Monday, August 24, 2015

Katrina memories—share yours

This week you will see documentaries and news coverage looking back at Hurricane Katrina which slammed the Mississippi and Louisiana coast 10 years ago.  How was the weather in South Mississippi going to affect us here at the top of the state?  Believe me, it did.

Photos provided by Robert Latham

I had just assumed the duties as Director of Public Relations at Northwest Mississippi Community College.  Right before we had our football season opener, our new coach moved the team to the college's Multipurpose Livestock Arena to practice since rain was already heavy in our area.  Little did he know that there would be no game that week. Some of our sister community colleges on the coast took a big hit.

A community meeting was held in the Haraway Center on the Northwest campus.  City officials, emergency management personnel, elected officials, a local veterinarian and businessmen gathered to discuss how the city could help those fleeing from the coast.

An emergency shelter was established at the Family Life Center at the First Baptist Church of Senatobia.  Northwest cheerleaders took turns playing with the children there to keep them occupied.  Cosmetology students went over to do nails for the evacuees while they waited in the temporary shelter.

Another major Senatobia connection was the presence of Robert Latham, executive director of Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).  Latham, a Senatobia native, was there on the front lines of the disaster from beginning to end.

Latham recalls  "FEMA FCO Bill Carwile, Adjutant General “Hac” Cross meeting Governor Haley Barbour when he landed on Thursday after Katrina made landfall on Monday.  The Governor made daily trips to the coast beginning on Tuesday. "

"The photo (below, left) is of particular importance since it was the first time that the Governor’s major response cabinet members were able to get together after landfall," says Latham.  "This was right after we met him on the runway after landing in the previous picture.  Charlie Williams, also of Senatobia, who was Governor Barbour’s Chief of Staff is sitting to my left."

Latham also submitted this photo showing the sea of FEMA trailers that were brought in to provide relief for those whose homes were destroyed.

Share with me your Senatobia/Tate County Katrina memories. I'll keep them posted this week in memory of all those who suffered through Katrina.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Enchanted life in the ruins

Old corncrib with friendship quilt.
I've been an emotional mess lately.  I know I've written about family stories before.....well here I go again.  I'm working on a presentation for Quilt In the Grove, a quilt guild in DeSoto County that is set for September.

I thought I should focus on how to photograph a quilt for competition, how to take a photo for new release, and my to take an art photo, one that tugs at your heartstrings.

So I took a little trip down the road in Barr to the site of my grandparents' old home place. The Cathey Place was built in 1856 as a dogtrot house.  It was added on to, closed in, painted and was a very respectable home in the area.  It burned in 1981.

I took my favorite quilt, my friendship quilt, you know the one that made me fall in love with quilts. It was made there by a Dandridge/Cathey cousin and contains the names of many ladies in the Looxahoma/Thyatria communities.

Since I couldn't drape the 1939 quilt on the porch swing that sat at one end of the house, I did the next best thing. I hung it from the loft of the log corncrib, probably the oldest structure in the complex.  It was made of logs and probably dates to early 1800s.  It is in pretty sad shape, but I thought you'd like a preview of my presentation.  The quilt is at home, or as close to home, as it can be.

After the house burned, the ground was leveled.  Only a few small artifacts can be seen, a canning jar that would have gone in Grandmama's cellar, the rocks that formed the base around a pen for our wonderful English Shepherd Pepper's dog enclosure.  I know where every water faucet was, can see daddy in his leather shop, tack hanging in what was an old well house, grandmama's chicken house, the white picket fences that were on each side of the porch keeping the horses that occasionally grazed in the front yard out of her red salvia.

My first Lone Star on the corn crib hall gate.  If
it looks crooked, it's because it is.

I had a special tree right behind the corn crib.  We would turn the horses out and down the lane and I would sit in the tree and watch them for the longest time as they took their time working down the grassy slopes.

I can see daddy in every nook and square inch of that place. Helping grandmama plant her garden, working a colt in the round pen, sending Pepper after a stray,  pulling corn from that old crib and shucking it off the cob with one turn of his wrist to mix in the horse feed, and with Penny.  He would lead her up to the big concrete slab near the cellar door and I could mount from there.  Sometimes, he would take her himself, to gather a few strays, Pepper at his heels. I'd watch as he rode away, reins in his left hand, his right hand on his hip, his hat at his signature slant, shoulders slightly slumped from arthritis and from relaxing in the saddle.  I'd like to think that's how he rode into heaven.

You can see I didn't come from the upper class in Mississippi, but I came from the enchanted life only a few experience.   Now upstairs to sniff a little more.

Old Cathey/Dandridge Place, built 1856 burned 1981.