Thursday, April 9, 2015

Town Birthday



Photo from September 1961. Baldwyn was incorporated in April of 1861. Correct me if am wrong on that date of incorporation.

From Phyllis G.






BALDWYN – Simon “Buddy” Spight, 83, died Saturday, June 2, 2012, at the Baldwyn Nursing Facility. He was born Oct. 4, 1928, to Shap and Hester Caldwell Spight in Pontotoc. In 1936, his family moved to the town that became his true love, Baldwyn. Spight was a veteran of the United States Navy and served 1948 through 1952. He was a 1948 graduate of Baldwyn High School. He worked at Caldwell Hospital as a lab technician and later transferred to the Baldwyn Hospital. He also worked as Chief Investigator of Lee County for many years. Spight was a member of the Sportsman’s Quartet and was part of the first live program on WTWV television station in Tupelo. He was an honorary member of the 8th Airborne and the author of two books. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Baldwyn where he served in many capacities and was a member of the choir for most of his life.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the First Baptist Church in Baldwyn with Bro. Stanley Huddleston officiating. Waters Funeral Home is in charge of the services.
He is survived by a sister-in-law, Billie Sue Spight of Madison; a nephew, Mike Spight of Kansas City, Kan.; a niece, Susan Mansour of Clarksdale; and his special friends and caretakers, Billy Roberson, Walter Gentry and Tammy Bullock, all of Baldwyn.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and his brothers, WR Spight and Tommy Spight.
Pallbearers are Robert Herring, Jeff Roberson, Harold Murley, Wylee Nance, John Olen Cunningham, John Rollegen and Mitch Caver. Honorary pallbearers are the members of the Houston Discount Drug Round Table Coffee Club and Bill Langston, Bobby Nichols and Jim Long Livingston.
Visitation will be 5 to 8 p.m. today at Waters Funeral Home. The body will lie in repose one hour prior to service time at the church.
Memorials may be made to the First Baptist Church of Baldwyn Building Fund in memory of Simon Spight.

Larry Johnson (1938 - 2014)


Larry L. Johnson, 76, of Jackson, MS, a residential real estate developer, founder of The Landmark Companies, and oil and gas investor died on Tuesday at his residence after his recent onset of cancer. 

Services will be held on Thursday, October 16, 2014 at eleven o'clock at Parkway Funeral Home on Highland Colony Parkway in Ridgeland. Visitation will be held Wednesday, October 15, 2014 from four to six o'clock and Thursday at ten o'clock prior to the services at Parkway Funeral Home. 

Johnson was born on March 3, 1938, in Baldwyn, MS to Alleene and E.L. "Swede" Johnson. Much of his youth was spent living in Baldwyn with brief stints in Nashville, TN and Philadelphia, PA. During his days as a Baldwyn Bearcat, he was a three-sport star; earning All-Conference honors in all three sports his senior year. From a young age, he displayed an independent, industrious business spirit which served as a basis for his future successes. His youthful business ventures included, but were not limited to, operating a Baldwyn dairy bar during summer vacations. Much of his business acumen was taught by his mother, Alleene, who ran the local florist shop as well as his maternal grandfather Hugh Epting, a long time Baldwyn merchant. 

Upon graduation from high school, he attended the University of Mississippi where he obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and then a Degree of Laws. While at Ole Miss, he made many lifelong friends. During this time, he learned and crafted the finer aspects of golf and playing cards, specifically poker and gin rummy. These crafts would educate him on the importance to attention, detail and "risk versus reward" concepts. 

After graduation, Larry moved to Jackson where he began his career in the booming oil and gas industry. There were many colorful individuals and exciting deals to be struck in this trade. The excitement of creating and selling the deal was always very enjoyable to Johnson. Many deals and lasting friendships were made at the Petroleum Club in those days. Even to this day, with the volatility of the oil industry over the years, he has remained an active investor and producer, playing a major role in the development of successful oil and gas ventures in Mississippi and Alabama. 

During this same time period, Larry partnered with Bill McGuffee, his father in law, to create Landmark Homes, often just building a few speculative homes each year. Probably not realizing it at that time, this joint venture would become the precursor to Johnson becoming one of the most successful residential (both single and multifamily housing) developers, constructors, and owners in the Southeast. Over the last twenty-five years, Mr. Johnson played a major role in the development of 3,000 single family lots, built over 750 homes, and the development and construction of 5,000 apartments. These projects are located in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. For all his success in these projects, by far, his greatest achievement was the ability to do so in partnership with his son, Michael Johnson. 

Later in life, philanthropy became important to Mr. Johnson. He was the sole benefactor, supporting further education at Ole Miss for five Baldwyn High School graduates. Furthermore, he established and funded a charitable foundation that will live on supporting many worthwhile causes on his behalf. 

Mr. Johnson married Rebecca "Becky" Wells in August of 2013. They found a kindred spirit in each other. The memories of their many trips and family events will live on forever. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his son, Michael Johnson, and his wife, Lisa, of Jackson. He is also survived by his brother, Robert Hugh Johnson and his wife, Dixie, of Germantown, TN, along with their two children, his nephews, Allen and Quin. 

The family would like to express its sincere appreciation to all the family and friends who have supported him over these past months. Words cannot express the gratitude and appreciation of their support, especially that of Cindy. 

He will be sorely missed. Life is an occasion - Larry Johnson rose up courageously and with gentlemanly honor to its opportunities and challenges. While he has departed this earth, his worldly impact on his many friends and family will never be forgotten. - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/clarionledger/obituary.aspx?pid=172812883#sthash.7kVHHFle.dpuf

Dr. Henry Outlaw




The collective Delta State University community is mourning the loss of Dr. Henry Outlaw, chair emeritus of the Department of Physical Sciences and professor emeritus of chemistry, who passed away in the early morning hours today at St. Dominic’s Hospital in Jackson, Miss. He was 77 years old.

Outlaw was a 1961 graduate of Delta State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in chemistry and biology. He obtained a Master’s of Science and a doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology from the University of Mississippi Medical School.

Outlaw was a professor of chemistry at Delta State University from 1966-2002 and served as chair of the Department of Physical Sciences from 1970-2002. After retiring from his position as chair, he began working as a program associate at the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State. He also worked as a development officer at the Delta State University Alumni-Foundation Office. He was a member of the Delta State University National Alumni Association and a charter member of the Dedicated Statesmen Association comprised of retired employees of the university.

Among his countless contributions to the university, Outlaw worked tirelessly to recruit students to Delta State.

He was a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Florida Medical School from 1965-66, and had been a visiting professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of North Carolina Medical School, a Fellow-in-Residence in the School of Theology at the University of the South, and was a Templeton Fellow in Science and Religion at Oxford University.

With the aid of grants from the Mississippi Humanities Council, he collected oral histories, artifacts and documents related to the Emmett Till murder and developed an travel exhibit that has won national attention. He also received the Chairs Award for Special Achievements in the Humanities.

Additionally, he was a member of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences and the American Chemical Society. In 1995, Outlaw was awarded the Outstanding Chemist Award in by the Mississippi Section of the American Chemical Society. He received the Delta State University Student Government Association Outstanding Teacher Award in 1998 and the Dr. Travis Richardson Outstanding Science Teacher Award in 2000. In 2006, he received the Chairs Award from the Mississippi Humanities Council.

In November of 2014, the National Alumni Association created the Dr. Henry Outlaw Faculty/Staff Service Award as a way to recognize former Delta State faculty or staff members who have had a significant influence in the life of the university. Outlaw was the inaugural recipient.

Arrangements are being made for funeral services. Dr. Outlaw will be greatly missed by his Delta State University family.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Ritz Theater Projectors in 1965




Baldwyn's famous Ritz Theater was THE place especially on Saturdays... These are the two 1931 Simplex projectors with Peerless carbon-arc lamp units that put those fabulous old movies on the big silver screen for us to enjoy. Shown is operator Jim Wallis in 1965.


Photo courtesy of Jim Wallis.



Baldwyn's last Theater


The famous old Ritz theater where we spent a lot of our time as youngsters. All day westerns on Saturday were great! More practical movies were shown during the weekdays and always a cartoon. One fellow, Darrell Mathis, loved the "roadrunner" cartoons - you could hear him laughing loudly outside the theater sometimes as he thought the bird was about to be captured by Wiley Coyote.

This particular time "Carrie" is being shown. Sorta dates the photo.

Image courtesy of Tully G.

Images of Town from days Gone By


Sidney M. Duncan operated this business for many years until his retirement several years ago. He passed away in 2012, I think. After he retired, it was a Barber and Beauty shop operated by Clarene Nanney and as a storage facility by some other businesses.

It was torn down but remains in our memories. The image of it was issued on a Christmas tree ornament sold by a non-profit Baldwyn organization in 2014.

Image courtesy of Tully G.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Early 1950s Christmas Parade




  After attending the very good 2012 Christmas parade in Baldwyn recently, I pulled out an old dusty photo of another one around 1954 plus or minus a year or so. I can remember it pretty well – I know I was there because I can be seen in the photo along with Rachel Christian, my friend and neighbor at the time. We school children had been primed and ready for this parade for quite some time. We were about to see some real reindeer from the Far North! And, by all indications, they were indeed. If the photo has been printed large enough, just look at those antlers!
   The Chevrolet sedan in front pulled the entire sleigh mechanism with the reindeer walking attached on each side to a single attaching pole. They had loudly ringing large bells everywhere and were really melodious. Santa rode standing in the sleigh and threw candy and laughed, but someone noticed the passenger in the front of the car had a microphone and was helping him by doing the chore of his greetings and laughs over a PA system. Santa was really busy with candy and children running to touch his hand.
   This parade started near Mort and Jack Jr.’s service station on the highway and proceeded to Main and then to Front, then to Clayton Street, then west on Clayton to the Dairy Bar lot on the highway. Some of you may not recall those particular points, but today it would be the Dixie station starting and end at the former Ford car dealer building. This was a weekday – I do not remember if school was dismissed for the holidays or not, but the crowd was staggering in number. In those days anything special was well attended, especially on Saturdays.
   Look around the town and notice the stores of the day; McElroy’s grocery on the west, then the GE store, Arnold Dry goods, Western Auto, McGee’s grocery, and the Bank on the end. Also notice the absence of the Tom’s Drug Store sign, which is still very much in prominence even today. I think it had to be refurbished once and maybe that is the reason it’s not in this photo.
   The following photowas taken by me of the parade on Clayton Street in front of the power and water compnaies. If you look close, you can find Ellis Christian holding up Dean Rutherford so he can see. This was probably the largest attraction I ever witnessed in Baldwyn for a long time.
   MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Your Wate and Fate


That's what it read on the sides of the familiar old scales that stood in front of the Ritz theater on Main Street for many years. After inserting a coin, a penny I think,  into the slot your weight and a prediction for your future was shown in a little window near the coin slot. Some of us were gullible enough to be very careful if a gloomy prediction happened to be given us. The scales are in the Baldwyn City Hall these days. They are not in working order anymore...















This was the Ritz theater in its' glorious days. The
Building was a beautiful architectural structure on the outside front. The marquee and smell of freshly
popped popcorn drew you there like a magnet. It
was comfortable on the inside. Lots of times we would emerge from the show and find that a huge thunderstorm and inches of rain had occurred without us hearing it. The pointer shows where the scales sat for decades. Ritz theater image from Memories video by Claude Gentry.


Friday, October 12, 2012

First Christian Church Worshippers

   Need some assistance in naming as many of these Baldwyn First Christian Church attendees as possible. The only ones we have tentatively ID'd is Sidney Merle Duncan behind lady in black clothing and hat on right (holding baby) who may possibly be Mrs Stults. We think young boy standing on front row second from right may be John Melvin Duke (with striped shirt). If that is so, maybe his mother Evelyn Duke is directly behind Sidney Merle.
   Your help in the identification is greatly appreciated. We think this photo could be from 1948-50 and made at the old church on North Third Street, behind waters Funeral Home.

Photo courtesy of Jeanette Young Shackleford.

Another Baldwyn Aviation Story


   A  photo I obtained from Vivian Parton Kesler recently shows her father, William "Bill" Parton and Walter Greene, a postal delivery worker, at the old grass airstrip just East of town off Clayton Street, known then as the Pratts Road.
   Bill was a local pioneer in sport flying along with many others: Mr. Duke Young and his son, Duke Archer "Arch" Young, Murray and Evelyn Duke, Mr. Claude Gentry, Carl Martin, Mr. McCary,Fred Parmenter, Barry Henderson, Gerald McKibben, Walter's son, Jim "Jimmy" Greene, I believe Ralph Pennington, and  others whose names I have forgotten.
   It was a favorite Sunday afternoon pastime to go to the airstrip and watch the planes rolled out, checked over for flight readiness, prop started (manually pulling the propeller to start the engine) and taking off and landing. Cows and other livestock frequently got in the way of aircraft landing, so we boys would get on our bicycles and go kick and bump the cow with our bikes to clear the runway. We would get rewarded once in a while with a free short ride in the sky with one of the pilots.
   Claude Gentry wrote in his memoirs of trying to land one day after a fishing trip to Pickwick Lake (he would sneak off there on lots of Wednesday afternoons when the stores in town closed for a half-day) and a stubborn cow would not get out of the way so after a couple of unsucessful close buzz-bys close to her trying to scare her into moving. He finally decided he could go ahead and land and go around her after touching down, or apply the brakes in sufficient time to stop. It didn't work. He hit the cow and the propeller killed it, damaged the propeller blade,and he had to pay the owner for the cow. (From his book Fourscore and More in Dixie).
   The picture above showing Bill and Walter is a reminder of the phrase the post office uses - "neither rain, sleet, snow, or gloom of night, etc" - you know the rest - of how Bill carried the mail and Walter to outlying areas when the roads were so icy that a truck could not be used. The mail had to get through, so they flew to a spot where they were able to land and give the mail to the recipients that had been informed when and where to meet them.
   I really miss those days at the old airport. Several times some kids would get in touch with the electric fence wire and not be able to get loose until they were knocked loose. That was funny to those of us that had done it before and knew what not to touch!

Photo from Jimmy Greene

Theaters in Baldwyn Long Ago

As printed in the Baldwyn News, 11 September, 2012
By Carl Houston, Guest contributor

I think most of the Baldwynians my age and close can recall the movie theaters in town. It was a pleasurable way to spend a couple of hours of alternate reality watching great performances of musicals with the finely choreographed dance numbers, colorful costuming, and great music. We boys and most men were mesmerized by the beauty of the movie stars and the ladies really doted on the male “heart throbs” they saw on the silver screen.
   Back in those olden days, long before movie theaters, our little town always had some means of public entertainment. There were at least two stages in town at different locations that had live entertainment, and were, in their time, a nice way to be entertained. During the early years in Baldwyn many tent shows came and did live performing and movies. They consisted of Indian, but let me correct myself, native-American actors, vaudeville actors, and others. One tent show proprietor that was usually welcomed warmly was “Daddy” Crouch, a German man who made a living with his one-machine movie. He had only silent films to be shown, and according to Mr. Claude Gentry’s memoirs he narrated vocally everything that happened in his films. He would be the voice of all of the actors, and the way he did it was well worth the price of admission alone. He always sat up his tent show just across the tracks on the left where the storage rental center is now between East Main and Clayton Streets. Bandstands, like the elaborate one by the old Home Hotel around the first part of the 20th century had live musical concerts that rivaled larger towns and cities. Former mayor Lloyd Heflin, Sr. played in an orchestra.
   When movies got sound around 1927, they then became the premiere way to be entertained. Movies, news of the world happenings that could be viewed, and even some funny cartoons that moved and talked were well received by the public, thanks to an upstart cartoon artist named Walt Disney. His characters are still entertaining us even to this day.
   When money was scarce to many families in the depression era, they could find a way to get to enjoy a movie occasionally, providing a little break to the tough times they were living in.
   I am including a photo to this story that I have had quite some time waiting for the opportunity to find some more details about it. It is the old Lyric Theater that was at Front and Main in the early1940s. It was where the Azalea Court is located now, and where the original Bank of Baldwyn was located until destroyed by the fire of 1914. Mr. Gentry rented the building from Buster McElroy for about fifteen dollars a month.
   I remember just a little of this theater, being around five years old the few times I was carried into it. When you entered through the front, you passed under the screen – the projection booth was in the rear. Most often your shadow was cast onto the screen as you scouted around for a seat and people would yell for you to hurry and get seated and off the screen so they could see the action.
   The Baldwyn Theater was on West Main Street and Mr. Gentry bought it from Mr. Audie Coggins in about the mid-40s and moved up there. He renamed it the Ritz and we all remember its’ successful operation throughout the 50s and 60s. Wow-the memories those Saturday western matinees made to young cowboys with their stick horses and at least one .45 caliber toy cap pistol on their side! Once, a B-western hero named “Sunset Carson” came to town and appeared in person with an aide-de-camp who let him shoot  cigarettes out of his mouth and helped him do other rope tricks. I can recall it very well. Other Wild West “stars” of the day appeared locally infrequently and once one drew the first ticket of the Saturday money giveaway. The town was impressed.
   Later, the Lyric was back in business in a building next to the Western Auto Store across the street from the Ritz. It had a successful run only operating on Friday nights and all day on Saturday. It was located in the building currently containing Quail Ridge Engineering.
   Here is a photo (above) I was lucky enough to find some time ago and was taken in approximately 1942 or ’43. I have read that there were many other stores in the building in later years. I only recall one – a wheelchair- bound Mr. Thomas had a shop repairing radios and televisions there for a while. I would go beg tech advice and old parts such as condensers and capacitors from him to keep my ancient radios working.

Photo courtesy Buddy Spight.