The day Goodyear Boulevard died

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, April 22, 2014

By Jim Luke

City Manager for the City of Picayune

Yesterdays. . .yesterdays were always happy because only the good memories filter through time.   So many memories seem to fade away. . .While others are rekindled through gazing down Goodyear Boulevard from my office on the second floor of City Hall.  The warmth of old friends and long-ago loves seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years go and where did my youth go?  How did I get here so fast?  But, here it is. . .my friends are retired and getting gray.  Yes I have some regrets.  There are some things I wish I would have done differently. . .things I should have done, but with most certainty there are many things I am happy to have done. It’s all in a lifetime.

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I now know why legendary Don McLean was inspired to write and sing the song “American Pie” after the sudden death of Buddy Holly, “The Day the Music Died”.  I have rewritten a couple of the beginning verses to describe how it made my generation feel when we got the news that the City Council passed an ordinance making it unlawful to park on Goodyear Boulevard after 9 p.m.

Adapted Verses:

“A long, long time ago I can still remember how those days on Goodyear Boulevard use to make me smile.  Something touched me deep inside. . . the day. . .the Boulevard. . .died.  Bye Bye Mr. American Pie.”  The multiple generations of young Americans going through a coming of age, hot rods, street racing, cruising, meeting girls and boys on Goodyear Boulevard, all gone.

What those music loving teens must have thought spending one last time in history “Cruising The Vard” together. It wasn’t just a stretch of road, but a memory trail. Those were the last days of innocence that have passed, and slowly those of us that lived it are passing as well.

As Mark Clinton Davis wrote in the Historical Reporter of Pearl River County, “The closure angered teens and outraged parents, and the town changed for us all afterwards.  The kids of the era were scattered to the winds, to memory and to the seeds of history.  If it had seemed a sweeter time to some parts of the community and a more heroic time to others, perhaps it was.  But like the carefree and stolen ritual of Halloween ruined by stories of razorblades in apples, it was gone.”

I closed my eyes for a moment and remembered the summer of 1970.  That was the last summer I made the loop on Goodyear Boulevard before going off to college, marriage, and work.

Finally that summer ended and we all went our many ways, passing the torch to those who would come behind us.  The city leaders closed the boulevard in 1989 and folks believed it was gone forever, much like the youth and innocence of that time.  Wonderful memories, I only wish my children could go back and experience “The Vard.”

As I usually do when finishing my monthly articles for the newspaper I would like to end with a touch of history.  Located on the corner of Magnolia and Sixth Avenue by the old hospital site stands a magnificent live oak tree.  An arborist has told us that the tree is estimated to be approximately 225 years old.

It’s interesting to think of what all was happening in the United States 225 years ago as George Washington was taking the oath of office as our first President of the United States.  If only that magnificent tree could tell its story… Maybe it would tell us about the Choctaw Indians that lived in the area, or about Picayune’s first football game, or maybe about Picayune’s first reported post office called the Hobolochitto Post Office.  Yes, that old oak tree has a great story to tell…