Saturday, April 15, 2017

Remembering Big Red

Collection of all posts covering the Gold Coast of Rankin County. 

 The most infamous bootlegger in Mississippi history was probably G.W. "Big Red" Hydrick.  The Byram cotton farmer moved to Florence in the 1930;s and began a life of notoriety that spanned several decades on the Gold Coast of Rankin County.  He killed a woman, burned down rival nightclubs, beat black female students, egged on the mob at the Woolworth lunch counter, and shot numerous people.  In other words, he was a mean ole cuss who did what the hell he wanted to do when he wanted to do it.

Photo credit: Daily Clarion-Ledger

Posted below are all of the Clarion-Ledger articles about Big Red.  He first appeared on the pages of the Clarion-Ledger in 1932 and never strayed too far away from public attention.  If you have some extra leisure time during the holiday weekend, check out this bit of Mississippi history.


Anonymous said...

I made many a trip to Red's sitting beside my granddaddy, at least once a week. This was in the early 1950's. I can drive to the spot to this day.

Anonymous said...

Besides all of those bad things that Red did, he was really a nice guy. I first met him in about 1958 and knew him until he died. Unfortunately, prohibition caused many people to make and sell shine and import booze from out-of-the country. It started in the depression people did what they had to do. I am not making excuses for Red, just letting you know that there was another side to him.

Anonymous said...

From reading the articles, Red sounds like a thug and a real piece of shit...

Anonymous said...

Big Red's daughter, Willie Mae Bradshaw wrote a book about him called "Big Red: A Biography of the Late G. W. 'Big Red' Hydrick". It's an interesting read and a fairly accurate account of the prohibition-era liquor trade in the Jackson area, according to some who lived in that area during that time.

Kingfish said...

The book was a whitewash and literary trash. Yes, I have a copy. For example, it talked about how he got Christmas presents for the black kids to make him look like a saint while it left out the part of him beating Medgar Evers and some black college girls.

Anonymous said...

When I was a pre-teenager I worked on a milk truck. One of the places we stopped was the old Airways Inn at the intersection of Old Brandon and Hwy 80. Mr. Red was what he was called then was always at the counter drinking coffee. The guy I worked for would always spend over 1/2 hour talking to Mr. Red. I always complained about the time we wasted, and my boss always talked about the stories Mr. Red would spin while we were there. He was old and wrinkled and always had a lit cigarette in his hand. I never got to hear the stories, but my Boss always enjoyed them.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone recall his stepson by the name of X.L. downing?

Anonymous said...

Went to school with him, he was a little older and this was during the 50's had a fair amount of Tat's then.

Kathleen Baxter said...

Lovely work, KF. You are a great historian.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I was in high school in the early 1960's. In Hinds County you could buy whiskey at a small grocery store on Beasley Road, which was outside the city limits at that time. I think it was called the Beasley Superette. You had to be a certain age to buy, maybe 18. I guess a " local option" rule. But, they were very lax on checking id and if you looked old enough they would sell it to you. It enjoyed a better class of people and the prices were higher than "across the river". And, your parent's friends were more likely to see you. In Rankin County, you crossed the Woodrow Wilson bridge. Immediately across on the right was another small store with gas pumps called "Pic and Pay". You drove around back and pulled up to a window and made your purchase. But, if you went down Casey's Lane the liquor was cheaper. The further you went down, the cheaper it was and the darker and seemingly more dangerous. You pulled around in back of all of the buildings and there was either a window or door. I remember at the last place, you could buy a half pint of cheap bourbon for $1.40. The clubs were all gone by that time. When liquor was legalized in 1966, the bootleggers shut down. As a young man, the only time I could not buy liquor was from July 1, 1966, when the law took effect, until I became 21. X L Hydrick was at Duling and Bailey with me. He was older than his classmates and left school while at Bailey. He used the name Hydrick, but his younger brother was Downing. I believe they were raised by the Downings. His younger brother was the opposite of X L. I actually think they were the sons of Little Red Hydrick, not Big Red. Little Red had died by jumping, falling or being thrown off the Mississippi bridge at Vicksburg.

Anonymous said...

Could someone please provide a translation of the imbecilic redneck-speak on that sign?

Closed closed CLOSED
As of this date
The year of our Lord the 7th & 1st of '66
The Apostle P Saa Go Go GO By Dam Go
We Gone Gone Gone, By Dam GONE
"Us Shall Overcome"
Old Vets Never Die, Just Fade Away
Us See You, Good Bye
to All "BIG RED"

Maybe one of the people who think this guy was just a big teddy bear can understand what the hell he's saying there.

Plain ol' Catfish said...

@ April 17, 2017 at 9:30 AM

Thank you for sharing that. Always love to hear about the nooks and crannies about the metro area back in the day.

I never knew anything about "East Jackson and the Mississippi Gold Coast"

You guys have sparked my curiosity talking about how the metro area used to be.

Please keep sharing.

Anonymous said...

to 9 :30am ,,, i grew up on beasley road and the place was called the BEASLEY ROAD SHOPETTE. IRONICALLY the building is still there and its a legal liquor store. i can't remember the name of the man who ran it for all those years. it was the closest store to wood haven and presto heights. but i do remember vividly about 1972 or 1973 a thug by the name of clem jimpson, murdered the owner in a armed robbery. jimpson got sent to parchman farm but by about 1985 he was paroled and 2 weeks later shot and robbed a woman in jackson. i can't remember the woman name but she hired the BINDER law firm and they sued the MS state parole board and a jury awarded about 2 million in damages. the supreme court later reversed the verdict.

Anonymous said...

in december 1965 the governor and alot prominent citizens were taken to jail for possession of alcohol during a christmas party at the jackson country club. the story made national news and provided a lot of embarrassment. a month later the legislature in january 1966 voted to repeal prohibition, subject to the county option.

Anonymous said...

I can remember that my older first cousin was a bootlegger and kept a small sea plane on the river in Vicksburg and would fly to Cuba when the Feds would get after him. He was a very smart man and always felt second class because of how he made his living. When liquor was legalized he became head deacon in the church and President of the Vicksburg Country Club. He also owned a bank. He never forgot or forgave the people that treated him bad before liquor was legalized, those are the hypocrites that sat next to you in church last Sunday.

Just the facts, maam, nothing but the facts... said...

4:41- probably close enough to correct to qualify as a loyal JJ commentator.

But the raid at the Jackson Country Club was Mardi Gras (not Christmas) in February 1966 (not Dec '65) and although the Governor was there, he was not taken to jail. Several prominent folks were arrested, but not Paul B. The King of the ball was Warren Hood and the sheriff was Tom Shelton, a former chief deputy who had just been promoted when the elected sheriff was removed for being drunk all the time.

The vote to repeal prohibition was passed in May of that year and signed into law effective July 1.

Anonymous said...

I have a question about Big Red: does anybody know about his relationship with Ross Barnett? Eudora Welty named Big Red as Ross Barnett's henchman in the slaying of Medgar Evans in a poem published just after the slaying. The New Yorker refused to print his name, but a couple of years ago the original was released.

Oh, and what about his dealings with the Pocahontas Nite Club in Little Gold Coast?

2016 Hottest Reporter Poll

Suscribe to latest on JJ.

Recent Comments

Search Jackson Jambalaya

Subscribe to JJ's Youtube channel

Who is the hottest reporter?


Who is the Hottest Reporter in Jackson?

Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS