Greenwood’s Head Cheerleader

Sara in front of Greenwood City Hall, 1942.

“While I was home [in Greenwood, 1942] I learned that there was going to be an opening at the Chamber of Commerce since Mary Hayes Crow, the secretary, was going to marry my old friend Joe George [Saunders]. I applied for the job, got it and handed in my resignation with the Farm Security Administration. I was delighted to be coming back home and felt that the job would be a lot more interesting than the one I had had. There were only two of us in the office, my boss, Botts Blackstone, and me.

Botts Blackstone, Greenwood's long-time Chamber of Commerce Director

“In May they announced that an Air Field would be opened on the site of the present airport, so our office really became a beehive of activity as we got ready for all the influx of soldiers and their families. Construction soon began, and by September Greenwood Army Air Field was ready to open. We set up a housing bureau where townspeople listed rooms, apartments, and houses for rent. Everyone who had an extra room or could make part of the house into an apartment jumped into the act.

“There were no bachelor quarters for the officers when the base first opened so all of them had to find rooms or apartments in town. Therefore I had the chance to meet most of them as soon as they arrived in town and dated some of them.”

Sara, Gracie Boland and Mary Hayes Crow, City Hall in the snow.

Talk about finding the perfect job; Sara loved being in the middle of all the action and just couldn’t stand being out of the loop. And she never lost her conviction that Greenwood was the center of the universe. So put her in an office where she’s likely the first face that newcomers see  and ask her to cheerlead for her community, then get out of the way. Poor Botts Blackstone probably never knew what hit him, but he and Sara were a formidable team for a decade.

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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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