On Friday, August 26th, 2005, Tropical Storm Katrina passed over South Florida and entered the Gulf of Mexico. As the storm rapidly strengthened to a category five hurricane, Phyllis Genin of Bay St. Louis, MS began to prepare. In this extended version of the radio broadcast, Genin describes how she and her family rode out the storm in a small downtown office building. She also expresses the shock that they felt when they were finally able to survey the damages.
Anne Hall Wagoner Norris began working for Holiday Inn as a secretary in 1960. She recalls how the small Memphis company provided many educational opportunities for its employees. With the training Norris received, she was able to advance in the field of Public Relations and obtain her pilots license which she used to compete in the women's air racing team sponsored by Holiday Inn. Her extensive travel during thirty-two years with the company took her to more than thirty foreign countries.
In 1910, O’Neal Chambers was born in Lorman, Mississippi. The son of a farmer, he recalls helping his father clear the land with a cross-cut saw.
Growing up on a farm meant that there was always work to be done. Chambers remembers Sunday as the one day to relax and play. He also talked about how he used to accompany his father to Cohn Brothers’ cotton gin and general store in Lorman and describes a suit his father bought for him there.
Leakesville native, Dr. John Allums was teaching at the University of Georgia in 1951 when the Korean War began. He recounts making the transition from college professor to Air Force Intelligence Officer. He also explains how he worked with representatives from various government agencies to prepare reports for the president.
On May 1st, 1960, a US U2 spy plane was shot done by the Soviet government while on a mission to photograph Russian military bases. Allums discusses why he feels that President Eisenhower made a mistake when he publicly acknowledged the U2 program.
Created in 1956, the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission was a state agency set up to hinder the progress of the civil rights movement through public relations and intelligence gathering.
Erle Johnston of Forrest was promoted to director of the Sovereignty Commission in 1963. In this frank and detailed interview he describes how he used informants to spy of various civil rights groups. Johnston claims as desegregation became unavoidable, his role shifted from investigator to mediator.
The Sovereignty Commission, a sad chapter in our state's history, was disbanded in 1977 and its files ordered sealed for fifty years. Johnston explains why he feels that the files should have been destroyed.
In 1989 the Sovereignty Commission files were ordered unsealed and can be viewed online through the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
Renowned Gulf Coast artist, Walter Anderson spent the late 1930s in and out of hospitals for the treatment of severe depression. His oldest daughter, Mary Anderson Pickard remembers how her father taught himself to draw again. Pickard also recalls her father’s love of nature and history and how he shared that love with his children.
Anderson never achieved much notoriety in his lifetime. In this extended version of the original broadcast, Pickard discusses getting to know him again long after his death in 1965 through the collection he left behind.
Anderson’s collection is on display daily at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs.
Wirt Yerger of Jackson is considered to be the founder of the modern day Republican Party in Mississippi. Swan Yerger recalls how his brother became the state party chairman in 1956.
In this extended version of the original episode, Yerger explains how the party gained a foothold in the formerly Democratic state and why it took so many years for the Republican Party to become accepted at state and local levels.
William “Si” Redd was born in Union, Mississippi in 1911. The son of a share cropper, Redd dreamed of becoming an attorney until he got his first pinball machine and realized that coin operated amusements were his true calling.
Redd eventually became the distributor for Bally Manufacturing. He explains how his experience with pinball machines led him to modernize the slot machine industry. As video games became popular in the early ‘80s, Redd recognized their potential for the gaming industry and in 1980 founded International Game Technology. His biggest innovation was to develope video poker machines that flush-mounted directly into casino bars which he recognized as wasted space.
Known as the “King of Video Poker,” Si Redd was inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame. He passed away in 2003. Pleased enjoy this extended version of the original broadcast.
In 1960 and ’63, Dr. Gilbert Mason, Sr. and a group of black citizens attempted to integrate Biloxi’s beaches by wading into the water together. Mason recalls how the final wade-in was delayed by the death of civil rights leader Medgar Evers. Mason also recounts how the protestors were treated after being arrested.
Convicted of trespassing, the group appealed the decision in county court. In this extended version of the original broadcast episode, Mason remembers learning of the death of President Kennedy while waiting for the Judge’s ruling.
A movie based on Dr. Mason’s story is currently in production.
June 12th marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Mississippi civil rights activist Medgar Evers. To mark the occasion, we have excerpts from the COH interview of Dr. Gilbert Mason, Sr. of Biloxi. Mason recalls Evers as a tireless leader who was always on the road going wherever he was needed. In this extended version of the broadcast episode, Mason relates in vivid detail the tensions resulting from acts of violence, threats and other forms of intimidation by those wishing to maintain the system of segregation.
The murder of Evers and other civil rights leaders only served to harden the resolve of those involved in the struggle for equality that "we shall overcome."
In 1961, J.C. Fairley was elected president of the Hattiesburg chapter of the NAACP. He remembers being warned of the danger of accepting such a high profile position by another civil rights leader, Medgar Evers.
John Frazier made a highly publicized attempt to become the first African-American to enroll at the University of Southern Mississippi in March of 1964. Fairley recalls accompanying Frazier to the USM campus and the welcome they received. He also explains how they successfully integrated 90% of Forrest County’s hotels and restaurants in just one day.
June 12th marks the 50th Anniversary of the death Medgar Evers. Mississippi Moments salutes the brave Mississippians who stood up for what was right during that turbulent time. Please enjoy this extended version of the original broadcast episode.
In 2005, Joseph Hammonds of Sand Hill was serving in Iraq with the 150th Combat Engineer Battalion. He remembers searching for stockpiles of weapons and the danger posed by improvised explosive devices or I.E.D.s.
Hammonds recalls earning a Combat Action Citation for surviving an I.E.D. attack while on patrol in the spring of that year. He reflects on the heavy price paid by tank crews who often took the lead in convoys.
While in Iraq, Hammonds’ grandfather passed away and he was denied leave time to attend the funeral. He explains how missing that funeral possibly saved the lives of his friends.
Senator Theodore Smith of Corinth was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1936. He recalls the push to establish a state highway program and marvels at the number of highways that the state managed to pave for $40 million.
According to Smith, many backroom deals were struck at the King Edward Hotel. He reflects on how the center of power shifted from the Governor’s Office to the Legislature during his political career.
Hattiesburg native, Robert St. John opened his first restaurant, The Purple Parrot, in 1987. He explains his decision to have multiple dining formats in the same building.
St. John has authored seven cookbooks and his weekly food column is syndicated in thirty newspapers. In this extended version of the original episode, he discusses how his love of traditional Southern cooking, seafood and Creole cuisine has shaped his own cooking style and how Southern cooking has evolved in the past twenty-five years.
When Frank Forsyth of Foxworth watched the lone B-29 bomber fly over the camp where he had lived as a POW for three years, he was unaware that it was carrying a nuclear bomb in its belly. Soon after the bomb was dropped on the nearby town of Nagasaki, he was set free to wander the country. In this extended version of the radio broadcast, Forsyth recalls the shock of seeing the completely destroyed city. He also talks about returing to the USA before re-enlisting in the Marines.
Happy Memorial Day from Mississippi Moments.
Dr. James Moye of Laurel was a bomber pilot during WWII. He remembers the day his B-24 was shot down over Austria and how he and his crew were captured by the Germans.
In this extended version of the radio broadcast, Moye details the highly organized intelligence gathering operations conducted by the British prisoners. He also recounts his three harrowing escape attempts.
This is an entertaining episode and a good way to reflect on the sacrifices made by our troops during WWII as Memorial Day approaches.
Hunter Kimbrough, of Bay St. Louis, was 13 when he met his brother-in-law: noted writer and social activist, Upton Sinclair. He remembers Sinclair as nice, but a little eccentric.
In this extended version of the radio broadcast we hear many interesting details about Sinclair's dealings with the famous Russian director Sergei Eisenstein.
Kimbrough also tells the story of the day that he and Sinclair were arrested for trying to make a speech.
Gulf Coast resident Hunter S. Kimbrough met many important Mississippians during his lifetime. He recalls his family’s long association with Mrs. Jefferson Davis
Kimbrough also met Judge Hardy and Captain Jones, the founders of Hattiesburg and Gulfport.
He describes Mississippi Governor and Senator Theodore Bilbo as a political opponent and family friend.
In April of 1974, Hattiesburg native General Sidney Berry was appointed Supervisor of the U.S. Army’s West Point Military Academy. He recalls the job interview with General Creighton Abrams and how that meeting affected his tenure at the Academy.
In 1975, Congress authorized the admission of women to West Point. Berry discusses overseeing the transition and how the West Point Code of Honor was put to the test during a cadet cheating scandal.
In 1881, Laz Lopez opened the South’s first seafood factory in Biloxi. Julius Lopez, Jr. recalls his grandfather’s rags to riches story.
At its peak, Lopez-Elmer was the largest seafood packer in the country. Lopez discusses the company’s glory days.
Since it's founding in 1963, the Hattiesburg Clinic has grown in size and reputation. Dr. Geoffrey Hartwig discusses how they have been able to attract so many physicians to Hattiesburg and what it has meant to South Mississippi. It's an interesting story made even more so in this extended version. Enjoy!
For over thirty-five years, Wade Guice served as the Harrison County Director of Civil Defense. His first office was a small trailer powered by an extension cord. During his time in that position, he is credited with saving countless lives during several tornados and hurricanes including Camille. Please enjoy Guice's story in his own words in this extended version of the original broadcast.
On January 23rd, 1968, the USS Pueblo, a Naval Intelligence ship was seized in International waters by the North Korean Government. Reverend Rodney Duke of Lake, Mississippi was serving as a communications technician aboard the Pueblo at the time. For the next 334 days Duke and the rest of the crew endured over 200 interrogations. He remembers the physical and psychological torture and the effect it had on him. This extended version contains more graphic detail than the broadcast version.
Jim Kelly of Pearlington, grew up in the nearby town of English Lookout. He recounts how English Lookout got its name and how lumber companies used schooners and tug boats to carry harvested timber down the Pearl River to Gulfport.
The logging towns that sprang up along the Pearl River often had no roads and depended on boats for mail, supplies and transportation. Kelly remembers the mail boat of Captain Boardman that ran from Logtown to English Lookout.
In the mid-1960s, Mississippi began the process of desegregating its public schools. Winston Fairley of Gulfport recalls transferring to a previously all-white school in Hattiesburg after finishing the eighth grade.
As the son of a local civil rights leader, Fairley felt a sense of duty to represent his people and make his father proud. Even so, he remembers the move left him feeling isolated within his own community.