A good time was available, before, during, and even after prohibition, when cities and counties for miles around were dry as a bone, a good time was still available in Jackson. It’s probably important to point out that spirits were not the only ingredient necessary to party in West Tennessee, but the freedom of access to liquor just seemed to brighten everyone’s outlook, drinker and non-drinker alike.
So, What Made Jackson a Good Time?
Parents. That sounds strange. But a generation of Jackson’s youth (our parents), who were born shortly after the beginning of the 20th Century, realized they had become adults, toward the middle of the Century, yet they refused to forget how much fun they had when they were, themselves, young. Many had real style and a fashion sense, and wanted for the next generation the same opportunity to experience life, love, romance and adventure.
Any good anthropologist could identify the leaders almost immediately. It takes money to build the infrastructure to party. J T Hamilton decided to let a high school fraternity use the upstairs offices in a building he owned downtown to host parties on weekends. The group of offices became known as “The Rooms”. The party and that name moved out Highway 45 North in 1957 to a log-built building (and a parent signed the lease agreement). Here’s to the financial backers!
Even more fundamental, no gathering anywhere could happen with out parents acting as chaperones. Lucille Hamilton, Martha Hensley, Elizabeth Exum, Harriet Dolbeer, Blanche & Dick Nunn, (I hope you’ll point out others in the comments below)…. So here’s to the chaperones!
But if you were at a function it also meant that your own parents decided to allow you the freedom to go. Fundamentally, any good time any of us had as minors, was made possible by our own parents. So, here’s to our parents!
Below, some of those parents can be seen at Thanksgiving, 1950. There can be no doubt that these folks knew how to party with style. These images were shot as stereo slides 60 Years Ago!
The Jackson Sun, for the following morning didn’t mention the party but explained that the warm November afternoon had a temperature drop of more than 40 degrees to 11 degrees! (just after the guests arrived at the party), and within an hour, whiteout snow conditions prevailed till well after midnight. Many of those pictured rode home, elegantly dressed, in a tow truck dragging their car behind them.
So, no matter how we romanticize our early years as James Dean-like rebels, we built this party on the significant time and financial commitment of those that preceded us… and, of course, we built this party on rock and roll.