Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sad smile sweet friend

I really don't want my blog to turn into an obit page, but some people were so special to me that I can't help but want you to know them through me.  This past week I said goodbye to my closest childhood friend, Wayne Carter Gulledge, attorney of Flowood.  Here are some of the remarks I made at his memorial service.

Thanks to a special friendship between my parents, Hayley and Marjorie Dandridge and Bill and Elizabeth Gulledge, Wayne was my constant companion from the time of my birth, exactly three months after his, until our high school paths took us in different directions.  But we have stayed in touch via email and letters ever since.
I want to tell you some of the things about Wayne that made him special to me. 
Sketch of Gulledge in his law school days. 

You see, I became an organ donor for Wayne at the age of 6…not in the ordinary sense of the word.  The night before I went to Oxford to have my tonsils removed, he called and asked my mother to save my tonsils for him if, “They were an acceptable specimen.”  I guess they were. We brought them home in a jar.  For the next few years when we started science in school, he would bring them in proudly and plop them on the teacher’s desk, much to her horror, and say, “These are Nancy’s tonsils.”

They eventually decomposed and lost their shock effect. When I had my appendix removed the next year he made the same request.  My appendix must have not looked too good, because the doctor said NO.

We had so many wonderful childhood adventures.  I was a typical giggly girl and Wayne was always beyond-his-years-smart.  When we toured the Wonder Bread factory in Memphis, I ate the center out of my bread before we got home and his was preserved in pristine shape until mold set in. 

Christmas at the Gulledges' with Bill Gulledge
I always got great Christmas presents, but Wayne’s were super-great and I couldn’t wait every Christmas to go over and see what he got….a robot, additions to his full-size train city in the basement, loads of fireworks. I was scared to go in his room because he delighted in my horror of his pet tarantula spider, various toads, and even a pet snake. But Wayne was an avid animal lover of the more normal variety of pets from childhood to the present.  From the collie of his boyhood days to the many cats over the years, animals were a vital part of his life.

He even found more delight in my horror of his hero, The Monster of Ceremonies SIVAD, host of Fantastic Features. He would call when it came on and make me watch it with him over the telephone and when it got creepy I would hang up.  When SIVAD himself made a live appearance at the then-Gloria Theatre, he had SIVAD sign his arm and refused to wash it for days.

He was an interesting boy who could spend hours looking through gravel for fossils; would go through piles of coins, hoping for a rare find; and he amazed me that he could place a magnifying glass just so and start a fire which he did when we camped once at his family’s farm property. My fires never lit.

When I did my girly giggle or got over-excited about one of our adventures, he would look at me over his glasses and tell me not to “get overjoyed” or to “compose myself.”

What I really want you to know about Wayne Gulledge is that he was ridiculously-intelligent, a sweet soul, funny, witty, serious, well-read, firm in his beliefs and a true eccentric.  When I sent him the name of a fiction author I was reading this summer, he informed me that he was reading non-fiction these days…accounts of religious relic research……outsmarted again.

I checked Wayne’s Facebook page last night and found many remarks from his friends in Jackson, many he had counseled through their own dark times.

So it is with a sad smile that I remember my friend, no more tears, you know he would tell me to “compose myself.”

My favorite pic, from the Tom Thumb wedding.
We were groomsman and bridesmaid.
Not sure he was sold on all
this pageantry.

Wayne C. Gulledge, 59 of Flowood and Senatobia, attended Senatobia City School, Harding Academy and Memphis University School where he graduated with honors.
Gulledge graduated with honors from Davidson College where he majored in pre-med.  He completed his Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1979.
While living in Flowood, he was an active supporter of Alcoholics Anonymous at the Jackson Chapter where served as mentor and counselor.
An avid animal lover, he supported MARL (Mississippi Animal Rescue League) in Jackson.
His parents, William Ralph Gulledge and Elizabeth Carter Gulledge, long-time Senatobia residents, preceded him in death. Survivors include his sister Anne Gulledge Boling (Charles) of Senatobia; a brother William Ralph Gulledge Jr. (Liz) of Springdale, Utah;
Nephew Jeff McGee of Senatobia; nieces Suzanne McGee Creekmore (Robert) of Senatobia; and Ashley Gulledge Franzen (Doug) of Seattle, Wash.; and several great-nephews and many friends.
Gulledge was a member of the church of Christ. A memorial service was held at the Senatobia church of Christ Nov. 6 and another service will be held in Jackson Nov. 15 at the Raymond Road AA. 
The family requests that memorials be made to the Senatobia-Tate County Animal Shelter.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Historical home in Barr shines

Thanks to the Democrat-Record for publishing this story on a historical home in our area. It just happens to belong to two of our best friends.  Check the beautiful spread in the newspaper for a look at more of the photos of the Crockett house. 

Nestled out in the country on Crockett Road in Eastern Tate County is one of the area’s most interesting historical homes.  Now occupied by Randy and Susan Crockett, the 120 year-old home is a sanctuary for birds, flowers, and friends.

Originally a dogtrot house consisting of two rooms and a porch, the house has had several renovations over the years, but the original log walls are still visible in the main part of the house. The house had been vacant for a period of six years following the death of Annie Dee Crockett who was born (1900) and died (1986) in the log cabin built by her father Samuel B. Crockett.

Miss Annie Dee never married.  She enjoyed a full life there in the little house where she tended flowers and was visited often by friends and relatives.

 According to Randy Crockett, the house had an addition that was in bad repair when he moved in, so he tore that out and remodeled the kitchen area.  “There is nothing straight about this house,” says Susan. “We knew the floors were not even and the windows were crooked. The house sits on logs for the foundation, so it is too low to the ground for anyone to get under.”  They later found out that Samuel Crockett was blind in one eye, which might explain why things are not quite straight.

Susan thinks Samuel Crockett used hand tools to construct the two-room structure.  Eventually the dogtrot was enclosed and a front porch added.  It had two original fireplaces.  The front door to the house today is the one that was placed there when that first renovation occurred.

Also original is one wooden gate post and decorative wire fencing of the period. On either side of the gate stand cedar trees, well over one hundred years old. Some believe these to be the oldest standing cedars in the county.

Cistern signed by Walter B. Crockett
Susan, who is an avid gardener and bird watcher, says she knew she loved Randy when they got married but says, “I would have married him for the dirt.”  She says she is blessed with great soil on the place thanks to Miss Annie Dee’s love of flowers and the vacant state of the yard for six years that let leaves and grass compost and enrich the soil.

Unusual objects are found in the flower beds surrounding the house include an antique plow, chamber pot,
old wash bucket and fountain turned bird bath. “People know I love old rusty things,” says Susan. “They give me things, and if they are not working, I plant them.”

One of those objects is a “planted” cistern that is signed by Randy’s great-granddaddy, Walter Barnard Crockett.  The inscription reads WBC January 31, 1922.  While Walter Crocket did not live in the house, he was a relative of the home’s owners, and put in wells and cisterns for a living.

On days when the temperatures are not near 100, the Crockett’s can sit on their back patio and watch the hummingbirds that come back every year.  “This year we have had about 200,” says Susan.  “If it rains or cools off, I have almost a solid wall of birds.  You always have a few mean birds that want to be the only one to drink from a particular feeder.  I call those birds ‘meanies’.” She estimates that she is making two gallons of nectar a day. 

The Crocketts do light construction, painting and minor renovations. After a hard day at work in the Mississippi heat, who wouldn’t like to sit on the back patio of a 120-year-old house, watching birds and looking at flowers, while horses slowly swat their tails in the nearby pasture.  The Crocketts feel very much at home.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Big Dose of Horse Medicine

I haven't felt great lately.  Today, instead of going to bed after church or reading a book, I decided to do something about it.  The perfect pre-fall weather triggered in me the need for a ritual that has been part of my whole life, except for the past 11 years or so.

Every Sunday in my childhood times, I went with my Daddy to the farm and rode his old mare Penny (whom you have read about before) while he did small tasks, always keeping an eye on me.

"I sure wish we had an arena to ride in," I'd say.  "Go ride in the orchard," was his reply.  "Be happy with what you've got."  I had it all and didn't know it.

We rode down what is now Dandridge Road, across Highway 305, down in the "bottom" land.  Later I graduated to other horses and brought my three children with me.  They rode ponies that balked and ran up banks, just to make them squeal.  The kids finally won, and we ended up with a couple of good ponies.

I was so lucky that when Daddy was unable to take us on a Sunday ride, we had a nearby farm neighbor who led us on great trails.  We rode around cotton fields and over ditches.  Sometimes I'd look back and see the smallest pony, Nugget, chest-deep in ditch water while the other horses were taking it about knee-level.  The kids just stuck their feet out and rode through.

My youngest daughter and I continued the Sunday afternoon riding ritual when we had our last show horse at a local trainer's barn.  As soon as we got home from church, we shed our Sunday clothes and put on jeans and boots and headed over to the barn for a lesson or just some riding.

Until today, I hadn't ridden since we sold that last show horse in 2003.  The Sunday ritual called, and I put on my back brace and went to ride.

Growing up with Quarter-type horses, I wasn't sure about this spotted saddle horse my daughter put me on, but we got along great.  My back was sore, the stirrups rubbed my bone spur in the wrong place—even my saddle squeaked with neglect.  This is the saddle I bought for another daughter and paid it off $25 a month for what seemed like forever.

That saddle is like me.  Still looks OK at a distance, but its parts are a little dry and rusty.  But on this beautiful, slightly cool day, I felt totally rejuvenated.  I may be in some health professional's office this week, but it was so worth it.  Sometimes things get in your blood that just can't be ignored.

Oh, and we had some pretty good conversation on the trail.  My heart is happy.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Here She Is

For the price of a ticket ($1) you might be the lucky person to win this
beautiful row quilt made by members of
Loose Threads Quilters.  Proceeds go to the
Comfort Quilt Project that provides lap quilts for cancer patients
at West Clinic in Southaven.
Quilt hanging at Cotton Treasures in Senatobia.  Tickets available
at Cotton Treasures, Tin Roof Market, both in Senatobia; and at Sit and Rock in Oxford. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wrapped in Comfort

If you have never been a cancer patient, never had a friend or relative who is a cancer patient, never been to a cancer treatment center, you cannot image the reaction of Wings Coordinator Karen Sudduth at West Clinic in Southaven, when Loose Threads delivers their bi-annual shipment of quilts.

Karen cries every time.

Treatment rooms are cold sometimes.  Many patients come without someone to hold their hands unless it by one of the wonderful volunteers at the clinic.  Karen says when she gives a patient one of our quilts, she is rewarded with a huge smile, sometimes a tear.  What makes someone feel more loved than being covered in a hand-made quilt?  
President Virginia Rhynes (left) and Elinor Baker
present Karen Sudduth (center) with
a recent quilt shipment.

I hope they spend their treatment time looking at each fabric in their quilt.  Many will be reminded of quilts long ago made by their grandmothers, quilts found in attics, quilts still on their beds.

Loose Threads quilters in Senatobia have been making Comfort Quilt, little lap size quilts, for the patients at West Clinic for three years now.

While we have had many donations of fabric, our "stash" is running low.  Last spring while on our quilting retreat in Alabama, we saw a row quilt and were inspired.  That's a quilt where each member donates a row.
No rules except in the width of the row.

Members show off some of the quilts in the last shipment

We came home and looked through our stash and decided to make a row quilt to raffle.  Funds will be used to replenish our "stash" of fabric or to buy batting and other supplies to make our quilts.   Many members bring their own fabric from home.

Yellows, grays and reds are the colors of our quilt.  If you can imaging turning these ladies loose to do their own thing, you can imagine that the rows were all different. Yet when we put them together and Chantay Rhone at Cotton Treasurers quilted it……..we have pure magic.

Row quilt in progress.  It could be yours!

Yes, this is a plea to support our Comfort Quilt raffle. You can purchase tickets at Cotton Treasures where you can see and touch the quilt and at Tin Roof Market, both in Senatobia.  We hope to add other merchants to the list soon.

The patients may have received the gift of the quilt, but the real gift is ours.

Chances $1 • 6 for $5 • 24 for $20

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Young journalist will be missed

T.J. Jernigan was a guy that made you sit up and take notice. I have been in a state of disbelief since hearing of his death on Sunday. TJ served as the editor of Northwest’s Ranger Rocket, the student newspaper, in 2008-09.  

When he walked in my office to ask about the editor’s slot, he already had bylines under his belt, from weekly newspapers in the state. He was serious about journalism, but always smiling.

That smile didn’t always hide his grief, having lost his sister not too long before coming to Northwest. 

When we talked to TJ about his newspaper experience, he told us, “Jim Prince owns three newspaper companies here in Mississippi: Kemper County Messenger; Neshoba Democrat and Madison County Journal.  After working for him, I realized that journalism is something I really love.”

While at Northwest TJ was named outstanding student in Journalism and was the recipient of the CPRAM (College Public Relations Association of Mississippi) Scholarship.  He traveled with the PR staff to that state conference and spoke eloquently to a room full of seasoned journalists.

TJ wrote for the student newspaper, the yearbook, and his stories were sent out through the college’s Public Relations Department.  

On the day his first newspaper came back, he jumped right in with delivery.  Not long afterward I got a call from College President, Dr. Gary Lee Spears.  “I was eating my lunch in the President’s home, and looked up and this guy with a dew rag on his head was standing in the foyer,” said Spears.  “Can I help you,” Dr. Spears asked.

“Oh hey, Dr. Spears.  What are you doing in here?”

“Well, I live here TJ.  What are you doing in here?”

“Oh man, I thought I was in the education building.  Oops.”

His byline gained national attention when he covered the story of Elvis’ John Deere tractor, which had been restored by Northwest Agricultural Technology students.

Over the years I have captured my share of awards—for writing, photography, service—but I was never as honored as I was when TJ chose me for the subject of his tribute speech—part of a final grade in speech. He said whenever he felt homesick, he would pull up a chair and talk to one of his PR Mamas, meaning LaJuan Tallo, Julie Bauer, Renate Ferreira and me.

After leaving Northwest he went on to study journalism and electronics at the University of Memphis.

The spring after he left us at Northwest, TJ sent us a message saying he had gotten his hand caught in the garbage disposal.  We all shrieked.  He even sent a picture of the gory, mangled fingers.  It was April 1.  “NOT funny, TJ,” we said.  “PR mamas are faint at heart.”

I will miss my friend—sweet soul, beautiful boy, picker, singer, writer. 

Friday, August 1, 2014


I have never paid for quilting on a piece that I did not do….until yesterday. I stopped at Chantay Rhone's Cotton Treasures shop in Senatobia and paid for this beautiful elongated hexagon quilt.
I did not make it.

Last year I found this beautiful quilt top, and another one still to be quilted, at the estate sale of Janie Mortimer of Senatobia as she prepared to move to Winona.

Elongated Hexagon Quilt
As I searched through the old linens that were in the sale, I found two that I thought needed saving.

     According to Janie, it could have been pieced by her mother and her sisters, and her great grandmother.  
     “My mother and aunt went back to the farm after their jobs ended to wait for their soldier husbands to return from overseas.  My mother and her sisters had been bomb inspectors at a bomb plant in Monroe County,” says Janie. “They all were talented needle women and enjoyed quilting together.” 

I found some random old blocks in grandmother's flower garden pattern and appliqu├ęd them to the quilt back which was made of muslin and reproduction 1930s fabric.  Chantay quilted it in the Baptist Fan pattern with a light gray-blue thread.  It was hand-pieced nearly 65 years ago.  There is not a tear or stain, thought the fabric is getting a little fragile. 

I know I can't save every old building, every stray dog, every mistreated horse, but I saved this quilt!

Baptist Fan pattern and quilt label. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Rotten Tomatoes rerun

As most writers do from time to time, we pull from the files a column, or in this case a blog entry, that warrants repeating.

Even though tomato "putting up" time is not here yet, it's just around the corner.  So I'm reposting Rotten Tomatoes from last July.  Hope you like it.

Rotten Tomatoes

It's starting. The tomatoes are coming in....into my kitchen, that is. With the cool spring, moderate weather and rain, I was thinking maybe I would be spared the agony of the tomato adventure this year. When I think about last summer, I remember that every flat surface in my kitchen was covered in tomatoes.  I stewed them, canned them, mixed them with okra and onion for soup, made homemade Rotel and frozen little Roma tomatoes whole. They were on my table for every meal, sliced on a plate.
Every time I saw that man—my husband—coming in the house with another bucket, I cringed. My back ached from standing on my little gel mat peeling, slicing, stewing tomatoes.  What makes all this work unbearable is that I don’t like tomatoes!

Every summer of my childhood, I watched as my mother, father, grandmother and great aunt made a big fuss about summer tomatoes.  They squealed with joy when the first tomatoes were brought home by my daddy, a farmer, and placed on the kitchen windowsill to ripen to the perfect shade of red—brighter than barn red but not crimson.
Mother had a special knife she used to peel tomatoes, the only way to serve them in our house.  No one was allowed to use the long serrated knife for any other purpose. Her tomatoes were to be peeled and cold.
Grandmother and Aunt Ruth would pile sliced tomatoes on a big white platter and place it on the table with a look of accomplishment like they had just presented a delicacy to an honored guest. 
 “Don’t you want to at least try to like a tomato?” my mother asked me every summer of my life until she died the year I turned 39. 
“No, thank you,” I would reply on my first refusal.
“Oh, come on and try one,” Aunt Ruth would say.  “You like ketchup. You should like tomatoes.  You like soup and spaghetti sauce, so you should like tomatoes.”
“But I don’t like raw ones,” I replied.  They were never convinced.
The next day at lunch they (my mother, grandmother and great aunt) would again place a big plate of sliced tomatoes, bacon and lettuce for BLTs on our 1960-style kitchen table. The ritual would begin all over again.
It was as if I were a family embarrassment. We would go out to eat or to someone’s home and they would pass the tomatoes, and as taught, I would politely say, “No thank you.” My mother would look up over her bifocals and say, “Nancy doesn’t eat tomatoes.” The hostess would give her a nodding sympathetic look. 
Since I was an only child living in a household with four adults, I was outnumbered. I never gave in.  I ate bacon sandwiches—just bacon and mustard.
How could anyone who loves being Southern as much as I do, not like tomatoes? 
I endured all this questioning at home and thought it would stop there.  What did I do but marry a tomato-loving man from a family of tomato lovers?  Same scenario plays out every time there is a family gathering.
It also happens with my friends. We go to a restaurant and I order the salad without tomatoes. One says, “You don’t like tomatoes?” with that squinty look of disbelief.  I might get a taco and say, “Please hold the tomatoes.”
“Hold the tomatoes?  It’s not a taco without diced tomatoes."
It sounds like a broken record that will not stop playing, like the movie Groundhog Day where Bill Murray wakes up to the same day over and over. 
I must admit that I do like fried green tomatoes. That’s just because they are in the same fried family as a French fry, and you can put ketchup on them. Maybe that gets me back in the good graces of my family, friends and in-laws. If I lived in the Mid-West or the North and didn’t like tomatoes, would it be such a big deal?
So, I'll say it again. I don’t like tomatoes! Furthermore, I don’t like turnip greens or anything else that looks like dandelion leaves. And while we’re confessing Southern sin, I don’t enjoy or think I would have liked William Faulkner at all.  So there!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Five Star City Fest kicks off this coming weekend in Senatobia

After months of planning, our week is finally here!  The first annual Five Star City Fest is set for this Friday, May 9; and Saturday, May 10 in Downtown Senatobia.  When the festival committee gathered in January and began thinking about this new two-day, much-expanded festival, we all glazed over with a look of disbelief.

Penny Hawks Frazier, festival chair, and Don Embry, director of Parks and Recreation,  discuss banner placement for the Kid's Fest area.
Why would this group meet hours on end, make phone calls, send texts, check email, organize food vendors, map out logistics of downtown, design banners and ads, make almost daily posts to our Facebook page; talk to bands, talk to beverage companies, talk to arts and crafts vendors; recruit sponsors and volunteers, deliver posters to merchants, book entertainment for Friday and all day Saturday on two stages?  I'm sure I left out something. It was more than you can imagine.

The Festival Committee begins work in January. 

Why, I asked?  Because it is obvious that we love Senatobia. Our Facebook page last week reached 3,700 people, with 548 of them actively engaged in the posts.  Not only are native Senatobians interested in the Revitalization and Restoration of Downtown, but also newcomers to the area.

Response from the community has been unbelievable.  Sponsors were proud to be a part of this new effort. Volunteers, almost 100 of them, signed up for the many jobs required for a festival of this type.

One of the many vendors, Frugal Frocks, from Senatobia.

Nothing would make me happier than to see this festival blow a breeze of renewal into our community. From here, there are so many possibilities.

Come out Friday night for the Downtown Dash, crawfish and shrimp boil and other great food, and entertainment by Mark "Mule Man" Massey, The Burning Magnolias, and Dr. Zarr's Amazing Funk Monster.

Saturday you can visit nearly 75 arts and crafts vendors, listen to more great entertainment, go to the car show, check out the food court, and see the vastly-improved Kid's Fest activities.  It's gonna be great!  Rain or shine.

Lane and Susan Tutor at the 2012 May Fair. Tutor has been the
longest participating arts and crafts vendor since the original festival began 20 years ago. 
Senatobia's Mark "Mule Man" Massey will kick off entertainment Friday night at 6 p.m. followed by Burning Magnolias and featuring Dr. Zarr's Amazing Funk Monster. Tickets are $5, and children under 12 when accompanied by an adult, will be admitted free.

Glenda Neal, TCEDF, and Volunteer Kay Minton, sort directional signs. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Copeland, a giant in more ways than one

Do you ever just wake up thinking of someone?  I did today. I've been thinking about my friend Paul W. Copeland who was the engineer for college radio station at Northwest where I worked from 1978-1988, and before as a student in the 1973-'74 school years.

Paul Copeland
Brightleaf Amateur Radio Club, Greenville, NC

So I did a google search, and found that Paul had died in 2011.  I didn't even know.  He and his family had left Senatobia in 1984 when he took a job as a field engineer in Greenville, North Carolina.

I felt a mixture of sadness and richness. Not everyone has the chance to know someone like Paul.

A commanding figure at 6'4" and weighing an estimated 350, wore his black hair combed back and sported a long beard. You could usually find him clad in a long-sleeved shirt with overalls—year-round.

As a student, I was afraid to even ask him a question.  Soon after I got to know him, that gruffness disappeared. He taught me a little about refinishing antiques, and even talked me into doing some tombstone rubbings.

Paul Copeland Rocketeer Photo 1975

Gruff, you say?  There was no bigger heart around. Paul and his wife Charlotte were foster parents to more than 21 children. They loved and cared for them, and when they left, they were sad.  He was also a former Boy Scout leader.  He looked so spiffy in his uniform.

Paul grew up in Memphis. He got his communications training in his ten years with the U.S. Navy.  While he was at Northwest he was instrumental in writing and receiving numerous telecommunications grants. He kept the equipment fine tuned and was willing to work on air, weekends, sign on at 6 a.m. or sign off at midnight.

His little shop at the end of our hall was always a mess.  Test equipment hummed and lights blinked.When Paul talked about amps and meters and frequencies, his eyes would light up the way most men do when they talk about women! We knew we better not go in that shop to straighten up.

A classically trained pianist, Paul's musical passion was playing with The Dixie Bluegrass Boys, and he was a member of the Memphis Area Bluegrass Association.  He did a few vocals and played the dobro.  In case you don't know what that is, it is a guitar shaped instrument with reflective metal in its body. When it was inverted with its concave surface facing up, it resonated.

One of my favorite memories involving Paul was going to hear him play at the Lucy Opera in Lucy, Tenn.  This was back in the mid-1970's.  When you drove up to what looked like an old school building, you saw people collected in small groups—picking'.  Some were old guys, some young (with long hair…it was the '70s), different music, different techniques.  Then you could go inside and hear the groups take the stage.

Since Paul went there every Saturday night, he recorded the sessions and we broadcast them on our public radio station.  How cool!

Another lifelong hobby for Paul was being a HAM radio operator. For more than 56 years he used the call sign K4KCS.

All of us who worked with Paul were enriched by his many interests. He left his wife Charlotte, three children and one grandchild.

"73 to you all, this is K4KCS signing off.

Paul Copeland drove in from North Carolina for a reunion of the Dixie Bluegrass Boys in recent years.
Commercial Appeal photo