Johnny Cash was arrested for public drunkenness by Harvey K. Turner (though Cash described it as being picked up for picking flowers) in Starkville and held overnight at the city jail and paid a fine of $36
The song appears on the album Johnny Cash At San Quentin. Local oral tradition has it that he finished a gig at what is now the Dave's Darkhorse Tavern, and then walked a block west to the northwest corner of Lee Boulevard (now Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.) and Montgomery Street, where he helped himself to the flower bed at the front of the house.
From 2007-10, the Johnny Cash Flower Pickin' Festival was held in Starkville, the city where Cash had been arrested over forty years earlier. The festival, where he was offered a symbolic posthumous pardon, honored Cash's life and music. The festival was started by Robbie Ward, who urged the town to hold it annually based on the premise that: "Johnny Cash was arrested in seven places, but he only wrote a song about one of those places." Performers at the festival have included Rosanne Cash, Carlene Carter, Jimmy Tittle, Marty Stuart, Billy Joe Shaver and Joanne Cash. Marshall Grant, a founding member of the Tennessee Three, helped organize the event.
The Trusty Section or "the old jail" as the sherrif's department calls it, is also the place where Johnny Cash stayed after being arrested in 1965. He later sang about that night in the song "Starkville City Jail" which he recorded on the album Johnny Cash At San Quentin. What we call the "old jail" today was actually the main jail until 1992 when the new Oktibbeha County Jail was opened.
For years now, the Cell E (The Johnny Cash Suite) has been retired. Now it’s used as a storage area, although people can still see the small dent from when Cash kicked the steel door during his stay. He broke his big toe that night.
Because it is still an active working jail, tours are not permitted without the permission of the sheriff. Outside pictures of the old E Cell window are permitted. It is the second window on the left side of the main door.
The Trusty Section holds up to 22 trusty status inmates whom are used for tasks such as car washing to mechanic work. They also help with the county clean up on roads and other places where they might be needed from time to time. The Jailer's main duties include feeding and caring for trusty's, preparation of trusty's for the doctor/hospital visits and appointments, making sure trusty's are sent to their correct job for that day, assisting the front office with the telephones and requests from the general public that walk in and providing for the general security of the old jail.
Well, I left my motel room, down at the Starkville Motel,
The town had gone to sleep and I was feelin' fairly well.
I strolled along the sidewalk 'neath the sweet magnolia trees;
I was whistlin', pickin' flowers, swayin' in the southern breeze.
I found myself surrounded; one policeman said: "That's him.
Come along, wild flower child. Don't you know that it's two a.m."
They're bound to get you.
'Cause they got a curfew.
And you go to the Starkville City jail.
LOGGING REQUIREMENTS: Post a photo of yourself, with the front of the jail (including the Cell E window), in the background.
For a bit more insight into Johnny Cash's experience in Starkville, check out the Flower Pickin' Cash multi that will take you to the "Starkville Motel" and to the venue Cash had played at the evening before his arrest - and again in 1970.
If you tend to travel a lot, check out my other Lyrical Location virtuals: