Spring 2001 marked the 11th annual Tales from the Crypt, an event held every spring at Friendship Cemetary in Columbus, MS, by several of the U.S. History classes at MSMS. During the week of Spring Pilgrimage, a celebration of the heritage of Columbus, MSMS students portray notable characters from Columbus's colorful history. Each student involved selects, researches, and recreates the life of a personality buried in the historic graveyard. This graveyard is the site of Confederate Decoration Day which is known nowadays as Memorial Day. On April 6th, 9th, and 11th of 2001, Tales from the Crypt was performed. An additional performance was scheduled on April 4th but was rained out; however, crowds of about 662 people came each night to see the performance and in total, 1,981 people came.
Carl Butler and Chuck Yarborough co-directed the project. Laurie Hatcher, MSMS Drama teacher, coached all performers and guides to improve dramatic performance. Judy Morris, MSMS history teacher, assisted with costume and make-up on performance nights.
This event is not only entertaining and informative, but the money raised goes to very good causes. One third goes to Friendship Cemetery for maintenance to keep the cemetery beautiful. One third goes to the Columbus Historical Society and one third goes to MSMS for a project of their choice.
A special thanks is in order for the staff in the Archives at the Columbus-Lowndes County Public Library, including Ms. Marty Sparrow and Ms. Wanda Sumner. Without the resources available in the Billups-Garth Archive, the research necessary for Tales from the Crypt could not have taken place.
A few more notes about Tales:
Tales was created by MSMS history teacher, Carl Butler.
Tales has won an Award of Excellence in Historic Preservation from the Mississippi Heritage Trust and it has received a Letter of Commendation from the Mississippi Historical Society.
Tales was featured in a 1998 New York Times travel article which highlighted Columbus, MS.
Tales research folders are available in the Archives at the Columbus-Lowndes County Library
Performance dates for Tales from the Crypt 2002 are scheduled for: April 3rd, 5th, 8th, 10th, and 12th.