Keith Coursey of Hattiesburg was trained to be an industrial forester—learning how to grow trees like any other crop. Now a prescription forester for the De Soto National Forest, he explains how prescription forestry requires a much broader scope of knowledge.
The clear cutting of Mississippi’s longleaf pine forests during the period between 1870 – 1930, radically altered our state’s ecosystem. After the longleaf forests were clear cut, loblolly pines were planted in their place because they were easier to cultivate and reached maturity faster. In this episode Coursey details the new plan to restore our biodiversity, discusses how fire helps the longleaf flourish and how the two species battle for dominance.
As a machine gunner in the U.S. Army during WWII, Robert Leslie survived some of the bloodiest battles of the European Theater. In this episode, he shares some of those memories that still haunt his dreams. He recalls his company’s first battle to take Saint Dié, France in November of 1944 and how his soldiers were saved from a booby-trapped roadblock by a herd of pigs.
Later, as the Allied Forces pushed across the Siegfried Line, a defensive wall along Germany’s western border, Leslie endured bitter cold, deprivation, and the anguish of losing so many of his fellow soldiers to the horrors of modern warfare.
The podcast ends on a high note as he remembers the 761st Tank Battalion, the first armored combat group comprised of African-Americans. Even whites from the segregated South recognized the bravery and skills of these tankers and Leslie credits them with saving his life on more than one occasion.
Art Cissell became a professional drummer in St. Louis during the Big Band Era. In this episode, he remembers the St. Louis music scene of the 1930s & 40s. Cissell began drumming at the age of five when his father gave him a real snare drum to pass the time while quarantined with the measles. He joined his first Big Band in 1936 at the age of 16. Cissell describes working full time during the day and playing the drums, nights and weekends.
Even though the country was racially segregated during the Big Band Era, musicians often crossed color lines to play together. Cissell recalls sitting in with some of the most famous musicians of the day and playing the St. Louis Harlem Club until the sun came up.
After years of playing in Big Bands, Cissell took a job at Keesler Air Force Base as an electronics instructor. He recounts how he and other Gulf Coast musicians formed The Star Dusters in 1968.
Photo: Cab Calloway, FSU World Music Online.
Imogene Borganelli of Greenville graduated from Ole’ Miss with dreams of becoming a medical technician. “My father had been a superintendent and my mother had been a teacher and I said, I did not intend to teach school. I didn’t want to starve to death.” It was the chance to coach girls’ basketball at Shaw High School in 1950 that lead her to become a teacher, anyway. In this episode, she remembers when her team beat the team of her friend – coaching legend Margaret Wade.
The Mississippi Humanities Council was founded in 1972 with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Borganelli details the first Scholar-In-Residence Program. Borganelli served on the Mississippi Humanities Council for six years. She looks back with pride on her time with the Council and reflects on its importance to the state.
Podcast Extra - Dr. Cora Norman was the founding Executive Director of the Humanities Council and served on it for 24 years. Borganelli describes her friend as the epitome of the what is good about the Humanities.
To celebrate Rosh Hashanah, this week’s MSMO features Carolyn Katz discussing her Jewish grandmothers. She begins by sharing her memories of how the small Jewish community in Kosciusko would always gather to celebrate traditional holidays like Rosh Hashanah.
Katz then recalls her great grandmother, Helene Mayer, a Jewish immigrant from Germany, who ran a boarding house in New Orleans to support her children after the untimely death of her husband. Katz remembers her as a matriarch who was loved by many.
During the summers growing up, Katz would often travel by train from Durrant to New Orleans to visit her grandmother. She remembers Grandmother Carrie as fun-loving and untraditional except when it came to her Jewish faith.
Katz’s mother, Edna, quit school at the age of 16 to open her own stenography business in New Orleans. She describes how Edna adjusted to small town life in Kosciusko.