Winston sees much history of Brookhaven

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bill Winston can tell you the history of Brookhaven frombeginning to end, and that’s because he’s seen most of it.

Winston, who turns 100 years old today, can recount which storesused to be livery stables, meat markets or post offices, as well aswhich ones weren’t there at all when he was a child.

He still remembers the people who helped him throughout hislife, and he can tell you what used to be where the city cemeteryis before he outlived all those people.

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Winston remembers the theater for colored people that burned tothe ground. And he remembers when you could get a good pair ofpants for $1.50 and a chicken for 15 cents.

“If you broke your arm back then, they just put a board oneither side and poured kerosene on it,” Winston said.

He’ll tell you of a time when people brought their goods to theInez Hotel every Saturday to sell them.

“You’d get enough food to last you until next Saturday, thencome back,” he said.

The world he speaks of is one of simplicity, but one that wasracially charged.

“I remember there was a colored doctor who was actually halfwhite, and the white folks didn’t want him to work on them. Therewas a white lady’s baby who swallowed a marble and the white doctorcouldn’t get it out,” he said.

The colored doctor, who Winston remembers as Dr. Connor, said,”Would you mind if I have a try?”

“He twisted the baby, and shook it just a little, and thatmarble came right out,” said Winston. “From that point on theywouldn’t see anyone but Dr. Connor.”

Winston has also seen some funny and strange things in thiscentury, including a monkey that crossed the street in front of himand his friend many years ago.

“They found that ape down in Bogue Chitto a few days later,” hesaid.

The historian can also tell of the origins of things peopletoday take for granted.

“A train wrecked with a bunch of hogs on it,” he said. “They allgot out. That’s why there are wild hogs in Lincoln County, andwhere Hog Chain got its name.”

But Winston also likes to tell the story of the way he won overhis second wife, Diane, whom he married seven years ago.

“I said hello three different times then I asked her, ‘Where doyou live?'” he said. “Then I rang that address and said, ‘I’ll beout there in a little while. If you aren’t ready I won’t be outthere again.'”

So he picked her up and the rest is history.

“I didn’t know if she had a husband, or anything,” he said. “Ididn’t think about that. In my mind was her. All I wanted washer.”

Diane remembers that fateful visit to her house, too.

“We met at the Sack and Save, that’s how we got together,” shesaid. “He came out 18 miles to my house, and I was standing therewith my mother. I’ll never forget it.”

She also remembers other adventures they have had together.

“I had never been on a train, and I had never been to Chicago,”she said. “We did that. He took me to see all sorts of things.”

Winston became well known around town for his cart that waspulled by a goat and ridden in community parades. While the cartstill sits outside his house, the goat has passed away.

And as for birthday plans, Winston said he will celebrate thecentury mark close to home.

“I might go to Hattiesburg,” he said, adding that he’d livedthere years ago. “I’ve lived in Memphis, Chicago, Mexico; I’ve beento California, and I don’t want to see any of that. I’ve seen mylife of living, and I don’t want any of that anymore.”

To Winston, there’s no place like home.

“I just want to see Brookhaven, nothing but Brookhaven,” hesaid.