While the foundation appears, from the street, to be the usual brick hiding a crawlspace that’s larger than most, the core of the house is actually supported by a massive stabilizing concrete foundation embedded deep within the notoriously shifting Delta gumbo. Another decision Kenny Thompson made based on his more than 30 years as a builder involves the level of detail in the molding around the doors and windows. He said for the woodwork around the windows, about 40 precision cuts of wood were made in the exterior trim of each window, with more than 20 cuts on the interior. And all the glass is “low e,” or low emissivity, specially designed to keep winter cold and summer heat on the
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The Thompsons' spacious and luxuriously appointed master retreat was designed for relaxation, from the soothing earth tones to the flat-screen TV and push-button fireplace. Their Jack Russell terrier, Jake, appreciates his own relaxing space, too.
outside and comfort efficiently on the inside. Although the house has a seasoned feel to it, by design, its technology is as current as it can be. Three heating and air conditioning units ensure each zone of the house is kept at its most comfortable. An instant-on water heating system offers hot water on demand — and always enough. Press a button on a remote control, and you can enjoy a crackling fire in the fireplace in the living room, dining room, keeping room or master bedroom. A centralized sound system pipes music throughout the house — but if you don’t want to hear it in your bedroom, just flip the switch on your wall. Rather watch TV? Just aim the remote control toward the large flat-screen set in the living room, keeping room (viewable from the kitchen), master bedroom or master bath. “We had such a good time building this house,” Jenny said. “We picked out everything together — every faucet, every drawer knob, every light fixture.” Many of the furnishings, however, and the paint colors — caramels and cloves and creams — are holdovers from the Centennial Drive house. “They were things I loved and was comfortable with, and I wanted to take 10 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
them with me,” Jenny said. One detail Jenny knew she wanted from the beginning was a glass doorknob on every interior door. “My grandmother had all glass knobs, and I wanted the same thing all over our house,” Jenny said. The front door is, literally, a work of art. Surrounded by stained mahogany trim and made of leaded beveled glass, the door and its sidelights were made by an artist in Madison at Kenny’s request. The effect is “twinkly” from both inside and outside. Above a table and chair in the entry hall hangs a beloved old framed print. Jenny’s parents, who were married for 68 years, bought the print for themselves right after their wedding; shortly before she died, Jenny’s mom gave it to Jenny. The couple chose bamboo flooring throughout the house for its easy care and durability. The floors in the baths and the kitchen are travertine tile. As someone who does a lot of cooking, Jenny said the couple paid a great deal of attention to detail in the kitchen. All the appliances are Viking; they never considered another brand. Countertops are black granite, and custom-built cabinetry in the kitchen and the butler’s pantry is mahogany.
The master suite –– perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a master retreat — is nestled into one end of the house, quiet and serene. The wall of windows and glass doors offers a broad view of the backyard, with its weathered deck, the swimming pool and fountain, and the Tallahatchie River. When the weather’s just right, Jenny can take a couple of steps out the bedroom door onto the back porch and curl up in the rattan porch swing to watch the red Delta sunset over the river. “And here’s my bath,” Jenny said, adding with a wink that she “lets” Kenny use it, too. She pointed out the custom mahogany cabinetry, the twin undermount sinks in the sleek black granite vanity top, and the high skylight flooding the bath with sunshine. The shower is the size of a walk-in closet, with adjustable jets along the tile walls and ceiling. The separate soaking tub is encased in a tile deck, and its walls are trimmed in tumbled mosaic tile. Soft neutral colors and the plants and pottery in the built-in alcove above the tub give the room a spa-like feel. Jenny’s multi-shelved, custom-designed closet is just beyond the bath, as is the house’s “safe room.” Surrounded in concrete, it’s the place you want to be in an earthquake or a tornado.
Down the hall, a half-bath. guest room accomOverlooking the modations are simipool and deck, the lar, on a smaller scale. room is perfect for Tray ceilings teenagers who want throughout the to chill out away house emphasize the from the rest of the deep molding detail world. Jenny said her and attention to grandson Hunter, craftsmanship, as do who played on the all the mantelpieces, Pillow football team each of which is indi— defensive back, vidually cut and wide receiver and assembled. Built-ins kicker, Kenny said flanking the fireplace — brought teamin the living room mates to the house were custom-built every Thursday from a design Jenny night before a game found in an issue of on Friday to hang Southern Living. out and relax. The ceilings are “It’s always a joy high, too; Jenny said to have them here,” she loves having a Jenny said. “They 12-foot Christmas can’t hurt a thing, tree. and I’d much rather From the outside, It took several months and tons of heavy equipment to get the land formed exactly have them here than a passerby might the way builder Kenny Thompson wanted it to support the planned house, six-car out on a street someguess that the house garage and swimming pool. where.” has five or six bed“We have just sized bedrooms and baths. rooms. But that’s only partially right. been so blessed by the Lord with our chilOne of Jenny’s favorite features of the Surprisingly, the house now has only two dren and grandchildren and all our family house is the game room upstairs, equipped and friends,” she said. “I just can’t tell you bedrooms. But upstairs, under that sheer, with a large sectional sofa, a flat-screen TV, how happy it makes us to be able to share cathedral-like roof, there’s plenty of space a pingpong table, a natural fiber carpet and all this with them.” LI to put in about four more comfortably
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PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
Trailing the blues WGRM was the first radio station in the U.S. to feature all black on-air personalities and broadcast content. B.B. King did his first radio performance on the station.
County has 6 signposts in music history
BY RUTH JENSEN
lues music has been called the most important root source of modern pop music, and much of it originated in the Mississippi
In 2004, the Mississippi Blues Commission was established, and the group immediately went to work with blues scholars and historians to begin noting special accomplishments in blues history. The commission decided to create the Mississippi Blues Trail by putting up permanent signs, so that people and places that have so affected our national music and culture would be remembered. Leflore County is home to six Blues Trail markers thus far, and Carroll County also has one. Tourism officials hope to capitalize on 12 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
these cultural treasures to bring economic benefits to the area as music lovers from all over come to soak in a little musical history. Andrew McQueen, director of the Leflore County Civic Center and a member of the board of the Greenwood Convention and Visitors Bureau, says many people have already come through the area to see these special places. “They have definitely had an impact,” McQueen said. “People come all the time to see the markers, especially the Robert Johnson grave site and the old Elks Club, where Ike
AREA BLUES MARKERS Leflore County ! B.B. King birthplace, Berclair ! Baptist Town, Greenwood ! Elks Hart Lodge No. 640, Greenwood ! Hubert Sumlin, Greenwood ! Robert Johnson grave, Greenwood ! WGRM, Greenwood Carroll County ! Mississippi John Hurt, Avalon
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Blues legend B.B. King was born in 1925 in Berclair in Leflore County. It’s not far from the B.B. King Museum in Indianola.
and Tina Turner performed.” Although there are three possible grave sites reported for Johnson, the one that is believed to be the most creditable is located at Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church on Money Road. Other famous musicians who played at the Elks Hart Lodge No. 640 include James Brown, Fats Domino, Muddy Waters, Brook Benton, the Drifters, Clyde McPhatter, Bobby “Blue” Bland and many others. World-renowned star B.B. King first broadcast from WGRM radio station in downtown Greenwood, which is a part of the trail. WGRM is also known as the first station in the U.S. to feature all black on-air personalities and broadcast content. During the time when King first broadcast from the Howard Street station, it was used as a recording studio. Many blues musicians came there to record, such as Matt Cockrell and L.C. “Lonnie the Cat” Cation, accompanied by The Hines band with talent scout Ike Turner on piano. King’s birthplace at Berclair, near Itta Bena, is also marked. Its location not far from Indianola, where the B.B. King Museum has become a major draw for blues lovers, is another plus for the Delta. The museum brought tourism and economic growth to Indianola last year while state tourism numbers were down. Another Leflore County marker denotes the section of Greenwood referred to as Baptist Town, where Robert 14 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
Johnson lived and played, along with David “Honeyboy” Edwards and Sonny Boy Williamson No. 2, also known as Rice Miller. They, along with many other musicians, played at the Three Forks Juke Joint. The other two markers signify Mississippi John Hurt’s and Hubert Sumlin’s contributions to blues music. Hurt was born in Teoc, and he lived and worked around Avalon much of his life. He became famous for his guitar playing and performed in area clubs. He also recorded and became a popular performer on the folk music circuit, according to the Mississippi Blues Trail Web site. Hurt eventually moved to Washington, D.C., where he made several albums and recorded for the Library of Congress. Sumlin, named “one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time” by Rolling Stone magazine, was born on Pillow Plantation near Greenwood. He began playing at a young age, despite his mother’s protests. Sumlin greatly influenced the classic Chicago blues records of Howlin’ Wolf and many other musicians. Other markers may be added to the current 105 as funds become available, Blues Commission officials say. When he unveiled the first blues marker at Holly Ridge in Sunflower County, Gov. Haley Barbour called the trail “an appropriate way to capture the distinct part of our history and culture. People from around the country and world will come to learn about and experience Mississippi blues music and culture for years to come.” LI
PHOTOS BY TAYLOR KUYKENDALL
Riding for JESUS L BY ANDREA HALL
eather jackets, long hair and big engines are not distinguishing facts among a group of motorcyclists, but among a group of Christians, they can be very unusual.
This group of men and women with illustrations of Bibles on their leather jackets and a dedication to spreading the word of Jesus Christ are members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association in Greenwood. It was started about a year and a half ago by Lee Marter. “I saw one of these shirts that a guy had on in Grenada,” Marter said. “I started getting inqusitive, and I went on the Internet to check it out.”
Although slightly different than most motorcyclists’ adornments, riders from the CMA still enjoy patches and stickers representing why they ride — and who they ride for.
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He had orginally planned to join the group in Grenada, but the Lord had other plans. “God laid it on my heart that we have a tremendous ministry here in Greenwood and it needs to be done here and not to go off and join their group,” Marter said. The group now meets in the Southern Drifter’s Motorcycle Club on Baldwin Road. The initial interest came from members of Immanuel Baptist Church, but it is a non-demoninational group of 16 members. “You don’t have to be Baptist. You don’t have to Methodist,” Marter said. “The only thing you have to be is Christian.” You don’t even have to be a motorcyclist. “I have the MiMi Bug for the ones who don’t ride,” member BJ Fennell said, referring to his Volkswagen Beetle. The reason for riding is to spread the word of Jesus Christ and enjoy fellowship. “It’s just another way to open the doors, and it gives you another way to fellowship with people and express your faith,” Mike Sudduth said. “Instead of just walking around in a suit and tie and knocking on doors, you are out with more of the mainstream crowd.” However, this non-traditional form of dressing and witnessing has caused some shock. “When you hear motorcycle clubs, you know people usually have a bad taste,” Carolyn Gore said. “Our preacher has gone into a store in his doo-rag and vest, and a mother who had her two children grabbed them and moved them away from him.” The group doesn’t mind being judged but hopes to change people’s mind about the motorcyclist community. “Christians can have motorcycles, too. Christians can have fun,” Fennell said. “Christians can do stuff like that, too.” Gore said the group wasn’t created to judge others, either. “We try to go to the secular motorcyclists groups,” Gore said. “We are trying to relate to them, whether they need to talk to somebody or need help with anything.” The purpose is to be a service for the people, whether that be prayers or help with a bike, and for God. “A lot of times, you don’t even have to say anything. It’s just through the things you do that people see Jesus, your actions and no judgment,” Fennell said. “We may be the only Jesus some people see through whatever it is we are doing.” At Sturgis, S.D., site of an annual giant motorcycle enthusiasts rally, a member of the Greenwood CMA went with another group and was praying to find a way to show the group Jesus because they had been looking for something different. “Just as they got ready to leave, they 16 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
Lee Marter, president of CMA and his son Zack, 8, sit atop Lee’s bike outside of the Southern Drifters Motorcycle Club, where CMA meets.
stopped to see us and say goodbye and one of the guys’ motorcycles quit,” Marter said. “We have several mechanics, and they went over there and jumped all over that.” Although they were not able to heal the wounded bike, they had a trailer to pull it onto and took the rider and his motorcycle home. “One of the best things I saw at Sturgis was the reputation that CMA has,” Marter said. “People actually come to you.” CMA members do bike blessings, where they pray for safety with the rider and his or her bike. “Everybody is going to have a bike wreck sometime if you ride a bike, so they want that prayer of protection there,” Marter said. “That is an awesome way to open up, because they will come to you for that and you can share Christ with them.” CMA is more than witnessing to just other motorcylcists. It is an opportunity to spread the word to everyone, everywhere. “When you are on the road, it gives you ways and places to leave tracts,” Sudduth said. Marter said his favorite part is when they get to work with kids. “They light up when they see a motorcycle, and you’ve got a great opportunity, right there, to share Christ,” Marter said. They also leave tracts at restaurants through tip holders, which leave behind money and words from the Bible. Since it is a Christian organization, members are asked to be a part of a missions group each year after they qualify to wear the CMA logo, or colors, on their backs.
Mission areas include service, women, prayer, prison, music, hospitality, mechanical, first aid, children, youth and youth movement for teenagers interested in working on a missions team. “Mine is music. It is not hard, but it is not something you are just going to walk right into either,” Marter said. “You actually learn a lot ways to serve.” These servant ministries as well as the worldwide ministries “Missionary Ventures,” “Open Doors” and “Jesus Film Project” are funded by the yearly CMAwide fundraiser, Run for the Son. The Greenwood chapter raised $1,500 last year to go to national and worldwide ministry. The group is also active in the development of the new Christian Women’s Job Corps to be started in Leflore County. “It is to help women in the community who don’t have the education or training to get a job,” Fennell said. “We will contact local businesses and find out what skills are necessary to hold a position there in order to create a better life.” Marter said the biggest challenge the group faces now is expanding its membership, which is around 20. “We are trying to find more guys that are able to ride more often,” Marter said. “We are just trying to keep on building.” Greenwood’s CMA is about seeing change and improvement, even within themselves. “Before I became a Christian, it used to be that I rode from bar to bar. Now we ride from buffet to buffet,” Marter said. LI
PHOTO BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
Lawyer gets back on a bicycle for the
Ride of his life A
BY RUTH JENSEN
n old bike on a storage room wall and a friend came together as catalysts for change in Tom Flanagan’s life. While raising children and working as an attorney, Flanagan had put on a few pounds, and he wasn’t as active as he had been in earlier years. “My friend was visiting and saw the old Schwinn bike that I had ridden in college hanging on the wall,” Flanagan, 56, said. “He was a cyclist and wanted me to ride. He said, ‘I can fix it for you.’ He went and bought parts and rehabbed the bike. I started riding. I rode one mile, then two, then three. I gradually increased the mileage. I found I was enjoying it.” There is now a group of about 30 people in Greenwood
At the urging of a friend, Tom Flanagan started riding again. Three times he has participated in a ride across Iowa, joining 15,000 people for a seven-day, 500-plus-mile journey. Spring and Summer 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 17
who regularly ride bikes, but at that time, Flanagan didn’t know anyone else who rode. One day that changed. “I passed Bret Freeman,” he recalled. “He did a double take when he saw me on a bike, and he invited me to go riding with his group, which at that time included Davo Pittman and occasionally Richard Beattie.” Flanagan started to ride with them. The group became a loosely organized bike club that began the Bikes, Blues and Bayous ride each summer in Greenwood and the surrounding area. Flanagan’s Iowa friend urged him to join in a bike ride across Iowa in July, which annually brings in a crowd of 15,000 riders who cross the state. “I said, ‘It’s not happening.’ I had knee problems. I had given up running, basketball and jogging,” he said. “It was March when I started, but in May I started to think I could do it. I finally called him and said I would commit to it. He told me I’d better update my equipment, so I bought a bike in Jackson.” Training got a lot more intense as Flanagan considered the almost 500 miles he would ride in seven days. “I was well aware that Iowa was not flat.” When the day came, Flanagan lined up with the other bikers. starting at the western side of the state, at the Missouri River, and
18 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
ending at the Mississippi on the eastern side. It turned out to be a wonderful experience that he has repeated twice. He may go again this year, though the race has become so popular that there is now a lottery to see who can ride. “They decided 15,000 riders are all they can handle,” he explained. Unlike the famous Tour de France, this is a noncompetitive ride that anyone can do. “There’s a spirit of fun, almost like Mardi Gras,” Flanagan said. “Some people wear costumes. Everyone ends at the same town at night, and these little towns compete to host the group. Everyone is so friendly. People open up their homes for you to take a shower. We camp out every night.”
The entire state is involved in and enthusiastic about the race, he said. “The state patrol helps control traffic, but we go through low-traffic areas. Once the route is made public, people plan to not be on those routes that particular day.” When it was all over, Flanagan said he realized he had ridden across the state and never gotten in a car. “All the routines of your life are gone. I slept in a tent on a foam mattress. There’s something kind of cool about that. The day after, you realize you are tired. “I couldn’t believe I had done it. I was 52 when I began to ride. I wish I had started at 42,” Flanagan said. “It’s been a neat journey.” LI
Spring and Summer 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 19
PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
Stylish dolls Woman’s hobby has turned into small business BY ANDREA HALL
lice Kealhofer never outgrew her love of dolls, but these days she isn’t playing house with them. Everything they wear — from their dresses to the purses and headbands –— Kealhofer makes in the back room of her house. “Some people play golf, and others fish for their hobbies. I make doll clothes,” the former home economics teacher said. “I just get lost in it.” Kealhofer first began making the handmade clothes, designed for Mattel’s American Girl doll series, as gifts for her granddaughter. Although she puttered around with making a couple of outfits for smaller dolls such as Barbie, Kealhofer jokes that the tiny stitches on the 18-inch dolls are already a challenge for both her eyes and fingers. “It is hard because the seams are so small — about a quarter of an inch,” Kealhofer Alice Kealhofer makes designer clothes for the American Girl doll. “There are not hunsaid. dreds of outfits just like them floating around out there,” she says. After getting into a rhythm making 20 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
clothes for her granddaughter’s baby doll, she began donating the outfits to local organizations to sell and giving others away to family and friends in the Greenwood community. “I made about 12 little outfits at first, and I gave some to St. John’s (United Methodist Church) for their garage sale,” Kealhofer said. “I was told they went like hotcakes.” Now the drawers and cabinets of Kealhofer’s work room are filled with a menagerie of colorful fabrics, trim types and button styles for her line of handcrafted clothes. Kealhofer considers her clothes designer items, unlike most outfits made by companies. “There are not hundreds of outfits just like them floating around out there,” Kealhofer said. She uses high-quality cotton fabric for most of her outfits instead of rayon and spandex, which are more commonly used for doll clothes. “I line the inside of most of the dresses,” Kealhofer said. Although she uses a basic pattern, each of Kealhofer’s outfits has its own personality. Whether it is a sparkly ball gown with a beaded necklace or a colorful dress with a matching jacket, she carefully coordinates each element of the look from the buttons to the accessories. “I probably spend more time figuring out what kind of lace I am going to use on the bottom of a skirt or type of button to put on pajamas than doing anything else,” she said about the design process. Each look may also include a purse, hat, jacket or necklace. “All of mine have accessories,” Kealhofer said. “They are not just one piece.” Her most popular outfit is a cheerleading uniform. “I feel like every little girl in town must have one by now,” she said. She has made uniforms for schools such as Pillow Academy, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, LSU and Texas A&M. “I ended up having to get my own American Girl,” Kealhofer said. “I needed to make sure all the outfits fit.” Although she never thought about turning her craft into a business, the handmade outfits were in high demand — especially during the holidays. “My daughter suggested that I start selling them,” Kealhofer said. Depending on the style, her outfits cost between $15 and $20 each. “I don’t want them to cost a lot because this is just a hobby to me, but I hope to cover my costs for the materials,” Kealhofer said. Through word of mouth she struck up a fairly large clientele.
Alice Kealhofer is content to sell her designer doll clothes locally for now, but she may start marketing them online “if I ever get enough made up.”
A woman from Memphis drove down to Greenwood to buy 10 outfits for her daughter’s doll. The woman told Kealhofer the child’s school was using the dolls for history class, so she was looking for dresses that were historically themed such as an Indian outfit and a Mexican. Kealhofer was able to meet that request
and others from around the Delta and all the way to Texas, where her daughter lives. “If I ever get enough made up, maybe I will start selling them online,” she said. For now she is happy just selling them locally. “I just love it,” Kealhofer said. “I am just having so much fun making each outfit.” LI
Spring and Summer 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 21
PHOTO BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
Daryl Bush, owner of Performance Tire and Performance Outdoors in Greenwood, shows off his collection of animal mounts on view in his business. Bush, along with four friends, made his first safari to South Africa about a year ago.
Hunter finds new challenge in Africa
BY BILL BURRUS
reenwood businessman Daryl Bush had killed elk and mule deer in Montana and Colorado, but he was looking for something different for his next hunting excursion. 22 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
He had always dreamed of hunting big game on safari, and once he finally got the chance a year ago, Bush said the experience was grander than he ever imagined. “You go in not really knowing what to expect. It really was an awesome trip. The thrill of the hunt was great because you never knew what was going to step out,” said Bush. “I would go back if I had the opportunity and the money. It would be a great place to take your family. We saw so many elephants, giraffes, zebras and monkeys on these game reserves. It was just an incredible experience.” Bush’s friend Mark Raby of Greenwood put the trip together. Those two, along with Steve Scott, Tim Vail and John Walker, spent 10 days hunting near Port Elizabeth, South Africa, which is located in the Eastern Cap Province in Algoa district.
“We hunted in so many different types of terrain.” Daryl Bush Hunting for warthogs, ostriches, bless bucks, gray duikers, gemsbucks, eland, impalas, kudus and blue wildebeests, the five men combined to bag nearly 30 animals. Bush bagged seven animals, including a 50-inch kudu, a medium-sized African antelope. Males, referred to as rams, have lyreshaped horns which can reach up to 72 inches in length. Bush killed two impalas, including a 26inch buck which he says is comparable to a 140-inch white-tail buck. Impalas are also medium-sized African antelopes. Using a 7mm Remington Magnum rifle, Bush also bagged an eland, a blue wildebeest, a bless buck and a gemsbuck. His eland, which weighed about 2,200 pounds, was the biggest animal Bush killed. “I killed a really nice kudu, with 50-inch long horns. These animals compare in size to elk and are called grey ghosts because you only see them for a split second and they’re gone,” Bush said. Safari hunting is different from most hunting in Mississippi, Bush said, because hunters in Africa spot and stalk game. “You find the animals through binoculars and then you stalk them. It can be a lot of walking, so you have to be in pretty good shape, especially when you are in the mountains. We hunted in so many different types of terrain,” Bush said. “Most of the shots you have aren’t that long, about 100 to 150 yards.” Bush and his friends also visited with kids at a nearby school and gave them some candy. “That was a neat experience. They were tickled to death to see us because it’s such a poor region,” he said. Each hunter goes out with a guide and tracker, a native of the region who is paid just $5 a day. The safari service asks hunters not to tip the trackers, and Bush’s crew found out why. “Raby shot a kudu that was tracked until dark. They went back the next day and found it, so he tipped him $30. The tracker disappeared the next day, and the rancher wasn’t happy,” Bush said. Lesson learned. The group also learned a lot about the region, its culture and its hunting. Bush said the only downside to going back is the 15- to 17-hour plane trip to South Africa. But the rest made for an experience of a lifetime. LI
Daryl Bush poses with a huge kudu he killed while hunting in South Africa in 2009 on a 10-day safari with four friends from Greenwood. The kudu had 50-inchhigh horns.
Spring and Summer 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 23
Spring and Summer Events MAY 8 – Mississippi Valley State University will hold commencement exercises at the Harrison Health, Physical Education and Recreation Complex on the Itta Bena campus. 22 – ‘Que on the Yazoo, a new barbecue cooking competition on the banks of the Yazoo River on Front Street. Includes live bands.
JUNE 10-13 – Noises Off, a comedy, will run at the Greenwood Little Theatre. 12 – Main Street Chrome Show, a downtown car show for all types of vehicles. 25 – Stars and Stripes in the Park, an annual fireworks show at Whittington Park.
AUGUST 7 – Bikes, Blues and Bayous, third annual
PHOTO BY TAYLOR KUYKENDALL Runners and walkers will be flocking to Greenwood for the 2010 300 Oaks Road Race in September. 24 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
cycling event through a scenic rural circuit north of Greenwood. A downtown concert will be held the night before.
SEPTEMBER 18 – 300 Oaks Road Race, popular road race through idyllic North Greenwood that
includes a 10K run, 5K walk and one-mile fun run. A downtown concert will be held afterward. 18 – College football, Alcorn State at Mississippi Valley State University, 3 p.m. The Delta Devils will play their first home game under new head coach Karl Morgan at Rice-Totten Stadium in Itta Bena.
STORY AND PHOTOS BY TAYLOR KUYKENDALL
Need a suit of armor? Call this guy
hough he could probably give you a lecture on cold-forming Greek-styled metal breastplates, Martin Hodges can’t explain how he became fascinated with the process of forming pieces of armor. Hodges, 25, an interning architect at Beard + Riser, says that since he was young, he has wanted to don his very own armor. “When I was younger, I used to ask my dad if he would make me a helmet,” he said. Because his father was not familiar with forging suits of armor, Hodges literally took matters into his own hands and began researching the process of forging plain sheets of metal into intricately shaped pieces of armor. He completed his first piece in 2004, while he was a freshman in college. However, he would not be satisfied with mere replica battle gear. “The armor is actually functional,” Hodges said. “The metal is heavy enough
Martin Hodges, 25, stands with a breastplate that he formed himself. He says he has always been fascinated with the art of metal work. Hodges has done several pieces and says he also does commissioned work. Spring and Summer 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 25
A completely functional metal glove fashioned by Martin Hodges is one of the most intricate pieces in his collection.
that it could really take a blow.” Hodges designs the pieces to fit himself, unless the work was commissioned by someone else. “A lot of the pieces are based on patterns that I have found online,” Hodges said. “Then I base the work on eyeing what those pieces had looked like. Of course, sometimes I make changes to make it fit how I want it to look.” Each piece, formed without the use of an external heat source, can take between 20 and 100 hours to complete. Hodges said he uses a wide range of tools including railroad spikes, hammers and various other implements to shape the metal. He has also done other metal sculptures such as bowls, plates and even a set of female nude figures. He said he has no formal art training except for just one drawing class; he simply learned by finding other metal workers and asking them how to make certain shapes. “There’s a fair amount of blacksmiths on the Internet,” Hodges said. “I would contact them and really just pick their A piece of armor by Martin Hodges, along with several other pieces of his metal work, is on disbrains on different techniques.” Hodges said he has considered pursu- play at Beard + Riser in downtown Greenwood. 26 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
ing his art professionally, but he’s hesitant to because he fears he would make his hobby into a burden. “Right now, it’s kind of like, ‘Keep the the day job,’” Hodges said. “At one point I thought of making art to sell it. But then I may make something I love into work.” Some of his armor is displayed at Beard + Riser. Some people who see it are surprised and wonder how he ended up doing it. “I have just a general fascination with history and that period in general,” Hodges said. He said his parents have always encouraged him with his craft. “They absolutely love it,” Hodges said. “My parents have always been very supportive. They never told me they didn’t think I could do something before I did it. They may tell me they couldn’t believe I could afterwards, but never before I finished it.” Hodges said his art has been consuming much of his time. “Lately, I get off work and just go to work,” Hodges said. “It can take two to three hours sometimes before you start to see the progress of the work that has been done.” LI
Spring and Summer 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 27
28 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
After a quick boat ride through waters of Matthews Brake, we spotted an alligator sunbathing on a log. The gator appeared to be napping but was awakened by the sound of the approaching trolling motor and soon slid into the water.
Our daring reporter goes into the wild to search for Leflore County’s elusive alligators
STORY AND PHOTOS BY TAYLOR KUYKENDALL
all me Kuykendall. Since moving to Mississippi, tracking down and capturing a photograph of an alligator had beome a personal white whale of sorts.
The winter months remained tense with promise after promise that as soon as “gator season” rolled around, I would have no shortage of reptillian runway-wannabes posturing for a shot. Jimmy Simmons, who couldn’t resist stopping to see what that “strange kid” was doing along U.S. 49, said he’s spotted gators all of his life. He also told me I was wasting Kuykendall my time poking around water so close to the road, especially when it was cold and cloudy. “There’s an alligator in just about every body of water in the Spring and Summer 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 29
A wary gator keeps an eye out as it patrols Mathews Brake. An alligator’s nostrils point upward at the end to allow it to breathe while most of its body remains under water.
140-pound loggerMississippi Delta,” head turtles, water Simmons said. “I mocassins and catfish don’t care if it’s a lake, that could feed a vila river, a swamp or a lage — I’ll probably ditch along the road be keeping pretty — if there’s water, dry myself. there’s a gator.” I expected muddy When asked backroads, swamps, where I could find a moss and other gator that wouldn’t unsettling geographimind having its cal elements I had photo taken, come to associate Simmons changed with alligator spothis tune. ting. “Oh — well ... it’s However, our destoo early now,” he Jimmy Simmons tination seemed said, noting the cool more likely to have February air. “But come back here in the summer and I’ll show been visited by Martha Stewart’s film crew than the late Steve “Crocodile Hunter” you a ton of them.” Irwin’s. Just a few hundred yards from the Then there were the many people who house, a row of trees separated a pond and told me there may only be a handful of the Sharkey’s Bayou. giant lizards roaming the Delta. “They come up out of the bayou to mate If that was the case, why did they have so in the pond,” Wolfe explained. “The smaller many namesakes in the area? Examples bodies of water heat up faster.” include Alligator Bayou in Leflore County, When we got out of the vehicle, we found the town of Alligator, between Shelby and that a rather large gator was on the other side Clarksdale, and Alligator Lake in Bolivar of the pond. We aligned ourselves so that a County. They had to be nearby. tree would block the gator’s view of us as we After a few warm days, I began to dream of what could be my first Mississippi alligator approached the pond. No dice. encounter. As the water and air warmed, I The gator quietly slipped into the water began calling the numerous gator spotters and submerged himself before he was withwho had volunteered to stay alert in aid of in camera-zoom range. We waited patiently my quest. for the gator to reappear, but he was too wary I received a phone call from Phil Wolfe, of us. who said he knew a place where gators had Wolfe apologized for not filling my memobeen spotted recently. ry card with gator shots, but I was relieved. The Leflore County supervisor picked me up, and we drove out to a home near the They did exist — and the right people could find them pretty quickly. Sharkey Bayou, between Grenada and I excitedly counted down the days until Greenwood. my next alligator hunt. Linda Bassie, of the “I usually don’t get close to them,” Wolfe Greenwood Commonwealth advertising staff, said. “They don’t bother bigger people recommended her grandson Hunter Walker, much, but they love kids and dogs.” 17, a junior at Carroll Academy. Wolfe, an avid diver, tends to stay out of Now the name Hunter Walker just the murky waters in this area. After the tales I’ve heard on my search — 16-foot alligators, sounds like a guy who can find a gator.
“There’s an alligator in just about every body of water in the Mississippi Delta.”
30 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
Walker, an avid outdoorsman, assured me that there would be alligators aplenty where he was taking me — Mathews Brake National Wildlife Refuge. Mathews Brake is the largest brake in Leflore County and provides habitat for more than 30,000 migrating ducks. Other breeds of bird use the refuge year-round. We were planning to boat into a section of the lake where the duck hunting was restricted and the alligators weren’t shy. When Walker stopped to pick me up, boat in tow, he introduced me to Brandon Wiggins, one of his friends who would be coming along. “He knows Mathews Brake like the back of his hand,” Walker said. That’s exactly the sort of thing you want to hear when you are about to enter alligator-heavy waters. On the way to the brake, I received a text message from a friend about the search I was about to embark upon. “So, are you like the Indiana Jones of reporting or something?” she asked. I’m no Indiana Jones. My plan was to snap a photo of a gator and get away from it quickly. I had no intentions of wrestling, fighting or even insulting one. The ideal situation here would be a delicate mix of low adventure and sluggish, kind-hearted alligators. As Walker and Wiggins began gearing the boat up for launch, I tried to recall what I knew about alligators. For instance, one of the primary weapons in the reptile’s arsenal is the “death roll,” presumably named by people who respected it fiercely. Apparently, the gator has a hard-wired response to latch onto its prey and spin along its axis. According to an article in the Journal of Experimental Biology, the purpose of this is to allow dismemberment of large prey. Walker, who has a strong dislike for even the tiniest of spiders, regularly and fearlessly encounters alligators. He asked if I would be afraid to get close to an alligator if he were able to provide the opportunity. “I’m not afraid of something just because it has the ability to kill me,” I said. “It’s the ones that want to kill me that I don’t want to run into.” As the three of us motored through the brake, I finally started seeing the type of sights I expected of a near-theatrical alligator exploration. The warm Mississippi April breeze and beautiful sky contrasted against big cypress trees and swooping birds. It simply felt like alligators would want to live someplace like Mathews Brake. After only a few minutes of cruising the refuge, we spotted something in the distance. “I think that’s one over there,” Wiggins said. “Laying out on that log.”
He pointed out in the distance between a cluster of cypress trees. The moment had finally arrived. We flipped on the trolling motor and slowly moved to the outside of the gator, hoping to get as close as possible without startling it. I was able to get several photographs before he grew tired of our approach and slid into the water. Mission accomplished. The rest of the evening, we lazily trolled about and managed to spot another seven or eight gators. None of them let their guard down quite like the first, but they were fun to watch. In the end it became quite clear that alligators do inhabit Leflore County but likely pose much less of a threat than many would think. Most alligators tend to shy away from humans, which gators consider too large to be potential prey. Alligators are important top-level predators in the Mississippi ecosystem and are protected by law. Limited hunting of alligators is permitted. Though many may fear alligators, for the most part they seem to want to be left alone. I barely even got a decent shot with a zoom lens, let alone an open-mouthed, poised-for-a-death-roll photo. I actually am quite satisfied that all I captured was an “alligator smile.” LI
Spring and Summer 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 31
PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
Rarefied Air P
BY ANDREA HALL
ureAir Co. has gone the distance without ever leaving Greenwood — about 6 million miles a year. It hasn’t always been that way for the air filter company. When Timmy Lott bought the business in 1978 from a family friend, it was a small part-time company operated by some of the local police officers. He paid about $25,000 for it and hired someone to do the work. At that time, the company was doing business only within a 60-mile radius of Greenwood and a little farther out of Greenville. Along the way the company began to buy out smaller air filter businesses. As its clientele grew, so did its staff. Although PureAir didn’t begin as a family business for the Lotts, you wouldn’t know it now. Lott’s father, T.W. Lott Jr., began working with the company after he retired from the police force. Timmy Lott’s brother, Jimmy, joined the team in 1995. The two brothers are co-owners. “The business stayed pretty small over the years,” Timmy said. “It wasn’t until 2001 that the company really started to grow.” It was just a few years before 2001 that the Lotts sold their other businesses, a car lot and a uniform store. Since then, PureAir has continued to grow 20 to 30 percent each year. “To have growth at all is phenomenal, but especially through these economic times,” Timmy said. Their business model is a triangle, with three focus points — giving customers what they want, reacting quickly and keeping costs low. “People say all we do is change air filters,” Timmy said. “But we see ourselves more like Federal Express or UPS. We help make companies more efficient.” Timmy said having the proper air filter — and clean air-conditioning coils, a new business venture for the company — helps save the units and keep energy costs down. The brothers also credit good customers and hard work for the company’s success. “We are blessed,” Timmy said. “It is because of some of our customers that we have been able to get bigger accounts.” One of the first major companies that took a chance on the small-town business was Fred’s. PureAir was given about 600 stores to service during the initial contract. Then PureAir started working with about 20 Walmart stores Kelli Lott Stainback, the daugher of PureAir Co. co-owner Timmy Lott, is part of three generations of her family that have worked at in west Tennessee. Now it services 1,600 Walmarts — about one-third of the discount giant’s stores nationwide. the Greenwood company. 32 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
“We have had some really good, big companies come our way because of word of mouth,” Jimmy said. From colleges and universities, such as Mississippi Valley State University and the University of Mississippi, to Dollar Generals and everything in between, PureAir does about 16,000 services per month throughout the country. “When you grow up in a small town, you tend to have blinders on. You don’t know what is out there,” Timmy said. “We do now, because we are going all the time. Everywhere.” The brothers are responsible for planning how to get everyone where they need to be, on time and on a consistent basis. With hundreds of employees across the country, 10 regional offices, 35 shipping locations and services in 48 out of the 50 states, everything and everyone has a schedule, seven days a week. “The logistics of getting our people there and dealing with forces out of our control like weather prove to be a constant challenge,” Jimmy said. In March, the company had to evacuate a facility in Des Moines, Iowa, because of flooding. “Different things happen, and you have to deal with them,” Timmy said. From weather patterns to working conditions, the challenges don’t stop for the employees who are in the field. They go out on the road anywhere from a few days to a couple of months. “We try to be conscious of what they are going through,” Timmy said. Ricky Melton, who will mark seven years with the company in July, has seen 46 of the 48 continental states during his time with PureAir — all but Washington and Oregon. Although he is in operations management, Melton has done a little of everything from sales to training. When he started with the company in the early 2000s, he was assigned to live in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area, where the company had a small branch. With a girlfriend in Mississippi, he was ready to come home after three months. But coming home still didn’t mean he would be spending all his time in Mississippi. As a retired military serviceman, he was used to that lifestyle. “It is fair to say I’ve spent 70 percent of my life away,” Melton said. “To me, traveling has become a way of life. I would prefer if I could leave on a Monday and be home by Friday, but that is not the way this job gets done.” The hardest part for Melton is dealing with the loneliness of life on the road, especially in the evenings and on weekends.
PureAir Co. co-owner Jimmy Lott, left, checks a shipment of air filters with employees Ricky Melton, center, and Doug Everett. PureAir works nationwide and has 10 regional offices, 35 shipping locations and services in 48 of the 50 states.
“When I am out there, I hardly ever check into a hotel before 8 o’clock because I don’t want to sit by myself,” Melton said. “That is when it really sets in.” Or when Melton is riding past or looking at some of the most beautiful places in the country. “I have seen the four corners, Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone,” Melton said. “Probably seen more of this country than most people, but I have done it by myself. It would have been better to share with others.” He remembers the first time he went out West and took more than 150 photos
of the Rockies. Another time, he tried to drive to Canada just to say he had, but the guard at the border told him he could only walk there. “It is a good opportunity to see the country and work for a company that takes care of you,” Melton said. “I like to treat it like an adventure.” Still, when he is out on the road, he says he is motivated to work hard and finish his mission so he can get home to his family. “Out of all the places I have been and all the things I have seen, there is no place I like more than being at home in Mississippi,” Melton said. LI
Spring and Summer 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 33
Hungry? 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
314 Howard Street, Greenwood
412 West Park Avenue
Type of cuisine: Italian (Fine Dining) Full Bar Hours of operation: 5-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 5-8 p.m. Sunday Price range (per person ): $20-$40
Type of cuisine: Chinese, Japanese, American Hours of operation:
11 a.m.-10 p.m. (Sunday-Thursday), 11 a.m.-11 p.m. (Friday & Saturday) Price range (per person ):
Outdoor dining area for smokers Handicapped accessible Occasional live music (Alluvian) Reservations recommended Phone: (662) 455-4227 Web site: www.giardinas.com E-mail: email@example.com
Lunch: $7-$8 buffet Dinner: $8-$10 buffet Children’s menu
Handicapped accessible Phone: (662) 453-1688
Carroll County Market
607 Lexington Street, Carrollton Type of cuisine: Steak, BBQ, Seafood, Pizza & More. Wine, Beer & Setups Hours of operation: 5 p.m. until midnight Thur. & Fri., 11 a.m. until midnight Saturday.
Price range (per person ): Lunch $5-$20, Dinner $5-$28, Children’s menu Occasional live music, Reservations recommended, Handicapped accessible
Phone: (662) 237-1133 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web site: www.carrollcountymarket.net 34 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
Larry’s Fish House 4238 Hwy. 7 South, Itta Bena, MS Type of cuisine: Catfish, Chicken, Ribs & All The Trimmings Hours of operation:
5 p.m.-9 p.m. (Thursday), 11:30 a.m. -1p.m. & 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. (Friday) 5 p.m.-9 p.m. (Saturday)
(per person ):
Adults $13, Sr. Adults (60 & over) $12 Children (Ages 4-11) $6, Under 4 yrs Free
Handicapped accessible Phone (662) 254-6001
Capricorn’s Internet Cafe
42600 CR 507, Itta Bena, MS
722 Carrollton Avenue Greenwood
Type of cuisine: Steaks, Catfish, BBQ, Daily Hot Plates, Gyros, Monte Cristos, Hot Wings, Salads and Many Different Sandwiches. Fresh Baked Cakes Daily. Catering Available Full Bar Hours of operation:
Type of cuisine: American with an Italian flair, Steaks and Seafood Beer and Setups: You may bring your own wine or liquor.
Hours of operation: 5 p.m.-10 p.m. (Tuesday-Saturday)
11 a.m.-11 p.m. (Monday-Thursday) 11 a.m.-12:30 a.m. (Friday& Saturday) Poetry With Karaoke on Friday and Saturday. 1st & 3rd Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Price range (per person): Dinner $10-$30 Handicapped accessible Reservations recommended Phone: (662) 453-5365
Occasional live music Phone: (662) 254-0333
Mai Little China
617 West Park Ave. Highland Park Shopping Center Greenwood Type of cuisine: Asian Fusion, Steaks & Seafood. Wine, Beer and Setups Hours of operation:
Monday thru Saturday Lunch Buffet: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Dinner: 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Open 1st Sunday of each month, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Price range (per person ):
Lunch: $6-$10 Dinner: $6-$20 Children’s menu
Handicapped accessible Reservations recommended Phone: (662) 451-1101
117 Main Street, Greenwood
Type of cuisine: Southern Eclectic Beer, Setups, BYOB Hours of operation: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Price range (per person ): As little or as much as you want to spend.
Handicapped accessible Children’s menu Reservations recommended Occasional live music Phone: (662) 455-9575 Web site: www.deltabistro.com
Turnrow Cafe Turnrow Book Co. 304 Howard Street, Greenwood
Type of cuisine: Sandwiches, Soups, Salads Beer Hours of operation: Lunch: 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Monday-Saturday Price range (per person ): $5 -$8
Phone: (662) 453-5995 Web site: www.turnrowbooks.com E-mail: email@example.com
Spring and Summer 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 35
PHOTO BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
GOOD GRAVY Cooks search for perfect recipe
BY ANDREA HALL
ractically its own food group, whether it is on sausage biscuits or baked with a roast, Southerners have passed down the art of making gravy from generation to generation. One thing they haven’t handed down is the recipe card — even if it isn’t a secret. “It is something you learn from your parents or grandparents,” said T.W. Cooper. “Because of that, each family has their own recipe.” Cooper, like many people in Mississippi, remembers his grandmother making as many as three pans of biscuits for the 13 people who lived with them on the plantation for breakfast to accompany her white, country gravy. “The biscuit was an important part of the meal,” he said. “She would make them where the bottom was still a little crispy. When it was sitting in the gravy, it wouldn’t get soggy.” Cooper grew up in the kitchen with his grandmother while his mother was working. By age 7, he had already made his first batch of gravy and discovered his love for cooking. Although he 36 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
T.W. Cooper learned to cook from his grandmother. He says he made his first batch of gravy when he was 7.
TOMATO GRAVY BY T.W. COOPER
1 medium onion 2 tablespoons water 1 (8 ounces) cup of water 1 (8 ounces) can tomato sauce 1 (8 ounces) can crushed tomatoes 4 tablespoons cooking oil 2 heaping tablespoons flour 1 tablespoon salt 1 tablespoon pepper
Janice Flemming says she faced two major problems when she got married: She didn’t know how to cook, and her husband loved gravy on everything.
had a natural flair in the recommends having kitchen and was making enough oil to cover the his own recipes when he bottom of the pan, was in his early teens, although that will probagravy remained not only bly be more than one of his favorite foods enough, and heating it on but a recipe he struggled medium. When it is with the most when he ready, Cooper said it will first started making it. smell slightly, and there “It was hard to get the will be a slight amount of right consistency,” heat coming off the pan. Cooper said. “The flour “It is something you wouldn’t mix right, or have to get the feel of,” something else would go Cooper said. “Every perwrong.” son makes gravy the way After sometimes makthey like it. There are ing the gravy too thin some basic steps that you and other times too use for most gravies, at T.W. Cooper thick, he worked to perleast the ones I know of, fect his gravy recipe with and then you make it to practice and help from his cooking mentor. taste the way you like.” “The problem was I didn’t have the right The result can be a unique batch each time. amount of oil, and it wasn’t at the right temper“You can make gravy with anything,” ature,” he said. Cooper said. “Potato gravy, bean gravy, I’ve Cooper discovered you couldn’t just turn the never tried it with green pepper, but if you stove on and walk away. Gravy is a menu item keep trying different things, you could probathat needs to be meticulously watched to get it bly come up with something award-winnning.” just right — especially in the beginning. He If not a blue-ribbon recipe, at least it could
“It is something you have to get the feel of. Every person makes gravy the way they like it.”
Use a medium-sized skillet (cast iron preferred), pour in cooking oil. His choice of oil is smoked bacon fat but other oils may be substituted for the more diet-conscious eaters. After peeling the onion, slice it into about 1/8-inch slices. You can cut all the slices in half or leave them as is, but separate the rings. Allow oil to heat in the skillet for about 4 minutes at medium temperature before adding onion and tablespoons of water. Pour in the onion and tablespoons of water; cover the skillet and allow the onion to steam while stirring periodically until onion starts to soften. Before the onion starts to brown, stir in the flour, salt and pepper. Black pepper is the original choice for his family, but red pepper or a combination of both can make for an interesting change of flavor. Also substituting garlic salt can create an even different taste. Just as the mixture starts to turn brown, stir in tomato sauce, shortly followed by the tomatoes. Watch out for steam bubbles. As the gravy starts to thicken, stir in the additional water to obtain desired thickness. Cover and let simmer for about 5 minutes. “Tomato gravy is usually served by my family over rice with biscuits and fried salt pork or fried thick-sliced bologna or sometimes just over biscuits,” Cooper said. “It is usually served for either breakfast or supper but almost never for lunch.”
Spring and Summer 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 37
become a family favorite. However, making it differently each time or without a specific recipe can make it hard to repeat and for others to recreate — something Janice Flemming of Cruger found out. “My husband loved gravy on everything,” Flemming said. “Especially on slices of roast.” The problem: Flemming couldn’t cook. “I couldn’t even boil water when we got married, but he loved his mother’s gravy,” she said. “That’s the reason why I had to make it.” Growing up, Flemming never learned how to cook not only because she was surrounded by family and help who loved cooking but also because she found it a chore. “I was never interested in cooking, and my mother loved it,” Flemming said. “I had to learn the hard way.” As a newlywed, Flemming discovered she was not a natural in the kitchen and had a lot to learn, especially when it came to learning how to make her mother-inlaw’s gravy. “It was hard trying to live up to her recipe,” Flemming said. “It didn’t happen overnight.” From lumps to clumps, Flemming entered a cooking slump. She — and her husband, who tasted the recipes — faced the trials and tribulations of anyone learning to make gravy. “The early mistakes I made were I didn’t brown the roast enough to get the right amount of runoff, and several times I left the kitchen and would forget about cooking,” Flemming said. “I made it too thick. I made it too thin.” She made the recipe again and again until her husband looked over at her while tasting the latest effort and said it was per-
“It was hard trying to live up to her recipe. It didn’t happen overnight. ... (When it did,) I felt like I had arrived.” Janice Flemming on trying to make gravy like her mother-in-law’s
ROAST GRAVY BY JANICE FLEMMING
Roast 2 tablespoons flour 2 cups water salt and pepper to taste onion (optional) Brown roast on all sides, adding salt and pepper to taste. Take it out of skillet and keep it warm. Add 2 tablespoons of flour into the pan with the drippings. Add 2 cups of water slowly, continuously stirring. “It should become a paste when the water and flour is added,” Flemming said. “I usually add enough water to go about half way up the roast.” She also adds onion while it is cooking on the stove. Once the gravy is made, put it in pan with roast to be cooked in the oven. Cook roast to your specifications. “For the whole meal, just add carrots and potatoes around the roast and cook it all together in the oven,” she said. 38 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
fect. “I felt like I had arrived,” Flemming said. Since then she has passed on the tradition of her husband’s favorite roast gravy to her children and their families. Although she made roast with gravy for her husband, as a cook Flemming was happy when casseroles became popular. “They were much easier.” Linda Durand of Greenwood disagrees. A culinary instructor for 22 years, she hasn’t encountered many students who have had trouble learning to make gravy. “Lumps are the biggest problem but they are easy to fix,” Durand said. “Just strain them out, it’s that easy.” Like French cook Julia Child, who took the scariness out of French cooking, Durand tries to do that with Southern cooking. Creating the perfect mixture of flavors takes finesse, but Durand encourages even the most cooking-illiterate to give it a try. “Flavor, flavor, flavor is what it is all about,” she said. “Keep adding spices and ingredients you like until it is perfect.” However, she also believes gravy should enhance the flavor of the dish, not cover it. Her favorite for its ability to boost the taste of a meal is red-eye gravy. When she was growing up, her family would go to the J&B restaurant in Columbus, where they served two biscuits and ham with red-eye gravy on top. “I have so many great memories with that dish and at that restaurant with my family,” Durand said. “And you can’t beat its flavor.” Whether it brings back a favorite memory or makes a tasty dish, gravy is a Southern favorite. LI
RED-EYE GRAVY BY LINDA DURAND
1/4-cup butter 4 slices of country ham (about 1/4-inch thick) with a little fat around the edges 1 cup strong, freshly brewed black coffee In a large, well-seasoned skillet, warm the butter over low heat. Slice ham steaks around edges to keep them from curling while cooking. Place the ham steaks in butter in the pan. Cook ham until edges brown slightly; turn to cook other side. Add the brewed coffee and raise the heat to high, bringing it to a boil. Boil until the liquid is reduced to about a quarter of its original amount and a nice glaze has formed on the ham. Remove ham from pan and pour a little extra of the drippings from the pan on top.
PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
Spanning eras Supreme Electronics has seen many changes in 84 years BY CHARLIE SMITH
rom the golden age of radio to the era of global warming, Supreme Electronics has produced electronic items in Greenwood that fit the needs of the times. With 84 years in business, it is the city’s oldest manufacturer. Since 1956, Supreme Electronics has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Hickok, a Cleveland, Ohio-based company. It remains Supreme Electronics but makes products under the names of Hickok and Waekon. “We are the manufacturing branch of Hickok,” said Bill Bruner, senior vice president of manufacturing. “Hickok doesn’t manufacture other products other than here in Greenwood.” The world was a much different place when Supreme started. A majority of the homes in Mississippi didn’t even have electricity, much less the overwhelming array of electronic equipment people rely on today. Supreme’s original location at Main and Henry streets looked more like a place to water a mule than a site for producing electronics, but the business quickly grew and moved to bigger spaces. It manufactured products upstairs at 107
Susie Starks, left, and Ella O'Bryant, right, work in tester assembly at Supreme Electronics as Bill Bruner, senior vice president of manufacturing, looks on. Spring and Summer 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 39
Roxie Real works on a coil assembly in the meter assembly room at Supreme Electronics.
40 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
Carrollton Ave. (now Downtown Drugs) and 414 Howard St. (now the Super Soul Shop). Supreme made various test equipment used to service radios, including volt meters and vacuum tube testers. It also had a woodworking facility where employees crafted the raised panels of classic radio equipment. B.F. Dulweber bought the company in the early 1930s, and the business thrived. After Dulweber and his son died in accidents, Chief Engineer Grady Perkins was put in charge of day-to-day operations in 1943. Four years later, Perkins bought the company and moved it to its present location at 1714 Carrollton Ave. Supreme shared the premises with an unlikely partner for a manufacturer: the Greenwood Dodgers of the Cotton States
League. The minor league baseball team continued to play its games at its stadium on the property until 1952. After Hickock purchased Supreme, it made major expansions in 1960 and 1963. In 1982, Supreme began a partnership with Ford as electronics were starting to blossom in the automotive industry. The plant made equipment to put into dealerships to help technicians diagnose problems. In addition to supplying equipment for car manufacturers, Supreme now makes after-market products available to the public at parts stores. Today’s cars use a plethora of electronic parts that talk to their computers, and when something goes wrong, it can be a frustrating experience for mechanics to determine what happened. “Our equipment helps them to figure that out without them spending an awful lot of time replacing things they don’t have to replace, which gets a customer pretty aggravated,” Bruner said. When California began regulating the
“We are pleased to be celebrating 100 years as an integral part of Hickock.” Bill Bruner, Supreme Electronics senior VP of manufacturing
amount of gasoline leaking from fuel tank caps on cars, Supreme produced the devices for testing how much loss there was. It also makes equipment used to test the amount of air pressure in tires during California’s vehicle inspections.
Supreme also has a steady meter-producing business. Its gauges are used by a number of major airplane manufacturers, which put them into fighter jets and other military aircraft. The Greenwood plant has about 50 employees, and they’re about a $7-millionper-year company. Bruner said they’d like to be about twice that level but are doing OK. Supreme’s employees have shown a remarkable loyalty and longevity. Its longest-tenured employee was Janie Cain, who worked at the plant for 65 years. This year is the 100th anniversary for Hickock. During its centennial celebration in May, 16 Greenwood employees will be recognized for more than 30 years of service. The three longest-serving current employees have been there 47 years each. “We are pleased to be celebrating 100 years as an integral part of Hickock, and because we are a rooted, Greenwoodnative company, we are proud to be Supreme!” Bruner said. LI
Spring and Summer 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 41
PHOTOS BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
From adopted newborn to businessman to police officer to supervisor, it’s been a
Long, strange trip BY BOB DARDEN
ost people know Phil Wolfe as a member of the Leflore County Board of Supervisors or as the owner of a successful Greenwood-based company, Mississippi Alarm Co. There is, of course, the earlier Phil Wolfe, 56, who served 16 years on the Greenwood Police Department, rising to the rank of detective, or Wolfe’s tenure as the head of the International Union of Police Associations, Local No. 62. However, there’s more to Wolfe’s life story. There is the fact of how, as a newborn infant, Wolfe was put up for adoption just hours after his birth in Tyronza, Ark., because his biological parents, Clinton Eugene Ellington and Katherine Ellington, simply could not afford another mouth to feed. “They were real poor sharecroppers. They had already had my older brother, Gene. They traveled everywhere and picked crops. Then I came along,” Wolfe 42 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
Phil Wolfe was elected to represent District 1 on the Leflore County Board of Supervisors in 1991. He says he plans to seek another term in 2011.
Spring and Summer 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 43
Where to find the latest items that you shouldn’t do without. A. B.EMILY RAY JEWELRY
#N0157628G Golden Shadow Navette Pendant and textured gold plated chain with matching earrings. Unleash temptation. Exceptional designs from classic to contemporary. Available at Clevenger Jewelry & Gifts, 504 W Park Ave., Greenwood. 662453-0710
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for everyone this season. These by Yellow Box come in bronze and silver. You’ll find them at Anthony's on West Park Avenue and Ola's Shoes on Howard Street. 662-455-2145, Anthony’s; 662-453-1462, Ola’s.
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The Big Green Egg is the most unique barbeque product on the market, D. with more smoker and grill capabilities than all other conventional cookers combined. And with five varied sizes, there is a Big Green Egg to fit any need. Get one at Scott Hearth & Kitchen, 416 Hwy 7 N, Greenwood. 662 - 453 -1929
44 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
spring and summer dress a standout. You’ll find something for everyone at Rachael’s, A Unique Women’s Clothing Boutique. Market and Howard streets in downtown Greenwood. 662-453-0266
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Get your own Skipjack! Have you ever wanted the comfort of your favorite standby T-shirt in a knit you could wear to work? Southern Tide has just the thing — the Skipjack Polo! Comes in tons of colors! Get one at Smith & Company, 211 Fulton St., Greenwood. 662-453-4411
said. “They were living in their vehicle and I was more than they could feed, so they adopted me out,” he said. Wolfe was adopted by a Greenwood couple, Maebelle Wolfe Daves and Norris Edwin Wolfe. “I was, in essence, raised here in Greenwood since I was two hours old,” Wolfe said. “My parents here, who are my mom and dad as far as I’m concerned, ever since I was old enough to walk, they didn’t hide the fact that I District 1 Supervisor Phil Wolfe, left, meets with Leflore Abraham’s office. Wolfe is the vice president of the board. was adopted,” he said. “I’d ask my dad as a kid, ‘Where’d I come “When I showed up and met Phillip, I from?’ He’d say, ‘Well, I went to this place had a period beard like I do now. I was over in Arkansas that had a whole building wearing a cutoff black sweatshirt with a of little babies in it.’ He’d say, ‘I picked motorcycle on it,” Wolfe said. you ’cause you were the ugliest one there At the meeting, Phillip Ellington sported and nobody would have had you,’” Wolfe a similar beard and wore a sweatshirt with a said jokingly. motorcycle on it. “It was like looking in a Wolfe’s adoptive parents are both now mirror. We had the same thing on,” Wolfe deceased. said. It wasn’t until 1984, when Wolfe was a The conversation was similarly illustradetective with the Police Department, that tive. he was able to put the pieces of his family’s I said, ‘I’m your brother.’ He said, past together. ‘Which one?’ and I said, ‘The good looking “I thought, ‘I have all this information in one,’” Wolfe recalled. my hands. Why in the hell can’t I find out The brothers stay in touch with each who my birth parents are?’” Wolfe said to other. himself. “My oldest brother just retired from the “All I knew was their name. I didn’t military. He was a command sergeant know where in the world they were,” he major,” Wolfe said. said. Katherine Ellington, a widow, lives in The police search provided Wolfe with a Wooster, Ark. few clues, a phone number and an address for his mother, Katherine. v v v Wolfe was readying himself to make the phone call when his wife, Deborah, spoke Wolfe’s adoptive parents were hardup. working folk. “My wife jumped all over me. She said, His mother was employed by Wade Inc. ‘I ain’t never seen you scared to make a for 34 years as a bookkeeper. phone call,’” Wolfe recalled. “She was a great lady,” Wolfe said. Wolfe made the call. Wolfe’s father worked for the M&F “I got on the phone and asked, ‘Are you Vending Co. Katherine Ellington?’ “When he started out, he worked on slot “She said, ‘Yes, I am.’ I told her, ‘This machines, vending machines and stuff like might sound weird to you, but I might be that,” Wolfe said. your son.’ She said, ‘Well you might be,’” “He was real good with electronics. He Wolfe said. did that in the Navy, on the USS Texas.” Wolfe, who had grown up as a single At an early age, Wolfe was taught the child in Greenwood, found he had another value of work and thrift. family, including three brothers, Clinton “I remember running home one day and Gene Ellington, 63; Phillip Ellington, 45; saying, ‘Y’all need to get me a bicycle like and Tony Ellington, 50. Jo-Jo got.’ My daddy said, ‘Where’d Jo-Jo The brothers, who had grown up worlds get that bicycle?’ I said, ‘His daddy got it apart and under different circumstances, for him.’ He said, ‘You need to get a job.’” were remarkably similar, he said. Wolfe became a paper boy with the
County Chancery Clerk Sam Abraham in
Greenwood Commonwealth. “That’s where I started off — throwing papers,” he said. “Everything I needed was provided for. Anything outside of that, they preferred I’d work for it,” Wolfe said. Wolfe attended Bankston Elementary School. Later he attended Greenwood High School, where he developed a reputation as a scrapper. “For fighting reasons, I had to go to Pillow Academy. My mama thought I’d make a career out of high school,” he said. Wolfe graduated from Pillow in 1972. The same year, Wolfe married “the girl I fell in love with in the eighth grade,” he said. The couple will celebrate their 38th wedding anniversary later this year. v v v While Wolfe attended Mississippi Delta Community College in Moorhead, he had bigger plans still. “I originally wanted to be a crop duster and spray cotton. At that time, they made real good money. My wife absolutely threw a fit, a no-no on that,” he said. Debbie’s grandfather, A.E. “Slim” Henderson, a retired Greenwood police officer, had a car lot, and Wolfe soon found himself selling cars. One day in 1974, Wolfe was picked up by then Police Chief Curtis Lary and driven to the department and asked if he wanted to be a policeman. He said, “Yes.” Wolfe started out as a patrolman, advanced to senior patrolman and then became part of the detective division and a member of the department’s SWAT team. Being on patrol on Greenwood’s streets was an eye-opener for the rookie. “I never will forget it — it was my first Spring and Summer 2010 Leflore Illustrated / 45
exposure to life. I knew how people lived in my neighborhood, but that was just the tip of the iceberg of how people lived. “As it turned out, I lived as much in their neighborhood as I lived in my own,” Wolfe said. As a cop, Wolfe became acutely aware of the dangers police officers faced every ay on the street. “We had an officer that got shot. The city wouldn’t buy us bulletproof vests and they wouldn’t allow us to carry anything except six-shot revolvers. Everybody we were running into had automatics,” he said. “That’s the reason we formed a union. We never asked for a pay raise or anything.” It was as president of IUPA Local No. 62 that Wolfe cut his political teeth grappling with the likes of Greenwood City Councilman David Jordan. “Me and David stayed in it all the time,” Wolfe recalled. The department then had a rule that Wolfe described as unfair. “They made us come to work 15 minutes early and refused to pay us for it. If we were late for that 15 minutes, they’d suspend us for a week,” Wolfe said. “We said, ‘We don’t mind being here. But if a guy has a flat tire and gets here two minutes late for a meeting, and that happened, they sent him home for a week and he doesn’t make $400 a month, that hurts.’ “After they wouldn’t quit that, I sued them and we won,” Wolfe said. He said being elected union president in the small department “drastically cut down on my promotion opportunities.” v v v Wolfe started in the burglar alarm business as a sideline in 1982 when it dawned on him that he was making as much in his part-time job as then-Police Chief Austin Stancil was making in his full-time job. Wolfe remembered the advice of his adoptive father, Norris. “He always told me, ‘If you’re going to work for somebody else, it is better to work for yourself,’” Wolfe said. Wolfe’s adoptive mother, Maebelle, taught her son fiscal discipline, which is necessary to run a successful business. Today, Mississippi Alarm Co. has four employees and has clients all over the state. “The alarm business is pretty much an automated deal. Everything now is computers. I can do just about anything from my computer at my office that I can onsite. About 90 percent of what needs ser46 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
vicing, we can do by computer,” Wolfe said. v v v Wolfe left the Greenwood Police Department in 1990. In 1991, he ran successfully as a Republican for the District 1 seat on the Leflore County Board of Supervisors. Wolfe currently serves as the board’s vice president. He said he plans to seek re-election to a sixth term in 2011. Known as a fiscal conservative, Wolfe dispensed with the county-supplied vehicle and cell phone, partly to ease the bur-
den on the taxpayers but more importantly to cut down on his recordkeeping of “county” and “personal” use. The board, assisted by the leadership of Board President Wayne Self and District 5 Supervisor Robert Collins, has placed the county on a sound financial footing despite the economic downturn that has hit the Delta hard, according to Wolfe. Self and Collins are both small businessmen, and they bring that business logic and experience with them into the board room, Wolfe said. “Leflore County is probably in the best fiscal condition it’s been in in years. We’re in the top 10 of financial viability.” LI
SPRING AND SUMMER 2010
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Greenwood-Leflore Co. Chamber of Commerce
‘We touch everyone’ BY CHARLIE SMITH
It doesn’t matter how old you are; it doesn’t matter where you live; it doesn’t matter what you do. Everyone in the community benefits from the services the Greenwood-Leflore County Chamber of Commerce provides. The chamber grooms young leaders to lead Leflore County into the future. It promotes the local businesses that keep the community strong. It even delights the masses with parades and fireworks. “We’re an organization for everybody,” Executive Director Beth Stevens says. “We touch everyone in some way or form.” The first thing that comes to Stevens’ mind when talking about what makes Greenwood special is its people. “We have a lot of visionaries here,” she said. “We have a lot of people who care about their community.” Many volunteers serve on multiple committees. If the chamber has an event, you see them there, Stevens said. If you need help, they’re only a phone call away. That is a strong part of why the chamber has been blessed to be able to keep going strong through a national recession. “We really haven’t seen a decline in our numbers that much,” Stevens said. She attributed that to the fact that businesses value the investment they are making in their community through the chamber and see that as a vital part of the local economy. The chamber is a membership-based organization and is grateful for the support it receives from its members, Stevens said. But it also provides services that promote the general quality of life in Greenwood and that every sector of the community enjoys. A clear example is the annual Roy Martin Delta Band Festival and Christmas Parade. Its booming bands and smiling 48 / Leflore Illustrated Spring and Summer 2010
PHOTO BY JOHNNY JENNINGS
Executive Director Beth Stevens says the Greenwood-Leflore County Chamber of Commerce provides services that promote the quality of life in Greenwood.
faces from floats help get everyone in town in the Christmas spirit. The parade’s 75th anniversary is a major focus for the chamber this year, Stevens said. Another point of emphasis is getting young people involved in the community. Greenwood-Leflore Young Professionals is a new program this year for 21- to 40-year-olds. Many of them want to get more deeply acquainted with their town but just haven’t found a way to do it, Stevens said. GLYP will be a chance for those young professionals already here to do that, as well as a way of attracting new young talent. For a slightly younger set, the Young Emerging Leaders of Leflore gives high
school juniors an immersion into Greenwood’s business, government and social life. The 23 public and private school students who completed the program in April learned a lot they never knew before about the world around them, Stevens said. “It’s been a great year. We have really grown to love those kids. It’s been really great to see them grow their leadership skills,” she said. The chamber plans to expand the program next year to 40 participants from its 23 this year. Greenwood has lots of history that many of its residents take for granted, Stevens said. However, among visitors there is a fascination in the many stories and stories within a story that exist here related to the blues, civil rights and culinary history, among other things, Stevens said. Those things — along with small-town charm — drive people both to Greenwood and the entire Delta, she said. Stevens, who became the chamber’s executive director in 2004, said getting the organization’s Web site up has been a major stride made during her tenure. The chamber has also been able to increase its membership benefits through a discount health insurance plan and other initiatives. Membership has seen an uptick. Its annual meeting has become the place to be for networking opportunities, and the leadership has done a great job of lining up in-demand speakers, Stevens said. Stevens encouraged anyone with an interest in helping their community grow to step up and volunteer with the chamber. For more information about joining the chamber or participating in its many functions, call it at (662) 453-4152. Further details are also available online at its Web site, www.greenwoodms.com. LI