“With so many folks at our house you couldn’t get by with anything without someone finding out about it. One night I had a date with a boy named Bobby Garrard, and we were double dating. Hattie Chambless and I had to be home by eleven, but at nine they decided to check in on a dance in Clarksdale, sixty miles away. We drove ninety miles an hour and got back home on time. I prayed all the way. The next day Buddy Stott confronted me at the dinner table. Bobby had bragged about our trip up at the corner service station.
“I took shorthand, typing and bookkeeping along with my other subjects and always took five instead of the required four subjects, finishing school with extra credits.
I was editor of the paper, the Bulldog Broadcast, and class historian my senior year. I was in the Dramatics Club and performed in one or two plays but soon realized there was no talent there. Most of those in the club had taken ‘expression’ lessons, which taught them how to recite and speak with expression.
“Mama had preordained that I should go to Delta State with Mary and that I should take secretarial courses so that I could get a job after one year of college. I think she had decided on the same course for Mary, but Mary soon decided that she hated typing. She went on to four years of college and became a teacher.”
Jessie was intensely practical in sending her older girls out into the world, anticipating more of a boomerang effect than a slingshot. One year of college was the expected course, followed by a quick return to the safety of Greenwood and a brief secretarial career before marriage to an acceptable young man (and no ballplayers with watermelons and convertibles need apply). Tiny followed the course, with one infamous year at Ole Miss, a short time at Chassaniol Cotton Company and then settling down as a planter’s wife in Minter City. Mamie would not fit so easily into the mold and hung on tenaciously at Delta State for four years before beginning her teaching career in Itta Bena. Sara’s Delta State exploits were short and sweet and will be featured in the next few days.
By the time my generation came along, the expectations of these three women were dramatically different than Jessie’s. All of their children were expected to not only go to college but to finish college and make the Greater Evans Family proud in the process. If I had flamed out at Mississippi College, I believe I would have fled the country rather than come home and face Jessie and her daughters.