Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Carole Tucker: Shelby Native, Author, British Lawyer

For the past two weeks, Cindy and I have had a house guest from Oxford, England, our longtime family friend, Carole Tucker. Many know Carole from the book signings she held around the state for her recently published book, A Street In A Town Remembered. In her book, Carole tells the stories of the founding families and provides the history of the small Mississippi Delta town of Shelby.
Layout 1Carole grew up in Shelby which is also my hometown. My mother was an only child as is Carole who is seven years younger than my mother. They lived just a few houses from each other and grew up almost as sisters. Carole’s mother and father and my grandmother and grandfather were very close friends and in fact, my grandfather dated Carole’s mother a few times when they were in their late teens which would have been around 1920. So, our families have been good friends for almost 100 years.
When I was growing up, Carole was like an aunt to me and she made a big impression on my life. She was different than most people in Shelby and I recognized this when I was a boy. She opened my eyes to many things. She saw the world as more than just Shelby or the Delta often telling me “there is more out there and you need to experience that” and to “think big.” She talked to me about other countries, races, religions, cultures, you name it. I remember sitting on our couch with her when I was in the first grade meticulously going through a copy of National Geographic magazine as she explained everything to me in detail in regard to what we were reading.
In her late teens, Carole moved on from Shelby attending college at Newcomb in New Orleans in the late 1950s. From there she moved to Washington working for the FBI, then on to New York City. Next, she married and moved to Oxford, England where she became a successful lawyer and lives today. A long way from Shelby indeed.
Besides her career, Carole’s other goal in life was to travel the world and she has done that — several times. Today, at 74, she continues to travel and spends a lot of time in India. However, she has always returned to the Delta every year or so to visit friends and to check on her farm land outside of Shelby that has been in her family since 1890.
In the opening of her book, she writes that in the early days “…Shelby was as cosmopolitan as Bleaker Street in New York City.” She notes that Shelby’s first citizens were prominent people whose families were important Americans. These first Shelby residents included members of the early colonial families such as the Henrys, descendants of Patrick Henry; Mrs. John W. Thomas (my great-grandmother), a close cousin of Jefferson Davis; the Poitevents, Huguenots who had arrived in Charleston in 1685 to escape persecution then on to Shelby; the Shelbys, descendants of Cardinal Hughes who founded St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City; and the Wilson family who were descendants of a signature of the Declaration of Independence. Shelby can also boast of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton graduates. This is a pretty impressive group of early residents who lived in Shelby.
Like so many small Southern towns, Shelby was once a thriving community and her book captures the early years accurately and beautifully.
If you have not had a chance to read her book, you can pick up a copy by visiting nautiluspublishing.com or call them at (662) 513-0159.
It is an excellent book and regardless if you have a connection to Shelby, Mississippi, A Street In A Town Remembered captures the spirit and vitality of most small Southern towns as they were from 1900 until the 1970s.

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