Leverne Backstrom, center, is pictured with her sister, Odessa M. Backstrom, and her brother, Alvin Scott Griggs.
Leverne Backstrom, center, is pictured with her sister, Odessa M. Backstrom, and her brother, Alvin Scott Griggs.
By Steve Swogetinsky

Kemper Messenger



A steady crowd came throughout the weekend to be a part of the Scooba Reunion. Activities started Friday and continued through Sunday. It was a time for visiting and catching up with former classmates, friends and relatives. Some had never lived in Scooba but had family who had and wanted to returns to see what it was all about.

Leverne Backstrom and her sister, Odessa M. Backstrom came from East St. Louis, Ill., and were joined by their brother, Alvin Scott Griggs from Champagne, Ill.

“We are celebrating Scooba, Miss., and we are celebrating our family legacy,” Leverne said. “My family wanted to take the opportunity to come down and mingle with other Scoobians. We used to spend summers here with my Aunt Mary Ella Griggs Stewart, who taught elementary school.

“My mother Alice Griggs was one of nine children. My mother, Mr. Felix Lockett and Ms. Sally Bickers first started the reunion 30 years ago. This is home. These are my roots.”

According to its history, the Scooba Reunion is an event that evolved from the Lockett family reunion which was held in East St. Louis back the 1960s. The Lockett family had Kemper County ties and over the years, others with similar origins would join in. In just a few years, what had been Lockett Reunion became more like a Scooba reunion. It was decided while the reunion was being held in Chicago in 1971 to rename it the Scooba Family Reunion.

Over the years, the Scooba Reunion has been held in cities around the nation. They have held it in New York and in Los Angeles, Cleveland, Ohio, Chicago and East St. Louis. It has been held in Jackson and in Scooba several times.

The next reunion will be held in Jackson.

“We have seven branches starting out,” said Backstrom. “We had Los Angles, Chicago, East St. Louis, Jackson, Scooba and Cleveland. Two have folded so now we have five. These are descendants of Scooba.  We rotate around. We used to do it every year. As the older ones died off, the younger ones didn’t have the enthusiasm. We do it every other year.”

Ulysses Little, also of East St. Louis, was pleased to be in Kemper County.

“This is my home,” Little said. “I was born here in 1945 and graduated from high school as the valedictorian of the 1963 class. I moved to East St. Louis where I found my lifetime vocation at Boeing Aircraft. I am part of the Scooba Reunion and try to come home every year.”

Little is the vice chairman of the Scooba Reunion and works with James Granger to keep it going. Little said he has always enjoyed coming to the reunion.

“The Scooba Reunion has been one of the most fascinating things in my life since I left Scooba,” Little said. “I meet people I have not seen in years. I have gotten reacquainted with people I used to work with, went to church with and picked cotton with. I am always happy to have that reconnection with them.”

The reunion was celebrated with music, banquets, church services, good food and good fellowship.