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Out On The Mudline

Junior College Funds Were Tight In Early Years

By W. P. Sissell

By the time you read this the first event I want to mention  will have passed but is not forgotten.  On Sunday Miss Jo Bryant (Mrs. Leden Bryant) will have celebrated her 96th birthday in Taylor, Mississippi.  

The story I wanted to begin with today has to do with one of her sons who played football at Northwest Junior College (NWJC), many years ago. It, also, relates to the early days of NWJC. He said that their dressing room had boards along the wall where you drove your thirty penny nail for hanging your clothes—do you notice that “your”—you had to bring your own nail. His time of attendance was near the time I took the summer courses there.  The funds available were scarce.  

The junior college idea was a way to get a college education at a lesser cost and had its beginnings in the southern states.  Its small classes and close attention by instructors helped many students get a degree.  I used the services of NWJC because I needed to be at home on the farm during the summer.  The Chemistry classes, which I took there in the summer, were filled with real learning opportunities about life.    

Home Brew

One morning, in the second term course in Organic Chemistry, Mr. Burks arrived at the lab with a visitor, the Sheriff of Tate County.  The Sheriff was carefully toting a case of Orange Crushes or so it seemed.  Most of you “older” folks will remember when Orange Crushes were bottled in orange colored bottles.  Except for the caps the bottles in the Sheriff’s case looked like the real thing.  

 Our problem for the lab period—which was all day if necessary—was to determine the alcohol content—it is an organic compound and we knew the formula—of the contents of the Orange Crush bottles.  

When we measured out 100 milliliters in our sparkling clear glassware, I would bet that not one of us ever took another swallow of “Home Brew.”  Our clear glass, graduated cylinders, were filled with a liquid which contained much material which looked  rotten.  It was home brew, bottled and capped in orange crush bottles, seized in a raid by the sheriff. The alcohol content showed to be 17%, if my memory serves me correctly.  I really think that I can go back to the experiment record book, required by Mr. Burk, and find the exact figure.  That was pretty potent home brew.  There were several of these, example, classes which illustrated the practical value of the study of the course material.   

Other Connections

I hope, from these and previous writings, that you think of me as a friend to our system of Junior (now Community) Colleges.  As I taught in the secondary schools of our state I got moved into administration.  I did this knowing that my first love was the classroom because this is where you interact with many people, the students. After serving Panola County as an administrator for a number of years I returned to the classroom in the Science Department of Northwest.    

Most of the students there come from the 11-county area which supports the now community college, although I remember students from many places like Nigeria, Canada, the Fiji Islands,  Puerto Rico, Mexico, Tennessee, Arkansas, and New Mexico. The Canadian and the student from Fiji were roommates one year.  

During a part of the administrative service I also served on Northwest Board of Trustees.  This happened to be in some of  the growth of the college.  Today there are several Community campuses in addition to the main campus in Senatobia.  If you haven’t visited the campus of your Community College, take a little trip soon and find out what your support is doing for our children.  

Do have a good week and thanks for your compliments.  We must apologize to our mail carrier—yesterday we wondered and wondered about our mail.      

We didn’t look on our front steps until this morning and then accidentally. Thank you for looking after us. We, Nannette and I, will see many of you Saturday night at another of those great Crowder class reunions.  You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606, 662-563-9879 or

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