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Herald Editor Phillip “Moon” Mullin placed a photo of the Water Valley Depot at the center top of the front page in January of 1943 and wrote that the heart of any small town — or at least the nerve center — is the depot.
Mullin noted that when the crawling combination local was the only connection of the inland town with the outside world, the station agent was one of the town’s most substantial people and the telegraph operator its most glamorous.
And the crowds would gather, morning and night, to see the miracle of the fire-eating, smoke-spewing behemoth roaring in, bringing the world and its strange peoples right into our midst.
Water Valley’s then 50-year-old depot was a more-so important place because it was the headquarters of the Mississippi Division of the Illinois Central Railroad. Up until the first years of the 20th century the fastest passenger trains and the hottest freights streamed through here for we were on the main line.
But, passenger car service had been discontinued and the passenger trains would never again bring their glamour here. However, the good news in all the bad was that the war-time transportation needs had increased railroad traffic here by at least a third.
Water Valley, Mullin wrote, had recaptured some of its old spirit and old atmosphere as a railroad town. And it would always be permeated with those solvent, substantial, efficient, “railroad people.”
Through The Years From The Herald
• 15 years ago, Jan. 24, 2008 – A Sayle LP Company truck carrying propane struck a bridge and flipped over into Herman White Creek two miles west of town on Hwy. 32. The driver, who was not seriously injured, lost control on the rain slick road.
Denley’s One Stop, located on Okahoma Street in Coffeeville, was destroyed by fire. The family business had been in operation at the location for about six decades.
David McFadden of Water Valley captured a photo of a bear with his deer camera placed in a hunting area in southeastern Panola County.
Davlyn Ross, 33, faced two counts of aggravated assault after allegedly shooting into two vehicles near Tillatoba.
Dr. Heidi Pratt, D.O. was being welcomed to the clinic at Yalobusha General Hospital.
An ATM mechanic accidentally triggered a silent alarm at Regions Bank and found himself surrounded by two police cars and Constable Randy Simmons on Central Street.
• 20 years ago, Jan. 23, 2003 – Blackmur Memorial Library became a member of the newly-formed Dancing Rabbit Library Consortium, a cooperative effort by 14 public and academic libraries to improve library services in northwest Mississippi.
Byron Ray, a senior basketball player at Coffeeville High School, was a Clarion-Ledger top performer. He went on to play for the University of Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans and professionally for the Alliance Sangalhos basketball team in Portugal.
Richard Hall, owner of the new beef processing plant being constructed near Oakland, was pictured visiting the East Lab at WVHS to share business expertise with students, including Jamie Cofer, Charlisa Carr and Brittnay Foxx.
• 30 years ago, Jan. 21, 1993 – Perry Hawkins was one of eight students selected to the 1992-93 Hall of Fame at the University of Mississippi. He was a senior majoring in chemical engineering and political science.
WVHS students were getting a taste of stardom as they were being recorded for the school’s first video yearbook.
Water Valley School added 36 new Apple II computer systems bringing the total number of classroom units to 100.
Mechanics Bank received a five-star rating in the Bauer Financial Report, putting them in the top third of banks nationwide.
Bonnie Newman Basler was accepted by the University of Mississippi School of Medicine at the Medical Center in Jackson.
On the honor roll at Delta State University were Melissa Dennis, Kellie Mitchell, and Natalie Norwood.
• 40 years ago, Jan. 27, 1983 – A front-page photo showed salvage crews removing rails as Water Valley’s railroad era came to an end.
New Junior Auxiliary officers included Mrs. Shannon Flynn, president; Mrs. Mike Williamson, first vice-president; Mrs. Tommy White, second vice-president; Mrs. Jim Burress, recording secretary; Mrs. Andy Jones, corresponding secretary; and Mrs. Fred Eakes, treasurer.
Jerry Green was killed in an automobile crash Jan. 21 and Jerry Wayne Foster was killed in a tractor accident Jan. 19.
• 50 years ago, Jan. 25, 1973 – A pulpwood car and caboose derailed north of town Jan. 20. No one was injured and the cars were put back on the track the next day.
The Devilettes, much depleted after as a result of first semester grades, were defeated by Lafayette, 39-15. High scorers were Dorothy Sanders with 11 points and Zandra Morris with six. The boys went down 47-46. Steve Hale and Tommy Hawkins were high scorers with 14 points each.
Members of the city Democratic Executive Committee were Sayle Womack, J. B. Massey, Coley Taylor, Carmon King, William A. Hyde and Tolbert Maddox.
Corinne “Sweetie” Hall Steele was on the Dean’s List at Memphis State College in Memphis and Susan Hunsicker was named to the Dean’s List at Mississippi State College for Women.
Honor roll students at Ole Miss included Susan Brown, Len Crawford, Hugh Gurner, Jean Martin, Nina McKibben, Karen Rotenberry and Becky Steele. From Coffeeville were Wanda Jane Adams and Steve Bailey.
Bennie Cole Taylor was elected to the board of directors at the Bank of Water Valley.
• 60 years ago, Jan. 24, 1963 – There were 20 civil and seven state cases on the January Circuit Court docket. Nine of the civil cases were directed toward T. A. Crenshaw, doing business as Dixie Poultry Corporation. Among the state cases were two against the same bootlegger for possession of whiskey.
The temperature was 8 degrees on the night of Jan. 23 with a predicted low of minus-5 for the early morning hours of Jan. 24.
Ross Ingram was a delegate to the National Cotton Council representing the Louisiana-Mississippi Ginners’ Association.
David Hicks was the new music and youth director at First Baptist Church.
Ethelyne Turnage, roving reporter for the WVHS Yellow Jacket, wrote about the stuck door incident in 5th period chemistry class. Teacher Adeline Edwards noticed that the doorknob was sticking. So, she walked outside the room and pulled the door closed only to find herself locked out much to the glee of the class. She went through the connected lab to get back in to her classroom.
• 70 years ago, Jan. 22, 1953 – The flu was hitting hard in Yalobusha County.
An early morning fire did $10,000 damage to the grocery firm of Larson & Sons, owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. James Larson, formerly known as the Westside Grocery. The blaze was discovered by Roy Larson who was at work on an IC switch engine. It was believed to have started from the vent pipe of the gas heater or a fluorescent light left burning at night.
Frank Hyde was promoted from second class to first class game warden.
A pair of photos showed local Christmas decorations from the last season including a bandstand set-up with a church that is a spitting image of the current First Baptist Church long before it was conceived. The other shows the City Park gazebo with a reindeer attached to each post.
• 80 years ago, Jan. 21, 1943 – James William Mathis was killed when the Shell Oil bulk truck he was driving left Hwy. 32 and turned over.
The possibility of legal action over the city government’s attempt to close the local pool halls was predicated by some local business people. Among those complaining was Ferrell Truss, son of Dr. S. W. Truss, who had gone into the Army and found out that his business would be closed while he was off in the service of his country.
The Herald’s new society editor Marguerite Groves complained to Editor Phil “Moon” Mullin that she wanted to write about a party, but the “someone” who held it didn’t want it mentioned in the paper. “There will be parties like that,” was Moon’s response.