The Spring Equinox on March 19 ushered in a beautiful season for the Hill Country of North Mississippi in the woodlands as there are the white blossoms of the pear and of the Chickasaw plum trees, the varied pink shades of the redbuds, and other shrubs and ornamental trees like the azaleas and the bare leafed magnolias are in full bloom. By the way, the overnight rainfall had the Mud Creek bridges in Pontotoc County running just beneath the road rushing to the Lappatubby Creek then into the Tallahatchie River as the muddy waters are on the way to the Gulf of Mexico. A tinge of lilac color was beginning to show on the wisteria vines at the old Swords’ place at the exit to Shady Grove on Hwy. 346. Also I am thankful for the winter work crews from MDOT as they have been shoring up the bridges for several months as the fields are also standing in water once again as the ground is saturated. Looking back into the history of the Mud Creek area, the trail across the bottom was a single lane path just wide enough for a horse trail in the 1800’s. During my youth, it was a gravel road with wooden bridges that became paved and the building of the concrete bridges were in 1965-6 that we use today. The official opening of the new highway had photos of popular teens in the Progress, Betty Swords and Marquetta Spears of Hurricane, sitting on the banister of the longest bridge as it was described being in the historic neighborhood of the Battle of Mud Creek during the Civil War as it was old Esperanza then.
Get-well wishes are to Dewitt Stepp, Tanya Cantrell, Annette Smith, Bobby Gardner, and Virginia Spears.
On March 1, Donna Shumaker of Pontotoc hosted a bridal shower at her Turtle Creek Drive home that was beautifully decorated for the occasion for Katie Henry of Ecru, the bride-elect of Bailey McBrayer of Friendship. Attending from Hurricane were Trudie and Clarenda Parrish. Bailey’s mom, Crystal McBrayer, and his grandmothers, Diane McBrayer of Bethlehem and Beverly Cummings of Friendship, also attended. Patty Turk of Ecru, the mother of the bride, was an honored guest at the shower.
Proud great-grandparents of Maryn Stepp are Dewitt and Verline Stepp of Hurricane Bend as she is the daughter of their grandson, Ben Stepp and his wife, Taryn. I enjoyed photos of the baby as paternal grandparents, Debbie and Ronnie Stepp of Lafayette County, shared at a recent benefit in Thaxton. Debbie is a retired teacher from NPAC; so I know that she will help spoil Maryn.
Brenda M. Barton of Pontotoc was treated to lunch on March 16 for her birthday by her Montgomery family cousins from Hurricane as follows: Clarenda Parrish and Beverly Cummings. A walk down memory lane is that Brenda is one of the Montgomery cousins that began a basketball legacy at Hurricane in the Class of 1963. Clarenda Montgomery was a star guard in 1965; Betty Swords was a star forward in 1966; and Beverly Montgomery was a star forward in 1967. The boys in that family also excelled at sports from the 1930’s to the 1971 closing of the school. A current family member that is having success as a baseball pitcher is James Clay McGregor of NPAC, the son of Phil and Selena M. McGregor of Turnpike.
Young turkey hunters enjoying the Youth Day opening in Hurricane were the following: Jack Robbins, Braxton Hooker, Hayden Hale, Ella Hooker, and Cohen Stubblefield. One of the younger hunters is Cohen, and he is very serious about deer and turkey hunting. He confronted my husband at church as he was unhappy that a deer during the late winter hunt was bagged in the Tye Whiskey Bottom that he had a personal vendetta for. I sided with Cohen and told him that I would stop any hunting on that land; so he could harvest a big deer there. He thanked me with those big, brown eyes very seriously.
It was great to see and talk to Wendell and Lynn H. Russell and Ruth Hale of Sand Springs recently at Sydney’s Grill dining in Pontotoc.
Cade and Sophie Hooker and Jason and Van Corder of Etta traveled to Houma, Louisiana, to bow fish. Also they enjoyed a charter fishing trip for reds in the Mississippi Sound near Gulfport during spring break.
Trudie, Curt, Elizabeth, and Emme Thompson and friends enjoyed a trip to Pickwick Lake during spring break. They stayed at the cabin of Sandy and Ricky Williams of Memphis. By the way, Sandy is at her Memphis home following being hospitalized at The Med in Memphis due to a fall at her home. She is currently having rehab visits for a leg injury that resulted in surgery. A speedy recovery is wishes to Sandy, who is often in Hurricane visiting cousins of the Brandon-Long families.
Graden and I took the older three granddaughters, Sophie, Aden, and Ella Kate, to Memphis to eat at Firebirds Grill and to shop during the extended school break for Sophie’s birthday. We always enjoy hearing about their school projects and of their sports. Sophie has been selected to attend Girl’s State during the summer. They both talked about their June season in basketball games, but they may be canceled due to the COVID 19 pandemic. It is a time of uncertainty in our community, our state, the USA, and in the World due to health concerns. A nice thing to do for those in the health fields, first responders, law enforcement, and public offices, is to buy gift cards for restaurant meals as they are working extended hours to help citizens stay well and to stay informed. Prayers are coveted for our Nation and for our leaders, who are leading the health services and FEMA officials to protect Americans.
The crappie run is on at Sardis Lake as Braxton and Hayden Hale joined Colt and Graden Hooker during the early days of the fish run in March. A delicious meal of deep-fried crappie filets and hushpuppies ended their week of fishing, and then they moved on to the cabin for turkey hunts. Our lakes have also been a popular place due to the extended school break as the teens and the children are looking for ways to stay busy with their not being able to be in crowds.
For our Warren-Graham family readers as well as others in the community, you can view on RFD TV on March 27 at 8:00 p.m. a Texas Country report recorded at Kelly Café in Colorado City, Texas. BJ Graham and his family, Kelsee, Bradlee, and Bear, were dining at the new Colorado City restaurant and were interviewed for TV. It is unique in that it is an old school in the town that was bought and renovated with the old school stage being used for entertainment in the cafe. The old gym in town is now a skating rink plus two other schools are being used for office space and other businesses. BJ is the son of Steve and Debbie Shoemaker Graham, also of Colorado City. His great-grandparents, Fert and Della Huckabee Graham left Mississippi to homestead in Loraine in Mitchell County, Texas. By the way, BJ is the football coach of the Colorado City Wolves, and his exercise equipment at the new school was from Pontotoc, Mississippi, and was installed by a Pontotoc work crew. Always a small world when you travel!
Shelly, Howard, and Madison Carnes nd Chase Hale of Pontotoc enjoyed a spring break week in Breckinridge, Colorado, as they enjoyed snow skiing in the Rocky Mountain town. The shopping is great there too as we spent a day there last May snow skiing and sight-seeing as well.
Betty and Jim Pierce are still in Tucson as their Ohio town is an area that is heavily populated, and the concern for COVID 19 is high. There is good weather in Tucson; so they are enjoying the spring sunshine and temperatures. Probably our spring rendezvous will not happen in Oklahoma as travel is not encouraged during the pandemic. We go every year to Sayre, Oklahoma, to turkey hunt, so that’s probably off the burner for now this spring.
Our cheerleader in the family, Harper, 8, was so excited to be taking classes at the Nickles Studio on Hwy. 278/6 at Thaxton Junction. The classes are on hold due to the pandemic; but the practicing is still intact as she videos her progress every day. The ‘grandarlins’ are my technology staff as I am amazed at their skills.
I always get calls or texts about the old school and of the night that it blew away in Hurricane on February 21, 1971. It left a big impression on our student body then as it was a time of turmoil to go to school in the gym and in the old Hurricane Baptist Church basement. Next year will be fifty years since this storm hit our community with losses of lives in Louisiana and in Tennessee, but none in Hurricane. I was looking through old pictures and family mementos in October as we were preparing for our church history; so the school was next door and bits and pieces of programs were saved as well. I came across a page from a Valentine decoration leaflet that the late Louise Graham Dowdy found lying on her desk the next morning after the tornado as she taught first and second grades in the elementary school. The room was demolished, but her desk was spared and papers lying on top were held down by debris. She had kept the paper; so I put it in my vast stacks of keepsakes as the faculty and the parents were so thankful that the storm at had been on a Sunday night. Currently we are looking for a color photo of the Hurricane High School building as the one used for a sign on the community center sign is murky due to the dim black and white photo used. A new sign will be donated. I think that a lot of the photo’s problem is that when it was enlarged, it showed the photo’s age from 1959. So folks look in your scrapbooks. Maybe someone has a clear, color photo. This year’s reminder came from retired ICC History Professor Dean Burchfield as his mother, the late Laverne Hudson Burchfield, was the third and fourth grades teacher. Dean was in elementary school; so it was an impressive visit to the site the next day for him also. I guess that it is time for me to write a booklet of this community event that forever changed the landscape in Hurricane a half century ago.