‘Truly Tupelo’ tells town’s unique tales

By M. Scott Morris / NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A town is made up of specific people, places and things.
Throughout 2010, the Daily Journal staff has worked on “Truly Tupelo,” a collection of short vignettes examining the elements that make Tupelo unique.
Rob Leake, Janelle McComb and Homemade Jamz blues band have been featured; entries were written about the Green Houses at Traceway, T.K.E. Drug Co. and Spring Hill M.B. Church; and events like President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1934 visit were included, along with the Charity Ball, the Tupelo Blue Suede Cruise and the GumTree Festival.
“We wanted to document the history, at least the high points,” said Michael Tonos, Daily Journal managing editor. “It wasn’t meant to be an encyclopedia about each item, but a quick reminder of what is ‘Truly Tupelo.’”
The vignettes have run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The last one is scheduled to appear on Thursday.
If you’d like to revisit the entries or if you missed some, more than 120 have been put together in a hardbound book, also titled “Truly Tupelo.” It’s available at the Daily Journal’s front desk and Reed’s GumTree Bookstore for $24.95 plus tax.
In addition to the write-ups, the book includes photographs for each entry.
“We took pictures from portraits hanging in offices. We had some family members bring pictures down for us to scan,” said Richard Crenshaw, Daily Journal marketing director. “We used all of the pictures we could find from our Journal archives, and we went out and took some pictures. It’s a good mixture of old and new.”
The oldest photograph was taken in 1888, and it shows a crowd of people on horseback on Spring Street. Among the new photographs is a shot of Seiichi Sudo, president and COO of Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing North America, in a pair of Elvis glasses.
Of course, Elvis Presley and his birthplace are included in the book, so are other, lesser known aspects of the town.
“I’m from Grenada, so to learn about places and people that I wasn’t aware of was, for me, great,” said Danza Johnson, one of the 18 writers who contributed to the book. “I found myself reading what the other writers had put into the (computer) system.”
Maybe reading through “Truly Tupelo” will interest you in learning even more about the town. That’s what happened for Ginna Parsons, who wrote 10 entries.
“In researching some topics at the Lee County Library, I came across other files and found out things about Tupelo that I didn’t know existed,” she said. “That was part of the fun for me.”

Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@djournal.com.