For more than 60 years,
a publication centered on life in Mississippi.
Today is October 15, 2018

Grin 'n' Bare It

Welcome to the Best Little Town

Kay Grafe
Kay Grafe

    A few weeks ago my husband, Mr. Roy, and I were sitting in the waiting room at our local doctor’s office. Lately, we spend more and more time there, as do our friends. 
    Anyway, as we were thumbing through their magazines a lady in the next chair asked if I was a native of Lucedale. I told her my family moved here when I was 11 years old, so I assumed this qualified me.
    After she left, my partner leaned over and said, “You’re not a native; you were not born in Lucedale. I’m a native.”
     “So our friend Dr. Dayton Whites isn’t a native either? I assumed he was born here because of the book the two of you are writing.” I answered.
    “Yes, he is,” Mr. Roy answered. “There are extenuating circumstances you wouldn’t understand. We voted him in.”
    I could see this was an argument I couldn’t win, so I said, “That’s illogical, and who is the ‘we’ that voted him in?”
    Before he could answer the nurse called my name, so our conversation ended there.
    At this point, I will explain why I brought Dr. Whites’ name into our conversation. Roy has known Dayton for almost 70 years. As children and teens we attended school together as well as the same church. Roy and I moved away for awhile, but when we came back he was our family physician for 40 years. He and his wife, Susanne, are some of our closest friends.
    I don’t know of anyone who has given more back to Lucedale than Dayton. He was a two-term mayor soon after retirement, but that’s just one of his countless contributions. 
    Mr. Roy and Dayton have special memories of growing up in this “Best Little Town” and have a special love for it. Approximately four years ago, they decided to attempt to write down some of their memories of this Best Little Town so that future generations would have a record of the town during this period of time. The snapshot in time they selected was 1945 to 1950.
    They also agreed that if they were able to obtain enough information, they would put it into a book.
    This turned out to be a laborious task that required making maps, holding numerous meetings, getting groups together that were familiar with certain sections of town, making hundred of calls and visits, and writing and rewriting.
    But in December 2016, after four years of work, they sent their completed project to a publisher. As you read this, they will have received printed copies to show for all of those hours of work.
    After they sent their work to the publisher, my question to Mr. Roy was, “I watched you spend hundreds of hours on this. What was the primary section that impressed or surprised you as you finished it?”
    He said, “That’s a good question. I had always told people that I was blessed to grow up in the best of times, in the best little town around the best people. I had assumed the main ingredient in this mix was the people, and they were vitally important. But I believe the reason this period of time was so special to us was because of other factors too.”
    Mr. Roy said, “I’ll explain what I mean. In December 1941 the country was attacked and forced into a war for our very survival. We had fought in World War I barely 20 years before, and on top of that the country had experienced its worst economic depression that lasted for all of the 1930s.
    “Finally, in August 1945, World War II ended. Many young lives had been snuffed out in their teens and early 20s, and their families suffered terribly. Some young men and women had not seen their loved ones for four years.
    “Over shadowing all of this was a feeling of euphoria that this country will probably never experience again. Now, everyone desperately wanted to recapture as much lost time as possible. And everyone wanted a new house and a new car. The War and the Great Depression were both over. There was a sense of pride in America that made everyone feel safe, hopeful and optimistic about the future.
    “This feeling remained strong throughout the 1940s and 50s. These were happy times for America. Many people have referred to this period as the ‘Golden Years,’ and they truly were. All of us who lived in small towns or rural Mississippi during these years were truly blessed.”
    If anyone wants to know more about Dayton and Roy’s book, “The Best Little Town,” please contact us at the address below, or telephone 601-947-3037.


­     Kay Grafe is the author of “Oh My Gosh, Virginia.” To order, send name, address, phone number and $16.95, plus $3.50 S&H to Kay Grafe, 2142 Fig Farm Road, Lucedale, MS 39452.

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