At Home in the Bay - January 2015
Good Neighbor - Gaynell Acker
Standing in testament to an indomitable community of faith is the new Christ Episcopal Church located at 912 S. Beach Blvd. - the fourth church constructed by the Bay St. Louis congregation and the third built on this site. Already a beloved city landmark, the church building was recognized with the 2010 Historic Commission Mayor's Award.
Established in 1889, during the construction of the first church building (on the corner of North Beach Blvd. and Boardman Avenue), Christ Church services were held in the Crowell house nearby. In 1904 the church building was moved to the corner of North Beach Blvd. and Carroll Avenue, where 98 years ago it was consecrated on July 8, 1913.
In 1951 the Church purchased the seven-and-a-half acre property it occupies today and constructed a church/school complex which was partially destroyed by Hurricane Camille in August 1969. For the next twenty months during construction of the new Christ Church - dedicated on April 18, 1971 - services were held in the day school buildings that had survived unharmed.
Then in August 2005, the church buildings were claimed by the capricious Hurricane Katrina, which left only the tattered remains of the bell tower standing.
What to do now was a thought that lingered only briefly in the minds of the determined congregation. The “Revisioning and Reconstruction” committee was formed, led by Corky Hadden and Scott Bagley. Other members were Susan Stevens, Vernon Bourdette, Diane Lind, Sandra Bagley and Malin Chamberlain.
The input of all church members was sought to determine whether to rebuild for a third time on the current site or perhaps find a safer site with higher visibility closer to Old Town. Almost unanimously the congregation, voted to remain and to construct the new Church in a more “coastal” style. To address visibility concerns, the site of the new building was moved closer to the beach.
After visiting many churches in the area, the rebuilding committee decided that the coastal feeling they were seeking was best expressed by the “Carpenter Gothic” style and the committee selected Walcott Adams Verneville Architects, PLLC of Fairhope, AL to carry out their vision.
The building was consecrated by the Bishop of Mississippi, Duncan Gray, in May 2010. Then on July 31st, 2010, Senior Warden Scott Bagley walked his daughter Drew down the aisle during the first wedding held in the new building.
“The first wedding in the church was not only a historic moment, but a very happy moment as two hearts became one,” said a smiling Sandra Bagley.
It has been said that architecture reflects the ideals and principles of the culture from which it emerged. One could say without exaggeration that the new Christ Episcopal Church perfectly expresses its vision that: “as seekers of Christ, we desire to live in a serene, simple manner where we can be ourselves in the presence of God.”
Smilax: Nothing to smile about!
- by Karen Fineran
Has your garden been invaded by an ugly, thorny, dark green, waxy, heart-shaped vine? Is it sending up shoots in various places throughout your oleanders, wrapping itself around the root systems of your azaleas, and climbing high into the oaks with its thorny brambles?
This is Smilax, aka Greenbrier, aka Catbrier, aka Cowvine. Although Smilax is a native plant to the eastern and central United States, and it provides berries and shelter for birds and other animals in the wild, this is one neighbor that you may just want to send packing from your garden – even if it requires months or years of persistence.
Smilax is a genus of about 300-350 species, found in temperate zones, tropics and subtropics worldwide. On their own, Smilax plants will grow as shrubs, forming dense impenetrable thickets. They will also grow over trees and other plants up to 10 meters high, their hooked thorns allowing them to hang onto and scramble over branches and fences. The stems have sharp spines that can really give a beating to your hands when you try to pull the vines down from the trees or pull them up from the ground. Put those gloves on!
This aggressive and fast-growing vine is incredibly difficult to eradicate. Smilax is a very damage-tolerant plant capable of growing back from its rhizomes after being cut or burned down. This, coupled with the fact that birds and other small animals spread the seeds over large areas, makes the plants very hard to get rid of. The seeds that pass from the birds can remain viable for long periods of time, and then germinate when the conditions are right. As these seeds germinate best after being exposed to a freeze, perhaps the hard winters the Coast has experienced lately have exacerbated the vine’s spread.
This nasty nuisance can spread all over your yard or garden from extensive underground tuber/rhizome systems and sprawling, clambering vines above ground. The rhizomes are attached to hard walnut-like tubers DEEP in the ground (6 inches to 2 feet deep). The tubers can grow as big as large-sized sweet potatoes. The underground root system can run for yards away from the original tuber and form more tubers and more vines at several node points on the roots. I have found underground runners over 15 feet long, and they can sprout from anywhere along their length. If you cut them to the ground, they seem to just shoot back up overnight, from either the same bulb or from adjacent bulbs. Unfortunately, because Smilax is such a fast grower (it can grow over a foot per week), you just can’t sit back and let it take over. If left for very long, you could be pulling a 30 foot vine down from your trees (risking thorny vine stabs to your face and eyes as the mass falls down on top of you!).
Control of your Smilax problem should focus on early detection and control before more bulbs are formed. For this reason, I have found that it is more effective to dig up Smilax rather than try to pull it up or cut it down. This is not a fun job. With a sharp shovel and many hours of backbreaking sweaty labor, you should be able to get to the hideous roots and tubers buried far below the ground. These tubers have thorny “knuckles” that look rather like medieval battle maces (those spiked balls on chains). Be sure you burn or destroy those after you pull them out, as they will just start another shoot if you toss them aside onto the ground. Try to get all the bulbs out of the ground. This can be nearly impossible sometimes because the tubers seem to have an affinity for nestling in the roots of woody plants and trees. I have found them inextricably tangled up in the roots of my oleanders (as well as wrapped around Katrina junk, house bricks and metal debris that I discovered buried far underground).
Smilax can be annihilated more efficiently if, in combination with your wanton digging and destruction, you also apply a weedkiller such as Roundup Poison Ivy plus Heavy Brush Killer (or any product that contains triclopyr as well as glyphosate). Wherever you cut a vine off, spray or brush the cut stem with the weedkiller. Likewise, if you reach a thick underground root that is buried too deep for you to dig up, cut it or break it off wherever you can get to it, and then paint the cut part with the weedkiller. If the runners are coming under or over a fence, ask your neighbors if you can go over to their property and dig up the roots and tubers on their side of the fence (they just may thank you profusely!)
Through some on-line research and discussions with other long-suffering Smilax combatants on the Coast, I’ve learned that people have tried various herbicidal techniques in battling Smilax, including:
• Use concentrated glyphosate (at least a 41% or greater active ingredient glyphosate) to paint the cut stems;
• Use just triclopyr to paint the cut stems;
• Rather than cutting the stems, remove as little of the vine as possible, trying not to break any of the stems. Find the longest sticker vines in your yard, then lay the vines on some bare ground or on a piece of plastic, and spray or sponge-apply a 10% solution of glyphosate/Roundup, allowing allow the herbicide to stay on the plant for 48 hours. Then cut the stems back to ground level, and keep re-poisoning any new shoots when they get about 8 inches high;
• Or, mix up a few gallons of diluted Roundup solution in a large plastic bucket, then find the longest sticker vines and drape as much of them as you can into the bucket. Let the vines soak in the solution for a day so that the vines soak up the maximum amount of poison. Then cut the stems back to ground level, and keep re-poisoning any new shoots when they get about 8 inches high;
• Or – same general concept here – wrap plastic bags with rubber bands around the sticker vines, filled with Roundup. Maybe soak some paper towels with Round up and smother the vines with these inside the plastic?
• We welcome more suggestions! Please submit to the Fourth Ward Cleaver any comments, tips, or suggestions that have worked for you!
Don’t forget to dispose of any surplus pesticide properly, either by spraying on other weeds, or burying in the dirt where there are no plants growing nearby (apparently, Roundup is inactivated when it makes contact with soil). I’ve read that frequent applications of herbicide to Smilax will eventually deplete the root mass, though the process may take months, even years.
So, go ahead and dig, spray, pull, paint, cut, chop, whack, and swear to your heart’s content. Like a game of “whack-a-mole,” the new vines may continue popping up for a very long time, but, with persistence, you can keep them under control and gradually deplete their energy. Eventually, your yard could become a happy Smilax-free zone.
But if nuclear bombs ever rain on the Gulf Coast someday, destroying most of the human, plant and animal life here – any hardy surviving cockroaches may be discovered by future generations crawling up impenetrable thickets of Smilax cowvines.
Second Saturday - July 2011
The Second Saturday Artwalk in Bay St. Louis began over two decades ago with a simple premise: everybody loves a party. During the monthly celebration from 5pm – 8pm, galleries, boutiques, restaurants and cafés in Old Town give both locals and visitors from around the region a chance to check out new art shows, live music acts, coastal cuisine and special showings of new merchandise.
And judging by the smiling crowds strolling the streets each Second Saturday, that concept has made the event one of the most popular on the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast. Adding to the allure, each month two different Old Town merchants are tagged as “Hot Spots.” For the July 9th Second Saturday, the spotlight falls on Clay Creations and You’re Invited.
One of the oldest continuously operating businesses in Old Town, Clay Creations is the brainchild of artist Jenise McCardell, who’s been fashioning small ceramic sculptures of regional homes, schools and churches along the Gulf Coast since 1980. The business has become a family affair through the years, as McCardell’s been joined by her husband, potter Mark Currier and daughter Devon.
“People collect memories through my art,” said McCardell. “My favorite creations are custom pieces I make for customers who provide photos of their homes or businesses.”
Both the Clay Creations working studio and gallery – where over 1000 different designs are on display – are located at 220 Main Street, in Gallery 220. McCardell owns the show-stopping art deco building, sharing the space with over twenty other artists in the cooperative venture.
As one of the July Hot Spots, Clay Creations is hosting their annual salad contest, with local patrons and Gallery 220 artists bringing in their favorite culinary masterpieces. Winners will be awarded a plaque depicting the Waveland Garfield Ladner Fishing Pier, one of McCardell’s latest designs.
“After the salad judging, gallery visitors get to eat the entries,” said McCardell, laughing. “We’ll also have live music by the fabulous Desoto Band from New Orleans, so ya’ll come on down!”
A block away at 111B Main Street, the name of the featured business says it all: “You’re Invited!” Owner Beverly Diaz presides over a shop brimming with innovative invitations, stationary and cards. You’re Invited has been an Old Town favorite for over nine years, offering a service that is unique on the Gulf Coast. Customers can choose from hundreds of blank invitation designs for all occasions – bridal, dinner and cocktail parties, baby announcements, birthday, and anniversary celebrations. Later the same day, the completed invites are ready for mailing, with the wording of their choice printed on the cards.
Not that the choice will be easy. Diaz stocks an enormous number of designs, ranging from sophisticated to whimsical. Kids will be mesmerized by the fanciful cupcake, frog and flip-flop invitations, while brides-to-be can opt for either elegant or light-hearted announcements. New products include creations by Lilly Pulitzer, Casparia, Paula Skene and Fauz Design.
To celebrate her Hot Spot status, Diaz will be serving “exceptional” food throughout the evening with music and a DJ. Three other neighbors at the 111 Main Street location have joined You’re Invited in hosting a free hourly drawing, from 4-8pm. Simply by signing up, shoppers will have a chance at a gift from one of the shops.
Other notable Second Saturday “Don’t Miss” activities include:
The first time I ever went to Fred and Virginia Wagner's house, a framed letter hanging on the wall caught my eye. It was addressed to Virginia and signed by J. Edgar Hoover. Startled, I read what was obviously a personal response to a letter Virginia had written to the FBI as a young child. She had apparently expressed her goal to be a "G-man" when she grew up.
In the rejection hanging on the wall, Director Hoover thanked the girl for her interest and then gently informed her that women weren't allowed to be FBI investigators. But the fact that Virginia had such a daring childhood goal and then took the initiative to write to Hoover, always seemed a symbol of the energetic, frank, lively and loving friend I came to know through the years - as determined as she was dear.
Virginia epitomized the term "community spirit," and threw herself into tasks would better Bay St. Louis. The last photograph I took of her was at Bay BridgeFest in May, where she had volunteered to sell t-shirts in record-breaking heat. And looking back through my archives for pictures of her, I found that they were almost all taken while she was volunteering in some civic capacity. Her dynamic smile and powerful spirit beams from every image. I'm profoundly grateful for having known her and believe that I'm far from alone in feeling that she'll remain a guiding light for the rest of my days.
The contributors of the Fourth Ward Cleaver extend their deepest condolences to her family.
Bay St. Louis Bike Fleet
Editor's note, 1/2018: Sadly, the Bike Fleet became "homeless" several years later and was eventually sold off.
In a novel one-block bicycle race, local leaders and officials will be peddling their way to the finish line on the evening of Second Saturday in Old Town Bay St. Louis. The event begins at 6pm on July 9th on Gex Street (by the courthouse) to raise awareness about the new community bike fleet.
The first of its kind on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the fleet was purchased with a grant obtained by Live Oak Alliance (LOAM) through the MS Gulf Coast National Heritage Area program. Since the cost of the new beach cruisers was covered by the grant, the bikes will rent for a nominal fee ($7.50 per day) to cover the costs of administration and maintenance.
Bay Breeze, 111A Main Street in Bay St. Louis, will be hosting the fleet. Owner John Adams says that the fee includes helmets and bike locks. For younger members of the family, tow-behind trailers for toddlers are available. Each bike also comes equipped with a packet of visitor information, including the guide for the 1.5 mile walking/biking historic tour of Bay St. Louis.
LOAM director Marcie Baria, says that the bike fleet is only one of the projects on the organization’s long list of plans to develop Hancock County as a “very biking, walking, canoe, kayak-friendly place.”
To establish the area as a premier eco-tourism destination, LOAM (a fund of the Hancock Community Development Foundation) is working in cooperation with several local organizations, including the Hancock Chamber’s Greenways Committee. The committee, headed by Ron Magee, recently saw fruition of over eight years of its own efforts, when in April 43 miles of Hancock roadways officially became part of the state’s byway system - creating the only coastal county routes in Mississippi.
“There are plans in the works for a comprehensive set of biking, walking and birding trails,” Baria says. “And the county’s first Blueways has also been established on the Jourdan River this year.”
Families who take advantage of the community bike fleet will soon have some high-tech options to help them explore the area: the development of Byways signage, maps, brochures and even GPS apps are underway.
Magee, who is also NASA’s Assistant to the Director of Center Operations at Stennis Space Center, is thrilled to see the program taking off. “We will be incorporating GPS technology in moving visitors around the Byways,” said Magee. “What a great way to use NASA technology in this ecotourism experience.”
For more information on bike fleet rentals, call Bay Breeze at (228) 466-3333. For complete details on the new Byways system, contact the Hancock Chamber at (228) 467-904