Now I Know What Happened to Clyde!

by Willie L. Robinson

Having lived in Picayune, Pearl River County, Mississippi most of the time between January 1955 and the time after I graduated from George Washington Carver High School in 1962, my experiences and memories of the small Southern Mississippi city are many. Many of my Picayune experiences are likely to remain with me for as long as I live. Prior to moving to Picayune when I was eleven yeas old, home for me was the small rural community of Quentin in Franklin County, Mississippi. During most of 1954, I lived with my family on the north side of Highway 84 next door east of the Mullins residence. I spent thirteen months between 1959 and 1960 living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That’s another story, many other stories in fact! I returned to Picayune to live in June of 1960. By then, I already knew Clyde from my earlier years there.

For a period of time between 1957 and 1958, I worked at a barber shop located on South Highway 11 near the Picayune Bus Station. I don't remember exactly when I started shining shoes at Clyde’s Barber Shop, or when I left to go to Byrd’s Barber Shop on West Canal Street to shine shoes there. But I do recall very well that I was still working at the Highway 11 location during the time of the filming of the movie King Creole, starring Elvis Presley. I also remember very well Clyde’s reaction to my asking him if I could be off work on the day I had heard that a scene of the movie was to be shot on a railroad track in or near Picayune. The main setting for the movie is New Orleans, Louisiana.

My plans were to carry my shoe shine box with me to the railroad filming location of the movie with hopes of getting a chance to ask Elvis to let me shine his shoes, or boots. I know now that was not likely to happen even if Clyde had not reacted as he did, and allowed me to be off work without being fired. At about age fourteen, I also had plans of saying something to Elvis about his music. Clyde quickly put an end to those plans. I still remember Clyde's reaction to even hearing Elvis' name mentioned. By the way, Clyde and most of his customers referred to me as "Shine". I never told Clyde, the customers or any one else that my name was Shine. It didn't matter to them. I was Shine. When I left Clyde's to go across the railroad tracks to work at Byrd's on the west side, I was called Shine there too. That's the way it was. Well, I guess it could have been that way simply because I shinned shoes at barber shops where I couldn't get my hair cut back then.

In August of 1962 I left Picayune to attend Mary Holmes Jr. College in West Point, Mississippi. I relocated to Jackson, Mississippi in 1964 to continue my education at Jackson State College (now JSU). Following my graduation from Jackson State in 1967 and teaching school in Jackson and Vicksburg for three years, I again relocated. This time I moved with my family to Nashville, Tennessee to study at Tennessee State University in 1970. Although I had originally planned to live in Nashville for no more than two or three years, I have lived in the Music City now for more than forty-two years. I am pleased my original plans to return to Milwaukee did not materialize. Nashville has been good for me.

During the time I have spent living in places other than Picayune memories of my hometown have remained with me. I have shared many of the memories with many people. Some of the memories are of the days I spent as a shoe shine boy at Clyde’s Barber Shop. As time passed, I often wondered what ever happened to Clyde. On March 25, 2013 after following some leads and with the assistance of staff at the Margaret Reed Crosby Memorial Library in Picayune, I received a copy of the newspaper article published in the March 02, 1961 edition of the Picayune Item. The article gives an account of the incident that lead to Clyde’s death. I was still living in Picayune on February 28, 1961 when Clyde was killed, but I don't remember hearing of his death back then. I was a seventeen and junior at Carver High at the time. Now I know what happened to Clyde!

The grand jury was scheduled to convene on the first Monday in April at which time a decision to incite or exonerate the man who shot Clyde was to be made. The April 13, 1961 edition of the local newspaper reported Elmer Alford was indicted for the killing of Clyde McClure, age 54, in front of the Picayune Bus Station. Elmer died on July 25, 1969 at age 67, eight years and about five months after Clyde's death. A lot related to this matter could have occurred in that amount of time. Additional research is planned in an effort to determine the outcome of the case.

An advantage of working at Clyde's was the fact that there was a shoeshine stand located on the outside of the barber shop near the bus station. In addition to the customers who visited the barber shop to be serviced by Clyde, visitors to the bus station also often got their shoes shined at the stand on the outside. It appears that the shooting incident occurred near the outside shoeshine stand. I still clearly recall an incident in which I was involved with the barber near that stand one day while visiting the area after I no longer worked at that barber shop. I was able to avoid Clyde's attempt to do me physical harm by quickly getting out of the seat on the shine stand and running away. The friend who was with me that day visiting the current shoeshine boy at the barber shop was not as fortunate. From a distance I witnessed some of what Clyde did to him. I am so glad I was able to deny the barber the opportunity to hit and kick me as he did my friend. I don't remember ever seeing Clyde again after that day in the late 1950s. That was most likely intentional on my part knowing what would have probably happened had I again come face to face with him.

Although I remember much more about the experiences I had during the time in the 1950s when I worked at the barber shop located near the bus station in Picayune, I will stop short of sharing more here. I will close simply by saying, may Clyde forever rest in peace!


This page is developed and maintained by Willie L. Robinson.

Date Created: March 26, 2013

Last Update: July 18, 2015


GW Carver High School of Picayune MS
The Picayune Item Obituaries