'Little Boy' Mendenhall marks half a century of work at iconic G - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

'Little Boy' Mendenhall marks half a century of work at iconic Gautier marina

"Little Boy" has been working at the Mary Walker marina since 1965. (Photo Source: WLOX) "Little Boy" has been working at the Mary Walker marina since 1965. (Photo Source: WLOX)
GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) -

Leon “Little Boy” Mendenhall remembers that day back in 1965, 16 years old, walking up the road to the marina to ask for a job.

“Mr. Andrew was sitting on the porch, and he asked me, ‘What are you looking for,' and I said, ‘I'm looking for a job,'” Mendenhall recalled. “He said, ‘Come back Monday morning and we'll try you out.' I came back that Monday morning, and I've been here ever since.”

Mendenhall is a jack of all trades, doing anything that needs doing, including working on boats in the beginning.

“We were picking them up on this same lift here, and we were sanding and painting them. Back then, we didn't have sanders to sand the bottom, and we had to hand sand them with a two by four block,” Mendenhall explained.

During his 50 years here, Mendenhall has seen a lot of triumphs and tragedies. Most of the tragedies have to do with storms and hurricanes.

Despite that, they were always determined to rebuild.

“We redid every time a storm came through, because it would clean us out every time. Everything was put in back in the old days with our hands. We had no machines. We did all of this by hand.”

Despite five decades of work, Mendenhall still shows up every day for one reason.

“It's real nice people, and I love to be around them. Like I said, I've been here all my life, mostly, and this place is just like my home.”

This is a man whose vocabulary does not include the word retire.

“I'm planning on working here the rest of my life. When I die, I want a lot of people to say how nice a guy I was,” said Mendenhall.

There's no doubt that's exactly what they'll say.

You may be wondering how “Little Boy” got his nickname. His aunt named him that when he was a child, and it has stuck with him ever since.

A special party for “Little Boy" is planned for June 27 at the marina. It runs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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