I am working on some posts this morning and am posting this 1939 American Mercury article about the Gold Coast of Rankin County as it is pretty entertaining and gives a straight shot of our history in 100-proof fashion. Well, entertaining until one gets to the part about the savage beating of the Sheriff. Meanwhile, the Governor tried to crack down and the Hedermans opposed the Governor for doing so. Judges looked the other way and the notoriety continued. American Mercury reported:
"Mississippi's capital rates among the South’s cleanest, most progressive cities. It is a thriving metropolis of 6o,ooo, named for Andrew Jackson and boasting fine churches and high religious spirit. Blue laws are so rigid that you can’t see a Shirley Temple picture on Sunday. Drug stores are closed during church services and it is unlawful to blow auto horns at any time. With fine parks, playgrounds, youth movements, and no slums, Jackson exudes an incense of high public morality. Yet for the past five years the city has been paying heavy tribute to a horde of gamblers, bootleggers, fugitives,paroled convicts, and pistol-whipping thugs recruited from every center of national crime. Blood has flowed freely in Jackson and vicinity. At least two men have been murdered and a sheriff has been badly beaten.
That was just the first part of the opening paragraph.
The Gold Coast is within a half-mile radius. It consists of thirty-five or forty crude structures, outwardly like cheap tourist cabins, despite the carnival effect of floodlights. It is not unusual to find a shack costing $50 housing a $1,500 bar and lavish gambling equipment over which Mississippians passed as much as $50,000 a week, according to estimates of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce. Coast operators sneer at the estimates. They declare the Chamber of Commerce is too modest-- that they have fleeced victims of this much on a week-end.
The prose is vivid and colorful, much more fun to read than the corporate bland oatmeal that splashes on the pages of today's newspapers. Goins was just getting warmed up in the opening as he fires up his quills and takes aim at Jackson society itself:
The cream of Mississippi society spends many a witch’s sabbath there, along with salaried men, wage hands, working girls, and plowboys. Strumpets and debutantes stand shoulder to shoulder at the crap tables and roulette wheels. Law-enforcement officials frequently are there in crap-shooting companionship with jailbirds. Negroes are segregated, but often a plantation landlord shoots dice with only a thin pine board between him and his cotton-pickers. It is nothing unusual for a police court judge to swig liquor and gamble on the Coast one night and in court the next morning fine drunks who swigged at the same bar with him.
The magazine reports that Rankin County Sheriff was beaten to a pulp when he tried to crack down on the Gold Coast bootleggers.
Everybody thinks the sheriff of Rankin County, who had responsibility for law and order on the Gold Coast, was doing his best. Sheriff J.V. Therrell, a stocky little man with iron-gray hair, at first tried to do something. But as fast as he padlocked places, operators put up other shacks near by. In raiding one resort the sheriff had his scalp laid open with a beer bottle, then was beaten up. He lay several weeks in a hospital, much of the time unconscious. Only too glad to forget it all when his term expired, Therrell now says: "Please leave me out of all this mess".The article is posted below.