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Charles Cooper

Calls, E-mails Contribute To W.V. Memories

Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week. First of all, I’d like to correct an error regarding the O’Tuckalofa tornado. Since I usually don’t get my paper until a week later, I didn’t get a chance to correct it in the next issue. The tornado was on March 16, 1942, not 1941 as the column stated.  I try to edit each column, but I let that get by.

I certainly am sure when it happened as I’m sure John Ashford does.  I did fail to mention that Forrest Barber had a store that was destroyed and Mrs. Barber seriously injured.      

Mr. Barber went on to be elected Sheriff in 1959 as Bob Jones had died before assuming office.  The O’Tuckalofa students were divided between Camp Ground and Water Valley for the rest of the school year and after then they all went to Water Valley. 

A few weeks back Mary Wilhoit sent me an e-mail and I mentioned that I knew her parents, Dick and Hortense Wilhoit.  I also mentioned that I thought her mother had coached a girl’s basketball team that were state champions.

This is one time I’m not going to have to write a retraction.  They were indeed State Champions in the 1935-36 season. I verified it and knew several of the team members. They were: Pauline Smith, who later had the Nancy Pass State Farm agency for years; Roxie Garner who was married to George Arrington; Dorothy Maynor, who lived the next farm to Papa Badley. Dorothy’s father, Sherwood Maynor was my boyhood hero as he would relate tales from western novels he had read.

Other team members were Louise Badley, who was Mother’s first cousin; Marie Carr, who was an aunt to Larry Carr; and Lucille Holt, an older sister to Minnie Williamson who passed away recently. 

Mary. I know you are proud that your mother coached that all-star team.

The other night I received a telephone call from Ray “Sonny”  Milstead and we talked for a long time. I hadn’t seen Sonny since he worked for the Memphis Housing Authority and it was good to remember old times. This was the first time I had the opportunity to offer my condolences in the death of his wife, Ann.

I had seen them at a gospel singing in their church several years ago and remembered when I had milk goats and sold goat milk to several customers. I also learned that his cousin, W. J. Milstead lives in Banner. 

I was under the impression that W.J. had died several years ago but I was in error. The last time I saw W.J. was when he came back from Korea. 

He was a Marine and had been wounded but made a full recovery.  I read with interest the interview that Alex Van Buren had with Commander Ret. Thomas D. Kelley.

Crip Tyler had arranged an interview for me as Commander Kelley normally didn’t give interviews. We met on Veteran’s day 2005 and I found him to be what we always called a southern gentleman.

He was a wealth of information about his Navy experiences, and I was wishing that I had more time to talk to him.  He did invite me back at any time but I’m sorry to say I haven’t gotten around to it. 

Commander Kelley, I salute you for your long years of service to our country, and I do hope to talk to you again. 

These telephone calls, emails and letters have made doing this column such a pleasure the last six years.  I look forward to hearing from you and as I’ve said before, if you‚ll include your telephone number, I give you a call. 

My email address is or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, Tn 38101 have a great week and a happy Easter.


1 Comment

  1. Jeffrey Brown on April 13, 2022 at 4:26 pm

    Forrest Barber was my Great Uncle on my mother’s side. My grandmother was his sister May Olive Barber. I remember visiting my Uncle Forrest and Aunt May (Nanny May) and my great grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Jessie Barber, as a boy. Do you have more information about the Barbers and their history? I have been searching for information on them.

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