robert long

For some of our readers who have asked, the Time-Traveler doesn’t fly around in a souped-up DeLorean as the character Marty McFly popularized in the 1985 motion picture sensation “Back to the Future.”

Not to give it away, but if you chance to spot a 1958 dark green DeSoto Explorer coupe in your rear-view mirror— the smart, tailored, sporty version without the rounded, stream-lined front of the old DeSoto’s and just a hint of tail fin — you had might better change lanes. The Time Traveler’s time machine tends to move at Mach 3 speed.

Nearly 60 years ago, Ronald Reagan, motion picture and television star, was set to be a featured speaker at the 1960 Annual Convention of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association.  Reagan, host and star of the General Electric Theatre, was said to be “one of Hollywood’s leading spokesmen as well as a motion picture veteran and television personality. The personal actor is one of show business’ most respected figures, a public-minded citizen and active participant in civic affairs."

Speaking of show business, Ricky Nelson, “star of screen, television and records” was set to be a scheduled performer at the Mid-South Fair in September.

Baseball was in “full swing” in DeSoto County with more than a few of the area youngsters taking a crack of the bat on local baseball diamonds. A few of the players, who would go on to play in the All-Star game later in the summer were Bill Anderson of the Hawks; Donald Scott of the Cardinals; Bill Manning of the Orioles; Roscoe Noe of the Cardinals; Wayne Shelton and Benny Flynn, Harvey Ferguson, Allen Kirk, Larry Shelton and David McCulley of the Eagles; Tommy Edwards, Leslie Poole, Bill Massey and Sluggo Lyons of the Orioles; Doc Harris, John Pickle and Phillip Sublett  of the Hawks; along with Steve Gannaway, Butch Noe and David Sowell of the Cardinals.

Heavy-hitters of Bible Class at Hernando Presbyterian Church were Chuck Davidson, Debbie Latham, Lynda Walker, Glenn Davidson, Charlie Tipton, Bill Triplett, Cindy Caldwell, Buddy Edmondson, Patsy Magee, Carolyn Latham, Pam Magee, Philip Wiedemeyer, Robert Latham, Cynda Miller, Susan Walker, Gerry Triplett, Mary Beth Goodwin, Kathy Miller, Kim Dilworth, Charlie Davidson, Cathy Walker, Myra Jackson, Marian Jackson and Kathy Edmonson.

In October of 1960, developers of Southaven received the “go-ahead” from the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors.

Cary Whitehead, president of Allied Investment Co., hinted at future growth that the new city would bring in years to come.

“What we plan to bring to DeSoto County — people— can be the best industry ever brought into the county,” Whitehead told supervisors. DeSoto’s planned “model city” was expected to add $50 million a year to county retail sales figures.

Today, in 2019, Southaven is the state’s third-largest city and recently celebrated its 39th anniversary as an incorporated city.

Speaking of incorporation, the residents of the residential community of Maywood sought to have their community incorporated as a town back in 1960. At the time, Maywood had approximately 370 residents. The proposed town would be required to have a mayor, five aldermen and a town clerk.

Also in 1960, a promotion was in store for William Hoytte Austin, Jr., of Lake Cormorant, “dairyman and commanding officer of DeSoto County’s National Guard unit, to the rank of captain in the Mississippi Army National Guard. At age 25, Captain Austin “is one of the youngest captains, if not the youngest, in the entire Mississippi Army National Guard.”

He was promoted from the rank of First Lieutenant. Austin and his unit would go on to play a pivotal role on the night of the enrollment of James Meredith at the University of Mississippi in 1962.

Promotions were also in store for graduates of Hernando High School, which included in the Class of 1960 were Wayne Anderson, Stafford Bryant, George McIngvale, Walter Pickle, Cindy Leigh, Raymond Noe and others.

In 1960, Mississippi was celebrating not one but two Miss Americas, Mary Ann Mobley of Brandon and Lynda Lee Mead of Natchez as the 1959 and 1960 national title-holders, respectively. DeSoto County had reigning royalty as well. Kay Gartrell, 17-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W.C. Gartrell, was crowned as “Dairy Princess.”

Six decades come and gone … and time keeps marching on.

Robert Lee Long is Curator of the DeSoto County Museum.

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