In 1950 while a student in college, I made my first trip to Mississippi. The Southern Literary Festival was being held at Mississippi State College (now University) that year, and a group of students, along with our instructor, drove down from Nashville to Starkville to attend this literary gathering.

At the banquet which always concludes meetings of this type Mildred Spurrier Topp from Greenwood was the featured speaker. If memory serves me correctly, she was at that time writer in residence at Mississippi State College for Women (now University). That same year, Houghton Mifflin Company published her second novel titled "In the Pink."

Two years earlier, Topp's first novel "Smile Please" had been published to excellent reviews. The "New York Times" reviewer said, "Topp's stories are of school, a revival meeting, weddings, love affairs, and the arrival of a showboat; all told with great humor and a deep insight into the customs and traditions of the Mississippi Delta."

The reviewer for the "Saturday Review of Literature" observed, "Some consider it unfashionable to have had a happy childhood; but Mrs. Topp is not ashamed to admit that her childhood was unrepressed and uninhibited. Her book is a happy excursion into a delightful past."

Topp's second novel "In the Pink" also received good reviews and is as humorous as her first. The "Chicago Sunday Times" said of the book, "It is written chiefly for laughter. Some of the writing is embellished and some is a little boisterous but always written to generate a smile."

And just who was Mildred Spurrier Topp? Well, she was born on her grandfather's farm in Mason County, Ill. in 1897. A little more than a year later, Grandpa loaded the whole family into his surry and moved to the South, to Tennessee to be exact. She was transported again at the age of 9 when her widowed mother opened a photo gallery in 1907 in Greenwood, Miss. She grew up in Greenwood and lived there for the remainder of her life, marrying a Greenwood cotton broker, Robert Graham Topp, and being mother of two children.

Mildred Topp graduated from Mississippi State College for Women and obtained a master's degree from the University of Mississippi. From 1932 to 1936 she was a member of the Mississippi State legislature, and during World War II she was employed by the United States Service Organization, more commonly known as the USO.

During her later years, she described her life as "the usual life of the average woman in a small Mississippi town." She often remarked when she was speaking in public that she never met a dull Mississippian and found life in Greenwood a fascinating experience, always seeking humor in any situation.

Her description of the town drunk is priceless. It is from this fellow that she gets the title of her second book. The name of this gentleman who was prone to over-imbibe was John. Each Christmas the local law locked John up in jail for his own safety.

On this particular Christmas, because of a broken leg, he was in the hospital rather than the jail. When Mildred and her friend visited John in the hospital they asked how he felt and he replied, "In the pink, in the pink. This is the first Christmas in 16 years I ain't spent drunk and in jail. It looks to me like I been missin' a heap while I was in the lock-up. I tell you, I got a real mind to get respectable. Today I been eatin' choice vittels and visitin' with friends, and listenin' to Christmas songs and Scripture reading, and thinkin' about Peach on Each, Good Will to Men. I tell you the truth, I had no ide´e Christmas could be such a fine day. Yes sire, I'm in the pink."

When Mildred, her mother, and her sister moved to Greenwood, the girls decided their widowed mother needed to marry again. They were especially fond of the local lawyer they saw at church each Sunday. One Sunday, their Sunday school teacher mentioned "concubine" in the lesson,a word the children heard but did not grasp the meaning of.

In due time, Valentine's Day rolled around, and Mildred and her sister decided to send the lawyer a valentine and sign their mother's name. With scissors, paster and paper, they created a valentine but were then faced with the problem of a suitable verse. Remembering the word "concubine," and needing a word to rhyme with "valentine" they wrote, "If you will be my valentine/I will be your concubine." Needless to say, the young lawyer did not acknowledge their efforts to woo him as a suitable husband for their mother.

In 1963, at the age of 66, Mildred Topp died in her beloved Greenwood. She left behind two delightful books filled with humorous stories of the Mississippi Delta. Although both are out of print, both books can usually be found at the local library.