Thursday, October 23, 2008
"Big Sonny" Coleman
During WWll, a ritual of the city of Baldwyn was to turn off the electricity to the entire town at night several times during the month, possibly once weekly. The resulting darkness of the shut-down was a war effort conceived of the notion that enemy aircraft couldn't see any landmarks if they were invading the USA. Also, it was an energy saving gesture to let TVA conserve. The city officials said that it was doubtful that Baldwyn would ever be a target, but rather a navigation aid if the town's lights could be seen from the air in darkness. Hmmmmmm, no GPS devices in those days...
Those nights when the power was cut for up to a half-hour or so the old Emerson fan would stop, so to the porch swing and the evening mosquitoes we would go. The stillness and the quietness was unusual and eerie, to say the least.
The crickets continued their noise, and from across the cotton field from a house on Thomas Street we could hear Willie Coleman either singing or he would be playing a trumpet softly. He was a very good musician and had a nice baritone singing voice.
He was a choir member in the church on the Ripley Road north of town. On Sundays in the Summertime you could see through the open windows of the church and hear him above others in the hymns they sang.
The "gentle giant" was well liked by all. He would eat a large sack full of bologna, crackers, and hoop cheese from Cunningham's at each meal.
Sent by an anonymous reader:
Willie Coleman aka “Sonny Boy” and “Big Sonny Boy”, if you recall, was a very large black fellow who worked at various jobs around town, more especially at the cotton gin in the fall. He could carry around five hundred pound bales of cotton very easily. It was said that he weighed about as much as a bale of cotton.
It is told that when he went to his final reward, his service was at the funeral home that was once the Baldwyn News building on Front Street near Water Street. A special over sized casket was ordered and had to be twisted around and stood upright somewhat to get in through the largest door in the back.
After the services, they couldn't get Willie and the casket back out that same door for the trip to the cemetery. At last, in desperation, a large glass window in the front of the building was removed and he was taken out through it to the hearse to continue his journey.
Does anyone have a photo of Sonny? Would sure like to have a copy.
Posted by Carl Houston at 4:10 PM