Jane Henry Interview · Back to DSU Oral Histories

Henry, Jane Tape 1 of 1 10/13/99
By Jody Correro

 

This is an interview for the Mississippi Oral History Project. The interview is being recorded with Ms. Jane Henry in her residence on October 13, 1999. The interviewer is Jody Correro.

 

JC: Jane could you tell me your parents names and possibly your mother’s maiden name and the date and place of birth?

 

JH: My mother’s name was Margery Agnes Parrot, and she was born in Senatobia. I don’t know exactly what day. It was real early. My father was George Curtis Michie. He was born in Nebraska.

 

JC: Do you recall anything about your parents there when you were in your early years of course?

 

JH: My father came to Merigold in 1895 to farm. He was married with five children. After he came to Merigold, his wife died, and he married my mother about 1909 or somewhere around that date. Then they had two children, Martha and myself. My father was either the first or second mayor of Merigold after it was incorporated.

 

JC: What ethnic background are your mom and dad?

 

JH: My father was Scotch-Irish, and my mother was French.

 

JC: Do you know where your mother was born?

 

JH: I believe she was born in Senatobia, but I am not real sure.

 

JC: And your father was born in Nebraska. Do you know what level of education that either one of your parents had, and where they went to school?

 

JH: My mother was a registered nurse, and she finished Gartley-Ramsey Hospital in Memphis, which at that time trained nurses. My father was educated in Nebraska, but I do not know to what extent.

 

JC: Do you have any brothers or sisters? Which you have said you do have a sister. What is her name, and how old is she? Or is she still living?

 

JH: No my sister, Martha Johnson, is deceased. She was two years older than I am.

 

JC: Do you recall any of your half-sisters?

 

JH: Yes, though they were half-sisters they were very, very close to us. The oldest was Anna, and she was registrar at a Military Academy in Florida. Then she and her husband moved to California, and she was registrar there. My next sister, Katherine, was in Los Angles, and she worked for the City. My oldest brother had gave Mickey Construction Company and built half of the streets in Memphis, TN. The next one is the Civil Engineer for the City of Los Angles. My youngest brother had a job with some company in Memphis.

 

JC: Who was it that used to come to Mass with you that lived over on North Victoria?

 

JH: Jimmy

 

JC: Jimmy, oh okay. Where did you grow up, and what was it like then?

 

JH: Well, I grew up. I started off in Marigold. It was not until 1931 that I moved to Cleveland, and at that time I was a freshman in high school. I had attended grammar school. I had gone to Saint Agnes in Memphis. After my father died and my mother nursed in Greenville, I went to the public schools in Greenville.

 

JC: When was that Jane?

 

JH: That was right before I moved here. It was before 1931.

 

JC: What was it like when you were growing up?

 

JH: Cleveland was a paradise. You could go out at night and play kick the bucket or hide and seek all kinds of games. Even though it was 1931 when I moved to Cleveland, my aunt lived here, and we always visited in Cleveland. She was like a second mother to us because she had no children. They had the picture show. My uncle wouldn’t show picture shows on Sunday because he didn’t believe in it.

 

JC: What was his name?

 

JH: His name was. Everybody called him “Tubby” Johnson. His father was T. B. Johnson, who was one of the early settlers of Cleveland, and I believe possibly the first mayor. I don’t know where that book is that I had of Cleveland.

 

JC: What do you recall the name of the picture show?

 

JH: It was The Regent.

 

JC: I have been there.

 

JH: And do you see that little stool over there? I sat on that stool and played cards with Mr. T. B. Johnson when I was a little bitty girl. He would get mad when I would beat him.

 

JC: Where did you live when you moved to Cleveland? What part of town did you live?

 

JH: We lived on Collins street. Originally on the other side of the railroad was where most of the early settlers lived.

 

JC: On the east side.

 

JH: That was Mr. T. B. Johnson’s home, and we lived there with my aunt.

 

JC: What kinds of things did you do growing up as a child?

 

JH: Oh we did all kinds of games like “Kick the Bucket” and “Hide and Seek” that we played out. We had parties at people’s houses, and we entertained a lot.

 

JC: Anything else for fun and social activities that you recall?

 

JH: Well I can remember when we graduated from High School. We had so many parties. We all in high school played “Bridge”. So that is sort of a lost art with the younger.

 

JC: Do you get to play “Bridge” any?

 

JH: Yes, I still play “Bridge” with the Bridge Club.

 

JC: Do you recall any times during the Depression growing up in those hard times anything that sticks out in your mind about that period?

 

JH: I have talked about that to one of my friends. You know we didn’t know that we were poor. Everybody else was poor too. There was no such thing as “Goochie-this” and “Calvin Klein-that”. Nobody had it. I do know that some people were bad off because I can remember people going to other people’s yard and get some kinds of greenery that they would cook. Most of us were not.

 

JC: Is there anything that your family had to do with out or any staples or automobile maybe?

 

JH: Oh well I don’t remember back in the depression. We had a car, but during the W. W. II you couldn’t buy anything, a car, a refrigerator, or stove.

 

JC: Did the river ever flood during the time you were there?

 

JH: Not during the time I was there. The Civil Right movement, I think this is interesting. Jenny had a friend who had a restaurant, and they were trying to prepare everybody for the blacks coming in. Jenny was a little bitty child. She came in, and she said “Oh mama I am so glad our business is already integrated.” Because we had a black man that worked for us that we loved dearly. We had black customers then. We were already integrated. I don’t know if that is interesting or not.

 

JC: Who were you family members included you extended family that had the most influence or inspired you and why?

 

JH: Well my cousin Claire McHarty has always been a guiding light in my religion experience. I am very indebted to her. As far as my mother, I am sure is one who inspired me to go ahead do something with my life.

 

JC: You mentioned that your aunt was like a second mother.

 

JH: Like a second mother to me.

 

JC: What was the most important thing that you learned while you were still home?

 

JH: To do the best you could do, and then don’t worry about it.

 

JC: Where did you go to elementary school? Was that up at Saint Agnes?

 

JH: Saint Agnes, and in Greenville.

 

JC: Do you recall anything about the school itself, Saint Agnes in Memphis?

 

JH: Well it was run by nuns. They made you study.

 

JC: Where did you go to school in Greenville?

 

JH: I went to Greenville at Starlings Elementary School and E. E. Bass Junior High.

 

JC: Do you recall any of your days there, or anything particular about that time of your education?

 

JH: I can’t remember.

 

JC: Did you have any dealings with the Hill Demonstration School?

 

JH: Yes, my children went there, and Margery went there. I was on a committee to go before the head of the school board to try to persuade him to let us keep it. I had done my practice teacher under Ms. Maud Cane. I learned more under her, than I could ever learn under anyone else. I hated to see them do away with it. I thought it was a big mistake. That those people who were teachers in the Hill Demonstration School not only taught those children, but they taught teachers how to teach. They were wonderful teachers.

 

JC: You said Margery. Margery is your?

 

JH: Oldest daughter.

 

JC: How long did she go to school there?

 

JH: Oh I think either one or two years. They closed it right after that.

 

JC: Why did you pick the Hill Demonstration?

 

JH: Because they had such marvelous teachers, and it was just great.

 

JC: What was it like to be on the campus then as part of the Demonstration School? That is being part of Delta State campus? Did it have any bearing on it when she was there?

 

JH: No

 

JC: Were any of your teachers especially influential? I am talking about you now, and I am going back to your early days in schools. You know elementary, junior high.

 

JH: I can’t remember.

 

JC: You can’t remember your teachers. Who were your best friends, and why?

 

JH: In high school?

 

JC: In early school, or as far back as you can recall?

 

JH: You know I am so sorry to say that I can not remember anybody from elementary school or junior high school. Of course my sister and I were just a grade apart, and we were always real close. Oh I can’t think of her name. I just can see her. I can’t remember.

 

JC: That is all right. That is okay. What were your favorite subjects in early school, well elementary or junior high?

 

JH: I always liked mathematics.

 

JC: Were there any particular extra curricular activities when you were a youngster in school that you liked to do?

 

JH: Before I went to high school?

 

JC: Yeah, before you went to high school.

 

JH: I can’t remember any.

 

JC: Where did you attend high school?

 

JH: Cleveland High School.

 

JC: What was it like then?

 

JH: Well we had fabulous teachers, Effie Glasco, Ms. Elizabeth Stevens, Katherine Ward, Cora Bobo, Hester Linden.

 

JC: Was Lucy Douglas teaching math then?

 

JH: No

 

JC: She wasn’t.

 

JH: We had a fabulous class. So often you have one of those classes, and in my class was Wert Williams who is an author. His father taught at Delta State. Margery Young whose father taught at Delta State and Howard Ziegal has the name on Ziegal Hall.

 

JC: Yeah, Ziegal Hall, the music department.

 

JH: All of those people. There were other people like Dale Willerford who went on to be a Pediatrician. Lavern House who went on to be a Commander in the Navy. We just had an excellent class.

 

JC: What was Cleveland High School like physically then, the building and the classrooms?

 

JH: Well the building is the one that burnt down. You know. It was not that great. I am sure under today. If the children had to go there now, they would think “Ah”. We didn’t abject to it. Mr. Driven was our principal. Mr. Parks was our superintendent. We thought it was great. We didn’t think it was bad at all.

 

JC: What year did you finish high school?

 

JH: ’37.

 

JC: Your mama was about. She teached in ’36. Ms. Wade had just come to Cleveland by then.

 

JH: I did play basketball under Margaret Wade.

 

JC: Who were your best friends in high school?

 

JH: Well, Margery Young, Martha Miles were probably my two best friends. Lucille Young.

 

JC: What about teachers, who would you say was one of the most if not the most influential teachers that you had at Cleveland High School?

 

JH: Effie Glasco

 

JC: She taught you English?

 

JH: English, yes.

 

JC: Back to the socializing, what kind of things did you all do for social life during high school?

 

JH: Well we had parties and big fraternity’s doings at graduation. We had all kinds of parties. We had the pep squad. Which is nothing like the costumes that they wear today.

 

JC: That was just a supplement to the band for use at ball games?

 

JH: Yes, we marched at ball games.

 

JC: You said you were involved in basketball. From having played basketball and being in the pep squad, how did that have an affect on your early adult or teen life?

 

JH: Well I was never a real good basketball player. I got to go in when the score was a hundred to zero. We were the hundred. It was not quite that bad, but almost. Margaret Wade was real sweet to me. When I was a senior, the only year I played. The reason for that was because I had a heart condition. The doctor would not let me play until I was senior. So of course I was not that good, but she took me on the trips. She was always nice to me, and she saw that I got a jacket because she made me the manager of the track team.

 

JC: Did you go from there to Delta State?

 

JH: Yes

 

JC: You started Delta State in 1937, fall of 1937?

 

JH: ’37 that is right.

 

JC: And you graduated in?

 

JH: In ’41.

 

JC: In May of ’41. What made you decide to go to college? Or why did you decide to go to college?

 

JH: It was what I wanted to do.

 

JC: Was your mother still living?

 

JH: Yes, but my father was deceased.

 

JC: Had you already made up your mind that you were going to Delta State?

 

JH: Yes

 

JC: Was there any particular reason?

 

JH: Well it was because. I don’t know. I wanted to go to Delta State, but of course it was not as. I stayed at home with my mother who was a widow. At that time my sister had gotten married, and she was by herself. I just couldn’t leave her home by herself.

 

JC: Did you still live on Collins Street at this time?

 

JH: No, no, no, we lived on Sunflower Road next to the Greenhouse. Right next to Ms. Lo Gardens, and at that time she had bought Mistlow Gardens.

 

JC: Right along in there where the old Rose Oil Station was? Somewhere in there?

 

JH: Yes

 

JC: What did your mother think about you going to college?

 

JH: It suited her fine.

 

JC: Did many of your friends or relatives go to college, or was this unusual at the time?

 

JH: Most all of my friends were going to college. My sister went to college, but she got married and quit. Not all my brothers and sisters went to college. They did not.

 

JC: What did you hope going to college would do for you?

 

JH: Well I thought I was going to be a Laboratory Technician, until I got to Organic Chemistry. I changed my mind.

 

JC: Who was your Organic Chemistry teacher? Do you recall?

 

JH: Was his name Stevens?

 

JC: Could have been.

 

JH: It is probably in that book.

 

JC: And that changed your mind the Organic Chemistry class?

 

JH: Well the thing about it is, I passed it. I passed it. I decided then that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in a lab. I was finishing up my sophomore year. You know. Nobody went to college five years. That was utterly ridiculous to even think about. So my junior and senior year I got a major in Business. Which then was typing, bookkeeping, shorthand, and all these things that we don’t use anymore.

 

JC: Was sending you to college a financial hardship for your mother?

 

JH: Not particularly, I worked.

 

JC: You worked. That is the next question. How did you pay for college? How did you find work?

 

JH: Well I worked for Ms. Virginia Thompsom.

 

JC: Work study maybe? What was she, registrar?

 

JH: No, she was secretary to the president, Mr. Kethley. She was a wonderful, wonderful woman who was a great influence on my life too. I would help at the shop, at Ms Lo Gardens after.

 

JC: Your mother had that as a business?

 

JH: Yeah, she bought it in way before I finished high school.

 

JC: Did you learn anything valuable from the work you did there with Ms. Thompsom?

 

JH: Yeah, I learned so much from her. She was a wonderful person. She was the most interested in not only the college, but also the students there.

 

JC: Can you describe your first day on the Delta State campus as a student?

 

JH: Well of course I was scared to death. I didn’t know which way I was going, but it was certainly not as big of a campus as it is now.

 

JC: Do you recall how many students there were?

 

JH: You know I was trying to think of that. I believe the number was somewhere around four hundred, but I am not positive of that. It was small enough that we knew everybody, and everybody knew us.

 

JC: Was there any kind of hazing of freshman back in those days?

 

JH: No, not that I know of. Oh I do, they shaved the boy’s head.

 

JC: Well they shaved mine in 1964. I don’t know if they did it that far back or not.

 

JH: I don’t know if they did or not.

 

JC: Where did you live while you attended Delta State?

 

JH: I lived at home.

 

JC: On?

 

JH: Sunflower Road.

 

JC: Did the girls have a particular dress code while attended classes? I remember when I was going to school. They couldn’t go out in shorts. They had to wear a coat over it. If they were going to physical education classes.

 

JH: I am sure they did that then, I just don’t remember all of that.

 

JC: What was your major, and why did you choose it? Well you mentioned that.

 

JH: Yes

 

JC: You started out in science, but

 

JH: Changed over to commercial.

 

JC: Business

 

JH: Business

 

JC: Why did you change to that instead of maybe teacher or something like that?

 

JH: Well did I get a teacher’s degree.

 

JC: Oh you did. So you go it in Business Education. Did you do anything at the Demonstration School as a student teacher? Or did you go into a high school? Did you do practice teaching?

 

JH: I did practice teaching in the Demonstration School with Ms. Maud Kane. Then I did practice teaching at Cleveland High School in Bookkeeping. I have forgotten whom I did it under. I learned twenty times under Ms. Maud Kane than what I did at the high school.

 

JC: What was your favorite class at Delta State?

 

JH: My favorite class was probably P. E. I was in a member of the Women’s Athletic Association. My greatest memories when we did the pageant out on the field. We did Pandora’s Box.

 

JC: What was the pageant, and who put it on?

 

JH: Ms. Ethel Kane put the pageant on. (Tape cut off.) It was over.

 

JC: Was the swimming pool then?

 

JH: It was east of that. No west of that. They had fixed hedge rows. Where people could come out from behind them on to the center. You know I can’t remember if they had a pageant every year, or every other year.

 

JC: It was an outdoor production?

 

JH: It was an outdoor production, and it was an extravaganza. Everybody had costumes like when we did Pandora’s Box. She would open the box, and then all these people would jump out of it and dance and everything. Then she would close it and then open it again. It was very spectacular with brilliant colors.

 

JC: What time of the year was that?

 

JH: I believe it was in the spring because it took a long time to put that on. Up here did you belong to a sorority?

 

JC: What did they have for sororities?

 

JH: They didn’t have sororities.

 

JC: Did they have some from of it in any way?

 

JH: When they organized the sororities at Delta State, they came to me and ask me if I would be an Honor Intiant in the KD’s. Which I accepted and did. For the first year, I made sandwiches and transported children and all of that. I enjoyed it.

 

JC: That was as a mom then.

 

JH: Yeah

 

JC: Any teachers or administrators or administrators or other students that you remember the most while you were a student at Delta State?

 

JH: Well I had a very, very dear friend. She was called Babe Burn. She was real dear to me. She had passed away now quite a while ago. Of course, Lee Dunhill and I are still big buddies. We have been forever. I guess those two are the closest.

 

JC: Any teachers, instructors, professors that really had an impact on your college live success?

 

JH: Well I loved Dr. A. L. Young. Of course his daughter was one of my best friends. He was such a kind man. He guided his students.

 

JC: What did he teach?

 

JH: Psychology

 

JC: Do you remember any personal traits about any of your teachers at Delta State? Anything that stood out, the way they acted or mannerisms?

 

JH: Well I remember Dr. Young used to love to dance at the dances. At that time all the dances at Delta State were backward dances. There was no other kind because there was so many girls on campus and not that many men. So all of us that took Psychology would rush to Dr. Young. He was a dear, dear man.

 

JC: Did you have any other extra-curricular activities or organizations other than the pageant that you participated in?

 

JH: Well they decided that we would have a town club for members in the town. Back then there really weren’t that many people coming from Clarksdale, Greenville, and everyday. I don’t think, but I don’t know. There were going to organize a town club. I got elected president, but we never did have very many people come to the meetings. Everybody was so busy with other things.

 

JC: You were there at the end of the depression, right? Actually before W. W. II started right?

 

JH: Yeah, yeah

 

JC: Did the end of the depression have any affect on your college experience?

 

JH: No

 

JC: You said you went to dances for social fun.

 

JH: Yeah

 

JC: How did you dress for the dances?

 

JH: Well sort of casual. Then for the big dances like Homecoming, had formals.

 

JC: Who were some of the bands? Do you recall any of the names of the bands?

 

JH: I am sorry. I can not.

 

JC: Did the boys and girls drink at those things back then?

 

JH: If they did, I did not know about it.

 

JC: Did you all have chaperones back then?

 

JH: Yes

 

JC: Who served as chaperones?

 

JH: I don’t remember

 

JC: Faculty or staff?

 

JH: Faculty I am sure.

 

JC: Who were some of the sponsors of the different dances?

 

JH: I don’t remember there being any sponsors, but they may have been. I don’t know. I am sorry.

 

JC: When you dated, where did you go?

 

JH: To the picture show.

 

JC: Was that the Regent, or was that some other place?

 

JH: At that time it was the Ellis had opened up.

 

JC: And it is located on Courts Street?

 

JH: Well where Roads Printing.

 

JC: Were there concerts, plays, or other cultural activities sponsored by Delta State or Cleveland?

 

JH: Yes, I can not remember right off. I do remember that we had some ballet dancers. One time it was just fabulous. We had different things brought in.

 

JC: did the students put this on?

 

JH: By the school.

 

JC: By the school. What was Cleveland like in the late 1930’s and early 40’s?

 

JH: Well it was a very progressive town. We were all very proud of it. It was small. As you know. You can walk down Main St. and speak to most everybody on the Street. Now I can walk down it and not speak to anybody. I don’t know anybody.

 

JC: What kinds of things were there to do as far as shopping and restaurants?

 

JH: In Cleveland? Of course there was the picture show. I can remember you could go to Red Front Filling Station who was run by Mr. Bill Burger. You can get five gallons of gas for one dollar. That was the great thing to do was to ride around.

 

JC: Ride around. Who had a car?

 

JH: Well my family had one. It was not mine.

 

JC: What about restaurants in Cleveland at that time?

 

JH: We had the Post Office Caf