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Davis: A hodgepodge of memories

October 14, 2012

This is an extra special story about two little spunky girls written in a random fashionable style. Just glance at the artistic creative photograph which was developed on May 30, 1951 by Hammond Photo Service in Meridian. It was taken by my own daddy in our front yard on Morgan Street. In the distance you can spot a white wooden home and garage of faculty housing on the Mississippi State College.

May I introduce you to two very happy best friends till death do us part! I'm Carole Elizabeth McReynolds born March 4, 1942 and my best friend in this whole wide world is Jodie Jones, born March 23, 1942. I spent my first years until third grade in our wonderful two-story clap board home here on Morgan Street. Jodie's mama was Ann Gayle Plummer Jones and her daddy was U.S Jones. Jodie was an only child.

We were born during World War II after Pearl Harbor was bombed, just a few years after the Great Depression. We lived within hearing distance from the old Sanders Cotton Mill's whistle blowing for the different shifts of employees to come to work early in the mornings or to go home later in the day. We could hear the train whistle blowing in the distance as it came to and from the college train station.

The Mississippi State campus was our big open playground. We could just walk to our almost backyard swimming pool in the summertime. When springtime arrived we would scoot right up the Mississippi State baseball field where Dorman Hall stands today. We would climb up to the scoreboard, find our place on the wooden ledge, dangle our feet and have a bird's eye view of the game. When autumn came we would scurry on down to the band practice field when we heard the musical sounds of the Famous Maroon Band practicing for the home football game, and we would take along our silver batons with their rubber tips on their ends. We suddenly became majorettes, and the band members did not seem to mind our being a part of their marching band. We were hardly noticed, but to the two of us we were honored to be true maroon and white band members. We would venture out to the old parade field and look up at the bust stature of our first president of MSU, Steven D. Lee and Old Main Dormitory.

Since this is a hodgepodge of our memories, let's ask the question: How did we meet each other? I decided one early morning to tag along with Daddy down to the end of his gigantic garden. It was in the back of our home, and along the way he had planted sweep pea flowers that were profusely blooming. I skipped along a tall pathway and headed right down his fenced in pigs and a cow or two. Can you only imagine that back in the 1940s on the south side of our campus the faculty homes had barns, animals and gardens? We were coming out of the Great Depression and everyone out on the campus had backyard gardens. Mama loved to can Daddy's vegetables, and they tasted so delicious in the cold winter times — especially her canned tomatoes, green beans and her chow chow pickles. Mama was a great cook and daddy was the great gardener! We always had fresh, healthy and delicious food to eat.

I had made my journey to the back of his garden and heard a pig or two “oinking," and the mama pig had a piglet or two. I looked up and there in the far distance coming my way was a gentleman. He got closer and suddenly just stopped and said, ”Hello, I am Dr. U.S. Jones. We are a brand new family and we live right down that way.” He pointed to a house to the left, saying, “I have a little girl just about your size and your age, and her name is Jodie Jones. Would you like to meet her?” My heart skipped a beat or two, and I thought, “Wow! I'm Carole, and I would love to meet Jodie.” He smiled down at me, and said, “I can arrange that the two of you can be introduced tomorrow. How about that, Carole?”

I could not get back down that tall pathway quickly enough and stumbled a time or two on the way back to go up the tall wooden steps, and into Mama's kitchen screaming, “Oh, Mama and Daddy, I have found me a new and best friend, Jodie Jones!"

It was hard to fall asleep in my little pink room that night, because of anticipation and excitement wondering how she looked and what she would like. I closed my eyes and said, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I don't wake before the day, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” I added silently, “Oh dearest Lord, don't take my soul away before I get to meet Jodie!”

When early day light began to appear I could hear Darrell Hoover on his squeaky bike throwing the Commercial Appeal and the Jackson Daily newspapers in our yard, and the milk truck making its way down Morgan Street with is creaky breaks stopping and carefully and almost silently coming up the wooden front porch steps and putting the gallon of milk in the glass bottle right by our front door. The rays of sunshine were beginning to fill my little bedroom which was on the side of the front of our home, and I could see the shadows of the old oak tree dancing across the walls of my bedroom.

As I lay in my little bed, I thought about Jodie who would get to come to the neighborhood's annual Christmas party every year, and Mama always played the piano. We sang Christmas carols after Dale Hoover read the story of Christ's birth out of the Holy Bible. Myrtle, Dale and their sons, Jack, Don and Darrell were neighbors across the street from us.

Mose Shaw, wife Mary Alice and only daughter Moselle Shaw lived right next door, and Hiram Todd and his wife shared our two-story home with us. They were very sweet, caring and very old. My brother Johnny and I were told everyday, “Now y'all be quiet, and don't be loud to disturb the Todds." We respected, loved and admired them both very much. Down the street were the Aikens, and they had a big red cocker spaniel dog named Joe Boy. We were scared to death of Joe Boy and we would dash quickly to catch the bus to avoid getting nipped on our ankles.

Morgan Street and Magruder Street on our MSU campus were almost like the television series “The Waltons.” Being born, living life and growing up here was the best of all worlds. Our neighbors were all highly educated, caring, sincere, wonderful American citizens. If we could only go back to the 1940s again. We can never return to this life, but we can cherish and treasure all the memories of our past within our hearts and souls.

Jodie was to become my very best friend in all the world. When I stumbled across our little photo made 61 years ago, I picked up the telephone and dialed her telephone number in Seneca, South Carolina near Clemson. She answered her phone and said, “Oh Carole, I'm so happy you phoned me today!” There was great excitement in her voice just like the day we met 65 years ago, and we talked as if it were just yesterday. I said, “Oh, Jodie, I found this old photo of you and me, and I think we were all dressed up for our very first piano recital over at Mrs. Annie Laura Lyle's home on Morrill Road just off the campus. Can't you still smell her spiced tea brewing as we entered that front door of her lovely and beautiful English Tudor Home? Jodie, you and I were really dressed up to the nines! I was a little tiny bit taller than you, and you looked so cute in those honey brown pigtails with a light pink long dress with a big rounded collar with lace around the edges. Your corsage was pinned on the right side of your dress. How darling you looked!”

I kept chatting. “Jodie, I had dark brown hair shoulder length and bangs on my forehead. I had on a white taffeta/nylon/cotton dress with puffed sleeves, and the bottom looks like a tiered skirt with a big white bow around my waist. My corsage is pinned on my right hand side of my dress too. Jodie, we were on our way to our spring piano recital, and we were holding hands. We really loved each other and still do after all of these many years!

“Back to first grade, you had Miss Buffkin in the first grade. I had Miss Adalaide Saunders, and you were at the end of the long hallway in the old Overstreet School. I missed you way down the hall, but we could still see each other at recess and after school back on Morgan Street, and we still played dress-up every afternoon and on the weekends. You finally moved away from Starkville and landed in Little Rock. Remember I came one summer to visit you? It seemed like a long way to Arkansas, and we had so much fun, didn't we?

“Jodie, years passed by and we both married. You married such a lovely gentleman, a Brigadier General in the Air Force, John Allen and y'all's two daughters are Ann and Emery. You and John are the grandparents of four grandsons. They are in college now, I think? I married Dr. Frank Marvin Davis, Sr., and we have three grown children, Frank Jr., McReynolds and Elizabeth. We have four granddaughters and two grandsons. What a wonderful, fulfilling and great life we have both had.

“I look everyday at three things that make me smile, and I think of you that you gave me as little love gifts. When you finally left your home here in Starkville, you gave me your doll's high chair that sits now in our kitchen with my own beloved and favorite Christmas doll on it. She has on a white and red dress with red patent leather shoes and a hat on her head and one in her hands. You gave me a tiny set of wooden musicians playing instruments, and they sit on a shelf in an antique hutch also in our kitchen by your doll's pink high chair. On one of my birthdays you sent me a very special tiny oval white and blue dish which reads,”As time flies let friendships stay.” It is on the top of my family's antique coffee table in my sun room downstairs art studio.

“Jodie, I remember the wonderful, beautiful, unique dollhouse that belonged to Ann Gayle that had real furniture and real electrical fixtures inside. Your dollhouse has see at least three or four generations of ladies to play with and love it. You told me that it is still with you in your home, but the pieces of real doll furniture are in storage. I will never ever forget that magical dollhouse, and those magical moments that we spent together growing up as little girls in the early 1940s on Morgan Street of Mississippi State College. We all grew up and grew older together.”

“Jodie, our dear parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great grandparents, ancestors before them, neighbors, teachers and friends held a loving umbrella over our heads filled with so much tender caring encouragement. We can never ever say, thank you enough, can we?”
“Look one more time at us in this small piece of photography as we are on our way to our very first piano recital as night began to fall on Morgan Street. Daddy snapped a precious moment of us spunky little girls as our keepsake forever in black and white that we shall treasure as a happy second in our 70 years. Hey, we look kind of cute! You, Jodie, will always be my very best friend in the whole wide world."

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