Friday, November 04, 2005

That Real 70s Show

Originally uploaded by skinnergy.
My good old friend Billy Garrett, who was probably in kneepants when this photo was taken, sent me a link to a collection of photos from the Ft. Walton Beach nightclub scene, circa 1970s.

(You can see it here.)

I liked this one, mostly because of the highly evolved facial hair. I don't remember this band (Chissom) but it got me thinking about the names of other bands from that era. I remember Big Al Zipper and The Phaetons and The Little Juice Band (TLJB are pictured in this collection) but I'm shocked at how few of them I can conjure up from my misty brain cells. Nightclub names were pretty transient back then. I remember the Mind's Eye (some friends and I did the design for their psychedelic wall painting and logo). I remember the adult establishments like Cash's Faux Pas.

I'd love to archive more of this kind of Miracle Strip trivia for a possible book on the era. And if anyone has photos from the 70s of such night spots or even downtown hangouts like Jimmy's Newsstand or the Palm Theater (not actually downtown, but I think the downtown Tringas Theater was condemned due to health code issues), I'd love to start collecting them here.

Drop me a line if you know of some resources for such material. There must have been people taking pictures back then. And there must be a few folks who didn't totally blow out their memory centers with recreational drugs. Mustn't there?


Rick Broussard said...

With permission, I'm posting some e-mail correspondence between Bill and I.


There used to be a photographer in this area named Arturo Mennillo who took countless excellent, high-quality pictures of this area from the 40s into the 60s. Two books of his work are now available locally. You would like them. I found one on Amazon.

Here's the other one:

Here's a link to his studio which still sells prints from his collection of negatives, but, oddly, this site does not sell his books.

You gotta see this if you haven't seen it yet.

Also, you may recall a local fellow named David Shea. He is a local photographer who somehow came into possession of many great early shots of the area. He has negatives to hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures. Next time you are in the area you can go to his studio and browse through his books of images and order whichever prints you want.

Finally, you prolly read the note about how many of those pics I posted have "Garner Photos" stamped on the back. They worked this area for about 20 years and somewhere, if they have not been destroyed, there are thousands of pics and negatives from their years of work. Nancy said that she recalls a big yard sale that their children had after the parents died. Someway, there's got to be a way to track down their offspring and find out what happened to all those pics and negs.

There you have it!


Rick Broussard said...


Thanks again. I actually bought one of Arturo's books when we were down there a couple of year ago. It's all from the late 50s and early 60s and very evocative, but not exactly what I'm hoping for. I found something a little closer to the mark with a book by Tim Hollis called "Florida's Miracle Strip: From Redneck Riviera to to Emerald Coast," but while that had lots of the tacky charm of the area, I'm really hoping for something a bit more personal. After all, the places that our little gangs hung out weren't the kinds of places that get chronicled by photographers, they were mostly each others houses and little honky tonks and teen night clubs. The bands were not all that memorable either, but there were a few classic Ft. Walton bands that I should be able to remember and just can't.

The Garners may be a real key, since it looks like they were interested in the underbelly of the scene. If you get any contacts there, let me know. I may do a little research. I had a friend named Johnny Garner who was a bit of a wreck. He lost an eye while cranking a boat out of the water. While he was winching, one of the hooks pulling the boat from the water straightened out and sprung back into his face. He made enough money on insurance to slack off most of the time and he wore his eye patch with some pride. Last time I saw him he was watching professional wrestling on a black & white TV while reading National Enquirer. I think he died just a little while after that.

Anyway, I wonder if he was related to the Garners on the back of the photos.

Hey, so the Underdogs are no more, right? Do you have some other steady stuff going on? Do you have a Web site? I just installed a blogroll so I want to start linking to related sites.

I hope I'm not burning up too much of your free time with this business. You're about the only one who gets back to me on the topic.


p.s. Check out the dragon on my blog.

Rick Broussard said...

Bill wrote:

I remember Johnny Garner before and after the eye patch - not well. I don't think he was kin to the Garner photographers. I would think Nancy would have known that if that were the case, cuz she was friends with Johnny.

I am not with the underdogs anymore. I wanted to do to other things with other musicians and the band kind of imploded, as bands do. JAB the harp player still does gigs as the underdogs, but without me. We're friends still. It's cool.

I am now playing with some of the finest musician's I've ever worked with. I play all over, mostly solo, but with others in different configurations, sometimes on bass, sometimes on guitar, always singing. I have in the last couple of years gotten heavily into bluegrass banjo and that has been my main focus. I try to practice it every day. I play bluegrass every chance I get and have my first paying banjo gig coming up. It's a square dance. Should be fun. Jim and I just got back from a big music fest ( where we camped for 4 nights and picked bluegrass around the campfire till the wee hours. The Millers come to that one sometimes.

I am so happy for you and your beautiful family. You have really found your niche, to say the least.

Love the dragon!


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