Golden Deeds winner is well traveled, humble

Published 9:33 am Tuesday, April 23, 2024

BROOKHAVEN — The Exchange Club’s new Golden Deeds winner is well traveled, humble and has a fascinating story. Barbara Davis, a Brookhaven native, was close friends with a movie star in college and played tennis at Mississippi State University.

Davis said the backpacking trip mentioned in her introduction Friday was a graduation trip from her parents and herself. Her parents bought the plane tickets for Davis and she paid for everything else. It took years to save up for the trip. She purchased a Eurail Pass and Arthur Frommers book “Europe on $15 a day,” and enrolled Mary Alice and Claire Wilson to go with her to England. They took a hovercraft to France and then a train to Paris. 

She said they then went to Pamplona, Spain for the San Fermin Festival, where the “Running of the Bulls,” takes place before the famous bullfights. It was in Spain where they faced their first challenge. 

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“A french woman sitting across from us tried to warn us of trouble ahead. We all spoke Spanish, not fluently, but enough to know there was danger ahead. Unfortunately, when we arrived on the outskirts of Pamplona, we learned that the Basques separatists, inhabitants of the Basque Country which straddles the northern part of Spain and southern part of France, were uprising in Pamplona and bombing trains 30 minutes behind ours.”

She said in spite of American backpackers trying to discourage them from staying, they decided to go forward and find her friends to see if it was indeed too unsafe to stay. 

A friend from Mississippi State, Rick Bates, who ran the bulls each year, had taken her through Heminway’s book “The Sun also Rises,” and pointed out the photo of Matt Carney, the most famous American bull runner. Bates and his wife hung out with Carney on their annual “jaunts” to the festival, Davis said. 

Carney went back to Europe to finish the Great American Novel and was discovered by a talent agency. He became a high fashion male model. Davis said her friends and her walked around the plaza in festive Pamplona as guitar music played, people were laughing and having a great time in outside cafes that surrounded the town square. She spotted Carney and approached him to see if he knew where Rick and Cathy Bates were staying. 

Carney said he was staying at the same hotel as the Bates couple so he took the group to them, Davis said. 

“Because the one shooting that had happened the night before was in front of their hotel. There were a few empty rooms. Given the Bates were in their late forties we trusted their guidance and stayed as they felt it would be ok,” Davis said. “We had some interesting experiences with this group of expats that roamed Europe taking a trip the next day up to the mountains, touring some incredible villages and having a picnic in a beautiful misty ravine where they cooked our steaks and threw together this massive salad on a huge tree trunk.” 

On returning back to Pamplona from the excursion, they were disappointed to find out the running of the bulls and bullfights had been canceled due to the Basque uprising. 

Davis said they went on to the French Riviera, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands. One of her friends got sick in Florence and flew home, she pressed on the last half of the trip. 

“I was afraid I would never have that opportunity again. I learned I could get by on my own,” Davis said. “I had great experiences and memories with my friends and interesting experiences on my own that may not have happened with my friends. I value both.” 

She said they had no reservations for hotel rooms but the Eurail pass allowed them to get on and off a train wherever they wanted without buying a ticket. Davis said they had an itinerary which they followed fairly close. 

Frommer’s book was filled with places to stay, Youth hostels, affordable hotels and even people who rented out rooms in their homes. The book ranked and described restaurants, listed places and things to see. It was a thorough guide for the trip, she said. 

“There is nothing like experiencing a foreign place with people who have spent time living there,” Davis said. 

Living the Golden Deeds

A humble winner, Davis tried to shift the focus of winning the Golden Deeds honor from herself to the Exchange Club. She has helped bring change to the club by selling sponsorships for the Exchange Club Fair rides and game booths. 

Saturday afternoon she was still trying to take in what winning the Golden Deeds award means. 

“There are so many others that deserve it. The sayings are true. ‘It takes a village,’ ‘No man is an island.’ No one can do it alone,” Davis said. “I could not and probably would not have taken to the revitalization of the fair without the encouragement, support and wisdom that my friends Frank Perkins and Janet Smith provided to kick start the project. The support of Bill and Nancy Haag. I can’t even begin to tell you how encouraging and supportive they have been.” 

She said every single club member was open to listing, opening their minds to a possibility for change. Exchange Club is still involved in the fair but has gotten help from local businesses in putting on the event for the community. 

Keri Herndon, a new Exchange Club member, said she joined the club because Barbara Davis told her she should. 

One thing stuck out to Davis about the club, their commitment to God and country. She said every meeting takes place with an opening prayer and the pledge of allegiance. 

“These men and women are genuine and they work hard to make the fair great for the community and give back in many other ways over and over again,” Davis said. “From what I have read about the Golden Deeds award, each one of them deserves it.” 

The Exchange Club Fair’s revitalization project would not have been possible without community partnerships. 

King’s Daughters Medical Center, Bank of Brookhaven, Toyota of Brookhaven, BankPlus, Trustmark, Mason & Magnolia, Rex Lumber, Allen’s Construction, Wand Seed Store, and The Clubs at Ole Brook have all helped sponsor game booths and rides. Sherwin Williams, Jill and Bob Logan, Brookhaven Monument, Visit Mississippi, Janet Smith, Ole Brook Heating & Cooling, Brookhaven Electric, Lincoln County Master Gardeners and Fullers Upholstery donated for the revitalization project. 

Davis said Pike National Bank sponsored the renovation of The Frolic. James Minter of B&O Welding, Smith Welding and Machine, Porter’s Body Shop, Falvey’s Body Shop, Phillips Bark Processing Plant, Rep. Becky Currie, The Brookhaven Trust, Brookhaven Tourism Council, Culbertson Construction and many more donated prizes for Bingo, she said. 

“If you want to make a difference contact me. We have 2 booths left and I am very close to selling the ride sponsorships,” Davis said. “If that is something you are not able to commit to, join the Exchange Club or contact me, Bill Haag or any Exchange Club member to volunteer. We will appreciate an hour of your time or whatever you are able to provide. I want to thank the Exchange Club for this amazing award. I am appreciative beyond words.”