Caterer, mentor, 'belt lady,' Mama Daisy

Ginna Parsons 2/11/09
Leslie Criss 2/23/09
Stephanie Rebman 2/26/09
Photo by C. Todd Sherman
Daisy Sadler, a caterer, retired from the Tupelo Public School District in 2007, but continues to mentor weekly at Plantersville Elementary School when she’s not preparing food for weddings or banquets.
Courtesy photo
Sadler specializes in fresh fruit displays in her catering business, Daisy’s Catering Shop in Plantersville.
“You have to tell your history. If you don’t, others will make the same mistakes. I tell my kids what I went through, not so they’ll learn to hate. But so they’ll learn and grow.”
- Daisy Sadler
Hed: Caterer, mentor, ‘belt lady,’ Mama Daisy
Deck: Plantersville woman answers to many names.
By Ginna Parsons
Daily Journal
PLANTERSVILLE – One day in 1988, Daisy Sadler discovered she had a gift.
She was helping with her daughter’s wedding when she found she had quite a flair for arranging food, decorating tables and carving fruit.
“That’s when I discovered my talent,” said Sadler, 67, of Plantersville.
For 20 years, Sadler has been catering wedding receptions, banquets, anniversary parties and family reunions. In her heyday, she was doing a wedding every weekend and sometimes two in one day.
“I don’t do as many as I used to,” she said. “I turn a lot down, do some screening. I’ve slowed down as I’ve gotten older.”
It’s hard to believe the words “slowed down” are in Sadler’s vocabulary. She’s the wife of the Rev. H.B. Sadler who is pastor at Mud Creek Missionary Baptist Church in Saltillo, so she lives the active life of a preacher’s wife. She loves to shop and often travels to Memphis for a day of bargain-hunting. And every week, she can be found at Plantersville Elementary School, mentoring students, who call her Mama Daisy.
“I encourage the kids to stay in school, encourage them to do better” said Sadler, a mother of three and grandmother of nine. “They have a better opportunity to learn than I did.”
The kids call her “the belt lady” because she buys belts and distributes them to the young boys at school with saggy britches.
“If their pants are too low, they have to go to the office and ask for a belt and sign a piece of paper,” she said, laughing. “Now, they have no excuse. Now, they have a belt to wear.”
Painful memories
Sadler is passionate about education. She spent more than 22 years in cafeterias in the Tupelo Public School District, feeding children daily to fuel their minds. She gets angry when she sees children wasting the quality education they’re offered today.
“When I first went to school, it started in November and ended in April because we had to go to the field to work,” she said. “We’d go to summer school in June and July with no air-conditioning and outside toilets and then go back to the field in August to pick cotton. In school we had hand-me-down books from the white kids. That’s sad when you think about it.”
Sadler recalled other not-so-pleasant memories.
“I remember separate restrooms, separate water fountains. We’d have to walk to school and white kids would pass us in the bus and spit at us and call us ugly names,” she said. “I’ve overcome all of that, but you do have to live with some things.”
Sadler’s life changed dramatically in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, which outlawed racial segregation in schools, public places and employment. She was able to leave her job at the Travel Lodge Motel, where she was paid $3 a day, and go to work at Hunter Sadler Manufacturing, where she was the second African-American to be hired.
“When I got there, a woman – I think she was the personnel director – held my hand and told me that when I walked into the factory, all the machines were going to stop and the people were going to be looking at me,” Sadler said. “And they did. I was never so scared in all my life. They put me in a room with all white men. And no one would talk to me. After I’d been there a while, more blacks were hired and it became easier.”
While Sadler isn’t bitter about the past, she’s not about to forget it. That would be a tragedy, she said.
“You have to tell your history,” she said. “If you don’t, others will make the same mistakes. I tell my kids what I went through, not so they’ll learn to hate. But so they’ll learn and grow.”
Contact Ginna Parsons at (662) 678-1581 or ginna.parsons@djournal.com.

 

Ginna Parsons