Buoy Fest - Saturday, 5/16
California Drawstrings Ribbon Cutting - Thursday, May 21st
Fourth Sunday At Four - Sunday, May 24th
Flower Frogs - a Princely Device
They come in all shapes, sizes, and designs and are sought out by collectors all over. So what is their purpose in this world? They're here to help!
- story and photos by Martha Whitney Butler
Japanese Ikebana arrangements using flower frogs at the French Potager
"What is that thing?"
It's a common question in my shop when customers spy a flower frog. They come in all shapes, sizes, and designs and are sought out by collectors all over.
So what is their purpose in this world? They're here to help! Even the most accomplished floral designer employs the aid of a flower frog from time to time. They assist in the design of vase arrangements and are widely used in the Japanese art of floral design, Ikebana. Flower frogs are placed in the bottom of a vase or container. Their holes, spikes, or cages hold individual stems in place while the maker manipulates the flowers into the desired design.
The use of flower frogs dates back to the 16th century, but were most popular in the 1920s-40s. They were pitched as helpful aids for housewives who had trouble arranging flowers in their home. While there are several beautiful types of practical and figural frogs, the Japanese Kenzan (translation: "spiky mountain") remains my preference.
The Kenzan, made of lead and brass, consists of a multitude of metal spikes that secure the flowers. They are widely used in Ikebana arrangements, but I also put them in any container that is shallow or awkward. They are the most practical to work with and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
When your cage, glass, and spiky frogs are the most common, it's certainly a treat to stumble upon an ornate figural frog. These are highly collectible and run fairly high price-wise. If you're looking for a practical collectible that doesn't take up a lot of space and is aesthetically pleasing, give flower frogs a try! You can seek them out in almost any antique shop in Hancock County. Happy hunting!
A Canine Candidate
by Seizure-alert dog Daisy Mae Delray
This month - Daisy Mae, inspired by other non-human candidates for office, announces her own candidacy to raise money and awareness for animal issues!
See Daisy Mae's NEW PAGE - Animal Shelter Updates - under the Cleaver's "RESOURCES" menu tab. You find out what's new at the Hancock Animal Shelter and see dogs looking for their "furever" homes!
Campaign season is heating up for political office and I am already seeing “vote for __” signs popping up in yards and rhetoric filling the air like cotton at harvest time. I was wondering about campaign promises having to do with the protection of us animals. That caused me to wonder about running for office myself to represent our interests.
I am not a novice at this as I have interviewed senators, governors and mayors for stories I have written in the past. I even applied for a position in Federal Government. That was for Chief of Staff for the President’s dog, Bo. In my application I wrote. “In general a chief of staff provides a buffer between a chief executive, i.e. First Dog and that of the executive’s direct reporting team (handlers, chefs, walkers, media, etc.).”
I went on to state, “As Chief of Staff I will be working behind the scenes to solve problems, mediate disputes and deal with issues before they bubble up to 1st Dog. Often I will act as confidante and advisor to 1st Dog, acting as a confidential sounding board for ideas.” I did not get that position, which in a way is a good thing, because if I was there I could not be here.
To prepare myself, I checked to see how animals have done in political races. I was not surprised to find numerous examples, such as the race in 1938 in Milton, Washington State where Boston Curtis, a brown mule, won his Republican precinct seat by 51 votes. Several animals in the U.S. have been elected mayors of small towns such as Rabbit Hash, KY, where a black lab named Junior Cochran won the majority of votes. In Lajitas, Texas a beer-drinking goat named Clay Henry III became mayor and in August 2014, a seven-year-old mixed-breed dog named Duke became the new mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota.
Three races in particular caught my eye. Stubbs the Cat won the race as honorary mayor in Talkeetna, Alaska. Stubbs was elected mayor in 1997 and he recently retired to run for senate as he realized that “Alaskans needed a resounding voice, even if it is in the form of a meow.” I liked his media campaign which you can see on Youtube below:
One thing I really liked about Stubbs was that he stayed above the fray and stuck to the issues. When asked if his running was just a hairball idea or if he was truly serious, Stubbs replies, ‘I don’t believe my personal hygiene is any of your business.’ Yea for candor!
In another race, a senate seat this time. Hank the Cat, a Maine Coon, ran in the 2012 United State Senate election in Virginia. Details can be found on the official site http://hankforsenate.com. Hank’s story was an inspiration to me. He and his siblings were picked up by animal control and scheduled for euthanasia but were rescued by Animal Allies and adopted into a family in Springfield, Virginia. Hank’s platform was based in part on the need to raise awareness and funding for spay and neuter programs. By the end of the campaign more than $60,000 dollars had been raised and Hank won 7,319 write in votes, coming in third in the Virginia senate election.
My last example is a little closer to home. In Fairhope, Alabama, a seven-year-old Labrador retriever by the name of Willie Bean Roscoe P. Coltrane ran for mayor. He was the only dog running against seven men. Willie Bean was invited to candidate’s forums and other events. I like the energy he brought to the election process, adding a little fun and the other candidates embraced the idea of Willie in the race.
There was a serious side to Willie's campaign and that was awareness of animal issues. His campaign raised funds for the local animal rescue organizations by asking for a dollar per vote. I also liked his campaign slogans which I may borrow: “sniffing out the issues,” “a doggone good choice," “if you can’t run with the big dogs, then don’t run for office,” and “always one leg up on the competition."
Okay, I am announcing my candidacy for the position of Hancock County Supervisor at Large for Animal Issues. I am too late to get on the official ballot so it will have to be write-in only. We are just starting the race so I will give you additional information in my next column.
Right now, I am focusing on campaign materials and strategy. I will be running on issues important to all citizens of Hancock County which include: No more puppy mills, along with spay and neuter, as a start. More to come!
Please contact us if you want to serve on my campaign committee. I can be reached through my person at 228.222.7018 or Christina@figaroconsulting.com.
Keep your tail high and your feet dry. Love, Daisy Mae
by Jeremy Burke
- This month - Community clean-up, Waveland citizen wins CASA award, construction updates and St. Clare's Seafood Festival
Waveland Citizen Wins CASA Award
Chad Whitney, owner of Waveland based company Lime Pi Digital is the 2015 recipient of the CASA Light of Hope Outstanding Community Professional. Chad does not only handle all of CASA Hancock County’s website and social media need, but volunteers many hours to support CASA mission.
Chad believes that “CASA is an amazing organization that serves the best interest of children that are put in very unfortunate circumstances. Having an independent person that can assess a child’s needs and wants paired with an adult's perspective on what is in their best interest is crucial for improving the life and long term outcome of the children that need us most.”
Congratulations and thank you, Chad!
During the April 22nd Board of Mayor and Alderman meeting both Digital Engineering and Compton Engineering gave positive reports about two major projects currently happening in Waveland.
Bruce Newton with Digital Engineering reported that all of the new water and sewage lines have been installed and hooked-up on the Jeff Davis/Gulfside Sewage and Water Improvement project. The contractor, HRL, and sub-constractor, Huey Stockstill, are currently laying the base for the roads and once the base is secure, the pavement will quickly follow. Digital Engineering anticipates that the Jeff Davis Ave, Gulfside, Nicholson Ave and St Joseph Street will be completely paved by mid-May.
Mickey Lagasse with Compton Engineering reported that the pier is coming along expeditiously. Lagasse reported that even with all the rain in April, local contractor, Superior Environment Services, are still on track to have the pier complete by Memorial Day weekend
St. Clare Seafood Festival
The St Clare Seafood Festival has grown into the marquee festival in Hancock County for the Memorial Day weekend. St Clare Seafood Festival will take place Friday, May 22nd from 5pm - 11pm, Saturday, May 23rd from 11am - 11pm, and Sunday, May 24th, from 12pm - 10 pm. St. Clare Seafood Festival will not only have food, carnival rides, craft vendor, carnival rides, but is adding a fireworks show on Sunday at 10pm to close out the festival.
In addition to the festival, the 4th annual St. Clare Seafood Festival 5K race will take place on the Waveland boardwalk on Saturday, May 23rd at 8:00am. You can sign-up for the 5K race on Friday at the festival from 6:00pm-8pm, in front of the St. Clare Church on Saturday, May 23rd starting at 7:00am or on Active.com.
BSL Historic Preservation Commission Makes History With New Website
A new website makes the Bay St. Louis Historic District easy to access and easy to love!
“It’s a win-win for everyone. Even people who don’t live in the district benefit enormously.”
Fitzpatrick is an architect with extensive experience in historic restoration. He points to the historic district as one reason Bay St. Louis has become the national poster child for desirable small towns, garnering such recognitions as recently being one of a dozen “Best of Mississippi” towns.
The town’s historic assets also played a major role in being tapped as one of Budget Travel’s “Coolest Small Towns in the County” and one of Coastal Living Magazine’s “Top Ten Beach Towns in the Country.”
The website was built by the Commission’s volunteer members at no cost to the city or taxpayers. Member donations are covering the domain name and hosting costs for the website, while HPC volunteers will keep the site updated.
The HPC’s website offers conversational language, a friendly tone, and a helpful resource section. Applicants who want to renovate historic buildings or build new ones in the historic district are walked step-by-step through the permit process in “How the Process Works.”
Meeting times and application deadlines are made available on the site. There is also a map of the district, as well as the history of how the HPC was formed.
According to the “History” of the organization’s page, Bay St. Louis lost over 600 historic structures during Hurricane Katrina. In the sad aftermath, “dozens of irreplaceable historic buildings that could have been saved were bulldozed because of expediency and economic hardship.”
The loss spurred a new appreciation of the value of historic buildings and a growing recognition of how preservation could help fuel the economic recovery of the town, while offering a solid sense of place to storm survivors as they worked to rebuild their lives.
Staffers at Mississippi Archives and History were invited to review the website and offer suggestions as it was being created over the past year.
Barry White, who works in MDAH’s Historic Preservation Division, believes the website can be used as a template for other Historic Districts across the state.
White says, "Working primarily with local governments across the State, I often encounter communities that face challenges building public awareness about preservation efforts in their area. The new Bay St. Louis Historic Preservation Commission website is an excellent resource for the public, as well as elected officials, to explain and promote historic preservation and its benefits."
Local commission members agree that the web page likely to be the most popular is “Success Stories.” Website visitors will find stories and photo essays of renovated historic houses within the district , alongside new buildings that mesh with the district’s character. The page also has a photo gallery of past Historic Preservation Awards winners.
Fitzpatrick believes that the website can be a tool for savvy realtors and economic development agencies like the Hancock Port and Harbor Commission and the Hancock Chamber, which are working to bring new residents and businesses to the area.
“The charm of Old Town Bay St. Louis is an exceptional economic and cultural resource,” Fitzpatrick says. “Our commission volunteers want to preserve and enhance that community character for future generations. The website will help us do just that.”
To see the new Historic Preservation Commission website, go to: www.HistoricBSL.com
Mother Knows Best
In honor of Mother's Day, Kerrie Loya looks back at the women who inspired her with advice on how to live well - in more ways than one.
- by Kerrie Loya
This year in particular has been a time of recognition for me. My mother’s words of wellness wisdom keep popping into my head! I must admit, her word’s were the last for me to acknowledge as r...r...right, but she was the one who was right the most. In honor of these strong, beautiful women, I’d like to share some of their best wellness advice with you.
Great Aunt Jean
I was always a little afraid of Aunt Jean. Born to poor Italian immigrant parents, Aunt Jean didn’t put up with nonsense, whining or complaining. She worked hard and saved her money. She seemed way more serious than her sisters and brother whose vaudeville act she managed when they were young. My mom adored her.
WELLNESS LESSON #1:
STAY OUT OF THE SUN
We all lived in Southern California and I certainly lived my youth as a typical beach girl. Which of course meant I spent every sunny day tanning with my friends. Aunt Jean was horrified. She tried scaring me -- “your skin will look like leather” but of course, I didn’t change my habits.
I think she and my Mom secretly conspired, because although my Mom is half Italian, she has beautiful pale skin and avoided the sun even when we vacationed in Hawaii. The day they learned about a new, clear sunscreen, PreSun, everything changed. A compromise was struck and I promised to use it religiously on my face (while still tanning my body).
Well, of course, Aunt Jean was right, and I am so grateful I listened to her. I am told by my facialist that my skin looks many years younger than it is.
WELLNESS LESSON #3: DON’T GO TO BED ANGRY
Even before I was married, I got what she meant. You should go to bed free of negative thoughts so you get a good night’s rest. I also now guess that there could have been a bit of superstition in this one. People always regret fighting with someone who then passes away before they have a chance to make amends. Whatever the reason, I embraced this bit of advice as a teen.
My mother’s mother, Nanny, is still my beauty icon. Being poor didn’t prevent her from looking like a model in a simple dress with matching handbag, shoes, hat and gloves. Nanny was the dancer in the family, performing in vaudeville by tap dancing on her toe shoes. She maintained her lithe figure until she succumbed to the ravages of Alzheimer’s. I never saw her angry or unkempt.
WELLNESS LESSON #1:
NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE WITHOUT LIPSTICK
I realize these might be fighting words to some women, but she didn’t say a full face of makeup! I’ve always interpreted this “rule” to mean it is important to look pretty and for Nanny, that meant lipstick. Now there are so many options from tinted lip balm to glossy stains. I used to think if I got stranded on a desert island with no makeup I’d miss mascara most, but now I agree with Nanny. There’s nothing like a bit of color on the lips to brighten up your whole face.
WELLNESS LESSON #2:
EAT WHOLESOME FOODS
Nanny and my great Aunts loved to cook. So did my Grandpa. I spent a lot of time watching the ladies make Marinara sauce and Grandpa make the best turkey ever. One of my first food memories is of a risotto Nanny made in a red sauce. I’ve never found a recipe for it; she served it in a casserole dish. I can still smell it now. Last winter I tried my hand at one of her specialties, stuffed cabbage. Mine was ok, but no where near as good as her’s. As the wellness movement grows, and the farm-to-table movement becomes mainstream, I raise a glass of wine to Nanny for her understanding of the importance of simple, home-cooked meals.
WELLNESS LESSON #3:
SING AND DANCE
Whenever Nanny was around, there was always singing and dancing. As I got more proficient on the piano, I’d play and she’d sing or we would both sing and usually my little sister would put on her ballet outfit and dance around the piano. Great Aunt Jean loved it! She didn’t have a voice, but I do remember Aunt Jean teaching me slightly off-color songs in Italian.
The greatest compliment Aunt Jean ever gave me was when she said my voice sounded like Barbara Streisand’s. That gave me the confidence to sing in public. Many years later when she was in a nursing home, I would go down and play piano and sing her favorites. Her joy always made me cry.
My house is always full of music and dance. It helps that we live in a Blues hall, but even when we didn’t, I remember my husband Jesse putting on various records and our two toddlers running and jumping around to the music. Later, Jesse taught Desiree to swing dance and she would leap across the kitchen into his arms while I was making dinner. I confess, just the other day I put on one of my oldest daughter’s favorite albums from when she was little, The Spice Girls, and just danced and danced.
What is it about dancing in particular that makes people smile? Whether it is awe-inspiring moves on Dancing with the Stars, or a simple slow dance with a partner, dance brings us into the moment and connects us to an ancient ritual. Everyone can dance. So put on some tunes and move!
My Mother, Valerie
My mom is a natural beauty. She never wears a lot of makeup, embracing her mother’s rule of never leaving the house without lipstick. It is always a pinkish coral, usually with some sparkle. I was shocked when I saw a photo of her in college with RED lipstick!
My mom is still slender like Nanny was and her skin is amazing, thanks to Aunt Jean’s rule of staying out of the sun. She’s not much of a singer, but she taught me the Lindy Hop when I was in junior high and it has come in very handy!
WELLNESS LESSON #1:
WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO MAKE YOURSELF LOOK UNATTRACTIVE?
Oh, boy, the first time I heard this I was so upset. Of course, she must mean I was unattractive! In high school at the time, I had been experimenting, copying clothing looks from magazines. I was so hurt to think she didn’t like my outfits. This “battle” over how I should dress carried through college. I confess, when I was out of school, I had a special section of “clothes Mom would like” in my closet to wear whenever I would visit my parents.
One day, I realized what was going on. The natural look of my youth, leather surfer sandals, bell bottoms and tank tops, was simple, and let my looks shine over the clothes. That’s what my mother meant! Ahhh. And particularly interesting since that “surfer” look is what seems to look best on me now, not the expensive designer clothes hanging in my closet.
I find myself repeating my mother’s words frequently, and particularly when watching awards shows where wealthy, talented women let dresses wear them. They allow a stylist tell them what to wear - to their detriment. Yuck. I love to tell a woman who is simply and attractively dressed how beautiful she looks!
WELLNESS LESSON #2:
NATURAL IS BEST
I remember sneaking mascara to school and hoping I got all of it off before I got home, because I was the last of my friends allowed to wear any kind of makeup. In high school, I was allowed to experiment with eye shadow; my mom bought me one of those giant samplers that was a “gift with purchase” at the department store. My little sister would sneak some whenever she could.
Flash forward to my first job out of college….and my first “makeover." Wow. I had no idea there were so many products you could put on your face. Foundation, blush, under-eye concealer, eyeshadow primer, eyebrow gel……..I bought all of it! Pink lipstick, lavender eyeshadow, Lancome was my new best friend. My mom was curiously silent when she saw my new look.
I was so sensitive. I assumed she didn’t like how I looked. Years later, I looked back and thought differently. Things my mom said came popping into my brain. “Your skin is so pretty, why cover it with foundation?” “Your eyes are so blue, you don’t need colored eyeshadow” “I prefer your natural (curly) hair”. And of course, “you look better with a touch of lipstick.”
All of these statements made me realize my mother was complimenting my natural look, not criticizing it. I ended up saving lots of money and time resisting magazine articles and ads and sticking with the makeup basics. And while getting my curly hair straight was easy in the dry air of Los Angeles, I have finally given up here in the South. After 11 years of battling humidity, I am happy with my wavy, curly mop of hair.
So as Mother’s Day approaches, spend a few minutes remembering the wonderful things you learned from your female relatives, and if it helps, try some of the wellness lessons from my family.
And Mom, since I know you read my column, I love you and thank you for being such a wonderful Mom.
by Chief Pam San Fillippo
- This month, the chief explains how a monitored fire alarm system can save your home - and your peace of mind.
It doesn’t matter if it started because of a malfunctioning appliance or a bath towel left on top of a curling iron. The tragedy that only happens to someone else just happened to you, and no one will know about it until a neighbor sees flames coming from your house. Unfortunately, the firefighters will find Fido much too late, in the spot where he went to hide under a bed or in a closet. A tragic story that firefighters see all too often, but I assure you there are far worse scenarios.
What went wrong?
You had a dozen smoke detectors in your home, and the firefighters told you that they all activated like they’re supposed to - but no one was home to hear them and call 911. You can give Fido and your loved ones a better chance of surviving- with a monitored alarm system.
These systems work automatically. When a smoke detector is activated it notifies emergency dispatch - no one has to be at home to hear it, and anyone who is at home and unable to take action on their own doesn’t have to do a thing - and many services will even send an alert to your cell phone. When properly installed and monitored these systems are quite reliable. Yes, there’s a cost involved, but please read on. You might find that this important protection won’t cost you much, if anything, extra!
Many of us are willing to pay a lot of money every month for cell phones, data plans, internet service and premium TV channels - none of which are likely to save our life, property, pets or our loved ones. Installation of a monitored system can be very affordable, and the monitoring fees are typically around $30 - $50/month...but many insurance companies offer a 10% - 20% discount on your homeowner’s insurance. I personally pay a $50/month monitoring fee and receive a 10% discount on my homeowner’s, so I break even on the cost.
Easy to Operate
If you can operate a telephone you are over-qualified to operate an alarm system. When properly installed they are reliable and simple to use.
I hope I’ve made a case for the importance of monitored alarm systems and I really hope you’ll consider getting one. Do your own research, definitely shop around and always go with a reputable company.
Editor's Note: In 2003, my home and gallery on Main Street in BSL caught fire. The cause was probably a faulty hot water heater. I was working late in the historic building when my monitored alarm system went off.
Since I didn't smell any smoke or see any flames, I walked outside with my phone and pups to check on the back wing. Nothing there either. On the way back to the front, I heard the Bay St. Louis Fire Department responding, and saw their truck tearing down Main Street, lights flashing.
Sure that I was going to have to apologize to them for the false alarm, I walked back into the front part of the building, where I had been just minutes before. Flames were shooting out of a closet and wall and the building was filling with smoke!
I ran back outside shouting and the firemen leaped to work. They put out the fire in short order and only a wall in one room sustained major damage. Despite the excitement, our firemen took such care to save the artwork in the gallery. The damage would have been much more extreme without their attentive actions.
Point is: from the time the alarm went off until the firemen arrived and began to extinguish the fire was probably only five minutes.
If another four or five minutes had passed before I noticed the fire and placed the call and then another few minutes passed before the Fire Department had arrived, I have no doubt much of the building would have been lost. Even though I was actually present, the saved minutes made a huge difference.
I'll never own a home without a monitored alarm system again. And thanks again, Bay St. Louis Fire Department - I'll always be grateful!
Five Million Strong and Growing
by Carole McKellar -
- This month, a look at the illuminating aspects of book clubs - and the social ties that keep over five million readers nationwide engaged in membership.
Literary salons date from seventeenth century Europe. Salons gathered people for the purposes of social interaction and intellectual development. Many ambitious women who were denied opportunities for higher education used salons as an informal university. One the earliest book discussion groups in the United States, started by a group of women in Illinois in 1877, is still in existence.
The Book of the Month Club and the Literary Guild, both founded in the 1920s, made communal reading and discussion easier. The Great Books Foundation, established in 1947, became popular by providing guided discussions of classic books. In 1996, Oprah started her Book Club and motivated millions to read and seek a community of fellow readers.
I want to share some things that I’ve learned from book club membership:
Book clubs vary in size, but I recommend limiting the membership so every person has a voice. Hosting in your home is easier with smaller numbers. My clubs meet monthly which seems to be the norm. This keeps the memory of the book fresher. Books clubs also vary in intent. Some groups specialize in a particular genre, such as mysteries, biography, or nonfiction. My clubs read primarily contemporary fiction. Book clubs usually meet in member’s homes, but book stores and libraries are alternatives. According to Scott Naugle, owner of Pass Books in Pass Christian, approximately twelve book groups meet in his bookstore. There are both daytime and evening clubs.
How do you find book club members? I knew someone who enjoyed reading and discussing books. We both knew others who did as well. After a few contacts, we had enough people interested in forming a group. Members have come and gone over the years, but the club stays active and strong today.
The selection of titles for discussion is the most important job of the group. Sometimes books are picked a month in advance, but some groups pick titles for the entire year. Members will not enjoy every title, but everyone can find something productive to say about each book. In fact, I’ve read and enjoyed books over the years that I never would have chosen for myself.
Once you have your members and the titles for discussion, how do you proceed? Usually there is a moderator for each meeting who initiates the discussion. Often it is the person who selected the book. Many novels have discussion questions included in the back, or questions can often be found online on the publishers website. Members can pick and chose which questions resonate.
Online resources are plentiful today. Websites such as Book Riot, The Rumpus, and The Millions are devoted to books, readers, and writers. Good Reads allows you to create and/or join an online book club. Book Movement features live chats with authors.
Other online book clubs include NPR’s Morning Edition Book Club, First Look Book Club sponsored by Random House, NBC’s Today Show Book Club, and Booktalk. Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, instituted A Year of Books in January, 2015. Within the first few days, there were 137,000 followers.
The National Endowment for the Arts sponsors The Big Read which awards competitive grants to support innovative reading programs in selected communities. Since 2007, eleven hundred grants have been awarded. Towns pick a book, plan related activities, and encourage their entire population to read. I’d like to see Bay St. Louis compete for a grant.
Approximately five million people participate in book clubs in the United States. The desire to meet new people, continue learning, and participate in lively discussions is a powerful motivator to seek membership in a group.
Friends of the Animal Shelter
A dynamic local organization proves that people really can better the lives of Hancock County's animals.
- by Ellis Anderson
photos courtesy Friends of the Animal Shelter
While the organization’s name is Friends of the Animal Shelter, it could also be Friends to Animals, Friends to Pet-Lovers and Friends to the Community. Perhaps that’s why in conversation, the group is usually referred to simply as “Friends.”
Founded in 2001, Friends, a 501(c)3 charitable organization, has thousands of supporters and 200+ members. Dr. Christina Richardson has served as Friends president for the past two years and one of her goals in office is to create more public awareness about the group and exactly what it does.
Richardson says that Friends was started in 2001 by Mickey Hemsley and Paula Leone, animal lovers who were concerned about the soaring rate of euthensia of unwanted pets at the Waveland animal shelter – which at the time, served as the only animal shelter for the entire county with it’s human population of 40,000 people.
One of the group’s early goals remains in place: To end euthanasia as a viable means of control for the pet overpopulation problem in Hancock County. To achieve that goal, Friends works as a support group for the County Animal Shelter.
Richardson says there’s a lot of confusion about animal welfare and rescue groups and explains the difference.
There are several national groups like that work animal issues, rescue and educate people, like the Humane Society of the U.S., and the ASPCA.
There are also many humane societies and rescue organizations that work locally. The Humane Society of South Mississippi runs the Gulfport Shelter is a good example – most people on the coast are familiar with that group and their work.
The Hancock County Animal Shelter is run by the county, using county employees and funds. The cities of Bay St. Louis, Diamondhead and Waveland also provide some financial support. In many places, communities have their own shelters. Here, there is one shelter and it’s supported by the communities served.
The problem is the county’s annual budget sets aside a finite amount of funds each year to run the shelter. Meanwhile, there is no limit to the number of strays or surrenders (dogs/cats that are dropped off at the shelter by people) that come into the shelter each month. No one can predict how many injured animals will be brought in each week. And even a psychic couldn’t foretell how many animals might be adopted in a given year.
So frequently, the shelter runs into shortfalls. And in the sad world of logistics versus life, dogs and cats are put down.
Friends of the Animal Shelter works to fill that gap and save animal lives. The organization does that through a number of programs.
SNAP – The Spay/Neuter Assistance Program is set up to primarily help people in the community who already have animals. In 2014, Friends gave out over 1000 vouchers for low-cost or free spaying or neutering of pets. Several area vets work with Friends and accept these vouchers.
Trap/Neuter and Release Program – Since feral cats are a big problem in Hancock County, Friends volunteers trap the cats and after they are neutered or spayed, the cats are returned to their colony (if there’s someone willing to feed them). Non-breeding cats in a colony actually keep out new ones, eventually ending the cycle.
Richardson says that the spay/neuter programs help the problem of pet overpopulation more than most people realize. Statistics make her point. In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 cats. One female dog and her offspring can produce 99,000 dogs.
Shelter Support – Friends help out by purchasing medical supplies and equipment that the shelter can’t obtain on its own. Friends also collects supplies and food for the shelter and provides transport and volunteers to take adoptable dogs and cats to area Pet-Smarts each Saturday, where many find their “forever homes.”
The GUMBO fund – Donations to Friends can be designated to help injured or sick animals brought into the shelter.
Community Outreach – Events like Barksgiving, Tea With Friends, the Holiday Tour of Homes and the Second Saturday baked goods table help bring awareness to the public, as well as raising funds that will be funneled into local animal welfare.
Currently, Friends has a grant that allows them to purchase pet food that is then donated to the Food Pantry, so people struggling with budgets aren’t forced to surreneder their pets to the shelter. Owners and pets stay together and pressure is taken off the shelter.
The old Waveland Shelter was badly damaged in Hurricane Katrina and has been replaced with a new facility built in the county with help from the Bucksmont foundation. Yet, with room for only twenty dogs, it was already too small by the time it opened.
However soon, the Animal Rescue Site will be offering funds and volunteers that will work with Friends. They’ll actually triple the current capacity of the shelter by building addition (see details and donate here!).
According to Richardson, one reason Friends has been so successful is that they provide a way for people to make a difference.
“Friends tries to present a positive approach,” says Richardson. “We don’t play on emotions. Our calls to action give people a way to change things for the better.”
Richardson has several animal companions of her own, including miniature horses. Her seizure-alert dog, Daisy Mae Delray has written and published articles about animal awareness for years – and is a regular correspondent for the Cleaver with her “Puppy Dog Tales” column.
Although, of course, Richardson writes the columns herself from Daisy’s perspective, she jokes that when Daisy Mae is not feeling well, the writing just doesn’t flow.
“There’s nothing wrong with treating animals with the same depth of empathy that you treat a human,” says Richardson. “Studies show that there’s a strong tie between the way we treat our animals and the way we treat our children.”
“Everything is interrelated. It’s respect for life, period.”
Friends is currently looking for volunteers, especially to help with the feral cat trap catching program, but all the programs need helping hands.
“We want people who really love and care for their animals and want to help improve the lives of other animals in Hancock County. And have a great time working with Friends.”
Check for the Cleaver's monthly updates from the Hancock County Animal Shelter!
What's in the Water?
by Janet Densmore -
The waters off our beaches are monitored weekly by MDEQ for certain bacteria. You'll learn why and also find out how to check water reports with your smartphone - before you swim.
You have likely noticed the signs depicting a graphic outline of a swimmer on a post next to the beach sidewalk that links our two towns. There are 4 stations posted along the beach in Waveland and Bay St. Louis; there's another one on Henderson Point in Pass Christian too, and all along the Mississippi coast.
These are sampling stations with graphic indicators of when it is safe to swim and when it may not be the wisest choice. If you see the sign card depicting the graphic of a swimmer with a red strike line across it - don't panic, this is meant as a warning and does NOT mean you will fall ill or be poisoned.
You will find the monitor signs posted in the following locations: Tier 1 is on Lakeshore Drive; Tier 2 is at Buccaneer State Park Beach near State Park Road; Tier 3 is near Vacation Lane / St. Clare Catholic Church; Tier 4 is near St. Charles Street, Bay St. Louis.
Editor's note: See maps at end of this article.
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality monitors the beach water at these sites to keep us safe from biological pollutants, namely bacteria and viruses. Easy to remember is a standing notice from DEQ recommending that "swimming not occur during or within 24 hours of a significant rainfall event." A "significant event is 1-inch or more rain."
Runoff from storm drains with this amount of rainfall automatically triggers a warning because more bacteria spill into the beach waters mostly from animal waste or failed septic systems. After 24 hours of sunshine and UV radiation, bacteria dissipate back to the safe range. I spoke with Emily Cotton from DEQ who broke it down for me.
Cotton explained that DEQ's Beach Task Force tests our shoreline at the monitoring stations weekly year round. What exactly do they test for? Indicator bacteria. These are benign bacteria called enterococci (enterococcus if singular) who are always present in the water.
Much like the canaries in the coal mine, these little guys are a signal of water conditions which are favorable to other bacteria/viruses which you might not want to encounter. The bad guys are also always present in the water, but not in large enough numbers to bother about most of the time - like stingrays or sharks. Beach monitoring of enterococci indicates when conditions are ripe for greater concentrations of the bad guy viruses and bacteria. So who are they and how do we best protect ourselves from them?
On the short list: the vibrio family of organisms and parahemoliticus found on raw oysters can be nasty. Emily Cotton reminds me that certain groups of people are also most vulnerable: toddlers and people who have weakened immune systems, and we should always be mindlful to protect the vulnerable among us.
On the positive side, there are some good vibrio creatures who eat up oil - we love that idea. When dispersants broke down BP's massive oil spill into small droplets throughout the water column of the Mississippi Sound the vibrios multiplied- the good ones and the bad ones. There's vibrio cholera causing havoc in third world countries with poor sanitation like Haiti and India. We don't have a problem with cholera stateside.
In Mississippi, (Louisiana, and Alabama) you may recall warnings not to pick up tar balls because of vibrio vulnificus - the worst bad guy of the vibrio family. The vulnificus is more commonly known as the "flesh eating" bacteria. Maybe you have read news stories of people who become infected and with vulnificus. Fishermen sometimes fall prey to such attacks.
Any wound that breaks the skin opens the door to vibrio vulnificus (and any other bacteria/virus) when concentrations of these organisms are high. That's why the beach monitoring program helps protect us.
There are all kinds of bacteria - e-coli for example - present in the water. These become dangerous only when higher concentrations of them are present. Sample rates over 104 show an increased risk for illness at a rate which might translate something like this: Of 10,000 bathers 36 people might actually get sick. How sick? More than likely, a little stomach trouble or diarrhea, which would be over fairly soon.
For little kids and people with weakened immune systems the story is a bit different. For instance, if you eat a raw oyster with parahemoliticus and you're healthy, you'll probably be fine. However, if your constitution is impaired - you may be sickened enough to die. This is why doctors warn people with certain illnesses, vulnerabilities, or undergoing certain treatment regimens to avoid eating raw oysters entirely, thus preventing any potential of risk. Or you could cook them first.
As for the bad vibrio vulnificus, fortunately, doctors along southern beaches are onto this one, but diagnosis is difficult. These guys are hard to test for. So what does one do about a scratch at the beach, or a prick from fish or crab?
Good old soap and water! Remarkably, Emily Cotton told me, the anti-bacterial gels, hand sanitizers and sprays will go after bacteria but are not as effective against all viruses. To kill both viruses and bacteria, good old soap and water is your best bet. If you get a wound, clean it right away with soap and water. Don't go in the water during warning days if you have an open cut or sore.
Finally, if you have been in or on the water recently and you have a wound that turns red (indicating infection) be vigilant. Any red line extending out from that wound, any fever, means you should seek medical attention immediately, particularly when the warnings from DEQ are in effect. Things can go bad quickly with these organisms.
When I checked the DEQ websites' historical data I found the last warning about high concentrations of sentinel bacteria for our beaches was on February 6-10 of 2015 for Waveland Beach near Vacation Lane extending from Oak Blvd. eastward to Favre Street.
The year before, (2014) from April 18 to May 7 there was a warning near St. Charles Street from the box culvert eastward to Ballantine Street, as well as Long Beach near Trautman Ave. from Oak Gardens Ave. eastward to S. Girard Ave.
To make it easy to find out: you can have beach advisories sent directly to your email or you may text "MDEQbeach" to 95577 to receive beach advisories by text to your cell phone. Of course you may always check the website at: www.deq.state.ms.us; you will find links with MDEQ on Facebook and you may follow on Twitter as well.
In the interest of full disclosure, this author has been known to go kayaking and swimming at Waveland beach only to discover later that the red line across the graphic swimmer on the monitoring sign warned against it - and absolutely nothing bad happened to me. I hope this information has encouraged you to know that our beach is safe and we can always check to be sure of it.
Hancock County Beach Monitoring Areas
Click on maps for larger versions on the MDEQ site!
This article is based on information gathered from various governmental resources. It is written in good faith to make the general public more aware of monitoring methods and signage. It is not meant to be a full guide to bacteria that may be present in gulf waters. Please see the MDEQ site for more details. If this sounds like a disclaimer, that's because it is.
A classic Hattaras yacht + a couple that refused to give up + a 1500 mile sea voyage = an adventure to remember.
- photos and story by Ellis Anderson
Robert grew up in the village of Shady Side, Maryland, a peninsular south of the country’s capital. The surrounding waters of the Chesapeake Bay called him daily throughout the idyllic 1950s and 60s. By the age of 13, Robert was an accomplished boater and had built a small speedboat.
His next project was more ambitious. “For the price of her brass,” he bought the rotting carcass of a Chesapeake 20’ sailing sloop then restored her to full glory. He was racing the boat by the time he was 15, garnering awards - along with an article of his exploits in the Annapolis paper. He still treasures the boating model given to him by the sloop's designer, Captain Dick Hartge.
During his teen years, Robert worked in his father’s body shop. When a family friend offered to trade the teenager flight lessons in return for work on a boat, Robert jumped at the chance. He soloed when he was sixteen and by the time he graduated high school, he was an expert pilot. Before leaving for Vietnam, he’d obtained commercial fixed-wing and helicopter licenses. He would need every iota of his skill and experience - and good fortune beyond measure - to survive the heated warfare of 1967.
Robert piloted helicopter gunships, which guarded the troop carriers, provided cover for men on the ground and executed assault missions. He turned 21 in Vietnam. His courage got a grueling work-out each day - during every perilous mission and following the loss of every comrade-in-arms.
He recounts one mission where the helicopter he co-piloted was called back to base just after take-off. Robert, who also served as a munitions officer, was urgently needed to solve an armament problem on a grounded chopper. His commanding officer ordered another pilot to take his place. Robert reluctantly obeyed. A short time later, the base learned that his helicopter crashed due to a mechanical failure. All aboard were killed.
“Too many things came into play for it to be called luck,” he says. “I’m here by the grace of God.”
He returned to the states with a “box full of medals,” one that was stored in his mother’s attic for many years.
“There were fifty people behind me every time I flew,” he says, as if believing every decoration should have been cut into dozens of parts and distributed equally among the flight crew.
Back home, Robert’s skills as a pilot led him through a rich and varied career, much of it spent off the ground. He worked nationally and internationally as a flight instructor, an oilfield pilot, and airshow performer, racking up over 10,000 hours in the air.
Yet despite his passion for aircraft, his love of boats stayed on the front burner. He’s owned more than thirty in his life, most of them restoration projects that he later sold or traded after a time.
Retired now, Robert still can’t resist the call of a great boat crying out for care. And Charlene, his wife of the past ten years, is not the type to tap the brakes.
Charlene grew up on a dairy farm near Ashville, North Carolina. When she first traveled to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, she fell for it hard, moving down within six weeks. The couple met shortly after Katrina and married the following year.
“Let me tell you,” says Charlene, laughing. “I’ve been on some adventures with this guy!”
The first time Robert took Charlene flying set the tone for their life together: the pilot put his plane through a few acrobatic maneuvers. Charlene was thrilled. Since then, they’ve taken a trans-Atlantic cruise, and lived in an RV (traveling across country for five years). But their most arduous adventure to date was bringing the Angelina around the coast of Florida.
By the time they put in at Key West, the Munros knew they’d be better off alone. They parted ways with their crew and rested for a week. Then, after provisioning and making minor repairs, they set off into the gulf alone.
The seas in the Gulf did not prove smoother and the Hattaras struggled north. When they reached Marco Island, Florida, Robert was convinced that Angelina’s tuna tower was making the boat top-heavy and ham-stringing its seaworthiness. They docked at a local marina where they attempted to give away the tuna tower, but found no takers. So Robert piloted the boat out into open water again and then anchored. He carried his sawzall aloft and cut the tower into pieces, lowering the sections by rope to Charlene, who stood waiting on the deck.
Once towerless, Angelina rode the swells instead of being battered by them. The Monros’ spirits lifted. The couple found they worked well together as a team, even in the stressful off-shore circumstances. In fact, they both claim the ability to “practically finish each other’s sentences.” Charlene, who had never been in the ocean before in a small craft, rose to the challenge of crewing and even captaining.
“She relieved me at the helm for hours at a time, using both compass and chart plotter for the first time,” says Robert. “She did an amazing job in the rough seas, allowing me some much needed sleep.”
The passage from St. Petersburg to Panama City took 24 hours since they cut across the gulf. They both still remember the brilliant stars overhead that night, and how it was impossible to determine where the sea and the sky met. They saw no other vessels during the crossing until they neared land.
Angelina seems at ease in the Bay St. Louis harbor now. The Monros drive from their Picayune home several times a week to tend to her, sometimes spending the night on board. Charlene likes the fact that “everything’s right here. It’s just a beautiful place to be.” Robert likes the deep harbor and the protection it affords the Hattaras.
But Robert’s original plan to update Angelina’s interior and sell her seems to be wavering a bit.
“Maybe we’ll just keep her,” he muses. “These days, I just want to spend some time fishing.”
“Something else will come up,” Charlene says, predicting another adventure with a smile. “Just you wait and see.”
Pam San Fillippo
As one of the few female career fire chiefs in the country - and the first one in the state - Pam San Fillippo remains fired up about her job, the department, and its work of protecting Bay St. Louis
- by Pat Saik
Pam has had ties to Bay St. Louis ever since she was a child. Born in New Orleans, she and her parents often visited family who had a little place on Texas Flat Road and other family who lived in Bay St. Louis and Waveland.
Pam and her parents, the Jordans, moved permanently to Diamondhead in the early 1970s, when Pam was twelve years old.
Chief Pam literally has climbed many fire ladders in her advancement up the ranks from 1986, when she first joined the Bay St. Louis Fire Department as a firefighter.
Representatives of the Mississippi Fire Academy in Jackson where new recruits are trained, affirm to the best of their knowledge that believes that "Chief San Fillippo is the first and currently, the only, female chief of a career fire department in the state of Mississippi."
Whether she is or not, Pam makes no big deal about it. She is there to do her job and do it well. Not unlike the British “stiff upper lip” advice during World War II—“Keep Calm and Carry On”—Pam’s demeanor is calm, cool and collected, even in stressful situations.
In short, Pam is the kind of person that people look to in times of disaster to take charge and to do the right thing. The community of Bay St. Louis can rest assured that the Fire Department is in experienced hands.
Once, when Pam “was on the receiving end,” getting help from the fire department when her own mother fell ill, “I realized then how important the role of a firefighter really is. Their very presence helps bring a feeling of safety.”
Pam served eight years as a firefighter, from 1986 to 2002; she was shift captain from 1997 to 2002. Pam then moved into the role of assistant chief and later deputy chief from 2002 to 2010. She received her appointment as Fire Chief later in 2010.
The transition from “blue shirt” to “white shirt” upon leaving the ranks of the firefighters took some time. For her, “the most fun thing about her job was riding the fire truck.” As an administrator, moving up the ranks meant riding a desk chair rather than a fire truck.
As Pam describes it, “it was like walking into another dimension.”
Luckily for Pam, Tammy Garber, the office manager who had worked for five fire chiefs before Pam was appointed, “taught me what I needed to do to be a fire chief.”
According to Pam, Tammy’s institutional memory of what happened when is fantastic. “Rather than checking a file, Tammy usually knows the information off the top of her head.”
One of Pam’s goals is to let the public know what the fire department does. Sure, it answers fire alarms, but also are around for life-threatening trauma calls, vehicular accidents and chemical spills, just to name a few.
“You never know from one second to the next what you’ll be doing in the course of a shift.”
Before Pam’s job responsibilities as Chief demanded so much of her time, she and her golden retriever Allie were volunteer members of the Louisiana Search and Rescue K-9 Team from 2002 through 2007. Allie was a “cadaver dog,” trained to detect the presence of human remains.
They even worked together with the anthropology department at Ole Miss, searching American Indian mounds and civil war graves. “Dogs can detect recent human remains but pre-historic remains as well!”
“I have to say that the work Allie and I did with this team was probably the most interesting thing I’ve ever done, and I do miss it.”
Allie, ”who loved to go to work,” passed away in 2012. Pam and her husband Dominic—a former firefighter himself—now live with two Golden Retrievers, Maggie and Ellie, very special members of the family.
Pam encourages the citizens of Bay St. Louis to keep up with what the Fire Department is doing. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow what’s happening on the Fire Department’s Facebook page. “It’s a way for word to get around quickly.”
Pam recalls when someone called the Department to ask when the Fire Department would be open.
She grinned. “We’re here 24/7. Just whenever you need us.”
Chief San Fillippo is now writing a monthly column for the Cleaver, Station House BSL,
covering fire safety issues and acquainting residents with the fire department and its crew.
Rosato says that the announcement hasn’t been made in papers or on radio yet. He wanted to give locals a chance to buy “Early Bird” tickets online for as little as $25.
While the festival will run from Friday through Sunday, Saturday will be the only ticketed day. Admission on Friday and Sunday will be free.
Rosato explained the unique set-up. “Saturday, we have the big guns bands scheduled, like Gregg Allman, Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, Mel Waiters, Frank Foster and Brandon Niederauer.”
“On Friday and Sunday, we’ll have light music out there for atmosphere, a fun kids’ area and an art market. It’ll be more about showcasing the Bay-Waveland area on those days.”
Bay Harborfest has scheduled ten bands already and there are more acts being finalized. The main stage will be located on the beach for 2015, north of the harbor.
“People say they can’t believe it, and rightly so, it’s unbelievable,” says Rosato.
“I am determined to create a regionally significant and unique event and utilize our setting – the iconic beach, the harbor and the bridge. Nobody’s going to be able to touch it.”
The Bay Harborfest Website
Bill On-The-Road Falls For the Bay
Light, Cameras, Bay St. Louis!
In late April, the Bay worked it's charm on St. Louis-based radio commentator, writer and videographer Bill Clevlen.
Clevlen's website, Bill On The Road, is filled with articles, podcasts and videos from his trips around the country to "discover the people and places making America great."
Apparently, he fell hard for BSL. The article is titled,"Bay St. Louis, MS: Beyond Katrina, Beyond Hospitality." In his opening paragraphs, he eloquently states what we who live here know so well and never take for granted:
I hadn’t been out of the 39520 zip code for more than half an hour before I started to miss the friendly faces, great stories and hugs and handshakes from the people of Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi.
The small beach town of less than 10,000 residents sits along the states western coast. While the south is generally known for its “hospitality” – the people of Bay Saint Louis seem to go above and beyond just the typical southern smiles and charm.
This was one of the more interesting trips I’ve done as I really had no idea what I’d be doing or who I’d be visiting with before I arrived. Over the course of three days I found one thing in common with every person I interviewed or talked to – people are the reason Bay Saint Louis is such a special place.
Read the entire piece here and then share with friend, family and associates. They'll want to read more of Bill's articles while they're there!
To date, the main feather in the Bay’s Hollywood hat is the 1966 move, “This Property Is Condemned,” directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Robert Redford, Natalie Wood and Charles Bronson.
But that's probably going to change. And soon.
On April 27th, two Old Town establishments were tapped as stand-ins for locations in the Bahamas as the movie crew of “Isolation,” filmed in Bay St. Louis.
Both the Mockingbird Café and the Sycamore House restaurant hosted cast and crew for the action feature, slated for release in November. The movie stars Dominic Purcell, Luke Mably, Tricia Helfer and Marie Avgeropoulos and is directed by Shane Dax Taylor.
"Isolation" began shooting in the Bahamas last December, with additional scenes being shot recently at Cat Island. The movie’s unit production manager, Jase Payne, lives in Gulfport. He says the producers fell in love with the authenticity of Bay St. Louis and decided to shoot some of the scenes here.
According to Payne, Bay St. Louis is a natural star and is sure to host more movie crews in the near future. He knows of two other major features that will be using Mississippi coast locations before the year is out.
“Producers call this the Mississippi coast ‘a hidden gem,’” says Payne. They’d like to keep it a secret, but it’s getting discovered all the same.”
Also, read the Sea Coast Echo's May 1st story about a Luke Perry movie shooting in Kiln.
Waveland Home Featured on "Tiny House Nation"
It's been nearly a decade since Hurricane Katrina destroyed the home of Pye Parson and forced her family to relocate from the coast to Birmingham. While she always dreamed of rebuilding in Waveland, it seemed unaffordable until she stumbled onto the concepts touted in the hit television show "Tiny House Nation."
Using plans designed by her brother-in-law, Bruce Lanier (Standard Creative, in Birmingham), Pye began building a new sort of dream house. The whole process was followed by the "Tiny House Nation" crews and is the subject of an hour-long episode of show on FYI network - "The 576 sq. ft. Mississippi Memory Home."
Pye's house is also showcased as the Cleaver "Home of the Month." Read Pye's story and take a visual tour of the house in this month's At Home in the Bay column!
Once Again - BSL is a Top Ten
In April, the website "The Culture Trip" named Bay St. Louis as one of the "Top Ten Most Beautiful Cities in Mississippi."
Located on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, a few miles from the border with Louisiana, Bay St. Louis is an idyllic seaside town brimming with rich history, beautiful sights and a lively cultural scene just begging to be explored.
Read the rest here and see who else made the cut.
Join Old Town during the monthly Second Saturday Artwalk in celebrating motherhood with art, music, food and good spirits!
Lulu's on Main Street
I try to avoid getting a smug look on my face when visiting other coastal communities, except for Florida where I don’t bother to hide utter disdain. When you have to check into a high-rise to get a glimpse of the ocean, the ruination is obvious. I never was good at poker.
Yes, I have had brief love affairs with coastlines outside of Mississippi, but as soon as I found this place I knew I’d never go back to any of the others. My old feelings were dead, the romance gone, ashes cold. To paraphrase a Delbert McClinton song, I left a lipstick letter on the mirror saying I won’t be back no more. When Rheta leaves, Rheta’s gone.
Across the Bridge
I was too tired to cry when it became obvious The Sun was setting forever. We packed the VW van with our hippie furniture and slunk back home. It was obvious we belonged in landlocked Alabama, not on a fantasy island.
I’ve been back to St. Simons, of course, a couple of times. But that melon-colored place is so over-populated now, with so many golf holes punched into its manicured landscape, I don’t see how it still floats. It’s over.
There was a 1970’s fling with Ocracoke Island, N.C., which, once upon a time, I deemed a dream retirement zone. It’s easy to think that way while cycling the Outer Banks in the month of May. When I returned 20 years later, I knew it wasn’t happening. Despite chockablock houses, cost of living is high, availability low.
Even in Florida, I once grew misty-eyed. Apalachicola seemed bona fide, but then developers found it. Now you can’t swing an oyster shuck without hitting a boutique. Not to mention it’s surrounded by, well, Florida.
The Mississippi Coast is different, and oddly sturdy, a hybrid. I like to think of it as what would happen if the old Florida Panhandle and New Orleans had a love child. In my mind, it’s imperfectly perfect.
So I had to be extra careful not to gloat recently while visiting my husband’s son and family at their new beach house. They have a nice cottage on North Carolina’s Ocean Isle Beach, a pretty and evocative name that’s nonetheless impossible to remember in the correct sequence. Beach Ocean Isle. Isle Ocean Beach. At any rate, it’s not far from the South Carolina state line and Myrtle Beach.
My husband has two beautiful granddaughters, and they don’t yet know what to make of me. Being the grandfather’s relatively new wife is like being a pimple on prom night. I try not to draw attention to myself.
The teenage girls wanted to go to a tea room in Calabash, the nearest town of any size to Ocean Isle, or OCB as the decals say. A tea room? At the beach? Bikini optional?
I agreed to go, of course, because that’s what a new family member does. And I was a sport, picking out a Derby-worthy hat from the tea room rack, same as the girls. We looked like a Disney film from our necks up.
We sat at a window table, and the oldest granddaughter demonstrated how to pour tea properly. And we ate all the pretty but meager finger foods that arrived on a silver triple-tier while talking about their future weddings and other gauzy topics. It beat volleyball.
I think I was popular, briefly.
The outing made me think. Maybe all Pass Christian needs to make it complete is a grocery store and a tea room, not necessarily in that order. A place where mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters, engaged couples, anniversary celebrants, christening participants, badly sunburned visitors and others could go to take stock and have tea.
Already we have an oil and vinegar store and a cigar bar. Can a tea room be far behind?
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 Beach Boulevard Experience Continues
Part 2 - South of the Tracks
by Pat Murphy
Missed Part One of the Beach Boulevard Experience? Click here.
At the time of my birth (1949) the only building left south of the railroad tracks on the water side was the old Osoinach Bay Mercantile building which was across the street from Merchants Bank. When I was a child this building housed a Bill’s Dollar Store.
I can’t say why but I have always been fascinated by the previous existence of the old buildings south of the tracks on the water side. As far back as pre-1900, there had been many buildings on the water side of South Beach Boulevard. Starting just south of Washington Street (which at the time was a very big commercial area); these buildings included the original location of Maneiri’s Restaurant.
Growing Up Downtown
By the 1920s there were businesses like The Rosedale Inn that were located across Beach Boulevard from Ben Hille’s garage, as well as Ladner’s Hardware on the water side at Bookter Street. This building was actually built out on pilings over the water and opened onto South Beach Boulevard.
Before approximately 1940 there had been at least two other buildings south of the Bay Mercantile building on the water side. I’m told that one of the buildings was a mechanic shop which was operated by Mr. Bernie and Albert Piazza’s father, and later Mr. Pete Porter, whose business eventually moved to Ulman Avenue. The other building was the location of my grandfather Stevenson’s first business in downtown Bay St. Louis.
This building was owned by Ms. Josie Welch who previously ran a store selling china, crystal, stationary, school supplies and such. I remember my grandfather talking about experiences that he had renting from Ms. Josie Welch who, by that time was a very elderly woman. Mr. Buster Heitzmann told me before his death that in 1939 Alfred Raboteau tore Ms. Welch’s building down, salvaged the materials and used them to build a home somewhere in Bay St. Louis.
Next to the bank was the location of Merchant’s Insurance Agency. At one time around the turn of the century, this lot was the location of Osoinach’s Opera House. My daddy’s sister Nancy (who would later drown in Hurricane Katrina) worked at Merchants Insurance (and later at Hancock Insurance).
What I remember most about Merchant’s Insurance is the smell of coffee and cigarette smoke. Ms. Kat Jordy, who worked with my aunt was a heavy smoker. On many occasions, I would stop in at Merchant’s Insurance on my walk from St. Stanislaus to the shop in the afternoons after school and visit with my Aunt Nan and drink coffee (even as a youngster!).
There were two more homes south of Merchant’s Insurance before St. Joseph Academy. One was the old Osoinach home and the other was Mr. Ed Arceneaux’s home. Both of these buildings were eventually donated or acquired by St. Joseph Academy. In the nineteen sixties the Osoinach Home was named Marion Hall and the Arceneaux home was named Lourdes Hall.
St. Joseph's Academy
This institution burned to the ground in the great fire of 1907 that claimed Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic church and its rectory, as well as Osoinach’s Opera House and a number of other structures. St. Joseph’s rebuilt with the beautiful historic building that I knew as a young man.
SJA closed its doors with the last graduating class of 1967. This beautiful old brick building sustained substantial structural damage in 1969’s Hurricane Camille and was demolished in the early 1970’s.
Two funny things stand out in my mind about SJA. There was an old nun named Sr. Albertine who had been at SJA forever it seemed. The old funeral home was about a half block away in the second block of Union Street. Sr. Albertine was known for grabbing kids off the playground in threes and fours and marching them back to the funeral home to pray three or four Hail Marys over the body that was laid out. As kids on the playground, we would scatter whenever we saw Sister Albertine headed our way!
The other funny thing that I remember about SJA is that there was this one little old nun named Sister Leonard who taught third grade forever. Everybody that I’ve ever known who went to SJA had Sister Leonard for their third grade teacher! There were two classes for first and second grade but only one BIG class for third grade. I don’t know how this little nun did it because there were like sixty kids in my third grade class and, without mentioning names, there were some tough, rough kids (and you know who you were) in that class. I remember kids jumping out of windows and stuff like that. In retrospect, I guess I got what I needed from Sister Leonard because at the end of the school year, I moved on to fourth grade at St. Stanislaus!!
Our Lady of the Gulf and the Rectory
This is the church of my youth, and really, my life. It is where I was baptized, made my first communion, and was confirmed in the Catholic religion. While I admit to being one of those “roamin’ Catholics”, I always seem to come back to Our Lady of the Gulf. Our Lady of the Gulf parish dates back to 1847 founded by Father Louis Stanislaus Buteux. Father Butuex also saw the need for and founded both St. Joseph Academy and St. Stanislaus in 1854. The original church construction began in March of 1848 and was completed in just over two years but burned to the ground in the great fire of 1907.
The present church was rebuilt without the spires on top of each tower. I’m not sure at which point the spires were added. This beautiful building has survived every hurricane since its construction in about 1909. The interior was flooded and gutted during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but renovated beautifully.
The old rectory or “priest house” of my youth was a beautiful two-story wooden building with porches across the front of both stories. It was built at the time of the new church after the 1907 fire. The old rectory was demolished after it sustained “structural damage” as a result of Hurricane Camille.
Sometimes I have to wonder about the designation of structural damage as a road to demolition. Anyway several years after Hurricane Camille the beautiful old rectory was demolished and replaced with a nice new modern brick building. Hmmmm.
The Planchette Home & Candy Store
When I was a child, there was a little shop building right on the corner of the property where Mr. Planchette, who was quite elderly, ran a candy store. Later on, the mid-1960s, my friend Matt Ames and his family lived in the Planchette home until it was demolished along with the old OLG rectory to make way for the lovely new modern brick “priest house”.
St. Stanislaus boy’s school is an institution that is well known throughout the United Stated of America. Boarding students came from all over the continental United States and Central America to attend St. Stanislaus.
Known as “The School of Character”, we quickly renamed it “The School of Characters." St. Stanislaus was founded in 1854 by the by Father Louis Stanislaus Buteux and has been operated by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart ever since.
In 1903 the wooden front buildings burned to the ground and the beautiful brick front buildings that I knew were immediately constructed. The three pre-1969 front buildings, as well as the two side buildings (the gym building on Union and the chapel/study hall building on Bookter), were architectural wonders and Mississippi gulf coast landmarks that people still fondly remember almost fifty years later. These stately brick buildings have a permanent image burned into my mind. The pre-Hurricane Camille St. Stanislaus pier was truly a work of art, probably the grandest wooden pier that I have ever laid my eyes on!
I attended St. Stanislaus from fourth grade through twelfth grade. Three of those years (fourth, seventh and eighth grades), I attended "Rip’s University," which is what everyone called the old back school. This building was an old wooden three-room school house with a big open porch all the way across the front of it. It dated back into the 1800s and faced the Bay St. Louis railroad depot on the Stanislaus property between Hancock and Blaize Avenue. The historic back school was also torn down (more progress) after Hurricane Camille.
I played in the St Stanislaus band from sixth grade through twelfth grade and there can be no doubt that this experience started me on my lifetime musical journey. I have to say that some of my oldest and closest friends are guys that I went through St. Stanislaus with. Almost fifty years after graduating in 1967, I am still very close to many of the guys that were in my graduating class.
Two lots down from Swoop’s was the Otis residence. The thing that always stands out most for me in regards to the Otis residence is the story of this structure being moved from somewhere else and how it arrived here on a barge. After the Otis home, the next notable home was Ms. Janie Languirand’s residence, Hilltop, and next door was Ms. Elsie Sporl’s residence. Ms. Elsie’s nephew, Mike Willumitis, lived with her and was playing guitar in my band Tomorrow’s Dawn.
This saintly older woman graciously allowed us to set up all of our music equipment (there was a bunch of equipment) and take up permanent residency rehearsing in her living room and living in the rear cottage (which we christened “The Den of Iniquity”) at the rear of the property. There are unverified stories that this old cottage served as the post office around the time of the civil war. All of these homes had been on South Beach Boulevard for well over one hundred years when they were wiped clean during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
There were several businesses at Washington Street that stand out in my youth. The first of these was Sellier’s and was run by Woodford Sellier. This was a sandwich shop that had pinball machines. Woodford also sold fireworks. This place attracted a lot of young people, especially when the movies at the theatre across the street let out. The building that Sellier’s was in also had been around since about nineteen hundred. This building was originally the W.H. Yenni store.
Right across the street from Sellier’s was The Star Theatre which was run by Mr. Joe Scafide and later his son Andrew. Before it was the Star, it was the Ortte Theatre owned by Mr. Ed Ortte. The building had been around since the eighteen hundreds and originally was August Keller’s store. In between it served as the Bay-Waveland Yacht Club and later Uncle Charlie’s nightclub.
Next to the Star Theatre was Ben Hille’s garage and Oldsmobile-GMC dealership. Ben Hille was my Grandpa George’s best friend and I was friends with Mr. Benny’s son, Squeaky (Irwin) so I spent a lot of time at the garage. As late as just before the 1947 hurricane there was still a business across the street on the water side of South Beach Boulevard as seen in the photo of Ben Hille working on the car. All of these buildings were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina – nothing left but rubble. Ironically, the daughter of my grandfather’s first business partner, Townsend Wolfe, died in the destruction of this old theatre building during Hurricane Katrina.
My dad, as a means of extra income, used to call bingo here at the American Legion and at the Knights of Columbus hall on Main Street. I used to spend a lot of time in both locations helping my dad. I was a member of Boy Scout Troop 208 which was sponsored by this American Legion post. We had weekly meetings downstairs. One of my bands, The Saxons, played for teen dances downstairs (we weren’t quite up to playing the big time dances held upstairs at this point). There were Legion Fairs on the beach out front with fireworks displays and kids fishing rodeos.
American Legion Post 139 was and still is very active in the Bay St. Louis community. Unfortunately, this building was destroyed in 1969 during Hurricane Camille and the post home was relocated to the current Green Meadow Road location. The only photos that I can share are "before" and "after," but I have been unable to locate any of the old American Legion home taken prior to 1969.
This whole Beach Boulevard experience starting from DeMontluzin Street and ending at Washington remains a vital and endearing part of my youth, despite the fact that it no longer exists. In my mind’s eye, it is a memory that I will forever cherish.
Celebrating 10 Years of Homes
- Habitat Bay-Waveland has built over 200 houses in the ten years since Katrina. Find out how you can help them build Number 202!
Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina damaged or destroyed approximately seventy percent of all housing in the Hancock County.
Thousands of caring, hardworking volunteers descended upon our community, just wanting to help in any way that they could. Some of the volunteers stayed for many months or even years after the storm; some of them returned year after year to continue their work here; some fell in love with the Coast and never left at all.
Talk of the Town
It is estimated that about 10,000 volunteers have worked with Habitat here since Hurricane Katrina, rebuilding lives and families, as well as homes. “Katrina changed everything and challenged the very core of our community,” said Executive Director Wendy McDonald. “As horrible as it was, that catastrophic event also served to bring about an incredible culture of hope, resilience and love in our community.”
To show the community’s appreciation and gratitude to all of the volunteers who came to help in our hour of greatest need, in June HFHBW is holding a 10th Anniversary Reunion Build in Bay St. Louis.
The month-long build will use volunteers to build a new home in BSL’s Seal Pointe neighborhood, between Easterbrook and Union Streets. This neighborhood is where the first Habitat homes were constructed in 2006, and to date it contains 54 single-family and duplex homes.
The home that will be built this June will become the 202nd home that HFHBW will have built in Hancock County since it began its work here in 2006. Not only affordable to the lucky family who will live there, it will also be durable and sustainable, built to both green and fortified standards.
“This anniversary event is a time to celebrate the thousands who came to rebuild our community after the storm," said McDonald. "They were total strangers to us before then, from places all over the United States and the world, who selflessly gave us their time, their energy, their money, their optimism, to help us rebuild."
For more information about donating your time or money, please call the Habitat Bay-Waveland office at (228) 467-9699, email email@example.com, or check out the Anniversary Build's website page.
If your business, company or church would like to be a sponsor, corporate sponsorships are available at various levels. In addition, a new on-line peer-to-peer fundraiser website called GiveGab (givegab.com) also is available to facilitate your tax-deductible contribution to HFHBW’s fundraising goal.
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