Mississippi Retro Apparel are wearable flashbacks from years gone by.
They are for the crowd that knew the bars, clubs, restaurants and music of the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's. They are reminders of the best of times spent with family and friends at the best places, those places, back then.
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Isle of Caprice
Tourists aboard the Pan-American headed for the Isle of Caprice
Postcard depicting the structures of the Isle of Caprice
Mississippi Retro Apparel
Tourists enjoying the Gulf of Mexico from the beach on the Isle of Caprice
Just off Mississippi’s Gulf Coast lies a sunken island – the Isle of Caprice, which was located between Ship Island and Horn Island. For several years, tourists traveled from all over the country to visit the Isle of Caprice; it was even dubbed the “Monte Carlo of the South.” However, after a few years and a series of man-made and natural events, the island completely vanished.
By all accounts, the island was the place to go on summer weekends during the Roaring Twenties. It was 12 miles out in the Mississippi Sound and offered sandy beaches the Coast didn't have at that time, as well as cabanas, a pavilion for dancing and a wheel for gambling and rum ships circling the island selling booze.
In the 1920s, Coastians like Col. J. R. Apperson, who had just built the Buena Vista Hotel on Biloxi Beach, were looking for ways to attract tourists to the unspoiled Mississippi Gulf Coast. Hunt, a boisterous and ambitious young businessman, shared that vision. When he spied the shallow shoals of Dog Keys and its centerpiece, Dog Island, a three-mile span of sand dunes covered in golden sea oats, he saw just what his hometown needed to thrive.
Hunt acquired the land between Ship and Horn islands through a quit-claim deed in 1925 for $183.75, rechristened it the Isle of Caprice, and brought on investors to build the island’s resort. The group welcomed its first visitors on July 5, 1925.
Tourists from New Orleans and Mobile, and as far as Illinois and Texas, loaded passenger boats like the Pan American and Non Pareil from piers at the Buena Vista and Cuevas Avenue in Biloxi for the sunbathing, music, dancing and gambling at the Isle of Caprice.
Hunt, a natural promoter, shined. He created marathon swimming contests that started on the Biloxi mainland and finished 12 miles later on the island. He brought big-band entertainment to keep the patrons dancing until the last boat left at 4 a.m. Rum boats circled the island, fueling the frivolity that kept the resort packed.
But unknown to Hunt, the island was already in the midst of its latest vanishing act. Since European explorers first visited the area in the late 1600s, the shifting sand keys had appeared, vanished and reappeared as shown on maps charted through the centuries. Hunt had ignored the Native American legends of the vanishing island, as well as the recent warnings from a New Orleans boat captain that they would wake up one day and find the island had disappeared.
At the height of the resort’s success, as Hunt planned to expand and protect his investment with a seawall, the Gulf of Mexico was reclaiming the island — first slowly, but by the time fire destroyed the property in 1931, erosion had greatly accelerated. In the summer of 1932, when the resort would normally be open to tourists, all that remained was a pipe that gushed water from an artesian well Hunt had dug on the island.
Facing ruin, Hunt regrouped with help from U.S. Sen. Pat Harrison and took a job as chief of the U.S. Capitol police in Washington, D.C., where he shared his love of coastal cuisine and culture with his friends and coworkers. He also served as grand marshal and parade chairman for the Biloxi Carnival and Literary Association, later known as the Gulf Coast Carnival Association, which he had helped form in 1916.
According to local lore, the harvesting of sea oats by tourists and industry caused the island’s fate. But historians and geologists point to the naturally shifting sands of the Gulf of Mexico. Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration places the sunken shoals under about 5 feet of water, surrounded by the deeper channels of Dog Keys Pass and Little Dog Keys Pass due south of Ocean Springs.
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Mississippi's Sunken Island
Postcard depicting the beginning of a swimming marathon in Biloxi to the Isle of Caprice
Above: Clipping from the Daily Herald on July 4, 1925 announcing the opening of the Isle of Caprice
Right: Clipping from the Daily Herald on July 6, 1925 recapping the opening of the Isle of Caprice
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