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Out On The Mudline

Northwest Campus More Than It Was 70 Years Ago

By W. P. Sissell

Lost on Campus

    Last week, after attending a young friend’s wedding in Senatobia. Nannette and I decided to visit my old friend Chad Williams who lives in Senatobia.  Chad and I  shared an office in the Science Department for a number of years.  His daughter, Mary Lee “Minna”  Sturgeon, who is presently on staff at Northwest Mississippi Commun-ity College, asked if I had been on campus recently.  

    My answer was no but the question made me wonder.  As we left I suggested that I would like to drive through the campus again. Our grandson, Parker, has enrolled for the fall semester.  Within minutes, after getting on campus I/we were lost.  “Minna”   mentioned the new addition to the Physical Science building that will be the home of the Biological Sciences. This will take the place of the Burk Science building.

At one point, on the west side of the campus, I stopped to tell Nannette that we were in the approximate location of the one time cotton field where we lived in a trailer for a summer.

My Memories

 Our memories of Northwest go back many years.  Mine reach back to the middle thirties when my older brother enrolled there  in 1935.   I remember the president, Mr. Berry.  Reuel Jr., along with several of his friends, especially one of the Simpson boys, joined the Navy at mid-term in 1936.  The presidency had changed.  Mr. Pugh, whom I would get to know much better in later years, was the new president.  One escapade of Reuel and his buddies was the leaving his car wedged between the willows in Long Creek Bottom.  At the time, the junior college part of Northwest was equal to, if not overshadowed by, the area High School which was a part of the college.  A lot of  Sunday afternoons were occupied by a trip to Senatobia to return Reuel, Jr. to school and I, almost always, got to make the trip.

Nannette Joins the Memories

    As we sat there, in what we thought was the one time cotton field, Nannette told of her connection to Northwest.  In the summer of 1944, still in Mr. Pugh’s term as president, Nannette and her friend, Mary Louise Cooper (Samuels), attended high school at Northwest to take English so they could graduate the next year.  Their teacher was Miss Hattie Crowell (one of my father’s former teachers).  If you check the teacher salaries, at that time, you will find that summer employment was a necessity for teachers.


The Cotton Field

The Northwest Campus had grown little in the years between 1927 and 48.  Several trailers had been procured for additional classroom space and student housing.   Building to take care of the increasing  enrollment was about to begin.  In the summer of 1948 several of us who were attending Mississippi State went to Northwest, primarily because of the way they taught the summer courses. I’m pretty sure that in three weeks and three days one could complete a course.  Our desired courses  were two courses in Organic Chemistry and possibly Physics.  

These three were all four hour courses which called for a slight re-arrangement of the time schedule.  The time was “all day long” with Mr. Marcus Burks.  After the first test most of us found that Mr. Burks was an excellent instructor and demanded study.  One of the pluses of my life is that I took his courses and got to teach courses standing  beneath his picture in the Burks Building,  

At the time we took the courses the Burk’s Building was only a dream of the future—but it materialized shortly. My and Nannette’s dream was an apartment for our home  must be  one of the trailers parked in a former cotton field on the west side of the campus.  They evidently did not have a disc for the rows were not leveled (they did cut the stalks).  They let us know the last week of summer school that an apartment was now available.  

I’ll have to continue next week for this former Mudline resident will have a greater connection with Northwest than he would have dreamed.  

 You can reach me almost any time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606, 662-563-9879 or

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