Alma Mater

Sara's GHS diploma, 1939

“In May of 1939 I graduated from Greenwood High School. There were a lot of parties, and it was an exciting time in our lives. That summer I spent a month in Jackson with Leota and was having so much fun I did not want to come home. Mrs. Taylor wanted me to stay with them and go to Millsaps College in Jackson, but Mama would not even talk about that.

Carlton Notgrass, Sara and Jack Locke, in front of Leota Taylor's Belhaven home, 1939.

“On September 10 I went to Delta State and met my roommate, Martha Frances Harris from Water Valley, for the first time. We had a room on the third floor of Ward Hall. We liked it up there because you were further from the matron of the dormitory, Ethel Gillespy, whom we called Toodles behind her back. She was very strict and was always leaving us little notes telling us to clean up our room.

DSU coeds, 1939-40; Sara is fourth from left; her roommate, Martha Frances Harris is far right.

“There were a few cute boys at Delta State, but the girls outnumbered the boys, making dates sort of scarce. We thought the boys were ‘rural’ as we called them. Most everybody over there came from small Delta towns, and since there were probably less than 400 students you soon knew nearly everyone. There were one or two football players I would have liked to have dated, but they treated me like a little sister.

Freshman Orientation

Then all the freshmen boys had to have their heads shaved by the upper classmen, and if they had been cute we wouldn’t have known it.

T.D.Wood, Sara's friend from 18 to 80.

“T.D. Wood, who was my age but a senior in high school, and I started dating every weekend and meeting at the little store on campus every afternoon. I had known him casually before I went over there. He was a good looking blonde and had it not been for him I am not sure I would have stayed there as long as I did. I did not care for some of my dormmates, most of my courses were a repeat of what I had already had in high school since I was taking a lot of business courses, and I hated the strict rules. Unless we could catch a ride with someone we had to ride the ‘bus’ to and from Cleveland. The bus was a big black car driven by a Mr. Wynn. He would stop and pick up passsengers all along the road, and sometimes he would take his girl friend with him, and it would be so crowded he had to ride with the door on his side open. I think we paid $1.00 to ride.”

January, 1940 snowball fight on Ward Hall roof

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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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