Hello everyone. Hope you had a great week – which included the birthday of our nation. Last Tuesday my son, Jamie, turned 28. Like most parents, I find it hard to believe that so many years have passed.
It seems only yesterday that I walked into the restaurant in Wynne, Ark. and they told me, “Don’t sit down. Go back to West Memphis because Lupe has gone into labor.”
When they came out with this little boy, he looked so little and helpless. After they put him in the incubator, he really looked so small and alone. Now when this six-foot one-inch young man walks in, I flash back to that little baby and what he’s become.
Today (Sunday) Shelby had her fifth birthday party. Again I think back five years to that tiny little girl who came, sick with pneumonia and how she would try to take the oxygen mask off her little face. Then there was ten days in NICU before she could come home.
As I looked at this lively little girl it’s hard to believe that at two she was operated on to cure her deafness, and then was diagnosed as autistic and spent the next three years in special schools and now she’s getting ready to enter kindergarten in the fall as a well-adjusted five year old. I guess the pride of a grandfather has to come out, so be patient with me.
Now back to some corrections in some past columns. Last week it read that rooms were fifty cents at Mrs. Shaw’s boarding house. It should have read meals were fifty cents, so I’ll have to edit more carefully.
I wrote some time back that Camp Ground was the first consolidated school in the county when Jeff Davis pre-dated it by a year. Camp Ground did have the distinction of being a county line school as the Lafayette county line ran through the middle of the school yard.
Papa Badley drove a school wagon, covered like the ones you have seen in the movies. He drove until they went to mechanized buses. One young man, an older student, became like a son to him always volunteering to drive his team for him. That young man was the grandfather of attorney Rick Carlisle.
Children back then went through a lot of hardships to be able to graduate from high school. One young man who graduated from Camp Ground went on to be a successful attorney and later Mississippi Supreme Court Justice, Kermit Cofer.
Lately I’ve been writing about the boarding house going back to the 19th Century and I want to feature another one this week. Nannie Badley had a niece, Callie Haddox, who with her brother, Willie, were orphaned at a young age. They were raised and educated by Elijah Haddox, Nannie’s brother.
She married James Walker and they lived and ran a dairy at Taylor, selling milk to Ole Miss. He would deliver the milk in a wagon to Oxford from Taylor each day. Later they sold the dairy, moved to Oxford, and leased a two story house on University Avenue just before crossing the bridge into the University.
She started serving three home-cooked meals daily and renting rooms to students who preferred to live off campus. The dining room was much larger than Mrs. Shaw’s with a long table running the entire length of the room. The food was on the tables and passed around upon request.
As I’ve eaten there many times over the years, I can attest to the fact that the meals were some of the best I ever had. Some of her boarders included Sen. John Stennis, Governor J. P Coleman, and Congressman Jamie Whitten. She would speak with pride how every time they would come to town they always made a point of coming by and having a meal with her.
Finally in the late forties, age and bad health forced them to close the house and move to Chicago to be near their daughter, Elizabeth, who was married to my uncle, John Cooper. One of the ladies, who worked for them in the boarding house, became a live-in Nanny for the two Cooper boys.
The boarding house is one thing I really miss about the old days but they have passed into history. Let me hear from you. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, Tn 38101 and have a great week.