Pay to see Gulfport holiday lights? Bah humbug!

This is the third year for the Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival. JOHN E. BIALAS

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

The third annual Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival at Jones Park is beautiful and helps set the holiday mood.

I’m just not willing to pay the cash-only $10 admission fee to see the lovely display of multicolored lights. I ain’t goin’ to do it. Bah humbug!

I can do a drive-by for free. I can head west on Highway 90, look left and admire the lights or I can head east on 90, look right and admire the lights.

The show hours are 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., so I can drive by as many times as I want for four hours a night.

The festival should be free. Certainly the city and Island View Casino, two of the sponsors, can afford to pony up enough money to present a free show for all.

They should make this  a Christmas gift to the Mississippi Coast.

Once you pay admission to get in Jones Park, you also have to pay if you want tickets  for rides such as Santa’s Big Wheel and the Merry Go Round Carousel. It’ll cost you even more if you also want concession items.

When I’m not doing a free drive-by, I’ll stay home and be the hermit of my hood in Gulfport. If I feel like  looking at Christmas lights, I’ll take a walk and enjoy my neighbors’ creative displays.

The hood has been known to have such events as Festivus and to have such attractions as Santa’s Outhouse.

And it never costs me a thing.

This pole was part of the Festivus observance in my hood in 2013.
This pole was part of the Festivus observance in my hood in 2013. JOHN E. BIALAS
Santa's Outhouse is on 22nd Street. JOHN E. BIALAS
Santa’s Outhouse is on 22nd Street. JOHN E. BIALAS
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Gulfport pressmen did a fine job and they will be missed

Pressmen are going the way of the typewriter, never to be seen again.

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

I saw the news on social media Wednesday that the pressmen I know will no longer be printing the newspaper in Gulfport beginning Jan. 15.

Their jobs will be outsourced. One of the pressmen is Gary, my next-door neighbor. His wife, Lisa, also works at the paper, from which I retired in March after a long newsroom life in which I was a sportswriter, weekend sports editor, interim copy desk chief, copy editor and slot editor.

I’ve always enjoyed my conversations with Gary and Lisa.

Of all the pressmen, I’ve known Todd the best and the longest.

Todd is a funny guy. He’s a character.  He can grow a beard that makes him look like Santa Claus.

Sometimes he would drive through my neighborhood with his friend Mark, who worked in the camera room, and Todd and Mark would throw empty beer bottles in my front yard.

As a member of the copy desk who checked the paper every night, I would call Todd to tell him whether a page would be re-sent to fix a head bust or factual error.

He would answer, “Johnny B!”

Sometimes I would say, “Uh, I’ve got a remake.”

Todd would say, “You have a comma out of place? Is that why you are re-sending the page?”

We would laugh, although I remember the days from long ago when you could re-send as many pages as you wanted and they would stop the press so that the remade pages would show up in print.

Eventually, it took an act of Congress to stop the press and the only way to expect the remake to get into print would be a web break, something that has nothing to do with the internet.

I re-sent so many pages in my career, I became known as “Captain Remake.”

When I saw the news about the outsourcing, I also thought of Dean and Matt and Rat and Brett and Charlie, friendly guys like Gary and Todd.

One pressman, who will go unnamed, enjoyed writing on the monthly employee birthday list posted in the break room and at the time clocks. What he would do was a merry prank and people got a kick out of it.

For example, he might scratch out the first name of  a reporter with the last name of “Lee” and write “Robert E.” in place of the first name. A guy named Charlie James would be “LeBron.”

I like to think I got along with pressmen because my Dad was one when he was young, or maybe he worked with pressmen. I’m not really sure what his printing job was.

I believe he worked at R.R. Donnelley in Chicago before he fought in World War II.  The company is the world’s largest commercial printer.

Other pressmen I’ve known are Bob, who passed away a few years ago; Stennis, who was a jogger; Brian, a hockey fan from Canada; and Mr. Melancon, whose son attended my high school.

I believe the grandfather of one of my longtime friends, David Lawrence, was a pressman at the paper many decades ago, long before I ever worked there. I think Mr. Bills was David’s grandfather. Bills was not his first name. It was his last name.

Ink is in my blood because of guys like Gary and Todd.

All of them have done a fine job for many years. They will be missed.

 

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Save the Great Southern Golf Club in Gulfport

The Great Southern Golf Club in Gulfport opened in 1908 as a nine-hole course and expanded to 18 in 1922.

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

Save the Great Southern Golf Club in Gulfport.

Paul Hampton of the Sun Herald reported Tuesday that “the Great Southern Golf Club, the oldest course in Mississippi, could become a housing development if the club that owns the course sells it. But the president of the club and the course superintendent said they want it to remain a golf club.

“They believe most of the stockholders agree.”

You can go right here to read the rest of the story.

I have sentimental reasons for the Great Southern, a scenic spot that offers beach views, to remain a golf course instead of becoming a housing development.
My parents bought a house at 221 Venetian Gardens in 1964, and the house, which survived Hurricane Camille in 1969 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, is right next to the course. The back yard is the seventh hole, a par 3.
When we were junior high and high school students, my brother Mike and I would sneak on the course before twilight to play three holes before the club pro, Charlie Webb, would try to chase us down in his European sports car.
Ol’ Charlie never caught us. We would hide on the back porch as he looked for us.
Other times, Mike and I would play football on Saturday afternoons with our friends on the fairway of the second hole and we would get irritated when golfers delayed our game as they hit chip shots to the green.
I’ve got other memories. The Mary Mills Classic was an LPGA Tour stop named for the Gulfport golf star, and we would watch some of the best players in the world try to birdie the seventh hole.
My most memorable moment living next to the course was the summer afternoon I heard a booming voice as I was watching a major-league baseball telecast in the living room.
I recognized the voice. It was distinctive.
I ran outside, and the man with the booming voice was in a foursome that included Gulfport attorney Boyce Holleman. Holleman’s group was putting on the seventh green and his partner was Dizzy Dean. Yes, that Dizzy Dean.
As he was walking off the green, I got Dizzy’s autograph and to this day I’m amazed I got to meet him in our back yard.
We lived near College Park, a neighborhood known for streets named after famous golfers because the area is close to the course. Palmer Drive. Demaret Drive. Middlecoff Drive. Ford Street. Sarazen Drive. Snead Street.
I stopped living at home in 1976, and years later, a fence was built to keep young rubes from sneaking on the course.
I take pride in believing that the fence was probably built because of what we did as teens.

 The Sun Herald reported that “the almost 130-acre site and clubhouse is listed by broker Lenny Sawyer for $9,750,000. The sale brochure pitches it as prime beachfront land for residential redevelopment with the highest beachfront elevations on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”

A potential buyer is interested is making the course a residential area and the club’s stockholders are considering the buyer’s offer.

The stockholders will likely have a vote in January on the offer.

Please, save the course.

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Before and after: Nate in Gulfport

A tree branch lies on the concrete boardwalk in Gulfport on Sunday. JOHN E. BIALAS

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

The headline for this fine piece of quality journalism is “Hurricane Nate before and after in Gulfport” because I took photos of landmarks in my neighborhood of Broadmoor and I also got pictures of scenes of Highway 90, the Mississippi Coast beach road less than a mile from my house.

I took pictures on Saturday at 5 p.m., about seven-and-a-half hours before Nate made landfall in East Gulfport, and I also got photos on Sunday at 4:30 p.m., about 16 hours after the storm passed through.

As far as I know, little or no harm came to Broadmoor and its surroundings. Our house never lost power. The strongest feeder band we got was around 3 p.m. Saturday. The other feeder bands in our neighborhood were relatively mild. No street flooding on East Avenue, where we live. No downed power lines on East Avenue.

Saturday: Highway sign took on a double meaning

The sign took on a second meaning when the beach was made off-limits because of the storm. JOHN E. BIALAS
The sign took on a second meaning when the beach was made off-limits because of the storm. JOHN E. BIALAS

Sunday: Why the beach was off-limits

A branch as a projectile? It's possible. Get hit by a flying tree, leave with broken limbs. JOHN E. BIALAS
A branch as a projectile? It’s possible. Get hit by a flying tree, leave with broken limbs. JOHN E. BIALAS
Saturday: Broadmoor convenience store closes early
Brown baggers had to go elsewhere to replenish their beer supplies. JOHN E. BIALAS
Brown baggers had to go elsewhere to replenish their beer supplies. JOHN E. BIALAS

Sunday: Broadmoor convenience store re-opens

Brown baggers and other folks could get beer by the truckload. JOHN E. BIALAS
Brown baggers and other folks could get beer by the truckload. JOHN E. BIALAS

Saturday: Pre-hurricane at Your Place

Drink 'em while you got 'em. JOHN E. BIALAS
Drink ’em while you got ’em. JOHN E. BIALAS
Sunday: Post-hurricane at Your Place
Take your time. The Coast is clear. JOHN E. BIALAS
Take your time. The Coast is clear. JOHN E. BIALAS

 

 

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Does your pet wear a St. Francis medal?

Tilly is now wearing a St. Francis medal on her harness. JOHN E. BIALAS

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

Does your pet wear a St. Francis medal?

Tilly, our beloved 4-year-old basset hound, has one on her harness after Patty and I took her to the Blessing of the Animals.

It was Sunday outside St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in downtown Gulfport, where Tilly was among 16 people and 20 pets in attendance.

Tilly made friends with everyone and got to meet Antonio Banderas. He’s a cat who stayed in his crate and is not to be confused with Benicio del Toro.

The blessing was held three days before the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, who was born in the 12th century and is the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment.

Father Jacob Matthew, a Franciscan priest, led the ceremony.

Tilly and the other pets received a St. Francis medal, a prayer card and a blessing. Kristin’s pets, Stella and Lionel, who live in Madisonville, Louisiana, and stayed home Sunday, will be given St. Francis medals from Patty through Father Jacob the next time we visit Kristin’s home.

Tilly was sprinkled with holy water twice and she got a drop or two on her tongue. It was refreshing because it was a hot afternoon.

I’ve always been a fan of St. Francis, so much so that Francis is my Confirmation name.

Patty is also a fan and now Tilly is, too.

Tilly in bed with her St. Francis medal before going to sleep Monday night. PATTY BIALAS
Tilly in bed with her St. Francis medal before going to sleep Monday night. PATTY BIALAS
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Tilly sleeps through 4th anniversary

Tilly takes a nap at 2 o'clock in the afternoon on her couch. Yes, her couch. JOHN E. BIALAS

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

Tilly  slept through her fourth anniversary, a special occasion last month for the Bialas family.

Props to Leiber and Stoller for helping me come up with this line: Tilly ain’t nothing but a hound dog, sleeping all the time.

Yep, inspired by the song “Hound Dog.”

Leiber and Stoller wrote “Hound Dog,” the Elvis Presley classic and a tune that Big Mama Thornton recorded first.  Her version dropped in 1953 and it includes the lyric “you ain’t never caught a rabbit.”

That’s true. Tilly has never been outside long enough to catch anything since she moved from Cleveland, Tennessee, to Gulfport, Mississippi, in August 2013.

She was born in May 2013 in Cleveland, and three months later, Patty and I drove there to pick her up and bring her to Gulfport.

This old Facebook post reminded me about the fourth anniversary.

A 2013 picture of Tilly as a pup taking a nap showed up last month as an On This Day memory in my Facebook feed.
A 2013 picture of Tilly as a pup taking a nap showed up last month as an On This Day memory in my Facebook feed.

It’s an embellishment to say that Tilly slept through her anniversary of being one of the few basset hounds in our neighborhood of Broadmoor, but she loves being a comforted creature.

She pretty much has her own room. She definitely has her own couch, which includes a little bed that helps keep her well-rested day and night.

The picture at the top of this post was taken at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. You would think that at that time of the day, she would be playing in her dog run or taking a walk around the block.

No way. I can’t remember the last time she took a walk. It seems like every other dog in Broadmoor enjoys walking.

Tilly’s idea of exercise is shutting her eyes.

Her favorite part of her dog run is the cot that Patty bought for her a couple of years ago. I call it a Hound Hammock, which is not a good description, because it is not a hammock. It’s low to the ground like Tilly, and she’s fine with that. It gives her room to stretch out.

The physical activity Tilly seems to enjoy most involves barking, howling and water-bowl knocking. The latter is to let us know that her water bowl is empty and she’s really thirsty and very impatient.

On occasion, she will also knock her food bowl around, but she’s on a restricted diet that prevents her from overeating. She has a special kind of dog food. No Kibbles and Bits for her and no doggie treats.

She doesn’t seem to mind. Patty treats her well, taking her to two vets. Her regular vet is in Biloxi and she has a dermatologist in Mandeville, Louisiana.

Tilly is allergic to everything, but things are under control.

Patty says Tilly is the best-tempered dog we’ve ever had, and we’ve had quite a few.

Tilly is a big ole gentle girl, 60 pounds of sweet fluffiness.

They say she is high-classed. Well, that’s not  a lie.

 

 

 

 

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Striving to win Sir Paul vs. Phil Collins debate

The Phil Collins memoir 'Not Dead Yet' was published in 2016 and comes out in paperback in September 2017.

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

GULPORT, Miss.  It all started on Oct. 18, 2016, with a Facebook message from Sun Herald sportswriter and longtime colleague James Jones.

“Sir Paul took a shot at my boy Phil,” James said.

James’ message included a link to a story in which Phil Collins, promoting his memoir, “Not Dead Yet,” revealed he still resents Paul McCartney after the Beatle allegedly mocked an autograph request at a Buckingham Palace party during the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth in 2002.

In an interview with the Sunday Times in 2016, Collins said that “McCartney came up with Heather Mills and I had a first edition of ‘The Beatles’ by Hunter Davies and I said, ‘Hey Paul, do you mind signing this for me?’ And he said, ‘Oh Heather, our little Phil’s a bit of a Beatles fan.’ And I thought, ‘You f**k, you f**k.’ Never forgot it.”

Phil Collins requested an autograph like this one. Sir Paul mocked him.
Phil Collins requested an autograph like this one. Sir Paul mocked him.
This 1997 photo of musical luminaries appears in the 2016 Phil Collins memoir 'Not Dead Yet,' which comes out in paperback in September 2017. Phil, right, is next to Paul McCartney. Looks like a perfect autograph opportunity for Phil.
This 1997 photo of musical luminaries appears in the 2016 Phil Collins memoir ‘Not Dead Yet,’ which comes out in paperback in September 2017. Phil, right, is next to Paul McCartney. Looks like a perfect autograph opportunity for Phil.

 

I got the feeling I was supposed to side with Phil and James.

This sarcastic thought raced through my mind: “Oh, I feel sorry for Phil Collins.”

James and I agree on a lot of things. We think actor William Devane is cool. We like old TV shows like “Happy Days” and “Laverne & Shirley.” We like the classic Rat Pack movies like “Ocean’s 11” and “Robin and the 7 Hoods.”

I’m entertained when James talks about Frank DeFazio, Carmine “The Big Ragoo” Ragusa, Lenny, Squiggy, Shirley Feeney and Laverne DeFazio. He says we have worked with Laverne-like women in the Sun Herald newsroom, ones without the nasal Bronx accent but with the attitude.

James always mentions Doug Barber, our longtime Hall of Fame sportswriter colleague, when he talks about the Newsroom Lavernes.

The Newsroom Lavernes pushed Doug around. Doug is usually fearless about women, but the Newsroom Lavernes always intimidated him. Maybe that’s why he retired a couple of years ago.

James and I imagine Doug would shiver just seeing this Laverne DeFazio line.

Touch my “L,” sweetie, and your teeth go to Peoria!

James and I don’t agree on Phil Collins. James is a fan. I’m not a fan. I’m a Paul McCartney fan.

I told James “Phil Collins is a hack. His songs are terrible and he’s not even a good drummer. Sir Paul is a better drummer than Phil Collins.”

Yeah, I’m quite aware drumming isn’t Sir Paul’s day job. Phil has played drums more often, and I have to admit, far better. I just wanted to antagonize James.

James seems to think “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” is a great song and I think it is sappy and syrupy stuff. 

I couldn’t believe we got caught up in this. James is in his 40s and I’m in my 60s, but the more I got into it, the more I enjoyed it. It was good-natured.

I told James that Phil was a 13-year-old extra in the Beatles movie “A Hard Day’s Night” in 1964 and perhaps that would have been a good time for Little Phil to ask for Paul’s autograph.

“U cold-blooded,” James said.

Our Facebook exchanges, all from his home to mine, carried over to the newsroom, where James sought sympathy for Phil from anyone.

He found it from the Page One designer, who was told the autograph sob story and then called Sir Paul “a big old douchebag.”

When I heard that, I thought, “Oh, brother.”

James, with someone finally on his side, told me, “Take that, you hater.”

Roy Rolison, my sports editor from back in the day, chimed in on my Facebook page with an old photo of Paul playing the drums. Roy was on my side.

“Paul has created an online instructional site to tutor, show the ropes to Phil Collins,” Roy said.

I have no idea if James saw the snarky post. Maybe he was listening to “Take a Look at Me Now.” If not that, maybe “Higher Love,” the only Steve Winwood song he likes. 

I retired from the Sun Herald on March 3, 2017, and I brought up our Phil-Paul exchanges during my little farewell speech to the newsroom on March 2.

Much of my prepared speech, which I worked on up to the last minute after a couple of weeks, was about parting shots and inside jokes. James said many nice things about me, but I had to poke him one more time.

“James, I’m ready to bury the drumsticks, though I still think Sir Paul is a better drummer than Phil,” I said.

The line got some laughs, but I doubt that’s the last word.

Not dead yet, you know.

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Don’t run on Dunkin’. Run to Daylight.

Daylight Donuts

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

Don’t run on Dunkin’. Run to Daylight.

Daylight Donuts is our go-to doughnut place in Gulfport. It’s in the old Hungry Howie’s on Pass Road just east of 25th Avenue and is one of 400-plus independently owned and operated Daylight shops in the U.S.

The shop is in a small strip mall, where I bought a wig back in the 1970s to hide my long hair during my Air National Guard weekends. Now I need a wig to cover what little hair I have. Much of the hair is long gone and so is the wig store.

I used to run to Dunkin’ Donuts in Biloxi, about six miles from our Gulfport home, but it has become mediocre at best. Daylight is better, fresher, doughier, more delicious and more colorful and offers more variety.

The last time our grandson stayed overnight, he asked, “Can we get doughnuts in the morning?” We knew which doughnuts Wade was asking about. Daylight Donuts, and it’s about five minutes from our house.

At 5 years old, Wade knows what’s good. He will get a chocolate twist, eat half for breakfast and save the other half for later.

The Gulfport Daylight Donuts Facebook page lists the shop’s hours, address and phone number, and when you look at the photos on the page, you can almost taste the sweetness.

Don’t waste your Friday in long lines and traffic jams trying to get the cheap deal at Krispy Kreme, which is a dozen glazed doughnuts for 80 cents to celebrate 80 years in business.

Daylight Donuts will make your day.

 

 

 

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Oldest building in Broadmoor can be yours for $99K

broadmoor

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

The oldest building in the Gulfport neighborhood of Broadmoor can be yours for $99,000, a price I saw on the Inrix travel app.

Our family has lived in Broadmoor for 35 years, so I’m going to be a diplomatic neighbor and forego saying anything mean about the building on Kelly Avenue at 19th Street, less than a half mile from the beach, a block from the railroad tracks and about three blocks from the picturesque Second Street neighborhood.  Let’s just say the building’s need for repairs is overdue perhaps by a decade or two.

Many old-timers remember when the building was the home of the family-owned Broadmoor Grocery,  a small convenience store where you could buy an ice-cold Coke or Barq’s from a vintage cooler.

The store was on the first floor of the two-story building, a rental home is in the back and an apartment remains on the second floor.

The grocery went out of business a long time ago, perhaps years before Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

The front door of the building
The entrance to what used to be Broadmoor Grocery

Now the awning serves as a thunderstorm shelter for the hood’s ubiquitous bicyclists. The property is only a sidewalk away from two convenience stores. One is the Chevron Mart, also known as Hop In, and the other once housed the Broadmoor Laundromat. Its name is Chaibi, right behind the Chevron Mart and right across from the property.

Chevron Mart
The Chevron Mart is at the corner of Railroad Street and Kelly Avenue
hop
The Chevron Mart also goes by this name

 

Chaibi convenience store
The Chaibi convenience store on 19th Street at Kelly Avenue is between the Chevron Mart and the old Broadmoor Grocery and was once a laundromat

A woman getting into a car parked near the apartment Saturday afternoon saw me taking pictures of the $99,000 building and thought I might be a potential buyer. No, not me.

She told me the building is more than 100 years old and that Mrs. Doleac, an original Broadmoor Grocery owner in her 90s, is selling the property through Cameron Bell Properties. Cameron Bell says it was built in 1940.

The renovated Baptist church across the street from the $99,000 building in need of repairs
This renovated Baptist church is across the street from the $99,000 building in need of repairs

It’s  my opinion the former Broadmoor Grocery is the neighborhood’s oldest building. It is across the street from a renovated and renamed Baptist church, the street being Kelly Avenue.  I think my opinion is closer to fact than fiction. The building certainly looks like Broadmoor’s oldest, especially on the north side, which is the walk-up to the living area.

Stairs to apartment above former Broadmoor Grocery building
Stairs to apartment above former Broadmoor Grocery

An urban legend has it that during the Chris Jackson era of Gulfport High basketball in the late 1980s,  sportswriters would use the pay phone outside the building to shack in their stories to their newspapers after games at B. Frank Brown Gym. Jackson, who later became the NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, lived west of the store in the Soria City neighborhood.

This is on the south side of the old Broadmoor Grocery building
This is on the south side of the old Broadmoor Grocery

The pay phone was on the south side. These days there are remnants but no phone. That alone has to be worth something to somebody.

 

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Go nuts for Fantasy Donuts in Biloxi

Fantasy Donuts

By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief

Go nuts for Fantasy Donuts in Biloxi.

I am.

The new shop is on Pass Road just west of Rodenberg Avenue and it’s on the south side of Pass. I recognized a landmark nearby, a place that used to be called Kelly’s back in the day. It was a bar where high school students were allowed to hang out, and there was some form of gambling in the back of the establishment.

I’m sure very few people remember the Kelly’s location, but Fantasy Donuts is to spot because of its signage, and once you get inside, you will see treats better than anything at Dunkin’ Dounts and Krispy Kreme, which is Krispy Kreme is celebrating its 80th anniversary Friday, July 14, with this deal: A dozen glazed for 80 cents. I wouldn’t take a dozen Krispy Kremes if they were for free.

At Fantasy Donuts, I went for a fritter and a glazed twist to take home for breakfast, and the guy at the counter threw in a cinnamon roll for free.

The menu is straightforward. I have no idea where the name Fantasy comes from. There are no Katsuwatch kolaches,  Kingdom Rush croissants, Zodiac glazed and whatnot.

You can get the basics and there is a lot to choose from. So go nuts for the doughnuts.

Fantasy Donuts
You deserve your own bag of doughnuts. What would you get?/JOHN BIALAS

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