The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 14, 2012

Mike Pound: Miss M commands respect, love ... and wrestlers

Sometimes, no matter who you are, you just know who the real boss in the room is.

When Joplin Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean recently walked into a room in the skilled nursing unit at Freeman Hospital East to chat with Mamie Creighton, she knew exactly what to say.

“Go ahead Miss M, give me my whipping,” the mayor said.

For just a second, Mamie — better known as Miss M — gave Melodee a look that suggested a whipping was indeed coming. But then Miss M got that familiar twinkle in her eye, and the two women embraced.

See, Miss M has been in the hospital for a while, and Melodee had yet to stop by for a visit. ArBella Rodgers, Melodee’s mother, said Miss M had asked where Melodee had been.

“I told her, ‘Miss M, she’s the mayor; she’s been busy,’ but Miss M told me that Melodee better find the time to visit,” ArBella said.

Miss M, who will turn 103 on Sept. 19, is one of those people who automatically command respect. But it’s not just respect. Most people who get to know her will say that respect turns into a love that borders on adoration.

Born and raised in Ringgold, La., Miss M moved to Carthage with her late husband, A.C., in 1937. Over time, Miss M grew to be a rock in Joplin’s black community, and her small home on McKee Avenue was known as a place a person could drop by and count on getting a warm reception and a bite to eat.

Rene Dunning is assistant director of the skilled nursing unit. Rene said the people who work in the unit have grown very fond of Miss M. A week or so ago, Rene found out that Miss M has a not-so-secret passion: professional wrestling. Miss M has watched wrestling on TV for decades, and years ago, when wrestling matches were routinely held at Joplin’s Memorial Hall, she could be found sitting in the front row.

The thing is, Miss M has always wanted to meet a professional wrestler, but she never had a chance.

“I knew we had to change that,” Rene said.

So Rene made a call to someone who made a call to someone else, and the next thing Rene knew, a gentleman by the name of Mr. Saturday Night agreed to stop by and meet Miss M. Not only that, Mr. Saturday Night was going to bring a couple of wrestling buddies with him. Shortly after noon on Tuesday, WCF wrestling stars Mr. Saturday Night, Lars Manderson and Dustin Heritage, dressed in their wrestling outfits, walked into the room to meet Miss M.

Those of you who are lucky enough to have met Miss M know that she has big, beautiful eyes. When she saw the three muscle-bound wrestlers walk into her room, those big eyes almost popped out of her head. Once she got over her shock, she and the guys chatted about wrestling. Turns out that Miss M loves a wrestler by the name of John Cena and doesn’t care for a wrestler known as Big Show.

The wrestlers brought gifts for Miss M, including a pair of autographed wrestling shorts.

“What are you going to do with those?” one of Miss M’s great-granddaughters hollered.

“None of your business,” Miss M shot right back.

Mr. Saturday Night, Lars and Dustin are really nice guys. At the end of the visit, when some folks thanked them for taking time to visit Miss M, they stopped, and Mr. Saturday Night said: “No. Thank you. We’re honored to be here.”

I thought that was something.

Of course, it could have been that the guys didn’t want a whipping from Miss M.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at mpound@joplinglobe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.

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