I am going to tell you an old Kenner story few, if any, have ever heard. My dad was Dr. Martial B. Casteix, Jr. Most folks called him “Doc” or “MB.” He had his office on Williams at Sixth Street (now Toledano), but that was not his first office.
In the modern day image above, the door on the left was the US Post Office back then. The second door was to Abdo’s Drug Store, and the little attached building on the right was MB’s original office (later Shirley’s Jewelry Store) before he opened the office on Williams at Sixth.
MB was a major in the Medical Corps in WWII and served in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy with the Fifth Army. His sister, Margie, was married to Robert L Manard, Jr. (also called “Son” or “Boo”), and they had a daughter, Melanie, in 1943. After the war Boo was an insurance agent, and Margie taught at Kenner High. I had her for math in the 9th grade.
Margie’s and MB’s dad died while he was in Italy during the war. He came home on leave to help settle the affairs of his late father. This was near the very end of the war in Europe, and every time he reported to a port of embarkation to return overseas, something happened, and he was sent home to wait for new orders. He was not paid during this period, and he insisted until his dying day the government owed him money—with interest. But he never challenged that for fear they might decide he was AWOL to avoid payment. The war ended and he was honorably discharged (I have his discharge papers to prove it).
While in this state of limbo and after his discharge, he lived with his sister and her daughter Melanie, and later her husband when he eventually returned from the war. Margie and Son lived in a shotgun single on Williams in Kenner right across from where MB eventually located his office. With the war over, MB intended to go back to med school and specialize in pediatrics.
Circumstances were about to squash that dream.
Dr. Kopfler was the only other doctor in Kenner then, and he was retired. When the citizens of Kenner heard there was a new doctor living with Margie and Son, the sick and wounded started showing up at their house. They came at all hours of the day or night suffering from every malady imaginable, including broken bones and knife wounds from bar fights. They bled and barfed on Son’s sofa and rugs.
Boo had enough!
He took his brother-in-law aside and told him, “MB, I can live with the people showing up all hours of the day or night and throwing up or bleeding on my furniture and rugs, but I just can’t deal with the ones having convulsions on my living room floor. GET AN OFFICE!”
And so he did. And that is how Kenner got a new doctor in 1945.
2 responses to “How Kenner Got a New Doctor”
Coooool! I see ” A Personal History of Kenner” in the making.
Building looks familiar… River town?
Yes, River Town. They call it that today. It was Kenner to me.
And yes, that is where this is going. When I have enough stories collected, I will publish as a personal history of growing up.