Memphis and Monica

Sara hanging clothes behind the East Adams house. No shade in sight.

“The summers of 1951 and 1952 were two of the hottest on record. We had no shade and no air conditioning, and we would go sit on the Gwin’s screen porch with a ceiling fan to try to get cool. Marge Doyle had a porch too, so some days we would take advantage of it and looked forward to the day when we could build our own. There was no grass in the yard yet, but we would put a quilt down near the three trees on the front of the lot and try to get some shade.

“Tricia only went the one year to MSCW and then took a job with the telephone company here in Greenwood. I was glad she was home because she helped transport us too.

Patricia Evans, Greenwood's Ambassador to the World, 1952

She was chosen to be the Community Ambassador from Greenwood, which was quite an honor, and went to England in the summer of 1952 to live with a family in Plymouth. Her letters were published every week in the local paper, and when she returned she spoke to all the civic clubs.

“In the late summer of 1952 Mama was in the hospital very ill with bleeding diverticula. She had to get on a very strict diet and lost a lot of weight, getting down to about 155, which was less than she had weighed since right after she married. She was still working at the Red Cross. After she lost the weight she was a different person and went to Memphis with us to spend the night. She had not been anywhere in years and had a ball with me and Cathy while Russell was attending a sales meeting.

Jessie in the 1950s. She really wasn't this serious.

“It was on this trip that we spotted Monica Doll in Gerbers. Actually, I had seen her in Gerber’s window on a previous trip, and we went in to see if they still had her. She had been reduced and Mama decided to buy her.

Gerber's Department Store, Memphis, 1950s

We walked down Main Street carrying the big box containing Monica, and when we got back to the Gayoso Hotel she and Cathy proceeded to clean her up a little since she was slightly shopworn. We still have Monica and I have never seen another one like her. Mama always told Cathy that Monica was to be hers.”

Cathy with Monica

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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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2 Responses to Memphis and Monica

  1. jenny says:

    that’s where the monica doll came from?! i remember i wanted to take her home to birmingham but couldn’t. I also just kinda wanted to live in greenwood all summer anyways

  2. sec040121 says:

    I’m sure that would have been find with your grandmother. Monica always gave me the creeps.

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