Brookhaven man turns 100, reflects on life in small town Miss.

Published 3:20 pm Friday, September 14, 2007

Bill Winston is a little bit like a living history lesson with a sense of humor. From race relations to the price of a chicken, he has seen so many changes in his 100 years that they’re hard to list.

Winston turned 100 years old Wednesday. He knows just about every significant event in his hometown’s history because he’s been in Brookhaven for most of them. He remembers which stores used to be livery stables, meat markets or post offices.

Winston was well known around town for driving a cart pulled by a goat. He used to ride it in community parades. A good pair of pants cost $1.50 back then and you could get a chicken for 15 cents, he said.

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“If you broke your arm back then, they just put a board on either side and poured kerosene on it,” Winston said.

One of the biggest changes Winston said he has seen in his century of living is the improved relations between blacks and whites. There was a theater in Brookhaven during the years of segregation that was only for blacks, he said. It burned to the ground.

Winston tells the story of a black doctor named Dr. Conner, whom most of the people in town refused to see, but when a white woman’s baby swallowed a marble and the black doctor was able to remove it, that all changed.

“From that point on they wouldn’t see anyone but Dr. Connor,” Winston said.

Winston said he’s also seen some strange things over the years. Yes, even stranger than a cart pulled by a goat.

“A train wrecked with a bunch of hogs on it,” he said. “They all got out. That’s why there are wild hogs in Lincoln County, and where Hog Chain got its name.”

One of Winston’s favorite memories is the way he won over his second wife, Diane, whom he married seven years ago after meeting her at a grocery store.

“I said hello three different times. Then I asked her, ‘Where do you live?’” he said.

He picked her up later and the rest is history.

Diane remembers that fateful visit to her house, too.

“We met at the Sack and Save, that’s how we got together,” she said. “He came out 18 miles to my house, and I was standing there with my mother. I’ll never forget it.”

She also remembers other adventures they have had together.

“I had never been on a train, and I had never been to Chicago,” she said. “We did that. He took me to see all sorts of things.”

For this birthday, Winston said he was happy to be close to home.

“I’ve lived in Memphis, Chicago, Mexico; I’ve been to California, and I don’t want to see any of that,” he said. “I’ve seen my life of living, and I don’t want any of that anymore.”

To Winston, there’s no place like home.

“I just want to see Brookhaven, nothing but Brookhaven,” he said.