Memories Of St. Pete’s John 316 Cook Street Evangelist

Growing up in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida I remember John 316 ‘Soup Soap and Hope” Cook. Cook was a Street Evangelist preaching the gospel and helping St. Pete’s many homeless people get by. A heavenly man on a mission! 😉

John 316 Cook Early St. Petersbburg Mission
An early John 316 Cook mission aka flop house in St. Pete, Florida.

Cook’s many old flop houses in down-down St. Pete were painted Red White and Blue and were a sight to see. They all had ‘John 316 Soup Soap & Hope’ signs over the front doors. Cook had built his empire with thrift stores where his flock worked to earn their keep. But one day it all came crashing down.

Rolling high back in the early 80’s Cook purchased a new Cadillac Eldorado. Shortly afterward one of his flock stole the proceeds from one of his thrift stores, then it happened. Cook got drunk and crashed his new Cadillac Eldorado into ‘3 Gas Stations. At’34th street and 5th ave South he managed to mow down 3 gas pumps. He then drove across 34th st and mowed down 3 more gas pumps. Still not finished he drove across 5th Ave South and mowed down more pumps.

The city of St. Petersburg hated John 316 Cook with a passion. But before Cook’s accident there was little the city attorney could do. But his empire soon ended up defunct. During his trial which was a media circus Cook wiggled out of a long jail sentence. Cook’s attorney was wheeled into the courtroom on a stretcher by two ambulance attendants. The Judge was livid when the attorney said he sprained his back wrestling a hog on his ranch. A deal was made and Cook was instructed to leave St. Petersburg Florida and never come back.

John 316 Cook and Magical Marissa
John 316 Cook sits with Magical Marissa in front of their old mobile mission van.

From St. Petersburg and flat broke John 316 Cook ended up in Las Vegas Nevada. It didn’t take him long to start up a mobile mission run out of an old postal service van. He hooked up with a lady that went by the name of Magikal Marissa. The two cruised the slums of Las Vegas preaching to the down and out street people. The two of them passed out donated toys to children. Cook often pulled teeth for homeless people down on their luck.

Later on John 316 Cook was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was living with Magikal Marissa in an old trailer park, praying to the lord to ease his suffering.

Back in 2012 Doc blogged an article about Mr. Cook, which is no longer online. He recorded this telephone interview. He was nearing his last days on earth back then and rambled on. Further info can be found here and here .

Update 04/04/18. Found this tidbit dated August 17, 2012: The publicity-obsessed street preacher and self-styled homeless advocate died Saturday at Mike O’Callaghan Veterans Hospital after a long struggle with lung cancer, his wife and noted psychic and witch Magickal Marissa reports. Cook was 79.

There is negativity on the net posted about ole John 316 Cook. He was not perfect but helped a lot of people. Christians are not perfect – but are forgiven for their sins.

Oh well.. As usual.. Just my two cents worth! 😎

I'm a former Auto Dealer and Mechanic born in the 50s. In 1991 Doc's Place Bulletin Board System was born on the Fidonet Network. Since the net went public I've been studying and mastering it becoming a tech-savvy hobbyist webmaster. my opinion about many worthy subjects and maintain a large conservative archive!

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Bob Shemeligian
Bob Shemeligian
04/22/2020 7:04 PM

I was a Las Vegas reporter when I met John and Marissa. John certainly had his faults — like all of us — but he was good man and he helped a lot of people. God bless him.

04/22/2020 7:50 PM

Thanks for the kind words Bob. He’s smiling down from heaven being thankful he has not been forgotten. God bless Him! ?

04/22/2020 7:50 PM

Thanks for the kind words Bob. He’s smiling down from heaven being thankful he has not been forgotten. God bless Him! ?