Returning from a week in Blue Mountain, Florida this Sunday, we were alerted to a severe traffic jam on I-10 at the Louisiana/Mississippi state line by my son, Ryan, and DIL who were over an hour ahead of us. We shifted over to US. Highway 90 at the Stennis exit to avoid some of this. Should have gotten off at the Bay St. Louis exit, because we hit the backed up traffic right after passing Bay St. Louis.
When I was a kid and before I-10 existed, we made many a trip to and from Waveland, MS using this route, so crusin’ down Ole Highway 90 was a trip down memory lane for me. I was reminded of those many Friday nights going east and Sunday nights returning to NOLA on that dark two-lane highway.
We always had a station wagon, which was the van or SUV of my day. It was always a nine passenger with a rear facing third seat. That was my favorite place to ride on those trips. The middle seat was folded down, and quilts were spread over the flat floor for my two little sisters to sleep on the way. They shared the space with our two dogs and sometimes a bird or that blasted rabbit mentioned elsewhere.
Seatbelts? We didn’t need no stinking seatbelts! Besides, the cars weren’t even equipped with them back then.
Did I mention luggage? No, because I can’t recall us ever carrying any. We must have had some little something somewhere, but it never took up much space. We had extras of almost everything stored in our Waveland house, so we don’t need no stinking luggage! Well, not much anyway.
No AC in the cars either, at least not in ours. Only the “very wealthy” bought cars with AC back then (1950s), and MB was too frugal for that. I can recall several times we noticed water dripping from other cars, and being ever concerned for the safety of others, we flagged them down to report the strange water dripping from under their cars. Inevitably, they would roll down their windows (because they had AC) and say, “What?”
To which we replied, “Water! You have water dripping from your car!” And we continued on, thinking we had saved the lives of some poor family that we were sure their car was close to exploding—or something.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, the dripping water was condensation from their AC!
We didn’t know any better!
One story MB told of a trip to Waveland has always stuck in my mind. He and his friend, Pete Constancy, built our house in Waveland, mostly from scraps of a house they tore down in NOLA that Pete owned. They carefully removed the window frames and sashes and stacked them on a homemade trailer. The trailer was, shall we say, a bit bouncy. They stacked the windows flat, not on edge like they should have. Stacked so, the glass could not stand the bouncing, and they arrived in Waveland with every pane broken, and Highway 90 strewn with broken glass from NOLA to Waveland.
My sisters, Jeanne and Martia, and my cousins, Melanie and Bobby, will remember the “Pama-Pama Bridge,” which I think was the one over the Chef Menteur Pass. (One of the four will comment and correct me if I am wrong.) Why was it called the “Pama Pama Bridge?” Because your car tires made “pama-pama” sounds as they passed over the expansion joints. I never knew of any other bridge that sounded quite like that.
I went over it today, and, sadly, it doesn’t go “pama-pama” anymore. Another childhood memory lost forever!
Motorcyclists have it right when they say, “It isn’t the destination, it’s the trip!” We are always in a rush to get somewhere. We need to spend more time on the Old Highway 90s of our lives and enjoy the ride.
3 responses to “Crusin’ down Ole Highway 90.”
We hit the same traffic jam at the Miss/La line last weekend and did the exact same thing. When we passed by the intersection of Nicholson Ave and Hwy 90 I wanted to go look at the old place but couldn’t remember how to get there. Maybe if I could have found “Hatacol Boogie” Bar, we could have. I remember those drives well, usually stopping at the White Kitchen in Slidell for a snack and to play the bear machine that you could shoot and he would rare ou and turn around. Then we would get back in the Ford Station Wagon with the wood on the side Dad bought from Lousteaus in Norco.
As for the sound of the Pama Pama bridge, it was our Pavlovian signal that fun was on the way.
We had a summer cottage at the Bay on Phillips and Second sort of across from St. Augustine Seminary on the “new highway” and “new Bay bridge”, I remember watching the trees coming down for the highway and sitting out after it was built to watch for Elvis Presley’s caravan to drive by after a show on the Coast. We always watched the traffic on a Sunday evening and when it cleared a bit, we left for New Orleans. No traffic reports then or helicopters flying over to check traffic. PS, never saw Elvis!
My Dad owned the lot where the new bridge was built at the Bay and had to sell it to the government. He had anchored his boat there even during one of the hurricanes. It was found in good condition in Ocean Springs. How it managed to get through under the bridge and train tracks we could never figure out.
And boy was crabbing on the seawall fun. We’d catch and eat them the same day.
Did you ever stop at The Half-Way Inn. We did and my brother and I had to split a Grapette. A whole bottle was “not good for you”.
My dad was in too much of a hurry to get to Waveland to stop anywhere. Sometimes, but very rarely, we stopped at White Kitchen.