Ellen McCarley grew up near Port Gibson, the youngest of twelve cousins living on Drake Hill. In this episode, she recalls her idyllic childhood and the games they played to pass the time.
Before automobile ownership became common, Mississippians would travel to neighboring towns by train. McCarley remembers riding the train to Vicksburg to go Christmas shopping with her mother. Every Christmas Eve, the Drake family, would gather together for the lighting of the tree. She describes how her mother worked to make it a special time for all.
McCarley’s aunt ran a boarding house on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans in the 1930s. She recounts visiting her aunt during Mardi Gras and witnessing a parade and dress ball.
After Japan attacked the US Navy Base at Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, thousands of American teenagers volunteered to go and fight. In this episode, humorist Jerry Clower of Liberty, Mississippi, explains how growing up on a farm prepared him for life in the Navy. Raised in the rural South, Clower’s perceptions of race were limited to Black or White. He recalls an incident in basic training that opened his eyes to a wider world of ethnicity and prejudice. (caution: uses a racist word that he had never heard prior to joining up.)
Clower served as a radio operator on the aircraft carrier, USS Hornet, in the Pacific Theater. He remembers the battles for Iwo Jima and Okinawa and the lessons they learned from each.
While serving aboard the Hornet, Clower survived several attacks by Kamikazes. He describes feeling conflicted about watching the Japanese pilots die, and discusses suffering from symptoms of PTSD for many years after the war.
PHOTO: courtesy of the Clower family.