Profile 2019: Meet the CumminsBy MARK H. STOWERS,
Each day, Brenda Cummins teaches math at North Sunflower Academy and helps her husband Bill with their trucking company, North Drew Freight.
But when their “day jobs” end, the Cummins enjoy other fruitful hobbies that include sewing and classic cars.
Brenda heads to her specialty sewing room – a cypress shack behind their offices where her MeMommy & Me sewing comes to life with her children’s outfits and embroidery.
Bill takes to the garage where his three-vehicle fleet of older vehicles gets his attention.
The crown jewel being his father’s (Billy) own 1953 Chevrolet Bellaire Convertible.
“I’m not a big collector. I actually got into it because I got my daddy’s car,” he said. “Daddy bought it new off the lot in Indianola.”
The car had plenty of special meaning and his wife Brenda heard about it even before they married.
“When we were dating he always told me he was going to fix that car up,” she said. “We actually went riding in it on the back roads around Drew and I went into labor with Brancy. He had to crank it with a knife.”
The brand-new car included a three-speed (three on the tree) manual transmission with a 235 horsepower six-cylinder engine. The vehicle worked its way through his father’s siblings and was eventually stored at Bill’s grandfather’s truck shed. Cummins kept asking for the vehicle but his grandfather wouldn’t part with it. Eventually, though, there was a mutual need and agreement.
“He hauled cotton for a local cotton gin and was having trouble with the brakes on his truck. One day he asked me what I was going to do with my truck, a 1954 Chevy trailer truck that I rode the turnrows in. He told me if I fixed it up and put his cotton bed on my truck he’d swap me for that red car.”
After the trade with his grandfather, Cummins put in a massive renovation that included a new engine – a 350 horsepower V-8 with a 700 R4 automatic overdrive transmission along with four-wheel disc brakes, electric seats and electric windows.
“I put in a full restoration. It wasn’t a frame-off but it was dang close to it,” Cummins said. “It looks like a brand-new car right now. I carry it to shows and we do all the parades and I do a lot of weddings with it.”
The car is so beloved that when it comes time to pass it down, they aren’t sure just what to do. Brenda came up with a novel idea though.
“I’m going to have to bury him in that red one,” she said with a laugh. “You really can’t decide who’s going to inherit that car. I told him I would just fold him up in the trunk and bury him in it.”
The couple attends Cruising the Coast each year and Cummins has brought home awards for his efforts.
“This past year it did really well with the People’s Choice Award out of 4,500 cars and then the next day at Ocean Springs it finished in the Top 10,” he said.
The original car was a workhorse for his father who was serving in the Armed Forces in St. Louis and was driving home every chance he got to see his pregnant wife.
“He was driving home every weekend. He told me one time he burnt the rear end on it coming home. There’s no telling how many miles he put on it. There’s nine boys and two girls in my daddy’s family and he was next to the oldest. The car was passed down through them.”
His two other classic vehicles include a 1980 Jeep CJ5 that he’s working on and a 1965 Chevrolet Panel Wagon that had served as a supply wagon for a Cincinnati Fire Station. The vehicle had been fixed up by a hot rod shop and was put on eBay where Cummins snatched it up.
Brenda’s sewing business began with a coupon from Bill’s grandmother. Singer Sewing Machines had sent out certificates for $200 toward a sewing machine. All the buyer needed was to add $40 along with it for a brand-new machine. Cummins took the certificate and the deal and started learning how to sew as an adult.
“I didn’t know how to sew but we went for it and bought it and I started learning to sew. Back then I owned a daycare and would make outfits for the kids there. My boys came and I made clothes for them then I got into home décor making bed sets and shower curtains and pillows. I still do some of that from time to time.”
She initially just wanted to make clothes for her sons to expand their wardrobe. She kicked it up a notch when the grandchildren came along.
“When my granddaughter was born I got back into making kids clothes. It’s just a hobby that I have – making children’s clothes, embroidering, applique. I don’t have a store front. I just play around with it and do arts and crafts shows.”
Her hobby got a shot in the arm with a cypress shed Bill found and moved onto their trucking property so she can spread out a bit and show things off.
“It’s about 16’ by 20’ and we’re going to fix it up and put things on display,” she said. “I’ll be able to stockpile. It won’t be a big inventory because I have other jobs. I’m very content in my little room.”
She has a Facebook page, MeMommy & Me where she posts a few of her other creations. She doesn’t have the original Singer Sewing Machine but she’s upgraded over the years.
“I have all the outfits I made the boys (Brancy, Brandon and Brady). It’s just something I enjoy doing and enjoy seeing kids in them and they aren’t priced outrageously. I get my money back plus a little bit but I’m in it for the enjoyment rather than making a living.”
She’s added an “employee” to the cypress shop area who has big plans for her grandmother’s talents.
“My eight-year-old granddaughter, Brailyn, is going to help me. She has her own sewing machine and she wants to make American Doll clothes,” she said. “She’s making a list of things we can make and sell. She’s fired up about it and has big plans.”
Creating special children’s clothes and more. Who knows, maybe Brailyn has her eye on the red car as a delivery vehicle for their wares.