Taylor relates tales of Ferriday sons to Rotarians

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 22, 2000

Jerry Lee Lewis, a Ferriday native, and Chuck Berry were scheduled to perform in the same show, and each wanted the prestige of performing last.

After much discussion, Lewis conceded to going first. He gave the performance his all, kicking his stool aside and propping one leg up on the piano’s keyboard.

For the grand finale, Lewis took a soda bottle full of gasoline out of his pocket, doused the piano with it and set the piano on fire, playing it while it burned.

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With the screaming crowd now brought to its feet, Lewis exited the stage and tossed his parting words to Berry as he passed:&160;&uot;You’re next.&uot;

That was just one colorful story Concordia Parish Librarian and Ferriday Museum Committee Chairperson Amanda Taylor passed on to the Natchez Rotary Club Wednesday during a presentation about Ferriday’s most famous natives.

The Ferriday Museum offers visitors a glimpse of the lives and legacies of the town’s six most famous residents through displays of memorabilia and biographical information, Taylor told the crowd during lunch at the Ramada Hilltop.

There’s the Rev. Jimmy Swaggart, a self-described &uot;shouting, weeping, … soul-saving gospel preacher&uot; who went on to sell 13 million gospel records and establish a Baton Rouge-based ministry.

There’s Mickey Gilley, a first cousin of both Lewis and Swaggart, who scored 17 number-one country hits, who Taylor said &uot;brought an air of refinement to honky-tonk tunes.&uot;

There’s jazz trombone player Leon &uot;Pee Wee&uot; Whittaker played at Haney’s Big House in Ferriday — which also hosted such legends as B.B. King, Fats Domino and Muddy Waters.

Journalist Howard K. Smith, who covered such major events World War II, the Vietnam War, the John F. Kennedy assassination for CBS and ABC, is featured at the museum, as is Ann Boyar Warner, wife of movie mogul Jack Warner.

Plans are to move the museum to the former post office on Louisiana Avenue from its current location on North E.E. Wallace Boulevard.

Next, representatives of the Secretary of State’s Office will speak at the Ferriday Chamber of Commerce’s next meet at noon Dec. 4 at Concordia Bank’s Ferriday branch.

They will speak on plans for that office to take over operation of the museum once it is moved. By that time, a local nonprofit foundation should be formed for the museum, said chamber President Chris Vaughan.