Charlotte and B.B. Gilmer’s home on Highway 430 in Carroll County looks like something in a magazine.
The outside exterior is an eclectic mix between rustic farmhouse and modern. And everything, with the exceptions of a few items, was handcrafted by BB Gilmer.
Charlotte Gilmer said she grew up “po’,” not just poor. Growing up “po’” she promised herself that she would live in a two-story house.
“We was po’” she laughed. “We lived in a shotgun house in the middle of a cotton field. And we didn’t have indoor plumbing.”
She remembered wanting black and white saddleback shoes which cost $5, but her mother told her they couldn’t afford them.
“So, I asked the lady at the grocery store where these shoes were at if could I work to get those shoes,” Gilmer said. “And she said yes.” So, that’s what she did. She said at the end of the day, she got her shoes.
“Now, I didn’t ask the lady what size they were,” she said. “I wore those things down, walking like this,” she said as demonstrated walking with her toes smashed inside the shoes. “But, all the girls were wearing those shoes and I wanted them.”
She also remembered wanting a bike. Gilmer said her mom told her again they didn’t have the money for her to get a bike. So, when the cotton crop came in, she picked cotton.
“And at the end of the day when everyone weighed in, I weighed in too. And, Mr. Carr, the man who owned the cotton field, he gave me my 50 cents, and I put it back until I got my bike,” she said.
Gilmer said when she and B.B. got married, they didn’t have much. She said they owned a beat up truck that lost its door. She said B.B. went to a salvage yard and found one. Only one problem: it still said “Indianola Water Department” on the side.
“I wanted him to cover that thing up,” she said. “He never did.”
However, Gilmer never allowed her circumstances to get her down. And, she was determined to make a way for a better life. She went to college at Mississippi Valley State University and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education.
“I went to Valley because I was a minority,” she said. “It was the only way I could afford to go to college.”
She said at 32, she worked as a teacher in the Leflore County School District and then went to the Carroll County School District where she worked at Marshall Elementary.
B.B. works as a deer processor and is extremely handy around the house. Gilmer said he doesn’t build things for anyone else because he doesn’t have the time, but he has built beautiful creations that adorn their home and garden.
So, how does this all play into the Gilmers getting their home? It was through hard work and determination.
“I attended that church right there,” Gilmer said pointing at Hillview Baptist, located next door to their home. “I attended it for three years and every time I came by this house I prayed God let me able to get that house at the price I wanted it,” she said.
She said she and BB would look at houses and every last house they saw, it sold right before they made an offer. Well, a friend of hers knew that she wanted the home on Highway 430.
“My next door neighbor told me ‘Charlotte, my friend lived in that house and she passed away. She was 90.” After asking what the plans for the home were, she asked who she would have to contact.
“I pulled in the yard and we walked up to the door, knocked on it. We told them who we were, and we made them an offer and they accepted it,” she said.
The Gilmers are just as determined with their garden. They take their time, understanding that the process isn’t always easy. Sometimes, nature is good to you, sometimes not so much. Sometimes they decide to try and prune things themselves – as Gilmer explained with a tale about BB’s St. John’s Wort vine.
“I called myself cutting it back, and it killed the darn thing. He told me I better not touch his vine anymore,” she said laughing. “So, I leave it alone.”
Gilmer said they’ve been featured in quite a few magazines, and they’ve had garden clubs from Greenwood, Carrollton, and Winona come visit their home.
When you step foot onto the property, you can tell there’s a serenity -- a peacefulness that is met by the soothing sounds of water fountains. The breeze from the tall trees is matched by the beautiful ferns and an array of flowers in the yard. Every piece of furniture, garden art, and structure in the yard was made and placed with love and care by B.B. himself.
Gilmer refers to her home as the Benita, because the ashes of the former owner of the home are scattered along the property.
“I believe that she’s here with us,” Gilmer said.
For Gilmer, her home and her garden, is the answer to a long-awaited prayer that began when she was a child. Although, the process to get there was tough evident by her stories, it’s the outcome that makes it all worth it.