by Jim Harrison
Around 1953 or 1954 in the Mississippi Delta in Inverness, Mississippi, there was a nightclub called The Little Harlem Club. This club was quite a place.
On Saturday nights the band arrived at midnight and thatís when the real action began. Of course the owners, patrons, and bands were all black, but white people were allowed in as onlookers. In fact, there was a special section blocked off for the white spectators.
Watching all of this revelry was like having a seat at a New Orleans Mardi Gras ball. The dancing at the Little Harlem Club was what we sometime referred to as ďlow down." It definitely was that! The white spectators were thoroughly entertained and amazed. The blacks danced with abandonment and they completely immersed themselves in the rhythmic beat of the music.
Probably some of those band members went on to fame and fortune. They could have been B. B. King or Little Richard. I donít remember any names. That was fifty years ago. I was just a teenager growing up in the Mississippi Delta and having a heck of a good time.
Of course, I didnít realize it at the time but visiting the Little Harlem Club was a rich and awe inspiring cultural experience. As Reuben Davis said over a hundred years ago in his famous book titled Recollections of Mississippi and Mississippians (University and College Press of Mississippi, 1972, p. 103) about his younger days, "the very recollection makes me grow young again."
James K. Harrison is a retired NASA engineer who lives in Huntsville, Alabama, with his school-teacher wife (Nancy) and step-daughter, Heather. He graduated from Mississippi State in 1958. James is a history buff and a writer of his own unpublished family history.
After his father died in 1938, Jim and his two-year-old brother (Tomberry--short for Thomas Castleberry) went to live with their Castleberry grandparents in Moorhead, Mississippi. There they lived for eight years until 1946. From 1946 to 1953, James and Tomberry (although living in Vicksburg, Mississippi) returned each summer to Moorhead to visit their Castleberry grandparents. Those carefree summer days in the Mississippi Delta were filled with fun and frolic.
Moorhead Picture Show
Red Tops of Vicksburg, Mississippi
Saturday Night in Moorhead, Mississippi
Staying Cool in the Mississippi Delta in the 1940's
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