Sunday, May 4, 2008

Wilson Park in Okolona

-click to enlarge-

TOP: A reader sent a photo of the swimming pool to add to this post. The photo is from about 1961, but shows a good view of the pool. I cut the tops off of some people in order to view the pool better. Remember those slides? They were as much fun as the diving boards, especially when you could get away with 5 or 6 people going down at once. They didn't allow this, but we would do it whenever possible.

Center: a recent aerial view of Wilson Park. Quite a contrast to the way we knew it in the 50s.

The lower photo is in very bad condition, but has been the only one I have been able to find showing any scenes of Wilson Park. This was processed from a scratched negative by scanner and software method, and is the best that I can get it to look. Maybe someone else out there will have the time to work on it some more.

Pictured L-R, Tom, Arch, I believe Carson Baker, and Carl. The background shows the ballroom with the huge audio system that was spectacular for that time period. It was loud, and shook the windows when cranked up. Someone always came and shut it back to a lower volume after we would turn it up.

We had some good swimming parties and dances at the park. It was really worth the drive past Tupelo because of much more to see and do.


  1. Wilson Park - the lake, swimming pool and some buildings are still there but not used. For an aerial view I used your link to Live Search and looked it up by putting in South Church Street at the SW corner of hwy 32 and 41.
    50 years make a big difference...

  2. Don't know why I didn't think of that, RC.

    I just added the aerial view to the posting.


  3. The definition of FUN has to include Wilson Park; maybe, TIMELESS FUN!!! I can't remember a bad trip to Okolona. In fact, I want to claim that I was sitting beside Tom Shellnut in the picture. Arron led the game "Follow the Leader" from at least three of the diving boards and the pickup we came in waited until the dance hall slowed down. Shame on me, but nothing thrilled me more than to watch Mary Tom Gordon dance in all white shorts and shirt tied up to the tune "Fever"; when the crystal ball came out from time to time, SHAZAM we/I were smittened!

  4. Right, Dave. Summertime meant "shorts time" and we could hardly wait. The girls were not only prettier then, but were also more defined as being really feminine, and therefore more mysterious.
    The dance floor at the park was as grand as any I have been on in 50+ years. The Baldwyn ladies will be forever etched in my memories. God bless them all!

  5. Dave that Mary Tom Gordon wasn't the only lovely girl, but she had them on the run to keep up. I don't want to name names, but there were dozens of beauties in the old town. I fell in love with one or more on a weekly basis!

  6. One guy at the Okolona pavilion told us about a country joint with some sweet girls, out west of Verona. On the way back we found it. When we walked in, everybody stopped and "froze" to look us over. Even the jukebox stopped to stare at us then started back again. That was the roughest place we ever saw. They wouldn't let us leave until we danced with a couple of old women. We finally ran for the door and they were busted out laughing when we spun on the gravel leaving. Never again!!!
    It was called the Cotton patch, and it was in the middle of one.

  7. I stated earlier "Wilson Park - the lake, swimming pool and some buildings are still there but not used."
    I am wrong and the park and pool is used now days. My cousin sorrected me when I called and asked.
    Those slides were extended before 1970, so the photo was made in the late 1960's supposedly. That's a guess.

  8. Spwaking of Mary Tom, the opening song at 1954 Confederate Ball was Simon and Mary Tom sitting on a bicycle built for two and singing "Mary, Mary, give me your answer do. I'm half crazy all for the love of you. You'll look sweet upon the seat of a Bicycle Built for Two".

  9. Carl, quit cutting people half-into like that! It's noy nice and illegal!

  10. It is certainly saddening to see that Mary Tom and Edith Anne are both passed away.
    The Man Above is now gazing on their beauty.

  11. Don't leave Jo Carolyn out. One of my all time favorite memories of Wilson Park and the Okolona swimming pool is Jo Carolyn in her white one piece bathing suit and that long flowing black hair. A poetic moment if there ever was one.