Nellie Fleeman is a "people person"

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Nellie Browning Fleeman and her husband, Paul Dean Fleeman, returned to their hometown of Manila in 1995. They grew up in Manila and in their 20 year absence always called Manila home.

Mrs. Fleeman is the daughter of the late Grace Browning, and Mr. Fleeman is the son of the late Velma and Willie Fleeman.

The couple married in 1963, when Mr. Fleeman was in the Marines. He was involved in the Cuban Crisis. He said all they could see were Navy ships all around the Bay.

"I think about the young people today waiting on their husbands and wives to come home and I know how difficult it must be on them," Mrs. Fleeman said.

The Fleemans have been partners in life for many years, but they have also enjoyed being business partners for most of their married life.

Following Mr. Fleeman's military service, he went to barber college in Memphis. When he was finished, Mrs. Fleeman went to beauty school in Blytheville.

For years they contracted the barber shops at three military bases, Blytheville, Columbus, Miss., and Whiteman in Missouri. They also had a beauty shop at the Blytheville Air Force Base. The family lived in Gosnell and had people working for them at the out of state bases.

Mrs. Fleeman also took care of the books for their contract business. During the summer months they would travel to the other bases and Mr. Fleeman would fill in for people taking vacations.

"It was like a great vacation for us," Mrs. Fleeman said. "We would take the girls, stay in local motels, and see all of the sights. We made a lot of friends during those years."

The Fleemans have two daughters, Tonya Cole and Tina LaBella. Tonya and her daughter, Alexandria, 10, live in Cabot. Tonya teaches school. Tina and her husband, Tony Labella, live in Dallas, Texas. Tina is an echo cardiogram technician.

The Fleemans decided to stop their contract work and open a shop in Gosnell in 1987. Mrs. Fleeman did not work full time when the girls were growing up. The girls were older and they decided the timing was right for them to open a shop. They opened Fleeman Beauty and Barber Shop. They still had a lot of the military business until the base closed. Again, they made some very good friends through their shop.

"We got close to our customers," Mrs. Fleeman said. "They all became like our family."

They closed the shop in 2002.

"Without a warning, Paul suffered a stroke," Mrs. Fleeman said. "We did not know what was going to happen or if he would be able to go back to work so we sold our shop."

They also sold their home because he was not able to take care of the yard or repairs. They moved into an apartment.

"By the grace of God, Paul made a full recovery," Mrs. Fleeman said. "It took about a year. We have been blessed."

They decided to come out of retirement part-time. They once again went into business together. They opened Mid-Town Beauty and Barber Shop in Manila about a year ago. They only open two days a week on Wednesday and Thursday.

"The business picks up each week and we are really enjoying being in business in Manila," Mrs. Fleeman said.

Working part-time they have time to visit their granddaughter in Cabot.

They also bought a new home with a smaller yard. They spent the summer landscaping and Mrs. Fleeman said she hopes her trees and bushes all live.

They also had a summer home in Mountain View for several years. It became too difficult to keep it up living so far away, so they sold their home but kept all of their friends. Now when they visit they stay in motels.

"The people there were really nice," Mrs. Fleeman said. "They always told us they kept an eye on our house, making sure everything was okay."

Mrs. Fleeman has been involved in the Buffalo Island Relay for Life for the last two years.

"The fight to find a cure for cancer is important to me," Mrs. Fleeman said. "I lost my brother, Cecil, to cancer and I have lost some very good friends to the disease. Paul and I are willing to help any way we can."

One of Mrs. Fleeman's hobbies is playing the guitar. Her brother, Cecil, was teaching her to play when he died.

"When I play the guitar, I think of Cecil," Mrs. Fleeman said.

The Fleemans are members of the Buffalo Island Classic Car Club. They have had antique cars for over 30 years. They presently have a 1957 Chevrolet convertible. They try to make as many of the Christmas parades in the area as they can each year.

Mrs. Fleeman is a "people person."

She really enjoys having her family home. This is the first year that everyone did not come to "Mom and Dad's" house for the holidays. Her daughter in Dallas couldn't get enough time off to come all the way home, so they split the distance and all met at her other daughter's house in Cabot.

Mrs. Fleeman likes to cook but she said she likes easy recipes. She especially likes to make sweets. She is sharing some of her favorite recipes.

Hot CoCo

16 oz. Carnation dry milk

1 box powdered sugar or 16 oz.

16 oz. Nestle Quick

2 large jars Coffeemate

Mix all together. This makes a great drink for those cold winter days.

Butterfinger Homemade Ice Cream

1 pint whipping cream

1 can Pet milk

1 can Eagle Brand milk

3 tablespoons vanilla

1 cup sugar

10 Butter Fingers (crushed)

Whole milk

Fill up to full line in ice cream machine and enjoy.

Microwave No Fail Divinity

4 cups sugar

1 cup white Karo

3/4 cup water

Dash salt

3 egg whites

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup nuts

Combine sugar, Karo, water and salt. Cook in microwave for 19 minutes stirring every five minutes. Beat egg whites until very stiff. Pour hot syrup gradually over egg whites. Beat at high speed for about six minutes or until thick and candy begins to lose gloss. With spoon, fold in vanilla and nuts. Drop by spoonfuls on waxed paper. (Eat and get fat!!!)

Cheese Ring

1 lb. grated cheddar cheese

1 cup mayonnaise

1 small onion chopped

1/2 or 1 cup chopped pecans

Dash cayenne pepper

Dash black pepper

Mix all ingredients together. Put into greased Jello mold. Refrigerate until firm overnight. After removing from mold onto a platter, put strawberry preserves in center and serve with crackers. (Great for those special guests)

Cherry Fruit Salad

1 can cherry pie filling

1 can Eagle Brand milk

1 small can crushed pineapple (drained)

1 cup chopped nuts

1 carton Cool Whip (9 oz.)

1 can coconut

Mix ingredients together, then fold in Cool Whip. Let set in refrigerator to chill overnight.

Sausage Dip

1 pound Jimmy Dean Sausage, brown and drain

8 oz. cream cheese (melted)

Add 1 can Rotel

This is quick and easy.

Quick Dip

8 oz. cream cheese

1 can chili (no beans)

Heat chili and pour over cream cheese. Top with grated cheddar cheese, sprinkle with cilantro.

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