Wednesday mornings are always interesting—last week more than usual. We had one of the largest papers we’ve every printed, with the regular edition, plus the special Sesquicentennial Section. As Daddy Shearer always admonished me to do, when I had to lift an especially heavy load, “Put some bricks in your pockets, honey!”
Well Wednesday, I had to find lots of bricks, and later some sore muscles. Often I have benefactors who help carry in my bundles—not so last week. They kept arriving just as I had finished—a little birdie must have informed of the extra poundage. Everyone was very excited about the special section and were very complimentary. I got all the praise, even though I did none of the work—well except getting them into the stores. We do appreciate all the compliments—David, Jack and Mel worked very hard and did an excellent job.
Mel took Thursday and Friday off, so David, Jack and I got ready for the big day on Saturday. Sister Jimmie came over Friday morning and got the old Herald Building beautified. She did a great job—don’t know how I’d get all my jobs done without my siblings and friends.
Thursday night Betty and Al Davis took me out to Country Catfish for a fine dinner. Louise and her staff do know how to cook fish. We had to catch up on all the news—I hadn’t seen the Davis children and grands in a couple of months. Heard from Traci and John through Jim.
He called on Tuesday night and said that on Monday morning he had a note on his desk from a New Mexico friend, who had met John at a conference in the Dallas area. Somehow they got from Delta State University or Water Valley to the point that they had a mutual friend—Jim. It is a small world. Betty said that the other Trey (I can never remember his last name), who is a drug rep and a next door neighbor of niece Misty’s in Batesville, shared the news that Misty is getting married. (Misty is marrying Trey Wright—thus the other Trey). Betty wanted to know why I had not told her—we haven’t seen each other, nor even visited on the phone.
Betty promised to send Kelli and Grayson by on Friday—Kelli had a day off. Promise was kept and I’m glad Grayson was in his Mother’s arms or I would never have known him. He came here so small and now at five months, he’s grown into a big boy—29 inches long and 20 pounds. He is so cute, just bubbly, bright and outgoing.
He came to me like I’d been holding him every day, smiled and you’d have thought I was a grand—well I am, sorta, but I’m not being a very good one. For readers who don’t know (Ed and I have no grands, so we became adopted grands of the Davis grandchildren, dubbed Big Ed and B. B.—a great honor)
Saturday couldn’t have been a better day—well maybe a little less wind. Jessie Gurner and the Main Street committee, along with all their volunteers, did an outstanding job of getting all the special events organized.
There were many, many former Vallians, visitors, and home folks out to enjoy the day.
I started the day, helping assemble what was needed to set up the food booth for Woodland Hills’ youth. I met several visitors while doing this. Then I moved on up close to the band stand and visited with many, many more out-of-towners and local folks that I don’t cross paths with on a regular basis.
Opening ceremony was excellent, with one of the highlights being the presentation of Water Valley’s new flag, designed by Native Tommy Latham and it is beautiful—congratulations, Tommy. Tommy’s older brother, Don from Memphis, and I visited later in the afternoon and he said he also submitted a design. I had always known that Don was a fine artist, but had never suspected that Tommy was talented in this area. Had known Tommy as a fine singer and actor—and now he’s going to be a director (an excellent one I’m sure.)
I also enjoyed the style show. Everyone in this was superb—models, seamstresses, and especially commentator Dale Tyler.
After enjoying the wonderful concert by our Community Band, I went back to the office to take my turn as hostess for the photo contest, being displayed there.
We were scheduled to remain open until three o’clock, but the interest was so great and people just kept coming so it was about 6:30 before we closed. I remained there the entire time, even though David, Charlotte, and Lauren returned, and then later Jack. I wanted to visit with all the people coming by.
The Latham brothers were in and I enjoyed a longer visit with them—we reminisced about the early days in the Valley, when their father, Ed, and Arthur Walker had the barber next door to the Herald. There were some bitter/sweet memories there.
Don mentioned something about his sister (I thought there were only three Latham boys, no girls) then I remembered that their mother died early and Ed married Loy Cotton (after Ed’s death Edgar Sandifer) and they raised the Latham and Cotton children as one big happy family—even with all the sadness they suffered through the years.
Another child I watched grow up, who came by with her father, Travis, was Charlotte Clement Gray. She and Jim were classmates and now she works with the wife of Jim’s closest Memphis musical friend, Charley Wood. She said last time she and Jim emailed, Jim asked, “Now just how many children do you have now—nine?”
Charlotte is the mother of four. I told next time he smarted off, remind him that he had none and that she was trying to take up his slack in keeping up the U.S. population. It is great to have friends you enjoy for a lifetime—and I think these two will.
It was good to have Mary Sue and Bennett Anderson from Olive Branch, along with Bennett’s cousin, Jim Hamilton, and his wife from Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, down for the day. Jim lived in the Valley in his childhood, later moving to Memphis with his parents and working for the Commercial Appeal until his recent retirement. Bennett, having been in printing all of his life, and Mary Sue, are fellow volunteers at the state Ag and Forestry Museum Print Shop. His mother was born and reared in the Valley and he visited his grandmother here during his growing up years. It’s always great to see them—we’ve become family.
Also enjoyed a visit with Vallian Terrell McClaflin Viner, who lives in Memphis. Mother Virginia was also here, but I never got to see her. We enjoyed reliving several things that happened in her teen years. We were often in Virginia and Leroy’s home, and it was fun watching Terrell and Robert grow up—they were great children and have become wonderful adults. Ed and I were also with Terrell (and sometimes Virginia) at all the band events.
There were so many others, that it would take a book to mention them all—do know that each of you are special and I enjoyed seeing everyone.
Last musical event I attended was Braden Gray and his band Loose Gravel. They are tremendous. Also enjoyed visiting with Braden’s father, our former Postmaster Gary Gray, and his wife, Ann, of Etta. Gary told me that Braden has been accepted into a prestigious music school in Nashville. I know Braden’s going to be a big star someday—and we’ll all have known him when he was on the ground floor. He’s been in the Valley three times this year and everyone here loves him—maybe when he gets to be a star he’ll remember the friends of his early days!
I was cold, tired, and hungry, so I went to the van, which had been parked in front of the office, to pick up a jacket and then return to watch the fireworks. Found that the view of this show from the cleaner’s parking lot was excellent. Really meant to go back and hear Thompson—Ward (who always present a fine show), but after 13 hours, I believe I’d have fallen asleep—so I went home. Maybe I’ll catch their next local performance—Steve’s another member of the Class of ‘82.
Everyone I’ve talked to this week has been singing praises of the wonderful Sesquicentennial celebration—thanks, Jessie and crew, for providing this tremendous event.