Monday, December 30, 2013


Nearing New Year's Eve of 2012, I received some very interesting news about a member of my family tree,  an ancestor, from my cousin in Memphis who is very DEEP into genealogy and is FOREVER researching the family history.  Her latest update for us was about my great- great grandmother, Lucinda Westbrook (my grandfather Neely's grandmother) .
While researching at the courthouse in West Point (both of my parents are from West Point) , my cousin found a deed from 1881, which showed that Lucinda purchased 4 acres of land for $30 (Thirty dollars) . Although she was married to Henry Westbrook at the time, he is not listed on the deed.

Dang, Y'all ..... a BLACK WOMAN with barely a foot out of slavery ..purchased some land on HER OWN in West Point , 1881 !!!! 
Did I say..BLACK??!!! Did I say WOMAN???!!! Did I say MISSISSIPPI ??!!!
Yes, I think I did !   AMAZING!!!

Don't tell we those Westbrook/Neely women ain't got it GOING ON!!!!!! 
Oh yes we do !!!!!   Woo Hoo!!!!

Going into the New Year , I have just one more reason to add to the list of many of why  I am SO PROUD of being me!

My advise to each and everyone out
there is, as always : 

Be You ! Do You ! SHINE !

Watch Night and New Year’s Eve 

in Honor of Emancipation Day

With such interesting news about a relative so close out of slavery, thoughts about our traditional New Year's Eve celebrations bring feelings of a deeper emotional connection to Watch Night services that African Americans traditionally observe on New Years Eve. 
Watch Night dates back to the end of the Civil War, with gatherings across the South on December 31, 1862, known at that time as "Freedom's Eve." In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln declared his famous Emancipation Proclamation, which set slaves in Confederate territories free as of January 1, 1863. As a result, African Americans across much of the South held religious services, in which they praised and worshiped God as they watched the New Year and freedom arrive at midnight. At the stroke of midnight, it became January 1, 1863, and all slaves in the Confederate States were declared legally free. When the news was received, there were prayers, shouts and songs of joy throughout the South as people fell to their knees and thanked God. Since 1863, African Americans began observing Watch Night and New Year’s Eve in honor of Emancipation Day.

William Tolman Carlton’s painting is variously called “Watch Night — Waiting for the Hour” or ” Watch Meeting–Dec. 31st, 1862.” It was sent to President Lincoln by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison.
The makeshift pulpit is made of boards salvaged from crates. The minister’s timepiece reads 11:55.
Carlton’s painting is variously called “Watch Night — Waiting for the Hour” or ” Watch Meeting–Dec. 31st, 1862.” In 1864 and also circulated widely as an engraving (below).
The painting now hangs at the White House in Washington D.C.  in what is called the Lincoln Bedroom, really that president’s study and Cabinet Room, over the desk upon which he signed the Emancipation Proclamation on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, 1862

Title: Watch meeting, Dec. 31, 1862--Waiting for the hour / Heard & Moseley, Cartes de Visite, 10 Tremont Row, Boston. Creator(s): Heard & Moseley, photographer Date Created/Published: c1863. Medium: 1 photographic print on carte de visite mount: Albumen. Summary: African American men, women, and children gathered around a man with a watch, waiting for the Emancipation Proclamation. Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Copyright 1863 by W.T. Carlton.

* THIS NEW YEAR'S EVE AND NEW YEAR IS THE 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

Friday, December 27, 2013

Ringing In The New Year...With Greens and Black-eyed Peas !


According to tradition, this New Year’s Day tradition, southern style, dates back to the Civil War, when Union troops pillaged the land, leaving behind only black-eyed peas and greens as animal fodder.
In the North, Black-eyed Peas were known as “cowpeas” or “field peas”. Cattle ate cowpeas and humans ate only English Peas. Since the North believed that only cattle ate Black-eyed Peas and they had already either taken or eaten all of the cattle, they saw no need to destroy this crop.

At first planted as food for livestock, and later a food staple for slaves in the South, the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as Sherman's troops destroyed or stole other crops, thereby making the black-eyed pea an important role as a major food source for surviving Confederates.
As one of the few food sources left to sustain the people and the southern soldiers, those black-eyed peas came to represent good fortune.
Today, the tradition of eating black-eyed peas for the New Year has many variations and embellishments. Served with greens, the peas represent coins and the greens represent paper money. In some areas cabbage is used in place of the greens.

Other traditions include:

Cornbread, often served with black-eyed peas and greens, represents gold.

For the best chance of luck every day in the year ahead, one must eat at least 365 black-eyed peas on New Year's Day.

Black-eyed peas eaten with stewed tomatoes represent wealth and health.

Adding a shiny penny or dime to the pot just before serving is another tradition practiced by some. When served, the person whose bowl contains the penny or dime receives the best luck for the New Year, unless of course, the recipient swallows the coin.

Greens and black-eyed peas remain favorites in the southern diet, as reflected in the poem " Soul Food Restaurant" from my book
Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia -a Life In Poems.
(Reflections Mississippi Magnolia - A Life in Poems -|
 Amazon link to purchase)

Also, some form of pork is to be included. (pork roast, ham hocks, hog jowls ect. )

Many, simply, just add fat back in the greens.
The pork represents health and wealth, and continued prosperity.
If a family had a hog, that hog (usually killed, dressed and stored between Thanksgiving and Christmas) could provide meat for a family for much of the entire upcoming year.
Some say that the pork also represents progress since pigs/hogs, generally, are not able to look backward without completely turning around.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Is Santa Black Or White ??? Does It REALLY Matter???



I get SOOO tired with some of these ridiculous race " issues" ...that are not real issues at all!  Are people STILL talking about, arguing about, debating and tripping over whether Santa Claus is black or white and the news anchor's, recent comment, about Santa being white??!!! Seriously??!!! Really??!!! GROWN PEOPLE ...Arguing /Debating over an imaginary /made up/fictional "character"???!!! The next thing you know ... We're gonna be having knock down drag outs about the race/color of the Tooth Fairy and The Easter Bunny...

Oh...My bad...You thought they were real , too ???!!!..Not Laughing!!!

Seriously, there are people dying every day from cancer, AIDS, senseless wars. starvation (Yes there are people dying of starvation).

There are rapists, murders, thieves..running rampant among us ...

There are people out there making bombs ..just waiting to inflict harm on some unknown target ..that might just end up being me or you... kids bringing guns to school kill other kids.. that could end up being one of mine or yours!!!

There are people in hospitals, nursing homes, ect. at this very moment taking their last breath or struggling to take a next one... Someone out there is burying a child.....a baby

There are military mothers, wives, families who are getting THAT call..and THAT visit ...that will let them know that their loved one won't be making it back home for Christmas ..or EVER!   

Do you think that any of those people give a flying flip about whether a "Santa Claus" is white or black...or Technicolor??!!!!

I mean...really, If you are the one or one of the ones who has all the answers to the mysteries of the universe.. I beg and plead of you to put all of the knowledge to use and help us solve some things that matter!!!!

In the mean time .. If you want YOUR Santa to be white...then your Santa is white.

If you want YOUR Santa to be black..then your Santa is black.

If you want your child to sit on a white Santa's knee..then go take him/her to sit on a white Santa's knee.

If you want your child to sit on a black Santa's knee..then do that. I did.

Of course, there are some people that do not believe in the Bible, so this might , also ,offend some people...

But, I I offer a scripture which I believe in.

2 Timothy 2:23

New International Version: Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.

Kings James Version

23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.

A few more words of wisdom from one of my favorite writers, "shade tree philosopher" and humorist Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens ) :

"Never argue with stupid people. They will drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience."


PRAYER: Dear Lord, during this holiday season, and always, help us to remember, be thankful for, enjoy, appreciate and concern ourselves with the things that REALLY matter.

 * We lost 6 U.S. military members on December 17th in Afghanistan, of injuries suffered as a result of a helicopter crash. 

Killed were:

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Randy L. Billings, 34, of Heavener, Okla.,

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua B. Silverman, 35, of Scottsdale, Ariz., and

Sgt. Peter C. Bohler, 29, of Willow Spring, N.C.

Sgt. 1st Class Omar W. Forde, 28, of Marietta, Ga., assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

Staff Sgt. Jesse L. Williams, 30, of Elkhart, Ind., assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, Regimental Support Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany.

Spc. Terry K. D. Gordon, 22, of Shubuta, Miss., assigned to 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.


Friday, December 13, 2013

My Southern Christmas Memories

The holiday season is upon us and celebrations have begun! Though many people still have large family gatherings for the holidays, they are, by no means, like the ones of yesteryear. Times are rapidly changing and the type of Christmas celebrations that most older people (over 40) remember are almost, entirely, a thing of the past. The changes in our lifestyles have very much changed the way we celebrate during the holidays.
"Back in the day", Christmas was a much anticipated time because, for most families ,it meant that ALL of the relatives came together in one place. Everyone looked forward to seeing loved ones that they might not have seen in a long while. Car loads of "kinfolk " would pour in from out of town and "from up north".

These days, we live in a much more fast paced, hustle and bustle society.  Many people are working during the holidays.  Many have started taking destination vacations or cruises during the holiday season, which keep them from extended family gatherings. Many stores are, now, opening on Thanksgiving Day and even Christmas Day, which was unheard of years ago. Some have become more interested in scheduling their time around catching all of the bargains offered on those days . So, for many reasons, it is not always expected for everyone to be all together, at the same time, for the holidays.

Another thing that everyone looked forward to during the holidays was the unbelievable "spread" of food that was always a given during this time.  All types of homemade baked good and old family recipes were laid out for all to enjoy.   There was always a wide assortment and magnificent array of food !  At all of the family Christmas gatherings from my childhood, I can remember having NO LESS than three or four meats to choose from.  The selections would vary, but almost always, there was ham AND turkey....and very often chitterlings (chittlins' ).  Family dinners could include duck, goose, hen, and all types of wild game. The possibilities were endless. One Christmas dinner cooked by my uncle Jim included all of the traditional favorites along with almost every seafood item known to man ! On Christmas Day 1968 ,at our house, the meal included a whole roasted pig all dressed with a red bow on the neck and an apple in his mouth.

I love to hear the stories of my parents' childhood Christmases.

My father says that during Christmas, when he was growing up, his mother would cook at least seven or eight cakes.  One of those would always be a Jelly Cake. He added that there would always be a lot of meat from the hog killing that his father would perform right before Christmas.  My mother remembers that her mother would prepare lots of food and always had a Pound Cake and Ambrosia for every Christmas meal.  She remembers the children being very excited about getting lots of fruits and nuts, which they didn't get, regularly, throughout the year.  Times have certainly changed and are still rapidly, changing, so have our Christmas celebrations.  

Dear Lord, help us to remember, be thankful for, enjoy and appreciate the things that matter most.


Christmastime at our house 
Was such a joyous thing; 
There was much anticipation 
Of what the day would bring.

For many months prior, 
The list making would begin; 
There were so many things I wanted, 
On pure memory I couldn't depend.

I carried handy 'round with me 
A trusty little list. 
There was not one single thing, 
I wanted my parents to miss.

And every year, without a doubt, 
I couldn't ask for any better, 
For I 'd get everything on my list, 
Down to the very letter.

The night before, my brother and I, 
Would always try our best; 
To catch ole Santa in his tracks, 
So we'd get little rest.

We'd try to keep ourselves alert, 
With a flashlight by our side; 
But, every year ole St. Nick 
Would cleverly by us slide.

We must have fallen fast asleep, 
Before the morning's light; 
Because our toys appeared miraculously, 
Sometime through the night.

In our den, the floor was covered, 
With toys of every kind; 
The sheer volume of them all, 
Would surely blow your mind.

We'd jump around from here to there, 
And squeal with pure delight; 
We couldn't have concealed our excitement, 
If we tried with all our might.

Later on in the day, 
The relatives would pour in; 
For the traditional Christmas dinner, 
With us and all our kin.

We'd have such an array of food, 
Usually, specialties of the South; 
One year, we even had a whole roasted pig, 
With an apple in his mouth.

We'd exchange gifts and laughter, 
And each other's company enjoy ; 
The men would often help assemble, 
Some child's complicated toy.

Our festivities usually lasted, 
Way into the night; 
And after all was said and done, 
We felt that everything went just right.

from Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia-A Life in Poems 
by Patricia Neely-Dorsey, Copyright © 2008



~*~  Angel of Protection   ~*~

My friend, graphic artist and Military Mom, Debra Estep, drew this Angel
drawing.   Her son, Vincent, served in the U.S. Air Force.   After his deployment
to Iraq, she created this drawing.   Debra shares it freely, encouraging anyone
to use it in any way that honors our U.S. military. 
Debra is the artist responsible for illustrating most of my poetry. 

Military Angel - CafePress 

(Items at this site are priced at no profit)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Happy 196th Birthday Mississippi !!!

TODAY is Mississippi's 196th Birthday as a state.

I have always considered myself a Goodwill Ambassador for Mississippi.

There are so many negative connotations associated with Mississippi and the south, in general. Through my poems, I attempt to convey more positive images rather than all of the negative ones usually portrayed.

Mississippi was admitted into the Union on Dec. 10, 1817, and became the 20th state of the United States of America.

Mississippi is named for the Mississippi river which forms its western boundary and empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The name roughly translated from Native American folklore means “Father of Waters.” The translation comes from the Chippewa words “mici zibi” meaning “great river” or “gathering in of all the waters” and the Algonquin word “Messipi”.

The first settlers in the region (1699) were French, and the area became part of Louisiana. It passed to the British (1763-1779) and then to the Spanish before being ceded to the United States in 1783. The Mississippi Territory, organized in 1798 and enlarged in 1804 and 1813, also included the present state of Alabama.  Jackson is the capital city and the largest metropolitan area.

To celebrate Mississippi's 196th birthday, there will be an unveiling of the plans to celebrate the state's bicentennial in 2017. 

Tuesday, December 10, noon Old Capitol Museum located at 100 State Street in Jackson.  A reception will follow.  The event is Free.


State Symbols: 

Flower or bloom of the magnolia or evergreen magnolia (1952) 
Wildflower coreopsis (1991)
Tree magnolia (1938) 
Bird mockingbird (1944) 
Song “Go, Mississippi” (1962) 
Stone petrified wood (1976) 
Fish largemouth or black bass (1974) 
Insect honeybee (1980) 
Shell oyster shell (1974) 
Water mammal bottle-nosed dolphin or porpoise (1974) 
Fossil prehistoric whale (1981) 
Land mammal white-tailed deer (1974)
Red fox (1997) 
Waterfowl wood duck (1974) 
Beverage milk (1984) 
Butterfly spicebush swallowtail (1991) 

Nickname: Magnolia State

Interesting fact: Stickball is the oldest game to be found in America. Originally, it was played by the Choctaw Indians of Mississippi.




“Go, Mississippi”

 Mississippi Magic  
(by Don Quinn, Patricia Neely-Dorsey, and Ron Ryan) (vocal Johnny Holland)

Link to Audio of song...   Mississippi Magic


Monday, December 2, 2013

I Have Written A Love Letter to Mississippi and the South

Did you know that December is Write a Friend Month? 

In this day of instant, electronic communication, the art of letter writing is all but dead.
But, there is much to be gained by writing letters.
So many people, still appreciate the personal touch of a personal note.
Embrace the fact that your unique handwriting style, choice of paper, ink, envelope and stamp come together to reveal something special about you and offer something special to the receiver
This could be an opportunity to not only surprise a loved one with old-fashioned snail mail, but it is also your chance to help revive a dying art form.

These days the mailbox is full of bills, scams, pre-approved credit card offers and advertisements. We receive most correspondences via email, social media and text message. The United States Postal Service Has seen so much lost revenue that suspending Saturday service is a serious consideration. The mindset of the general population seems to be: Why buy a stamp or wait a week to tell someone something that I can tell them instantly for free? With today’s technology, people think it’s perfectly acceptable for a text message to serve as a thank you note.

December is a great time of year for children to practice letter writing. They can write to grandparents, wishing them a Merry Christmas, a happy holiday season, or a Happy New Year.  And since kids tend to be home from school for winter break, it's a great time for them to find a pen pal. 

Using computers, faxes, texts, phones, ect. for communication has become such a way of life that some schools have even stopped teaching cursive handwriting, altogether.  This is something that is really disturbing to me.  In the third grade, my son, Henry was actually penalized for writing cursive on a spelling test.  He had started learning cursive when he was in the second grade, while we lived in Memphis. We moved to Tupelo in his third grade year.

December 7th has been designated as Letter Writing Day.

Some suggestions for the day:

Write letters to friends and family: Family and friends, especially those with whom you’ve fallen out of touch, will love receiving a handwritten note. 

Write letters to those who need them most: The holidays can be a difficult time for those who are away from their families or who have lost loved ones.  Let a stranger know you care by sending a letter to a soldier in the military, or an elderly person who’s away from their family to brighten their holiday season. 

Overall, December is a great time of year to take a few moments to let the people you love and care about know that you’re thinking of them.  In the midst of the hustle and bustle of holiday celebrations, shopping, and end-of-year deadlines, receiving a handwritten note is sure to be a welcome surprise.

Write a letter showing your love and concern today ! 

I am the author of two books of poetry, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia and My Magnolia Memories and Musings.  In one of the first reviews that I received of Reflections, the reviewer called it, "a love letter to the south". 
After some thought, I totally agreed !  I call both books "a celebration of the south and things southern" .  The poems are filled with the wonderful things that I love and appreciate about Mississippi and the south.  When you put them all together, they certainly do form a beautiful " love letter to the South " .