When I was growing up, I used to go to New Orleans with my family to visit cousins and friends, and to celebrate Mardi Gras.
My cousin’s house was on a street where two large parades would pass every year. The parades were on different days, of course.
Occasionally, on some mornings after the parades, there would be folks passed out, sleeping off whatever in the front yard of my cousin’s house. The partiers would wake up as soon as the sun hit them, and go on their merry way. My cousins have told me that no one sleeping it off in the yard has ever caused problems; the overnight guests in the yard probably never realized they were outside anyway!
When Emmett lived in Pensacola, he attended (and participated) in many a Mardi Gras celebration. In fact, when he was a congressman, he was the subject of one of the floats!
The group in charge of the floats for Pensacola was a set of local business and political leaders known as the “Phunmakers.” They would raise money every year and meet periodically to decide what to include in the parade that year. Picking on Emmett was pretty much par for the course at this point in Emmett’s professional life: He was on his way out, anyway.
Emmett was in town for Mardi Gras that year. I wonder if he attended the parade. If he didn’t, he certainly would have heard about the float from his friends and the writeup in the paper.
If he did attend the parade, I wonder what he thought when he saw this float out on the street. Did he laugh it off publicly? Did he drown his humiliation with 20-year-old Scotch privately? Probably both.
If you notice, Emmett’s name is not mentioned on the float OR in the article. By this point, Frank Mayes, the editor of The Pensacola Journal, was so p.o.’ed at Emmett that he wouldn’t even mention his name in the paper — a huge deal back then. If you were popular, your name was mentioned in the paper. If you disappeared from coverage, you became persona non grata — and that is exactly what Mayes wanted to achieve. Was Mayes one of the Phunmakers? No, but he had a few close friends who were, and I’m sure Mayes told them to be sure to include a dig at Emmett.
Mayes sure could hold a grudge, couldn’t he?
My big question: Is there a photo of this float out there somewhere? If so, I’d love to see it.
Communication, Arts, and the Humanities
The University of Maryland Global Campus