of the Pass
Stories related by Billy Bourdin and Others
(Webster's New Colliate Dictionary)
[ Fr. innuere, hinting, to hint ]
: an oblique allusion;
: HINT, INSINUATION;
a veiled or equivocal reflection on character or reputation
Like any small town rich in history and tranquil and laid back as is the City of Pass Christian, there are many stories.
The intent of "In-yo-end-ohs" is simply to recapture the anecdotal history of the people, places, and things which hopefully will sustain the mirth, the good times, the pranks, the jokes, the innocent happenings and remarks made. There is no intent herein to cause harm to any persons or their character. Any negative aspersions are offered in jest and the wishes of the authors of this booklet are only to the end that everyone can laugh at themselves.
Some of the stories are offered by the person or persons telling the story with no editing or editorial comments made.
If you would like to add your innuendo, just drop by and tell it to Billy, or write it down and you too will be a part of the Pass's Zany Zestful Past!
In 1958, Parnell McKay, editor of The Pass Christian Tarpon-Beacon, discussed many problems faced as a weekly editor of a small town newspaper. He stated that his two major problems were, that of the 4000 Pass residents, most of them were related, so he had to watch very carefully what he wrote about anybody.
He stated that his second problem was that 50% of the Pass residents probably knew more than he did about publishing a paper, because they either worked on one, or owned a paper at one time or another.
* * *
ALL IN THE FAMILY
Billy Bourdin always remembers a new story, or a joke, to pass on . . . and he always enjoys laughing at the humor of his own jokes . . .
“Very late one evening, I had gone to Live Oak Cemetery with a friend who stammered out, - - Billy, ain't you scared?"
To this, I replied, "Hell, no, I didn't do anything bad to them, what are they going to do to me? Besides, more than half of them are family."
* * *
"During the early 30's, there were two men -- one named Cannon and the other was named Gunn. When one or the other made a long distance telephone call, it would go something like the following.
"This is Cannon, I want Gunn!", or, "Gunn here, I want Cannon!"
Invariably the confused telephone operator would hang up.
* * *
IT'S A BLESSIN' SHAME!
Baxter Jones, after taking the helm of one of the Chamber of Commerce committees, the Blessing of the Fleet - - - explained how he re-initiated the ceremony of tossing a wreath into the waters in bereavement for all souls lost at sea. As a retired Navy man, this is a not only a natural custom, but an essential Naval courtesy.
However, not all the local citizens accepted this ceremony. One resident went so far as to report the incident to the EPA in protest.
* * *
Roscoe Scarborough had gone through a lot of trouble to make the WWII Army Tank a "Reality Happening." He left no stone unturned and called in all of his chips. As a stalwart guardian of the American fighting man he was finally successful in at least getting the Tank to be postured overlooking the Memorial Park.
Having undergone so much turmoil and objections from some of the Pass Community, he was finally feeling good on the day the Tank arrived.
An English couple passed by VFW Hall to show their scorn for what they considered unsightly. Needless to say, as they passed, Roscoe retorted, "If it wasn't for that ugly Tank, as you call it, you would be speaking German today, 'cause they were about to kick your Butt."
* * *
NO, TANK YOU!
Major Cerra, the last elected public official of pre-Camille administrations, strolled in to Billy's shop and became enraptured by the photograph commanding a prominent spot on the wall. He could hardly contain himself. The picture was a blow up of War Memorial Park with an M-60 armored tank with full tracks exposed occupying a place of prominence on the green turf completely hiding the Gazebo.
Major Cerra finally settled down to remark, "it was Tuesday, September 20 of the year 1994, and it was exactly 10:45 a.m. -- I was waiting at least fifteen minutes with my arms folded across my chest at the corner of "Fleetus" (Fleitas) and the Park by the VFW Hall."
"Suddenly, I could see down the highway, my truck coming in." He further explained, "That military truck and bed measured exactly one hundred and two feet." "As it turned the corner on to Fleetus, it had a big squeeze not to hurt an Oak Tree. -- While the truck was pulling in, who came by but one of our distinguished citizens. -- I figured he was going to the Club. -- Instead, he pulled his car to the side and got out and asked, `what is it?' Cerra told him "it's not a Cadillac, its an M-60 Tank! -- He didn't crack a smile. He just went back to his car and came back out snapping pictures.
After he left, then came a couple of the Town Ladies walkin' up.
One of them asked, "is that a tank?"
I replied, "it certainly is a Tank." “Yunno?, they left red-faced and all bothered.”
“Then one of our patrolmen came up with his car lights flashing. He got out and told me that the tank had to go. He tol' me, the mayor wants it removed now!"
I told him, "Tell the mayor -- that if he wants it moved, he was goin' to have to give me the order – typed in triplicate – and initialed by you."
He left with no further word.
"Then, here comes a stream of cars passin' by. Wouldn't you know, – None of them stopped – but it looked like a funeral parade."
* * *
The lowly sea crab has always been used for food but of late years he has come into great demand for the purpose of putting him into cans and jars for shipment and use all over the country. The common variety when grown, is about four by six inches. When he has been hatched from the egg laid by the female, he soon becomes a creature, with a hard shell and so is called "Hard Shell."
At certain periods the hard shell opens up at the rear side, and the creature draws out of the shell, body, claws, legs, and is almost as soft as jelly. This evolution is called shedding. The covering or shell soon hardens and he is about a third larger than before. I do not know how often they shed or molt, but that is the only way by which they grow. This shedding continues periodically until the crab is full grown.
When the crab comes out of the hard shell he is a great delicacy and is sought by man, fish and his own kind, for food. If caught while shedding he is called a buster. (Just busting out of his shell). The female crab has a large flap or pocket under the rear side, which is the egg pouch, a spongelike mass that is filled with eggs. These eggs are deposited in the sea grass and some of the millions become crabs and are the common food of nearly all the creatures of land and water. The male can be distinguished from the female by the flap or pocket being much narrower than that of the female.
On the back, or the top shell, of all these crabs can be seen in relief, the form of a woman in a full, old-time skirt.
Crabs, like mullet and other fish and wild game, have no protection, and are becoming much scarcer than formerly. If there are any laws protecting them, such laws are never enforced or observed. Nature seems to try to protect them, for at times there are none to be had except females, the males having been banished. I have seen hundreds of females caught and not a male among them, all being loaded with eggs.
--- J. H. Lang p. 233
* * *
At Scenic Drive, off Davis Street is the Hancock Bank Annex, which has replaced the old Nelson Hotel. Following Hurricane Camille, the Bank made the Drive-through by just bull-dozin' the wrecked portion – leaving the left-over part of the building, to be the renovated Annex. The locals jokingly call this the "Half-Nelson".
When the Wrecking Company bulldozer was clearing the way, one of the townsfolk was overheard saying to the driver, "if your foot slips, – and you ram into the other half, – Leo Seals will probably kiss your "Big-Toe" – because the "Preservative Commission" made the Bank keep part of the old building rather than have all of it torn down.
* * *
Billy Bourdin, laughing up a storm one day when someone came in telling him that he had come by last Saturday.
Billy exclaimed, "We been closed on Saturdays for years." The man asked, "Why?"
Billy continued, with a smirk, "I use to be open half-day Saturdays, but I got too many botheration people from the Isles." "Some would come in and buy fifty to a hundred dollars of fittings, use them for the week-end, then go to Schwegmann's and buy plastic replacements, – then they would come back and return everything for credit."
". . . But, I really had my full with this bull – when one fella came in asking for some fittings."
The guy stated, "I just went to Martin's Hardware and to Pass Wholesale and I want a price on this gidget."
Billy said, "a buck-fifty."
The man said, "Pass Wholesale quoted me only 75 cents!"
Billy said, "Well, why don't you just go buy it?"
"They're out of it", exclaimed the man.
Billy said, "Well, if I were out of it, I'd sell it for 25 cents."
"Case closed and I'm closed!"
With that, Billy closed the door on the man and has never opened on Saturdays ever since.
* * *
BLAME IT ON THE KIDS!
Another story on a man from the Isles. . . .
Billy related that he received a telephone call a number of years back from a man who called on Easter morning asking Billy to come by to fix his problem. Billy said, "Not today, but I can tomorrow".
To this the man replied, "But, I have my children over and I need my plumbing fixed now!"
Billy retorted, "Well, I have my children over too and I can get to you tomorrow."
The man exclaimed, "You're not a good businessman!"
Billy admonished, "I've been in business for 50 years, I've stopped leaks all over town, at night, early morning, freezing days with pipes blowing out, and running from here to Gulfport for parts. I've cleaned toilets that are too filthy to talk about! I've done things for other people before my family!
And you're damn right, I'm not a good businessman. I drive a '74 Ford truck, and I don't have a Chris Craft or any other kind of craft in the Harbor! Do you think it pays for me to be a good businessman?"
The man hung up.
* * *
When the Garment Factory first opened up, Billy was talking to Troy Smith, the manager about his hiring problems.
Troy said, "I don't know what it takes to get some of the town people to come work over here?"
At that moment, three young, attractive ladies walked by across the street.
Troy hummed, "Now, Billy, you see those three girls, if you get them to come in over here I can train them to stitch; and they'll make plenty of money.
Laughing, Billy retorted, "Troy, those three ladies make more money laying on their backs in one week then you can pay them in one year!"
* * *
COCK FIGHTS AT THE PASS
To hear him laugh in that certain way, you would immediately know that Billy was going to tell you another joke.
"In the 1940's and 50's the Pass was famous throughout many states including Texas with the Cock Fights which took place in a barn just across the street from Labat's Bar-B-Que. In those days the Cockfights drew as much of a crowd as the Mardi Gras does.
Billy-Mac owned some roosters which were prepped up twice a year as people arrived from all around to bet real heavy on which Cock was to be championed. Cigar boxes were filled with big heavy betting proceeds.
---And, pointed out to me one day was a big black Cadillac which drove in from the King Ranch out of Texas. Some of the speculators sent out for nickle cokes and two-bit hamburgers with $5-dollar tips to the young kids. Yeah, the Pass was a Cockfightin' town – that is, up until the big barn burned down."
* * *
"Then that place right across the street was the biggest Bookie place in town. There were slot machines all over before Keefaufuh closed them down. Yeah, right here on Davis and Second a guy walked in from the Cockfights and placed a bet on his favorite horse. He said five across the Board!
“No Problem!” said the Bookie.
“I mean Five Thousand can you handle it.”
The Bookie, exclaimed, “Sorry sir, but, we're closed!"
* * *
Chuckling once more, Billy recounted one of his famous stories about what he called the "Easter Leggs".
This is what he called the fraternity and sorority kids who came over from New Orleans during the Easter holidays before they started going to Florida. He remembered that Frederico had bought the Miramar Hotel Lodge. The Hotel was packed and Frederico decided to walk outside to grab a smoke and breath in the freshness of the evening. He heard some rustling in the bushes along the walkway. As he looked down at his feet – he saw two bodies.
He growled down at the boy, "Get up and get to your room, this is no town for you to be doing your sinnin' ways."
Frederico said the boy didn't stop for his fussing. "Get up I told you," he repeated, but the boy still didn't break.”
Exasperated, Frederico finally reached down -- grabbed the boy and hauled him up.
Later, Frederico told his friends, "that boy was hollerin' and kickin' his long leggs all the way as I hauled him and dumped him into the pool."
* * *
The Hotel under the bridge at Henderson Point was called the Tropical Inn. Billy recalls that he was called over there to fix a toilet in one of the rooms. He said the bathroom had a red light in the ceiling that couldn't have been more than 15 watts. He had heard that there were a lot of prostitutes using the rooms and wanted to clean out the toilet and get out real fast. He couldn't clear the toilet problem so he went out to get an auger out of his truck. As he was wiggling the line down in the toilet and yanked on it, out popped a shank of long blond hair and he ran screaming out of the room.
"It was 15 minutes before my heart settled down and my mind stopped racing."
"I finally went back in and found that it was a doll somebody flushed down the toilet."
* * *
Late in life, and enjoying every day of evey year, a charming dowager of the Pass recently commented that after taking her escort to the St. Paul Seafood Festival, they had exchanged ages, the man admitted to 65 and she to 67. Her male escort retorted, "Well, that's fine, we only have a two year difference!"
On wishing to spend more time together, the dowager suggested a drive through the Pass, at which they happened to be near the cemetery where her husband was buried, she then exclaimed, "Let me show you where I will have my final rest."
Alighting from the car, she led her escort to the plot with a large marble and cement tombstone. The man read the inscriptions aloud and only haltered after voicing the dowagers name and birthdate, which had already been "cut in stone". He found out that she was really several years later in life.
* * *
A barber at the Train Depot, on completing one of his customers and dusting him off – put out his hand for payment.
The customer stated, "Well, I hope I look better now!"
The Barber replied, "Son, that's a "birth defect," but you do have a good haircut!"
* * *
THE HOT WATER PRESIDENT
(Never visited the Pass)
At the White House
Teddy Roosevelt added the West Wing
William Howard Taft added the Oval Office
Harry Truman added the Truman Balcony
And, Clinton added the Hot Tub
Clinton installed a seven-seat hot tub on the White House lawn stating, “It's for therapeutic massage.”
The New York Times announced that the president "can bounce around and have different jets affect different parts of the body."
* * *
TOM PARKER STORIES
Tom Parker stated that as a kid, he used to go out in the boat with Mr. Sam Heaslip to Chandeleur Island. Mr. Sam also used to come over and sail out two or three evenings a week in the moonlight to Cat Island to fish in the surf. The next morning he would catch the Coast train back to New Orleans. He had a Negro working for him called "Old Mose", who was also a good fisherman. Mr. Sam loved to drink and he had a few drinks one night and he got sleepy as they were sailing in, so he told Old Mose, "there's a star. You stay right on that star and take the boat in." But Mose soon went to sleep too. When he woke up he shook Mr. Sam and said, "Marse Sam, I just passed that star. Give me another one to go by."
Fountains at the Pass
"Edgar Monroe had been having a lot of trouble at his place with the springs. We use to have a lot of natural mineral springs which would occasionally spew freely into the air. Monroe was complaining 'cause he thought he had sprung a leak in his water line -- but he came to find out it was just a natural spring."
Father Sorin served at Our Lady of Good Hope Church in DeLisle for 50 years. "He claimed that the well behind the church attracted people from all over. They would come to bathe in the spring waters to rid themselves of rheumatism -- in fact, there were so many people on some days, he would put out a collection box."
"It was said that Father Sorin at DeLisle would call intermission to go out to feed his chickens in the middle of mass."
"One night Father Sorin came to Governor Parker and said he needed some money. He said, "they're going to make me a Canon in the church. I wonder why they're going to make me a canon?"
The Governor replied, "Because you have performed so many shotgun weddings."
The Streakin Priest
It was a nice, warm early April morning when Father D went out to sit in the patio of the Rectory. When he finished his cup, in attempting to open the door, he found that it he was shut out because the door had automatically locked behind him. He started banging on the door to raise his brother, but to no avail. He realized that his brother must be in church, so he gathered up his nerve to run across to the side door of the church. The good Father was still in his shorts.
* * *
BIG LESTER GARRIGA
"Big Lester was what we called a `County Mounty'," laughed Billy. When he joined the Pass police he talked the City Council into buying him a heavy duty Ford Interceptor that could easily hit the road at 140 mph. Big Lester would cut out on the highway in chase and by the time he reached a speeder his Interceptor was already a half mile in front of his catch before he could slow down. The back of the Ford would kick up and swerve everytime he plied the pedal. Billy rolled his eyes and guffawed once more in stating, "Big Lester Garriga would put three of us in the back seat just to anchor down the back of the car when he went into chase."
"Garriga was dispatched to chauffeur three nuns from Hattiesburg to come to the Pass," continued Billy. "He said he brought them back in less than two hours. "All along the way I could hear them saying their novenas and one of them was marking her rosary with her fingers. As we would come racing down the low hills the rosary beads started flying and they were flipping the pages in their bibles, I just kept scaling along," retold Garriga.
* * *
On another occasion, Big Lester had to bring the Mayor's daughter to New Orleans to watch a concert. The girl loved to speed and Lester and she just went whizzin' and boogyin' down highway 90. When they reached the White Kitchen, the girl said she wanted some coffee. But, just as they drove up, two big buses were unloading passengers. Betty said, "Oh, Lester, what are we going to do?" Lester, said, "Get out and stick out your hands." He pulled out his cuffs, laid them on her and escorted her up to the head of the line, Lester explained, "I got a dangerous prisoner here and I got to get coffee so I won't go to sleep on the road." They got their coffee and were on the road again.
* * *
On another occasion, Billy was explaining that Big Lester saw a U-Haul pull into the fast lane with no lights. Lester pulled up behind him and tooted his horn, but the U-Haul kept on going. Lester flashed his lights on and off but the U-Haul kept on going. Lester then blared out his siren and the U-Haul pulled over sharply to the side of the Highway.
Big Lester ambled out and when he got in front of the U-Haul he scraped his shoes on both sides of the white median line dividing the left and right lanes. “Both lanes feel the same to me why don't you stay in the slow lane. Your lights aren't working and you better get them fixed straight away at the shop up ahead -- and if I catch you again, you'll spend a weekend in the lock-up.”
Billy cackled, "the next time we saw that U-Haul, he was lit up like a Christmas tree and hugging the right curbing." "He learned not to mess with Big Lester."
* * *
Humourous excerpts from The Pass Christian Tarpon Beacon
Parnell McKay, Publisher
"Can you read? Can you write? Yes? Well, I don't believe a word of it! That is, only a small percentage of you can, or do. Because only a small percentage do write and even then that doesn't mean that someone doesn't do it for you. Because if you can, you would send in your two dollar subscription fee!"
Another McKay article follows:
Due to the loss of revenue from slot machines, the City fathers may have to float a bond issue to raise funds.
Why doesn't someone put out a left-handed slot machine?
It is rumored that pin-ball machines are to replace the slots. I never played one, but it is said they have a more liberal pay-off than the slots. Let us hope so.
But the City will get no revenue, as the pin-balls have been ruled a game of skill, not chance!
These fine rains have brought up myriads of mushrooms or toadstools, I don't know which, but if you read Mrs. McKay's obituary in this column next week, they were not mushrooms.
THIS IS ELECTION YEAR -- PAY YOUR POLL TAX BEFORE FEBRUARY 2ND!
PROHIBITION IS HEADIN' THIS WAY!
Do your Christmas shopping in the Pass. Take a jaunt around town and see the nice things. Spend your money at home! You will find most anything you want from a monkey on a string to a bright tin hopping toad.
* * *
Reflecting on Sperier's Bar at Market and Second, Billy contended that McKay would say that if he took a photo of the people sitting outside Sperier's every two weeks, people would swear it was the same negative.
* * *
SW Corner of Second and Market
As Remembered by Bobby Parker and Mike McDonald
“Shaggy’s Bar was there many years before I knew about it. Shaggy was the Town Bully. Everybody feared him and did what he wanted or else. Even the Chief of Police let him alone.”
The Bar was segregated. The larger White section had the regular long bar with stools and a back-bar with mirror and the booze racks. There were also two pool tables that even teenagers were allowed to play while slugging on draft beer. It was always dark and dirty – the kind of darkness and dirtiness that gives atmosphere. If it were cleaned up – somebody was bound to complain. But not too much because the regulars who drank there were all fans of Shaggy and whatever Shaggy wanted – Shaggy got!
There was a lean-to add-on shack that had a small window opening beside the back-bar. It had a little counter – just large enough to put up a few drinks and get the money from the Colored trade who had to stand in the shack or out on the street curbing. Some of them took their drinks home if they lived close enough.
Caddy-corner to Shaggy’s was Romero’s Barber Shop. Even though there were a number of so-called “Shoot-Outs” at Shaggy’s, there was one that some of us remember as the “Last Shoot Out.”
Because Shaggy was such a bully, there were many who begrudged him but were not up to making an out and out challenge. Most of these were the fishermen who worked all day and didn’t have the time to spend at Shaggy’s, but were exposed to the results of Shaggy’s long arm of intimidation.
The Last Shoot Out
It was Shaggy’s birthday of 1946. There was always an annual big party blow-out at his place, so he would order large amounts of alcohol and beer. Shaggy was already celebrating his birthday on the night before and was driving home drunk. When he got to his place – he didn’t have the consciousness to apply his brakes. About 50 cases of beer had just been dropped off on the sidewalk along the outside of his bar. In a state of drunk exhaustion, he plowed through the rows of stacked beer – likened to breaking the billiard balls at a pool table – the cases and bottles scattered all over.
Through the afternoon and evening his buddies consoled him by buying more drinks for each other and for Shaggy. All the while, he was getting meaner and drunker.
Across the street at “Romeo’s,” a young Black boy had slapped one of “Romeo’s” sons. Romeo was “damn mad about it” and every patron who came into the shop was told the story of how his boy was slapped and what he was going to do when he caught the Black boy. As the men – neatly shaved and groomed – had paid Romeo. They also told him what they would do if they caught the little Black “son-of-bitch.” Many of them filed across the street to grab a drink and tell what they heard at Romeo’s.
Through the evening as tempers rose – there was a cry for a lynching. They heard that the Black was at the nearby movie show and some of them prompted to go fetch the kid from out of the theater. Before long, there was the lynch mad crowd and the saner non-lynch crowd. They started arguing with each other. As more drinks were plied and the story got ‘round the town, more of the townsfolk started showing up either to get a drink or just to watch. Then the first fists started swinging. Then more and more started throwing bottles and finally a riot grew from the wild raucous. As more word passed though the community the crowd swelled to several hundred. Many drunk and many quite sober – including a large number of those who hated Shaggy. This gave them the opportunity to vent their anger and to beat the hell out of Shaggy – for all of their years of pent up hatred for him.
While the fighting and the beating was going on, Police Chief Jeff Sims showed up. Thinking to quell the crowd, he shot his pistol into the concrete street in order to make a bigger bang. But, instead, the chipped cement spewed out like shrapnel hitting a number of those close by. Many of them threw themselves to the ground in agony while screaming out, “I’ve been shot!”
A few years later, Romeo was shaving one of his tried and true patrons, when all of a sudden – he angrily yelled out that he was sick and tired of his effing job and began to slice his arm. Cutting deep into an artery – Romeo bled to death.
Of Barber Romero, Ralph Ladner remembered that as a kid sitting in the chair while getting a cut, a loud scuffling was heard from a fight at Shaggy’s Bar. Romero told Ralph, “You stay here!” With in a fraction of a minute, Romero was back complaining, “Aw, it’s already over!”
* * *
As related by Leonard Romero
I hate to ruin a good story “BUT” when my father [Romeo] committed suicide by cutting his forearm he had long been out of the Barber business. He had turned his shop into his bedroom.
He was dying from Diabetes and it had affected his brain. When I would come home from school he would not know who I was or understand what I was saying.
In those days there were a lot of good people and a few bad people. It was sad to me that my dad was one of the latter.
Everytime I think of a story to tell you about him five more rush into my mind. I thought about writing a book on him, but I have not found the right vehicle or story line that would interest people other then “the Romeros.”
This is one about him and Shaggy.
One Sunday, Shaggy invited Rummy for chicken dinner.(I don’t know why, but we four sons were raised not to call him father or daddy but “Rummy,” short for Romero, not Romeo)
After dinner, Shaggy asked: “Well how did you like the chicken?
“About the best I ever had,” replied Rummy, leaning back and rubbing his stomach.
“They ought to be,” said Shaggy, “ they were yours.
* * *
On Market St. at that time there must have been seven or eight bars on two long blocks. Every Friday and Saturday there was going to be a fight in at least one or two of them. My dad loved to Drink and Fight. Not necessarily in that order. Then late at night one of his sons was sent to look for him and help him stagger home.
This one night my older brother Al was given the task. He found him at the first bar he looked, Shaggy’s. When he entered he found a fight was already in progress and of course involving Rummy.
Rummy had just popped a man in the mouth. The man went sailing past Al and fell sitting in a large trash-can. Al wasn’t sure what was going on so he helped him out of the can. No sooner did he stand up when Rummy popped him again, this time driving him deeper into the can. All that was showing was his head and his shoes. So, Al did the only thing he could. He put the trash-can lid on top of him.