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The Time Traveler took a journey back in time this past week to 1978 — and to a galaxy far, far away.

Thousands of Mid-Southerners stood in line to watch Star Wars at the local movie theaters in 1978. The blockbuster film did receive nominations for 10 Oscars and won numerous special effects awards. However, as is often the case, the Oscar for “Best Picture” went to “Annie Hall,” a quirky little film directed by Woody Allen.

But there were plenty of local “stars” who won the hearts of folks back home like Jay Baird, who was the DeSoto County Spelling Bee winner. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Baird of Southaven. He correctly spelled the word “h-e-m-o-p-h-i-l-i-a,” which is a bleeding disorder.

Another shining star in the constellation of local stars from 1978-79 was Becky Roop, 15, of Hernando, who carried home three titles from the Imperial Miss Pageant in Senatobia. No doubt her proud parents, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Roop, were glowing a little themselves over their daughter’s crowning moment.

Not to be outdone, William Manley Wadsworth of Hernando, son of Dr. and Mrs. Henry M. Wadsworth, Jr., graduated from Presbyterian Day School in Memphis. William is now Dr. William Wadsworth.

That year, Daniel Quon, of Hernando, son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry King Quon, graduated from the University of Mississippi and earned his degree in dentistry from the Ole Miss School of Dentistry.

Another bright constellation in the universe was none other than Kim Sparks of Lake Cormorant, daughter of M.C. “Clarence” Sparks and his wife Miss Connie. That year, Kim was accepted to Hardy College in Searcy, Ark. Kim also had the honor of being presented with a pony by the family’s famous neighbor, Elvis Presley. The Sparks lived in close proximity to the Circle C Ranch where Elvis and his posse spent weekends during the 1960s and early 70s.

 But the biggest news during 1978-79 involved not a rising star but a falling star. The much-publicized trial involving former DeSoto County Sheriff Harvey Hamilton, accused by federal prosecutors of racketeering and corruption, got under way.

Hamilton had been indicted on eight federal racketeering charges. After a lengthy trial, Hamilton would be found guilty along with six others. Hamilton was also convicted of jury tampering.

DeSoto County continued to experience rapid growth during that time, with plans to expand residential construction into the far reaches of the county.

Local businesses and industry began to thrive along with so-called mom and pop stores and grocery chains. Kaptol Hardware in Hernando and the Fred’s Dollar Store in Olive Branch opened their doors. 

One of the most prosperous grocery stores in the county at decade’s end was Allen’s Big Star in Olive Branch.

Pork chops were selling for 99 cents a pound. A tub of margarine was priced at 49 cents.

Some “oldies but goodies” involved two individuals, who at a mature age, discovered true love.

That spring, a Horn Lake couple, both 76, tied the knot after knowing one another for more than 20 years.

Family, friends and well-wishers gathered at the Southaven Jaycee’s Center as Nellie White of Horn Lake and Cecil Moore, a great-grandfather, wedded one another in matrimonial bliss. Each had been married before but had been single for many years. Nellie was the oldest of 10 children. The late Joe Cates, a former Mayor of Southaven, and at the time a sitting Justice Court Judge, officiated at the ceremony.

It would appear that love, like time itself, is ageless and evergreen.

ROBERT LEE LONG   is the Curator of the DeSoto County Museum.

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