Mitchell shares her memories
In a few more days, we will all be enjoying the 35th annual Blueberry Festival, and after it is over, we may not think about it again until this time next year.
For some the ending of this year’s celebration is just the beginning of the next.
Patti Mitchell’s father, G.K. Osburn, was a member of the Lion’s Club since 1945, and one of the scholarships given by the club each year to a deserving high school senior is named in his memory.
Mitchell grew up with the idea of someday following in his footsteps to become a Lion’s Club member.
“I spent a lot of time with my daddy and wanted to join the Lion’s Club, but at that time, girls were not allowed,” Mitchell said. “It changed later, and I was allowed to become a member.
“During the 1950s, the club had various ways to raise money,” she added. “I can remember sitting on the steps of the old Lovelace Hotel while my daddy sold chances on a bale of cotton. That was later changed to $500 worth of gasoline and then to $500 cash. They also sold mops and brooms.”
In 1981, the idea was born to have an annual event to honor the blueberries that grow around Brewton. Soon other organizations and sponsors joined in and the Annual Blueberry Festival was born. That first year, it lasted for three days beginning on Thursday with a barbecue.
“The men in the Lion’s Club would gather really early in the morning to start the cooking,” Mitchell said. “They cooked chickens for several hours and began serving plates around lunch time.
“All this was done at the barbecue pit behind where the Brewton Fire Department is now located,” she said. “The wives of the members pitched in with side dishes and the members sold hundreds of barbecue plates.”
Many things have changed over the years and Mitchell has been a member of the Lion’s Club for the past 12 years. She was the recipient of the Melvin Jones Fellow Award in 2009, the highest achievement for service in the Lion’s Club.
Patti Mitchell was raised in Brewton, and both of her parents were school teachers. She attended school in the city school system and graduated from T.R. Miller High School in 1967. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of South Alabama in 1971 and later her master’s degree from Livingston (now University of West Alabama) in 1973. She began teaching school at Brewton Elementary School in 1971 and retired from there in 2005.
She has also worked for and received several other awards and degrees over the years and in 1982 she did post graduate studies at the University of Alabama.
These days Mitchell may have retired from her teaching years but she hasn’t slowed down very much. She has a very green thumb and a large sun room holding all manner of plants. She has gathered quite a reputation as a lover of animals. In line with this she has collected a number of lost and abandoned cats and dogs.
“One morning I went to the door to find a cage with a rooster in it,” she said. “It had a note that read ‘my name is Early B. Bird. You can call me Early, but you can’t return him because you don’t know who left him here.’ He is a very good rooster and wakes me and the neighborhood up really early in the morning. I also have a hen, but she is mean and pecked all the other hens that I had in the cage.”
Mitchell has two sons, Brian and Brad Murph, and three granddaughters. She spends a lot of time working on a small home for her to have at Eufaula. One of her sons is in real estate there, and she thought it might be good to have a weekend and summer place there, she said.
“I am not moving,” she said. “This is my home and I will be staying here in Brewton.”