Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Champion of a different Type

-click to enlarge-

Pictured is the Ratliff family of Baldwyn. They had a store northeast of town and also farmed.

Lamar distinguished himself as a celebrity of sorts - not by playing ball or other means - he was the national champion corn grower of 1955 with a record harvest of 304.38 bushels to the acre.

The Ratliffs had a moccasin-infested lake containing bass and bream and some fine fishing. Lots of us fished and even swam in the lake, to heck with the snakes.

Lamar had a precisely measured acre just below this lake and a drain from the lake to water his crop. He would often be seen working in that plot instead of fishing or doing what boys do in the summertime.

He was featured on Funk's corn advertising programs (his sponsor) for years after this award.

I have no idea what Lamar did after school, have never heard from him since. Maybe some reader has that information.

Family photo from an old album given by an anonymous donor.
Lake photo by Carl Houston


  1. That's Ratliff's lake alright, I remember it so well. Thanks.

  2. Lamar came to work for me when I owned Kirk Hardware,,he was very gifted in inventing things..He built the first wood splitter for splitting firewood,,we were selling this in Memphis by the bundles and he made us a contraction to tie the firewood into bundles..He also took a machine that loaded hay into the barn loft and converted it into a machine that would move our firewood from the front of a closed van truck to the rear so we did not have to do it by hand..He was always doing things like this,,a very smart man,,he lost his wife a few years ago and he still lives out by the old home place and as far as I know he and his older brother still own the farm he set the corn record on..His brother is a doctor or was in Belmont..


  3. What was his secret on that world record corn yield? A world record doesn't come along every day. All those people in Nebraska know how to grow corn as well.
    Joe C.

  4. Little known fact about the record: He tried for several years before he actually broke the record. I remember on at least two attempts weather was a factor in the failure. Hail was one and wind was the other. Joe, the one acre was not by itself. He worked with each individual stalk of corn, watering and fertilizing like it was the only stalk in the field. It was a labor of of love that he just kept trying until he got it right. I forget the cost of that acre of corn but it was tremendous for the time. Believe me it was not just a random crop of corn. My fathers mail route ran past it and I got to watch it grow.

    Out front of his dad's store, there was a bird cage on top of a 10 foot pole. Sign said see a red bat for 10 cents. You had to climb the pole and sure enough there was a red BRICK Bat in the cage.

    Jim G

    1. You just don't know.... You just don't know....

  5. Jim, do you remember if they also truck farmed? I remember we used to go up that way in the fifties and buy fresh "pick your own" produce and I believe it was from the Ratliffs.
    Lamar's dad Robert Paul Ratliff died in 1982 and is buried at Pratts. Anyone know if Lamar's mother Alice is still living? If so, she would be reaching the century mark this coming August.

  6. Milton,
    Don't know if the sold produce or not. My father being the mailman was GIVEN all the produce, beef, pork that he could haul. People would meet him on the road with bushels of produce, watermelons etc. I remember him bringing in fresh pork by the tub.

    So I cannot answer your question.

    Jim G

  7. I remember going to Coon-on-the-Log events at Ratliff's lake.


  8. Ms. Alice is still living & is in a nursing home in Booneville.

  9. Is that where we took our gals to park and smooch? I thought that was a lake between Wheeler and Booneville???

  10. anonymous, you are probably thinking of Elder,s Lake at Wheeler.

  11. Shelaine Pennington WiseFebruary 12, 2009 at 8:46 AM

    I have an old reel tape of an interview about his corn record...a tv station out of Nashville came and filmed the segment.