Saturday, April 12, 2014

The parking lot at Homestead Farms in Coldwater was packed today as shoppers celebrated the late arrival of spring.  The view in the Easter Lily house was breathtaking.  Let us celebrate as we go into Easter week.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

I want sandcastles

In this winter and gray spring that just won't turn loose, I found myself thinking about sandcastles lately.  Understand, I've never been a real beach-loving person, but sand structures bring back some great childhood memories.

My first sand building started in my backyard, nowhere near a beach.  You know you are a true Southerner if you have a tractor tire sandbox in your backyard. Since my daddy was a farmer, he provided a tractor tire for my sandbox and one for my friend Wayne.  We spent endless hours in the sand.

My first sand structures were frog houses.  That particular structure is made by covering your feet with moist sand and packing it down.  They you remove your foot and you have an igloo-type house.  Problem—I have really high arches in my feet, so when I tried to pull my foot out, my frog house usually collapsed.

Wayne, who had flatter feet, was able to pull his foot out and start the process of breaking off little sticks to cover the opening, making it look like a fort.  I just dug my foot deeper in the sand and tried again.

As a teenager I spent a good bit of time at Sardis Lake.  While baking myself in the sun, my friends and I built sandcastles.  Some built elaborate, multi-towered masterpieces. I was content to scoop up wet sand in my hand and drizzle it into abstract sand towers.  When it dried, it was pretty impressive.

No artistic Neptune sculptures for me.  Just give me wet sand to drizzle and frog houses and I'm happy. Just thinking about this makes this gray day tolerable.

Wayne and me about the time of our sandbox days.  Here we are with his daddy, W.R. Gulledge, who is sporting a beard for Senataobia's centennial celebration in 1960.  Mr. Gulledge portrayed Abe Lincoln in the centennial pageant. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

The sound of quilting

If you listen to the group of women talking as they worked on quilt projects, you heard a mix of accents—Chicago, New York, and the room was thick with the various accents of Mississippi—from Vicksburg to Senatobia.

What brings a random group of women together for a week to do nothing but sew, eat, sleep, sew more and shop for fabric?  The common passion for quilting.  The women were as varied as the colors of their quilts.  They varied in age, economic status, level of quilting knowledge, just to name a few of the differences.

Their quilts reflected those differences.  One woman had done a beautiful quilt as a memorial to her dear boy who had lived the hobo lifestyle.  She chose the symbols of hobo living to work into her quilt.  When she showed it to us, along with photos of her son, she smiled and tears sparkled in her eyes.

Some did traditional blocks, some were scrappy with favorite pieces of fabric and dresses worn long ago.

All this creativity took place at the top of an Alabama hillside in a three-story home and retreat for crafters.  We were summoned to three delicious meals a day by the ring of a silver bell.

We shared rooms and stories.  We talked about childbirth, the heartbreak of some of our children, we complained about men, and we learned from each other—lessons in life, lessons in quilting. The facility owner shared an aging Buddy to sit at our feet and watch us as we sewed. And then we told dog stories.

When we left for home we stopped and bought more quilt fabric and ate lunch.  We were hoarse from five days of talking when we returned to our respective homes.  Fabric, newly-bought, was unpacked and touched and inspected before our suitcases were sorted.

I can't wait to take my finished quilt, that looks like something you would find in a VW bus in 1969, to one of my long-arm quilter-friends.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ice Storm '94 memories bittersweet

We all have memories of the ice storm of 1994.  Here are mine.

I had three kids at home, a show horse in the back yard and a mother, dying of cancer.

After being dismissed from school, we all came home to a warm house heated by firewood.  I started sewing a horse show outfit for Hayley, put on a crock pot of spaghetti sauce, and then realized that we were in for more than I'd expected.

We moved my parents from their home in town to our house, then at Westwood on the outskirts of Senatobia.  Mother was in the advanced stages of lung cancer, had Parkinson's disease and was almost blind from macular degeneration. She required oxygen.  When trees started snapping and light poles started falling, the fire department brought me a small generator to keep her oxygen going.  Then they realized that we were experiencing not just inconvenience, but disaster.  The required every generator for the hospital and nursing home.

She really did well without her oxygen tank.  The first night we ate spaghetti and filled the living room with sleeping bags. Mother and Daddy slept in the girls' twin beds, right off the living room.  We were all warm.  We sat by the fire and listened to Daddy's endless tales of his life out West, of horses and life experiences.

Howard broke ice for Hayley's show horse to have water.  In the house, we did not have water.  As morning came, we heard mother take her first fall. She had fallen between the bed and the wall.  Jason, a senior in high school, scooped her up and put her back to bed.  She was remarkably unhurt.

Then we all looked outside and were amazed by what we saw.  Limbs and trees down everywhere.  We did have phone service and could stay in touch with other family members.  We listened to our clock radio, powered by its nine-volt battery for weather updates.

Our fireplace insert provided not only heat, but a cooking source. We baked sweet potatoes and made salmon croquettes in a iron skillet on top.  The ice began to drip, but no power would be restored for two more days.

We spent another night in the living room. My children say that the night we all slept together was the night they realized that I snored.  I'm sure they were mistaken.

Howard and Daddy were finally able to get out and go to the farm, 10 miles from town, where we now live.  When limbs fall, fences go down, and cows and horses get out.  They made the most crucial repairs to keep the livestock in.  By noon that day mother took her second fall.

She lost her balance, took a step back into the door frame.  Her force against the wood made a loud crack, and she slid to the floor.  Again, she was unhurt but sore from the fall.

Later that day, the lights came on in the city of Senatobia, and we were able to take them back to their house. Relief! She was more comfortable there and able to get around better in familiar surroundings.  After getting baths at Howard's mother's house, we came back to our dark house for another night.

We cooked on the grill and played games.  By this time, we were really getting concerned with predictions of electricity not returning for days.  We were lucky, and did get restored power by the third full day.  Others were not so lucky.  Those in rural communities faced days without power.

Clean up efforts began, and Senatobia and Tate County gradually came back to life thanks to volunteers and great emergency management.

Mother died one month to the day after the ice storm hit.  Did her death come sooner because of the circumstances?  We'll never know.  But without the storm, we wouldn't have had those nights around the fire.  I'll take that.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Time Flies for Senatobia High School Auditorium

Special to Tate County Magazine, published by The Democrat
By Nancy Patterson
Time Flies for Senatobia High School Auditorium

Citizens of Senatobia and Tate County have a real treasure right in the middle of town and they may not even realize its importance. The Senatobia High School Auditorium, built in 1938 as a project of the Works Projects Administration (WPA), is said to be one of the best examples of Art Moderne architectural structures remaining in the southern region of the country.

The crown jewels of the whole complex are the three panels, decorated with allegorical bas-relief sculptures and a sundial. If you’ve never really studied at the panels, drive by and take a closer look.
Senatobia Municipal School District Superintendent Jay Foster is aware of the value of the auditorium art. “The auditorium is still used by the school on opening day, for programs and such. It remains in good shape, and it was renovated in 1998,” he says.  “The wings on either side are not in good shape.  They are mostly vacant. We do use space in one wing for our IT department.”

Foster says the school has plans to do something to keep those structures stable.  “We have looked at grants and other resources to help us make some needed renovation.” He says the Mississippi Department of Archives and History has looked at the structure and hopefully, will make recommendations.

Memphis artist Dale Baucum, originally from Senatobia, and a 1969 graduate of the school has done extensive research on exactly what the panels mean.

Dale Baucum
“The similitude of the two panels concerning education and the necessary mission to harness the forces of nature is displayed by the relative size of the human figures. Their bodies are rippling with muscles and a sublime attitude that humans can control their culture,” says Baucum.

"The large gear on the left or west panel represents the mechanical age. That age produced some of the most amazing devices ever dreamed of.  Mathematical science is at its best with all the strict requirements of presses and mills and farm machinery.  The human figures appear to be almost Roman or Greek and representing two of the greatest times of thought that led to oceans of learning. 

 “This puts the entire message on a very high plane... enlightenment flows from above and is yours ...if... you are smart enough to soar to the source and return with the gift (education, understanding) and then put it to work by sharing and building.” Baucum is amazed at the multitude of structures in the background.

The two panels are separated by a sundial, with its message “Time Flies.” Sadly, the artist of these works is unknown.

This is by far one of my favorite historical buildings,” says Mary B. Ayers, supervisor of Design and Compliance at Northwest Mississippi Community College and a 1995 SHS graduate.

“The interior of the building is beautiful as well.  I know the building function and efficiency does not correspond with the current needs of the school, but I do wish it could be utilized and/or restored in its entirety before deterioration progresses too far.” Ayers has an interest in the building interior since she earned a degree from Mississippi State University—a Bachelor of Human Science with an emphasis in interior design. 

Mary B. Ayers

 As to the artistry itself, Ayers says, “Part of the WPA focus was to use local materials and local labor, so in areas distant from stone quarries, cast stone and even precast concrete facades were common, in lieu of natural cut stone.”

The auditorium and adjoining wings sit on the original site of the Blackburn College for Women. Building contractor for the project was Wessell Constructions, and the architect was Hull and Drummond of Jackson, according to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory.

The $110,000 project was supervised by then-superintendent J.W. Whitwell and the school board, according to Senatobia Centennial Souvenir Program 1860-1960, published in 1960.
Wings, also in Art Moderne style, were added in 1959 and 1965, according to the website, a blog that is devoted the architectural preservation in the state. (Dr. Susan C. Allen, who blogs as, Suzassippi.)

What we do know is that the high school and its auditorium were one of thousands of projects of the WPA.

When the Great Depression hit in 1929, the American economy hit rock bottom. In 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced “The New Deal,” a series of programs designed to get America and the economy moving.

The WPA was one of those programs. It funded the arts, history and culture of America and employed out-of-work Americans who were certified by local agencies after meeting certain criteria.

The WPA began in 1935 with an appropriation of $4.88 billion dollars from the Emergency Relief Fund. Over the years, it employed an estimated 8.5 million Americans, and spent a total of $11 billion dollars. The typical WPA worker was paid $15 to $90 a month.

Although WPA lasted only eight years it was responsible for building structures such as airports and bridges and paving 651,000 miles of road. It also funded programs in the humanities.

“There are 52 WPA listings in the MDAH (Mississippi Department of Archives and History) database, but there are more than that associated with all programs of the New Deal Administration,” says Allen, who is in the process of documenting Mississippi with the University of California-Berkley project—Living New Deal. She says this project hopes to document every New Deal Administration project completed during those 12 years. 

“It is a testament to the importance of the work when one considers how many communities benefitted from projects, and many of them are still in use,” she says.

According to Allen, there are 32 post offices in Mississippi built with New Deal funds, and many have murals completed under the program.  The University of
Mississippi has six buildings constructed with PWA funds (Public Works

The Senatobia High School Auditorium was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994 and is a Mississippi Landmark.  At that time, the original school building complex along with a collection of 23 principal buildings located along or adjacent to College Street in Senatobia, were designated the College Street Historic District.

For more information on the Senatobia High School Auditorium, contact the Senatobia Municipal School District ( or visit the website.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winter Scenes in Barr and nearby

This female cardinal perched outside my
backdoor in 2011.  See her male companion above.

I thought I'd put up a collection of some of my favorite Christmas and winter scenes.  Maybe words will come later.

The wreath on this barn door was captured at the DeSoto County location
of Dark Horse Rescue.  The non-profit group has since moved
their facility to Byhalia.

Snow in the tree line in our front pasture.

Jilly, my rescue border collie mix, in the show in 2010.

One of my favorite pics taken by Howard out our front gate
during a snow storm near dusk.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My mother's JFK time capsule

As the country looks back 50 years at the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, I thought I'd do a little remembering too.  I didn't have to go far. My mother, Marjorie Dandridge, had collected every magazine and newspaper she could find that covered the event. That archive was upstairs in my closet. She must have known that I would appreciate them much later in life.  Since I chose journalism as my career, I did.

Covers of Life, Post and Look magazines.

Those of us who are were living at the time all remember where we were when we heard the news.  I was in my desk in the third grade class of Miss Ruth Gillespie at Senatobia City School.  She made the class announcement.  It was a balmy, rainy November day. We held hands and walked in a line until our parents came to get us after learning that school was being dismissed early.

Of course, at eight years old, I knew who the President was, but nothing of politics.  What I did know what how the assassination of the President affected my immediate family.  My grandmother, Rena Bell Latham, and my great-aunt Ruth Cole lived with us.

These iconic images were displayed in our regional newspaper, The Commercial Appeal. 

Here is the coverage as it appeared in our local newspaper, The Tate County Democrat.  My how times have changed.

I sat with them as they watched the non-stop coverage on our black and white TV.  They not only watched, they discussed....every detail, every possibility.  When my parents came home from work, they joined the discussions. We watched the legendary Walter Cronkite's emotional announcement to the nation.

Walter Cronkite (

Thanks to my mother for saving 

these time capsules for me!

The three major networks at the time, ABC, CBS and NBC — with their four days of non-stop coverage — established television as the primary source for breaking news. Two days after the assassination, about 93 percent of NBC viewers witnessed the shooting of suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald live on their screens. TV cameras focused on every aspect of the tragedy gave Americans an unprecedented opportunity to stay informed and mourn the loss of the country's 35th president. (

Monday, November 4, 2013

One for All! Senatobia's spirit renewed

This past Saturday if you were in Senatobia, you had to notice a the look of the town, in the spirit of the community.  An invigorated Main Street Committee, with the cooperation of teams of volunteers, put together the perfect event to begin the Holiday Season.
Two buildings on Front Street donated space for the Holiday
Bazaar. Vendors like R.P. Funderburk of Horn Lake
brought their wares downtown.

The Race for HOPE, to benefit HOPE Ministries, got the morning off to an early start in Gabbert Park. Retail merchants from Norfleet Drive to Main Street in Downtown, welcomed shoppers and first-time guests.  According to Beverly Massey at Upstairs Closet, she might not have to write her yearly letter-to-the-editor encouraging Tate Countians to shop locally. "This year business is good, and we are seeing more local customers," said Massey.  "It not only helps my business for people to shop locally, it helps our economy, keeps our tax dollars at home."

I love seeing my town come together with a renewed commitment to making Senatobia a better place to live!  Next project.....The Christmas Parade!

Here are just a few of the participating merchants.  Thanks to ALL who were part of the Holiday Open House.

Live models
showed off
the latest
children's fashions
at Special Daze. 
Chantay Rhone, owner of
Cotton Treasures welcomed
sewing and quilting enthusiast
while BeautiControl
consultants talked
with guests.

All the vendors at Miller Station got the
chance to display their beautiful and unique
decor items and clothing.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Let me introduce you to Rose

I've been awake since 3:30 this morning.  Why?  Beats me.  After flopping and turning, I finally turned on the light and reached for the nearest reading material on my bedside table. I picked up a quilt magazine, McCall's Needlework and Crafts, Antique Quilts, 1974.

I belong to two quilt guilds—Quilt in the Grove and Loose Threads.  Sometimes members force themselves to clean out old quilt magazines since they seem to breed in the shelves and overflow. I got this magazine at one of those meetings, but I can't remember which.

When I opened the magazine, many sheets of yellowed paper fell out.  There was a quilt inventory from Rose Rumaneck of Fayetteville, Texas.  These were either quilts she had made or owned, and each were described and priced.

The more I looked, the more I became interested, not in the quilt patterns, though they were beautifully documented, but in Rose, herself.

She must have lived in Texas because all the articles were from magazines in the area and from the Houston Post newspaper.  I did some searching and found a Rose Rumaneck who lived in Williamson, Texas in 1920 according to the U.S. Census for that year. She was born in 1902.  That makes explains why Rose's handwriting does not look like that of a young person in 1975.  She would have been 73 at the time she collected these clippings.

She was definitely a quilter. She clipped patterns that could be used for appliqué, articles on quilting and coupons at department stores.   But she had other interests too.  She had saved an article about local opera.

There was also a recipe that she had prorated for a large batch, of I don't know what, and priced it down to the cost of the electricity.  She could sell a box of something with two dozen for $4.80.  Wonder what it was?

I also, knew I liked Rose when she had saved an announcement about a new horse vaccine being used in the area.  USDA was recommending that horse owners vaccinate for Venezuelan Encephalitis (VEE).  Maybe she had horses herself or had children who owned horses.

Well, now I'm awake for the day.  I'm glad I met Rose. I'm sure I would have liked her.  If any of my quilter friends know or knew Rose, let me know.  What an honor it would be for someone to find one of my quilt books 40 years from now. I am afraid to think what might fall out!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

No pain, no gain

Remember when you could look at an averaged-size bathroom and think, "I could paint that in a couple of hours?"  Ever since we have lived in this house for the past 18 years, I have asked Howard to build me some shelves over the toilet for storage.  We needed more storage.

Since he retired, he is trying to go through his list of "honey dos" and thought he'd knock this one out in a hurry.

He cut boards and support pieces. I looked at that wall and thought, "It would be a shame to put those shelves up when it really needs painting in here.  And it would be a lot harder if the shelves were up and I had to paint around them."

Notice I said I.  He builds, and I paint. When we moved out here, he built or had built, a barn for me because we still had horses. He found a deal on tin, painted different colors, blue, tan, red. It was my job to paint it.  And 18 years ago I painted a horse barn.  Those days are over.

I had a lovely robin's egg blue left over from the living room project, so I thought I'd paint the alcove around the tub in that color. I chose a nice Tea Biscuit color for the rest of the room.

So last Saturday the project began.  I took everything out of the bathroom and noticed how dirty the fan, light fixture in the ceiling looked.  That appliance is affectionately known as a "fart fan" by my middle child.  Where did I go wrong?

So we took it down, and YUCK.  I cleaned and bleached. The cover had yellowed so it had to be spray painted.  We are an hour into the project and no paint has hit the wall.

I start cutting in around the ceiling, and yes, I know I told my friend Terry, my doctor, and my children I wouldn't paint anymore.  Guess that makes sense considering I have chronic joint pain and just finished a round of physical therapy.  Can't let a little thing like that stop you.

Climbing up on the stool, I noticed paint on the floor.  I couldn't believe that I hadn't started painting and there were already splotches on the floor leading from the bathroom into the bedroom.  I check my shoes, yelled at Howard.  Then it hit me.  The Silkies (the silky terrorists).  I checked one, and no paint on the paws.  I checked the other, and yes she had stepped in the paint and pranced all over the bedroom with her miniature hairy Chewbacca-looking paws.

I had to clean her up and then scrub all the paw prints off the floor before you-know-who saw them.  Hour, two, no paint on the wall.

Finally about three hours later, I had one coat on the entire bathroom and two coats on the area where the shelves were going.  Then I had to go outside and paint shelves.

I was getting really tired by this time. I climbed back on my stool inside the bathtub and stood with one foot on each side of the tub to do the cutting in with the Amelia blue.  When I stepped back on the stool, I slipped and fell inside the bathtub.  I quit.   Project to be continued after sleep.

The next day I finished the second coat on all surfaces and touched up all places that were pointed out to me that I had skipped.  (errrrr)

We hung the shelves and stepped back.

Look how beautiful my sister-in-law's (Robbie Boyd) Tuscan painting looks against the blue.  And the shelves look good too, I guess.

Still there is touching up to do around the ceiling with an art brush where I got blue on the ceiling.
Pretty good job on a 12-hour project that should have taken two.  Was it worth it?

Just look at that painting!

PS:  My Mac is in the hospital and I'm using Olivia's laptop, thus can't download pics from my good camera.  Excuse the iPhone photos. They just don't do the colors justice.  Hoping for a speedy recovery for her (the computer).