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Gina Neely

Gina Neely: Thank You Orange Mound

The beginnings of Gina Neely started in Orange Mound. Orange Mound was the first community in Memphis built for African American people by African American people. The community itself is filled with rich history and good people. Neely sees Orange Mound and the street that she grew up on as her backbone and the village that raised her.

She was the youngest of the neighborhood and the ultimate chatty box and her neighbors embraced her opinionated and talkative spirit by giving her the endearing nickname Poly Parrot. As Neely travels down her old neighborhood street, she can’t help but be overwhelmed by the memories and stories she has to tell.

All of those stories consist of food. Food to Neely is something powerful and mending. She says food comforts you during down times, brings you back to your community when you need support, it relaxes you, and empowers you. In Neely’s neighborhood, you had almost everything you needed right there in front of
you. They would cook home cooked meals for everyone.

There were neighbors with fruitful gardens to supply the cooking. There was a neighborhood alterator and someone giving piano lessons. Then, toward the end of the street was the neighborhood store and a 105 year old church she remembers so fondly.

Neely says her neighborhood would always welcome in new members with the traditional muffin basket and because of that she loves tradition and coming back years later to the community, she feels nothing less than the love and tradition that was there for her every step of the way.



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