Alex Mercedes Emphasizes Arts

“Mercedes Emphasizes Arts in Holly Springs” – a Slice of Life article (text as printed in The South Reporter on March 6, 2014) A performing artist inspired by every facet of life, Alex Mercedes teaches piano, gives lectures, and leads workshops that connect the mind and body. With a dream to introduce art to a small town, Mercedes left San Francisco in the summer of 2012 to come to Holly Springs and do exactly that. Her plan was to start an artist residency called the “Artist Retreat and Conference Center”, which would present the community with original works of art, inspired by the South. The residency would have been open to painters, writers, musicians, and performers. While the timing hasn’t been right for Holly Springs to host such a retreat, Mercedes’ dream to bring the arts to our town succeeds in a few unexpected ways. She shares her passion for music by teaching private piano lessons, playing piano at Grace Lutheran Church on Sundays, and by taking an active role in programs such as Behind the Big House. “It’s (creating art) about being open and inquisitive, and playful,” she says. Additionally, Mercedes offers workshops (or “playshops”, as she prefers to […]

Alisea McLeod, Slice of Life

“McLeod – Teacher, Researcher, Writer” – a Slice of Life article (text as printed in The South Reporter on March 6, 2014) Dr. Alisea McLeod, Professor of English and Humanities at Rust College, was recently appointed to be Rust’s new Interim Chair of Humanities. As part of the job, she’ll oversee multiple courses including Religion, English, Foreign Languages, Speech, Communications, and Mass Communications, as well as a tv and radio station. From an outsider’s perspective, it seems like an overwhelming amount of work, but McLeod is delighted with the opportunity. There’s so much potential in this job to teach, and she’s excited to see students discover their life’s work. After all, it was during the pursuit of higher education that she found hers. And she’s been researching, and writing about it ever since. Grounded in history and genealogy, the subject of McLeod’s work was inspired by the personal experiences she had growing up. Her point of interest: the emancipation and migration of African-American families from the South. “Like many families, my family didn’t talk about the past very much. My father tried to, but I think at the time he was raising us, people expected you to have a new […]

Shannon McNally Yoga & Music

“McNally Balances Yoga, Music” – a Slice of Life article (text as printed in The South Reporter on March 6, 2014) The word “Namaste” has a new musical ring to it thanks to one Holly Springs resident. In between album tours, singer-songwriter Shannon McNally brings one of the most popular forms of exercise, yoga, to the gyms of Holly Springs through scheduled classes and private yoga sessions. In her classes, McNally stresses the importance of deep breathing for improved focus, strength, and balance. She asks students what they would like to improve, and then tailors each workout based on their requests. The workout is also adapted to meet the needs of students with physical difficulties, and so, is very inclusive. It all coincides with McNally’s mantra: yoga is for everyone, regardless of where you start. Students are encouraged to focus only on their own practice, and not to make comparisons with one another. The class results in a welcoming, and relaxing experience. “It’s like music,” she says. “You don’t know who needs it.” McNally credits her own yoga practice for teaching her to slow down, and focus. In this way, yoga has enriched the other creative aspects of her life, […]

Chalmers Institute Receives $80k

“Chalmers Institute Receives $80,000” – a report from the Marshall County Historical Museum (text as printed in The South Reporter on December 19, 2013) On December 10, 2013, Preserve Marshall County & Holly Springs, Inc. (PMCHS) announced on their Facebook page that Chalmers Institute, located on 151 S. W. Boundary Rd., will be the recipient of an $80,000 grant from the 2013 Community Heritage Preservation grant program. The grant was awarded by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) to further support the rehabilitation of the Chalmers Institute. Chalmers was originally built in 1837. In its occupancy, it served as a literary institute, a university, and later, a residential building. It has been unoccupied since the 1980s, and has been under rehabilitation since 2009. That’s the gist of the story. When we delve deeper into the grant’s requirements, the excitement expressed by Preserve Marshall County is more easily understood by, well, the rest of us. Grants are, generally, difficult to get. In this case, one can’t even begin to apply for such a grant without first being an official “Mississippi Landmark”, which involves another process of application and evaluation. Only nonprofits and municipalities can apply, and the property must […]

Archiving the School Room

“Archiving the School Room” – a report from the Marshall County Historical Museum (text as printed in The South Reporter on December 5, 2013) For the last month, the quiet of the Marshall County Historical Museum’s third floor has given way to the sound of shuffling paper. The scratch of a pen often follows it, and stops. Then starts again. Down the hallway where the typewriter collection sits, there’s a room with thousands of books and periodicals. They wrap around the walls, and more are piled onto desks, just below a chalkboard. Two large portrait paintings of Holly Springs’ school officials hang with authority over a small row of empty benches. This is the School Room, and Martha Fitch is at work, leaning over her notebook. An homage to old fashioned, single-room schools, the “School Room” isn’t an exact replica of an old schoolroom. However, with three desks, it is arranged to embody the spirit of one. The room houses the bulk of the Museum’s education-related items, including law books, encyclopedias, and vintage classroom photographs. If you find the theme a bit strange, in the context of the Marshall County Historical Museum, it makes perfect sense. Each room of the […]

Lost at Sea

“Lost at Sea” – a report from the Marshall County Historical Museum (as printed in The South Reporter on November 21, 2013) Lieutenant Jim Bright Buchanan of Holly Springs, Miss. flew into Pearl Harbor without any guns. A radio operator on a B-17 aircraft, his squadron left San Francisco for the Philippines on Dec. 6, 1941, with a scheduled stop at Hickam Field in Honolulu. There, the plane would be armed for battle before picking up a battalion march in the Philippines. That was the plan. The surprise attack by the Japanese meant the squadron couldn’t land at their scheduled stop. Instead, they were diverted to Wheeler Field in the central part of Honolulu. The attack on the Harbor was in full swing, but they were safe. Born in 1915, Buchanan left work as a bonds salesmen in Memphis, Tenn. to enlist in the Army Air Corps in March of 1941, at the age of 26. After the incident at Pearl Harbor, he soon qualified as a bombardier. Mrs. Frances Buchanan, Lieutenant Buchanan’s widow, recalls during a recent interview that it was an exceptionally patriotic time. “I don’t think there has ever been a more patriotic time,” she said. On […]

Annual Christmas Tour

“Annual Christmas Tour” – a report from the Marshall County Historical Museum (text as printed in The South Reporter on November 7, 2013) I meant to go, but I missed it. Then I missed the one after that, and the one following. Somehow, it’s easier to miss events in your hometown than it is to catch them elsewhere. “We’ll go next year.”­­­­­ In my 11 years of living in San Francisco, my cousin and I said that about the “Ghost Tour” there. Every night that we walked by the Queen Anne Hotel, we saw the glimmer of a lantern, and a bearded host with a top hat. Not to mention the twenty or so tourists wandering the street for a better photo of the ‘spirits’. We called them a nuisance for blocking the sidewalk, but truthfully, we were just envious. Here we lived, and we were missing out. We never took the tour. My cousin moved out of the city, and, not long after, so did I. When I moved back to Holly Springs, I wanted to make it up to myself. I asked about touring the town’s historical homes, but, with great disappointment, the only answer I received was […]

Witches, Ghosts, and Halloween

“Witches, Ghosts, and Halloween” – a report from the Marshall County Historical Museum (as submitted to The South Reporter for publication the week of October 30, 2013) One day a year children can be anything they want to be. Well, almost. Depending on a household’s values or beliefs, the choice of costume for a child on Halloween has its limits. Some costumes can be too graphic, too risqué, too weird, or too “witchy”. There’s varying degrees of all of these things, and some costumes can, actually, be too graphic or too risqué for common decency. In terms of “witchy”, I relate this to whether or not a child is allowed to dress up like the stereotypical witch or ghost for Halloween. Some children are. I wasn’t. Instead, my mom sewed elaborate costumes that were pumpkins, clowns, Popples, and princesses. The Popple was especially nifty. For anyone who remembers the 1980s plush toy by Mattel, my costume even had a pouch I could roll myself up into and bounce around. In researching the origin of Halloween for this article, I realized how unintentionally Victorian it was for Mom to exorcise the spookiness out of my holiday. During the 1800s, the holiday […]

Long Island Summers

“Long Island Summers” – a report from the Marshall County Historical Museum (as printed in The South Reporter on October 24, 2013) Since taking the helm of the Marshall County Historical Museum as Interim Director on 01 July 2013, Chelius Carter and the Museum’s intrepid staff have busied themselves with a thorough inventory of everything that is contained within its three floors, a formidable task. The inventory process is being done to make the collection searchable, as it will be logged into a database, making it more accessible for research and help in bringing more visitors to our area. Though Lois Shipp’s daily presence is dearly missed, her impact upon the Museum and its immense collection assembled during her tenure is ever-present. The inventory process will be of help in planning future programs, thus ensuring that Miss Lois’ legacy will continue to evolve. The inventory process, though tedious, has not been without it “eureka” moments. In fact, if you were to take the tour at the Marshall County Historical Museum, you would uncover an array of oddities, old southern history, and estate treasures. There’s a feeling of archaeology, bringing to light buried treasures, as you take the tour. The itch […]