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‘In My Soul it Makes Me Rich’

Roger’s Supermarket Produce Manager Barry Richardson stocks mustard greens Friday afternoon as customers prepare their traditional New Year’s Day meals. (Photos by Josh Mitchell/Corinth Today)

Greens, black-eyed peas a New Year’s Day tradition for many Corinth families

By Josh Mitchell

Corinth Today News Editor

Eighty-seven-year-old Bennie Nelson was raised on turnip greens and black-eyed peas.

Nelson always enjoys the traditional New Year’s Day meal, which brings hope of prosperity, and it does not have to be financial. Nelson, who has been cooking about 72 years, has eight grown children and around 20 grandchildren.

Nelson of Tishomingo and many others were at Roger’s Supermarket in Corinth on Friday afternoon stocking up on greens, black-eyed peas and hog jowl to prepare their New Year’s Day feasts.

Doris Shelley of Rienzi said her mom, who passed away more than six years ago, taught her how to cook collard greens, hog jowl, ham and chitlins. Now that her mom has passed away, Shelley cooks the meal and it helps her feel her mom’s presence.

She uses recipes from her mom, who would cook for the whole family. Today, there is still a big family gathering to share those memories.

“Our family’s close, and I want us to stay close,” Shelley said. “We are a loving family.”

The food may not make her momentarily wealthy, but Shelley said, “In my soul it makes me rich.”

Billy Ashcraft of Corinth said he has been taking part in the tradition for about 60 years. He can remember eating the meal at his great-great grandmother’s house.

Sharon Hone of Corinth has a simple answer when asked why she keeps up the tradition of eating black-eyed peas, collards, hog jowl and cornbread on New Year’s Days: “Because it’s good.”

Hone has been eating the New Year’s Day meal her whole life, saying she learned it from her parents. Her own children were also raised with the tradition, and they still come over to her house to eat the meal every year.

The meal has not made her rich, but at the same time Hone said she’s not in the “poorhouse.”

From left are family members Bennie Nelson, Johnnie Clemmons and Shirley Bogan.

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