The sun was blazing down on what seemed like hundreds of people gathered around the Church Street cemetery this morning—all to see 21 ladies in mourning for their beloved Joe Cain.
Slowly, and with heavy veils, the merry widows made their way from the charter bus into the cemetery where they eulogized the man of Mardi Gras, occasionally weeping to the point of collapsing on the grave. After that, the traditional dancing on the grave, then each one fanned out to throw beads and silk roses to those brave enough to scale the cemetery walls.
The party then moved to 906 Augusta Street, the house of Joe Cain, where more beads were thrown and the widows bickered among themselves about who was, in fact, Joe Cain’s favorite wife.
“Well, that’s between the girls, usually the strongest and youngest wins,” says Bill Gadd.
Bill Gadd and his wife have been celebrating with the widows for 13 years.
“It’s the best street party in Mobile,” says Gadd.
And it’s something folks here take immense pride in.
“It is a huge deal, I mean, it’s where it originated, he is the one that got it started. The story and all of his widows, his merry widows that he has, so many wives,” says Cheril McAleer.
And just like Joe Cain, these memories can never die.
“I’ve got a wreath on my door and every year I add new beads, but the oldest one on there is Joe Cain and it’s from 1979!” says one reveler.