Friday, October 22, 2010

Graduation From Murphy High School Mobile Alabama In 1958 And A Trip To Biloxi Mississippi That Night

Click to enlarge the above photo.

My high school graduation was in June of 1958. Murphy High School in Mobile,Alabama graduated 823 seniors and sent them out into the world ready or not.

    I had a few friends who had decided to head to Biloxi,Mississippi after the graduating ceremonies were over. That was because 18 year olds could drink alcohol in Mississippi but not in Alabama.

   I had bought two fifths of Smirnoff's vodka. The three other guys had brought along some liquor as well.

So off we went after the graduation ceremonies which were held at Ladd Memorial Stadium in Mobile. Ladd Memorial Stadium as it was then called was also home to The Senior Bowl each year as well as all the local high shool and college football games. It hosted concerts as well by the likes of Ray Charles and Brenda Lee and many others.

Click to enlarge the photos.
  It is a short drive from Mobile to Biloxi. And once you cross the state line you are street legal at 18 years of age. The Miss. folks also sold every kind of fireworks known to mankind. That stuff was also illegal in Alabama.

   When we got to Biloxi we found a motel room right on Highway 90 near the beach and the old downtown part of Biloxi. There wasn't much of a strip of nightclubs in Biloxi back in 1958.  But there were a few places. One of them was the Downbeat Lounge Jazz club mentioned in the post below.
   Now what happened that night was Gulfport High School graduated their seniors the same night as our high school in Mobile. So with all the liquor flowing some kids began to have fights. Some people seem to enjoy fighting more than anything.

 I was in the Downbeat enjoying my first taste of modern jazz. I heard there was a fight outside. I went out to look. Some really bad guy with a bad reputation was surrounded by onlookers. He was begging for someone to fight him. Someone produced a handgun and hit someone on the side of his head. I saw the bad guy from Pritchard, Alabama hit someone and I decided to go back in the nightclub. The police came and locked all my friends up as well as many of the others.

 I was very drunk from all the liquor so I went back to the Motel and went to sleep. Around 3 or 4am the phone rang. I woke up. No one else was in the room. I answered the phone. It was one of the guys wanting me to come down and bail them out. I had no money to bail them out. He sounded terrified. He said the Biloxi jail was a horrible place with only a hole in the floor to go to the bathroom. I told him I was sorry but there was nothing I could do.
   Now how it happened I do not know but all of those guys got out of jail and reappeared in the morning. Including the really bad guy from Pritchard ,Alabama. He had bragged in the past how he like to knock people's teeth out and I had heard of that so I tried to steer clear of him.

It was decided by someone that we would all drive up to Hattiesburg,Miss. So we motored on up there and drove out to Lake Shady outside of town. Here the bad guy decided he was going to part company with us. I had one fifth of unopened Smirnoff Vodka still in the car. He said to all of us that he was taking it. I saw no point in disagreeing with him so I said nothing. After the night before I was no longer thirsty and I was glad to see him go. It was a smart decision I have never regretted.
A few years  later he became a junkie and died an early death in Mobile.