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‘She can make that thing talk’



County agent puts down roots with new home

STICKIN’ WITH IT: Bowie’s find successful BBQ formula MAY/JUNE 2018 $4.99




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HOME FIRMLY PLANTED County agent puts down roots in a stylish new home





FEATURES STRUTIN’ HIS (?) STUFF Brookhaven’s favorite guinea is a celebrity

‘SHE CAN MAKE THAT THING TALK’ Piano teacher makes sweet music



STICKIN’ WITH IT Bowie’s repeats successful recipe



SHOP SISTERS, QUILTERS, BUSINESS PARTNERS Retired pair building quilting business

THE TOWN WITHOUT A MILL Norfield once one of county’s largest towns







Full Run: Healthy Living 18








Luke Horton


EDITORIAL Donna Campbell




Brett Campbell

Dedicated to serving all families with fairness and integrity.

Adam Northam CONTRIBUTING: Kim Henderson Hannah Henderson



601-695-0606 | Paid for by the Committee to Elect Joseph Durr. Approved by Joseph Durr.

GRAPHICS Michael Granger

BROOKHAVEN Magazine is produced and published by The Daily Leader, 128 N. Railroad Ave., Brookhaven, MS 39601. The magazine is published six times a year. For additional information on this issue or other publications or for copies, call 601-833-6961. To inquire about story content, email, or to inquire about advertising, email Copyright 2018 © The Daily Leader


‘She can make that thing talk’

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County agent puts down roots with new home

STICKIN’ WITH IT: Bowie’s find successful BBQ formula





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Photo by Donna Campbell Brookhaven piano teacher Lynne Lofton plays the piano in her home studio.


home MAY/JUNE 18

Firmly planted Story by Kim Henderson; photos by Hannah Henderson


ounty Agent Rebecca Bates always loved River Road Drive, even before she built a house beside it. “When I needed to get some air, I’d get in my car and drive down it. It’s close to Brookhaven, but it’s quiet and peaceful,” she said. These days Bates enjoys the perks of permanent residency on River Road, including walking under that scenic route’s canopy of oaks with her Pugshire, Lincoln. As a horticulturist, she’s especially drawn to the abundance of native plants – oakleaf hydrangea, beech trees, witch hazel, Florida anise – surrounding her new home. “I’ve always thought this spot is beautiful,” she said. In 2016, Bates secured her acre lot, as well as building services, from Mike Bowers Construction. Together, she and Bowers tweaked a Southern Living house plan to include her must-haves: a separate dining room, a gas fireplace, and 9-foot porches on three sides of the home’s exterior. “I have my great aunt’s dining room furniture, and I like using my china and having everyone sit down at the table,” she says of the added dining space. And about the porches? “There’s as much square footage in them as in the house,” she said, laughing. Building a modest-sized home — 1,590 square feet — meant every design decision counted for Bates. She credits Bowers with tips that resulted in 10-foot ceilings and 9-foot doors. “Mike said they’d make the house look bigger, and he was right,” she said. Faced with a myriad of decorating decisions, Bates collaborated with her good friend Melinda Said of Melinda’s Fabrics and Interiors. “I had never built a house before. Whether it was mirrors or countertops, I would text Melinda a picture, and she would give her opinion,” Bates said. “She was a sounding board, and she gave me confidence to make decisions.” Said designed the window treatments in the new home, and Bates believes they made all the difference. “It’s the finishing touch. It was important to me to save money in the budget for that. They were hung before I moved in,” she said.


Opposite page: Rebecca Bates chose Sherwin Williams paint color “Atmospheric” for the ceilings of her porches: “Blue porch ceilings are popular in New Orleans and Charleston. I find the color calming, but some believe it keeps insects and birds at bay.” Above: Interior design specialist Melinda Said (left) helped Rebecca Bates put the finishing touch on her new River Road Drive home. According to Said, Bates’ style is “effortless and elegant, but also comfortable and livable.”


Opposite page: The tufted head and foot boards for the bed in the master suite were constructed by Mike and Melinda Said of Melinda’s Fabrics and Interiors in Brookhaven. The screened-in porch is Bates’ favorite spot in the house: “The trees make it feel like being in the mountains. It’s where I have coffee in the morning and where friends come to watch football games on the weekends.”


Furnishings throughout the dwelling speak to the homeowner’s personal style rather than to an adherence to passing trends. All her furniture transferred from her prior home. The only new piece Bates bought was a bed. “Before I moved in, I thought my things looked shabby, but Melinda insisted I not buy anything until I’d lived here a while. She was right. In the end, I decided my furniture looked better here than it had anywhere else I’d lived,” she said. In the kitchen, Bates chose white for her cabinets and subway tile backsplash. The countertops are granite, but they bear the look of marble that appealed to Bates. A pair of hanging pendants overhead light up an elevated island. The kitchen opens into an inviting living room that’s anchored by a large traditional rug and flooded with natural light. The area also features an oak gun cabinet built by Bates’ father when he was 12 years old. He constructed it with help from his own father during World War II, and the bakelite drawer pulls testify to a time period when metal was scarce. “Anything I own that you can put your hand on, I can tell

you a story about it,” Bates said, smiling. “Most was handed down from family. I’ve collected artwork while traveling, and I have several watercolors done by my sister, Mary Windsor.” And for a woman who says she’s “always loved growing things,” coming up with landscape plans took an unusual amount of effort. “I found it’s easier to draw them for someone else than for me,” Bates said. Eventually she called on local experts Warren Stamps and Todd McDaniel to assist in the work. A steep slope on the lot proved to be a challenge. “Rain hindered us from doing the landscaping when we planned, but that turned out to be good because it allowed me to watch where water was going,” Bates recalls. As a result, the trio decided to install a series of French drains and dry creeks on the property. “What I learned was this: Sometimes the perfect lot isn’t the most interesting lot,” Bates admits. “Now I can’t imagine the house without these elements. The stone not only solved the drainage issues, but it also looks attractive.” ||||| BROOKHAVEN MAGAZINE 13

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features MAY/JUNE 18


Struttin’ his(?) stuff A

Story & photos by Donna Campbell

celebrity struts among us. He doesn’t give interviews, hides from reporters and autographs are out of the question. They’d probably look like chicken scratch anyway. Make that guinea scratch. Little G has become a star of Brookway Boulevard. He’s no doubt the most photographed fowl in Ole Brook. His mug’s been snapped at Gene’s Tire Pros, Dairy Queen, Taco Bell and Payless Shoes, but to borrow a famous line from a chicken commercial, they love that guinea at Popeye’s. The bird even has his own Facebook page, Brookhaven Popeyes Guinea Fans. G’s flock had grown to 2,183 people as of May 1. Sgt. Jonathan Alford with Brookhaven Police Department created the page because a goat in Bogue Chitto had one. “The goat had his own Facebook page and I figured the guinea needed one, too,” he said. The bird goes by several names — Guinea, Little G and Jeep are the most popular. “He’s not answering to any of those names so apparently we haven’t gotten it right yet,” he said. His fans don’t know the bird’s sex either. Is she a girl or is he a boy? Andy Brown at Gene’s Tire Pros has his suspicions. G meets him every morning about 7 a.m. “He’ll go down the windows in front of the store. If there are any bugs there, he takes care of it,” he said. Brown bought some guinea


food and piled it on a Styrofoam plate. “I got some food for him, or her,” he said. “She wouldn’t eat it. I took the food out of the plate and put it on the concrete. She ate it just fine. She’s peculiar.” Brown said the employees at Gene’s enjoy their daily visit from G. “We adopted her as our mascot,” he said. “I think everybody down through there has done the same thing.” Little G has been a fixture along this small area of Brookway Boulevard for about two years. That’s when Michele Smith says the bird flew the coop, literally. The G story began when her father, Gary Boutwell Sr., traveled to Brookhaven from Lawrence County to buy a guinea from a woman from Franklin County. “He and my mom met her at the parking lot at Walmart to get it,” she said. “My dad said he got the guinea and was trying to get it into the pen but it got away, so Little G has been on the loose ever since.” Alford started the Facebook page so G’s paparazzi would have a place to post their snaps. “It started as a fun thing,” he said. “A lot of people like to take pictures of the bird.” He enjoys seeing Little G receive big fame. “People are definitely looking for him when they come here,” he said. “We need something to make people laugh.” Several people have posted photos of the guinea peeking in the windows at Popeye’s. “The little bird comes right up there and watches them eat chicken,” he said. “I don’t know if he’s making them feel guilty or what.” Lots of folks feed G when they go to get fed themselves. People will leave him little piles of food behind Dairy Queen and Popeyes, or toss bread to him from their car window as they roll through the drive-thru.


Wand’s Feed Store sells corn chops — ground corn feed — that guineas enjoy. Owner Hope McCullough sells one-pound bags of it that she marks as “Little G food.” McCullough hasn’t fed Little G, but she’s spotted the bird before while having her own meal at Popeye’s. “I was sitting there one day, eating my lunch, and I saw something moving out of the corner of my eye,” she said. Anna Windmiller’s son, John Herrin, keeps an eye out for his feathered friend. “He always looks for the chicken, as he calls it,” she said. John noticed the bird about a year ago and fed him some french fries. Now he tries to spot G every time they go eat. And sometimes it looks like Little G is peering through the window, trying to spot John Herrin. “We look every time we go and try to find him,” she said. “We’ve seen several people come through the drive thru and stare. People just don’t know what to think when they see that.” Brookhaven artist Debbie Keene has also immortalized the guinea’s likeness on T-shirts and other merchandise. The Little G line can be shopped at Vendor’s Emporium. Despite all his popularity — or maybe because of it — Little G is routinely the subject of a celebrity death hoax. At least once every month or two, someone posts they’ve heard the guinea has met his untimely demise. Others are quick to post recent pictures with good news like “I just saw him today,” “I’m so glad he’s not dead” and “He’s alive!” Alford played along with a recent death inquiry post. “Lil G’s publicist had conjured up a plan to fake his own death, but this plan was leaked on Wiki Leaks before its anticipated release date,” he wrote. Alford says G stays mostly on the south side of Brookway Boulevard. He doesn’t think he’s crossed the road since his escape from a pen in the Walmart parking lot two years ago. He doesn’t know why he crossed the road then, but doesn’t think he’ll do it again. He seems content to make his morning visit to Gene’s, then peck the chrome rims of parked cars at Dairy Queen and Popeye’s and dodge vehicles in the drive-thru lines at lunchtime. Sometimes he’ll visit Taco Bell, too. “Every now and then you got to make a run for the border,” he said. |||||


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arts MAY/JUNE 18


‘She can make that thing talk’ H

Story by Brett Campbell

ers is a life defined by faith and music. The room just off the front porch of her home where she spends most of her Tuesdays and Thursdays is filled with both. An organ and piano sit against two walls. Musicfocused art and books are on stands, tables and walls. Books about Christianity and heroes of faith fill shelves. The air seems subtly alive, breathing deeply in-and-out, absorbing and re-emitting the music and faith shared within its walls over the past 43 years. Lynne Lofton has lived in this house, raised her children and taught many others to play piano or organ in those more than four decades. Lofton started her own piano lessons at age 8, but says she can’t remember a time when she didn’t play anything on the piano at all. She recalls playing the one at her grandparents’ home when she was very young. She started taking lessons to play the organ at age 12 or 13. Her teacher was Celeste Robbins, a local piano-teaching legend. Of the organ, Lofton says, “I spent lots of hot, sweaty hours at First Presbyterian practicing.” And of the piano, her grandmother would say, “Oh, she can make that thing talk.” At age 14, the powers that be at Episcopal Church of the Redeemer asked her to begin playing organ for their Wednesday afternoon services. So she did. But playing is only part of her passion and gift. The rest has been in her heart all along, as well. “I’ve always known that’s what I wanted to do,” she says. “Teach.” But she wanted to do it right. Upon graduation from Brookhaven High School, Lofton attended Mississippi College and earned a degree in organ performance. She also took pedagogy classes, to learn to teach in a way in which students would respond. For the next 20 years, Lofton taught at public schools and in private lessons. She also played for various area churches. She’s played piano, organ or both at First Baptist and First Presbyterian churches in Hazlehurst, First Baptist and First Presbyterian churches in Brookhaven, Episcopal Church of the Redeemer and Faith Presbyterian. When her youngest son fell ill, she decided to take a break from teaching for one or two months, to spend extra time with him. But those couple of months began to stretch, and turned into a year, then two. Then, 15 years later, Lofton decided to stop putting it off and returned to teaching.

Photos by Donna Campbell

Lynne Lofton has taught piano lessons from the front room of her Brookhaven home for more than four decades. Following page: Lofton has a cross-stitched quote from her former piano teacher displayed in her music room.


She’s been back at it for about 11 years. But she never quit playing for others, and for God. “One of my favorite places to play is the Episcopal church,” she says. “I like the way [the organ] sounds.” She played at First Presbyterian, Brookhaven, for a decade and says she loved it. Then she began teaching a Sunday School class at First Baptist. After seven or more years, including a period of over a year where she was the interim pianist/organist, she began to play again at First Presbyterian and Church of the Redeemer. She was at “First Prez” until it closed at the location now known as Old Towne Church. Her family didn’t follow her keyboard journeys from church to church, but continued to attend First Baptist, along with their extended families. Around 2014-15, she began playing at the new iteration of “First Prez” — Faith Presbyterian. Her playing has caused others to want to gain the skills and develop their gifts like Lofton has, and they’ve come to her for that instruction. “I have a very traditional approach to teaching piano,” she says, and she engages that approach two days a week, for up to


eight hours each day, teaching 14 students, male and female, in sessions lasting 45 minutes to an hour each. The youngest piano student she’s had was 7 years old, but she usually begins teaching students that are at least 8 years old, because they need to have certain skills already in their educational arsenal. “They need to be able to read really well,” Lofton says. “Leftto-right reading is very important.” The most challenging aspect of teaching children for Lofton is remedial work and it comes into play when a child has a good ear, but has previously had teachers who did not make sure they learned to read music. “It’s hard. It’s too much dang trouble to learn for some of them,” she says. “But a theory of music is very important.” She’s had lots of fun teaching children. Laughing, she recalls an instance on a Sunday years ago, shortly before an afternoon recital, involving a 9-year-old boy named Chris. “It was right after church,” she says. “My doorbell rang and it was his mom, wringing her hands. Chris had climbed a tree and wouldn’t come down for his recital. And he was dressed in a suit.”

They were able to talk the boy down and he did just fine in the recital, she says. Now there are no more recitals for her students. They have “solo hour” instead. It’s more casual, students feel a bit less pressured and it is done in the front room studio of her home. “It was different back then than it is now,” says Lofton. “Parents made sure they worked hard. About half of the kids you could always take to a festival, and they’d do well at practice. Now things are really different.” Scheduling is hard, especially for students playing sports and involved in lots of other afterschool activities. “It’s all they can do to get to lessons,” she says. But she doesn’t mean that she doesn’t want to teach them, or that they can’t learn. It just requires more patience, more time, more persistence. The biggest mistake Lofton says she made with piano was thinking she could teach her own children to play. “We butted heads. I regret not making my son practice and learn,” she adds. Her oldest students now are four adult ladies, each in their 60s. It’s the first time she’s had four adults at one time. One of those students is Sheryl Barlow, a retired nurse, who takes lessons on Thursdays. Barlow never took lessons before, but always wanted to learn to play the piano. Now that she’s retired, she has made it a priority. The lessons are dotted with the conversation of a blossoming friendship. “We have a ball,” says Barlow. As Lofton finishes talking about the struggles of teaching her own, a knock at the door announces the arrival of her favorite retired nurse student. Barlow enters the door and the two women hug like long-lost reunited friends. Barlow is happy to be here. She took care of others for years, and tends to her home and husband most of the week. But this time is hers and it is precious. “I want to do this for me,” she says, smiling wide. The interview is over, because friends have much to discuss and some piano lessons to go over, and Lofton has many more notes to play. |||||


food MAY/JUNE 18

Peter Kinsey at Bowie Barbeque.



STICKIN’WITH IT Bowie’s doing barbecue the same way for 34 years

t looks like an old-timer’s cabin, or a frontier outpost, a place for cowboys and buffalo hunters and railroad men, like it should be standing beside a lonesome trail somewhere near the Brazos River, nearly 200 years ago. The wood floorboards creak underfoot, and hand-hewn logs hold up the ceiling. A worn-down wagon wheel hangs from the main beam on rusty chains, its mason jar lamps providing the main room’s only electric light. Hanging on the plank walls are saddles and bridles, axes and black iron, varmint traps and stuffed birds, tin cans and stoneware jugs, scratched-out washboards and a great set of moose horns. It would be easy to imagine, after dark, the ghosts of hunters and trappers and cattlemen there, enjoying resurrection with midnight gambling and knife fights and cheap whiskey. But there are no ghosts at Bowie Barbeque, and it is not in Old-West Texas. It does not serve whiskey, either. “We honor the Lord by closing on Sundays,” said Peter Kinsey, who has managed the restaurant for 10 years. “He blesses us every other day of the week.” Bowie Barbeque, which everybody calls just “Bowie’s,” is now in its 35th year of serving western beef brisket and eastern pork from a cafeteria-style lunch line where burnt ends scatter across cutting boards and pure butter greases the turning wheels of the toaster. It offers meat by the pound for big eaters and affordable lunch plates for everyone else, and by using the same ingredients and the same procedures for three decades, has attracted a loyal following of regional barbecue lovers in a state not really known for barbecue. “That’s why I’m so good — I’m boring,” Kinsey said. “The worst thing about good barbecue is it’s boring as heck. You find out what works and you do the same thing every time. That’s why some barbecue places go under, they get tired of it, cut corners and don’t do what they’re supposed to do. There’s value in paying attention and doing it the same way, every time.”

A day at Bowie’s — the same day, every day — begins at 6 a.m. That’s when Kinsey flips on the lights and begins making tea and setting up tables. At 7:30 a.m., ribs and chicken go into the Ole Hickory pit, a gas-fired mechanical smoker that uses an electric motor and chain gears to slowly rotate a hundred pounds of meat in hot darkness while split pecan wood smolders in the burner. Kinsey does paperwork, the least-fun part of running a barbecue joint, until around 9 a.m., when he loads in the remainder of yesterday’s ribs reheating. These are always the best ribs, made that way by an extra night of cooling in foil with flavors setting up. The doors open at 11 a.m. By this time, the Texas-style brisket has been slow-cooking in the monster for 18 hours since being laid in the previous afternoon. Now, it comes off the rack and goes on the serving line. The main crowd hits around noon, and it does not take long to reach maximum occupancy of 75 diners. The rush dies down around 2 p.m. A few folks trickle in during the afternoons, and the dinner rush fires back up from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Kinsey’s crew cleans up, wipes down and closes shop by 10 p.m. It has been that way since Bowie’s was built in 1983. The joint was founded by Brookhaven businessman Mike Land, then an advertising representative from Minden, Louisiana, with a client list of restaurants. His team built the Stark’s Family Restaurant locations in Brookhaven and Hazlehurst — the Brookhaven location eventually became Dairy Queen, but Stark’s in Hazlehurst still serves big crowds every day. “We wanted to raise our kids here, and the restaurant business was our way of getting back to Brookhaven,” Land said. Land and his wife, Brookhaven’s Vicki Arrington Land, used Bowie’s as their anchor, and he was involved heavily until 1991, when he became a professional accountant and started Land Consulting.

Story & photos by Adam Northam


Land knew he needed diversity in the kitchen to make a barbecue restaurant work in Mississippi, which lies between the competing schools of the art. That is why Bowie’s serves Texas-style brisket and North Carolinastyle pork, with a much-loved, tomato-based barbecue sauce designed to split the difference and appeal to both philosophies. “The guy I learned from in Texas would never have put a pork shoulder on his pit,” Land said. “He just wouldn’t do it.” Bowie’s barbecue sauce is a “good, medium sauce,” Land says, made from scratch via secret recipe. The only other place on earth serving Bowie’s barbecue sauce is the African Bible College in Malawi — Land shared the mystery with a missionary from the college who once visited his church, Faith Presbyterian. “It’s definitely a western sauce,” is all he will say. In 34 years, the Bowie’s menu changed once when catfish was added. That is it. Land allows no deviation. “Every time you add a new product, it takes away from 26 BROOKHAVEN MAGAZINE

something you’ve got,” he said. “When we can’t get sausage, we’re out of sausage. I’m not going to substitute.” Land says he does not keep up with restaurant industry trends, but he is hyper-aware of trends at Bowie’s. He provides all the restaurant’s accounting needs at his consulting office, performing daily sales and costs analysis and monthly inventory. “Ounces and pennies. If you don’t control that, you’re not going to make any money,” he said. “A lot of folks start a restaurant because they just like to cook, but it’s a lot more business than it is cooking. It’s not Emeril Lagasse back there experimenting with flambé.” Land said menu items at Bowie’s are strictly proportioned, and the management knows how much each item should weigh. Too little meat rips off the customer, too much rips off the restaurant. The rest he leaves to Kinsey, only the store’s third manager since 1983. Kinsey heaps praise on his employees, talks up Jesus and Jim Bowie and carries the pioneer’s namesake on his back — an American-

Customers enjoy a meal at Bowie Barbeque.

made Case Bowie knife with a 9-inch blade he keeps in a scabbard on his belt. He does not use the blade to cut meat. “I only use it on bad tippers and complainers, and only had to use it on one employee,” he said. “It’s a great conversation piece. I’ve practiced throwing it, sticking it in stuff, but I’m not very good.” Kinsey said Bowie’s is having a record year and, after 34 years, recorded its single most profitable month in March 2018. He credits the store’s success to his employees — one, Lawanda Lee, has been there for 24 years, since she was 16 years old — and this spring’s frequent thunderstorms. “When the weather gets terrible, people go crazy over barbecue,” he said. “People want a pound of this and a pound of that to hold them over until the storm passes.” But on May 1, a pleasant day of clear, blue skies, diners packed Bowie’s for other reasons. “It’s fine, good eatin’,” said Robert Foster of Natchez, who eats at Bowie’s with his wife, Pauline, every time they come to Brookhaven. “I ate somewhere else once — I

didn’t like it. When you find a good place you stick with it.” Brookhaven’s Nathan Grayson orders the pork sandwich plate and eats it alone in a small side room. He said the restaurant’s $5.95 lunch special is unbeatable. He is an economy man. “I guess you could say that,” he said. “It’s the best deal in town.” Keith May often comes over from work at nearby Sullivan Ford. It is not long-smoked brisket or secret sauce that brings him back again and again. “These are the best hushpuppies in town, I’ll tell you that right now,” he said, holding up a crisp sphere of fried cornmeal. Brookhaven’s Anna Davis has been coming to Bowie’s since she was a child, and her reason is the simplest explanation for what has kept the barbecue joint in business all this time. “You can’t go anywhere else and get anything like this,” she said. ||||| BROOKHAVEN MAGAZINE 27




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SISTERS, QUILTERS, BUSINESS PARTNERS Two retired sisters building a quilting business with quality customer service and selection


Story & photos by Donna Campbell

ardensong Fabrics began as a hobby for two sisters from the Gulf Coast and has grown into an international market that has found favor with quilters around the world. Rebecca Nations and her sister, Vivian Davis, grew up in Ocean Springs and then headed off into opposite directions to find their own adventures. Davis went to the West Coast and Nations came to Brookhaven where she served as the headquarters librarian at the Lincoln County Public Library for 39 years. Even though an entire country separated them, they still shared a passion for creativity. The women enjoyed knitting, cross-stitch, crocheting and “everything else under the sun” that involved a needle and thread. Davis, a fabric designer at Pendleton Woolen Mills for 25 years, started selling fabric at quilt shows and Nations got involved. They kept a large selection of fabrics in their inventory, each selling on their individual Etsy stores. “It got bigger and bigger,” Nations said. “After she retired and I retired we decided we had outgrown our facility for storing fabric.” Davis sold her house in Vancouver, Washington, and moved to Brookhaven within minutes of her sister’s house. They looked for land on Hwy. 84 that would be suitable for a fabric warehouse, but couldn’t find anything they liked. They finally settled on a triangular lot between East Lincoln Road SE and Mallalieu Drive SE just south of Hwy. 84. It was land owned by Nations’ husband’s uncle, Roy Shiel. “It was his garden spot,” Nations said. “We each had our own business names and we wanted to combine into a new business for the fabric business.” They combined Oak Hill Fabrics and Unbiased Fabrics — their individual businesses that had been catering to sewers and quilters since 2013 — to create Gardensong Fabrics. “We merged and changed the name and brought our customers with us,” she said. They sell fabrics and notions four ways.

Their brick-and-mortar showroom at 1888 East Lincoln Road is open several days a week. They take online orders through their website, www., and their Etsy store, GardensongPatterns. Every two years, they take the store on the road and attend the Pine Belt Quilt Show, which is held every other October. About 75 to 85 percent of their business is online, but they still get quite a few customers who visit the store. The space is 2,600 square feet and includes a showroom filled with hundreds of bolts of colorful fabric — about 1,500 patterns — and sewing notions, books and supplies. “Anything you really need to be able to sew a quilt, except machines,” Nations said. “We do not sell or service machines. We’d have to add on to the building.” A second floor over the classroom and office is used for backstock and storage.

Opposite page: Sisters Rebecca Nations, left, and Vivian Davis sell more than 1,500 patterns, sewing notions, books and supplies at Gardensong Fabrics at 1888 East Lincoln Road SE. Above: Pre-cut “fat quarters” make shopping easier for quilters on the go. A fat quarter of fabric is a one-fourth yard cut that usually measures 18-inches-by22-inches.


Nations said theirs is the only quilting shop in this area and is convenient for quilters who don’t want to make the trip to Vicksburg, Hattiesburg or Independence, Louisiana. However, quilters have been known to travel here from those areas for the perfect print. Customers like to peruse the many bolts of fabrics that Davis and Nations stock, whether it’s in person or online. The sisters try to stock items that aren’t readily available. They offer lines that some other companies don’t. They broaden the offerings to their clientele. “We’re trying to increase the availability of things that they have to select from,” Nations said. Fabric manufacturers push out lines every six months. Only basic patterns tend to see reprints. “Collections of children’s prints, whatever, they print it one time. When it’s gone, it’s gone,” Davis said. Sometimes customers will bring a half-completed project found in their grandmother’s attic, Nations said. That customer comes to them for help completing it. “We may not be able to find an exact match but we can find something that will blend with it and complement it,” Davis said. Clients also appreciate the customer service and the sisters’ willingness to share their knowledge with others. “What we’ve come to realize is that people generally have difficulty putting patterns and colors together,” Nations said. “If they come to us with an idea or they have certain fabrics that they like — they like one but they don’t know what to put with it — we will help them find things that they can put together that will look good and make their quilt or their project that they’re working on.” Davis agrees. “It’s a learned skill to be able to look at a fabric and look at a pattern and say ‘that’s going to look great, I know exactly what it’s going to look like in my head.’ Most people can’t do that. They can’t visualize.” “We’ve been working with our walk-in clients to help them learn how to do that,” Nations said. They’ll offer their customer several fabric suggestions, but encourage the client to make their own choice. They’re thrilled when customers send photos of finished projects, or bring the project in to show it off. Nations regularly teaches four-session quilting courses at the store. She wants to teach a basic sewing class for youth that may expand to adult classes if there is enough interest.


They’re closed on Mondays so they can work on orders that come in over the weekend. They fill bins with boxes of carefully measured and cut fabric bundles and take them with scan sheets to the Brookhaven post office every afternoon. “If we miss a day we’re rally going to be in bad shape because we’re really going to have a truckload,” Nations said. They ship worldwide with regular customers in places like Australia, Sweden and Japan. “It’s because we have what they’re looking for,” Nations said. The sisters believe it’s important to give their customers same-day shipping on orders. “We know people are sitting there, they’re thinking about their quilt, they’re working on their quilt or project, they need that other fabric or they need that pattern, so we try to get it out fast so they have it in their hands,” Nations said. They are both thrilled and surprised at their postretirement success. “It’s really grown and it continues to grow. It’s been kind of a surprise really because so many fabric stores are closing. Retail brick-and-mortar fabric stores are closing all over the United States,” she said. “People are doing more shopping online. We’re there. We’re shipping. So they’re buying from us.” Quilting is an art that has passed through generations.

They’re happy to see younger quilters come in with their mothers, grandmothers and aunts to work on projects. “I think they like the process of making the quilt,” Nations said. “They’re usually making it for a family member, either just because they care about them and want them to have something handmade or they just enjoy making quilts. They love that process, the whole thought process of putting it together and creating something beautiful.” Quilts make great gifts, but it’s also an easy decoration for a room. “Some people just like to change the quilt in their bedroom every season,” Nations said. “It’s a decorative item to them as well as a useful item.” Nations sees quilters as artists. “They’re going at it from the aspect of being artists,” she said. “If you go to the big quilt shows, you’ll see some fantastic works of art that you think, ‘How did they make that out all those tiny pieces of fabric?’ But they had a vision and they made it.” Nations Davis believes quilting is a fun and creative activity. It appeals to someone with simple skills who wants to make something beautiful. Quilting projects can do that. “Make it easy, make it achievable and let them enjoy the process while they’re doing it,” Davis said. |||||


photo essay MAY/JUNE 18




In Print & Now Online on your computer or mobile device Visit



Saturday, May 12, 2018 • 9am-12pm Happy, Healthy Birthday, Aspen of Brookhaven!


Complet� Famil� Medica� LLC On May 1, 2017, the Aspen opened it’s doors to the Brookhaven Community. We would love for everyone to join us in celebrating this

Balance Assessments & Fall Prevention provided.

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special event while making sure the community is living happy and healthy. Please join us in celebrating the Aspen’s one year anniversary and welcoming Complete Family Medical to the Brookhaven community. We will have educational information available along with live entertainment, door prizes and fun games for all ages!

RiB-eye SteAk SAnDwiCHeS $10.00

(All proceeds will go to Relay for Life)

Other Hosts: St. Luke Home Health and Hospice Deaconess HomeCare Encompass Health: Home Health and Hospice Kindred Hospice Hospice Compassus Tri-Therapy Mid Delta Home Health and Hospice and Medical Equipment


Seniors face special financial issues, from being victimized by fraudulent scams to figuring out how to pay for their health care. Learn what you can do to help from a seasoned senior financial specialist and a family who has firsthand experience.

tuesday, May 22, 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm Speakers: CPA/Financial Specialist Resident/Family Testimonial Location: The STATE Room (Located Behind STATE BANK) 112 East Cherokee Street Brookhaven, Mississippi

500 Silver Cross Drive • Brookhaven, MS 39601 • 769-300-5380 • BROOKHAVEN MAGAZINE 39

photo essay MAY/JUNE 18


The four-day Mississippi Spring Fest and Fair opened at the Lincoln Civic Center April 4. Mitchel Brothers and Sons Amusements provided food, rides and games for the midway. K&B Seafood boiled crawfish nightly and The Doll’s House served food as well.



travel MAY/JUNE 18

Better than the Big Easy? S

Story by Adam Northam

he likes rosemary, lemon balm and lavender. I like orange mint. It pleases me to take a stem of the plant in my hands and rub it to release the aroma, like an Arabian genie from a brass lamp, the sweet, wet smell of fruit split in half by the cleansing punch of pure mentha like a crack in glass. The smell of cold citrus hangs on your fingers long afterward. Once, I tried to smear it into my mustache so I could smell that pleasant scent for the rest of the day. It did not work. We buy them all, my wife and I, and then some more — basil and parsley and dill and lavender, a half-dozen little black pots sprouting young, green herbs. They come from a booth at the farmers market in Covington, Louisiana, called Nature’s Beauty, where owner Alton Sanchez talks an


impressive line of foolery and closes the deal on $60 worth of baby plants bound for my kitchen in Mississippi, for smelling and cooking and sitting in the windowsill to die, forgotten, in a few weeks. We cannot go to Covington without at least one walkaround of the farmers market, where homesteaders and greenhouse growers peddle vegetables, chemical-free meat, hand-ground spices and garden-raised salsa good enough to be carried, from restaurant to restaurant, in a woman’s purse, like they do on television commercials. The farmers market is our first stop on any Saturday outing to Covington, the center of Lake Ponchartrain’s North Shore, where we hole up at a bed and breakfast to read away the day on cheap, used paperbacks before coming out at night to enjoy New Orleans-quality dining without actually having to cross the lake and fight through the Big Easy’s almost 400,000 people.

Covington is far enough from Brookhaven to satisfy the urge to get out of town, but close enough to do it on an unplanned weekend — it is 104 miles to the south down I-55, a little less than 90 minutes driving at 75 mph, with allowances built in for a few applications of brake in case the man is on patrol. There are plenty of places to stay in Covington, but my wife and I prefer the Camellia House Bed and Breakfast, a block south of the old downtown just off Hwy. 190, an old and high-ceilinged home chopped up into private rooms where you can drop the thermostat down low enough to form a layer of condensation on the king-size farmhouse bed or cover up with a blanket outside and sleep on well-worn wicker furniture on the private balcony. We have done both. The farmers market is nearby, and so is H.J. Smith and Sons General Store, a relic of a business that sells hardware and military surplus gear, and operates a small, free museum featuring Covington’s past. I love military surplus gear, and was saddened the day I realized the reason none of the old

Eastern Bloc army uniforms sold there will fit me is because there are no fat guys in the military. I bought a boonie hat and left. Up the road is Columbia Street Seafood and Poboys, a fresh fish market on the edge of town where my wife shops in wonder as I sit in the car. As explained elsewhere in this magazine, seafood is not my bag, though my wife says Columbia Street has the best and freshest catches in town. She says a good seafood market ought not smell like fish, which I don’t really understand, but apparently Columbia Street does not smell like the very food that keeps it in business, so we stop there with hundred-dollar bills and leave with iced-down coolers of seafood. Once, a box of frozen crabs thawed out on the way back to Mississippi and began clicking and popping in the back of the car, bewildered, as I was, by their undeath. Covington also has one of Louisiana’s three 2nd and Charles stores, a second-hand book store that also sells vinyls, comic books, posters, T-shirts, used movies and classic gaming consoles and games. BROOKHAVEN MAGAZINE 43

When a Books-a-Million or a Bookland dies, a 2nd and Charles is born. The store is a nerd’s paradise, with old Nintendo games and action figures and psychedelia rarely seen outside of college dorm rooms or the basement at your parents’ house. The thrift reader can load up on five-dollar paperbacks — last time I visited Covington, I bought a copy of Cormac McCarthy’s “All the Pretty Horses” with the few dollar bills in my pocket and knocked it out in a day. It would be nice to have a 2nd and Charles in Jackson. Down on the commercial end of Covington, near I-12, is a Movie Tavern, a theater with a bar and grill where waitresses take your order during the previews and bring you food to eat during the movie, which you watch from the comfort of a reclining seat with a folding tray for dinner. I was there with my wife when the second “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie opened last year to high dollars and awful reviews — in a room filled to capacity with 30-something housewives, I spotted the only other male in the building, barely visible on the other side of 100 feet of bleached blonde hair and moving martinis. We made eye contact and raised our glasses to each other, then the poor man was swept away on an estrogen tide as the room rushed to find seats in one of the theaters. I know I will see him again in heaven. Eating at the Movie Tavern is a novelty — the real draw of Covington is the restaurants. Thanks to Pepe’s Mexican Kitchen, I now despise any other Mexican restaurant’s

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queso dip. The Chimes is the only place on earth where I would spend $8 on a bowl of boudin balls and then drop another $35 for a steak and baked potato. Guess what my wife orders at The Chimes? Yes, it is seafood. Rossi’s Philly Cheesesteaks is back on 190, right across the street from the Camellia House. The owner is, amazingly, from Philadelphia, and the phillies he serves there in Covington are bite-for-bite matches to the real deals sold by rolling vendors on the sidewalks of Brotherly Love. I know, I had one when I was 18 — we were a few hours outside of Philly, headed into Amish Country, and someone else on the senior trip handed me a leftover. It was amazing, but Rossi’s are better because they come heated up. The Covington Brewhouse is also in the old downtown, serving a dozen Louisiana craft beers. Any number of the little bars and restaurants in the historic district can fix you up a decent BLT and a side of fries, and Acquistapace’s Covington Supermarket is a fancy grocery store with farmraised meat and sweating wheels of cheese. It also claims to have the biggest liquor store in Louisiana, and when you’re staring down 50 feet of whiskey stacked head high and $3,000 bottles of wine with French writing in locked display cases, who can argue? Together, all these places make Covington a good weekend trip — support local farmers, read a good book, eat some fine food and, maybe, tie one on. It works for me. |||||

Recycling in Brookhaven is successful and ongoing! 35 Gallon Recycling Containers still available at city barn upon request

Plastic bottles and jugs (1&2), steel and aluminum cans, paper, newspaper and cardboard (flatten cardboard boxes if they do not fit in your container) For the continued success of our recycling program, we remind citizens the following CANNOT be recycled: Glass, plastic bags, Styrofoam™, auto fluid or pesticide containers or any type of trash or garbage.

For more information: This ad is sponsored by the MS Department of Environmental Quality.

Having a social event? Send Us Your Photos! Brookhaven Magazine welcomes contributions of event photos. They will be subject to editorial approval and availability of space. Minimum of five photos per event.

Criteria for picture submission: A brief description of the event and first and last names of everyone in the photo that can clearly be identified from left to right, 300 dpi resolution minimum, and a contact name plus phone number should questions arise.

Photos can be e-mailed to: or mailed to: Editor, The Daily Leader • P.O. Box 550 • Brookhaven, MS 39601 OR dropped off at the front desk at 128 North Railroad Ave., Brookhaven BROOKHAVEN MAGAZINE 45

history MAY/JUNE 18


NORFIELD: Birthed by lumber, the milltown carries on without a mill


Story by Brett Campbell

he War Between the States had been over for two decades, Mississippi had been readmitted to the Union and Reconstruction had ended when the sawmill town of Norfield was established south of the town of Bogue Chitto and west of the Bogue Chitto River. It was 1884 and — though it wouldn’t be incorporated for another 10 years — the town built by employees of Norwood & Butterfield Lumber Company was fairly large for a sawmill town, and eventually encompassed stores, houses, company offices, two churches, a school and, of course, the milling operation. Look for Norfield on an online map today and you’ll find it is primarily defined as an intersection of roadways — Overpass Trail SE, running east-west; Fox Road SE, branching off Overpass Trail to run in a southeasterly direction; and Hwy. 51, running south-southwest from Brookhaven. Although at one time it was the second-largest town in Lincoln County, longtime Norfield resident Joe Brown said the community now consists mainly of a little more than 200 people, plus their residences and farmland in the unincorporated area from the Bogue Chitto River at its most easterly point and Interstate 55 at its most westerly, roughly 1.5 miles across. Its northern boundary is the intersection of Hwy. 51 and Overpass Trail, and its southern end is Mount Pleasant Lane,

almost exactly one mile down the highway. “If I was going to put up a historical marker somewhere,” Brown says, “I would probably put it at the spot where Fox Road intersects the Illinois Railroad. That’s really the center of what was the town.” On a drive through the area, the longtime timber man says, he could point out where most landmarks of the town once stood. “You’d have to use your imagination a lot,” he says, “but you can see the roadbeds still.” Like residents of most small communities with a long history, Brown doesn’t just enjoy looking back at the area’s history, however. This place is to him what it has been to so many over the last 130-plus years. It is home. The mill that birthed the town produced at least 200,000 and as much as 250,000 board feet of lumber in one 10-hour shift. The town’s name came from the partnership of Fred W. Norwood and John Spencer Butterfield — Nor-field. Norwood had founded the company in 1881, and took on Butterfield as a partner three years later. This partnership lasted until the end of the century, when Norwood sold his stake in the company to Butterfield in 1896. Members of the Butterfield family lived in Norfield in three large homes. After Butterfield’s first wife died, he remarried. His new bride did not want to live in the sawmill town, and asked her husband to build her a home in Brookhaven, the growing city north of there.


He built a mansion for her on what is now Storm Avenue and moved her and the children into the home. John himself traveled back and forth to the mill daily until he sold the company to Denkmann Lumber Company in 1918. The company operated under the Denkmann name until 1933, when production ceased. It closed due to the nationwide economic depression, and the depletion of timber in the area. The supply was no longer enough to meet the demand of a mill that size. During its prosperous years, the lumber industry of the area was as large as anywhere else in the South because of the source of raw materials. The long leaf yellow pine trees in the area had never been harvested. Felled trees commonly were more than 100 feet tall, straight, with as many as 200 growth rings and dense, close-grained hearts. The height of the industry had been 1910-1920, and most of the milled lumber was shipped north on railroads. The company’s own railroad was the Natchez, Columbia and Mobile Railroad, but didn’t go to any of those places. It ran on a short line of less than 35 miles of standard gauge rails. The “Local,” as it was called, had five to six engines, 350 log cars, a passenger coach, a box for mail and other merchandise, and box cars. The larger rail line of Illinois Central had already been in place in the area during the Civil War. Sawmills built spur lines off the main rails as needed. When the timber was cut and the sawmills no longer existed the railroads were taken up. Some company-owned lines in the area were the Moreton-Hellum mill line at Cold Springs south of Brookhaven, the Brister Mill line at Bogue Chitto and the Keystone Mill rails between Ruth and Enterprise. The railroads were meant to be temporary — the crossties were not treated and the rails were not as heavy duty as those on the long line railroads. The last timber rail line to be taken up was the Natchez, Columbia and Mobile, deconstructed in 1932. In the early years, logs were brought to edge of the track, loaded with horseand mule-drawn rigs. Later, mechanical equipment like steam-powered skidders were introduced, pulling logs to the tracks with the use of long cables. Steam-driver loaders hoisted the logs onto railcars to be transported for milling.


Photos from the collection of Joe Brown

Above: An official map of Norfield, 1912. At left: The town’s onecell jail. Opposite: Students of Norfield school, 1924. Previous pages: Norfield resident Joe Brown displays a brick from Norfield Brick Co. Town photo from “American Lumberman” magazine, 1907.

At one time, Norfield was the second-largest town in the county, according to Brown. His family has lived and worked in that community for nine generations, since well before the town was incorporated, and he is a forester, himself. The Norfield Brick Company was established to aid in the building of homes and other structures in the town in the early 1900s. A newspaper ad dated Sept. 5, 1905, reads, “The Norfield Brick Company having completed their Brick Plant, are now turning out brick for the market. The clay used by their plant has proven to be of the best, and they are prepared to give customers their prompt attention. Shipping facilities unsurpassed.” Each brick was stamped “Norfield,” and several have survived to present day. One such brick is in the possession of the Lincoln County Historical and Genealogical Society and is on display in its Brookhaven museum, along with several other items from Norfield and its mill. In 1907, the mill had operated continuously for nearly 16 years, and had processed approximately 35,000 acres of pine timber, says Brown, who has done extensive research into his community’s past. The company at that time owned another 40,000 acres, which promised another 17 years worth of mill operation with 10-hour shifts, six days a week. According to Thomas Lynwood Moak, another longtime Norfield resident and descendant of lumber company foreman Sam Moak, the general manager of Denkmann

Lumber Company also acted as mayor of the town. “The tax base for operating the town and the school was almost totally from the lumber company,” Moak said in a 1987 interview with Kay Calcote for Lincoln County Public Library. “We had one of the finest schools in the state with a low teacher-pupil ratio, a home economics department, a fine library, science library and a gymnasium. The school was called Denkmann High School.” When the company shut down production in the area, they left enough money to operate the school for two more years as a grammar school only. Beginning in the fall of 1934, students of Denkmann High transferred to Bogue Chitto High School. “The company-owned houses were sold for only a fraction of what they had cost, from a few hundred dollars down to as little as $25,” said Moak. “The houses were all taken down and used to construct houses in other places. My father bought the company office and built our home with most of it.” Today the community of Norfield has no mill and no school, but is still home to many families, some of whom — like Brown’s — have ties to the original settlement. The only original house in the community, still in its original location, is the house that was the home of Sam and Nell Moak, says Brown. |||||


social scenes MAY/JUNE 18

Junior Auxiliary The annual spring banquet was April 3.

Top left: Glenda Hux and Charlsie Estess Top right: Katie Nations, Melissa Leggett, Stephany Smith, Christy Sheppard and April Matthews Above left: Mary Lu Redd and Sherry Adams Above right: Melissa Leggett, Shannon Miller and Stephanie Henderson At left: Shelia Mason, Amber James, Brenda Orr and Katie Furr


Top left: Stephanie Henderson, Katie Furr and Anna Johnson Top right: Stephany Smith, Shannon Clark and Amy Mason Above right: Summer Williams, Kristina Mason and Latoya Butler Above left: Tiffany Blackwell, Erin Smith and Valerie Moore At left: Valerie Sterling, Mary Catherine Franklin, Mary Clare Hemleben, Kristina Mason and Laura Broxson


Relay for Life KDMC Disney fundraiser

From left, Macie Flynn and Julia Rose Allen (age 4)

From left, Kelsie McCullough, Emily Nations, Eddie Rogers, Vickie Goza and Kenny Goza

From left, Laura Spring, Michael Kane Kimble and Ashton Rials

From left, Abigail Brister, Ty’Mir Ford (age 5) and Nikki Rowells

From left, Natalie McKenzie, Kaitlyn Boyles and Anne Claire Thurman

From left, Gracie Smith and Katherine Bishop (age 3)


Heritage Family Church Music Appreciation Dinner

Top left: Alexis Smith Top right: Pastor Randal Bowling Middle left: Brenda Hamilton, Laura Spring, Anna Parker, LeAnn Jacobsen, Emily Way, Kelsey Mason, Garrison Givens, John Paul Farr Bottom left: AnanBrooke Dickerson, Lindsey Spencer, Anita Smith, Kim Prather, Taylor Dickerson, Ashlyn McEwen, Elena Smith


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NOV./DEC. 2017

JAN./FEB. 2018

BROOKHAVEN BROOKHAVEN Nurse is a ‘souper’ cook

HALL & COMPANY, WE FRAME IT FIND A NEW HOME Fenway the dog did, too



There’s no place like Homestead



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garden MAY/JUNE 18



ne of my true favorites for the early summer season is coming soon to our Mississippi landscapes. Starting mid-May through June, this plant will have some of the few, almost trueblue flowers in the plant world. So what is this plant? The common name is chaste tree or vitex, and it was named a Mississippi Medallion winner in 2002. The bloom period begins around Memorial Day on the Gulf Coast and soon afterwards in north Mississippi. The main flowering period lasts up to six weeks. The flowers are composed of many clusters of small, individual flowers grouped together on a long inflorescence, or flower cluster. In some varieties, this inflorescence can be up to 18 inches long. The color varies from lavender to lilac and pale violet. It can even be a brilliant, nearly fluorescent blue. During the initial flush, the show of flowers may resemble a hazy blue or purplish cloud. On days when there is just the gentlest breeze, you can enjoy the blooms’ delicate, slightly floral scent. We have a couple of different vitex plantings at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. One is out by the main road, and passersby often stop or call to ask about the plants. The other is right outside my office window. The straight species Vitex is a great summer plant for us, but be on the lookout for the improved Shoal Creek selection. The vigorous spring/summer flush of flower spikes are some of the largest, and they are a more intense and deeper blue than the regular species. In 2011, Shoal Creek vitex was named a Louisiana Super Plant. The adventurous and persistent gardener can find pink and white varieties. The sweet, aromatic foliage is arranged on square stems in clusters of palmate


Although their colors range from lavender to pale violet, varieties of vitex are among the few plants with true-blue flowers. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)

leaves. The foliage is dark gray-green on top and bluish gray underneath. When mature, the leaves have slightly fuzzy bottoms. Vitex thrives in our hot and humid weather extremely well, which makes this an outstanding small tree for our Mississippi landscapes. It is also a good plant for the periods of drought we have each summer. While vitex can be grown as a singletrunked tree, I think it is more attractive in the landscape when grown as a multitrunk specimen. Vitex tolerates a wide range of pruning styles and can be easily maintained as an 8- to 10-foot tree. Pruning actually promotes compact branching, resulting in a thicker, bushier

plant. Since vitex flowers on new wood, which is the current season’s growth, pruning actually encourages and enhances flowering. I prefer to keep chaste tree as a small- to medium-sized shrub, and I suggest you prune it as you would your butterfly bush. Prune back to 12 to 18 inches in the early spring just as new growth is starting. Plant vitex in partial shade to full sun for best flowering performance. These plants tolerate a wide variety of soil conditions and textures, but make sure the planting bed has well-drained soil. Bachman is an Extension/Research Professor with Mississippi State University.

voices MAY/JUNE 18

Why I love Brookhaven Why do I love Brookhaven? That is an easy answer: the people. The people who make up this community that we call Brookhaven are so unique and special. It is easy to see how we became known as the Home Seekers Paradise. If one has ever lived or worked here, one just understands what is meant by that phrase. Growing up as a child I called a neighboring town my home town, yet my family and I lived in the southwest corner of Lincoln County. I remember as a kid that it was a big deal to come to Brookhaven. One special memory I have of Brookhaven is my dad purchasing my first shotgun from the old Gibson’s retail store which was the start of my passion for the outdoors. It was in high school that I decided that I wanted to become a dentist and set my goals to become one. At that time, I was unsure of where I wanted to practice. It wasn’t until a few years later in the summer of ’93 that I found out where I would like to practice dentistry. I had been asked by a friend if I needed a summer time job to earn some income for my sophomore year of college. That summer of ’93 my friend and I worked for a local landscaping company here in Brookhaven. We worked very hard that summer, but we had a blast! It was then that I met so many people of Brookhaven and knew then this was where I wanted to practice once I finished dental school. The people of Brookhaven were friendly, respectful and hospitable. It may have been something as simple as the offering of an ice cold Coca-Cola or a glass of lemonade on a smoldering hot, humid summer day while landscaping. I look back and know God was allowing certain people in my path, so that I would eventually end up living and

practicing here in our community. Today, I still get to see some of those people from years back as well as many new faces in my dental practice. I have been practicing for almost 18 years and have been very blessed in my practice. I have a general/family practice and offer many different services in my practice. I enjoy the different procedures that come about in any given day because the days do not become monotonous with the same procedure over and over. More than anything, I enjoy the relationships that I have with my patients. I enjoy our visits and catching up on what has been going on in their lives. That is truly the reward I receive from my dental practice. These relationships are what confirms that Brookhaven is where God wanted me to serve in my career field. It was here in Brookhaven that I met my wife Kerri (a Hinds County girl, respectfully) and we have been married for almost 15 years. We have two sons: Morgan (11 years old) and Samuel (5 years old), and they attend Brookhaven Academy. We are members at Southway Baptist Church, and our church family is very dear to our hearts. We reside just outside of Brookhaven city limits in rural Lincoln County where we enjoy the peace and quiet of the great outdoors. Without a doubt, it is the people of Brookhaven as to why I love this place. It is hard to describe to some; but again, if one has lived or worked here, it all makes sense. I am very thankful to God for my career path and the people I interact with each and every day. Clay Johnston owns Clay H. Johnston Dental.


voices MAY/JUNE 18



e had climbed most of the sunbleached imperial staircase and summited the landing before I realized what a fool I had been. I saw it in her wild eyes, and knew I had made a bad call. I guess I was carried away by their response. I had asked the lady who owns our bed and breakfast for a nice place to eat, and when she and her guests at the pool down below sang out, “Rips on the Lake,” in unison, like a Baptist choir, I felt the Hungry Spirit moving and made my mind up right then, sight unseen. A quick Google search confirmed my wisdom — the famous restaurant was right on the shore of Pontchartrain, in the heart of the North Shore, a place of high palms and low live oaks, of wrought iron and gas lamps. Rips on the Lake has been doing business since the Second World War, and after nearly 80 years has a reputation for serving the best salt-fresh seafood in Mandeville. That is where I would take my wife, an amateur chef and lover of great seafood, to dinner. It would all be for her, of course. I do not eat that stuff. I am a North Alabama landlubber, and I prefer my protein to achieve weights approaching the ton, provide all the necessary meats for a country breakfast, or to behave erratically for some time after the removal of its head. But I wanted my woman to have a fine dining experience at a highfalutin restaurant, and if the meat on the menu may or may not really be dead upon its arrival at the table, that is her business. I made the decision. It would be Rips. After a clean shirt and a splash of smell-good, we arrived a half-hour later on Mandeville’s scenic Lakeshore Drive to perfect romantic conditions. A plump red sun was dropping fast into the far western corner of the great inland sea, its green waters up two or three feet from the heavy spring rains. Red beacons blinked across the choppy waters from New Orleans, 22 miles south and barely visible through the evening haze, like the far-off boundary of some other world. Sea birds glided on the unending breeze, singing their ancient and beautiful songs to each other, to us. The cool breeze prickled our skin. We held hands like some hopeless teenage lovers in that forever moment and turned to find our restaurant. Then it all began to go wrong. “That’s our place,” I said, pointing at the double staircase. “Where?” she asked, looking curiously at 58 BROOKHAVEN MAGAZINE

Rips atop its 17-foot flood poles. “Up there?” “Yup. Let’s go,” I pulled her forward, not seeing. After a tall climb up one side of the big staircase, I reached the restaurant’s patio first and beheld the high-dollar sights — shining silver cutlery resting on long white tablecloths, the soft yellow glow of flickering candles, well-dressed young men sipping headed craft beers while their half-naked wives drank fruity liquor and laughed loudly at beautiful children. Here was the playground of the wealthy and carefree, and for the next hour we would steal in among them, dining on fifty-dollar steak and seasoned shrimp and handmade bisques with recommended wines. I turned to my wife, grinning, pleased with my discovery. But the look on her freckled face killed it all. Her eyes were wide and wild, darting everywhere like she expected a tiger to pounce on us from behind the rich folks. Her lips were pressed together tightly and her face was flushed. She was breathing fast. She reached out for my untucked shirt and gathered it in her fingers and held onto it like a rescue rope. “Are you OK?” I asked. “Um-hmm,” she mumbled, unable to speak. The host sat us inside the restaurant’s tight dining area, almost shoulder to shoulder with other guests in a tight, white square. My wife fumbled with the menu and could not decide what to order. She ignored her cold glass of water. “Ain’t you thirsty?” I asked. “I don’t think I can swallow it,” she said. For some reason, my wife’s body, her heart, her entire self was clenched tight, like a toy in the hands of a jealous child, or a world in the first of some nervous god. Then I remembered, too late. My wife is acrophobic and claustrophobic. And there we were, 20 feet off the ground in a small, busy dining room with 25 billion gallons of water outside. In my rush to find finery, I brought her to a place of terror. In my haste to do right, I had done wrong. Carrie was not always so easily frightened, but several years ago on the upper floor of a doctor’s office a man with a stethoscope and an ultrasound apologized deeply and told her, “this baby doesn’t have a heartbeat,” and afterward she had to come down from there on the elevator, a lift that had raised her up from

one future and then dropped her down to a different one entirely, trapped in a tiny box of gray steel all by herself when, just an hour before, she had not been alone. The loss and misery tends to come back whenever she gets off the ground, so these days the Northams keep our feet on the dirt and take the stairs, if we go up at all. In my rush to impress, I had forgotten all that. I was ashamed I had dragged her up there, high above the powerful waters, like some ignorant stranger and not a good husband. She was starting to cry when I asked if she wanted to leave. “I don’t want to ruin this,” she said. “Let’s get out of here,” I said. I dropped a twenty on the cloth and told the host something had come up and the table was back open. I held my wife’s hand on the stairs and we walked back down the length of the lakeside park and I rubbed her back while she caught her breath and the heat finally ran out of her face. We sat a while on a wobbly park bench listening to the birds. She loves to watch the birds. “You know, you could’ve married somebody who liked to have adventures,” she said. “Yeah,” I said, “but then they’d have worried the heck outta me.” I made a new plan for what she needed instead of what I wanted her to have. Instead of joining fine folks for market-priced meat on silver platters, we walked around the corner to the Beach House Bar and Grill and sat on iron patio furniture beneath a tin roof, sharing a nine-dollar plate of cheese-and-bacon french fries on a mess tray. We sat next to a man in a 1970s cowboy outfit with matching belt buckle and ridiculous white boots that looked like they came out of Elvis Presley’s closet, and happy children dumped buckets of sand on one another’s heads in the play pen. Our waitress wore a tight T-shirt, smelled like cigarettes, and was excellent. And we talked and laughed and enjoyed ourselves there on the ground, among our own people, where we are supposed to be, where I will keep us next time, and every time after that. Best french fries I ever had. Adam Northam is managing editor of The Daily Leader.


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Brookhaven Magazine May/June 2018  
Brookhaven Magazine May/June 2018