‘Mrs. Johnnie’ talks to students at BHS about life during the Depression

Johnnie Lee Smith speaks at Baldwyn High School.

One of the community’s most loved and respected residents, Mrs. Johnnie Smith, spoke to Baldwyn High students last week about life during the Depression.

Mrs. Shelton’s American History classes are studying the Depression.

Each was asked to conduct an interview and write an essay about a person’s life (how many people were in the family, their education, their way of life, etc.) during the Depression.

“Mrs. Johnnie,” has written two books about her life in Baldwyn. “Mrs. Johnnie” is well into her eighties and has many stories about days gone by.

She really enjoys speaking and passing on lessons of life to the youngsters.

She encouraged students to stay in school, study, be polite, find an honest job, and respect their elders.

She really stressed that kids today are not thankful enough. Repeatedly she stated, “Be thankful for what ya got now, be thankful.”

After sharing her books with the students, she told them how important their hands were, and how much they could do if they put their mind and hands together.

Mrs. Smith began her first book while employed at the Caldwell Memorial Hospital in 1955 and completed it in 1977 upon her retirement. The book is titled “My Life and How I Saw the Caldwell Memorial Hospital Grow and Pass Away.”

Her second book, “Baldwyn as I have seen it since 1925 and What it has Meant to Me,” was also written in the 1970s.

Although she has no children of her own, “Mrs. Johnnie Lee” as she is fondly known, has many adopted children she has brought into this world and nursed back to health.

Her official title was LPN at the hospital and midwife, but her compassion and love has touched the lives of many people, far and near.

“I run into people all the time who say I took care of them or delivered them, it’s such a pleasure to get to know them,” she said.

Mrs. Johnnie is very active in her church, Mt. Nebo C.M.E. in Baldwyn.

She teaches Kindergarten Sunday School classes, is active in the missionary union, and attends Bible classes twice weekly.

“Mrs. Johnnie” always a pleasant smile and a joyful hello . . . a trait for which we should all strive.