Many years ago when I took my two young sons to their first Ole Miss football game at Memorial Stadium in Jackson, I didn’t anticipate them getting an education in Mississippi Justice.
But they did.
It was an ideal night for football… cool… clear… and loud. The stadium was packed out when we settled into our Section P/Row 55 seats, only to have our attention drawn down to row 4 where a burley, 6-foot-five, 250 pound young drunk was already getting the award for the most obnoxious fan in our section.
He was standing up waving a glass of brown liquid. Clowning big time. His drunken antics had already caught the full attention of Section P.
Then, he dumped some of his drink on a little man sitting in front of him and laughed about it. The little old man stood up, took off his formal straw "go-to-meeting hat"… observed the liquor on it, brushed it off and then started easing out of his seat toward the center aisle.
Now, let me tell you about this little guy… he was a dead ringer for a seasoned longshoreman. Or you could imagine him being a grizzled old captain of a shrimp boat out of Biloxi. His 65th birthday had long passed him by and the gulf sun had already had a go at his Italian face, making him "swarthy."
He appeared calm as he got to the center aisle. He stepped up one row and began pushing into the center toward the drunk.
Section P got quiet.
His straw hat was pointed straight ahead and headed toward the drunk. Shortly they stood side by side… Goliath and little swarthy David.
Little David said something to Goliath. Goliath laughed and poked my longshoreman in the chest with his index finger.
A Big mistake.
When my swarthy little man’s meaty fist hit the drunk, it was square in the face causing whisky, teeth and slobber to explode from the reeling drunk. The blow seemed to lift the guy up two feet. He crashed backwards into the scrambling nearby fans. He found it difficult getting back to his feet…sputtering and cursing.
"Swarthy Man" stood his ground calmly watching like a man who was no novice to such confrontations and thought nothing of them.
In what seemed seconds, Jackson’s men in blue pushed into the row and grabbed up both men and starting taking them out.
Another deathly silence took hold of Section P… for a moment.
Then… as if programmed… the entire section realized a great injustice was about to take place right before our eyes.
Pandemonium broke out… The crowd began to yell at the policemen… trying to stop what was happening.
To my great surprise, the policemen both stopped… looked at each other… then turned the two men around facing the crowd in Section P. Then one of the policemen held his palm over the head of the drunk. A deafening "boooo" from the thousands resulted. Then the other policeman held his palm over "Swarthy Man." Hand clapping and ear splitting cheers rang out.
The policemen motioned for the little man to return to his seat and enjoy the game.
I love living in Mississippi!
Somehow I don’t think this incident could have happened in New Jersey.
And…by the way…Ole Miss won!