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.