Life Goes On

Sara's "Gang" : Front row, Elizabeth Hale, Harold Hemmer, Mary Hayes Crow, Spot Pettey, Lena White Miller; Back Row: James Millard Pierce, Sara, Billy Woodell

“My close friends that year [1932-33] were Mary Charlotte Clarke, who is still a very close friend, Elizabeth Ann Colvard and Mary Hayes Crow. We played together, and went to each other’s houses, and skated together. Elizabeth Ann’s father, Mr. Colvard, had a bakery, and we liked to go there to get butter cookies after school or down to the Greenwood Grocery where Mr. Clarke worked to get candy. Mama would never let us have much company at home because she would remind us that it was not our house and that we might disturb Big and Uncle Roy. Of course, there were so many of us that there really wasn’t much room for anyone else.

Sara, Mary Hayes Crow, Mary Charlotte Clarke, Billy Woodell, Harold Hemmer, James Millard Pierce, Elizabeth Ann Colvard, Lena White Miller, Elizabeth Hale. Spot must have been the photographer.

“Spot [Pettey] asked me to go to the picture show one Saturday. His mother came by and picked me up. When I got home I had a high fever and was coming down with the flu. All of the older ones teased me and said my first date had given me fever.

Spot Pettey

They would tease me about everything. Mama always said it was because I was good natured, but I wasn’t at all sure that was it. It was not always easy being in the middle with four older and three younger.

“I remember Mama called Barrett’s Drugstore and ordered a jigsaw puzzle for me when she found out I was sick. They had just come out in Greenwood, and, like the yoyos, everyone was buying them. They started having jigsaw parties. They would have several card tables set up with a puzzle on each table, and the group that finished theirs first won the prize.”

Sara in 1934, age 13

Sara’s life had changed dramatically in the early ’30s, as had her entire family’s, and times were not easy for anyone at 115 East Washington. But she was a resilient young lady and she found support and encouragement (along with a lot of normal sibling hassling) in the company of friends. These photos are from a marvelous small set of snapshots, probably taken over one weekend when one of the “gang” showed up with daddy’s camera. They capture a youthful camaraderie and hopefulness that is charming and, for those who loved Sara, reassuring. Sixty or seventy years later, she could still tell you where each of these “kids” was or when they had moved on to another realm, and she stayed in touch with as many as possible. Wouldn’t we all love to have a friend like that?

About sec040121

Hello....I'm in possession of a priceless collection of memoirs and memorabilia left by my mother, Sara Evans Criss. She was a native and lifelong (88 years!) devotee of our small town, who covered this peculiar and volatile corner of the world for 30 years as the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Greenwood bureau chief, a job that started out with debutantes and high school football and wound up spang in the midst of one of the twentieth century's most enduring social upheavals. This blog is dedicated to her memory and the legacy she left behind, both for her family and her community.
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3 Responses to Life Goes On

  1. William Bruce Woodell, jr. says:


  2. Christina Clarke says:

    What an incredibly loving tribute to your mother and gift for generations to come! My husband Larry Clarke’s aunt is Mary Charlotte Clarke, and she will be turning 100 on March 14, 2022! I was looking for photos and references to her and the family and friends on the web to put together a tribute to her if I could find enough, when I found your phenomenal site. If you are still actively checking, I would dearly love to get in touch regarding your mother’s relationship with Mary Charlotte. Thank you! Christina (St Louis MO) – and Kudos again to you for such an amazing work of love!

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