Mention of the Macon City Auditorium in any of my columns always brings forth much response. It was that way during the 1312 years I wrote weekly in the Houston Home Journal, and it’s that way now. Let me give you two recent examples.
I got a telephone call from Jimmy Beall (pronounced Bell) after my column that mentioned Jerry Lee Lewis, which was in The Telegraph’s Nov. 16 edition. I called him back, have now talked with Mr. Beall three times, and I think he has a great story. Let me write it in “first person” as told by Beall.
It was 1957 and Jerry Lee Lewis was at the Macon City Auditorium. My two friends, Earl Turner, now deceased, David Newman and I were riding around talking about the Jerry Lee Lewis concert and wishing we had the $1.50 each to go. We didn’t have it. I came up with a plan.
Two of us played guitars and Earl Tuner sang, so I suggested we go home, get our instruments, go to the side door and tell whoever came to the door, if anyone did come, that we were part of the show and were running late and needed to get in. We knocked, someone came and let us and our guitars in, showing us where to go.
We were led to a back room and there was a drunk Jerry Lee. Someone was giving him coffee trying to sober him up. Charlie Rich, the opening act and a virtual unknown, was out front entertaining the large, boisterous, squealing crowd. About that time, Charlie Rich finished, and “they told us to go on” -- and we did.
When we got on the stage, the young girls down front squealed at us. I was 17 at the time, as was David. I think Earl was in his 20s. I believe those girls would have squealed at anyone who performed.
Then, they called us off, and Jerry Lee came on. He kicked the piano stool across the stage, sang “Great Ball of Fire,” and the crowd went wild. He put on quite a show.
Afterward, Jerry Lee invited us to go to a place across the street and upstairs. There was lots of drinking, and about 1 a.m., Jerry Lee left with “two ladies of the night.” I went home.
What a story by Jimmy Beall, and what a night to remember.
Now, for a contact by email from Raymond Cox. The best way to tell you about this is to start with three emails.
Friday, Dec. 5, from Cox to me: “Mr. Walker, I was looking up some facts about the Macon City Auditorium when I stumbled upon your article you wrote for the Macon Telegraph. I lived in Macon for over 40 years and still love the place. I remember going to the Auditorium around 1960 as a 6-year-old with my father to see Jayne Mansfield, however I have been unable to locate any information about that. I know I am not dreaming it up and was wondering if you had any knowledge as to when that took place... Thanks, Raymond Cox.”
Tuesday, Dec. 9, to Raymond Cox from me: “Mr. Cox, Even a 6-year-old male would remember Jayne Mansfield! Do you mind me including this at the end of one of my columns with an inquiry to the readers? I can use your name or not use your name as you see fit. This is an interesting question and I would like to know what the answer is. Larry”
Wednesday, Dec. 10, From Raymond Cox to me: Larry, Yes, that is fine. I live in Little Rock right now. I can tell you this much about it. It was a Sunday for sure, which seems odd. I know my mother was out of town getting her college certification. Pretty sure we wouldn’t have gone had she been there... Thanks, Raymond.”
I asked Beall about this and he answered immediately: “It was a telethon, I think for muscular dystrophy, and Jayne Mansfield was there. I remember that a very prominent and popular local minister was supposed to participate, but he said he would not be on the stage with Jayne Mansfield, and he wasn’t.”
Later, when I talked with Cox, he had confirmed that it was indeed a muscular dystrophy fundraiser having to do with a Jerry Lewis telethon.
Jerry Lee Lewis, Jayne Mansfield, Jimmy Beall and Raymond Cox. What memories. And by the way, have I ever told you about playing basketball for Perry against Lanier in the Macon City Auditorium? Oh, how the memories flood the soul.
Larry Walker is a practicing attorney in Perry. He served 32 years in the Georgia General Assembly and presently serves on the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.