The Mississippi Moments Decades Series continues counting down to the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2021. Today we dip into an interview conducted in August of 1973. Mrs. Mary Lillian Peters (Ogden) Whitten graduated from Mississippi Normal College (USM) with a degree in Music Education in 1923. She has many fond and entertaining memories of college life in those early days, but in this episode, we focus on her life growing up on a farm in Noxubee County.
1973 – Mary Whitten of Macon, Mississippi was born on her family’s farm in 1904. She remembers selling vegetables and dairy products to the local agricultural high school for extra income. Farm life in Mississippi during the early 20th Century required hard work and self-sufficiency. Whitten recalls hunting wild honey and hickory nuts and smoking meat in winter.
After Whitten’s father died in 1915, the entire family worked to keep their dairy farm going. She describes rounding up the cows for milking and washing clothes in a nearby spring. Part of Whitten’s responsibilities included churning cream and clabber into butter and buttermilk. She recounts feeling heartbroken once after accidentally spilling the contents of the churn.
The Mississippi Moments Decades Series continues counting down to the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2021. This week, we dip into a terrific interview conducted in 1972 of William Hubbell, a longtime resident of Biloxi who served as a merchant marine before opening his own business. After retirement, Mr. Hubbell enjoyed collecting and sharing stories of life on the Gulf Coast as an amateur historian.
1972 - William Hubbell moved to Biloxi as a child in 1909. He describes the beautiful wind-powered schooners used by Gulf Coast fishermen in those days and how they would race each other along the shore during the annual regatta, which drew thousands of spectators each year. According to Hubbell, the Fireman’s Parade was another popular event in Biloxi. He recalls the brightly colored trucks and how the firemen were rewarded with copious quantities of beer.
Gulf Coast residents have always traveled to New Orleans for work, shopping, and recreation. Hubbell discusses riding the “Coast Train” before automobiles were common. He also recounts a typical day and riding his pony cart to school along the old beach road.
As a resort town, Biloxi has always been a popular destination for tourists in the summertime. Hubbell remembers the Iowa farmers who chose to spend their winters on the Gulf Coast.
The Mississippi Moments Decades Series continues counting down to the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2021. This week, we are happy to share a few memories from Pulitzer Prize winning editor and Hattiesburg native, Robert Woodrow Brown. At the time of this interview on November 3, 1973, Brown was still working as a newspaper editor in a career spanning more than forty years. In addition to several high-profile print positions, he also worked in the news departments of NBC, ABC, and the International News Service. Brown passed away four months after this interview was recorded, on April 2, 1974.
1973 - At a young age Robert Brown decided to pursue a career in Journalism. In this episode, he recalls going to work for the Hattiesburg American while still a high school student in 1930.
In 1936, Brown moved to Greenville to work for newspaper publisher, Hodding Carter, Sr. He explains why their decision to publish a picture of Olympic medalist Jesse Owens was so controversial. Being a proponent of social and economic justice made Carter a fearless newspaper man. Brown reminisces about his mentor and friend.
In the late 1930s, Brown accepted a position with the New Orleans Times Picayune, eventually moving to Washington D.C. for the paper during WWII. He recalls befriending a colorful character known as “The Mystery Man in the Big Red House on Avenue R.”
PHOTO: Tampa Bay Times
The Mississippi Moments Decades Series continues counting down to the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2021. This week, we delve into one of our first POW interviews.
Lt. Commander James W. Bailey (Bill) sat down to share his experiences with us on September 11, 1973, less than a year after his release. His memories of sixty-eight months as a POW were still fresh and raw in his mind.
1973 - Kosciusko native, Bill Bailey, served as a Navy Flight Officer on the aircraft carrier, USS Ranger. In this episode he recalls how his F4 Phantom jet was shot down over North Vietnam on June 28, 1967. When Bailey’s plane was downed by the North Vietnamese, he and his pilot were taken prisoner. He describes being tortured for three days by interrogators trying to obtain information.
As a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, Bill Bailey was subjected to harsh treatment by the camp guards. He remembers how they were replaced by with new, more humane guards in early 1970.
After spending sixty-eight grueling months as a POW in North Vietnam, Bailey was finally allowed to go home. He recounts how conditions in the prison camp improved dramatically about a month before they were released.
CAUTION: CONTAINS GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS OF TORTURE.
PHOTO: A plane load of recently released POWs on their way home in 1973. Public domain.