On this Memorial Day, we look back at episode #615 from May 2019.
Jim Swager of Brookhaven joined the US Army shortly after his 18th birthday, three months before D-day. In this episode, he shares his memories of the journey from Mississippi to the battlefields of France as part of the 103rd Infantry, Cactus Division. Although he weighed a mere 130 lbs. his captain made him a machine gunner and assigned him a BAR. The Browning Automatic Rifle was a 30-caliber light machine gun used extensively by Allied forces during WWII. Swager recalls the challenge of lugging the twenty-pound weapon across Europe.
During the war, Swager always enjoyed meeting other Mississippians and remembers how he and his buddy from Iuka survived a German artillery barrage together. In the chaos of war, soldiers are sometimes mistaken for the enemy by friendly forces and pay the ultimate price. Swager gets emotional when he discusses how another friend was killed doing night reconnaissance.
The Nazi government sent millions of Jews and other so-called undesirables to concentration camps for forced labor and eventual extermination. Swager describes the barbaric conditions of one such camp they helped liberate near the end of the war.
WARNING: This episode contains graphic descriptions of violence and atrocities.
Today we look back at a classic MSMO from April of 2016. Carl Walters of Laurel landed his first newspaper job in the 1920s working as a printer’s assistant. In this episode, he recalls how his love of sports led him to become a sports writer. Later, Walters began working for the Meridian Star. He discusses how the Meridian paper broke new ground by being the first to segregate the sports news into its own section. Walters became the first sports editor for the Jackson Daily News in 1946.
Walters reflects on his career as a sports editor and columnist with pride and the innovations we take for granted today, such as the Fall Football Preview Guide. Walters was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1993. You can learn more by visiting their website. http://msfame.com/hall-of-fame/inductees/carl-walters-sr/
This week we look back at the storied career of USM football coach, P. W. Underwood in this MSMO classic from March of 2016.
After playing football for Southern Miss, P.W. Underwood returned to Hattiesburg as an assistant coach in 1963. In this episode, he remembers the team ranked number 1 in defense, three years out of four.
When Underwood was named head football coach for Southern Miss six years later, he knew some changes needed to be made. At that time USM was known as The Generals and the mascot was a character named General Nathan after Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. That year Underwood signed Willie Heidelburg, the first black player for a major Mississippi school and felt it was time to find a new mascot and establish some new traditions. He recounts the programs and processes he put in place to accomplish those goals.
After a humiliating loss to Ole’ Miss the year before, USM was given no chance of winning their 1970 rematch. Coach Underwood recalls how the Eagles were able to beat the odds.
Bernard Tessman and Karl Heimburg worked for Dr. Werhner von Braun in Nazi Germany on the V-2 rocket program. After WWII, 118 rocket scientists were brought over from Germany to work for the US Army. In this episode, Tessman and Heimburg remember those early days launching V-2 rockets in White Sands, New Mexico and the decision to locate the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.
After President Kennedy announced the goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade, the decision was made to build a rocket test facility in Hancock County, Bernard Tessman led the design team. He recalls the swampy conditions of the Pearl River basin.
In a podcast extra, Heimburg explains why the decision to build the Hancock County facility was based on unrealistic expectations. Today, the isolated location of the Stennis Space Center allows for the testing of larger engines.
In this MSMO Classic episode from January 2016, we look back at the inspiring life and career of Coach David Dunaway.
Coach Dunaway grew up in Tylertown during the Great Depression. In this episode, he recalls how the town became his substitute family after his parents split up. Dunaway worked all through school to support himself and still found time to participate in sports. He credits the guidance he received from his coach and teachers for his decision to pursue a career in coaching/teaching at the junior high level.
Dunaway graduated high school in 1944 at the age of 17. He remembers playing for Mississippi State in the first college football game he ever saw, alongside State football legend, Shorty McWilliams.
Today's MSMO classic discusses efforts by outside business interests to turn Noxubee County into a toxic dumping ground.
In 1983, a hazardous-waste disposal company attempted to build a toxic waste dump in the town of Shuqualak in Noxubee County, Mississippi. In this episode, Martha Blackwell describes how local citizens organized to fight back and were able to have a five year moratorium placed on chemical disposal sites in Mississippi.
In 1991, after the moratorium expired, plans were announced to construct three toxic waste facilities in Noxubee County. Blackwell recalls how she learned about a hazardous-waste dump to be constructed on her neighbor’s land. She details how their group fought to keep these facilities out of Noxubee county and why they felt that having three high capacity sites would lead to waste from across the country being brought to Mississippi for disposal.
In a podcast extra, Blackwell credits the Choctaw Indians with preventing the plans to construct a dump site on reservation land. Originally published on August 3, 2015.
After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and American entered the war, young men joined the military in droves leaving big holes in the work force. Women stepped up to fill those jobs traditionally held by men, helping out on the home front and showing what they were capable of in the process.
For Women's History Month, We look back at this classic MSMO episode from February 1, 2016, featuring the story of Bonnie Stedman of McComb who went to work for Illinois Central right out of high school.
Stedman recalls typing orders for the trains, changing light bulbs, and even working as a switch man. Her memories of the challenging and sometimes hazardous work are compelling and heartwarming.
Today, we are look back at Episode #485, which features James Jones of Laurel discussing his time with the 761st Tank Battalion during WWII.
The 761st Tank Battalion was the first armored combat group made up of African American soldiers. Prior to this time, black men rarely served in combat roles in the U.S. Military and were generally relegated to menial labor jobs like stevedores. After being given the opportunity to serve under General George S. Patton in the European Theater, the 761st distinguished themselves as a brave and effective combat force in face of enemy fire.
Joining me for the interview today is Dr. Douglas Bristol.
Douglas Bristol, Jr. is the Buford “Buff” Blount Professor of Military History and a Fellow of the Dale Center for the Study of War and Society at the University of Southern Mississippi. The Smithsonian, Duke University, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library have awarded him post-doctoral fellowships. He is a member of the Editorial Board for the Quarterly Journal of the Army War College, Parameters. He has published two books: Knights of the Razor: Black Barbers in Slavery and Freedom and Integrating the U.S. Military: Race, Gender, and Sexuality since World War II. His current book project is War as Labor: Black GIs in Army Service Forces during World War II. His interviews have been included in the Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times along with the PBS documentary Boss: The Black Experience in Business
Today, we look back at Episode #475, featuring an interview with Roscoe Jones Vol. 740, conducted on May 9, 1997 and first aired in February 2016.
Jones's memories of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner are riveting because according to Jones, he had planned on going to Neshoba County that fateful day.
For anyone not familiar with the story: Civil Rights Activists James Chaney from Meridian, MS, along with Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner from New York City were abducted and murdered on June 21, 1964 while investigating a church burning in the city of Philadelphia, MS.
Joining me for the interview today via Zoom, is Olivia Moore. Olivia, a doctoral candidate in history, is currently working on a dissertation that explores the fractures that developed between civil rights leaders in Hattiesburg throughout the 1960s. Olivia received her BA in History and Politics from the University of Exeter in 2014, and her MA in History from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2016. She has since been awarded a Graduate Certificate in Public History, and was the 2019-2020 recipient of the Baird Fellowship. More recently, Olivia worked on a collaborative project with L.J. Rowan High School’s Class of 1968 that resulted in the publishing of the book, The Class of 1968: A Thread Through Time. Her research interests include race, gender, oral history, and the memory of the civil rights movement.
February is Black History Month and today we are looking back at Episode number 471, featuring an interview of Hattiesburg native and Civil Rights activist, Doug Smith. Smith was present for several key events in the Movement including the March on Washington in August of 1963, and Hattiesburg Freedom Day in January of 1964 which kicked off Freedom Summer that year. Doug Smith was also active in a series of voter registration drives which led to greater participation in voting by black citizens from across the state. His activities also led to his being arrested some 32 times by his count.
Joining me for the interview today is Dr. Kevin Greene.
Kevin is an associate professor of history in the School of Humanities at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he is the Director of the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage, and a fellow in the Dale Center for the Study of War and Society. He teaches courses in Oral History, American history, African American history, Urban history, World history, Research Methodology, and Cultural History. He is the author of The Invention and Reinvention of Big Bill Broonzy, a cultural and intellectual examination of William “Big Bill” Broonzy with the University of North Carolina Press for their catalog in African American Studies.
We will be discussing the March on Washington, the 1964 Hattiesburg Freedom Day, and how local law enforcement was used to suppress desegregation efforts.
This is our first Redux of 2023 and because Monday the 16th is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we are looking back at a favorite past Mississippi Moments episode: MSM 601 Father Peter Quinn - Dr. King Comes to Hattiesburg, which aired originally on January 28, 2019.
For the interview, we are joined by Dr. Rebecca Tuuri, an associate professor of history at the USM with expertise in Civil Rights, African American, and Women’s and Gender history. She is co-director for the Center for the Study of the Gulf South and a member of the Center for Black Studies at USM. She also serves on the boards of the Gulf South Historical Association, the Mississippi Historical Society, and is the Mississippi State Scholar for the Smithsonian exhibition Voices and Votes.
Her 2018 book Strategic Sisterhood: The National Council of Negro Women in the Black Freedom Struggle won the 2019 prize for best book in Southern women's history from the Southern Association of Women Historians.
Father Peter, O. Quinn moved from his home in Ireland to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in September of 1962, shortly after being ordained into the priesthood at the age of twenty-five. His first assignment was at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and then he became the priest at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, which was an all-black church in Hattiesburg.
Father Quinn was very much involved with the youth groups including the Youth NAACP and the Catholic Youth Organization, advising and sponsoring the young people on weekly dances, ball games, and fund-raising. But also in promoting the advancement of Civil Rights by organizing boycotts, protests and picketing of whites-only businesses and facilities.
Quinn gives a hair-raising account of being shot at as two truck-loads of men attempted to run him off the road as he returned from a meeting at Vernon Dahmer's house. When Martin Luther King, Jr. came to Hattiesburg in 1968, ten days before his death, he took a nap in Father Quinn's parsonage before continuing on his journey.
PHOTO: Associated Press
Because our classic Mississippi Moments episode this week is about Greek cooking and holiday traditions, we thought we'd ask USM Historian Andrew Haley to discuss his field of study and give an opinion as to how Mediterranean culture and cuisine has influenced our food ways.
Dr. Haley studies class, culture and cuisine in the United States from the Gilded Age through the 1950s. His first book, Turning the Tables: American Restaurant Culture and the Rise of the Middle Class, 1880-1920, is the winner of the 2012 James Beard Award for Scholarship and Reference.
Haley has conducted an in-depth study of Mississippi community cookbooks exploring such cultural aspects of these historic artifacts as immigrant integration, civic engagement, and the empowerment of women through shared recipes.
We then revisit a classic episode from December 2015 with Kris Gianakos discussing Greek Cooking and the holidays.
'Tis the season for home cooking and today's episode provides a heaping plateful! Jennifer Brannock, Professor and Curator of Rare Books and Mississippiana here at USM takes us on a tour of their massive community cookbook collection. It is a fun and informative discussion on how the project came into being and why the history of food is so important to understanding our culture. Delve into our online collection of rare community cookbooks by following this link: https://www.digitalcollections.usm.edu/mississippiana-and-rare-books
Jennifer's interview is followed by a classic MSMO episode from December 2015, with New Orleans chef Marcelle Bienvenu discussing the history of Cajun cooking and the impact Chef Paul Prudhomme had on Louisiana foodways.
Today is Veterans Day and in today's episode, we remember the sacrifices of all of our service men and women by focusing on the experiences of American prisoners of war in Vietnam.
We are joined by noted Vietnam War scholar Dr. Andrew Wiest for a discussion of the infamous Hanoi Hilton and the POW experience in general.
Afterwards, we hear from Hattiesburg native, George R. Hall about his seven years as a POW and readjusting to civilian life upon returning home in this classic MS MO episode from October of 2015.
On November 3rd, America lost one of the greatest all-around athletes of this or any age. Ray Guy was the first punter to ever be drafted in the first round into the NFL. During his career with the Oakland Raiders, he led the team to three Super Bowl victories. He was the first pure-punter to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And he remains the standard by which all other kickers are judged. But Ray was so much more.
During his years with the University of Southern Mississippi, he dominated not only as a kicker, but as sports writer Rick Cleveland recalls, "besides being USM’s first consensus Division I All-American as a punter, Guy also shares the school’s pass interception record. He was the team’s emergency quarterback and could throw the ball 80 yards, seemingly with no great effort." Ray also was a first class pitcher and once pitched a no-hitter.
Senior Writer with University Communications, David Tisdale joins Mississippi Moments Producer Ross Walton in a discussion of Guy's career and his memories of interviewing the Pro Football Hall of Famer for the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage. We then give a listen to the MSMO episode featuring excerpts from that interview, first broadcast in January of this year.
To read Rick Cleveland's elegant tribute to his friend Ray Guy, follow this link to the Mississippi Today article: https://mississippitoday.org/2022/11/03/ray-guy-best-athlete-mississippi
Welcome to the MS MO Redux Podcast! We will be rolling out format changes in the coming days, but here's the gist: Although Mississippi Moments is not currently in production, we have amassed a huge number of episodes, most of which have never been rebroadcast. So we intend to use this podcast to revisit each episode as its daily spots are being aired statewide on MPB. Many episodes will also contain additional information about the speaker, as well as, interviews with Mississippians involved in the Humanities about upcoming projects and events. More details to follow.
This week's Redux episode was originally aired in 2015 and comes from an interview of Dr. Andrew Wiest conducted that same year about his work documenting the history of Charlie Company and how their time in Vietnam affected their lives.
In 1997, USM professor Andrew Wiest began teaching a class on Vietnam. In this episode, he recalls looking for ways to make history come alive for his students and the unexpected results of those efforts.
After meeting Vietnam veteran John Young, Wiest was inspired to write The Boys of ’67. He details the writing process and the book’s impact on the men of Charlie Company and their families.
In 2014, the National Geographic Channel premiered The Boys of ’67, a documentary based on the book. Wiest explains how the project came about and the challenges it presented.
The documentary received Emmy Award nominations in four categories. In a podcast extra, Wiest discusses the prospect of winning an Emmy and what it means for the men of Charlie Company.
Native Americans first used fire to manage the forests of South Mississippi. After decades of discouraging the practice, forestry experts have shifted their thinking about prescribed burning. Ecologist, Tate Thriffiley explains why this practice is good for the longleaf pines and the entire ecosystem.
By 1930, virtually all of the longleaf pines in Mississippi had been harvested. Thriffiley describes the mistakes made in replanting the DeSoto National Forest and explains why a host of State and Federal agencies have teamed up with conservation groups to promote the planting of longleaf pines in Mississippi.
Keith Coursey is the Prescription Forester on the DeSoto National Forest. He recounts the history of the Forest Service and its evolving attitude towards fire. Please enjoy this classic episode first broadcast in 2015.
We’re taking a break from production this summer, but don’t worry, the Mississippi Moments podcast will return this fall with new and classic episodes, along with exciting announcements about upcoming shows!
Since 2009, our little podcast has developed a loyal following and we’re looking to build on that success by expanding the Miss Mo brand. Soon, we will be offering additional podcast programming, as well as student projects and oral history-based documentaries.
We at the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage want to thank our production partners at the Mississippi Humanities Council, Mississippi Public Broadcasting, and the University of Southern Mississippi for fourteen years of support and encouragement and of course, we want to offer a special thanks to you, our listeners! (The MSMO broadcast began in 2005)
So, keep us in the mix and we’ll keep you in the loop about all the exciting new programming headed your way.
Ross Walton, Writer, Producer
Bill Ellison, Host
PHOTO: Bill Ellison
On June 6, 1944, Allied Forces launched the largest amphibious assault in history against Nazi-occupied Europe. In this episode, Rip Bounds of Hattiesburg describes piloting a Utility Landing Ship to the beaches of Normandy.
As Allied Forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, they faced devastating fire-power from the Germans. Bounds recalls how the eighty-eight millimeter artillery shells decimated both men and equipment.
Thousands of American soldiers were wounded or killed as they stormed the beaches on D-Day 1944. Bounds remembers how they bravely worked to save wounded troops from the rising tide. In the weeks that followed D-Day, Bounds and his crew ferried wounded soldiers to awaiting hospital ships for treatment. He recounts how Red Cross workers attempted to give aid and comfort to these men as they lay on the deck of his ship.
WARNING: CONTAINS GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS OF WAR AND CARNAGE.
PHOTO: USA Today
After serving in the South Pacific for eighteen months during WWII, Rip Bounds became a naval officer. In this episode, he recalls being sworn-in and attending officer indoctrination schools in Arizona and New York. While at officer training school, Bounds was made platoon leader of a group of former Seabees. He explains why his men resented being treated as new recruits and how an act of insubordination led to a policy change.
As Allied Forces prepared for the invasion of Europe, Bounds was made captain of a Utility Landing Ship. He remembers crossing the Atlantic as German U-Boats attacked their convoy of ships, nightly.
In the weeks leading up to D-Day, Allied Forces performed mock invasions along the coast of England. Bounds describes the day their practice drill turned out to be the real thing.
The United States Naval Construction Battalions, better known as the Navy Seabees, were formed during WWII to build airstrips and other installations vital to the war effort. In this episode, the first of two parts, Rip Bounds of Hattiesburg remembers his decision to join the Seabees in 1942.
After the United States declared war on Japan, the Seabees rushed to build airfields on small islands in the Pacific. Bounds recalls how they built a landing strip in the jungles of Espiritu Santo in just fourteen days. As a Transportation Pool Dispatcher for the Seabees, Bounds oversaw all motor vehicles for their naval base. He discusses using his position to get ice cream and other perks for his men.
Thanks to his hard work, Bounds was soon promoted to Petty Officer First Class. He remembers how an investigation into the disappearance of eighty-seven cases of liquor was dropped after several boxes of the missing booze found their way to the commander’s quarters.
Part Two, where Bounds discusses piloting a Utility Landing Ship during the invasion of Normandy on D-Day, will be released in two weeks.
Scott Cooper of Saltillo joined the army when he was twenty-four years old. In this episode, he remembers flying to Kuwait for additional training before being deployed in Iraq. While serving in Afghanistan, American soldiers were routinely targeted by snipers and improvised explosive devices. Cooper recalls how they would alter their route each day to avoid the IEDs.
Many soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan experienced some form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Scott Cooper compares his symptoms of PTSD with those of his friends. Veterans of the Global War on Terror are still dealing with emotional, physical, and financial challenges. Cooper explains why it is so important to support those who served and those who still serve today.
PHOTO: Dept. of Defense Staff SGT. Leo Medina
Butch Brown was working at a Hattiesburg jewelry store in 1968 as the war in Vietnam raged on. In this episode, he recalls the day his mother met him at the front door with a draft notice and an airline ticket to Canada.
As a communications man in Vietnam, Brown was responsible for repairing field radios in the jungle. He discusses being the company “scrounger” and how he earned the call sign “Soda Six.” Brown would occasionally go out on patrol with his infantry company as the radio man. He remembers the night they set up a large ambush in the jungle to catch the Vietcong.
As public opinion about the Vietnam War soured, returning soldiers were often greeted with hostility. Butch Brown describes the reception he got in California versus the one he received in Jackson.
For thousands of years, Choctaw Indians hunted, farmed and fished the land that would become Mississippi. In this episode, Tribal Historian Kenneth York discusses their way of life and how European settlers took their homes. In 1830, the Federal government attempted to remove the Choctaw Indians from Mississippi. York describes their connection to the land and sacred burial mounds.
The Choctaw lands of Mississippi are divided into three districts and nine communities. York lists these areas and explains how they got their names.
Today, the tribal headquarters of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is in Neshoba County. According to York, Choctaws still enjoy hunting, fishing, and growing their own food, despite the convenience of modern grocery stores.
PHOTO: Flag of Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians - choctaw.org, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=117029903
WARNING – CONTAINS RACIALLY EXPLICIT LANGUAGE
After Biloxi’s sand beach was reconstructed in the 1950s, only white people were allowed to use it. In this episode, Clemon Jimerson remembers when a trip to the beach meant riding with his family to Gulfport.
On April 24, 1960, Biloxi physician, Gilbert Mason led a group of 125 black citizens to the whites-only beach. Jimerson recalls how that protest turned violent when they were attacked by an angry mob. As protestors relaxed and recreated on the beach, they were approached by a large group of white men armed with sticks, bricks, chains, and other weapons. Jimerson describes the bloody mayhem that followed and how he ran away, fearing for his life.
After the Biloxi Beach Wade-in of 1960, civil rights groups organized voter registration drives, sit-ins, and other demonstrations across the Gulf Coast. Jimerson discusses his role in these events.