Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Lovell Plow

A town historian tells me that while the plow was an important invention at the time, it was the hitch that made the device invaluable and laid the foundation for a family fortune.

For additional reading, including the narrative that accompanies this schematic, see this link:

The above photograph from the Daily Leader is from Mary Becker Hatcher's archives, supplied by her daughter, Bettie Hatcher Cox, and scanned by Deenie Tallant. Many thanks to both.  The schematic is from the above mentioned link.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Paradise Lost -- Karl Wolfe, Mississippi Artist

Karl Wolfe, from MDAH Archives
Karl Wolfe, left, from MDAH Archives

"Long ago, they called Brookhaven Homeseekers' Paradise and back in town, near the railway station, a signboard still stands, freshly painted proclaiming this legend. But for me, this paradise was lost forever when we moved away.
I was a vulnerable 10-year-old when we moved to Columbia, Mississippi, and I found it impossible not to hate that town.

The Illinois Central Railroad ran a straight line through Brookhaven, tying together the country from New Orleans to Chicago. A mainline railroad connection made a tremendous difference in the cultural development of a small town. No passenger trains came through Columbia." -- Karl Wolfe.
The above quotation is from the first chapter of the autobiography, Mississippi Artist: A Self Portrait by Karl Wolfe. 

Karl Ferdinand Wolf was born in 1904 in Brookhaven to Wiley Woodard Wolfe and Elizabeth Heuck Wolfe.  (Karl's uncle, Charles F. "Joe Jr." Heuck, served as mayor of Brookhaven from 1910 to 1918.)

Though he lived in Brookhaven for only 10 years, our small railroad town had a lasting impact on young Karl: an art teacher had given second grade students a sprig of goldenrod in glass and instructed her students to draw it with wax crayons; Karl's won first place, and a life as an artist was born.

It was his father's work in the longleaf pine lumber business that took the family off to life in Columbia, MS, in 1914, as related in Karl's narrative above.  

As a young teen, Karl toiled long and hard in the logging camps for his supervisor father, but his desire to be trained formally as an artist never went away.  That dream was finally realized once he received higher education in New Orleans, had saved enough money and was accepted at the Chicago Institute of Art as a young man in 1924.

He met his future wife, Mildred Nungester, in another art school in 1937, and the couple was married in 1944. 

They moved to Mississippi, settled in Jackson in 1946, and opened a studio in the woods along what is now I-55 in North Jackson. Their work and their studio became a cultural mainstay in the state.

Karl died in 1984, Mildred in 2009.  Their studio is still in operation today, run by their daughter, Elizabeth (Bebe) Wolfe. 
To see examples of his artwork, here is a link to an auction site.  Excerpts from Mississippi Artist: A Self Portrait by Karl Wolfe, University of Mississippi Press can be read here.  The book is also for sale on Amazon, for those interested.  Note: Karl's mastery of the English language is as impressive as his artistry with a brush.) Mildred Nungester Wolfe's obituary can be read here.

And finally, a link to the Wolfe Studio, as it operates today, is here.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Old School Marketing

Both from the Cooper Postcard Collection, Mississippi Department of Archives and History

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Boone Brothers and Store

From the Daily Leader Bi-Centennial edition in 1976, courtesy of Mary Becker Hatcher's archives, via her daughter Bettie Hatcher Cox and Deenie Tallant, who spent many hours scanning these treasures in.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wesson -- Long About 100 Years or So Ago

The above post cards are from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History's Cooper Postcard collection.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Tribute to an Old Wrecker

Photo courtesy of Lonnie Kees

By Sukie Carruth

Back when I was kid in junior college up the road in Wesson, I accidentally drove my date's pickup over a washed-out culvert and deep into a ditch, late on a foggy night. There was no getting it out –- the front wheel was firmly in the ditch and the back passenger tire was completely off the ground.

After trying everything we knew, we gave up and hiked over to Highway 51 and started walking south, not sure what to do. Finally, headlights brightened the night and a car topped the hill behind us. We stuck out our thumbs, but, the car blew past us. 

We were cursing our luck when the driver slammed on brakes and slowly backed up to where we stood, now unsure of who or what was about to confront us.

A former BHS classmate who happened to work with my father at Kees had recognized me, albeit on a 10 second delay. He rolled down the passenger window and wanted to know what in the dickens we were doing walking along an unlit highway in the middle of the night in the mist and the fog. 

As luck would have it, he happened to have the keys to this old wrecker in his jeans pocket. He drove us down to Brookhaven, we "stole" the wrecker, drove it back to Wesson and, hook ... whirr ... tug, yanked the pickup right out of the ditch. 

And it didn't cost me anything but my pride. We were sworn to secrecy because he could have gotten into trouble for taking the old truck without permission. I have only told this story maybe a half dozen times before. But, I think it's probably safe to do now, some 40 years out.

Now that I think about it, how lucky can you get? The first person we crossed paths with had the keys to a wrecker in his pocket. There's got to be some divine intervention in there somewhere.

Photo Courtesy of Todd Clary

Photo Courtesy of Todd Clary

Photo Courtesy of Todd Clary

Photo Courtesy of Todd Clary
Editor's Note: Todd Clary, who originally posted these photos on his blog, Waltzing in Perdition, and kindly granted permission to use, is married to a cute red head who hails from Brookhaven.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dr Reel: A Man of Steel

Photo credit:

Many of us Baby Boomers from Brookhaven remember Dr. Anton Reel Jr., who practiced dentistry in our town for many years.

What many of us may not realize, he is a man of steel, a Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer who is still going strong at 91, setting records for his age group in powerlifting.

Here is a short YouTube video showing an inspiring lift by Dr. Reel. Click on the embedded link in the preceding sentence to view, if the plug-in is not working.

His story is compelling and can be read in this link. (The feature is about half way down in the newsletter.)  

For additional information, including his influence on local football players and track stars, I have included the state Senate resolution nominating him to the Hall of Fame here

It is fascinating to realize his profound impact on the game of football and the careers of many Brookhavenites, not the least of which was college and pro football Hall of Famer Lance Alworth.

Dr. Reel, we salute you!

A special thank you to Bill Perkins for calling my attention to this story.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Tribute to Miss Ab ...

These photos were used by permission from Miss Ab's cousin, Jack Broome.  Since doing this 
tribute, Jack has added additional photos and family information on his Picasa site.  
If you are interested, please see this link. Thanks again, Jack!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Said He: I.C. the Future: the Horseless Carriage!

Directly behind the horse's head is the entrance to the old Masonic Temple, built in 1899.  It anchored the corner of Cherokee and Jackson for many, many years, before it was destroyed by fire.

Photo from the Bicentennial publication of the Daily Leader, 1976, courtesy of Bettie Cox Hatcher (from the archives of her mother, Mary Becker Hatcher). Snaps to Deenie Tallant for endless scanning of these treasures. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Brookhaven Trivia, a Quiz

Q: What do Scarlett O'Hara, Carol Burnett and Brookhaven's Hardy House have in common?

A: Ballgowns fashioned from draperies -- the Hardy House being the genesis of one of the more memorable scenes in 1939 movie classic Gone with the Wind, and almost four decades later, one of the funniest send ups ever presented on television, by comedian Carol Burnett.

Probably more so than any other home in Home Seekers' Paradise, the Hardy House is iconic to Brookhaven.  Built with red brick made on site, the Italianate Home on Natchez Avenue at South Jackson was built either in 1867 or 1877, depending on which source you choose to believe.  

It was occupied for decades upon decades by the immediate and extended family of original owner/builder Capt. Jack C. Hardy, a former ship captain who "hobnobbed with Presidents" and was one of the wealthiest men in the state of Mississippi at the time, being the top "turf man" and partner in the J.M Brown & Co. racing firm.

Unusual for the times, the expansive home had an indoor bathroom on the first floor and featured built-in closets -- luxuries for the day and age, since such items were often taxed at a much higher rate.

Capt. Jack, having grown up on a horse farm in Hillsboro, MS, owned a string of race horses, which he ran in New Orleans and on his track on his Brookhaven equine plantation, which at one time consisted of 3,000 acres and sported a railroad siding alongside the barn.

One of his horses ran the Kentucky Derby, according to local lore, but I have been unable to determine the year and the name of the particular horse*. 

For more than 100 years, an oil painting of said horse hung in the entryway of the home, near the stairwell and a stately grandfather clock.

A Most Elaborate Wedding and an Atlanta Connection
Capt. Hardy was known to be a kind and generous man, and his house was always home to extended family, including two sisters of his wife, Ellen Hooker Hardy, and their children**. 

There came a time that niece Zula married one Charles Frances Malone of Atlanta in the old wooden framed Presbyterian Church, which, according to newspaper accounts, stood where the former First Presbyterian (built 1906) now stands vacant and for sale on South Jackson Street.

Zula's wedding was a most elaborate affair: orange blossoms were brought in from Louisiana, as were hundreds of pounds of ice from New Orleans, and an orchestra to entertain the guests, which included many prominent citizens from Atlanta.

Elder members of the bridegroom’s family were old friends with the Mitchells of Atlanta, including their daughter, Margaret.

That connection would prove prophetic.

Having heard a story how a Hardy daughter during the hard times of Reconstruction had used parlor drapes to make a costume for a ball, Margaret Mitchell, remembering that tale, had Scarlett O’Hara do the same in Gone with the Wind.

And the rest, as they say, is American literary (and television sitcom) history.
The above information was culled from a History of Brookhaven column by the late Matthews Ard, former town historian, in the local paper, a copy of which was provided by Bettie Hatcher Cox from the archives of her mother, Mary Becker Hatcher; and scanned in by Deenie Tallant. (Many thanks to both.)  Additional information about Capt. Hardy was provided by Dr. Jack E. Tindall's book, Early History of Lincoln County, Mississippi.

The Hardy House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.  To view photographs of the interior of the home from 2006, please see this link. 

To read more about the house itself, the family history, and to see a floor plan, please see this link to the application to place the home on the National Register. 
Epilogue: Capt. Hardy died of an apparent stroke in New Orleans in mid March 1889, at age 55, leaving a widow, three sons and three daughters and a sizable estate. 

Today, his beloved home is vacant, in foreclosure and for sale. 

Its contents, which dated back to the days when he lived there and are visible in the above mentioned photos, were auctioned off, along with exemplary antiques from Edgewood, Brookhaven's largest and grandest home, in November 2010. 
*His most famous sire and Kentucky Derby contender may have been named Jack Hardy, but further research is needed.

**More about his more famous niece, author Lulah (Tallulah) Ragsdale in a future post.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Moustaches and Handbags and Adorable Kinder

Back row, third from left -- It appears that Ed McMahon was busy with his scissors and Johnny's favorite tie!

From The Old School Collection from John Holly Williams, Lincoln, Lawrence, Franklin Library collection.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

An Enigmatic Family

Date, names, location and photographer unknown.  From the John Holly Williams "Old School" Collection at the Lincoln, Lawrence, Franklin Library Collection.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Movie Star Cowboy and His Fans

Photo courtesy of Brookhaven native Jimmie Meese Moomaw, author of Southern Fried Child.  In the center is cowboy film star Tim Holt, as described by Wikipedia: "(February 5, 1919 - February 15, 1973) ... an American film actor perhaps best known for co-starring in the 1948 film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre."

Holt was brought to the area as a headliner for a rodeo in the early 1950s.  Jimmie is the little girl on the forefront left, in the checked dress just to the left of the boy in the cocked hat.  Others in the photo have been identified as Jeanine Hoskins, Barbara Savage, Virginia Allen, Tim Holt, Rita Woods Coker, Bill McAtee, Diane Decell, Ralph Kerns, Robert Panzica, Jimmy Ritchie, Mary Carolyn Hart and Soren Daniel.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day Without Father

By Sukie Carruth

Father's Day has always been something of a Hallmark Holiday to my mind. I honor it, but I also know deep in the recesses that father's day should be every day, not just one Sunday in June to play follow the leader and enrich the coffers of necktie and greeting card manufacturers.

It's hard to believe it's been 13 years since my Dad passed on. Still, I cannot help but be a bit melancholy on the day that we all officially say I Love You to the big guy in our lives. I called mine Daddy, occasionally Daddy Boo and, when I was really, really little, Sam.

My Dad was always a Clydesdale of a man. He was tall and muscular and he lumbered more than he walked. He was the strong silent type until he lost his temper at some recalcitrant metal part that wouldn't fit or work as designed. 

When he wasn't expressing his frustration, his overwhelming timidity equalled a quiet mysteriousness to those who didn't know him well. He was from the school of "better to be silent and thought a fool than to open one's mouth and prove it."

My Dad worked hard all of his life -- manual labor, exhausting, honest work was all he ever knew. From the time he was 11, he tumbled out of bed to milk cows in the predawn hours, bottle the milk and drive the milk truck along rutted roads of Lincoln and Pike counties, every weekday morning before school. When he and his younger brother were done delivering the day's supply, they returned home and grabbed up their books and lunch pails to walk to school at Johnston's Station. 

He grew up and married, went off to war and returned to a 3-year-old son he had never laid eyes on, except in deckled edged pictures. Post war boom times occurred and just after my brother's 10th birthday, I was born.

Some 24 years later, I moved to New York and settled into a life that would keep me far, far away from home for the rest of my life. I'll never forget the mealtime I had with my parents when I announced my plans to move to New York. A friend and co-worker came with me to put starch in the noodle I had for a spine. My father listened as I expressed my dream of moving to New York to pursue a career in journalism, made all shiny and important by Woodward and Bernstein. 

"Kojak's on tonight," my father said between bites. "I want you to watch it. Then you'll want to move to that city."

I looked at him and said something to the effect, "The same plane that takes me there can bring me back. Dad, this is something I have to do." As I recall, Mother cried. Dad said nothing more.

And, as life would have it, I never moved back. Working for an international company, I had ample opportunity to work for any number of foreign bureaus, to travel the world and sleep on colleague's sofas, and see London, Paris, Rome, Moscow, Peking, Hong Kong, you name it, with friends I had made through work. 

Yet, I opted to stay in New York and those precious vacation days were always spent going home to see the folks, not traveling the world. 

Time ticked on and my Dad retired at 65. No sooner did he accept his proverbial gold (plated) watch, did he start exhibiting signs of Alzheimer's, just as his mother before him. His slide down this horribly slippery slope of dementia complicated by strokes and amyloid plaques in the brain soon landed him in a nursing home. It was the beginning of the Long Goodbye.

Toward the end, my Dad stopped talking. During our annual trip home in 1998, he would utter not a word. He would sit in his wheelchair (he had also lost the ability to walk) and claw at his pant leg with one crooked finger and stare at the floor. 

On this particular trip home, on my third and last 15-minute visit to see him, Mom and I gave up trying to coax him to talk. Mother said he had not said a word in about six months. I told him goodbye, that I was going back home to New York. We were about 20 feet down the hallway and we heard him call out, "I love you, Molly." I looked at Mom and spun around. He was back clawing at his pant leg and staring at the floor.

Mom took me by the arm and steered me out of the nursing home, because I couldn't see through the tears.

That was the one and only time I ever heard those words from my shy, stoic father. And those were the last words I ever heard him say. He passed six months later, at age 83. 

Happy Father's Day, Daddy Boo. I love you, too.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Got FRESH Milk?

Photo circa 1926-1929. Pictured: Sam and Norman Carruth, "Milk Men." These two delivered fresh milk to customers in Lincoln and Pike counties, along rutted roads, starting at 4 a.m. every day. Sam, my father, was the eldest, born in 1915.  He is on the left.  He started driving the milk route when he was 11.

Photo Credit: Their mother, my grandmother, Mary Estelle Carruth, who used her Brownie camera quite often to record life on the dairy farm in Johnston's Station, and thereby instilled a love of and fascination with photography through at least three generations and counting.

Friday, June 15, 2012

We're Barefootin'

Unidentified boys, date and location unknown, from the John H. Williams' collection at the Lincoln, Lawrence, Franklin Library.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Women of Whitworth College

Photos are the property of the Lincoln Lawrence Franklin Regional Library.  Photographers unknown.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pilot's and Climber's Clubs

 Above: Pilot's Club, 1959, dressed for the Town's Centennial.  Maybelle Parkinson with her ever present grin is dead center of the photo.
Other faces are familiar, but I'm not willing to go out on a limb. Suggestions and comments welcomed.
Photo by Mr. John H. Williams

The occasion for the above three photos is the 50th anniversary of the Climber's Club, April 14, 1955.

Again, familiar faces, but no firm identities.  In the last photo, to the right is Phyllis Johnson Spearman dressed in a period dress and I do believe that is Janice Hobbs at the end of the table, but I could be mistaken and am ready to stand corrected.

Suggestions and comments welcomed on these photos from the John Holly Williams collection as well.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ride 'em Cowboy!

A young Virgil Brawley with his father aboard Nell, leading the 1951 Rodeo Parade in downtown Brookhaven.  Third horse back is carrying Paul Turnbough; an unidentified out-of-town calf roper is directly behind the Brawleys.

This photo was taken by John H. Williams and was restored by Lonnie Kees.

Used with permission from Big Juv himself!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Let the Baby Boom Begin

From the John H. Williams Collection:  Marked Simply K.D. '46.  Presumably the date is 1946 and the K.D. stands for King's Daughters Hospital.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Familiar Face in Need of a Name

This photo is classified as "unidentified" in the library, but he surely looks familiar to me.  I am pretty sure I know who this is, but I wish for others to either leave a comment here or on my Facebook page.  Photo is by John H. Williams.