Jamie Patterson Managing EditorWhen you are a child, you have many posters and pictures plastered on the walls of your room of the people you consider a hero or legend.
When I was a kid, I had several photographs and large posters of people I admired and respected.
Mr. T was on the back of my door. New Kids on the Block were above my bed. Babe Ruth was next to my window. And Carey Grant was on the other side.
As we get older and put our childish things away, the posters start to come down. Many make it to storage. Others simply find their way to the trash.
But posting photographs of people I respect is a tradition that has carried over into adulthood for me.
Take our bathroom vanities for example. My husband Jason’s mirror is clean, simple and empty. There is nothing taped, tagged, glued or stuck to his side.
My mirror, however, has a variety of items hanging off of it. In one corner, I have a collection of stickers that our son James has given me over the years. A faded younger photograph of my grandfather is tucked away in the right corner.
And then, sticking in the top right corner, alone, is a photograph of a lady who I had the privilege of meeting when I first moved to Yazoo to be with my now husband.
It is a photograph of Mrs. Imogene Erickson when she was crowned Miss Mississippi in 1957. She even signed it for me, “thanking me for everything.”
I took that signed post card the day I received it in the mail and stuck it on my mirror to serve as an inspiration for me as to what a true lady looks like and holds herself.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with vintage items. From the 30 hats I own to the vintage dresses I find in the bottom of chests to the side table from the 1950s in our living room...I live for the things of yesterday.
Along those lines, I have a soft spot for the classic beauties of that era. From their pin curls to their full skirts to their white gloves, I simply think they are gorgeous.
But it is not just the look. It is the whole image of a classic lady. It may seem a bit too romantic for some, but I just eat it up.
Grace Kelly was a knockout. Vivien Leigh was beautiful. And I think Elizabeth Taylor was one of a kind.
But when I met Mrs. Imogene, I thought, “she blows all those ladies out of the water.”
She is so kind to me with every meeting. She is still just as beautiful as she was the day she was crowned Miss Mississippi. She has a soft voice, a loving touch and a sincere heart that is beyond compare.
She is a lady.
Yazoo City has a gem in Mrs. Imogene. She certainly represented her town with pride, and she still does today.
To me, she is the image of days gone by when men were men and women were ladies.
I look at her picture every morning, and I tell myself to try my hardest to be like her...kind, classic and caring.
And as I try to roll my hair in that classic pin curl set that I love or when I try to get that hat to sit on my head just right...I glance over at the photograph of Mrs. Imogene and I am reminded of a real lady.
It doesn’t come easy. You have to work for it, I tell myself as I continue to pin the duck bills onto my head.
But then again...do I?
Mrs. Imogene makes it look so easy.
Ray Mosby Guest ColumnistThere is a reason why the First Amendment is the first amendment to the Constitution. It's the most important one.
Late last Monday afternoon when the news that the U.S. Department of Justice had secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press came across the same computer screen displaying what I am now writing, I said aloud, "Oh, my God."
When I quickly telephoned my friend and executive director of the Mississippi Press Association Layne Bruce to inform him, he said aloud, "Oh, my God. I was having a pretty good day until now."
Because this is a big deal, folks, not just to members of the press, but to everybody else in the country. Because as Layne and I were later to say, almost in unison, to each other, "if they will do this to The AP, they will do it to anybody."
In today's world of almost instantaneous but often erroneous information dispersal, The AP, a cooperative of thousands of news institutions, remains the trusted backbone of national and international reporting.
In all, the Justice Dept. secretly seized the records of more than 20 phone lines used by up to 100 AP journalists during April and May of 2012. Those records listed the incoming and ongoing calls and the personal numbers of individual reporters in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn. offices. Incredibly, that also included the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to lawyers for the organization.
While there is no excuse justifiable enough for such an egregious act that violates any number of the Justice Department's printed guidelines, the one it is clinging to is the always popular "national security" implications of an ongoing investigation into the identity of the individual who leaked information for a May 7, 2012 AP story that detailed CIA efforts in Yemen to stop a terrorist plot.
That argument weakens considerably, however, by consideration of the fact that the AP cooperated with the government's request at that time and delayed disseminating its story until after the time the plot had been successfully foiled. Neither lives nor the success of that operation were at stake or jeopardized.
The truth of the matter is less noble.
While it would recoil in horror at the comparison, the fact is that the Obama administration is and has been almost Nixonian in its preoccupation with plugging leaks to the press from within its governmental ranks, having already brought more cases against suspected leakers than all other previous presidents combined.
And this, the secret subpoenaing of reporters' phone records, from the administration whose stated commitment to transparency is rivaled only by its stated commitment to civll liberties. It is simply the latest example of how virtually every second term presidency, regardless of party or philosophy, cannot seem to avoid falling into the hubris-baited trap of over-reaching. They go too far. They do things they shouldn't, simply because they have come to believe they can.
But this is no minor screw-up. This is literally what The AP's top executive called, "a massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news and it clearly, in the words of the First Amendment, "abridges the freedom of the press" to do that very thing.
And it must be remembered, this is no run-of-the-mill government agency full of pencil-pushing bureaucrats. This is the Department of Justice, full of lawyers who do, or certainly should know better.
These are what are supposed to be the good guys. And when the good guys go trampling all over the rights and freedoms they are sworn and empowered to uphold, who is then left to defend those rights and freedoms from them?
There is, of course, only the press, which is why the First Amendment is the most important one.
Jamie Patterson Managing EditorOur daughter Elsie will celebrate her second birthday today, and we can officially say we have entered the “terrible twos” era.
I say this all in good humor, but I think she entered that stage a few months back.
I love my baby girl with all my heart. It is so special to have a little girl with their sugar, spice and everything nice.
But I must admit that Elsie has slowly transformed into a little diva. She knows what she wants, and she knows just how to get it.
Just this morning,we had a complete melt down because I didn’t allow her to color herself with markers. Thinking I put the markers in a high location, I came back into the room to discover that she had climbed on top of an adjacent chest and was inching her fingers to grab the marker box. When I placed her back down, she grunted at me.
I have never been grunted at before in my life. But with Elsie, it has become a daily occurrence.
Something else I must get used to is her use of the word “no.” She doesn’t just say it. She says it with sass and a matter-of-fact attitude. And, you guessed it, it is normally followed by the grunt.
Everyone keeps warning me about the terrible two stage and the dramatic moments that come with having a little girl. I thought I could prove them all wrong with a proper princess.
But those folks knew what they were talking about all those times.
Just last Sunday, I had to remove her from children’s time at church because she thought it was a good idea to jump off the pulpit. Fearing she would hit her head, I approached her to “quietly” remove her from the scene.
I got the “no” and the body bends as we walked out of the sanctuary.
She is full of attitude, and I am told it only gets worse.
But I am more than ready for this wild ride.
I want her to have a little spunk. I want a kid who you never know what is going to happen with. That is the fun part.
Already at two years old, Elsie has that larger than life personality.
She loves to laugh, loud. She will let out a series of giggles that echo through the whole house. And she doesn’t care who hears her.
She is the best dancer in Yazoo County. When a tune comes out, her dancing shoes go on. She dances her heart out, and she doesn’t care who sees her.
She loves to explore and have wild adventures. She isn’t afraid of anything. If something grabs her attention, she has to figure it out regardless of the outcome. And she doesn’t care what people tell her.
Elsie walks her own line, marches to her own tune. She is who she is, regardless of what you want her to be.
It would be nice to enter the second year with a prim and proper little girl...a little girl who remains calm and collected.
But where is the fun in that?
I want my Elsie who laughs loud, dances without care and is determined to do things her way. I want my spunky, devil-may-care Elsie.
With her, those “terrible twos” don’t seem so terrible after all.
Jason Patterson Editor & PublisherThese days every business manager has to be looking for every possible way to make a profit.
Here at The Yazoo Herald the best way to do that is to produce a newspaper that people want to read and that advertisers know people are reading. We’re doing that to the best of our ability, but I’m always having to look for an extra way to save a buck or generate some new business.
The Mayor and Board of Aldermen may have provided such an opportunity last week. By including the need to produce rental income to the nonsensical list of excuses they accept as “hardships,” the board created a great opportunity for us.
The Yazoo Herald owns a rather large lot beside our building on Grand Avenue. Currently it’s only an expense as we keep the lawn maintained and pick up all the beer bottles our neighbors like to throw over the fence during their frequent celebrations.
Instead of the lot being an expense there is now great opportunity. I’m thinking we can fit nearly a dozen of those FEMA trailer-style campers on the lot. Instead of it being an expense, suddenly it’s a great income producing opportunity.
Now the Mayor and Board of Aldermen (except for Ward 2 Alderman Jack Varner, who was absent from the meeting due to illness and probably got a whole lot sicker after hearing of his colleagues’ actions) might argue that my desire to establish a trailer park right in the center of town isn’t the same thing as the request they approved last week.
But wouldn’t they be discriminating against me? Wouldn’t they have to apply the same rules?
That seemed to be the warning issued by city attorney Sarah O’Reilly Evans who made it clear that the board was setting a potentially problematic precedent. Her warning was of course ignored. No one was really surprised because our city leaders just don’t seem to see the big picture when it comes to property issues.
Granting exceptions to carefully crafted zoning ordinances for just about any reason is a big mistake, and I don’t think any of them realize why.
When they grant exceptions to business zoning districts, they argue that it’s to promote business.
They may in fact be making it a little easier for someone to open a business by allowing the individual to set up shop in the middle of a residential neighborhood. But at the same time it cheapens the value of the area actually zoned for business, and it makes the residential area less desirable. In the end you’re losing more than you gain every time.
The same thing goes with mobile homes. There are zones where they are permitted, but they should be limited to those areas. Residents have a legitimate interest in protecting their property values, and the city should share that interest as the taxes on those properties is what pays the bills.
Elected officials need to realize that one of their most important responsibilities is managing real estate. When you look at the most prosperous cities in our state, they have leadership that totally understands this concept.
Take a look at Madison, where the building code standards are so high that even gas stations are built on a grand scale.
I’m not suggesting that Yazoo is in a position to demand the same standards as Madison, but we can certainly do a lot better. We need to start demanding that our elected officials get serious about enforcing zoning ordinances, requiring property owners to maintain their property to the standards established by the city’s ordinances and cleaning up those properties that have been long neglected.
It’s time to put the needs of those who take pride in their property over those who make excuses for negligent people while once beautiful neighborhoods become slums.
It’s time to start creating neighborhoods that people want to move to rather than neighborhoods that those with the means to do so are leaving as fast as they can.
It’s time for Yazooans to realize that we all deserve just as much respect from our elected leadership as citizens get in Madison, Ridgeland or any other town in Mississippi.
Why should we deserve any less?
Last Updated (Tuesday, 21 May 2013 19:17)
Jamie Patterson Managing EditorIt seemed too good to be true.
The afternoon had been peaceful and relaxing, and all the worries from the day were left where they started in the first place.
My husband Jason and our son James were outside, throwing the baseball around. Our daughter Elsie was watching her favorite cartoon, complete with some cheese for a snack.
With our stereo playing some of my favorite songs, I calmy prepared supper in the kitchen. We were having homemade pizza that evening.
All was calm and perfect.
And then the bottom fell out.
Elsie, who discovered her juice cup was empty, came running into the kitchen at full speed. Her entire face was consumed by her tiny mouth as it let out cries of anguish.
Holding the empty cup into the air, she then dropped to her knees. A full blown tantrum began, complete with tears and quivering lips.
Apparently Elsie thinks all empty juice cups are incapable of being refilled.
At some point, I think she even forgot what she was upset about because she didn’t even want the juice anymore.
The juice wasn’t helping. The cheese snack was an insult. Nothing was controlling this state of emotion inside my tiny baby girl.
And then, my mother instincts seemed to take over.
Grabbing Elsie and heading into the dining room, we started dancing. One of my favorite songs, The Very Thought of You by Billie Holiday, was playing softly in the room. And we simply danced.
I held my little girl in my arms, with her tear-soaked cheek next to mine. And the song seemed perfect for the moment.
Elsie sniffed a few final tears, and I could feel her grip around my neck tightened. And then she gave that final “sigh.” The tantrum was over.
But I didn’t stop dancing with her. Just because the tantrum was over didn’t mean the dancing had to stop.
We ended up swaying back and forth for the remainder of the song.
She then looked at me and scooted down to the floor. All was again calm, and she went back to her cartoon. I went back to my kitchen. And the music kept playing.
I instantly went back to my own childhood when my grandmother did the same thing for me. Maw Maw and I would dance to Fats Domino in her kitchen.
She would have a wooden spoon in her hand, as if she was conducting an orchestra. I would be fluttering around her with a dish rag.
No matter what was going on in the world past her screen door...inside her kitchen, we were happy.
To this day whenever I hear Fats Domino, I smile. It takes me back to that childhood kitchen with the smell of hot gumbo, the feel of that cool breeze coming from outside, and my Maw Maw spinning me in circles.
It was a moment and place I try to return to from time to time.
Now whenever I hear that Billie Holiday tune, I will remember that one moment when my own little girl was safe in my arms. When she held me in her love, and I tried to make it all better.
It was when the world stopped for us, and we danced.