The Yalobusha Historical Society held its monthly meeting July 17 in Coffeeville. There were 38 members and guests present, representing six counties.
Chaplain John Moorman spoke the opening prayer. President Mike Worsham welcomed everyone, especially the visitors and also members who are not able to attend regularly. They include: James W. “Bill” Adams, Martha Short, S. W. Bondurant, M. D., Janie Womble, Julia Fernandez, J. C. and Patsie Tillman, Janet Kite Miller, Kathy Kite Bell, Alice G. Landreth, Robert O. “Red”Riddick and Betty Bryant Pechak. We’re always happy to have visitors, and the welcome mat is always out.
Mike stated that a repair man had come and checked out the AC units, one of which was not working properly last month. Both units were working fine at this meeting, after the repair man had serviced them. Mike then opened the floor for discussion of the Society’s Constitution & By-laws, and Rules, copies of which had been distributed at the June meeting. A vote was held, and the membership voted unanimously to accept the updated documents. Mike then turned the meeting over to Program Chairman Opal Wright.
Prior to introducing the day’s speaker, Opal stated that the August 21 program will be brought by former State Supreme Court Justice, Kay Cobb, of Oxford. She will speak on the workings of the Court. Again, everyone is invited to all meetings.
The day’s speaker was a familiar face, longtime member, Jimmie Pinnix of Grenada. Jimmie did a program for us a couple years ago, about his book “me and Old Bob.” Dr. Harry Owens was unable to do this month’s program, and since Jimmie was Opal’s ‘back-up’ speaker, he graciously agreed to give a program, even on short notice. We appreciate your help, Jimmie, and hope you will come up with another interesting program, just in case!
Jimmie was born and raised in Choctaw County, in East MS. He worked for several years at the old WNAG radio station in Grenada before getting a job with State Farm Insurance. He ran a State Farm office in Grenada for almost 35 years before retiring a few years ago. He and his wife, Francine, took a trip to Washington, D. C. and Jimmie recorded many of the scenes, making numerous slides while touring the city, and it was these slides he used to highlight the historic landmarks there. His “Tour of Washington, D. C” took the audience all around the city, with Jimmie narrating as he went along. We saw the Capitol, the White House and other government buildings, the Jefferson Memorial, the National Cathedral and Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home. He showed pictures of the cherry trees along the Tidal Basin, explaining that they were a gift from Japan about a century ago. He spoke of the many military memorials, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the changing of the Guard, Arlington National Cemetery, the Custis house, JFK’s burial site, the Eternal Flame and the National Air and Space Museum.
The historic Willard Hotel was home to Jimmie and Francine while they were in Washington, and he related several stories associated with this famous place. Its walls have seen history unfold for more than 150 years, from President Franklin Pierce, 1853, on up to the present. It was there that Abraham Lincoln stayed for a time prior to his inauguration in 1861. His bill was $700.00 and the records reveal that he didn’t pay it until after he received his first pay check as President. It was here that Julia Ward Howe wrote the beautiful “Battle Hymn of the Republic” She was asleep in her room at the hotel, and was awakened by a group of Union soldiers singing “John Brown’s Body Lies Moldering in the Grave” on the street outside. She loved the tune, but thought the nation needed better wording in a song, so she took pen in hand and composed “The Battle Hymn of the Republican.”
The English language even gained a new word, “lobbyist,’ that originated in the lobby of this landmark building. President Ulysses S. Grant, after a hard day in the Oval Office, like to retreat to the Willard lobby for a cigar and a glass of brandy. There was a steady stream of would-be power brokers, asking favors or wanting to talk to him. He began referring to these men as ‘lobbyists,’ and the word became a part of our language.
Jimmie and Francine had an interesting experience that they enjoyed at the Willard. Seems that the bathroom was having plumbing problems, so the management moved them to the luxurious Presidential suite, a real treat for Jimmie and Francine. There was a bottle of champagne, which they made sure was out of sight when they made pictures! He said they left the unopened bottle there for the next guests.
Jimmie’s narration added much to the slide show, and it was a most enjoyable program. Two of his and Francine’s friends, Dick and Jackie Weibley, were present, and it seems that, a while back, Jimmie had asked Jackie, our “Society Songbird,” to sing “Lorena” for us when he did a program. This song was the favorite of Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, as it spoke of home and families. The soldiers would become so mournful that they didn’t want to go out and fight, and, because of that, their officers tried to ban the song, with no success, of course. Jackie told Jimmie she had to learn it first, which she did, and her beautiful rendition of this old song was icing on the cake for Jimmie’s program. We appreciate Jimmie’s presentation, and also Jackie’s contribution. We hope both of you can entertain us again in the future.
ATTENDING: (other than those previously mentioned) Joy Herron, Jimmie Pinnix, Pauline Hughes, Ruth Richmond, Harold and Lena Jones, Tom and Alma Moorman, Sidney and Rachel Bolick, James and Polly Simpson, Hugh Bill and Alice McGuire, Pat Brooks, Mike Worsham, John Moorman, Joe Moorman, Gilbert Sullivan, Helen Jones, Dot Criss, Sarah Williams, Betty R. Miller, Sue Fly, Dick and Jackie Weibley.
Betty R. Miller