Corinth

Fillmore

fillmore

I seem to be on a Corinth kick lately. For some reason, I sit down to write and my head suddenly fills with stories and memories of Corinth. Thankfully I have a few pictures to coincide with the things I want to write about. Or maybe it's the other way around.

Regardless, I ran across this picture last night and decided it was ripe for some attention.

Growing up in Corinth, it seemed that everything revolved around Fillmore Street. It's where most of us lined the sidewalks to watch the Corinth High School Homecoming Parade, as well as Corinth's Christmas Parade. Corinth's one and only public library is on Fillmore Street. Across from the library you have the First Baptist Church. For years, the best clothing stores in town were on Fillmore - The Hammond House, Reid Bros. and James Lindsey. When I was a young kid, the post office was downtown on Fillmore. The oldest jewelry store in Corinth, Wait's, was across Fillmore from Reid Bros. Further down from there, you have Hamburger Harold's. And Corinth's first "premier" bed and breakfast, the General's Quarters, is on Fillmore, as well.

My family also had personal ties to Fillmore. It's where the family business, J. R. Laughlin & Sons, had its office in a civil war era house. We eventually turned the office back into a house and moved into it in 1987. My friend, Sarah Lyle Coleman, lived across the street. I went to church a block or so down from our house at the First United Methodist Church. My father worked at Reid Bros. on Fillmore when he was in high school. My great uncle, as well as my great grandfather, worked for the railroad, and the depot was downtown off Fillmore Street.

To some of you, all of this means nothing. I totally understand...I'm really just talking about some street that runs through the middle of some small southern town. Ok. Great. So what?

But to those of us that are from Corinth and spent our formative years there...to those that are still there...Fillmore Street, in my opinion, is much more than just a street. I think it represents perseverance, in a way. Corinth has seen its fair share of hard times over the years, as most small towns have. Every time I go back to visit, it seems that yet another business has either moved or closed all together. Many of the businesses on Fillmore have done just that. But the traditions haven't. And to those of us that find pleasure in remembering the way things used to be, those memories in some ways keep the flame burning...they are so vivid that it's almost like things never changed.

Change is inevitable. I understand that. We all do. But I find comfort in the fact that at any point in time, I can go back to Corinth and drive down Fillmore Street and despite how much things have changed, in some ways they actually haven't. I can't wait for my kids to one day watch the Christmas Parade and anxiously wait for Santa to appear at the end on the last float. To watch as they scramble into the street to grab candy that's been thrown from a car or a float or even Santa himself. I can't wait to see Sloane staring in awe at the Corinth cheerleaders in the homecoming parade...or for Hunter, Miller and Bates to watch the Warriors run onto the field at the beginning of the homecoming football game later that night.

I'll most definitely be making a trip to Corinth soon and can't wait to pay ol' Fillmore a visit...

Hamburger Harold's

harold

Anyone that knows anything about Corinth, Mississippi will tell you that if you're looking for the best burger in town, no establishment can touch Hamburger Harold's. But that doesn't just apply to burgers. If you have a sweet tooth and you have a weakness for pies, Harold's wife, Peggy, makes the most delicious pies in North Mississippi.

As a kid, I remember hearing stories about how all the businessmen in town would meet there in the mornings before work. They'd sit around tables and drink coffee and catch-up on all the Corinth business happenings. Over the years, Corinth's downtown area thinned out, as businesses relocated to different parts of town. I remember when the big shift happened, and it was quite a change. But Hamburger Harold's remained just as busy and in-demand as ever. I think that is a testament to Harold and Peggy and the effort they put into running the place.

2009 marked the 50th anniversary of Hamburger Harold's. At the time, I was involved in a new media venture with two friends called AllSouth Networks. We produced short-form videos about the people, places and things that make the South such an interesting and unique part of the country. We actually produced a few different films about Corinth, but the one we did on Hamburger Harold's is most definitely my favorite...

Hamburger Harold's from Jake Laughlin on Vimeo.

In June of 2011, Harold Smith passed away at the age of 82. He was a veteran of the Korean War. He was a husband of 53 years to Peggy. He was a father. A grandfather. And a great grandfather. He was one hell of a man who loved his country, his family, his friends and his customers. I'm extremely proud of our film because it captured the magic that happened the minute you walked in Hamburger Harold's. Our films aimed to capture that magic and preserve it, because nothing lasts forever.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it and seeing it come to life.

And for those of you that never got the chance to meet Hamburger Harold, you definitely missed out.

There's no doubt in my mind, however, that he's up there in Heaven with his apron on and his spatula in his hand...flipping burgers and slinging biscuits faster than they can handle...

Fork! Fork!

return

A year or so ago, I was in Corinth and heard that our old school, South Corinth Elementary, had been closed down. I had some time to kill, so I drove out there, jumped the fence and found a way inside. I probably spent two hours walking the halls of that place, and it was one hell of a flashback in time. I had my camera and tripod with me, so I took a ton of pictures. I found my way to the school cafeteria, and when I saw the food tray return area, it totally jarred my memory...When I was in the 5th grade, a few of us had a daily ritual that, right or wrong, we thought was hysterical....

When lunch was over and it was time to go back to our classroom, we'd walk with our trays up to the tray return area. And this is where the fun began...

The proper way to return your tray was to place it on the counter and then take your fork and put it in a plastic container that was also right there on the counter. This was a logical process because if you left your silverware on your tray, it could easily end up in the garbage. You see, there was a man that stood on the other side of the counter, and his job was to take the trays, dump the food and other stuff in the garbage cans, quickly spray the trays down and then neatly stack them off to the side.

This man happened to be Asian, and he would get extremely upset if you left your fork on your tray. Not only would he become visibly upset, but he would also scream, "Fork! Fork!" And this is where I must remind you that we were 5th graders. Extremely immature, thoughtless 5th graders.

Remember that I said he was Asian, right? Well, when he would scream, "Fork! Fork!" it sounded like he was saying something else. That "something else" was another four-letter word that we were obviously forbidden to ever say. And so, every single day at lunch, we would round that corner, toss our trays up on the counter without removing our forks, and wait for the screaming "obscenities" to ensue. Then we'd bolt through the door and run back to our room laughing hysterically.

Looking back on it, I know it was a mean thing to do. He was a hard-working man and I'm sure we made his job more difficult. But at the time, we didn't think about things like that. We thought it was funny and that's all that mattered to us.

Anyway, 30 years later, Mr. Cafeteria Man, I'm apologizing. If you're out there, I just want you to know that every night when I'm done eating and rinse my dishes in the sink before putting them in the dishwasher, I think of you as I drop my fork in the silverware basket.

That's Just Bill

bill

He wears ties for belts. He almost always has on a hat.

Sometimes he runs errands in his pajamas and bathrobe.

If he knows you, the first time he sees you after you graduate from college, he'll give you a crisp $100 bill.

He's prone to driving on the sidewalks.

Crazy?

No, he's just Bill McPeters.

And he's one of my most favorite people in the world.

Ask anyone in Corinth who the most interesting and unique person in town is, and I'll bet you $1000 he or she will tell you it's Bill McPeters.

The man is one-of-a-kind, and I love him. Every time I go back to Corinth to visit my grandmother or see old high school friends, I make it a point to stop by and see ol' Bill.

Besides my father, he's probably the best storyteller I've ever met. The man has been more places and done more things...it's just amazing.

I took the picture above back in August of 2010 while in Corinth. I stopped by to see Bill and convinced him to let me take his picture.

He agreed under one condition...I had to join him for lunch.

Easily one of the best days I've had in a long, long time.

Some people meet him and ask if he's crazy.

The answer?

No...that's just Bill.

Learning from a Pro

parlor

The last time I took Sloane to Corinth, she wanted, more than anything, to go with her great grandmother to the beauty parlor. She's at that age where she loves to play with her dolls and brush their hair, so she was excited to see how Beck Beck had hers done. My grandmother has gone on weekly trips to the beauty parlor for as long as I can remember. When I was a young kid, she'd go to a little place downtown across from the court square. While she got her hair done, I'd go across the street and watch the old men that sat on the benches in front of the courthouse as they whittled on sticks and told stories from the war. I was too young to appreciate their stories and was really more interested in watching how they worked with their knives and the wood. Now, I'd give anything if I'd sat on those benches and soaked up their stories...men like that aren't around much anymore. Unfortunate, but true.

Anyway, when Sloane got the opportunity to go to the beauty parlor with Beck Beck, I really wanted to try and capture a few of the special moments while there. I think this shot does a pretty good job of it...

We were there for an hour or so, and Sloane watched in amazement as Beck Beck got her hair washed and fixed-up. She even got to sit in the big chair and have her own hair brushed, as she had a few tangles that she wanted fixed. Her teddy bear also got a make-over.

Towards the end of the appointment, she sat on the couch and asked all sorts of questions, and the stylist was more than happy to answer all of them. When she grows up, she wants to work in a beauty parlor and make girls pretty.

When she grows up.

Regardless, I'm so glad we did that. To see her spend such quality time with her great grandmother, and to capture those moments, I know they'll both treasure them for a long, long time.

But does she really have to grow up??