As family and friends gather this week for Thanksgiving, we revisit the 2010 interview of freelance food and travel writer, Julian Brunt, who views cooking as his form of creative expression. In this episode, he explains why he is so passionate about preparing meals for his circle of friends. As the wife of an army officer, Julian Brunt’s mother hosted dinner parties for the other officer’s families. He remembers how she would prepare traditional Southern dishes for their friends. He also recalls how they expected their children to dress for dinner and join in on mealtime discussions. This is one reason why Brunt considers good conversation to be the main ingredient of any successful dinner party.
When Julian Brunt cooks a meal for his friends, each of the five courses compliments the next. He shares some of his tricks to keep things interesting and why he enjoys reading about classic French cuisine.
Whatever the week holds for you, we wish you safe travels, good company, good food, and pleasant conversation.
PHOTO: Julian Brunt public Facebook post.
Dorothy Wilkins Fraley was born on a farm in the Fairview Community outside of Brooksville in 1918. She was in her 82nd year of life when she sat down to record her oral history in October of 2000 as part of the Noxubee County Oral History Project. This episode is a continuation of one we did in September of this year (MSM 587) about her memories of growing up on the family farm.
As the holiday season is now upon us, we wanted to revisit her interview and recollections of Christmases past. The first recalling family Christmas traditions of her childhood and the last, the family Christmas traditions that she and her husband forged with their own family in Macon. In the middle, come two clips detailing the arc of her marriage and career.
During WWII, women took jobs normally held by the men who were off serving their country. Fraley explains how a part-time job at the sheriff’s office led to marriage and a new home in the county jail. After Sheriff Fraley’s term in office ended, the couple decided to open their own grocery store in Macon. Dorothy Fraley recalls the challenges of those early days and how the business grew along with their family. Fraley and her husband bought a large home in Macon across from the Dreamland Theater. She describes her family’s Christmas traditions and how everyone was made to feel welcome.
Dr. Joe Berryman spent his life and career involved with high school, college and professional bands as a musician, composer, instructor, and conductor, as well as, a product representative and developer for several musical instrument manufacturers. After moving to Mississippi, he served as the band director at Itta Bena High School before coming to USM where he became coordinator of the band staff and taught percussion and orchestration. Berryman also worked with the Mississippi Lions All-State Band for well over a decade as director, writing much of the music, himself. At the time this interview was recorded in July of 1972, the band had won first prize at the Lion’s International Convention five of the last six years.
In this episode, Berryman discusses his early life and career. He was ten years old in 1914, when his family moved from Texarkana to Meridian. He recalls shipping their automobile and furniture by train because there were no highways. When he decided to become a musician, his parents wouldn’t pay for music lessons because they didn’t think he was serious. He remembers earning the money by selling magazines and taking the lessons in secret.
In the age of silent movies, musicians would provide live music to match the action on the screen. Berryman describes playing in the orchestra pits of the movie theaters in Kansas City. In addition to showing motion pictures, movie palaces of the day also booked live entertainment. He shares his memories of working the vaudeville houses in Topeka and providing sound effects for a hot-tempered comedian.
PODCAST BONUS: When he was not playing theaters in the 1920s, Berryman travelled with several tents shows around the Midwest. Known as chautauquas, these shows were intended to bring cultural enlightenment to isolated rural communities.
PHOTO: USM Archive
Troy H. Middleton was born on a farm in Copiah County, Mississippi in 1890 and lived there until he was fourteen years old when he left to attend Mississippi A&M College preparatory department. A&M was a land grant college, therefore it had military training in which the students were required to participate. Middleton rose through the ranks until his senior year when he was promoted to Cadet Lieutenant Colonel. After graduation, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Army in 1913 and took part in the Mexican Border Campaign of 1914.
When the United States entered World War I, Middleton went to France as a company commander and by the end of the war he had received three promotions in one year becoming the youngest colonel in the Army. He then became the Dean of Administration for Louisiana State University. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, he returned to active duty and subsequently went to Europe, participating in the North African, Sicilian and Italian Campaigns before going to Normandy for the main campaign against Germany as Commander of the Eighth Corps.
In this episode, Middleton discusses the traits of a good leader and how to earn the respect of your subordinates. He remembers his longtime friend and fellow commander, General George Patton. He shares his opinions of Patton’s good and bad points. According to Middleton, Patton had no qualms about visiting the front lines any time of the day or night. He shares a humorous story of a late night visit by Patton and his encounter with a sleeping soldier.
The Battle of the Bulge was the last German offensive of WWII. It was Middleton who made the decision to hold the town of Bastogne against overwhelming opposition, in the winter of 1944. Although he was heavily criticized by Patton at the time, it turned out to be the right choice. He reflects on what it meant to the course of the war.
PHOTO: L-R, Middleton, Eisenhower, Patton
John Gouras left the island of Patmos to come to America with his father in 1921. In this episode, taken from an interview conducted in 1974, Gouras shares some memories of his life and career spent as a Jackson restaurateur. He remembers selling his father’s homemade candy to local businesses in Lake Charles, Louisiana as a teenager and how he and his partner purchased their first eatery, the People’s Café, in Jackson for $800, in 1928. He recalls how they survived the Great Depression and opened their second café, the Mayflower, four years later.
Shortly after becoming a naturalized citizen in 1938, Gouras joined the Army Air Corp and served as a supply officer in the Mediterranean theater. He explains how his restaurant experience was put to use by General William L. Lee.
At the time of the interview, the Mayflower Café had been open for 42 years. It is still in business as of 2018. Gouras describes the Greek community of Jackson as industrious, close-knit, and well-respected. He discusses how they work to keep traditional Greek holidays and customs alive.
Growing up on his father’s plantation near Clarksdale, Marshall Bouldin, III, dreamed of being a commercial illustrator like his hero, Norman Rockwell. Encouraged by his mother to pursue his love of art, he left Clarksdale in 1939 to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and there began a career that would gain him notoriety around the nation, even as it brought him home again.
In this episode, taken from our 1974 oral history interview, Bouldin details his evolution as an artist. During the year and a half spent at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, felt he learned from more by studying the Institute’s collection of paintings than he did attending class. When WWII broke out, he was forced to leave school. Deemed unfit for military duty due to a birth defect that left him with a limp, he worked as an illustrative draftsman for the Vultee Aircraft Company in Nashville, Tennessee.
After the war, Bouldin became the apprentice of a commercial illustrator in Connecticut where he honed his skills as he learned from the best in the business. He soon had his own studio and a New York agent who secured magazine work for him with publications like Colliers and Outdoor Life. It was after attending an exhibition of works by Vincent van Gogh, Bouldin realized that he envied the freedom of expression that differentiated artists from illustrators. He explains why he decided to come home to Clarksdale and become a portrait painter.
Throughout his career, Bouldin rejected the stereotypes associated with professional artists. He discusses why it’s important to stay connected to the rest of society. As a portrait painter, he was required to sell his services like any other professional. However, he maintained it was always about making new friends, not money. Of the hundreds of portraits he was commissioned to paint, many of the subjects were famous, including, President Nixon’s daughters, William Faulkner, William Winter and Mike Espy.
African-American soldiers returned home to the Jim Crow South after WWII, determined to press for an end to black voter suppression and “separate but equal” segregation laws. In this episode we examine the military career and civil rights activism of Taylor Howard of Gulfport.
Howard was drafted into the all-black, 92nd Infantry Division in 1942. He recalls the racial tensions they encountered while training in Louisiana, as well as, their trek from the Arizona desert to the Italian Alps.
After the Battle of Anzio, entrenched German forces inflicted heavy losses on the 92nd Infantry Division in Northern Italy. Howard recounts how a regiment of Japanese-American soldiers helped turn the tide.
African-American soldiers returned home after the war, convinced they would now be treated as equals. Howard remembers being denied the right to vote by a group of angry white poll-watchers the following year.
PHOTO: Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2181029
Dorothy Fraley of Macon grew up in the rural community of Fairview, outside of Brooksville. In this episode, she shares some of her memories of that time, like how they used to ride a mule and buggy to the store every morning to catch the school bus, and the telephone “party” line they shared with their neighbors.
Born in 1918, the year of the great flu pandemic, Fraley blames the large number of deaths that year for there being so few students her age. Before modern vaccines and drugs, infectious diseases could only be controlled by limiting exposure. Fraley remembers the time her sister was quarantined after contracting Diphtheria.
A popular hairstyle for girls in the 1920s and 30s was known as the Buster Brown. Fraley describes how she and her sister wore their hair as children and her first perm. During the Great Depression, many Mississippians survived by being self-sufficient and growing their own food. Fraley explains how her mother made their school uniforms using wool from her father’s sheep.
Staff Sergeant Undaryl Allen of the Mississippi Army National Guard was deployed to Iraq in fall of 2004. In this episode, he shares his memories of that time in this interview conducted in May of 2006. Although trained as a mechanic, Allen’s first month was spent as a gunner on escort duty. He explains how his faith and his family helped him handle the stress of going out on patrol.
As an army mechanic serving in Iraq, Allen worked on a variety of combat equipment. He recalls repairing vehicles in which his friends were injured or killed. While serving in Iraq, Allen was assigned to a Forward Operating Base near Bagdad. He describes how he and his tent-mates would pool their resources for “home cooked” meals.
PODCAST EXTRA: Allen and his crew would occasionally be shelled by enemy forces while retrieving broken down vehicles, forcing them to run for cover. Looking back on those dangerous times, he finds humor in their mad scrambles to the bunker.
PHOTO: Hannah Heishman, Pinterest
The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 provided funding for the training of local police officers. In this episode, Tyler Fletcher explains how that funding led the University of Southern Mississippi to develop a curriculum in Law Enforcement. Fletcher retired from the U.S. Army as Chief of Criminal Investigations in 1972. He recalls his decision to accept a teaching position at Southern Miss.
Later, when the decision was made to establish a School of Criminal Justice, Forensic Science and Security, there were several hurdles to overcome. Fletcher discusses the struggle to recruit students, gain academic acceptance, and win the support of law enforcement supervisors.
In the1980s, Mississippi moved to develop a set of educational standards for police officers. Fletcher remembers serving on the advisory board and USM's role in that effort.
Last week, Mississippians remembered Hurricane Katrina on the thirteenth anniversary of the massive storm’s slow march up the length of our state. Considered the most destructive natural disaster in our nation’s history, it sparked a series of recovery efforts that would be measured in days, weeks, months and years. Thousands of lives would be interrupted, many drastically so. Some for only a brief time, some permanently.
While clean-up of the millions of tons of debris left in Katrina’s wake seemed like an effort that would take many years, much of it was accomplished at an astonishing rate. On the surface, a sense of normality crept in and with it, an alleviation of the emotional and mental stress such disasters visit upon the survivors. Feelings of hopelessness, depression and despair are not forgotten, but hard to convey years later.
To fully recall those stressful emotions, revisiting the interviews of first-responders conducted in the days that followed is helpful. In those recordings, the raw angst can be heard in a way not possible with the written word. For this episode, we turn to an in-the-moment account of a key decision maker in the South Mississippi relief effort: Barbra K. "Babs" Faulk.
As Director of the South-Central Mississippi Chapter of the American Red Cross, Babs Faulk coordinated the relief agency’s response to Hurricane Katrina. In the aftermath, the Red Cross served over half a million meals to those in need. Faulk discusses the agency's response and the importance of volunteers to the relief effort.
In this interview, conducted just two months after the storm, she recalls how they prepared to meet the challenge. As the head quarter's phones constantly drone in the background, the weariness and heartache of the previous eight weeks is unmistakable as she shoulders the blame for those they couldn't help.
The ferocity and devastation of Hurricane Katrina caught many Mississippians by surprise. Faulk’s frustration with the often lackadaisical response of many to impending disasters is apparent as she emphasizes the importance of hurricane preparedness and personal responsibility.
The disruption caused by the storm took an emotional toll on the survivors, but also on the relief workers and first-responders, themselves. Faulk reflects on the need for mental health workers and the long journey to recovery that lay before them in November 2005.
Hattiesburg native Richard Burger graduated with a degree in mathematics in 1965. In this episode, he recalls returning to Mississippi to work at NASA’s test facility (later renamed the Stennis Space Center) as a computer programmer. Because he was working for General Electric under government contract, Burger’s story was rather unusual for that time, as opportunities for African-American in Mississippi were typically limited to menial or low-level positions.
As a programmer, Burger worked with NASA engineers testing Saturn rockets. He remembers his first assignment working with a “unique” engineer named Charlie Parker to develop a fuel delivery system to speed the test-firing process.
Throughout his career, Richard Burger used a wide variety of computers and programming languages. He compares the NASA main frames of the 1960s to today’s more powerful laptops.
PODCAST BONUS: After working in the private sector for over twenty years, Burger returned to NASA in the 1990s with a new mission: taking at-risk African-American youth from inner-city high schools in Los Angeles, on a six week tour of NASA laboratories and Black Colleges. It was a program dubbed “Earth to L.A.”
“The Center for Gifted Studies was established in 1979 and dedicated as The Frances A. Karnes Center for Gifted Studies in 1999, its central purpose to further the education of gifted students and those with leadership abilities through teaching, research, and service. Emphasis is also placed on these areas for those interested in the gifted: teachers, parents, administrators, psychologists, counselors, and other concerned citizens.”
In this episode, Karnes shares her memories as an early innovator in the education of exceptional children.
Dr. Frances Karnes began her career at the age of 19, teaching first graders in Illinois. She explains how that experience inspired her to focus on the educational needs of exceptional children. In 1973, Karnes began teaching Special Education classes at Southern Miss and writing descriptions for new courses in Gifted Education. She remembers working to have the State’s Definition of Exceptional Children amended to include Gifted Children as well. Within four years, Karnes had helped develop the Gifted Studies Program for Children at USM. She recalls pitching the idea of a Center for Gifted Studies to Dr. Aubrey K. Lucas and how they secured the funding.
Since 1974 the Mississippi Association for Gifted Children has helped teachers and parents meet the needs of intellectually-gifted students. Karnes reflects on the unwavering support they’ve received. Learn more at: https://www.usm.edu/karnes-gifted
PHOTO: Center for Gifted Studies
To celebrate the recent opening of The Midtowner - Robert St. John's tribute to the classic American diner - we are re-posting this episode from last summer, in which St. John shares his knowledge of a favorite topic: the history of Hattiesburg restaurants.
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: The Midtowner, Hattiesburg Hotel Indigo Facebook page.
David Baker loved Tupelo. Aside from time spent serving his country during WWII and a year in New York, Baker lived his entire 93 years in his hometown as a tireless promoter of the Arts and Humanities. In this episode, he looks back at the people and events that shaped his life with a keen and engaging wit.
Baker’s father opened a furniture store in downtown Tupelo in the 1920s. He recalls how they stayed open late on Saturday nights, and describes the downtown farmer’s market where his mother would shop for produce, haggling with vendors through the car window while he watched.
Not all of the memories were pleasant. On the evening of April 5th, 1936, a tornado struck Tupelo, killing 216 and injuring 700 more. Baker recounts how the storm ripped the roof off their house, and a neighbor’s cry for help.
In this interview, conducted in 2000, Baker discusses some of Tupelo's most notable characters, including Ms. Pledge Robinson. When Baker was growing up, Tupelo was known as the Jersey Cow capital of the world. He describes the cattle drives through downtown and Robinson’s crafty way of cashing in.
PODCAST BONUS: The success of Elvis Presley was always a source of pride for the residents of Tupelo. Baker remembers the Presley family and awarding Elvis his first prize as a singer.
PHOTO: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal obituary 2-12-16
The University of Southern Mississippi was still the Mississippi State Teachers College when Bernard Reed Green graduated in May of 1934. In this episode, he recalls his decision to come back that fall as the Freshman Football Coach. According to Green, his coaching style differed from that of Coach Pooley Hubert, the man who hired him, and how that difference had a positive impact on the team’s performance. He explains his philosophy and why he made a practice of recruiting new players from local junior colleges.
In 1942, as the United States prepared for war, Mississippi Southern College as the school was known by then, suspended all intercollegiate sports activities. Green remembers how he found jobs for his football players so they could remain in school. With so many students serving in the military during the war, Mississippi Southern faced the possibility of having to permanently close its doors. Green recounts how he and others lobbied the Pentagon for an officer training school to be located on campus. He explains that hosting the OTS and allowing the officer trainees to live in the empty men’s athletic dorm known as The Rock, enabled the institution to remain solvent during those lean war years.
PHOTO: Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame (Wikipedia)
Helen Rayne grew up living in her grandfather’s antebellum home in Natchez during the Great Depression. In this episode, she remembers the genteel lifestyle and how they entertained themselves without a lot of money. She also describes the dedication of her teachers and how much they were respected by everyone in the community.
During her lifetime, Rayne witnessed many changes, both in her hometown and the world in general. She recalls taking walks with friends, stargazing with her grandfather, and the lessons he tried to teach her. And Rayne reflects on how the depression affected the way people socialized as they looked for ways to hang on to beloved traditions in the once prosperous river town.
Podcast Extra: The Historic Natchez Tableaux was started in 1932 as a way to attract tourist dollars and celebrate the city’s cultural heritage. It features a tour of the city’s antebellum homes, plays and musical performances, and the crowning of a king and queen. Rayne reflects on the humble, early days of the tableaux.
PHOTO: Landowne, Natchez, 1938, by Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, Library of Congress. Wikipedia.
Leatha Jackson learned how to cook ribs and steaks by working in her aunt’s restaurant in Bogalusa. In this episode, she looks back with pride on her fifty-year career as a professional short-order cook. For years, Jackson dreamed of opening a restaurant in her home near Columbia, Mississippi. She discusses the humble beginnings of Leatha’s Barbeque and why looks can be deceiving.
By the time Leatha’s Barbeque moved to Hattiesburg, it had become a destination spot for barbeque lovers around the world. She credits her love of people and the power of word-of-mouth advertising.
Podcast Extra: The menu at Leatha’s Barbeque Inn does not offer many choices: only five entrées and two sides. Jackson explains why the selection is limited and discusses the most popular menu items.
Although Leatha Jackson passed away in September of 2013, Leatha’s BBQ is still in business and keeping her legacy alive.
PHOTO: Leatha’s BBQ Inn Facebook page.
Lemuel A. Wilson Junior’s parents were the owners of a weekly newspaper in Richton, Mississippi. In this episode, he shares his memories of working at the Richton Dispatch after school in the 1920s and how the paper served their community. He also recalls how their family’s newspaper survived the Great Depression by running foreclosure notices and accepting food as payment for subscriptions.
After serving in the Air Force during WWII, Wilson worked for the Washington Post and the Star newspapers in Washington, DC. In this 1973 interview he discusses the pressures of working for a large metropolitan paper and his decision to come home to Richton and take over the family business. As publisher of the Richton Dispatch, Wilson pondered the difference between daily and weekly newspapers. While both are important, he felt the weekly format better suited to rural communities.
PHOTO: Richton Dispatch Facebook page
Charles Dunagin began his career in Journalism in 1957 as a reporter for the Jackson State Times. In this episode, he remembers covering the story of the first African-American to attempt to enroll at Ole’ Miss, five years before James Meredith.
In 1963, Dunagin became the managing editor of the McComb Enterprise-Journal. He shares his memories of the newspaper’s publisher, Oliver Emmerich, who he describes as a courageous and intelligent journalist. During the Civil Rights Movement, the paper reported on over two dozen acts of violence and intimidation. Dunagin recalls the feelings of fear and anger in the city, at that time.
PODCAST EXTRA: According to Dunagin the situation in McComb finally came to a head when local business leaders published a Declaration of Principles in the paper calling for an end to the violence.
PHOTO: USM School of Mass Communication and Journalism website
Hodding Carter was the outspoken publisher of the Delta Democrat–Times during the Civil Rights Movement. In this episode, Betty Carter remembers the firestorm of threatening phone calls her husband’s editorials generated.
Hodding and Betty Carter moved to Greenville, Mississippi in 1936 and started their own newspaper. Betty Carter discusses the importance of a Free Press and an educated public to Western Democracy.
As a newspaper publisher, Betty Carter maintained her faith in the good intentions of most reporters. But she does recall times when the words of her husband, Hodding Carter, were distorted by the press.
Because Hodding Carter was such an effective and outspoken critic of segregation, he was often the target of public ire in Mississippi. Betty Carter describes a time her husband was “burned in effigy” by some angry citizens. She also praises the Greenville police department for their unwavering protection of all those involved in the Civil Rights Movement.
For over 55 years, Oliver Emmerich, Sr., was editor and publisher of the McComb Enterprise Journal. In this episode he explains his philosophy of using the editorial page to influence public opinion. During the 1960s, Emmerich used his position as an editor to promote Civil Rights. He recalls publishing a series of articles about local schools to disprove the idea of “Separate but Equal.”
Emmerich also remembers Greenville journalist, Hodding Carter, Jr., an outspoken champion of the Civil Rights Movement. He describes his friend’s refusal to conform as something uniquely American. Podcast Bonus: As an award-winning journalist, Emmerich was never shy about expressing his political opinions. He discusses his opposition to Ross Barnett and Paul B. Johnson, Jr., as well as, Mississippians’ love of demagogues.
Special Event: Please make plans to attend People, Politics and the Press on Saturday, July 14, 2018. This one-day civic engagement summit at the Two Mississippi Museums features nationally recognized names in media, as well as the region’s best reporters for panel discussions, lectures and open format conversations exploring the crucial role journalism plays in creating informed citizens and a healthy democracy. People, Politics and the Press is an unprecedented collaboration between the Mississippi Humanities Council, Mississippi Public Broadcasting, the Mississippi Press Association Education Foundation, the Clarion Ledger and Mississippi Today. For more information go to http://www.peoplepoliticspress.com
This past weekend, June 2-3, 2018, the 89th Annual Blessing of the Fleet was held in Biloxi. As coastal fishermen head out into Gulf in search of shrimp, we decided to revisit the interview of Earl Ross, conducted in 2011. A third-generation fisherman, Ross began shrimping in 1977. In this episode, he discusses his first shrimp boat, the variety of nets he uses and the size of his territory.
When a shrimp boat leaves home on a fishing trip, it can gone for days or even weeks at a time. Ross describes an average day on the water and how he and his crew prepare for the trip. Searching for the best place to cast their nets is a constant challenge for commercial fishermen. Ross explains how shrimpers work together as rising fuel prices erode profits.
With all the challenges facing the Gulf Coast seafood industry, shrimpers have been forced to look for new ways to remain profitable. According to Ross, many shrimpers are now selling directly to retailers. He also discusses how shrimpers have faced increased regulation at state and federal levels in recent years.
When the United States entered WWII, A.J. Jones of Hattiesburg decided to become a Navy fighter pilot. In this episode, he shares his memories of that experience, beginning with the training he received and all those who died trying to learn to land on an aircraft carrier.
As a navy fighter pilot, Jones was assigned to a carrier group in the Pacific Theater. He recounts targeting Japanese ships and supplies around the Lingayen Gulf in January of 1945. The following month, Jones’s carrier, the USS Bismarck Sea was part of the task force assigned to take the Japanese island of Iwo Jima. He remembers providing air support for the Marines on the ground and how his carrier was sunk by kamikazes during the battle. After the ship went down, the survivors of the 1,000-man crew waited to be rescued as the battle raged on shore. Later, when they witnessed the American flag raised over nearby Mount Suribachi, cheers arose, even as they mourned the loss of their 318 shipmates.
PHOTO: By U.S. Navy - U.S. Navy photo 80-G-240135 from Navsource.org, Public Domain
For this week’s episode, we revisit Coach Sank Powe’s 1999 interview. MSM 496 focused on his successful 25 year career as the men's baseball coach for Cleveland High School in Cleveland, Mississippi. Today, we examine his childhood, growing up on a Delta plantation as the son of a poor tenant farmer.
Powe enjoyed listening to professional baseball on the radio and recalls learning how to swing a bat by hitting rocks and bottle caps with an old hoe handle. He began playing baseball with local adult teams as a teenager in Mound Bayou, working on the farm after school and dreaming of becoming a professional ballplayer.
Mound Bayou was a favorite destination for Negro League baseball teams in those years. Powe enjoyed watching those legendary players and even toured with the Birmingham Black Barons when they needed an extra man. He explains how the public’s perception of the Negro Leagues’ legacy has evolved over time.
Sank Powe never played major league baseball, but he coached high school ball in Cleveland and scouted for the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals. He reflects on his career, the advantages being a professional baseball scout afforded him, and all the young people whose lives he touched.
Coach Powe passed away on January 20, 2013.