contributed by Liz Maio
Peterman’s Delicatessen on Coleman Avenue in Waveland! Anyone remember it? I do. Such fond remembrance of food eaten! Pearl Peterman’s cooking and Fred Peterman’s boiled seafood.
Pearl’s plate lunches were a staple in my life from the mid ‘90’s till, you know, 2005. Monday was, of course, Red Beans ‘n Rice, salad, and corn bread. Tuesday was Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, green peas, French bread. Wednesday was smothered cabbage, pork chops, string bean, and cornbread. Thursday was spaghetti and meatballs, French bread and salad. Friday was your choice: fried catfish or stuffed crabs, potato salad, and cornbread. Those plate lunches, at about 5 to 7 bucks a plate, over the years from ’95 into the 2000’s, were scrumptious. They were seasoned to perfection to suit my New Orleans cuisine taste buds groomed by Mama’s cooking, from scratch, of course—the only way to cook in those days. No take out, no frozen short cuts; no premade roux in jars!
So Pearl’s cooking in 1995 was a return to paradise for me. I’d lived in New York for 25 years. My tastes were refined by the famous New York watering holes of the time: Sardi’s, Twenty-one, The Russian Tea Room, The Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station, Tea at the Plaza, and the Waldorf Astoria’s pea soup. Not to mention myriad ethnic restaurants. So Pearl’s cooking definitely helped me contradict Tom Wolfe’s novel, You Can’t Go Home Again. Maybe you can’t go home in North Carolina, but in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, you definitely can go home again: because our Mama’s know how to cook!
How did I find Peterman’s? On my return to Bay St. Louis after 25 years away, a local friend gave me an orientation tour. She stopped in front of Peterman’s, which I learned had opened in 1970 the year I moved to New York. “Now you can eat anything that comes out of the kitchen in that little place. That woman is a marvelous cook.” I looked at the building. There were three businesses: a liquor store; the deli, which was really like a localized Quick Stop grocery store with four plastic tables with seating set up between the grocery shelves; and a Laundromat. Each business had its own separate entrance. All owned by Pearl and her husband Fred. Over the years their children worked in the family business: Donna, Jan, Lil Fred, Melanie, Dana and Stephen. Then the grandchildren worked: Mandy, Brennan, and Kace. Miss Bonny, a wonderful Waveland local, cranked out the biscuits on Saturday and Sunday mornings. One of those biscuits with your café au lait was all you ever needed for breakfast.
Well, some slightly snobbish people who shall remain nameless, chided me, “You actually eat there?” My reply was , “ As often as I can.” Eventually, the snobbish folks got their deserved comeuppance.
One Friday, I was seated, enjoying my stuffed crab plate lunch, when a gentleman came in decked out in camo, fresh from duck hunting and Pearl said, “Justin, sit down there with my friend Liz.” Justin sat and looked at my plate with a stuffed-crab- envy- look in his eye. He ordered his own stuffed crab.
“Every Friday on my way to work, I stop here to eat Pearl’s stuffed crab,” Justin said.
“Really, “ I said. “Where do you work?”
“Galatoire’s,” Justin said. And he reached in a pocket and gave me his card.
It said Justin Galatoire Frey. "My mother was a Galatoire," Justin explained.
Well, you know the ending of the story. Thanks to Katrina, Peterman’s is gone—slabbed. Not the least of our losses, not the greatest, except perhaps to Pearl and Fred. They live in the Kiln now. Their children and grandchildren are still around. Except for Stephen, he’s in Detroit playing very well for the Lions. Fred is still wondering where his boiling pot is. Oh, I haven’t mentioned how delicious his boiled shrimp, crawfish, and crabs were.
You see Fred had a pot that he could cook 600 pounds of shrimp in at one boil! Or 600 pounds of crawfish in one boil. Or 14 hampers of blue claw crabs in one boil. Is it rolling around on the bottom of the Gulf? Has it become part of the oyster reef? It was never found on land. Did looters come and grab it? If you go to a crawfish boil and see it, please let Fred know. He’d still love to find it.
Fred’s pot is a separate story in itself. If you’d like to read the story of Fred’s boiling pot, let us know at the Cleaver. The story of Fred’s Boiling Pot might be in the next issue.
This month - Geotourism Guide by National Geographic puts Bay St. Louis on the map, Vicki Niolet featured in Mississippi Magazine and new life-saving equipment at Hancock Medical!
In fact, the sign for the Bay St. Louis Municipal Harbor seems to have made it into the intro for the entire video series, covering the Gulf Coast states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
Cleaver sponsors French Potager, Gallery 220, Serious Bread Bakery and Bay Town Inn are all featured! Check out the video here and share with friends!
Mississippi Magazine's March/April Issue Features Bay Emporium
Only six shops in all of Mississippi were featured in the magazine's recent piece on antiquing in the state and Bay Emporium made the cut. Artist/owner/collector Vicki Niolet is quoted as saying:
"It is always exciting to see what our artists and collectors bring into the store. They work hard to offer unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that they have either repurposed from old materials or created from their own vision. The excitement truly never ends."
Read the entire article in Mississippi Magazine (sorry, not available online).
New Telemedicine Program to Help Stroke Patients at Hancock Medical
It’s impossible to come up with an exact number – but it’s a big one. Giganormous. Especially considering that Bay St. Louis has just over 10,000 residents. With the recent openings of two new galleries in the second block of Main Street in Old Town, shoppers can find work by at least 75 different artists on a single block.
Having doubts? Let’s count. The established veteran, Gallery 220/Clay Creations, is home to twenty-two artists and craftspeople. The new Bohemian Gallery and Something Special each hosts around twenty each, right next door to each other. The French Potager is home to three more. The Sycamore House and the Starfish Café use their restaurant walls to showcase local artists too. That’s just on the 200 block of Main!
Toward the beach, on the first block of Main Street, Twin Light Creations, Maggie May’s, Jean Anne’s Fashion Express and the new Bay Life all feature work by superb local artists. By all means, one can’t forget the iconic Jim Bonner at the Bonner Collection on Beach Blvd (in French Settlement).
Back in the pre-Katrina salad days, Bay St. Louis residents always bragged about being included in Art Villani’s book, The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America. The city disappeared out of later editions after the storm.
Yet the art flame never burned out in Bay St. Louis. Only two weeks after Katrina pulverized the town,a small group met in the ruins of Old Town to celebrate the Second Saturday Artwalk, just to keep the flame alive. It was a small gesture with big symbolism. The artists in this town were going to help it rebuild. And they did.
By October, Jenise McCardell and husband Mark Currier had cleaned up one of the only viable commercial buildings left in Old Town and hosted a real Second Saturday Artwalk. The tattered remains of the community rejoiced at the fellowship and the determination evident that night. For many months, Second Saturday was held every Saturday and became a community life raft.
Gallery 220 evolved out of those times and for almost a decade, has served as one of Old Town’s artistic anchors. Twenty-two artists show work in the front gallery, while Jenise and Mark’s Clay Creations studio and shop are located in the back part of the large art deco building.
But between the oil spill and the economic downturn, somehow the artists started disappearing. The galleries that opened after Katrina faltered. Some closed.
For instance, let’s imagine several big corporate entities checking out facilities at Port Bienville or Stennis Airport. While the Port and Harbor Commission might be able to offer everything these businesses need as far as infrastructure and location, the corporations will be bringing along people. Lots of them.
These people will want to live in interesting, vital communities. Places with historic buildings and great restaurants and natural beauty. They will want to live in places where walking and bicycling are common forms of transportation. They will seek out cities that treasure their artists and encourage creativity in the community. They will want to live in places that authentically feel alive and exciting and fun.
Even the real estate market recognizes the importance of creative people clustering together. The phenomenon actually has a name – the “Artistic Dividend.”
That would be us.
Bay St. Louis is going to grow, whether we want it to or not. That’s a fact. It would seem the best thing to do if we want to grow in a healthy manner is to attract new businesses and residents who will treasure and cherish our heritage, our history and our environment. We need people who will help nurture our artists and foster our collective creative spirit, because those things feed our souls. The economic boost is a fortunate lagniappe.
We have a lot of things to celebrate this year in Bay St. Louis and foremost among them is our creative community. It doesn’t really matter if we make it into the next edition of The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America.
We already know we’re one. Perhaps what matters most is keeping it that way.
Read Me a Story
This month - Daisy Mae takes part in a reading program at the Boys and Girls Club.
I love being a service dog and a journalist. I get to do so many things and I am always so impressed that one good thing so often leads to another. Let me explain. During the Mississippi Week for the Animals two years ago I went to the Pearlington Library during story hour. I love meeting the children and a neat thing about going to the library or to the Boys and Girls Club is that I always get to hear a good story. This story hour was no exception.
We gathered around a short table with little chairs. I like the little tables and chairs because I can see better, otherwise all I see is knees and feet. So we settled in. The story selected was "Two Bobbies: A Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival" by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery and illustrated by Jean Cassels.
Puppy Dog Tales
The wind and the rains came and there was no rescue in sight. Bobbi and Bob Cat had eaten all their food and drunk all the water that was left. After days Bobbi finally broke her chain and went in search of family, food and water. No luck. They were on the street for four months until they were rescued and taken to the Best Friends Animal Society shelter that has been set up in Celebration Station. That’s all of the story you get. To find out what happens you will have to get the book and ask your children to read it to you.
Micky Evans, founder of Friends and her beloved Catahoula, Isobel, went to schools and anywhere there were children to teach them how to be good stewards to their pets. One day while she was in her store (before the storm) a woman and her son came by and the boy recognized Micky and Isobel from a presentation she had given. When Micky asked him what he had learned he said, “spay and neuta your pets”. Kids are like sponges and they absorb as much as we can give them.
We started out reading at the library and then last year started at the Boys and Girls Club here in Hancock County as a joint project with the Hancock County Library. Club Director, Shannel Smith (Cleaver Good Neighbor, February 2015) was eager to help the students improve their reading skills and the parents were presented the idea at a parents meeting and like the idea. So what we do on the first and third Wednesdays is show up with dogs and we get read to. We educate a little but the real focus is to increase reading skills. It is so much fun for me to have the kids remember who I am and to be so eager to read to me.
Right now we have me and my brother Robbie and our beagle friend Rosie. We are adding another therapy dog for next time so that means we can read with 12 children at a time – 3 for each dog. The kids select a book and take turns reading aloud. If one stumbles on a word the others help out. What excites me the most is the improvement we see every time we come.
Start early with your children and have them read to you, their siblings and any pets in the home. If they don’t know the words – the picture can tell the story. Soon they will be getting books out and demanding that you listen to them read. Natalie pointed out one interesting point. When the kids come to read, they recognize us and we recognize them.
“They are getting affirmation,” Natalie told me. She said that they feel that “I am doing a good job – this dog is sitting next to me and listening." “When they start school and they don’t have a good foundation," Natalie said, “Studies show the kids cannot catch up.” Something that seems so simple as reading out loud is really quite profound.
So that is the program and what do I want you to do? Have your children read to you and their pets. You will find that time you spend together is calming, rewarding and so much fun. As an aside, if you don’t have children then you can read to your pets. We understand more than you think we do and we love to hear the sound of your voice. My person yaks at us all the time and we have awesome vocabularies. You can also read more about the benefits of reading programs by looking at the website, www.Librarydogs.com. There is an adorable Today Show presentation on their site about reading to dogs.
Finally, consider having your pet trained as a therapy animal. In the Sun Herald there is a notice that the Pass Christian Library is continuing their sponsorship for the Sit, Stay, R.E.A.D Visiting Pet Teams of South Mississippi Children’s Reading Program. A friend of mine, Eleanor Rose Hunter runs an organization called Angels on Paws out of Slidell, LA. Her group is an affiliate of Intermountain Therapy Animals R.E.A.D. program. Eleanor is working to set up a R.E.A.D, program at the Diamondhead library. If you are interested in more information about R.E.A.D. their website is www.therapyanimals.org.
Send my person an email for more information on the Friends of the Animal Shelter Reading with Friends or to get involved. She is at email@example.com or 228.222.7018
Keep your tail high and your feet dry – love Daisy Mae
- this month - Hancock Medical's cafeteria puts hospital food in a whole new light.
“People come from miles around for our catfish and gumbo,” said Jimmy Lamy, HMC’s food service director. “Some people call it the best kept secret in Hancock County.”
On a recent Friday, the fresh catfish was well seasoned and crispy as promised, and served with crunchy hush puppies, a fresh baked sweet potato and other sides. My bowl of gumbo was chock-full of shrimp and served with my choice of brown rice for a flavorful and filling lunch. OK, not so filling as to keep me from trying the rich bread pudding.
Cafeteria fans also line up for fresh turnip greens on Monday and Friday, and for the award-winning red beans and rice on Monday. “The best anywhere,” is how a fan described the Monday special.
Lamy said he and his crew of nine “hard-working, dedicated employees” pride themselves on the food, the portions and the price. “We pretty much prepare everything we can from scratch,” he said.
The cafeteria serves breakfast from 7-9 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. seven days a week.
Every day, there’s a “Lighter Side” choice for those watching calories and salt intake. There’s also a grill for hamburgers and chicken, a build-your- own salad bar plus fresh sandwiches and wraps.
In the morning, there’s a full breakfast line and daily specials. Fresh donuts from Grammy’s are available for sale three days a week.
Lamy said the cafeteria doesn’t try to compete with local restaurants, and in fact, the hospital invites local chefs to come in and prepare their specialties so the hospital staff and others can get a taste of their restaurant menus.
“We just want people to come eat with us,” Lamy said.
- This month - it's time to plant summer gardens on the Gulf Coast and Regan shares some time-tested tips for growing a good crop of veggies in your home garden.
Spring is upon us along the coast of Mississippi. According to MSU horticulturalist, Gary Bachman, “Wisteria doesn’t bloom at the first sign of warm weather. It’s one of those plants that waits patiently and is a good indicator that spring has officially sprung." The gnats, the leafing of the pecan trees and my oak pollen allergies are also good indicators.
I have found that another indicator of spring is the arrival of seed catalogs in my mail box. I love these catalogs as they give me a chance to learn about and dream of all the vegetables that I could grow. I study them over coffee in the morning.
I mark them and fold them and carry them around the house like no other piece of literature. In a time when I had more energy, I would plan out our huge garden (about 1500 sq ft) in the Kiln. There would be several drawings that reflected the cool weather plantings and the warmer weather plantings.
We would have planted vetch (a nitrogen fixing cover crop) in the fall and then turned the soil of the whole garden over the first day that we could in late winter. And I would be gathering the bags of oak leaves that everyone has left on the sidewalks to spread as mulch in the walkways of the garden. Well, neither my husband, Mark, nor I are 50 anymore. I have a little bitty garden in the Bay that I carved out of my lawn a couple of years ago. I planted English peas two weeks ago. They are jumping up because they like growing in the cooler, wetter weather. I know that they will be done in a few months and I will plant peppers as they finish. I already have herbs like dill, thyme, and parsley in pots on my deck. Basil plants, mint, sage and oregano will come in about a month.
So, if your thoughts are turning to a garden, I hope that you have some time to dig out the weeds, go buy some compost and garden soil (I try to keep organic - which is a whole other article), and start hunting for seeds or plants.
I found the first two items at our local hardware/garden supply store.
The Town Green
Good Friday, which falls on April 3rd this year, is traditionally planting day in this area. Usually there are no more freezes after that date. I have been witness to some very lively debates about planting tomatoes before Good Friday. I have planted early and usually had not much success. But the one time that it stayed warm we got a great crop!
I found a really good list of the tomatoes that will grow well in our climate on the Mobile Botanical Gardens website. Be sure to obtain fusarium wilt resistant varieties as this is a common plant disease here and a heart breaker. Tomatoes are really worth growing yourself. The flavor of a warm, peak ripe tomato is exquisite and doubly so if you grew it!
In the later part of the month, the ground will be warming. You can begin to plant the mid-summer plants which include: watermelon, peanuts, muskmelon, corn, okra, southern peas, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, some beans, and peppers.
I have found that growing herbs, flowers, and vegetables in the ground, raised bed or container is possibly the best stress reliever available. It is also a fantastic teaching tool for children, if you have them. So, if you are going to plant a garden, I wish you luck, fertile soil, lots of garden worms and ladybugs, rain when you need it and plenty of sun.
For more home gardening information, go to msucares.com.
- This month - Status of the Garfield Ladner Pier, the Jeff Davis project, Relay For Life Garage Sale and the Waveland annual Easter Egg Hunt!
Garfield Ladner Pier
The Garfield Ladner Pier will be open this summer! Reported by Mickey Lagasse with Compton Engineering to the Board of Mayor and Alderman at Wednesday, March 18th board meeting, the pier’s target date to be substantially complete by the Memorial Day weekend.
Having the Garfield Ladner Pier back is going to be a huge milestone for residents and tourists alike. Unlike times in the past, the pier is going to be free to the public. My hope is by next year that Waveland will have a first class restroom facility and pavilion to go along with the rest of the attractions at the foot of Coleman Avenue.
What's Up, Waveland
Easter Egg Hunt
Relay for Life
Team Waveland needs your donations for this event. Start your spring cleaning now and donate the treasures you don’t need around your house anymore to Team Waveland. If you'd like to donate to the items to the garage sale, donate money to Team Waveland or want to join Team Waveland visit relayforlife.org/hancockms. If you have any questions, please contact team captain Bernie Cullen at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 467-4134.
Jeff Davis Project
Brent Anderson and I continue to monitor the progress of the Jeff Davis and Gulfside Sewage and Water Project. We are in regular meetings with the engineer and contractor to insure the project be completed correctly. The vast amount of rain during March severely impeded the progress of this project. I hope to report a firm ribbon cutting date to everyone next month.
March 14, 2015 Waveland St. Patrick's Day Parade
photos by Melinda Boudreaux
March 20th - Arts Alive!
Juried Show/Patrons' Party
March 21, 2015 - Arts Alive! in Old Town
March 21, 2015 - Arts Alive!
- this month, meet Michael N. Foster, who's reviving an earlier art form with a contemporary twist!
When Smith & Lens Gallery announced via Facebook that a tintype photographer was traveling to Bay St. Louis, I flat-lined for a moment.
The intrigue and excitement was overwhelming to me - someone who is surrounded by old photographs and ghosts from the past. I couldn't help but think that I was feeling something that those faces in the photographs felt - immortalization by photographic rendering. The concept is something we take for granted in our "selfie" society. This wasn't just any photograph. This was a tintype by photographer Michael N. Foster.
Yours truly was his first appointment. I'm surprised I made it after a night that involved a Waffle House appearance, but I had been practicing my pose for a week and I was dedicated to my a.m. time slot. Here is the fantastic result:
"The process is called 'wet-plate collodion process' and depending what you are shooting on, glass or metal, it's either an ambrotype or tintype. I process the plate, sensitize it, and process it in a dark room. When you do this, you're creating a layer of film to take the picture on. I use aluminum to back the photos and just put the plate in my camera to take the picture."
Simple, right? This process dates back to the mid-1800s and was discovered by Frederick Scott Archer. In the antique world, these tin types are a hot commodity.
When I asked him about his stay the Bay, I could sense the excited exhaustion in his tone, "It was awesome! I honestly left feeling like I knew everybody. Y'all were such a joy to be around. I was thoroughly surprised by the art scene in Bay St. Louis and it was one of the busiest sessions I've had."
I knew it wasn't an ordinary photograph. I understood that it was a chance to perhaps find myself sitting on the shelf of a quaint antique shop one day, sparking the intrigue of passersby and eventually moving on to a new venue. I could travel in this portrait. There's no telling where I will end up. It is my vessel through years and years of inevitable time. I'm bound to this earth by a photograph that captured my soul - and I am okay with that.
- This month, Kerrie interviews Garni Sohrabian, one of the founders of Steal Time Back, a company that believes that "everything is interconnected and in constant interplay. We feel this unity the most when we fully immerse into the present."
One day I was checking my Instagram and I saw a photo of the most interesting watch -- all it said on it was “NOW”. Hmm, I thought, how clever and how perfect for the way I aspire to live my life. I checked out the website, www.stealtimeback.com, bookmarked it, and then went on with my busy day.
The watch kept popping in my head. I laughed thinking what people would say when they asked me the time and I said “now." So many people talk about living in the moment, yet they are slaves to time. I thought the watch could be an important step toward really living in the now. Yet, I still procrastinated and didn’t buy one.
Well, Well, Well
I certainly underestimated the repair cost! Yikes. I realized the universe was giving me a very costly sign that the only watch I needed was the NOW watch. The Rolex was retired. Three days later, my package arrived and my concept of time started shifting.
I was curious about the company and the creators of my “watch”. Their vision really caught my attention: “ An obsession with knowledge has lead us to forget the wisdom of simplicity”. Ahh, that is certainly something we struggle with at my house. Even though we do simple things, like ride bikes, garden and bake cookies, I have lost count of the number of electronic devices we have in our house! The kids accuse me of always being on Instagram and I accuse my husband of being a Facebook addict! The kids spend way too much time playing Minecraft. I crave simplicity.
I should have counted how many times I checked my “watch” the first few days. The cool thing is every time I did, I laughed. I’d run up to friends and say “Ask me what time it is!!” and there baffled face would make me laugh, too. One lady just kept asking, “But how do you tell time?” over and over. More laughter. Then, the ultimate compliment. My kids asked for their own. And what do you know, I just saw a promotion on Instagram for 40% off!
After I ordered two more watches, I emailed one of the founders, Garni Sohrabian, and set up a phone interview. We talked for almost an hour about the meaning of time in our society. Here are some of the highlights:
read interview below
G: Our society is impressed with technology and complexity, the more complex, the better. Life must be conquered. In many ways, we have lost our ability to appreciate the beauty of simple things. We don’t need bigger and better Smart Phones, we need wise phones.
K: I have noticed that even the yoga and wellness movement, which really started as an appreciation of simple things and an attempt to achieve a more peaceful, simple life has grown into a huge, hyper movement, particularly in Los Angeles.
G: Yes, there seems to be a huge amount of pressure. And also pressure to be loving always, to love everyone. I disagree with this. I think sometimes it is good to not like certain people and to be angry occasionally. There must be a Yin to the Yang.
K: I am glad to hear you say that because I was feeling like a bit of a failure because honestly, there are some people I just don’t like! I really try, but I just can’t. And sometimes I get angry.
G: Suppressing anger leads to popping off, which can be way worse.
K: So, my oldest daughter who lives in Southern California says the general feeling there is if you aren’t a raw vegan who practices yoga seven days a week, you are a slacker.
G: There is an idealization going on in the wellness “uprising”. Everyday a new “Guru” is born. There is a feeling that people must “conquer” yoga and wellness. This is the complete opposite of enjoying the simplicity of this movement.
K: Years ago, I realized “control is an illusion.” When did this happen for you?
G: I had a very successful business and was living “the L.A. life” when I felt something was missing. I would hike in the mountains to find peace. Then I hurt my back, which was especially hard because I was such an athlete. I knew I had to make a major change in my life. I sold my business. I realized control is about conquering. Learning to let go of that desire and trust the universe was the greatest lesson for me.
K: Coco Chanel said “Don’t spend time beating on a wall hoping to transform it into a door.” www.brainyquote.com
G: Yes, I agree. She is talking about how people try to force things, try to conquer, rather than just letting things be what they are. A wall can never be a door.
K: OK, here’s another quote I’d like you to weigh in on. This one’s from Charles Schulz, the creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip. “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.”
G: That’s funny. I just don’t like the word “end” because the whole world is constantly ending and beginning. We are as well; we are different people from moment to moment.
K: I love that idea. One last quote; agree or disagree with Vladimir Nabokov. “I confess I do not believe in time.”
G: I agree. Time is really a man-made concept. It is simply the symbol for change, for the constant creation and destruction of our planet and everything on it.
K: So you don’t really call your company a “business”, do you?
G: No, not in the traditional sense of a business, although “business” is part of it. We have a book coming out called “The ABC Brand” that describes us:
A -- Art. We create things that better the world, that make people feel whole.
B -- Business. This is simply magnifying and realizing the effect of your intention.
C -- Charity. We believe in the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Children naturally create art every day through play. Because we consider the whole world as one village, we donate 50% of profits to help children.
K: Any last thoughts?
G: Join us in our vision to bring more oneness into the world by reminding it of the present of the present.
Belly Up in the Aftermath Lounge
- This month, Rheta discovers "Aftermath Lounge," a novel in stories by Margaret McMullan, a writer with Pass Christian roots.
I never thought I’d say these words: I’ve fallen in love with a new, fictional book about Katrina, Aftermath Lounge by Margaret McMullan, creative writing professor at the University of Evansville in Indiana.
When recently Barbara Reed at Pass Books told me there would be a lot of new Katrina books released in time for the tenth anniversary, I all but groaned. What’s left to say?
The beauty here is in the way Margaret says it. Ten short stories weave together to make a novel, or “a novel in stories.” And it’s a novel approach to what for some has become a tired topic, the tragedy called Katrina.
Across the Bridge
In 140 pages, in lyrical prose, this deft writer manages to describe life’s complications and complexities after the storm. It’s as if the reader has bellied up to the bar in the fictional Aftermath Lounge, listening to the sad stories of denizens, the karaoke caterwauling of survivors.
Margaret McMullan has roots in the Pass. Her father was a Mississippi native who at one point left the state, in part because of racial strife. But he loved Mississippi and eventually returned, buying a house on Scenic Drive in 1992. Even then, pre-Katrina, the place needed “tender loving care.”
Margaret would marry in the house, vacation every summer at the house, help with the renovation of the house and ask herself again and again, “Why am I leaving?”
There are many voices and perspectives in Aftermath Lounge, cutting across income and class lines, showing the true democratic nature of disaster. One sentence early in the book hooked me, made me know I’d read the whole book, quite possibly more than once:
“Norma had never thought much about why she lived where she lived just as she had not thought much about being with Sam all these years … not until now. But standing there, looking out Miss Betty’s window, Norma felt just then a vague sense of relief that at least she and Sam were not landlocked. At least here there was always something or at least the chance of something wonderful, terrible, or dangerous coming at them and it was up to them to see it through….”
That’s why I’m living on the Gulf Coast, I think. At least I’m not landlocked.
If you’ve ever read much at all, you might tremble at the foreshadowing. But the subtlety of her characters and place descriptions lends to the power of the narrative. She doesn’t beat us over the head with the two-by-four of wind and water. She doesn’t tell, she shows.
“It was tight quarters inside the trailer. There was the kitchen with its toy-sized plastic sink, a table with two attached seats, and then the bed in back, taking up almost half the space. Spread out on an empty flour sack on the kitchen counter was a sea of broken bits of blue and white china, and next to it a stack of glue-together plates….”
Margaret McMullan will be reading and signing her books at Pass Books on Friday, April 24, at 6 p.m. She has written six other novels and recently edited the collection Every Father’s Daughter, 24 Writers Remember Their Fathers.
Catch her if you can.
She writes original monthly essays for The Cleaver from her home across the bridge in Pass Christian where she spends roughly half of each year. The rest of the time she lives in Iuka, Miss., in an old farmhouse in a cold, dark hollow.
The Mississippi Blues Trail
Along the Coast, Part 2
- This month - Complete our virtual tour of the Mississippi Blues Trail along the coast, stopping in the Pass, Gulfport and Biloxi!
Read Part One of this series by clicking here.
Blues and jazz music also has an illustrious history at our neighboring town across the Bridge, Pass Christian. The Pass’s most famous “native son” was alto saxophonist Captain John Handy. (The “Captain” moniker reportedly was earned from Handy’s authoritative band leadership style.) With the Louisiana Shakers, Handy and his brother toured throughout the region. In the later part of his life, Handy recorded several albums and played often at Preservation Hall in New Orleans, in addition to touring worldwide.
Among the local Pass clubs that featured blues, jazz, and R&B were the Dixie, the Savoy, and the P. C. Club. In 2011, a Blues Trail marker was dedicated along Highway 90 to commemorate Blues and Jazz in the Pass.
Every May from 1999 to 2005, the Pass had celebrated its rich African American musical heritage with its "Jazz in the Pass" festival. Temporarily discontinued for several years after Hurricane Katrina, “Jazz in the Pass” has been back in business since 2011!
Gulfport – especially the North Gulfport area - once supported vibrant blues/R&B venues. In fact, New Orleans jazz legend Jelly Roll Morton used to play played the Great Southern Hotel in the 1900s. Gulfport was also an occasional stop for rambling bluesmen and women such as Robert Johnson and Ma Rainey, the famous “mother of the blues.”
Gulfport has been fertile territory for musicians who not only turned the Coast into a hotbed of blues and R&B, but also impacted popular music on an international scale. Allman Brothers Band members Johnnie Lee Johnson (better known as Jaimoe) and Lamar Williams both were raised in Gulfport and performed in many clubs along the Coast during their early years. Other Gulfport residents included pianist Roosevelt Sykes, guitarist Blind Roosevelt Graves, pianist Cozy Corley, and singer Albennie Jones.
In those days, the scene at the Hi-Hat Club and other North Gulfport blues hotspots like Ebony and Night Owl, was known to be on the wild side, as the clubs then all were outside Gulfport police jurisdiction.
Gulfport was also an important location for disseminating the blues to the rest of the world by radio. After World War II, the African-American community across the country relied on radio for entertainment and news, and Gulfport radio was taking the lead in “Broadcasting the Blues.” In 1994, blues promoter “Rip” Daniels launched WJZD radio in Gulfport, making it the first African American-owned FM station on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In 2000, Daniels took the blues concept further using satellite and Internet technology to launch the American Blues Network (ABN) to listeners around the world. In 2007, the Blues Foundation dedicated a “Broadcasting the Blues/ABN” Blues Trail marker in Gulfport.
The “Four Corners” intersection in north Gulfport, at the intersection of Arkansas Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., was a central blues location in the decades when the African American communities in and around north Gulfport supported many nightclubs that operated outside the old city limits. Now, it is the site of the most recent Mississippi Blues Trail marker to be dedicated on the Coast, installed in January of this year.
In Biloxi, the stretch of Main Street that catered to the African American trade in the years during and after World War II has been designated as “Biloxi Blues.” Biloxi’s musical culture was particularly influenced by that of New Orleans. (Indeed, New Orleans jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton lived in Biloxi in the early 1900s). During the war years and after, airmen from Keesler Field often participated both as audience members and musicians. Local blues musicians from Biloxi included Cozy Corley, and Carl Gates and the Decks. A Blues Trail marker was dedicated in 2010 in Biloxi at the intersection of Main and Murray Streets.
Other notable sites along the Mississippi Blues Trail that are only a short drive from the Gulf Coast include Hattiesburg, which rock historians have credited as being one of the birthplaces of rock and roll music, and which is home to a number of important historic blues venues, and Laurel in Jones County, home of Blind Roosevelt Graves, and the Laurel Mother's Day Blues Festival every May since 1987.
In Hattiesburg, the original Hi-Hat Club was built in the 1950s and was an important stop on the “chitlin circuit” for famed African American blues and soul performers such as B. B. King, James Brown, Otis Redding, Ike & Tina Turner, Sam Cooke, Al Green, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, Louis Jourdan, Guitar Slim, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and many others. One of the largest clubs in Mississippi, the Hi-Hat sometimes drew crowds of over one thousand reveling blues lovers.
In addition, Mobile Street in Hattiesburg was a historic African American business and entertainment district where many of the blues musicians lived and worked, and the center for several blues and gospel record labels. One studio on Mobile Street was the site of a 1936 historic series of recording sessions by Mississippi blues, gospel, and country performers, including the Mississippi Jook Band and the Edgewater Crows.
In Europe Too?
Interestingly, the Mississippi Blues Foundation has arranged for a few Blues Trail markers not only outside of the state of Mississippi (particularly in Alabama and Louisiana), but also for two markers to have been placed in Europe! One is in Cahors, France, where Blues first reached France in the 1920a and 30s via touring African American groups, and the other is in Notodden, Norway, sister-city to Clarksdale, Mississippi, and site of a hugely popular blues festival that draws top Mississippi-born blues artists. Mississippi blues really gets around!
Whether you're a die-hard blues fan or a casual traveler, keeping an eye out for these Blues Trail markers is guaranteed to teach you new things about the music and its inspirational founders, and to lend a new appreciation for the spots that gave birth to the blues.
To donate to the Mississippi Blues Foundation, or for information on how to purchase a Mississippi Blues Trail license plate, see www.msbluestrail.org. Your money will assist the Benevolent Fund, which helps Mississippi blues artists in times of need, and will help communities pay for and maintain the Blues Trail Markers.
The Beach Boulevard Experience
Part 1 - North of the Tracks
Historian and well-known coast musician Pat Murphy has been working on his memoir "Growing Up Downtown" for several years. During 2015, the Cleaver is featuring one of his essays each month - along with historical photographs from his archives.
- "For me, the best poetry is short, clear and readable." Carole shares some of her favorite stanzas to celebrate National Poetry Month.
Distillation of an Essence
When teaching poetry, high schools and colleges tend to focus on structure and interpretation, most often using classical poems of considerable complexity. Who doesn’t feel their eyes glaze over with terms like phonoaesthetics, meter, and symbolism. It’s no wonder that so few people continue reading poetry outside of a mandatory assignment.
Poetry is the distillation of the essence of a thing into a few perfect words. For me, the best poetry is short, clear and readable. It can evoke memories of all five senses, build a vivid image, or express emotion. Credit for my love of poetry goes to my husband, John, who introduced me to the beauty and power of a well-written line. One of his favorite stanzas is:
In masks outrageous and austere
the years go by in single file,
but none has merited my fear,
and none has quite escaped my smile.
from ‘Let No Charitable Hope’ by Eleanor Wylie
The movie, ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’, was a popular comedy in the 1990’s that seems an unlikely promoter of poetry. I remember being moved to tears with the recitation of W.H. Auden’s “Funeral Blues’. Who can forget the lines:
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever. I was wrong.
If you are not familiar with it, you really must read the rest of this beautiful poem.
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.
How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.
Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.
Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.
Haiku is a more recent obsession. I can’t recall where I read about Kobayashi Issa, an eighteenth century Japanese poet, but he ignited my interest in composing haiku poems. I seldom write them down, but I love attempting to tell a story in three lines. Here is an Issa haiku poem that I particularly enjoy:
my dead mother--
every time I see the ocean
When Katrina destroyed the homes of many of my co-workers at school, the faculty who were spared gave us a ‘shower’ to replace household items. I turned to a poem, ‘Kindness’ by Naomi Shihab Nye to express my thanks. The poem begins:
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
And it ends:
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
On March 11, 2015 the Irish President announced ‘A Poem for Ireland’, which Irish citizens chose from thousands of nominated poems. The winner is Seamus Heaney’s ‘When all the others were away at Mass’. What can you say about a country which puts poetry ‘firmly at the heart of the national conversation’?
When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.
So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent toward my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives--
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.
Those few lines tell a story as powerful as told in full-length novels. ‘A Poem for Ireland’ makes me wonder what America’s Poem could be. Would you vote for ‘Song of Myself’ by Walt Whitman or ‘Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou? The discussion would be more productive than what passes for political debate these days.
Poetry is amazingly accessible thanks to the internet. The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor publishes a poem a day that can be sent to your inbox.The Academy of American Poets allows you browse thousands of poems by occasion, theme or form. Search ‘National Poetry Month’ and you get suggestions for celebrating in April.
Of particular interest to me is‘Poem in Your Pocket Day’ to be celebrated on April 30. I’ve copied some of my favorite poems to leave around Bay St. Louis to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise. I challenge everyone reading this to find and share a favorite poem with someone this month.
Dear Poet Contest for Students in grades five through twelve! Deadline, April 30th!
Students—to participate in this year’s Dear Poet project, watch the videos below of Chancellors reading and discussing one of their poems. Then, write them a letter in response and send it by post or email to the Academy of American Poets, 75 Maiden Lane, Suite 901, New York, NY 10038 or email@example.com by April 30, 2015. Please include your name and the name of the poet to whom you’ve written. We will consider all letters for publication on Poets.org in May 2015. And our Chancellors will reply to select letters of their choosing.
The Second Saturday Art Walk celebration on April 11, the year’s first in the springtime, is perfect for taking advantage of the season.
Merchants will have their doors wide open as usual, ready to welcome people strolling the streets of Old Town, enjoying the seasonal weather and the live music while being part of the festivities.
Both of April’s Second Saturday Hot Spots - Carroll House Bed & Breakfast and the Hancock County Historical Society home - are known far and wide for their warm hospitality as well as their charming history.
Carroll House B & B
the Second Saturday column is sponsored by
Antique Maison Ulman Tearoom - 317 Ulman Ave. Open 4pm - 8pm on Second Saturdays, serving complementary samples of lunch room menu, deck dining now open. Come shop and experience the best of Bay St. Louis.
Bay Emporium - 112 S. Second Street - Thirteen shops under one historic roof. Spring is in full bloom in the historic setting of Bay Emporium! Thirteen separate shops, filled with old and new treasures. BOESCH AND CO. features antique and newly crafted fine furniture IN 2 DETAILS coordinating fashion and home décor, FLAIR offers a new crop of fun and funky gifts, VOILA! Brings in new French inspired furniture and home décor, SHIP OAR SHORE outfits the nautically inspired with activewear and accessories, CHARBONNET ANTIQUES carries furniture and architectural salvage, BIJOUBEL continues their tradition of classic and trendy fashions and accessories, STEAMPUNK CURIOSITIES electrifies a gallery full of clever sculpture and time altering machinery, SCENTS ON SECOND STREET features the popular line of Swan Creek candles, melts, and pottery, and just in time for Prom Season ARMOIRE NOIR a blend of true vintage and new retro inspired romantic wearables.
Spring is in full bloom in the historic setting of Bay Emporium! Thirteen separate shops, filled with old and new treasures. BOESCH AND CO. features antique and newly crafted fine furniture IN 2 DETAILS coordinating fashion and home décor, FLAIR offers a new crop of fun and funky gifts, VOILA! Brings in new French inspired furniture and home décor, SHIP OAR SHORE outfits the nautically inspired with activewear and accessories, CHARBONNET ANTIQUES carries furniture and architectural salvage, BIJOUBEL continues their tradition of classic and trendy fashions and accessories, STEAMPUNK CURIOSITIES electrifies a gallery full of clever sculpture and time altering machinery, SCENTS ON SECOND STREET features the popular line of Swan Creek candles, melts, and pottery, and just in time for Prom Season ARMOIRE NOIR a blend of true vintage and new retro inspired romantic wearables.
Bay-Tique - 125 D Main St. 125 D Main St. - Offering "Bay-Wares for all seasons," unique, stylish apparel you won't find at the mall. Everything you need for Spring! Dresses, Sandals, Maxi's Swimwear. Women's Sanuk shoes 15% off. Plus our "Tent Sale" continues while inventory lasts. Everything in the "tent" is 50% off or more!
The Bonner Collection - 108 S. Beach Blvd. Suite D. Visit the Bonner Collection to see our new Spring home decor, gifts, jewelry, art arriving almost daily. Would love to see you and enjoy some refreshments. Cheers!
California Drawstrings - 216 Main Street - New spring Flax and linens have arrived!
George’s Girls - 108 S. Beach Blvd. Ste B, (inside the French Settlement building). Purveyors of Fine Linens. George's Girls is a great place for beautifully scented candles and soaps. We have new Spring Yala, Spartina 449 and Gretchen Scott just in. And we are now carrying Dash and Albert rugs!
Gallery 220 - 220 Main Street - Artist Joanna Slay offers a special workshop "Mosaics and Mirrors"
Fashion Express - Down the long hall at Maggie May’s Art Gallery (126 Main Street), Swarovski crystal collections by Victoria Lynn and Victoria Cross in an array of stunning colors, complimentary gift wrap!
The French Potager - 213 Main Street - Collectibles, art and florals.
Lulu's Restaurant and Maggie May's Art Gallery-126 Main St - A destination in and of itself, 5300 square feet of dining and shopping. Look for Lulu's Restaurant expansion into dinner service and Sunday Jazz Brunch in mid-May
Magnolia Antiques, 200 Main Street. If you haven't seen the totally rearranged shop, it's definitely worth a stop! We have completely turned it around. All the same great variety plus adding more everyday! Annie, the Doll Doctor, has moved her hospital and her best collectibles to our location! Dan's there too and a couple of new vendors in Magnolia Antiques at the corner of Second and Main! And of course, we'll offer snacks and bargains!!
The Mockingbird Cafe - 110 South Second St. Lighten up and get your groove on at the Mockingbird on Second Saturday. Enjoy the Caribbean feel of the photos of Sylvia Langlinais. Catch an island breeze with Marian Knobbe's watercolors.Enjoy JJ Foley's "lit from within" paintings. Kat Fitzpatrick, Thomas Jackson and Marsha Prejean will be showing new and colorful work. The musical offering will be singer/songwriter Jeff Thompson who comes to us by way of Asheville, New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Enjoy a sip of SoPro or Lazy Magnolia artisanal beers under the stars and join us in saying "Welcome, Spring! What took you so long?"
Serious Bread Bakery - 131 Main Street, Suite D - Along with signature artisan breads, flatbreads and sweet things, you can also try pesto, hummus and our special tomato sandwiches. As always, we offer samples of our baked goods.
Social Chair - 201 Main St. - Stop in to take a peek at our Emerald City and be sure to shop our new Fairy Garden section, brought to you by Marigny Northington. Take the time to enjoy the little things (and little people) in your life. We have a fairy that has moved into the tree by our front door. Join us as we celebrate all things Spring!
Time After Time Antiques (Inside Bay Emporium), 112 S. Second St. Offering a unique array of antiques, furniture from different eras, collectibles, and home decor. Between the hours of 4PM and 8PM we offer 20% off furniture. Our selection changes monthly, so come see us. We also carry the pottery line of Swan Creek Candles.
Twin Lights Creations - 136 Main Street - Eclectic garden & home décor. It’s March and on the coast that means wind, and sometimes a lot of it. Perfect timing for all new kinetic sculptures that are hand made of pure copper and can be outside year around. A slight breeze spins these designs, providing a mind entrancing, mesmerizing visual pattern, inducing a very relaxing, meditative state of mind! Several sizes and price points to choose from. Come, enjoy the elements of nature and take a little of the “Light” with you.
The Ugly Pirate - 144 Demontluzin St. - Enjoy hand made Pizza with a cold craft beer. Live music every Saturday from 6 pm to 10 pm. Thursday night Trivia starts at 8 pm. We are family and pet friendly! Something is always happening at The Pirate so follow us on Facebook.
- "Here the people pull you in, and the swamp slowly plants your feet into its ever-shifting mud."
We have the house wide open for air on this first really warm day of the season. As I sit waiting for a series of brilliant insights to coalesce and arrange themselves unaided onto the empty page in front of me, I notice the distinctive and close chirps of a spring food- and house-hunt right outside the front door.
I am neither a bird expert, nor do I possess a vast knowledge of trees, flowers, or other plants. I am, however, seeing the patterns of change come in waves, the cycles of the plants and animals with whom we share real estate becoming old friends as I see them repeat each year. I take photos of the massive camellia bushes coming into bloom, the Bradford pear as it goes white, the little turtles crossing the driveway, and the skinny young lizards, even though I realize that I have almost identical photo albums from last year and the year before. It makes me think of my grandmother, who lived in the Nebraska panhandle her whole life and wrote letters that summarized the arrival of the robins, the deer sightings, the spring rains, the calving, the growth of the flowers.
In the Nebraska panhandle, the past is visible in the still-clear Oregon Trail ruts that cut through the grassy landscape on gentle plateaus. If you stand in the ruts on the small rise above the town where my grandparents grew up, the area below looks like a diorama, a set. It was incredible when I first saw the town from that angle, thinking of my grandparents living out there all those years with a relatively small cast of people and playing out life on this giant stage under the wide sky.
In Hancock County, Mississippi, the past curls like jasmine in the trees, and rises and falls with the tides. When you take a kayak up Bayou Talla, or stand in Waveland at the corner of Nicholson Avenue and Beach Boulevard and look up at the lot where Eliza Nicholson’s mansion once stood, you can feel the past in ways unique to here. Many places like to say, “Once you’ve stayed here long enough, you won’t be able to leave,” but I can sense some truth to that in Hancock County. Here the people pull you in, and the swamp slowly plants your feet into its ever-shifting mud.
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Say you live in the Kiln, and you will get some combination of a number of standard responses. If you’re anywhere between Baton Rouge and Mobile, whomever you’re talking to will tell you that their grandma/aunt/mother’s cousin is from the Kiln and they have amazing memories of going there as a kid and swimming in the river. Then they’ll ask if you know Brett Favre. They might ask if you have ever been to that, “...uuum, that one bar. What was it called... I saw it on ESPN. Oh—The Broke Spoke! You know that place?”
People generally seem impressed when I say that yes, we live in the vicinity of the Broke Spoke, and I have indeed been there. At night, even. And yes, to the inevitable next question: I have had moonshine. Well wait, actually. I think it was homemade wine.
The first year is always a fascinating time when you move into a community. Each person you meet has the potential to become a lifelong friend, and you have no idea what pattern you will weave into the local fabric over time. It felt like there was something more dramatic and poignant about that phase of living here than I’ve experienced in other places. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s because so many of the people who live here actually grew up here, and come from families who have been here for generations. The history is right in front of you in the stories of the people you meet. Their very names tell stories.
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Probably a third of Kiln’s population was packed into that church and/or at the reception afterwards (it was a spectacular wedding—congratulations to Lindsey (Lee) and Jonathan Bounds). Here was the continuing narrative of a place that has seen breathtaking ups and catastrophic downs—followed by renewal—that is in many ways typical of small town America, but whose stories are anything but typical. I would not have missed being there, even though I did not know tons of people at the wedding. This was part of the history of the people of this town.
Kiln’s first European settlers came in the early 18th century to an area originally inhabited by Choctaw and Muskhogean people (see the Hancock County Historical Society’s fantastic website for this and so much more). Many more people arrived during the booming timber milling years, and Kiln was a thriving town with good services and schools. But after 1930, following the forests’ depletion and the resulting mill closings (not to mention the stock market crash and the Depression that followed), people either left or stayed and did what they could to get by. For some, that apparently included capitalizing on location, resources, and know-how to create a moonshine economy during the mid-century. This left Kiln with more of an outlawish reputation than may be deserved.
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The warblers are back. They’re checking out a flowerpot in the collection of toys that we’ve accrued from our walks on the beach. Maybe they’ll set up their little incubator in there this year.
The Bay Rollers -
Combining Cycling, Comaraderie, and Community
- This month, meet the Bay Rollers, who are proving that if you're past forty, life doesn't have to pass you by - especially if you're on a bike!
Remember the days of your youth exploring the streets, joining friends to cruise the beach, and coming up with exciting games on your bike? The cement slab under my house was a course for high-speed chases and the streets were canvases to our invisible swerving trails our tires left behind. Our bikes meant freedom and adventure for my sister and me, often with friends or cousins.
Fond memories like these are not so distant from a group of thirteen guys between 40- and 70-years-old. They call themselves the Bay Rollers Cycling Club. While they aren’t kids anymore, they still enjoy the adventures and friendship their bicycles afford them.
Beach to Bayou
At the advent of the club in the summer of 2014, some of the members noticed that their buddies were doing the same thing they were to stay active. Individually, they were riding their bikes. So, they decided to come together one Saturday and ride together instead. Once it became a regular occurrence, they decided to form an official club with elected officers.
The men boast an average of 20 miles in a typical group ride at about 15 miles per hour. That’s pretty impressive stamina for men of their seniority. Labat describes the club as a “group of friends who share a love for cycling and want to be physically active into their retirement years and beyond.” Their goal is to improve their level of fitness and cycling techniques in an environment of camaraderie and mutual support. In between rides, they hold monthly meetings to discuss upcoming events and to share cycling information.
The Bay Roller’s don’t just ride their bikes for fun and fitness, however. They also come together to give back to their community. They’ve promoted cycling by donating over 30 bikes to elementary schools, raise community awareness about bike safety, and participate in other group rides from Slidell to Gulf Shores. The club actively participates in community beautification projects and supports local non-profit organizations. You can also see the Bay Rollers in local Mardi Gras parades.
“We are especially grateful to our sponsors who have supported us since our initial meeting in July, 2014,” says Labat. “Their support has allowed us to be a presence in the Bay St. Louis community that we love.”
Cycling is known to be a source of low-impact exercising with little strain on your back and hips. At the same time, cycling can be a serious and strenuous sport. The Bay Rollers take advantage of the ease of riding, while also pushing each other to be better cyclists and healthier adults.
“Cycling affords us a means to get physical exercise, socialize, and promote the sport to others,” says Labat. Because cycling is fun and you can control how much energy you exert, it’s truly a past-time for anyone.
Take it from Myron Labat: “Cycling is one of the least expensive, most gratifying and most wholesome ways to see the best parts of your community, or even other communities, while reaping the benefits of non-jarring exercise."
"It can be enjoyed on many levels: solo (therapeutic), together with family and/or friends (social), or competitively (racing). To those searching for a fun way to exercise that's easy to stick with, we say, ‘Give cycling a try. Transform a childhood pastime into a lifelong passion that continues to reward.’”
"And don’t forget your helmet!"
Upcoming events for the Bay Rollers include participation in the Natchez Trace Century Ride in Ridgeland, MS on May 2nd and presence at the Gulf Coast Bicycle Club’s Vintage Bike Show and Swap Meet on May 3rd.
Labat offers, “Anyone who loves cycling, wants to improve their fitness level and wants to give back to their community is welcome to join the Bay Rollers.”
This month: "Untamed" photography show, Easter egg hunts, organic gardening club launch, wine and tapas fund-raiser for Boys & Girls club (Taste of the Future), Stella Blues and BBQ festival, Second Saturday Artwalk, Handel Messiah Chorus performance, Second Annual Old Town Putt-Putt Tourney, a Ritzy Rummage Sale and a Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre at St. Rose.
And those are just the events we're featuring this month!
For a FULL list of this month's happenings, go to our Community Calendar page!
4/3 - Friday
4/4 - Saturday
Easter Egg Hunts
4/4 - Saturday
Bay St. Louis Organic Gardening Club
4/9 - Thursday
A Taste of the Future
4/11 - Saturday
Stella's Blues & BBQ Festival
4/11 - Saturday
Both of April’s Second Saturday Hot Spots - Carroll House Bed & Breakfast and the Hancock County Historical Society home - are known far and wide for their warm hospitality as well as their charming history.
Second Saturday Artwalk
4/12 - Sunday
Gulf Coast Messiah Chorus
Alert - Due to weather, this event was rescheduled from 4/18 to 4/25
4/25 - Saturday
1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes, as well as a prize in new category; Best Group Costume.
Mystic Krewe of Seahorse
4/25 - Saturday
Ritzy Rummage Sale
4/25 - Saturday
Murder in Maui Dinner Theatre
Across The Bridge
At Home In The Bay
Beach To Bayou
BSL Council Updates
Casting My Net
Coast Lines Column
Friends Of The Animal Shelter
Growing Up Downtown
House And Garden
Legends And Legacies
Mother Of Pearl
Murphy's Musical Notes
Old Town Merchants
On The Shoofly
Shore Thing Fishing Report
Talk Of The Town
The Eyes Have It