Gulf Coast Memories

Once upon a time, before the interstate highway system, air conditioning, and color TV, a trip to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi was more than just a vacation, it was a full-blown family adventure. WYES takes us back down old Highway 90 to that languid dreamscape of boats and endless afternoons, night fishing and humid nightlife in Gulf Coast Memories.

To a map-maker or geographer, the Gulf Coast may extend from Brownsville, Texas to Key West. For generations of New Orleanians, the boundaries are subjectively narrower, usually starting at Waveland, Mississippi, and extending to Gulf Shores, Alabama. Until the comparatively recent construction of the Interstate Highway,1 getting to the coast was a grueling, humid, dangerous journey.

Producers Steve Tyler and Kelly Ward point out that the towns of Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, Biloxi, and Ocean Springs have a history that is even older than New Orleans. Each beach community claims a piece of this illustrious past – from providing a home for the original Louisiana colony to surviving one of recorded history’s most devastating hurricanes.

Gulf Coast Memories uses home movies, rare photographs, and a variety of personal stories from “Coasters” that run the gamut from hilarious to tragic. New Orleanian Allain Andry vividly describes setting booby traps for German U-boats on the beach during World War II – and chasing flying squirrels in his front yard. Biloxi historian and writer Murella Powell recountsan odyssey to locate her missing parents in Hurricane Camille’s aftermath.

Vic ‘n’ Nat’ly creator Bunny Matthews recalls spending weekends at the Broadwater Beach Hotel, where he shared the swimming pool with actress Jayne Mansfield’s children, and new Orleans resident Phillip Carter reads from his father’s book, Gulf Coast Country.

Gulf Coast Memories was made possible by special funding from the Whitney National Bank.

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