Monday, September 30, 2013



Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets, was born in Greenville, Mississippi ....September 24, 1936.

He spent his early childhood in Leland, Mississippi moving with his family to Hyattsville, Maryland, near Washington, D.C., in the late 1940s. In 1954 while attending Northwestern High School, he began working for WTOP-TV, creating puppets for a Saturday morning children's show called The Junior Morning Show. After graduating from high school, Henson enrolled at the University of Maryland, College Park, as a studio arts major, thinking he might become a commercial artist . A puppetry class offered in the applied arts department introduced him to the craft and textiles courses in the College of Home Economics, He graduated in 1960 with a B.S. in home economics. As a freshman, he had been asked to create Sam and Friends, a 5-minute puppet show for WRC-TV. The characters on Sam and Friends were forerunners of Muppets, and the show included a prototype of Henson's most famous character: Kermit the Frog Henson would remain at WRC for seven years from 1954 to 1961 In 1969, Joan Ganz Cooney and the team at the Children's Television Workshop asked Henson to work on Sesame Street, Part of the show included a series of skits with Henson's funny, colorful puppet characters. They became wildly popular.

In 1994 Kermit the Frog was donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History . Last week , on Jim Henson's birthday, the Henson family announced it would be donating 21 of Henson’s other cherished puppets from “The Muppet Show,” “Sesame Street” and other shows and films—a group that includes Elmo, the Swedish Chef, Fozzie Bear and, Miss Piggy. Fans of the Muppets will be able to see some of these latest additions to the collection, beginning in December, in a new exhibition on puppetry. The Count, Oscar the Grouch and others will be showcased first with other Muppets rotating in every few months. Miss Piggy will be a part of the museum’s permanent “American Stories” exhibition. There is. also, a small Jim Henson/Muppets Museum in Leland, MS located on the locally well-known Deer Creek. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

FALL, In The South , Means Fairs , Football and Beautiful Foliage

Yesterday was the first day of Fall. There is a joke that says the four seasons in Mississippi are Almost Summer, Summer, Still Summer and Christmas . Although this is very close to the truth, because of our nearly tropical climate, we do acknowledge the traditional changing of the seasons. Contrary to what many believe , we do have beautiful changing of the leaves here , displaying fully all of the beautiful colors of Fall . . New England takes pride in it's awesome display of autumn leaves, but, we too, have some extraordinarily beautiful foliage this time of the year, especially along the Natchez Trace.

Fall Foliage along the Natchez Trace 

Here, in the south, everyone knows that Fall might not necessarily mean much cooler days ...Fall does mean Football ...and lots of it. College football is King and the SEC ( Southeastern Conference ) reigns supreme in the minds of most southerners. For some it is practically a religion. Another common saying pertaining to Southerners goes: "We Love God, Sweet Tea and the SEC".

Of course, along with any major function, southerners must have FOOD... and lots of it.  Southerners have perfected football tailgating into an art form.  For those above the Mason-Dixon Line who don't know what tailgating is, the Wikipedia definition says : A tailgate party is a social event held on and around the open tailgate of a vehicle.  (In the south, that means trucks...and lots of trucks) Tailgating, often involves consuming alcoholic beverages and grilling food.  Tailgate parties usually occur in the parking lots at stadiums and arenas, before and occasionally after games and concerts.  People attending such a party are said to be tailgating.  

Other people in other regions might tailgate, but southerners take it to a whole other level.
One author friend wrote in her blog about southerners:
We are not casual... Not in clothes, manners, or entertaining. All the rest of the world may go to the grocery store in pajama pants and big t-shirts, but we dress up for nearly everything. We say ma’am and sir. We don’t think being “ladylike” is something to be mocked. Tailgate parties in the Ole Miss Grove include tents equipped with chandeliers and chafing dishes.

Fall also means Fairs...and lots of them.  Around this time, fairs pop up in almost every little town and hollow around the south. The two major fairs in our area have always been the Mississippi Alabama Fair and Dairy Show and the Mid South Fair. We always went to the Mississippi Fair and Dairy Show. It was held at the Fairgrounds off of East Main Street ...which is now Fairpark, and the location of our City Hall. The Mid South Fair was a much bigger deal and meant traveling to Memphis. When I was growing up, school began after Labor Day and Fair Day followed very soon after . On Fair Day , all of the students were let out of the school for the day .It was like another holiday . My friends and I would make extensive plans about what we would wear, where and when we would meet, and what we would ride. I always have warm, fond memories of those joyous, carefree times.

Monday, September 16, 2013


The Miss America Pageant was held and televised last night.  This year's Miss Mississippi contestant was/is Chelsea Rick, who is from Fulton, MS.
Fulton is less than thirty minutes from Tupelo and where I live.  Although Miss Mississippi did not win, Mississippi was well represented.  Miss Mississippi did get into the top 15, which is still quite an accomplishment in itself.  She also won several preliminary awards and scholarship money.  Ricks was the only one of the 35 to win two of the five preliminary contests.  She was judged best in swimwear Thursday night and best in talent Friday night, when she sang “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man” from the Broadway musical “Showboat.”. 

Chelsea Rick, 23, is a doctoral student at William Carey University studying osteopathic medicine.

Chelsea Rick - Miss Mississippi

DID YOU KNOW... Sam Haskell , who was raised in Amory , Mississippi is Chairman of the Board of the Miss America Organization . He is former Executive Vice President and Worldwide Head of Television for the venerable William Morris Agency,and was named in 2007 by TV Week as one of the 25 Most Innovative and Influential People in Television over the last quarter century. After living over 30 years living in Los Angeles he recently re-located to Oxford, MS, with his wife and Ole Miss college sweetheart Mary Donnelly Haskell, a former Miss Mississippi and current Martingale recording artist. They are both University of Mississippi graduates, and have two children, Sam, IV and Mary Lane.

Sam Haskell

I love watching pageants but have never really been a pageant girl. I have watched pageants with my mother since I was a little girl. Recently, when I was telling her about the upcoming pageant, she reminded me how, during the years that I lived in Memphis, we would call each other during commercial breaks to give each other our opinions and picks . I remember those times very fondly. I have never really been a "Pageant Girl", myself . I have only competed in two beauty contests/pageants in my life . The first was the Miss Northside Pageant when I was sixteen and the second was the Mrs. Mississippi Pageant thirty- one years later at the age of forty-seven.

My "Pageant Girl" picture for the 2012 Mrs. Mississippi Pageant

Monday, September 9, 2013



In the South, family ties are very important.  Everyone recognizes, identifies and acknowledges you in relation to your family.  Everyone wants to know who your "kin" or your "people " are.  In the past, when you were introduced to an older person, it was virtually assured and expected that the next thing you would hear would be the question: "Who are your people?" This was especially the case if you were being introduced as a new suitor, girlfriend or boyfriend.  They felt that they needed to know, right away, if you came from good stock or from the right kind of "people".  If by some remote chance a person was introduced and no one really knew who any of their "people" were, the customary question or more of a declaration was sure to follow:  "You not from around here, are you?"  And that was not necessarily seen as a very good thing. Of course, in a small town, that occurrence was very rare. In a small town, practically, everyone knew everyone and at least some of their "people". 

Times have changed dramatically and there are many more outsiders, even in small towns. But, even now, when we are trying to "place" someone and figure out who they are ? We often ask who their people are or who their mother or father is.  Most of my childhood, my first name was not required or deemed important or necessary at all, it seems. 
I was always introduced as Dr. Neely's daughter ...or Brian Neely's sister. 
It didn't bother me at all. it was just the way things were.  I am still often introduced as Dr. Neely's daughter when someone is trying to place the face after many years of not seeing me in the town. 

When we moved back to Tupelo, my husband soon found out that his name/title/identity, to many people, was/is Dr. Neely's son -in law.  Only during the years that I was in college in Boston and afterwards living in Memphis did I become accustomed to being primarily addressed by my given name. 
Now, that I have written two books and have a regular schedule of speaking engagements, I hear myself introduced repeatedly by my full name. I must admit that it has a very nice ring to it ....Patricia Neely-Dorsey (smile)  But, for a whole segment of older generation residents who knew me growing up, I am still very much ...and only ...Dr. Neely's daughter.  And, for a whole new group of acquaintances, who mostly only know me through my son, I am addressed as Henry's Mom ! 
It's OK...Really ...'cause I love my "people" ! 

Monday, September 2, 2013


TODAY is Labor Day !

Traditionally, Labor Day has always been a sort of marker for the change of the seasons.

Summer is fast coming to an end and the fall months will soon make their arrival.

In times past, for Southerners, Labor Day signaled a definitive change in wardrobe.

Though staunch rules of etiquette and stiff dress codes have all but vanished in today's society, most older generation southerners remember when there was a very strict and strongly enforced rule involving Labor Day.

Everyone knew : NO WHITE AFTER LABOR DAY (Or Before Easter)

This meant no white dresses (except of course, white wedding dresses which were /are always in season) no white belts, shoes (especially shoes !!!) , purses ect.

No self respecting southerner would ever even think of breaking the rule or be caught dead wearing some white shoes after this appointed date !

It just wasn't done!

If someone did happen to break the rule, everyone, no doubt thought in their 

heads:  "Bless Their Hearts. They didn't have proper raisin' ! : )

Southerners are known for hospitality, sweet tea ...and a zillion rules !!!

We strongly believe in things being "decent and in order "

No one ever really notices those types of things much anymore , but this is one southerner who remembers ...and still abides by "The Labor Day Rule" .