AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
Byline: Geoff Pender and Tom Wilemon
BILOXI, Miss. _ A bundle of nervous energy at a recent newspaper interview, Gov. Ronnie Musgrove gets up from the conference table, paces, gestures with his hands to make his point and talks fast, at least by Deep South standards. He sits back down, but his hands keep flying as he talks. He takes a sip of coffee, which settles him down, a little.
Musgrove comes by his hyperactivity naturally _ "It's definitely a family trait," said his youngest sister, Maxine Musgrove. "He probably has the highest energy level of all of us. He drinks coffee nonstop. Our mother was the same way."
At a young age, Ronnie Musgrove learned to channel his energy into something productive: Work. Hard work.
When Musgrove was 7, his father, a road crew worker with the Highway Department, caught pneumonia while laboring during a record snowstorm and died. His mother worked at a Fruit of the Loom factory, tended a half-acre garden and raised him and his four siblings by herself.
Times were tough for the Musgroves in the tiny community of Tocowa in North Mississippi. Ronnie and his brothers and sisters all had to work to help support the family.
"Back then the money was so tight, the little things you take for granted now were treats," said Maxine. "I remember Friday night was hamburger or hot dog night, when we'd get to open one of those big glass bottles of Coke. We had to drink tea or water or Kool-Aid during the week and save the Coke for Fridays. But our house was filled with love, and there was always food cooked."
At age 9 or 10, Musgrove went to work in the cotton and soybean fields of his oldest sister, Cathy, and her husband. He drove a tractor and carried a man-sized workload.
"I learned the value of hard work, getting up early," said Musgrove, who as governor is known to occasionally schedule meetings or campaign stops for 5:30 a.m. or earlier. "Working on the farm gave me a connection to the land. That's one reason I've always wanted to stay in Mississippi."