The gas chamber at Parchman Farm, the state penitentiary in north Mississippi, was used from 1955 until 1989. I was strapped to that chair in the Spring of 1969 but got a last-minute reprieve from my Problems of Democracy teacher, Mr. Solomon. I remember it as the electric chair and swear I can remember a big toggle switch on the wall in the outer room. Maybe it was dual-use, in case of power outage?
- Larry Piltz I still can't fathom how Problems of Democracy became an actual class at Biloxi High School, even in 1969. Problems? What problems? By way of comparison, the history teacher in the room next door was a vocal Fresca-guzzling John Bircher, the commonists this and the pinkos that. Maybe the administration assumed we'd be learning how to stomp the integrationist sympathizers more effectively.
- Larry Piltz My high school was so backward that in '68 or '69 the biggest name to appear at a student assembly was the man who did the actual whistling for the opening segment of the Andy Griffith Show. It was a solo act. He performed for 30 minutes. By that I mean he whistled for 30 minutes. It was pretty quiet otherwise. That old dude could really whistle though! He whistled a separate tune out of each side of his mouth at the same time. Today he'd just drop the mic and walk off triumphantly. Beat that, Davey Jones!
Well, Wikipedia just schooled me again. Earle Hagen was his name, and it turns out he was actually a very well-known and successful composer. "He wrote the Andy Griffith Show theme and themes for Make Room For Daddy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Spy, That Girl, and The Mod Squad. He is also remembered for co-writing and whistling 'The Fishin' Hole', the melody of the main theme to The Andy Griffith Show, and the instrumental classic 'Harlem Nocturne' ".
The attached photo is from 1968, of him winning an Emmy for the I Spy theme song. So this is what he looked like. I think I truly remember him. His awesome and famous Harlem Nocturne is here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bYPnfXXUp4
- Larry Piltz Quickly, two other memories of high school from 1968 and 1967. George Corley Wallace won a landslide victory in Biloxi High School's mock presidential election in 1968. Of course he did. And I do mean 'mock'.
The other is that the TV program "Where the Action Is" filmed a show in Biloxi at the beach in 1967. That was the only day I seriously considered skipping school. The longing to be where the action is had quite a pull. I was pretty sure if I witnessed the filming, I'd gain the hip credentials I'd need once I left Biloxi after senior year. Besides, there would be bikinis, and likely Paul Revere & The Raiders, paragons of hipness. That's "Where the Action Is", baby, in Biloxi. Take that Greenville High! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SM7Mp195u4
- Larry Piltz And finally of course to the Frippin' missing link between Paul Revere and GWAR, which brings us right back to where we started, with 21st Century Schizoid Man and His continuing bromance with capital punishment, tough gurney love. From coffee, tea, or me to gas, electric, or cocktail? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ubc5_owhl0