Growing up in South Mississippi, few things were more exciting than the declaration, "Let's go to the Coast!"
For those of us living up here in the Piney Woods area that is now known as the Pine Belt the "Coast" was a mysterious and carefree wonderland of enchantment. For high dollar eating—at least as far as we were concerned—there was the famous Friendship House. For the grown ups there was Gus Steven's nightclub, often featuring the offbeat comedy of Bro. Dave Gardner. Movie Star and sex symbol Jane Mansfield had just performed there prior to the automobile accident that took her life. You could go crabbing, floundering or deep sea fishing. Some would by fresh shrimp right off the boats. For the family there was the old western attraction of 8 flags and, of course, Marine Life.
The little amusement park with the big plaster dinosaur out front. I think they had a goofy golf course as well. From Hattiesburg, Gulfport was only a little over an hour away straight down highway 49—but a world away in atmosphere. Today the Coast is one of the most famous casino strips in the country with golf courses and a cosmopolitan atmosphere that we would never have recognized back in the day. While there is some question as to the extent the Mississippi Coast will be effected by the BP oil spill…there is little question that it will be adversely effected. Just as after Katrina and Camille and other natural disasters…Mississippians have always rallied to help one another.
The state was given millions of dollars to spend to bring tourists to our Gulf Coast…but choose to spend it in other states. But we urge folks up this way to help our friends and neighbors on the Coast and make vacation plans taking advantage of what is in our own back yard this summer. Let's all go to the Coast and rediscover all it has to offer—helping fellow Mississippians in the process.
I'm Jim Cameron and that's today's Viewpoint.