LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - “On Friday’s, the talk was all football,” said Jimmy Bass. “It was all Laurel football. Everybody got involved.” Not much has changed in Laurel since Jimmy Bass was a high schooler at George Gardiner in the 1940s.
Football is still big in Laurel. And it was big enough then that Bass would hear about Tornadoes football when he was overseas fighting World War II.
“We had a coach, Cecil Williams,” Bass said. “He would write a summary of last night’s game and mail it to all the veterans. If you were in the Pacific, you got a letter from coach Cecil Williams telling you about last night’s ball game.”
Bass didn’t miss too many Laurel games, returning from the War in 1946 to continue his high school education and play some football.
“I came back out of the Navy in 1946, just prior to the football season,” Bass said. “And I still hadn’t finished high school. So, a couple of my buddies said ‘We got a football game in a couple of weeks, go out for football.’ So I did.”
After high school, Bass stayed close to the football team, opening a photographic studio and eventually the Laurel Veterans Memorial Museum. He became somewhat of an historian around Jones County.
However, there’s one nugget of Laurel history Bass has yet to discover.
“One thing we can’t find for Laurel is how we got the name Tornado,” Bass said. “We have researched newspapers from game one all the way, but we can’t find out how Laurel got the name Tornado.”