There are lots of fond memories of the Coast’s Highway 90: family vacations, playing on the beach, eating at a favorite restaurant, cruising and checking out the sights. It used to be a patchwork of old and new, beautiful homes, small cottages, churches, mom & pop restaurants and motels along with national chain businesses.
The landscape changed over the years with some of the familiar — such as the Alamo Motel — giving way to new construction. Beginning in 1992, casinos ushered in a different era with floating gaming barges and high-rise hotels. With the dawning of the 21st Century, condominiums became a part of the scene, and after Katrina they’re proliferating. The storm’s destruction ensures that the popular old highway will never be the same.
We asked a few people to take a nostalgic look back at the Highway 90 of the past. In their own words:
Elaine Stevens, Public Relations Manager, IP Casino, Biloxi
“Of course, my memories revolve around my second home and the sign on Highway 90 which pointed to it: The Gus Stevens Restaurant sign, that gigantic neon fish and one of dad’s dearest treasures. The sign represented a landmark of entertainment and good food for the Coast.
“It was also my escape. The sign was the shining star that pointed me in the direction of another universe, away from school and structure into a fantasy world of floor shows which lived 24/7 far beyond my childish chores of homework assignments.
“My short-lived attention span was often quickly drawn to the other wonders of Highway 90 as I gazed from the restaurant windows at the old Biloxi amusement park and Goofy Golf. They tugged at my whimsy forcing me to go begging for bucks so we could cross 90, very carefully, in order to play a few rounds or take a spin on the merry go round, or even buy a balloon from dear Mr. Brady, Biloxi’s original balloon man and the main attraction of many birthday parties.
“But the lasting memory of Highway 90 was — is — always the white sand beach, the sparkling waters of the sound and the eternally nostalgic smell that emanates from its fickle shore.”
Mayor Brent Warr, City of Gulfport
“I most fondly recall fishing, with the gulf in front of me and the beautiful oaks and gorgeous southern homes at my back. But I don’t believe it’s gone forever. In fact, thanks to the near-shore fishing reefs that we are creating in Gulfport’s near-shore waters, I look forward to doing this again with my children in a few years.
“I also remember the medians of Highway 90 covered in crimson clover. When the wind blew over it, it was incredibly beautiful.”
Betty Ruth Hawkins, Marketing
and Communications Director, Mississippi Nurses’ Association
“For years, people I knew kept telling me I needed to move to the Coast. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why — not until I moved there.
“There is something magical about living south of Highway 90. It is where the United States ends. It is like being on vacation all the time. Highway 90 held some of the finest home-grown eateries — The Coral Café with the best croutons, fried pickles and collection of the best fed outside stray cats. Nick’s House of Catfish had the coldest beer.
“There were mysterious places like the Texas Hotel and the Travel Rest Motor Lodge. People went in but I never saw anyone leave.”
Connie Rockco, District
Five Supervisor, Harrison County
“I miss the Olive Garden Restaurant at the corner of Highway 90 and DeBuys Road. It was a great place to have lunch with girl friends, and I loved their soup, salad and breadsticks special.”
Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at email@example.com.