Centennial celebration includes stories of past

Published 1:40 am Friday, January 30, 2009

Members of the Poplarville Storytelling Guild on Thursday shared past experiences they remember from when they attended Pearl River Community College, then known as the Pearl River County Agricultural High School and Pearl River Junior College.

The story-telling round table was held at the Pearl River Community College in the rear room of the Olivia Bender Cafeteria. Several events were scheduled to take place during the day, which was part of the college’s centennial celebration.

Several alumni of the college and high school shared their stories of what it was like to grow up in a different era. “Papa” Joe Wesley said that when he attended the Agriculture High School, agriculture was the primary focus of study, since agriculture was the main source of income at that time. Now he sees the primary focus of study at the college is technology.

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“You can’t eat technology and it won’t give you energy,” Wesley said.

He also shared stories about building floats for a local parade. As was required for the time, each department at the school was expected to build a float to enter into the parade. His class made a hunt scene using a persimmon tree, captured possum and his dog. Wesley said they received first place for that float and were even asked to show it at a football game during half-time.

Sometimes football half-time entertainment was hard to come by, especially during World War II when most men enlisted in the military and were sent overseas. At that time there was no band or dance team. Instead local adults would stage wrestling matches for half-time entertainment, Wesley said.

Discipline was a whole other matter in those days than it is today, Wesley said. When college students pulled pranks, they were given the choice of a whipping or expulsion.

“Now how would that go over today?” Wesley said.

Mary Etta Moody was a former student of PRCC in the 1960s. She recalled that the day President John F. Kennedy was shot she was in class.

“Some people cheered, some people cried,” Moody said.

That experience took away her naive outlook on life, she said.

“I became aware that there were people who really hated in this world,” Moody said.

She also learned a little bit about dating while in college. One of her dating experiences involved a man who had a less than satisfactory hygiene habit. After the third date she made up her mind that she would not see the man with the terrible body odor again.

In her day, relationships involved long courtships before they ever became physical. One of her long courtships had more behind it than chastity. Her next boyfriend, she said, was one of the kindest she ever had, a good friend even. He brought her flowers, candy and presents on a regular basis. It was not until he was shipped off to Vietnam that she learned why.

“I had dated a guy for over a year who was gay,” Moody said.

The story telling started at 10 a.m. Thursday and lasted until about 2 p.m. It was geared towards those who went to PRCC in the past and those who are currently going. Students also had a chance to hear some of Wesley’s stories as the day progressed, according to a press release from the college.