“I am 102 years old. I grew up in Yazoo County during the Depression. My dad was a farmer and carpenter. There weren’t any jobs or money. I went through seventh grade with only one pair of pants. They were black and white and cost $1.25. My mother ordered those pants from the National Bellas Hess catalog. I took them off when I got home from school, changing into the old pants my mother patched up.
We didn’t have electricity or running water. I sat on the floor and did homework by the light of oil lamps. We milked the cows, and mother churned the milk into butter. She would pick up a chicken, wring its neck, and cook it. Having fried chicken was a good day. Dad raised our food. He didn’t have a tractor, just horses pulling a plow. I started plowing when I was ten. Dad was more worried about the horse than me.
I graduated in 1938, and a teacher helped me get into East Central Junior College. I worked at a store, but the money ran out. I left school and went to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp in Vicksburg. Since I had attended college, they made me a guide at the Vicksburg National Military Park. The job paid $30 a month. $9 went to me. $21 was sent to my mother. She saved every penny, and I used that money to return to school.
After college, Delta National Bank gave me a job as a runner making $30 a month. I worked there for 47 years and retired in 1988.
I met my wife, Lois, at a prayer meeting for young people at her house. Everyone called her ‘Dolly.’ I already had a girlfriend, but that ended after I met Dolly.
I was drafted in 1942 for World War ll and went to basic training. Since I worked in a bank, they put me on the train headed for business school in Chillicothe, Missouri. I lived in the town’s only hotel and went to school for three months learning how to be a clerk. After training, they sent me to Baton Rouge. Dolly graduated from high school; the next week had an unusual wedding. There was no telephone, so we wrote letters making our plans. She boarded a bus on June 8th, 1943, and arrived in Baton Rouge at six p.m. We got married in the preacher’s office at nine p.m. There was no family, just a couple of friends as witnesses.
They shipped me to Waycross, Georgia. I was in the 85th bomb group of the Third Air Force. It was a training Air Force and our instructors were pilots teaching combat flying to new pilots. Our group had four squadrons, each with about 200 men. I did the clerical work keeping up with the soldiers: where they were, what they were doing, how many were in the hospital, how many were on leave. We did payroll and paid everybody in cash.
I stayed there for two years until the war ended. I was in the Air Force for 38 months but never went overseas. My final transfer was to Aberdeen, Maryland. We hitchhiked to New York City, Philadelphia, PA and Gettysburg on our weekends off. Hitchhiking was faster than taking the bus. After we were discharged, I hitchhiked to Jackson, MS and someone picked me up.I was a staff sergeant when I left the military on Valentine’s Day of 1946.
Dolly and I were married for 77 years. We were a real part of raising our grandchildren, and I am so proud of them. We live close to the school, and they spent a lot of time with us. I scheduled my life around picking up my youngest grandson from school at 3:00. I even have a great great grandchild. Dolly passed away in October 2020. She was 97 and I was 99.
From oil lamps to A.I.— the world has changed so much in my lifetime. I’ve had a regular life in Yazoo City, but it’s been a good one. I hope my family will be okay when I am gone.”