Dr. Louis Kyriakoudes joined the USM History Department in fall of 1997. In this episode, he discusses the importance of community connections locally, and political connections in Jackson. In 2008, Kyriakoudes became the director of the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage. He recalls his goals for continuing the Center’s work and the need for digitizing the oral history collection.
According to Kyriakoudes, his tenure as director of the center was a search for funding. He remembers having Mississippi Oral History Day at the state capitol and commissioning a stage play for high school students based on interviews in the collection.
As a grant-funded NPO, the COHCH depends on projects to survive. Kyriakoudes explains how a manmade disaster provided funding for two years of research.
PHOTO: Capitol Day 2010. (left to right) Linda VanZandt, Jobie Martin, Ross Walton, Louis Kyriakoudes
During WWII, Illinois Central Railroad started an apprentice program for McComb high school boys. In this episode, Edwin Etheridge recalls working at the railroad maintenance shop during the day while taking classes at night. As an apprentice at the McComb railroad shop, Etheridge was expected to learn all aspects train car and locomotive maintenance. He remembers the older men who patiently shared their experience with the newbies.
After turning eighteen, Edwin Etheridge left his job on the railroad to serve in the Navy during WWII. He discusses returning to his apprenticeship after the war and the different skills he was taught.
During his forty-plus years with Illinois Central, Etheridge rose through the ranks to become shop superintendent. He describes working on the wrecker crew and the equipment they used to clean up after train wrecks and derailments.
As a lifelong resident of Port Gibson, James Allen witnessed many important moments in his hometown’s history. In this episode, he shares some of those memories. Allen attended the Chamberlain-Hunt Military Academy in Port Gibson in the early 1920s. He recalls the night McComb Hall burned and three student’s harrowing escape from the third floor.
Allen’s father owned one of the first car dealerships in Port Gibson. He recounts his father’s favorite story of selling a retired rancher his first automobile and how the man tried to coax the car up a hill. People have been decorating the cars of newlyweds since the earliest days of the automobile. Allen describes the lengths to which they would go to harass their just-married friends.
F. S. Wolcott’s travelling minstrel show used Port Gibson as its home base during the off season. Allen remembers how Wolcott would wait to pay his credit accounts until the merchant asked for the money.
PHOTO: Chamberlain-Hunt Academy postcard
Lt. General Emmett H. "Mickey" Walker joined the Mississippi State ROTC program in 1941. In this episode, he recalls being activated in 1943 and going through basic training in the Texas summer heat. As war raged in Europe during WWII, soldiers who were wounded or killed in action needed to be replaced. Walker discusses being a replacement soldier and his long journey to the front lines.
During WWII, the German-held city of Metz in Northeast France, was considered a veritable fortress. Walker describes how Allied forces were able to take the city in half a day’s time.
The Battle of the Bulge was a last-ditch effort by the Germans to split Allied forces with a surprise counter-offensive through the Ardennes Forest in December of 1944. Walker remembers driving all night through the harsh Belgium winter with General Patton’s Third Army.