Fri, 26 June 2015
At the beginning of the Twentieth Century, Italian emigrants were encouraged to come to the Mississippi Delta to farm. In this episode, John Bassie of Bolivar County shares his family’s story of coming to America and how they taught him to love their adopted country.
For those Italian emigrants who made a home in the Mississippi Delta, the Fourth of July was always a big deal. Bassie recalls how his family celebrated with lots of eating and singing. He remembers those Independence Day celebrations as a cultural melting pot of food, music, and fun that involved the entire community.
Photo: Digital Public Library of America
Mon, 22 June 2015
Dr. Rodney Bennett was named President of The University of Southern Mississippi on February 7, 2013. In this episode, he discusses how he felt when an EF-4 tornado decimated the campus three days later.
Bennett was happily serving as Vice President of Student Affairs at the University of Georgia when he was selected as USM’s 10th President. He recalls accepting the position with a sense of purpose.
The morning after the tornado struck, Bennett addressed the 900 students, faculty and staff that had gathered to assist with the cleanup. He remembers searching for the right words to say on the ride over.
Podcast Extra: Bennett credits USM’s recovery since the storm to loyal alumni like Chuck Scianna. He stresses the importance of graduating eagles returning to the nest.
Fri, 12 June 2015
Stone Barefield of Hattiesburg ran for the State House of Representatives in 1959. In this episode, he remembers his campaign committee and the only speech he ever wrote. He also discusses the days before televised debates, when politicians relied on “stump speeches” to get their message to the voters.
Running for state representative of Forrest County meant doing a lot of walking. Barefield remembers meeting good folks and eating good food.
According to Barefield, South Mississippi was not being fairly represented in those days. In this podcast extra, he discusses House Speaker Walter Sellers and the fight for reapportionment.
In later years, Barefield pushed legislation for the establishment of the Longleaf Trace fittness trail, a rails-to-trails conversion of 41 miles of abandoned railroad track between Hattiesburg and Prentiss.
Mon, 8 June 2015
Prior to 1936, Highway 49 was a narrow, twisting, gravel road. In this episode, Chrysteen Flynt of D’lo, recalls learning to drive on Old 49 back in 1922.
For years, Flynt served as the unofficial historian for the town of D’lo. She notes that the rocky banks of the Strong River there were home to a water-driven sawmill as well as a meeting place for the Choctaws.
The origins of the name D’lo have always been a source of debate for residents and visitors alike. Flynt, attempts to set the record straight.
The D’lo’s largest employer was the Finkbine Lumber Company. In this podcast extra, Flynt remembers the YMCA the company built for the town and the silent movies that played there.
Mon, 1 June 2015
On September 29th, 1915, a category four hurricane made landfall near Grand Isle, Louisiana, killing 275 people. In this episode, Jim Kelly of English Lookout recalls the town’s largest employer and the aftermath of the storm. He remember how the factory used to produce crushed oyster shells by the trainload and how the hurricane changed all that.
Kelly was 10 years old when the hurricane destroyed the school and most of the homes in English Lookout. He explains why he wasn’t able to return to school until two years later.
In this Podcast Extra, Kelly describes how they would unload oysters from the schooners and roll them in railcars into the factory steamers.
Fri, 22 May 2015
Bill Barnes of Jackson joined the Coast Guard the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. In this episode, he recalls his time in the Pacific spent aboard a Patrol boat. Barnes also describes the process of arming and testing the new craft before heading out to sea.
After serving two years in the Pacific Theater, Barnes returned stateside for a new duty: helping develop rescue methods still used by the Coast Guard today.
At the beginning of the war, the Coast Guard didn’t have enough uniforms, weapons or even beds for the influx of new recruits.
Barnes recalls going to extremes to try and keep warm.
Tue, 12 May 2015
Gene Stork, of Moss Point, began working as a commercial fisherman in 1954. In this episode he recalls being part of a “mother boat” crew and how they worked together to catch fish.
He also discusses how Coastal fishermen would try to avoid catching redfish over a certain size because the larger fish are the egg layers. Stork feels the increased popularity of blackened redfish in Louisiana led to overfishing.
Stork learned how to fish for flounder through years of experience. He remembers wading for miles through the shallow waters of the Gulf trying to catch the elusive fish.
In a Podcast Extra, Stork talks about how during the winter months, his attention turned from fish to oysters. He describes how he gathered oysters and how he and his wife would clean and shuck them by the gallon.
Mon, 4 May 2015
The BP Oil Spill of 2010 generated stress and financial hardships throughout the Gulf Coast fishing industry. In this episode, Daniel Nguyen of the Mary, Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation discusses how that stress affected the Vietnamese Fishing Community.
After the BP Oil Spill, Congressman Joseph Cao formed a rapid response team to assist the Vietnamese fishing community. Team member Tuan Nguyen recalls those hectic days of community service and the cities they visited.
While BP hired many out-of-work fishermen to assist with the clean-up following the oil spill of 2010, some Vietnamese fishermen were left out due to the language barrier. Peter Nguyen explains how he assisted those fishermen to find work during the recovery.
Tuan Nguyen recounts with pride, the ways the rapid response team assisted, not only the Vietnamese community during the months following the oil spill, but the entire Gulf Coast.
Mon, 27 April 2015
On April 20th, 2010, an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform, in the Gulf of Mexico, led to the largest crude oil spill in history. In this episode, commercial fisherman Peter Floyd recalls being confident that the Gulf Coast would survive. Joe Jewell of the Mississippi Dept. of Marine resources discusses the “triple threat” faced by Coastal fishermen.
After Hurricane Katrina, Crab fisherman Louie Lipps opened his own seafood restaurant in Frenier, Louisiana. Five years later, the BP oil spill brought a whole new set of challenges to the Gulf Coast seafood industry. Lipps remembers how his business was affected.
According to Peter Floyd, optimism is trait inherent in all successful fishermen. He feels that dire predictions in the media did more harm to the seafood industry than the spill itself.
Mon, 20 April 2015
For decades the Illinois Central Rail Road Maintenance Shop was one of the largest employers in McComb. In this episode, Ray Ward remembers signing on as a shop apprentice back in 1953. Ward recalls working in the car shop and the assembly line-like manner they used to rebuild the cars.
In order to save money and improve safety, Illionois Central offered cash rewards for employee suggestions at its McComb Maintenance Shop. Ward describes how the program worked and some suggestions he made for his job.
Podcast Bonus: When he wasn’t working, Ward loved riding horses. He relates how one late night ride turned into a practical joke on his co-workers.