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The Pearl River’s Gold Coast

The Gold Coast: ‘Cross the River Marker (Photograph Credit score: Cleo Robertson)

The Pearl River’s “Gold Coast” has a singular historical past, serving as a bootlegger haven throughout Prohibition

Through the heyday of Prohibition, the speakeasy districts of New York and Chicago turned dazzling gathering locations, crammed with music, dance, and drink (in addition to just a few bullets, thoughts you), as did related areas within the South, notably Beale Road in Memphis and naturally, the French Quarter in New Orleans.

In Jackson, Mississippi, it was the Gold Coast. Also called East Jackson and even “’cross the river,” the Gold Coast comprised the world of Rankin County immediately over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge on the finish of South Jefferson Road. Although barely two sq. miles, its infamy was nation-wide.

In 1939, H.L. Mencken’s The American Mercury, revealed a rollicking account of the Gold Coast, “Hooch and Murder in Mississippi,” by Craddock Goins. “There isn’t a coast besides the hog-wallows of the river banks,” Goins wrote, “however loads of gold programs these banks to the pockets of probably the most brazen clique of cutthroats and bootleggers that ever defied the legislation.”

Goins cites Pat Hudson as the primary to see the probabilities of profitable playing close to the junction of the 2 federal highways (Hwys. 80 and 49) throughout the river from Jackson the place earlier than then there have been solely fuel stations, sizzling canine stands and liquor peddlers. Then San Seaney started promoting branded liquor at his place, The Jeep, which quickly turned a headquarters for wholesale unlawful booze.

Others sprang up like mushrooms. The sheriff of Rankin County did his greatest to revive some semblance of legislation, however as quickly as he cleaned out one den of iniquity one other opened. Not solely that, he was severely crushed and hospitalized for 2 weeks after one raid, and he merely bided his time till his time period ran out. Goins reported that whites and Blacks have been typically collectively beneath the identical roof then, albeit capturing craps and whiskey on the other sides of a skinny partition.

This lawlessness didn’t cross unnoticed within the close by State Capitol. Governor Hugh White, who in December 1936, ordered Nationwide Guard troops right into a enterprise on the Pearl owned by one Guysell McPhail. Liquor was seized as proof that the place needs to be shut down, however a Rankin County chancellor later dismissed the case, ruling that the proof had been illegally obtained and at any price the native authorities, not the governor, ought to deal with legislation enforcement. The Mississippi Supreme Courtroom later overruled the choice, however by that point liquor was flowing and cube have been rolling. The governor bided his time.

Within the late 40s, a thriving Black nightclub tradition was in place. Locations just like the Blue Peacock, the Stamps Resort, with its well-known Off-Beat Room, The Blue Flame, the Vacationers Dwelling and others, the place nationwide jazz and blues acts carried out. These institutions ran commercials in The Jackson Advocate, together with one which supplied a particular bus from Farish and Hamilton.

By 1946, Rankin county was paying the very best black market tax within the state, however the excessive occasions got here to a crashing finish one sizzling day in August 1946, when Seaney and Constable Norris Overby met at a spot known as the Shady Relaxation and gunned one another down. Others had been killed, after all—typically that big-ass catfish you hooked turned out to be somebody you hadn’t seen shortly—however this double murder so infected public opinion that unlawful operations by no means dared be so blatant.

Within the 50s, Black companies withered within the backlash in opposition to Brown vs. Board of Training, and the Gold Coast turned dominated by a white gangster named “Large Crimson” Hydrick, who introduced the world as securely beneath his suzerainty as a corrupt satrap. Crimson’s little kingdom withered with city sprawl.

Beale Road is again–type of–and the French Quarter will–Dieu merci!–at all times be the French Quarter, however the Pearl’s Gold Coast is gone, misplaced in somewhat enclave beneath the interstate, a puzzle of gravel, asphalt, and weathered partitions.

This primary ran on April 19, 2023 on Jesse Yancy’s “Mississippi Sideboard: A Southern Gallimaufry.” Simply so that you received’t need to look it up, gallimaufry is a noun: a confused jumble or medley of issues. It additionally means a dish constructed from diced or minced meat, particularly a hash or ragout.



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