Home to Mississippi, - 1970s Page 1
By Nancy Sue Reeves
I was back at Carthage H.S., in the fall of 1970, when the Supreme Court decided that integration was not working. The Justice Department decided to make make the all black school, the official high school and the minimally integrated white high school the junior high. Since the political pressure was on, they decided to do this during Christmas break, rather than wait for another school year. It was obvious this was becoming a can of worms, so Dr. Thaggard, of Madden, who had bought the old Madden school, and land, from the county several years before, offered to donate it for a private school. This had been in the planning stage for a few months because everyone could see what was coming. Joe Shepard, the Carthage H.S. guidance counselor and coach became headmaster and I became school secretary. A school was organized at Madden and called Leake Academy, and many of the better teachers from Carthage moved to Leake Academy. We started school, about 3 weeks after Carthage broke for Christmas, with about 300 students, and the kids went to school and came home with me. The public school, with typical bureaucratic efficiency, haggled over things for most of a month, before someone pointed out there wasn't enough room at the black school for a city wide high school, and switched the high school and junior high again! It took them over 2 months just to get started back to school. While some moved to LA for racial reasons, many, including us were more interested in getting our kids an education! This proved to be correct in future years because those who came to us, as straight A students, from the public schools, often would be struggling to get a C at LA, and those who failed at LA, would go back and make honor roll at the public school.
It seemed Joe's cows were well behaved, when he was home, but as soon as he left, someone would be calling me to say the cows were in the road! He decided to build a hog feeding operation, as some folks were making good money feeding hogs. He sold the cows and borrowed money from the bank to build pens for 300 hogs and a sewage lagoon to wash the pens into. He set up automatic feeders and made arrangements with a feed mill to keep them filled, while he was in the oil patch. It sounded good, except the price of feed doubled and the cost went up. By the time the hogs were ready to sell, the hog prices were lower than in years, so the hog business didn't last very long and we sold the 100 acres to pay off the bank loans.
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