Sigma Nu Spring Break in the 1970s: Cheap Hotels on the Gulf Coast Where We Rented Rooms

Sigma Nu, Tulane University.

Spring Break Memories from the 1970s.





The place on the Gulf Coast the fraternity rented for Spring Break in 1974. We wanted an inexpensive hotel and the rooms in this one came cheap especially since all the phones had been ripped out by thieves and all the TVs had been stolen.

I feel certain Mike P. rented this place when he was when Commander in which case Otto, as Social Chairman, would have advised him. And Otto is from New Jersey so that alone kept expectations low.

The most important thing was ice to keep the beer cold. As Mike P. once said in one of his many wise observations of beach weekends, “if the ice goes, so do I.”

I’ve always considered him a wise person and now he is a distinguished professor of something or other. Incredibly, so is Otto. 


In reality:  An empty corridor stretches through the abandoned Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel on July 5, 2012 in Liberty, New York. The sprawling hotel and resort, closed since 1986, hosted up to 150,000 guests during its prime in the 1960s. (John Moore/Getty Images) courtesy of the Weather Channel.




Spring Break 1975. For our lodgings on these carefree days, the fraternity preferred to rent rooms in a hotel with a swimming pool. But if the rooms were really cheap, we would forgo such luxuries.  This swimming pool had been abandoned because some months prior to our arrival,  a number of guests had eaten a heavy meal in the hotel dining room then taken a swim and just like your mother warned you– they all got stomach cramps and drowned. (The life guards were off smoking weed).

 I think this dump was in Mississippi in which case Ferret and Mr. Later probably recommended it being familiar with that area. Great idea guys. Fortunately, devout Christians had occupied the rooms before us since all the Bibles placed by the Gideons had been stolen.

In reality: The swimming pool of the abandoned Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel in Liberty, New York. The hotel was closed in 1986. (Flickr/Forsaken Fotos) Courtesy of the Weather Channel.


When we stayed here, the gift shop wasn’t open anymore in this place outside of Picayune, Mississippi but truth be told, when renting hotel rooms for Spring Break, we of the Sigma Nu fraternity at Tulane hardly needed a gift shop. We only wanted ice. We didn’t want to buy sundries, whatever they are, or chewing gum. The only thing we may have needed were Top rolling papers which they didn’t sell in hotel gift shops. This is from Spring Break 1977.

Apparently, one of the people who worked in the gift shop had gone nuts after being fired several weeks prior to our arrival for stealing a moon pie. He had come back with a sledgehammer which he used to kill the gift shop manager along with two clerks and then used the sledgehammer to smash up the place.

There was still dried blood and brains scattered about when we were there but we didn’t care. Girls, ice and brewskis were the numero uno concerns of almost everyone.

According to Ferret, in the usual way they have in Mississippi, the local sheriff took the “Gift Shop Murderer” into custody not two hours after the crime. Hard as it is to believe, the murderer was sort of a Houdini type and got himself out of two sets of handcuffs and ankle cuffs, kicked the back door of the sheriff’s car open and rolled out even though it was going 60 mph.

The perp then got up and went running and, unfortunately, was shot dead while trying to escape.

In reality: the Grand Hotel in Kupari, Croatia. (Ben Fredericson) Courtesy of the Weather Channel.



I’m certain Scott K. rented rooms in this hotel outside of Panama City for Spring Break 1976. When one of the guys complained the bar was shut down, Scott said, “hey, brain bones, we don’t need a bar. We brought the bar.” And as in all matters social, Scott was right. I think there had been something minor like a mafia shootout or something in the bar. You know, things like that can happen in the nicest of places.


In reality: Inside an abandoned hotel located in the Pocono Mountains. (John Walker) Courtesy of the Weather Channel.


As an aside, years ago I was in New York where I often went on business. Scott K. was a successful investment banker and we usually had dinner. We each paid every other time to make it fair although let me tell you was his memory bad when it came to who had paid for the previous dinner. He tried to stick me with the check each and every time. I swear, the guy wouldn’t pay a nickel to see an earthquake.

One night we had this great steak dinner in Spark’s steakhouse and a few weeks later the chief mafia guy in New York was gunned down by persons unknown while walking to his car after a big, thick New York strip at Sparks. Very cool. And a real professional hit. Just a few undistinguished looking guys walking past in the press of the crowd on a New York sidewalk about 7:30 pm.

When they got right up on the big, fat guy who was the Mafia Don, one shooter gave him a double tap to the head from a silenced pistol. The chauffeur, who doubled as bodyguard (and not a very good one) also got a double tap to the head as well. The third and fourth shooters gave both of the men a double tap to the heart just to make sure. Both of then were taken to the hospital but were DOA. Duh. So an enterprising news reporter asks the Mafia Don’s attorney if the Don had enemies. Said the lawyer, “I should think that would be obvious.”


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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: