Rank #1: MSM 595 Jerry Clower - A Home in the Navy
After Japan attacked the US Navy Base at Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, thousands of American teenagers volunteered to go and fight. In this episode, humorist Jerry Clower of Liberty, Mississippi, explains how growing up on a farm prepared him for life in the Navy. Raised in the rural South, Clower’s perceptions of race were limited to Black or White. He recalls an incident in basic training that opened his eyes to a wider world of ethnicity and prejudice. (caution: uses a racist word that he had never heard prior to joining up.)
Clower served as a radio operator on the aircraft carrier, USS Hornet, in the Pacific Theater. He remembers the battles for Iwo Jima and Okinawa and the lessons they learned from each.
While serving aboard the Hornet, Clower survived several attacks by Kamikazes. He describes feeling conflicted about watching the Japanese pilots die, and discusses suffering from symptoms of PTSD for many years after the war.
PHOTO: courtesy of the Clower family.
Dec 03 2018
Rank #2: MS Mo 372 Clifford Charlesworth - NASA Flight Director
In 1962, Mississippi College graduate Clifford Charlesworth went to work for NASA. He remembers training to become a Flight Dynamics Officer at the Johnson Space Center.
As part of the flight control team for the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs, Charlesworth learned the importance of teamwork.
In the early days of the space program, it was important to maintain radio contact between the astronauts and Mission Control. Charlesworth recalls two astronauts who didn’t have much to say.
Jan 13 2014
Rank #3: MSMo 407 Fannie Lou Hamer Pt 2 - Laying the Groundwork
After attempting to register to vote, Fannie Lou Hamer was forced to leave the plantation where she had lived and worked for 18 years. In the episode, she explains how she became active in voter registration and the challenges they faced.
Prior to passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Mississippi required voters to pass a literacy test and pay a poll tax in order to vote. Hamer recalls how she passed the test and the first time she was able to vote.
Hamer went on to become a leader in the Civil Rights movement and her speech at the Democratic National Convention in 1964 touched the nation. She reflects on her time in the spotlight and the friends she made along the way.
Fannie Lou Hamer passed away on March 14th, 1977.
Jul 30 2014
Rank #4: MSMo 391 - Alfred Brown, Jr. - Soria City: Stories of Fish & Love
Alfred Brown, Junior, grew up in the historic Soria City neighborhood of Gulfport during WWII. In this episode, he describes how his father sold fish in their back yard for extra money.
Brown remembers how Soria City residents took pride their neighborhood and looked out for each other.He recounts how his father would often give away fish to those in need.
(photo is of the Soria City Lodge, recently restored)
Mar 19 2014
Rank #5: MSMo 365 Dr. John Allums - Air Force Intelligence Officer
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.
Sep 20 2013
Rank #6: MSM 611 W.C. Nelms - Protecting Our Farmlands from Erosion
In 1933, W.C. Nelms graduated from Mississippi State with a degree in Civil Engineering. In this episode, he discusses working for the Civilian Conservation Corp and their efforts to control the erosion that devastated so many Mississippi farms.
By 1934, it was estimated that 100 million acres of US farmland had lost its topsoil due to erosion. Nelms recalls how the CCC worked with Mississippi farmers to develop soil conservation techniques. One early solution, imported from Japan, would soon gain infamy. In the 30s and 40s, Kudzu vines were planted throughout the South as a way of controlling soil erosion. He explains the logic behind introducing the invasive plant to our ecosystem.
The U.S. Congress passed the Soil Conservation Act in 1935 and the Soil Conservation Service was formed. Nelms describes how the work of the SCS evolved into the development of state soil conservation districts.
To learn more about soil and water conservation in Mississippi, go to http://www.mswcc.ms.gov
PHOTO: Alamy Live News
Apr 22 2019
Rank #7: MSM 624 Dr. Henry Maggio - Memories of Hurricane Camille
Fifty years ago this week, Hurricane Camille left a wide path of destruction across the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Dr. Henry Maggio was working at a Bay Saint Louis hospital on August 17, 1969 when Camille slammed into the Gulf Coast. In this episode, he remembers feelings of dread as the storm came ashore.
As Hurricane Camille made landfall, it brought devastating winds and flooding to coastal communities. Maggio describes being stranded in the hospital during the storm. He discusses trying to reach the injured afterwards and his decision to evacuate the hospital.
After the storm was over, the long recovery and rebuilding process began. Maggio shares his memories from that time, like being reunited with his family, the loss of their new home, and all the people who brought needed supplies to aid in the recovery effort.
PHOTO: Fred Hutchings – Pass Christian, MS after Hurricane Camille
Aug 12 2019
Rank #8: MSM 558 Jobie Martin - Straight Ahead !!
In this episode, we hear from Jobie Martin, a Jackson broadcasting pioneer who broke through the racial barriers of the day with his smooth vocals, jovial personality, and kindhearted nature. The only child of a single mom, Martin grew up in Mississippi at a time when job prospects for African-Americans were limited largely to menial labor. He takes us through his unlikely journey into broadcasting, gives us a sample of his disc jockey radio persona, discusses the challenge of selling advertising on the first black-hosted TV show in Mississippi, and lists some of his famous guests like Mohammad Ali, James Earl Jones, and Mahalia Jackson.
Jobie L. Martin was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in 1919. His father, George Martin, died in a car accident when Jobie was an infant. His mother, Leona Scott Martin, scrubbed floors to provide for her son and Jobie recalls her as a strict and protective single parent, not allowing him to play sports for fear of injury. He spent time growing up in Gulfport and Hattiesburg, attending Eureka High School.
While waiting to be called into service during WWII, he traveled to Chicago and enrolled in Worsham mortician school. After his military service, he returned to Chicago and graduated as a mortician, but didn’t like the work, taking a job at St. Luke’s Hospital as an assistant pathologist. He also joined Pilgrim Baptist Church Gospel Choir, under the direction of famed composer Thomas A. Dorsey, and sang with such notable gospel singers as Mahalia Jackson.
The following excerpt is from an article published in the Clarion Ledger on April 1, 2011:
“After returning home to Mississippi to assist family, Jobie worked as an airport porter, but his smooth voice drew the attention of supervisors' who had him announcing the airport's flights over the loud speaker.
From there he sought the job of a radio announcer. Instead, he was sent out to sell ads to black businessmen. He did so well, he was hired for the same job at Jackson's WOKJ. It was in Memphis that Jobie auditioned again for a disc jockey's job and was on the air for eight months until new owners came and spun Jobie back to Jackson.
He settled in as a Disc Jockey at WOKJ where he was known as "the loud mouth of the South". At the urging of his wife, Dorothy, Jobie enrolled in Jackson State College and earned his undergraduate degree. He also played on the Jackson State College football team earning the nickname "the Flash". [at the age of 39!]
Jobie taught school for ten years at Westside Elementary School where he taught Special Education and rehabilitation.
He opened two restaurants in Jackson, Valerie's and Jobie's Restaurant. He also hosted the Jobie Martin Show, becoming the first African American to have a commercial paid television show in Mississippi. He has served on the Board of Hinds Community College for the past 20 years.
His awards includes, Jackson State University Alumni Association Hall of Fame, Jackson State University's Sports Hall of Fame, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Mu Sigma Chapter, L. T. Smith Lifetime Achievement Award, Living Legend, and Mississippi's 2007 Outstanding Older Worker, just to name a few. However he was most proud of his work after retirement as a substitute teacher for the Jackson Public Schools where he continued to be a drum major for a whole new generation of students.”
Jobie Martin died in a car crash in March of 2011, at the age of 93.
Feb 12 2018
Rank #9: MSM 599 Shelby Foote - A Deliberate Writer
Mississippi author Shelby Foote, best known for his three volume history of the American Civil War, was born in Greenville, Mississippi in November of 1916. In this episode, we revisit his oral history interview, conducted by Dr. Orley B. Caudill on March 4, 1975, at his home in Memphis.
Foote discusses growing up in Greenville, how everyone attended the same school and what they did for fun during the Great Depression. He was just five years old when his father passed away, leaving him and his mother alone. He recalls how his mother always supported his decisions and never said hurtful things.
Anticipating America’s entrance into WWII, Foote left college after two years, returned to Mississippi and joined the National Guard. He remembers writing his first novel while waiting to be deployed, and selling short stories to the Saturday Evening Post. He also talks about his style of writing, which he describes as a slow, deliberate process.
Jan 14 2019
Rank #10: MSMo 409 Cleveland Sellers Jr. - In the Dead of Night
In 1964, as SNCC coordinators trained volunteers for the Mississippi Freedom Summer project, three others, Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman traveled to Philadelphia, MS to investigate a church burning.
In this episode, Cleveland Sellers recounts how he and seven other coordinators went in search of those three when they went missing. Sellers describes the extraordinary lengths their group went to, to avoid being spotted as they searched for their friends.
After several days of searching through woods and empty buildings in the dead of night, Sellers’ group was forced to abandon their search.
The bodies of Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman were eventually found on August 4th, 1964.
Aug 08 2014
Rank #11: MSMO Classic - D-Day Remembrance - MSM 330 Cmdr. Rip Bounds
There was a variety of landing craft utilized in the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Cmdr. Rip Bounds of Hattiesburg piloted a Utility Landing Ship designed to carry the heavy equipment Allied forces would need to wage war on the Axis occupiers in France. He bravely guided his craft into enemy fire loaded with tons of highly explosive ammunition, landed on the beach, waited to be unloaded, and headed back for another load. He also carried troops to the beach and wounded soldiers back to a waiting hospital ship, often the same men. In this episode, he gets emotional as he talks about the "Red Cross ladies" who rode with him, providing comfort for the wounded on the bloodstained decks of his vessel.
Please note that this episode, produced in 2012, contains contact information that may not be accurate today. For more information, visit COHCH.org.
Mississippi Moments is produced by Ross Walton and narrated by Bill Ellison.
Jun 06 2019
Rank #12: MSM 618 Dr. Dollye Robinson - Surrounded by Music
Dr. Dollye Robinson grew up in a musical family, two blocks from what is now Jackson State University. In this episode, she recalls how being surrounded by music inspired her to become a band director. While attending Lanier High School, Robinson would often rehearse with the Jackson College band. She remembers how that experience landed her a music scholarship after graduation.
As a music major at Jackson College in the 1940s, Robinson joined the Duke Otis Orchestra. She describes the challenges of being a female, first-trumpet player in an all-male dance band.
After Robinson graduated from Jackson College, she became an assistant band director at a high school in Brookhaven. She explains how being teased by alumni from other colleges, over the meager size of the Jackson College band, led her to return to her alma mater to help recruit new members.
In 1952, Robinson became the Assistant Band Director and Instructor of Music at JSU. She left long enough to earn two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University and has served JSU as the head of the Department of Music, Chair of the Division of Fine Arts, Associate Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts.
Mississippi Moments is written and produced by Ross Walton, with narration by Bill Ellison.
Jun 17 2019
Rank #13: MSM 526 Ernestine Evans Scott - Separate and Unequal
Growing up in Benton County, Mississippi in the 1950s, Ernestine Scott had limited contact with white people. Her father would shield his children from visitors to their farm to protect them. Her first impressions of the outside world and the role of African-Americans in it came from television programs of the day. In response to depictions of blacks as porters and maids and personified by such characters as Amos and Andy, Scott’s father would tell her that black people were better than that and someday, whites would understand the need to show them in a better light.
In this episode, Scott shares her memories of that time, like being chastised by a white man for drinking from the wrong water fountain, how her mother warned her of the need to be careful when speaking to a white person, and her father’s prediction for a better future. She also recalls riding 12 miles on an overcrowded bus to reach the county’s one black school each day.
PHOTO: Benton County courthouse
May 15 2017
Rank #14: MSMo 390 Cadenhead - B-24 Bomber Pilot
The Center for Oral History has proudly preserved the stories of hundreds of US veterans.
In this episode, B-24 bomber pilot C.R. Cadenhead of Greenville recalls his crew of 'misfits' and a much welcomed escort by those Southern gentlemen, the Tuskegee Airmen.
Mar 14 2014
Rank #15: MSM 540 Judge Lawrence Semski - Camille - Up from the Wreckage
Lawrence Semski was the Biloxi City Attorney when Hurricane Camille struck on August 18, 1969. In this episode, he recounts how the city government struggled to provide basic services after the storm. After Camille devastated the Gulf Coast, offers of assistance poured in from around the world. Semski remembers how Biloxi Mayor Danny Guice’s professional contacts were the first to arrive with aid.
Next, according to Semski, hundreds of professional contractors descended on Biloxi looking to make some quick money. He explains the process of screening and monitoring these companies to prevent fraud and waste.
Semski characterizes the days following Hurricane Camille as bringing out the best and worst in people. He describes the storm as an equalizer that kindled a spirit of determination to recover and rebuild.
PHOTO: Wiki Commons
Sep 04 2017
Rank #16: MSM 607 Sheriff William T. Ferrell - Standing Up to Intimidation
Billy Ferrell became Sheriff of Adams County in January of 1960. In this episode, he describes the rising tensions brought on by the Civil Rights Movement during the second half of his first term in office. During the 1960s, the Ku Klux Klan tried to intimidate anyone they perceived as supporting civil rights. Ferrell remembers countering threats against his family with some intimidation of his own.
While campaigning for a second term as sheriff, Ferrell was asked to give a political speech to a group of local Klansmen. He explains his reasons for agreeing to meet with the group and discusses how completely they had been infiltrated by the FBI.
On September 25, 1964, Klansmen bombed and damaged the home of Natchez Mayor John Nosser. Ferrell recalls going to check on the mayor afterwards and being questioned by the FBI.
THIS EPISODE CONTAINS MILD PROFANITY.
Mar 18 2019
Rank #17: MSM 551 Lisa Burnett - Home for the Holidays
Growing up in Ruleville, Lisa Burnett learned the basics of southern cooking from her family. In this episode, she remembers helping her grandmother make biscuits and how “Papaw” smoked meat in an old refrigerator.
Burnett moved from Ruleville to New York after college, but she still loves southern cooking. She marvels at how many New Yorkers don’t cook and how much her co-workers love her pimento cheese sandwiches and pulled pork sliders.
Now that she is an adult, Burnett helps plan and prepare the family holiday meals. She explains how three generations work together to make their Christmas Eve dinner a special event. But it’s about more than home cooking and time spent with family and friends. She also makes time to visit as many restaurants as possible, during her trips to Mississippi. Because while New York has plenty of great places to dine out, there’s no place like the South for unique eateries.
Dec 11 2017
Rank #18: MSM 544 James W. Smith - Island Hopping with the Seabees
The U.S. Navy’s Construction Battalions, known as the Seabees, built roads and airfields across the Pacific Theater during WWII. In this episode, James Smith recalls his service with the Seabees beginning in 1943. Smith shares his memories of training with the Marines and the trip through the Panama Canal on the first large ship he ever saw. He also discusses how the Seabees would distill their own bootleg whiskey and his unconventional way of doing laundry aboard their small transport ship.
PODCAST EXTRA: Smith’s last assignment as a Seabee was repairing an airfield on the recently-liberated island of Okinawa. He discusses the Okinawans’ history with the Japanese and the devastating cost of “liberation.”
Oct 16 2017
Rank #19: MSM 568 Gov. William Winter - Racial Reconciliation
Former Governor William Winter was first elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1947. In this episode, he remembers how the verdict in Brown versus the Board of Education solidified opposition to desegregation throughout the South. Gov. Winter was running for State Treasurer in 1963 when he learned of the assassination of civil rights activist, Medgar Evers. He recalls being shocked by the news and even more shocked by the reaction of a respected church elder.
In 1997, Gov. Winter was appointed to President Bill Clinton’s Advisory Board on Race. He reflects on his work with the Board and the things that are important to most Americans.
Today, the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at Ole Miss, supports harmony and wholeness among all Mississippians. He explains how each of us have a role to play and why it’s so important.
In March 2008, Governor Winter was given the Profile in Courage Award by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum for his work in advancing education and racial reconciliation.
Apr 30 2018
Rank #20: MSM 579 Helen Rayne - A Lifetime of Changes in Natchez
Helen Rayne grew up living in her grandfather’s antebellum home in Natchez during the Great Depression. In this episode, she remembers the genteel lifestyle and how they entertained themselves without a lot of money. She also describes the dedication of her teachers and how much they were respected by everyone in the community.
During her lifetime, Rayne witnessed many changes, both in her hometown and the world in general. She recalls taking walks with friends, stargazing with her grandfather, and the lessons he tried to teach her. And Rayne reflects on how the depression affected the way people socialized as they looked for ways to hang on to beloved traditions in the once prosperous river town.
Podcast Extra: The Historic Natchez Tableaux was started in 1932 as a way to attract tourist dollars and celebrate the city’s cultural heritage. It features a tour of the city’s antebellum homes, plays and musical performances, and the crowning of a king and queen. Rayne reflects on the humble, early days of the tableaux.
PHOTO: Landowne, Natchez, 1938, by Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, Library of Congress. Wikipedia.
Jul 23 2018