Mardi Gras has been celebrated in Biloxi since 1883. In this episode, Jerry O’Keefe remembers the excitement of attending the parades as a boy in the 1930s. Later, as a young father in the 1940s, O’Keefe shared his love of Mardi Gras with his children.
After being elected Mayor of Biloxi in 1972, O’Keefe realized the city’s Mardi Gras fundraising system needed to be overhauled. He explains how that was accomplished and why Mardi Gras remains so important to the city's identity.
During WWII, most African-American Soldiers served in support units away from the front lines. All that changed during the War in the Pacific where because of the close proxmity of the conflict, black soldiers found themselves fighting shoulder to shoulder with their white counterparts. In this episode, Lee Spearman of Bay Springs remembers the only objective was to stay alive.
Journalist Ernie Pyle reported from the frontlines in Europe and the Pacific during WWII. Spearman was there when Pyle was hit by enemy fire.
Rowan Clark of Bude was 16 years old when he got his first job in 1924. In this episode, he recalls being a water boy and delivering ice for the local icehouse. Like so many others left unemployed by the Great Depression, Clark rode the rails looking for work. He describes his journey across the country chasing rumors of job opportunities.
Clark was finally offered a job washing cars in New Orleans…at service station that was actually a front for rum runners!
For Randy Yates, the Neshoba County Fair was a family tradition. In this episode, he explains why the fair was so important to his grandparents. One of the most vivid memories for Yates was the endless variety of food the fair had to offer.
According to Yates, no one worked harder to prepare for the Neshoba County Fair than his grandfather. He remembers it being a year-long labor of love.
Jackson has always enjoyed a wide selection of choices when it comes to dining out. In this episode, Randy Yates discusses the important role Greek restaurateurs played in Jackson’s culinary history. Yates began working for Primos Northgate restaurant as a college student. He remembers the large crowds and the places the staff would go between shifts.
After Primos, Yates took a job working at Scrooge’s. He credits owner Bill Latham and Don Primos for teaching him some important job skills.
Today, Randy Yates is co-owner of the Ajax Diner, on the Square, in Oxford.
The Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi was established in 1977. Its mission was to investigate, document, interpret and teach about the American South. In this episode, Ann Abadie recalls the Center’s first public event. Abadie also discusses the Center’s most ambitious project: The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. She explains how one section of that publication inspired them to form the Southern Foodways Alliance.
No study of Southern Culture would be complete without the Blues. Abadie remembers how Bill Ferris, the Center’s first director, brought Living Blues Magazine from Chicago to Oxford.
Jim Anderson became the director of the First Regional Library, a five-county-library system based in Hernando, back in 1972. In this episode, he discusses the history of Mississippi’s oldest regional library.
According to Anderson, the level of cooperation that exists between the state’s public, academic and special libraries is the result of programs sponsored by the Mississippi Library Commission. He looks back fondly on his thirty-six years with the First Regional Library. It’s a choice he recommends to young people searching for a fun and interesting career path.