Justin Jordan had always dreamed of living in the America Building in downtown Hattiesburg.
When he arrived in the Hub City in 1998 to attend The University of Southern Mississippi, he and friends frequented a bar called The Courtyard in downtown with the America Building always looming in the background.
“The Courtyard was a really big place in my growth at that time in my life,” he said, “just being there.”
He remembers the America, a tall multi-story structure, in a dilapidated state at the time.
You can hear Gerrell Payton’s Salvation Army bell ringing out in the far reaches of the Walmart parking lot on Hwy. 98 West in Hattiesburg.
Payton, who is the longest serving bell ringer in the Hub City at 13 years, has been on duty at his regular spot.
Payton greeted customers with a hardy, “Hello, how are you?” as customers walked by, some in a hurry, some wrestling with youngsters while others were talking or texting on their mobile devices.
He gave a heartfelt, “Thank you, Merry Christmas,” as they pushed a few bills or sprinkled some change in his red kettle.
The Purple Parrot has a new chef, only the sixth in its 32-plus years. Marty Anklam, who arrived on the scene in the spring, has had time to get his feet wet – having survived Mother’s Day and graduation weekends and a south Mississippi summer, helping launch a catering division and a new fall menu for the Parrot and feeding more than 600 at a recent fraternity tailgate at Mississippi State.
A Mississippian by birth, his parents moved to Washington, D.C., when he was just 18 months old (not much say in that).
The elves at the Arc of Southeast Mississippi have been very busy working to get unique pottery items crafted and ornaments made in time for Christmas gift giving and trimming of the tree.
The Arc is a United Way non-profit organization devoted to providing community-based services to individuals with mental challenges and their families.
“If you build it they will come” may be a line most remember from Kevin Costner’s character in Field of Dreams.
But the line from the 1989 movie is also working for Hattiesburgers Abby and Brandon Thaxton with the vignettes they are building and showcasing at their downtown business, The Lucky Rabbit. This time they’ve gone over the top and blown the budget to allow their fans to enjoy a completely immersive experience in the living room of Clark and Ellen Griswold of National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation.”
I ran out of time.
I’ve been looking forward to this cooler weather for quite some time, especially on those days when push mowing the yard became almost unbearable.
As I prepared for the coming days of fall, I bought a power washer and stripped the deck down to reapply water sealant to it. This was during the September days of no rain.
The next week I was planning to finish my project. And it rained. And it has rained on a regular basis since then, which keeps the wood from drying out enough to finish the work.
Aaahhhhh, October! This is the time of year where we hopefully begin to feel the first cool(er) breezes that harken the arrival of what may eventually become fall. Or at least we don’t feel like we’re suffocating when we go out to go to work in the morning.
And while that’s wonderful, what’s even more wonderful is the October calendar lineup for the Pine Belt.
Yall, seriously. While there is always a plethora (love that word) of things going on in the area, October is doubly blessed. It’s downright bewitching!
Janet Gurwitch has had the opportunity to do some amazing things during her career. She’s rubbed elbows and dined with the rich and famous. She created and sold a multi-million dollar cosmetics company. She’s held her own against some of the top labels in the country. She’s part owner of a Major League Baseball franchise.
Gurwitch wasn’t shipped off to some fancy boarding school. She didn’t further her career by studying within the hallowed halls of the Ivy League. She had a desire and a drive to make something of her life.
And it started in Hattiesburg.
On rare occasions, it’s not possible to talk to someone face to face for a story I’m writing. I either have to rely on a telephone interview or send questions and wait for the answers.
For this month’s feature story, I relied on the telephone. As the phone rang in Houston, Texas, 435 miles to the west, Janet Gurwitch picked up and said, “Hey Beth, it sure is good to see a ‘601’ number.”
This month is our Style issue. With the recent announcement of the second class of the Hattiesburg Public School District Hall of Fame, which includes Gurwitch, who better to feature?