As Hurricane Katrina churned across the Gulf in August of 2005, Ruth Christian left her Pascagoula home to wait out the storm with her son’s mother-in-law, a few miles inland. In this episode, taken from an interview conducted in 2007, she shares her memories of the days following the storm as people struggled to feed themselves. She recalls trying to feed 16 people with anything they could find.
A couple of days after the hurricane, Christian found out her home had been destroyed. She remembers coming to terms with the loss of everything she owned at the age of 77.
According to Christian, everyone was in a state of shock. She describes the despair she felt combing through the wreckage, and the joy of finding family keepsakes.
PODCAST BONUS: Because Hurricane Georges damaged her home in 1998, Christian decided not to rebuild a second time after Hurricane Katrina. She discusses her decision to move into an apartment, but remain on the Gulf Coast.
For many young people, participation in the Civil Rights Movement began with a membership in the NAACP. In this episode, Franzetta Sanders of Moss Point recalls joining the group and the work they did to promote Equality for all. During the 1960s, members of the NAACP would test local businesses for compliance with new Civil Rights laws. Franzetta Sanders describes their work in Moss Point and how the community reacted.
In the Jim Crow South, there were separate public restrooms marked for “Whites Only” and “Blacks Only.” Sanders recounts how a stopover at the Hattiesburg bus station resulted in their bus being surrounded by police.
Most Mississippi public schools did not begin to fully integrate until 1970. As the mother of six children, Sanders worked to make sure they had the best educational opportunities possible. She remembers those difficult early days and how things eventually got better.
During the Civil Rights Movement, Sanders worked diligently to break down racial barriers. She expresses frustration at the apathy of young people who are reluctant to join the NAACP.
This episode of Mississippi Moments was researched by Lucas Somers, and produced by Ross Walton, with narration by Bill Ellison.
PHOTO: USM Digital Collections – Herbert Randall
Fifty years ago this week, Hurricane Camille left a wide path of destruction across the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Dr. Henry Maggio was working at a Bay Saint Louis hospital on August 17, 1969 when Camille slammed into the Gulf Coast. In this episode, he remembers feelings of dread as the storm came ashore.
As Hurricane Camille made landfall, it brought devastating winds and flooding to coastal communities. Maggio describes being stranded in the hospital during the storm. He discusses trying to reach the injured afterwards and his decision to evacuate the hospital.
After the storm was over, the long recovery and rebuilding process began. Maggio shares his memories from that time, like being reunited with his family, the loss of their new home, and all the people who brought needed supplies to aid in the recovery effort.
PHOTO: Fred Hutchings – Pass Christian, MS after Hurricane Camille
During WWII, young men from cities and towns across the nation, answered the call to serve. So too, did young men from isolated areas of the country—boys who had never been away from the farms where they were raised—but were still compelled to go to the battlefields of countries they had only read about in textbooks. For many, that rural lifestyle held advantages in wartime. For example, those who grew up hunting with their fathers found the experience of targeting game with hunting rifles and shotguns useful in the army.
In this episode, Thurman Clark of Laurel remembers training for combat and winning a prize for his marksmanship.
American soldiers deployed to the battlefields of Europe, crossed the Atlantic Ocean by the thousands on troops ships. Clark recalls the misery of being seasick for his entire seventeen-day voyage. As a member of the 66th Infantry Division, Clark was assigned to harass German installations in the occupied city of Lorient, France. He describes dodging artillery fire and the stress of keeping watch for enemy attacks at night.
For many Mississippi farm boys, WWII was their first time traveling far from home. Clark reflects on the culture shock of his time in France and the myriad of memories he brought back.
PHOTO: wikimedia commons