Teresa Blake

Teresa Blake Managing Editor, The Times

There’s a cardboard box in The Times office that’s packed with old photos.

Actually, there are three and a file cabinet packed full to boot.

Adam Armour first gave us a peek into the past when he pillaged through those old photo’s more than a decade ago and ran the first Photo from the Box. It’s a favorite among our readers.

And of mine.

More than a year ago, I ran across those weather balloon photos tucked in a file. On the back, they are stamped “Return to Delmus C. Harden, Photographer.” For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what Delmus was doing taking pictures of what appeared to be members of the National Guard and their strange equipment. So I held on to those photos and from time to time studied them, but it was to no avail.

That is until May 11, 2021 when Kay Coggin of Georgia messaged The Times with a question about an old UPI news article concerning the crash of a weather balloon in 1959. It was the missing link between history and Delmus’s photos.

As it turned out, there was story after story of Itawambians and the collapse of that stratospheric giant in their own backyard. All we had to do was ask. It was Doice Dulaney and Liz Beasley who were instrumental in pointing us in the right direction.

Although credit is (and should be given), to those and others for resurrecting the long-forgotten story, I like to think it was Delmus who instigated it all. When there’s a mystery to be solved or the cabinet door in the office slowly creeps open, you’ll generally hear a Times employee say “Thank you Delmus,” or “Good morning Delmus.”

Yes, we like to think he’s still around.

While talking with The Times about her personal account of that giant balloon, Prebble Dulaney Smith said she moved to Georgia decades ago. She returned to the place of her youth in 2020 to once again make her home in Itawamba County. Throughout those years, she continued to subscribe to the Itawamba County Times.

“When I was reading it, it was like I never left,” she said.

It’s a testimony of the importance of community newspapers. Delmus started it and we strive to keep his legacy going.

So if you have an old story or a new one, share it with us so we can continue to keep those unique Itawamba County stories going for our local folks and those beyond.

And if by chance you happen to have a piece of that weather balloon stored away in an old shed, drag it out and bring it by The Times for a picture.

Just don’t be surprised when you hear us whisper, “Thank you Delmus.”

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