To say the stars aligned would be an understatement to describe Heidi Young Batson’s return to her hometown of Jasper after her more than 23 years of living in New Orleans, her ensuing romance and eventual marriage to high school friend Mark Batson, and the creation of Marshall Tucker’s Pet Pantry.
When Mike chauffeured me to Marshall’s house on 14th Street to see his new pet pantry, I must admit that I was a little nervous to meet him. With the exception of a couple of dogs, I’m pretty shy with other canines — never humans, just canines. However, when Marshall ran up to me, I must admit I flirted a bit.
With some urging from local artist, human, and mom, Heidi Young Batson, Marshall asked dad Mark Batson to build a pet pantry. Stray dogs and cats have been excessive of late so during trying times, such as the pandemic, some of the first things to suffer are pets and pet supplies.
Sometimes the pets are surrendered, and since we have people pantries and free libraries, a pet pantry just made sense. Marshall looked at Heidi’s hazel eyes with his dark brown eyes; Heidi looked at Mark’s blue eyes. The pet pantry was built in two days.
Heidi and Mark adopted Marshall from someone who could no longer keep him. At three months old, he already had the name Tucker, but since Heidi and Mark name all their children after musicians, this name quickly transitioned into Marshall Tucker. Heidi and Mark also have three cats: Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, and Smokey Robinson.
Marshall’s Pet Pantry, located at 14th Street West and 3rd Avenue in Downtown Jasper, is guided by one mantra: “Take if you need; give if you can.” This mission became obvious to Heidi’s sentimental heart for the oppressed animals. Growing up in the Jasper neighborhood of Forest Park, Heidi was always bringing animals home to her family: her parents Bill and Anneliese, and younger brother, also named Bill after his dad.
When Heidi isn’t doting on her children and Mark, working her full-time job, or visiting her daughter, Juliet, in New Orleans, she creates in her art studio aptly named Happy Moon Studios. Find her work on Instagram. Mike has several pieces displayed in our house.
And yes, the creative soul does run through this family with brother Bill Young, art teacher at Jasper High School, and daughter Juliet Meeks of New Orleans.
Heidi ends our discussion with one of her astrological observations. Marshall was born on Jan. 27, and Tallulah was born on Feb. 5, making them both Aquarians — altruistic and friendly, which explains why they are both kind, giving and never meet a stranger.
In addition, the pet pantry was built when the planet Mercury was retrograde, meaning it was a time for reflection rather than action. However, the family installed on the day Mercury went direct, or forward, and that meant it was the perfect day to make it a success for furry friends!
With special thanks to the whole community who have been donating, Marshall’s Pet Pantry flourished from that day on and keeps flourishing. This confirmed Heidi knew this was a right decision.
I agree, Heidi. It was a very right decision to help any of Marshall’s and my fellow canines and felines. Thanks, Marshall, for stepping up!