The Sun Herald - Lechner returns home to Margaritaville
BILOXI -- Myrtle Fryou Lechner added a sense of place to Margaritaville Casino Monday when she returned to the East Biloxi spot where she was born 95 years ago. Her photograph now hangs in the valet lobby next to a plaque that says, "Thank you Myrtle for sharing your home with us."
She posed for pictures with her brother, three of her four sons and their wives and three grandchildren who joined her for the celebration. "I wish my mother and daddy could see this place," she said, looking up at the building at the end of Fifth Street. "I think it's wonderful y'all built down here where I was born," she told the staff of Margaritaville, who applauded her as she stepped out of the car. She had her hair done and was dressed in a colorful sweater for the occasion. "They'd rather see Mom than Jimmy," said her son, Gary Lechner, as employees and visitors gathered around her. Jimmy Buffett flew his seaplane in for meetings and was headed to meet Myrtle when he was surrounded by fans.
For lunch at Margaritaville Cafe, Myrtle ordered a shrimp po-boy and a Barq's root beer, the brand she sips every day. Usually she has a Coca-Cola at lunch and a Barq's at night. The house where she was born March 11, 1917, and lived for the first two years of her life, sat back from the water on the place where Margaritaville now stands. "That's where we went swimming all the time when I was young," she said. She is one of nine children and said they moved so often every child was born on a different street. She and her late husband lived on Crawford Street in East Biloxi. When it flooded during Hurricane Katrina to within 8 inches from the ceiling, she moved to West Biloxi and decorated her home with crocheted bedspreads and afghans. "I keep busy all the time," she said.
Her brother Charlie, 90, drove her to Margaritaville when it opened in May and mentioned to employees that she was born at the site. That led to Monday's dedication. General Manager Karen Sock told Myrtle she should consider Margaritaville her home away from home. Her photo and plaque eventually will be part of a larger display that will feature photos of Biloxi and South Mississippi in the 1960s and 1970s, when Buffett first played on the Coast. Myrtle said she plans to return to Margaritaville. "I like to come out here and visit where I was born."
By MARY PEREZ