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Yalobusha Historical Society – May 21, 2015

Melvin Ford (top) and Lila Ann Wallace Stewart

Oakland Memories Shared At YHS Meeting

 By Joy M. Tippit
Special To The Herald

COFFEEVILLE – Mike Worsham introduced his Oakland High School classmates at their 65th class reunion celebrated at the May 21, Yalobusha Historical Meeting.  Class-mate Phillip Tillman voiced a prayer. Lila Ann Wallace Stewart and Melvin Ford recalled memories of “growing up in Oakland”.

            Lila Ann’s father, Mr. Luke Wallace, was superintendent of the Coffeeville, Oakland, and Charleston Schools at different times. Lila Ann was three and four years old when she lived in Coffeeville and remembered playing barber shop with the Bailey twins. They would cut her hair and she would cut theirs.

            Mary Smith was her first grade teacher in the new Oakland School in 1938. Entertainment on Sunday afternoon was watching the four o’clock train stop to get water while passengers arrived and departed. Stopping by Mr. Well’s drugstore for a double dip of ice cream was a treat on Sunday afternoon. Mr. Wells knew everyone’s business in a manner that was just understood. 

            In 1940 there was such a big snow that dogs would disappear. Gone with the Wind played in Water Valley, and Alexander’s Ragtime Band played in Batesville.  A picture show came to Oakland, later.

            Lt. Carson Hughes bailed out of his plane in World War II and was captured by Germans. He was not heard from until Christmas Day, and he was able to get a message out on ham radio.  He was only allowed to say, “My name is Carson Hughes Jr., and please get word to my father, Carson Hughes Sr. in Oakland, MS and tell him that I am alive.” 

            Melvin Ford graduated from Oakland High School in 1949. Melvin’s parents moved from Ford’s Wells in 1930, a year after the Great Depression began and times were hard. His twin brother and he joined a family of five brothers in 1933. They would not tell on each other when mischief was done, so their parents would paddle both of them to be sure the culprit was punished. There was always an abundance of food but not much money. 

            Melvin’s mother worked at the Oakland Mercantile Co., where they bought clothing for the family during a big sale.  Shoes were ordered from Sears Roebuck. These were the days of no electricity and outside toilets. During the depression there were no jobs, and men would ride in railroad box cars in search of food and shelter. They would roam the town with a small pack on their back that contained all of their belongings. Many knocked on the backdoor for food, and Mrs. Ford always found something for them to eat. 

            Melvin remembered the new Oakland School had steam heat and inside toilets where he started first grade in 1939. The school offered free transportation to students who lived a mile or so away from school.  Cotton sold for a little more than 10 cents a pound.

            Melvin had four brothers drafted into World War II.  Fortu-nately all four came home.  However, one brother had not been home in four years and was terribly homesick. and he had to be held by other soldiers to keep him from jumping off the train in Oakland on the way to Camp Shelby. During the 1940s and 50s Oakland consisted of a dozen stores, a bank, a post office, and a hotel. 

            Melvin and Lila Ann noted that Interstate 55 stopped growth in the town of Oakland as they knew it. Come again Lila and Melvin to speak to us again.

            Emma Hovey concluded the program by singing “Dear Hearts and Gentle People” and “Now is the Hour”, songs remembered by the Oakland High School Class of 1950.  Come again, Class of 1950.

            Notes of interest:

            • Newly elected YHS President Mike Ayers welcomed members and guests.

            • Debby Hughes read the monthly financial report and reported that notecards picturing Yalobusha historic buildings are being sold for $10.

            • Joy Tippit stated there would be a yard and bake sale Saturday, June 6, in the YHS parking lot beginning at 7:30 a.m.

            • Julia Fernandez stated the June 18 speaker will be Bob Hawley, and his topic is the USS Jackson. USS Jackson is scheduled to be commissioned at Gulfport, Mississippi 2015

            • Attending were: Lila Ann Wallace Stewart, Sara. J. Caldwell, Jo Ann Swearengen, Helen Allen Jones, April Holliman, Roy Edwards, Mary Frances Edwards, Cecil Ford, Melvin Ford, Tommy Hill, Vernice Hill, Davie Rotenberry, Marie Roten-berry, Betty Miller, Margaret Jean Ross, Patsy Burt Williams, Fae Ross Maroon, Sarah Reeves, Wyomman Reeves, Mike Worsham, Debby Hughes, Patsy Bell Stanley, J. L Crawford Margie Crawford, Pat Brooks,,Sue T. Fly, Carl Vick, Mae Vick, Mary Sue Stevens, Bobby Hutchins, Bobbie Hutchins, Betty Bryant Stewart, Sonny Stewart, Lillian Standridge, Julia Fernandez, Joy Herron, Phillip L. Tillman, Bettie Litten, Lawrence Litten, Nancy Meyers, Dave Hovey, Emma Hovey, James Person, Tom Cox, Sarah Williams, Mike Ayers and Joy Tippit.

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