An Updated, Non-Comprehensive List of Facebook “Don’ts”

Generally, I’m a fan of Facebook.

While the social media giant may not be perfect, Facebook is unquestionably a great way to stay connected with old friends and associates that are no longer in your “every day” circle. I’m glad to know that my cousins in Georgia, and their kids, are doing well. I’m happy to read witticisms posted by college classmates and be reminded that inside our current shells, aged 25 years plus, those younger dudes are still floating around. However, all good things aside, I have identified, over the course of my eight years with Facebook, several misuses of this powerful tool.

Ladies and gentlemen, there ARE things that should NOT be posted on Facebook.

So without further ado, and for the benefit of my 823 friends, many of whom I actually know, I have compiled a non-comprehensive list of important Facebook “Don’ts.”

First, do not post quoted country song lyrics that are unmistakably applicable to your own life.

Do not post a 20th pic of your baby wearing a cute hat, even if each shot shows the hat at a slightly different angle.

Do not post your “check-in” … anywhere.

Never post a 2nd profile-photo change in a single day or a 5th in any given week.

Never post political rants, unless you are an actual government official, in which case there is real entertainment value, and we thank you.

Never post retractions. You said it. Don’t back away. “I did not mean it like that” should be grounds for immediate Facebook expulsion.

Do not post any tale in which your male child cries. Do not do it. I can’t speak for girl children – I have none, and I was not one – but I can tell you unequivocally that your son does NOT want that on Facebook. He’ll be 25 one day and some geezer will tell him “Yeah, I remember that time you bawled like a baby when your dog ate the action figure off your birthday cake. Saw it on Facebook.” Ladies, I’m telling you, men never forget crying males. It’s primal.

Do not post more than 5 “shared” pictures consecutively. We, your Facebook friends, appreciate what you find poignant or witty. But in moderation … please.

There are a few posts that are not wholly detrimental but are nonetheless irritating. For instance, a picture of anyone’s feet, besides mine, at a beach.

Actually, NO gathering of older women at a beach on a girls’ trip should be posted. First, the use of the term “girls” is clearly misleading, a fact corroborated, with very few exceptions, by the subsequent photographic evidence.  And when these events do show up, I always catch at least a fleeting mental image of the poor “boys” back home, steadily running out of clean clothes.

Do not post pictures of your frozen margarita glasses lining a bar somewhere … AFTER having posted your “Bible Verse of the Day” earlier that SAME day.

Don’t post your Social Security Number.

Do not seek medical advice on Facebook by posting a picture of your injured, ailing or infected body part.

Don’t post that your size 2 shorts are just “falling off you,” unless you are INTENTIONALLY seeking to be defriended by all your fat friends.

Along that same line, don’t comment on your workout regimen while “checked-in” at a Krispy Kreme.

If you are actively crying or medicated, do not post anything.

Similarly, if it is later than 11 pm, DO NOT POST. Believe me. Nothing good can come of it.

However, if you are intoxicated, disregard the previous two rules and post away. No baby in a cute hat can entertain like a drunk waxing poetic. 68.6% of people on Facebook are only there to watch others go down in flames anyway. Give’em their money’s worth.

Certainly this is not a complete and final list of things that should be avoided on Facebook, but it’s a start. If you know of other good ones, send them to me at my Facebook account.

Oh, I almost forgot the most important rule.  Do NOT be caught promoting your stupid blog on Facebook. Nobody wants to read it. It’s just filling up people’s news feeds. Come on!

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The Last One

Aunt Erma was the last one – the last sister.  She was the baby.

She was ninety when she died last week.

Erma was my grandmother’s sister, and her husband of seventy-two years, Jack Hamblin, Jr., was my grandfather’s nephew.  So, uncle and nephew married sisters three quarters of a century ago, and the resulting two descendant branches from great-grandparents Mark Lafayette Rutherford and Mary Emma Copeland were eternally double-dipped in kinship.

Aunt Erma’s and Jack Jr.’s daughters Becky and Christi are both my second- and third-cousins.  That’s Mississippi closeness.

IMG_8689 (1)Erma Jean, born in 1928, was a child of the Great Depression and the last of nine Rutherford children – four boys and five girls.  Times were very hard early in the Rutherford family.  In fact, Aunt Erma was only ten when her father Mark was killed by a train on the M & O Railroad.  It’s unclear whether Mark Rutherford’s death was a suicide or an accident.  Without exception, Aunt Erma always proclaimed her father’s death accidental, fiercely.  I suspect that if the determination and concrete composition found in the Rutherford sisters was evident in my great-grandfather, in any small part, then my Aunt Erma’s assessment was the correct one.

IMG_8689Ruby, Edna, Delia Mae, Geneva and Erma Jean – those were the sisters.  They laughed and loved one another, and visited, and fed each other, and fed each other’s children and grandchildren.  They each one represented the epitome of a well-defined type of Southern woman from their generation.  Not the ones who began life with means.  No, their starting point on this earth – from a purely financial perspective – was essentially void of any reason to retain even a basic hope for the future that was about to unfold on each of them in the back half of the twentieth century.  But they, and their brothers, had fight in them.  The Rutherford’s didn’t quit in 1938 when their father was hit by a train.  They dug their fingers into Mississippi dirt and climbed.  And every living soul that exists at the tips of the smallest, newest limbs of their unbowed family tree is the beneficiary of the unyielding will and tenacity exhibited in those brothers and sisters.

I can’t tell their stories with specific detail.  I’ll get them wrong.

IMG_8688I know they all had gardens when I was a boy.  Not because they enjoyed gardening as a pastime, but because they developed the habit back when they had to insure they had plenty to eat.

Aunt Erma fell out of a knotty pear tree on my grandparents’ place one time, and she hurt herself badly.  Each year, the sisters put up pear preserves.  Truly, Aunt Erma was well settled and secure enough in life, by the year she fell, to buy ten rooms of pear preserves at Big Star or Cunningham’s Grocery.  But she climbed up in that pear tree anyway that summer – because that’s what she and her siblings did.  They didn’t rest.  They worked to secure life for their families, in every way they knew how.

I contend today that the stuff that Aunt Erma was made of is a foreign substance in modern life, extinct.  Who routinely cooks for twenty people these days?  No one.  She did.

My mother told me that she remembered when Aunt Erma and my grandmother wrung the necks of a hundred chickens by hand, dressed those chickens, and put them in a deep freeze to use later in that year.  She remembered the plucking.  And frankly, she remembered it as it would probably be perceived today – a bizarre, surreal scene, a squawking feather tornado, and the children running and screaming through the carnage.  It’s practically impossible for that event to occur any other way.

When I consider that archaic moment now, I come to the quick realization that my grandmother’s and my Aunt Erma’s task on that day was no more palatable than it would be on this day.  Yet, there stood two wives and mothers, in feathers and beaks, two Southern women who would do anything for their families – for their comfort, to sustain them, because they loved them.  And because of the fight that resided at their cores.  As God is my witness.

All the Rutherford brothers were gone by 1991.

My grandmother Delia Mae died of cancer in 1998.  It seems like yesterday.  Aunt Edna died in 2001, Aunt Ruby in 2008, and Aunt Gen in 2011.

Erma Jean Rutherford Hamblin – Mother, Gran, Aunt Erma – died on June 26, 2018.  She was something else.  She was the last one.

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2nd Saturday LIVE at The Claude Gentry Theatre

Something really neat is about to happen.

Last Monday night, a group of excellent singers and musicians gathered at The Claude Gentry Theatre in preparation for an upcoming production called “2nd Saturday LIVE.”  In total, there were eleven of us on hand.

And over the course of two and a half hours, those assembled hammered out faithful renditions of the classic songs of Pontotoc-native Jim Weatherly – a member of the Songwriter Hall of Fame – including Midnight Train To Georgia, Neither One of Us Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye, and The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me.

Why, one might ask.  I’m happy to answer.

Web_2NDSATLIVE-01“2nd Saturday Live” is a new live radio show which will broadcast once a month (every second Saturday night, hence the name) directly from the stage of The Claude Gentry Theatre.  The program will air, as it happens, on WFTA Power 101.9 in Tupelo, a musical sister station to the SuperTalk Mississippi radio group.  Each hour-long production will start at 6:00 pm, and local admission to the event will be free.

See, neat.

A wild idea formed, just a few months ago – an inevitable offspring of the growing body of theatrical, film, musical, and radio & television broadcast life experiences I’ve had, both as an observer and as a participant.  We could start a live radio show, one to showcase the talents and artistry of successful Mississippians … and we’d do it monthly … and we’d do it live.  We could have guests and a house band and a host … like The Tonight Show, except that we’d be in Mississippi … specifically, we’d be in Baldwyn … specifically, we’d be at The Claude Gentry Theatre at 110 West Main Street.

The light bulb brightened.

I placed a call to a local radio station manager named Steve Knight and made a proposal.  I talked fast to hide the holes.  I used my greatest power on him – the ability to sound like I knew what I was talking about whether I did or not – and he listened.  Then he came to Baldwyn and visited the theater, and we talked some more.  Then, after I sent him eighteen more emails and text messages, he said he liked the idea … he actually said he liked the idea “a lot.”  He was particularly keen on the fact that we would put on our big show from our little, rural Mississippi town, in our little theater that seats eighty-eight.  We could be the unexpected, he said, the thing that comes out of nowhere.  I took note that another good power, which Steve recognized in my proposal, was the ability to turn a weakness into a strength.  People always root for the underdog.  I didn’t realize I was the underdog, but I’ll take it.

Steve said go, and I started running.

And now with a little help from my friends, on August 11, at 6 pm, the first broadcast of 2nd Saturday Live at The Claude Gentry Theatre will occur.  Special guests appearing on our very first show will be star singer-songwriter Mr. Jim Weatherly himself along with the co-author of his new book “Midnight Train,” Ole Miss journalist and author Jeff Roberson.  Nashville recording artist and Tupelo-native John Milstead will also appear, as will Dick Guyton, the executive director of the Tupelo Elvis Museum.  And a house band, made up of local musicians Don Anderson (bass), Jeff Spencer (guitar), Dan Davis (keyboard, saxophone), Richie Lomenick (drums) and Terry Hayes (guitar), will back our special guests as needed, ably accompanied our own vocal group The Claude Gentry Singers – Toni Johnson, Clint Reid, Amye Gousset and Kiswana Green.

The whole shebang will be graciously sponsored by Family Resource Center of North Mississippi, Farmers and Merchants Bank, and Sherwin-Williams.  And a few others to be named later.

And I’ll get to talk a little bit on the radio.  It’s about to happen.

See, neat.  I told you.

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How Do You Know That

I love a puzzle, I love a mystery, and I love history.  The entangled combination of those passions yields hours of enjoyment for me, pouring over old scraps of paper and pictures.  I happily lose myself in the pursuit of some fact that is today largely unknown – regardless of its importance – and in the uncovering of some odd and ironic link between faces and places of the distant past to the here and now.  I like to think, to find out things.

A few years ago, Baldwyn native Al Phillips brought a tattered, old show poster into my Main Street office.  As is the case quite often these days, Al told me I could hold on to his discovery.  He said I could hang it up somewhere or just put it to use wherever I saw a good fit with the rest of the town’s growing history collection.

I cleaned it up a little and had it framed.  It now hangs prominently in the foyer of The Claude Gentry Theatre.

Here’s what it says …

High School Auditorium

Baldwyn, Miss.

Adm. 25 & 50 Cents

Thurs. Nite, Nov. 21, 8pm

_____

In Person – The Original

DELMORE BROTHERS

Alton & Rabon

Makers of Millions of Phonograph Records Including the Famous

“HILLBILLY BOOGIE” King Record No. 527

Stars of

WSM GRAND OLE OPRY For Seven Years

WLW Boone County Jamboree for Four Years

_____

WAYNE RANEY

CBS Harmonica King

Plus

CYCLONE

The Funny Boy That Tickles Everybody

_____

A Clean Complete Show Guaranteed to Please the Entire Family

Singing – Playing – Comedy – Spirituals and Old Time Hymns

Heard Over WMC Daily, 6:00 to 6:30 AM

Don’t Dare To Miss This Treat!

 

That says a lot.  It tells us who was coming to Baldwyn to perform and where the show would be held.  It tells us what the show was all about and even why it would be worth our time to go see it.

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But what does it NOT say?  The answer: it doesn’t say WHEN then show occurred.

Well, sure it does, one might counter – it clearly says right there at the top “Thurs. Nite, Nov. 21, 8pm.”  Certainly, for the original reader of the poster, that bit of information, the one-line blurb, would be enough to pinpoint the date when the comedy of Cyclone could be enjoyed.  It would be the “next” November 21.  The one that was upcoming.  But for us, decades hence, we don’t know the year.

And that’s where I get interested.  Simply because there is something unknown, I want to know it.  Whether or not the desire to know the unknown is an admirable or deplorable trait in human beings, I’ll leave for another story, but for now, let’s see if we can find out what year this show came to Baldwyn.

My best friend – Google – tells me that Alton and Rabon Delmore were stars of the Grand Ole Opry in the 1930’s, actively performing from 1926 to 1952.  I also find that Wayne Raney, our poster’s second-billed star, was active as a performer from 1934 through the 1980s.

I look back at our poster – what do we know?  The Delmore Brothers had already recorded Hillbilly Boogie.  We know that they were stars of the Grand Ole Opry for seven years, but we don’t know if it was the immediately preceding seven years.  The same can be said for their time with the Boone County Jamboree.  Wikipedia says Wayne Raney played with the Delmore Brothers after World War II, but that doesn’t absolutely negate the possibility that they all happened upon the same card in Baldwyn on one odd night at another earlier time.  Rabon Delmore died of lung cancer in 1952.  Obviously, that sets the final range of date possibilities.

I shift gears and get analytical.  Between 1934 and 1952, only three times does November 21st fall on a Thursday – 1935, 1940, and 1946.

The Delmore Brothers became regulars on the Grand Ole Opry in 1933, so by 1935 they probably wouldn’t have been touting themselves as “stars” of the Opry for seven years.  Plus, Raney was the whopping age of 14 in 1935.  1940 seems like the likely year of the Baldwyn show since the Delmore Brothers would have been with the Opry for precisely seven years at that time.  However, coincidentally, the brothers left the Opry in late 1939.  Therefore, the duration of their stardom with the Opry was exactly seven years, and that was a fact they could have used in self-promotion for the rest of their careers.

So, what else do we know?  The Delmore Brothers were the maker of “the famous Hillbilly Boogie, King Record. No. 527.”  Hillbilly Boogie was released by the King label in March of … 1946.

There you have it.  The big to-do at the Baldwyn High School Auditorium starring the Delmore Brothers, Wayne Raney and Cyclone (I’ll find him later) happened on a Thursday night, November 21st, 1946.

Puzzle finished.  Mystery solved.  Check.

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Free Yodeling During the Ascension

Baldwyn, Mississippi, is a town with a rich history of entertainment.

Multiple theaters, both film and stage, have existed within the four-block downtown historic district from the late 1800’s through present day.  In 2011, when the Claude Gentry Theatre was being created, Bimbo Griffin’s construction crews pulled silent movie posters from the ceiling.  Yes, the ceiling.  That’s when we realized that The Claude Gentry Theatre at 110 West Main Street and its sister building at 112 West Main once had a common 2nd floor.  In fact, an expansive upper floor auditorium across the two buildings housed at first the Baldwyn “Opera House,” where the local high school staged a production of the play “The Deacon” in 1907, and later “The Princess Theater,” where they played the silent films “Love Is Love” starring Albert Ray, “Beating the Odds” with Harry T. Morey, and a serial called “Bound and Gagged” with Marguerite Courtot, all in 1919.

A playbill for the Opera House hangs near the cash register at Agnew’s Restaurant in Pratts, and the posters unearthed by Bimbo Griffin today grace the walls of the Claude Gentry itself.

Somehow things in Baldwyn seem to braid tightly together over time into one strong rope of historic continuity.  That’s how I see it anyway.

“A Big Balloon Ascension and Parachute Jump!”  That was the headline.

IMG_8459Three times on the page the reader is informed that the spectacle to come – on June 15th, the next Thursday – was FREE.

The event was multi-faceted.  Not only was it a balloon ascension, it was a balloon ascension by “the biggest balloon in the world.”  That’s what it said.

And not only was it a parachute jump, it was “a 5000-foot parachute jump by a girl.”

I squinted to make sure I read that right.  Yep, “by a girl.”  I guess in 1939 a parachuting “girl” still had to untie her apron, hand her babies off to her mother, and ask her husband for permission before crawling into a balloon basket for an ascension.  Different times.

And that’s not all!  The Journal boldly announced that “Angelina and her Yodeling Cowgirls” would furnish music for the ascension, at 2:30, and then appear in the Baldwyn Theater (now the Baldwyn School District Central Office) with a matinee at 3:30 and evening shows later that night.

A few clicks on the computer was all it took to learn that “Angelina” was Angelina Cianciolo Palazola Gish Grosswiller of Memphis, who passed away in 1997, after 60 wonderful years of entertaining with the all-girl group she formed.  The “Yodeling Cowgirls” became the “Roaming Cowgirls” in the mid-40’s, when their yodeler quit, but they continued on with radio appearances, USO shows and private events for decades in various configurations.

On June 15, 1939, cowgirls yodeled in downtown Baldwyn while the biggest balloon in the world ascended 5000 feet so that a girl could jump out of it wearing a parachute.

We framed the paper.  It’ll hang in Tom’s Drug Store very soon as a permanent reminder that this town of ours knows how to truly entertain.

My 15-year-old Maddux and I looked at the framed page a few days ago, still in limbo for the moment in the office of Six Shooter Studios.

His fingers moved over the edge of frame as he studied it.

“Isn’t that funny?” I prodded.

“Well, I never saw a balloon in Baldwyn – I think I’d like to see that,” he said.

You know something?  I think I would, too.

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Simon Sez

As the opening of a newly-renovated Tom’s Drug Store & Soda Shop on Baldwyn’s Main Street rapidly approaches, an extensive effort is being made to identify, sort and evaluate the voluminous historic collection of the late Simon “Buddy” Spight.

Simon passed away over six years ago – June 2, 2012 – but the ultimate legacy of the man, who loved Baldwyn, Mississippi, with true passion, may just now be reaching its infancy.  In the back rooms of a few buildings on Main Street there exist ten thousand pieces of paper, pictures, paintings, models, and artifacts of all kinds, collected over a lifetime by Simon Spight.

I have myself already laid hands on framed commissions of famous Confederate officers, a 1903 Blue Mountain College class picture, mugshots from the Lee County Sheriff’s office from the early 1970’s, scaled drawings of Baldwyn streets with the homes marked with resident names at different times in the past century, a 1925 official map of Baldwyn from the Library of Congress, original poems in both hard copy and on cassette tape with Simon’s bass voice reading his works, pencil sketches of our town’s historic buildings as they once existed, and pictures of literally thousands of Baldwyn residents, taken throughout the entire duration of the town’s existence, 1861 to now.  The finds are incredible already … and we have barely skimmed through a quarter, maybe, of the materials the man graciously left this town.

Frankly, I can write from today until the day I die and never do sufficient justice to the tales that are contained in the archives of Simon “Buddy” Spight.  Nonetheless, I’ll try to periodically deliver some of the most notable re-discoveries to you in this column every few weeks.

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Along with providing inspiration for stories of Baldwyn’s historic past, many of the documents and photographs will also make their way to public display in Tom’s Drug Store, which will serve a dual purpose as the Baldwyn History Museum.  One such document that has been re-discovered in Simon’s collection is – I believe –the original layout of the town of Baldwyn.  The map would have been drawn in the late 1850’s or perhaps as late as early 1860.  It’s hand-inked on sepia paper and shows the city blocks of “Baldwyn.”  Simon or someone prior to him mounted the map on a backing board with glue – I do wish that hadn’t been done – but the faded and crinkled lines clearly show the dividing boundary between old Tishomingo and Itawamba Counties slashing at a slight diagonal through the Main Street of Baldwyn, just as the county line does today.

A reference to “Carrollville,” the original community that shifted a mile and a half over to Baldwyn when the Mobile & Ohio Railroad reached this spot in December of 1860, is shown about where the depot once stood.  The other words in the overall phrase written on the map aren’t clear.  I’m working on deciphering that.  I’ll report back if the rest of the notation becomes clear and means something interesting.

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(Just so you know, Marshall J.D. Baldwyn was the Mobile, Alabama, native who proposed the M & O Railroad.  He envisioned a connection between his south Alabama hometown and the Ohio River, suggesting that that connection would make Mobile a commercial competitor with New Orleans.  Baldwyn believed that providing an alternate route for finished goods to reach the gulf coast, other than the Mississippi River, would divert enough shipping to help his Mobile thrive.  Baldwyn himself ceremoniously drove a railroad spike into the track in our Baldwyn in 1860, and this town, sitting at approximately the halfway point of the full length of the railway, took the visionary prospector’s name as its own.)

I would propose that the map was drawn by Charles Wesley Williams, the first surveyor of old Tishomingo County and a founder of Booneville.  In a way, he was a founder of Baldwyn, too.  The records show that it was Williams, along with his close associates and relatives, who bought and sold the original plots of land outlined on the map.  Those friends and relatives included Col. Richard Clayton, Carrollville’s postmaster from 1840 to 1853, and Porter Walker, the sheriff of old Tishomingo County (which is modern day Alcorn, Tishomingo and Prentiss Counties combined).  Charles Wesley Williams is one of my direct-line ancestors, and though he may have been something of an opportunist, as an engineer, I’m significantly proud of the fact that I’m standing on a block in Baldwyn that he created on paper in 1860.  And today, I’m making drawings of things that I hope to create in 2020 and beyond.  That’s the kind of cyclical, generational, uber-coincidence that helps me know that there’s meaning under the surface of all this life-stuff.

I think Simon Spight saw that, too.

So … all this is derived from just one piece of paper, re-discovered in Simon’s collection … and we still have 9,999 to go.

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Movies On Main at The Claude Gentry

The Claude Gentry Theatre, located in the heart of Baldwyn’s historic district at 110 West Main Street, is hosting a series of family-friendly movies this summer beginning Saturday night, June 2, at 6:30 pm. The movies are sponsored by Six Shooter Studios, an emerging film and entertainment company also located on Baldwyn’s Main Street, and by Farmers and Merchants Bank, the theater’s season sponsor.

Disney Pixar’s The Incredibles will play first, this coming Saturday, and admission is free to all — thanks to the sponsors.  Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult, and limited concessions of popcorn and bottled water will be available,according to organizers.

This current movie series — entitled “Saturday Summer Spectacular” — is the 2nd collaboration between Six Shooter Studios and Baldwyn’s community theater.  The two businesses previously worked together on the County Line Music Video Competition in April.

Six Shooters announced its reasoning for the joint endeavor last week.

“We thought this would be a great way to do something positive for the kids in the community.  It’s a nice fit as a project for us to be a part of.  And with summer being a down time for community theater activity, The Claude Gentry Theatre was available. Obviously, it’s a perfect spot to host a summer set of movies.”

The series of films to be shown are all Disney Pixar classics.  Following the June screening of The Incredibles (which is nicely set for the week prior to Disney’s national release of The Incredibles 2) comes Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Frozen in July, August and September, respectively.

According to Six Shooter Studios, they wanted to show movies that were high quality and would interest both kids and adults, with appeal for both boys and girls.

“We think we’ve picked four good ones for this summer, and we hope that this will be something families can really enjoy together.”

The films were licensed for public viewing through Swank Motion Pictures Inc.

Baldwyn’s Main Street has a long history of movie-going, with silent films being shown in the same spot The Claude Gentry Theatre now holds. The Princess Theater, The Opera House, The Lyric, The Baldwyn Theater and The Ritz Theater have all existed and have entertained Baldwyn with Hollywood’s big screen offerings since the very start of the industry at the turn of the twentieth century. Now with Saturday Summer Spectacular at The Claude Gentry — and thanks to Six Shooter Studios and Farmers and Merchants Bank — kids of all ages in Baldwyn and the surrounding communities will get a new chance to enjoy an old pleasure, a night out at the movies.

Six Shooters Studios said they wanted to close out the series with the Disney mega-hit Frozen in September so that they could end this initial film series with a “sing-along.”

Sounds like fun.

Smiling kids singing along to Disney songs on a quaint, historic Main Street in the heart of America — that sounds like a movie.

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