Most of you know her as Sally or Mama Sally, but her given name is Sally Patsy Annie Winters. She was born May 4, 1908 to the late Bellamy and Susie (Hoskins) Winters, the fourth child of eight children. Her siblings are London, Onia, Betty, Gencie, Scott, Bellamy and Susie. Of the eight children, she is the only one that is still alive.
Sally went to Leigh Branch School at the age of five and finished at Oakland School in Oakland, when she was 23 years old. There were no school buses when she went to school so they had to walk. It was a mile from her home to Leigh Branch and two miles from her home to Oakland School.
When she was younger, she lived on a farm and her father, lovingly known as Papa, raised cows, chickens and hogs. Sally had to do housework, barn and yard work and gardening. Most of her clothes were made out of flour sacks. The age of five was a busy year for her – that was the year she started working. Every day was a busy day. She had to pull watermelons, pick cotton and carry water from a homemade well to her house.
When she was 13 years old, Sally went to town for the first time. Can you believe that? Her Papa had bought her some shoes, but they were too little. So Papa had to take Sally to town to try on her shoes to make sure the fit was proper.
During Sally’s time, there were no TVs or DVD players, no Gameboys, Nintendo II or Play Station 3s. For entertainment, she played playhouse, ball and jumped rope with grapevines. When the grapevines weren’t sufficient, she would sneak and borrow some of Papa’s ropes (but only after all of her work was done).
In 1922, she joined the church at Spring Hill North (currently located on Railroad Street) in Water Valley, Mississippi. She confessed hope in Christ during an August revival on a Wednesday night. Today, Sally can still remember that night when Sis. Olivia Hoskins, the church secretary, wrote her name down as a member of Spring Hill North. Her pastor during that time was Rev. Cap Petty.
Sally met the love of her life, Will, at Spring Hill North. He would always attend Spring Hill on the 3rd Sunday of the month just to see Lil Ole Sally. In 1930, Sally and Will got married. Shortly after that, they had ten beautiful children: Winfield, Ora Lee, Elnora, Lawrence, Onia, Carl, Inez, Willie, Juanita and Earnestine.
Through the years, Will and Sally continued to grow their own food and raised the meats. After getting married, she began to go to town a little more.
In her spare time, Mama Sally likes to read her Bible and daily devotional books, cook cakes and work in her flower beds. Her favorite flower is a rose. She likes the way roses smell. Her favorite song is “Lord, There’s Somebody Here, It Must Be Jesus.” She just loves it when Jeff White sings it. According to Mama Sally, if she could sing, she would sing it all the time. Now, she just goes around humming it because she can’t sing it. Sally says, “That song just does something to me.”
Papa Will and Mama Sally had fifty-two beautiful years together. Every day was not a rose. They had some good days and some bad days, but you know, through it all, they made it. In 1982, Papa Will died. Sally thought she had lost one of her best friends. In actuality, though, Papa Will’s death brought her closer to her other best friend, God. She says, “God walks and talks with me every day of my life.” She carries Him with her everywhere she goes.
Because her trust lies solely in God, one of her favorite scriptures is Proverbs 3: 5-6: trust in the lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Since 1990, her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren have gotten together every year to celebrate Mama Sally’s birthday. Yes, that’s five generations that she’s lived to see. This year, we celebrated her 104th birthday (making it a national holiday for the family). Mama Sally’s celebration included a fish fry on Friday night at her son Carl’s house, a cookout on Saturday given by her grandchildren, and a good old fashioned soul food dinner given by her children on Sunday.
Her immediate family consists of 162: 10 children, eight in-laws (sons and daughters), 57 grandchildren, 69 great grandchildren and 18 great-great grandchildren.
The Lord is truly blessing Sally, as she lovingly describes in a poem she wrote at the age of 90.
I have two eyes and I can see.
I know the Lord is blessing me.
I have two legs and I can walk.
I have a tongue and I can talk.
I have ten children that I love.
I have two arms and I can hug.
A lot of time I may not have kissed and hugged,
Because I was out trying to get some grubs.
I have fifty-seven grand children
So big and strong, I am able to hold them in my arm.
Sixty-nine great grand’s I love to see.
I know the Lord is blessing me. I have eighteen great-
great grands that most grands don’t live to see.
I know the Lord is blessing me.
The Bible says He gives us three score and ten.
But He turns around and blessed me again.
I say Lord, as I grow old, let me grow sweet.
Anchor me down, like the strong oak tree.
Let the branches spring up full and free.
A light to my family let me be.
Shinning on when I am gone.
When I am rejoicing around God’s throne.
WRITTEN BY: Sally Polk at the age of 90 and since then two of her children have passed away.