Judge Harvey Ross grew up in Clarksdale, Mississippi, in the 1920s when racial segregation was absolute and unquestioned. After college, Ross joined his brother’s law firm and represented many black clients. During this time, his own views on race and segregation evolved. As demand for civil rights began to grow, a Japanese Episcopal priest, Daisuke Kitagawa, came to Clarksdale to help ease racial tensions. In this episode, Ross remembers the meetings Kitagawa hosted between white and black community leaders and how those meeting laid the groundwork for future projects.
Ross was served in the State House of Representatives from 1948 to 1956. During that time, the White Citizens Council was formed by Robert “Tut” Patterson, to maintain segregation in the South. Ross recalls the group’s initial popularity and their office in Greenwood.
Coahoma Opportunities, Inc. was organized in 1965 with grant money from a Community Action program, set up by the Kennedy administration. Ross discusses the challenges of dealing with the all-white county board of supervisors. And he looks back with pride at the positive effect that C.O.I. has had on the entire community.
Hattiesburg restaurateur and author Robert St. John had been majoring in Communications when he took a job managing a small delicatessen. In this episode, he recalls how that experience lead him to a career. While working at the deli and as a waiter, St. John returned to college, studying Hospitality Management, where he preferred to spend his time designing restaurants. He opened his first one in the late 80s, the Crescent City Grill where he began to establish a reputation as a chef and food writer.
After 29 years in business, Robert St. John knows what it takes to be a successful Hattiesburg restaurateur. With five unique restaurants, currently in operation and another opening soon, he discusses what makes his home town special and how to give customers what they want. He also describes two of his newer dining concepts and the process of creating them.
Whenever St. John is on the road, he always seeks out locally owned places to eat and shop. He believes these one-of-a-kind businesses are what gives a town its unique identity.
PHOTO: Hattiesburg American
Lunch counters and cafeterias have long provided time-strapped Americans with fast, affordable food. In this episode, restaurateur and author, Robert St. John discusses the evolution of Hattiesburg dining, beginning with three early Hub City eateries and why they were close to the train station. He also recalls the Frost Top, a franchise fixture from the 50s - 70s, all the times he ate there and what made the Frost Top so special.
Throughout the 20th Century, large companies and boarding houses provided plate lunches for hungry workers. St. John describes some of Hattiesburg’s favorite lunchrooms and their “meat and three” menus. For hungry shoppers, the department store lunch counters provided a ready respite, before eventually being replaced by mall food courts. St. John remembers some of Hattiesburg’s department store food fare and hanging out at the Cloverleaf Mall.
PODCAST EXTRA: Jimmy Faughn, an early Hattiesburg restaurateur, operated several eateries including The Collegian, Le Faughn’s, and the Sea Lodge. St. John reflects on Faughn’s reputation as the fine dining patriarch of Hattiesburg.
PHOTO: Coney Island Café in the same location since 1923.
As the cost of a college degree soars and the debate between a classical versus career-oriented curriculum rages, corporate recruiters are beginning to recognize the value of a Liberal Arts degree in the business world. In this episode, Donald Drapeau recalls his interest in History and the decision to attend Southern Miss.
After receiving an undergraduate degree from USM, Drapeau studied Economic History at West Virginia and the University of Pennsylvania. He explains how that experience landed him a job with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Focusing on Financial History led Drapeau to became a successful currency trader. He details his work with the International Monetary Market and using supercomputers to spot trends.
Drapeau looks back fondly on his undergraduate days at Southern Miss. He remembers how lunch with President Emeritus Aubrey K. Lucas led him to establish an annual Liberal Arts Symposium at USM and explains how the spirit of cooperation within the university has inspired him to give even more.
Growing up in Rosedale, Mississippi, Stanley Ferguson’s house was surrounded by cotton fields. In this episode, he remembers watching the airplanes fly overhead and his decision to become a crop-duster.
In the early days of crop-dusting, the airplanes were usually small, re-purposed military surplus. Ferguson describes how crop-dusting equipment has grown in size, complexity, and price. He also explains how crop-dusters have adopted new methods to increase efficiency and quality.
Podcast Extra: Even though cotton production has evolved over time, some aspects of farm life remain unchanged. For those who didn’t grow up next to a cotton field, Ferguson defines the term “Boll Wars.”
PHOTO: By Stefan Krause, Germany - Own work, FAL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28262700