Dear Mr. Helms,
Recently Ms. Regina Butler wrote relative to her memories of the late Danny Walls and Betty Sue Duke Walls as the friendly and pleasant proprietors of the Joy Theater in Pontotoc.
My recollections of Danny go back sixty-two years to 1958 when he was a high scoring, shooting guard on an Algoma High School basketball team 58 straight games. Charles Davis and A.M. Norwood, Jr., were members of that team that was coached by Mr. A.M. Norwood, Sr. the team only lost one game and unfortunately that was an elimination game to Wheeler in a District Tournament by nearly 20 points.
Incidentally, that same year that the Ingomar girls teams coached by Kenneth “Cat” Robbins was the state B-BB Tournament Champion and the Grand Slam Champion with a record of 68-0.
During my sophomore year in college, 1960-61, Danny and I refereed high school basketball games and became close friends in this endeavor. Subsequently to that year we mutually agreed that we needed focus on another means of making a living.
Prior to consolidation of the county school in Pontotoc county, country basketball reigned supreme. I was privileged to participate at Ecru. Mr. Lex Cain coached at Ecru for ten years and during that time our boys teams were always competitive. Lex’s teams won some county tournaments, district tournaments and in 1962 advanced to the North Half Tournament. He did, subsequently, win a state tournament at Thrasher. The recently deceased Mr. Cain concluded his career as county superintendent of Prentiss County for 16 years.
During the 1950s and early 1960s there were seven high schools in the county and with Pontotoc City Schools, which always had good basketball teams. There would be eight competitive teams in the annual tournament. At that time, the state classifications included only two classifications, A-AA and B-BB; rather than the current six classifications. Accordingly, there would be four state tournaments rather than the current 12. At that time, it was pretty difficult to get to a state tournament.
The only teams from Pontotoc County that I recall winning a state tournament during the 1950s was the Pontotoc girls team coached by Shirley Wayne Robbins. The involvement with country basketball has left me with many fond and happy memories. Danny Walls and I were privileged to be part of this history in Pontotoc County.
Incidentally, over the years I have been asked just how far it is from Ecru to Ingomar. My stock answer was and is, “about as far as a good center fielder can chunk.” This business with country basketball is finely remembered by dozens of participants from Pontotoc county.
Regards, Glen H. Davidson, Senior Judge, U.S. District Court, Northern District-Mississippi