Category Archives: Waveland

The Day Fairyland Burned

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away … oh, wait, wrong intro. But it was a long time ago, maybe about 1953 or there-about, when this disaster took place. And the galaxy was Waveland, MS at the summer home of my aunt and uncle. They owned twenty acres of kid-friendly heaven in Waveland. Translation: lots of woods to play in and minimal to zero adult supervision.

It began simply enough: Fairyland caught fire! GADS! That place of wonderment we kids thought possessed mystical qualities because our parents told us (liars) that fairies lived there, was burning!

Fairyland is the yellow circle. Red square was my uncle’s property.

Actually, Fairyland was a garbage dump on the neighbor’s property, because there was no garbage pick-up “a long time ago in that galaxy far, far away” of Waveland. Careless burning initiated by our parents must have caused the fire?

And then again, maybe it was caused by us kids and our Labor Day fireworks?

Whatever, Fairyland was in flames, and a conflagration of epic proportions was rapidly spreading. Where would all the displaced fairies live? Oh, the humanity!

We begged our parents to get involved. “Ummm, adults, there’s a forest fire out behind the house…”

Their reaction was immediate and decisive. “Sure sure. Can you get me another cold Regal from the ice chest?”

We kids resumed our fire-watch as the flames marched ever closer to the house, eating its way through the dried pine needles that littered the ground like a brown carpet everywhere you looked in Waveland. WE ARE ALL GONNA DIIIEEEE!

Finally, FINALLY, we were able to motivate our parents into action. Actually, the smell of burning pine needles may have been more of a motivator? Picking up his beer, Boo, my uncle trudged out of the comfortable confines of the screened porch around to the side of the house, and he saw it. His response: “Oh crap!”

There was an immediate call to action. “FIRE!!!” Well, maybe that is overstating it just a bit? Boo returned to the screened porch and said something like, “Umm, we have a small problem we probably kinda-maybe should take care of—like soon?”

The others looked up from the Chesterfield cigarette smoke and Regal beers. “Like what kind of a problem, exactly?”

“A small matter of a fire behind the house.”

We kids all chimed in then, “Yeah, and Fairyland burned down, and all the fairies are now displaced, refugees! Where will they go?”

With that, the slightly inebriated, adult fire brigade sprang into action with Boo shouting orders, and the others stumbling around attempting to obey. They dragged out a garden hose and attempted to reach the fire with it only to come up short by about fifty yards.

We kids formed a fire brigade of our own and commandeered a toy wagon and several buckets, which we filled with water at the free-flowing artesian well. Buckets filled, we dragged the creaky overloaded wagon to the site of the disaster. The terrain was a bit rough, so by the time we got there, most of the water had sloshed out of the buckets. We made trip after trip as our parents shoveled and batted the fire down with wet sacks and sandal-shod feet (ouch!).

And the world—well, at least all of Waveland—was saved from a flaming disaster. In other words, we finally got the fire out. Much relieved and exhausted, not to mention thirsty, they retired once more to the screened porch for fresh cans of Regal, Falstaff, and Jax beer. We kids rewarded ourselves with Nehi sodas, RC colas, pop rouge, and 7Ups.

Back at school Monday morning, we shared, with our classmates, our tales of derring-do, fighting the great forest fire that destroyed Fairyland.

And all was well with the world again. Except for the fairies who were left homeless and wandering aimlessly around Never-Never-Land, that is.


Dedicated to my cousin Bobby.

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More About Waveland

I have written about Waveland, Mississippi on more than one occasion. (A few such tales here, here, and here.) That is because the place holds so many memories from my childhood. During the summers, we generally went over to our little cottage in Waveland every other weekend. As soon as MB closed the office Friday night, we hit the road and did not return until Sunday night, usually quite late. MB would close the office in the summer for a two-week vacation, and guess where we went? Yeah, you guessed it.

I was poking around Google Maps, looking to see what the old hood looked like these days. It has changed a lot! Most of the houses there now were not there then and the area was more wooded. But it still brought back memories. The screen grab above shows the neighborhood. The big red square was twenty acres and originally belonged to my aunt and uncle (Margie and Son “Boo” Manard). The smaller yellow square was our property. The blue roof is the original house built by MB and his friend, Pete. Back then the yard was full of pine trees. Hurricane Camille eliminated most of those. None of the other houses inside the red square were there, and only two of those across the street existed then.

In Waveland, we fished, swam, crabbed, floundered at night, ate hamburgers, soft-serve ice cream after swims, and cold watermelons, and once watched Boo chase Jim, the horse, around his twenty acres. The kids drank pop rouge and Nehis, and the adults consumed adult beverages, mostly cold Falstaff or Jax beer (even Regal before they closed the brewery) all while exchanging gossip or playing cards. On “party nights” (when we had guests with us) they brought out the “big guns,” which was usually Seagrams 7 and 7Up or Coke. And that could lead to trouble, like the night Maxine D. fell in the bathtub and couldn’t get out. I guess she was drunk enough she didn’t hurt anything. It took three men to get her out. The fact that all four were snockered and giggling like it was the funniest thing they had ever experienced tended to hamper the operation.

When not engaged in the listed activities above, we boys were roaming the woods with our BB guns and sometimes getting into our own form of trouble but having a wonderful time. We hung out at a place near the back of the property we called “Fairyland.” (Yellow circle in the image above.) It was actually used as a dump by some of the locals, including us before we got environmentally conscious and started hauling it to the town dump. No garbage collection back then. There were a bunch of small ponds back there and lots of crawfish chimneys. It looked like a fairyland to us. I’m not sure I ever went to Waveland that I didn’t visit Fairyland.

Back behind Fairyland was a small creek that drained toward the Gulf and went under the railroad tracks. The culvert under the tracks was big enough we could stand up inside with only the need to stoop over a little. That culvert was the scene of the famous “you’ll shoot your eye out” gunfight Buck and I had—and I nearly shot his eye out. (The smaller red circle in the image above.)

No AC. in the “old days.” I slept under a huge window fan that sucked the air out of the house and across me in my bunk bed. The vacuum created in the house was filled by the cool night air. What a life!

There was no town water then, either. Our little piece of heaven was a one-acre plot carved out of the corner of a twenty-acre square originally owned by my uncle. He had an artesian well over near his house, which was on the opposite corner of that twenty acres. MB drilled a shallow well on our property, but the water tasted like rotten eggs. He decided maybe stringing all that pipe from the other corner of twenty acres wasn’t such a bad idea after all. Thereafter, we drew our water from an artesian well.

They sold the place in 1973. I wanted to buy it, but I was fresh out of the Air Force and, at the time, unemployed. Waveland is gone. My main regret is my kids didn’t get a chance to experience something like Waveland when they were young.


Filed under Family History, Growing Up, Waveland


In this blog I have mentioned Waveland, Mississippi several times. In fact there is a whole category for “Waveland” here. It holds many memories for me and my two sisters as well as our cousins Melanie and Bobby. I stumbled upon this image on FaceBook and it inspired me to write a little about Waveland.


As I mentioned in one of my previous blog posts on Waveland, we had a house there on the north side of the tracks. MB and his friend Pete built it on weekends and summer vacations from material they salvaged from a house they tore down in New Orleans. It wasn’t anything fancy, three bedrooms, one bath and a kitchen/living room combo with a fairly large screened porch on the front. In the summer, I slept out there under the blast of a huge window fan sucking air out of the house and across me in the top bunk of the bunk bed. I LOVED sleeping there. In the winter I moved inside for obvious reasons.

We fished, and crabbed, and swam, and floundered, if you can call it that, and explored the endless woods surrounding the house. It was the greatest place in the world for a boy to grow up. I so miss Waveland. My biggest regret in life is we were never able to afford a place like Waveland to take my boys in the summer.

We kids would sometimes walk into town to do whatever it is we did in the metropolis of Waveland. The route was along the railroad tracks. One time, we took Michael Manard with us, and he was quite young. Why we did this, I don’t recall, but Melanie might, because she tells this story on occasion. But we left Michael hiding the the culvert of the railroad while the rest of us went into town. Very responsible, weren’t we?

The image of the Waveland train station reminded me of a story MB used to tell. Before the war and before he lost his “fortune” in the Depression, Martial, MB’s dad, would lodge his family in Waveland in a rented house along the beach. They would remain there all summer. It was fairly common for New Orleanians in those days, those who could afford it, to move out of the city during the hot summers (no AC back then), and places like Mandeville and Waveland were popular destinations. Waveland was an easy choice because it was so convenient to New Orleans, and I don’t necessarily mean by car; I mean by train.

During those summers, Martial would depart Waveland for New Orleans by train on Monday morning and tend to his businesses in NOLA all week long. He owned eight drug stores in New Orleans back then. On Friday, he would catch the train and get off in Waveland to rejoin his family.

MB would sware they weren’t wealthy, and I am sure, during the Depression when Martial lost most of his holdings, this was true. But before that, they lived a lifestyle that bordered on wealthy, probably upper middle-class when there weren’t a lot of people who could claim such status.

Waveland Ware

Waveland fell into disuse during the sixties and early seventies. I was either off in college and working out of town during the summers or in the Air Force. My sisters often had other interests, and MB sold Waveland in 1973 or ’74. My sisters and I briefly considered buying it. I was recently discharged and barely making a living, and Jeanne and Martia weren’t any better off financially, so we backed down, and Frank Cavalino bought it. We made one last trip to Waveland to collect our stuff before Frank moved in. I got the stainless dinnerware from there, all war surplus and marked either “U.S.” or “U.S.N.” We use it as our everyday ware today, and every time I sit down to dinner, I am reminded of Waveland.

Ice Box R

I also got the Coca Cola bottle opener off the wall. (MB was not happy I did that.) I opened many a bottle of “pop rouge,” or Seven-Up, or Nehi Sodas on that opener. It resides on the inside of the door of the antique, oak ice box I converted into a bar, and I think of Waveland every time I open that bar to get something out.

Waveland House

Image is clipped from Google Street view.

The house is still there, and a neighborhood has grown up around it. I drove past once about ten years ago. The owners have closed in the porch, and all the pine trees are gone, probably taken down by Camille and Katrina, leaving the house looking a bit forlorn. I experienced mixed emotions that day: sad because it isn’t mine or even like it was when it was mine, and happy for the memories it brought back.

I miss Waveland.

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“Nanna” and “Tanda”

Anna and Candy were our two dogs when I was a kid. If you were my mother, they were named “Nanna” and “Tanda”, which was my mother’s baby-talk pronunciation of Anna and Candy. They were medium size dogs, about 35 pounds, short-haired mix breeds. The vet thought they had a lot of Fox Terrier in them.

Anna came first. She showed up as a stray around 1951. My dad tried his best to run her off, but she always came back (probably because my mother was feeding her behind his back). Eventually, Anna became “our” dog, and she was pregnant—naturally.

Anna had five puppies in the closet that housed the hot water heater. It was warm in there and she needed it because it was late winter when she dropped her litter. MB managed to give away all five puppies, but my mother managed to get one back. Instead of black and white markings like her mother, this pup was rust and white and marked almost identical down to the thumb-sized spot in the middle of the white blaze on the forehead. My mother named the pup Candy (or Tanda, if you prefer).

Anna and Candy were not supposed to ever get in the bed, but they did and moved in with my mother and dad. Consider that back then, there were no Queen or King-sized beds; at least we didn’t have one. My parents slept in a double with the two dogs.

They were excellent guard dogs and protected their territory with ferocious-sounding barking. Our yard was fenced on all sides but one. My dad’s patients parked along Sixth Street or in front of the office on Williams Street. To this day, I am not sure how he even had any patients. If they parked on Sixth Street, and Anna and Candy were out, they had to “run the gauntlet” past the two dogs barking and sounding for all the world like they would take an arm off if not for the fence. It was so bad that Janis, my future bride, would cross the street when she had to pass my house to visit her friend on Williams Street.

Anna and Candy lived a long time, and where we went they went, and that included our vacations whether to our house in Waveland, Mississippi or a brief trip to Panama City, Florida, and these dogs loved the water.

We had a summer ritual of spending two weeks at our house in Waveland, which was my dad’s vacation. That, of course, included the dogs. We usually managed to go “floundering” at least once. That means we attempted to catch some unsuspecting flounders sleeping in the shallows at night, which was mostly not very likely. That was because we had the two dogs with us.

We would have our “trusty” Coleman lantern that MB would always have to install new wicks in and spent the greater part of the afternoon getting it to work properly. We had homemade flounder spears, which were old broom handles with a sharpened nail stuck in the end. Being a boy, I always went for the “harpoon,” leaving the nets to my two younger sisters. MB carried the lantern. My mother attempted to manage the dogs, unsuccessfully, of course.

So, there we are wading around in the dark in knee-deep water looking for flounders. In all the summers we did this, we never-ever went home with a flounder. I am thinking it might be because Anna and Candy were busy loping and splashing around ahead of us in complete abandon to our “serious” attempts to harpoon a flounder! No self-respecting flounder would hang around after such advance warning.

The dogs also went with us when we went swimming. MB always had a boat and never missed a chance to use it, even if it was just to run out of the mouth of Bayou Caddy, hook a right and drop anchor off the beach there that was not accessible unless you had a boat.

In the late fifties and sixties, it was a twenty-footer he had custom built by an old man up near Hanson City. He named it the Marjelou a combination name made from the names of my two sisters (Martia and Jeanne) and my mother, Neva Lou. (Boys don’t get their names on boats.) It was open with only a windscreen and a small deck forward, MB’s ideal fishing configuration. Aft he had two mismatched outboards, an Evinrude and a Johnson. (MB was frugal; he already owned one and picked up the other dirt cheap; why buy new just to have a matching set?)

On either side of the transom were two small decks about two feet square. Those were where Anna and Candy rode. Most of the time they managed to stay up there, but sometimes while underway, we would lose one or more dogs. No one ever actually saw them when they went overboard, so we were never sure if they fell off or they just abandoned ship to frolic in the water. It would be just like them to do the latter. Either way, we had to turn back and search for the missing dog(s). We always found them blissfully swimming along.

Like most dogs, Anna and Candy loved to hang out the car window and do the “wind-in-the-face” thing all dogs seem to get off on. Back then we had no AC in the car, so the windows were always down. One day while returning from Bay St. Louis along the beach road, Anna was hanging out the waterside of the car and must have had a notion to go swimming? She jumped out the window. We were doing about twenty, and she hit the concrete and rolled down the street. We stopped, called her and she ran and jumped in the car, none the worse for wear.

They were good dogs–unless you ask my wife.

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Crusin’ down Ole Highway 90.

Returning from a week in Blue Mountain, Florida this Sunday, we were alerted to a severe traffic jam on I-10 at the Louisiana/Mississippi state line by my son, Ryan, and DIL who were over an hour ahead of us. We shifted over to US. Highway 90 at the Stennis exit to avoid some of this. Should have gotten off at the Bay St. Louis exit, because we hit the backed up traffic right after passing Bay St. Louis.

Oh well…

When I was a kid and before I-10 existed, we made many a trip to and from Waveland, MS using this route, so crusin’ down Ole Highway 90 was a trip down memory lane for me. I was reminded of those many Friday nights going east and Sunday nights returning to NOLA on that dark two-lane highway.

We always had a station wagon, which was the van or SUV of my day. It was always a nine passenger with a rear facing third seat. That was my favorite place to ride on those trips. The middle seat was folded down, and quilts were spread over the flat floor for my two little sisters to sleep on the way. They shared the space with our two dogs and sometimes a bird or that blasted rabbit mentioned elsewhere.

Seatbelts? We didn’t need no stinking seatbelts! Besides, the cars weren’t even equipped with them back then.

Did I mention luggage? No, because I can’t recall us ever carrying any. We must have had some little something somewhere, but it never took up much space. We had extras of almost everything stored in our Waveland house, so we don’t need no stinking luggage! Well, not much anyway.

No AC in the cars either, at least not in ours. Only the “very wealthy” bought cars with AC back then (1950s), and MB was too frugal for that. I can recall several times we noticed water dripping from other cars, and being ever concerned for the safety of others, we flagged them down to report the strange water dripping from under their cars. Inevitably, they would roll down their windows (because they had AC) and say, “What?”

To which we replied, “Water! You have water dripping from your car!” And we continued on, thinking we had saved the lives of some poor family that we were sure their car was close to exploding—or something.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the dripping water was condensation from their AC!

We didn’t know any better!

One story MB told of a trip to Waveland has always stuck in my mind. He and his friend, Pete Constancy, built our house in Waveland, mostly from scraps of a house they tore down in NOLA that Pete owned. They carefully removed the window frames and sashes and stacked them on a homemade trailer. The trailer was, shall we say, a bit bouncy. They stacked the windows flat, not on edge like they should have. Stacked so, the glass could not stand the bouncing, and they arrived in Waveland with every pane broken, and Highway 90 strewn with broken glass from NOLA to Waveland.

My sisters, Jeanne and Martia, and my cousins, Melanie and Bobby, will remember the “Pama-Pama Bridge,” which I think was the one over the Chef Menteur Pass. (One of the four will comment and correct me if I am wrong.) Why was it called the “Pama Pama Bridge?” Because your car tires made “pama-pama” sounds as they passed over the expansion joints. I never knew of any other bridge that sounded quite like that.

I went over it today, and, sadly, it doesn’t go “pama-pama” anymore. Another childhood memory lost forever!

Motorcyclists have it right when they say, “It isn’t the destination, it’s the trip!” We are always in a rush to get somewhere. We need to spend more time on the Old Highway 90s of our lives and enjoy the ride.


Filed under Family History, Growing Up, Kenner, Waveland

Box Turtles

I am referring to highland terrapins, more commonly called “box turtles.” The turtle saga began about 1957 or so with an article in the Dixie Roto Sunday Magazine supplement in the Times-Picayune. The article was about box turtles in the garden and how the author used them to control the bug population. Anything that gave my mother an excuse for another pet was welcomed in our house, except by the pet-longsuffering MB, of course.

I looked at the pictures in the article and was immediately struck by the fact that I had frequently seen these box turtles while I was roaming the woods around Waveland. I made the mistake of telling my mother this and was immediately dispatched to hunt box turtles on the next weekend we were in Waveland, a task I gleefully accepted as hunting was in my blood. In short order, I collected at least a dozen box turtles, which we took back to Kenner to do bug control duty in my mother’s gardens.

What seemed like a good idea really wasn’t. The problem was our yard was not completely fenced. There was a stretch between the house and my dad’s office of about 20 feet with no fence, an obvious avenue of escape for our new bug patrol. Our solution was to identify the turtles as our own, so I painted “Casteix” on the back of each turtle’s shell with a different “serial number” for each on top. That actually worked for a while. We would get phone calls from neighbors over a block away to come and retrieve our turtle.

That got old, but MB had a solution. By then he had bought into the turtle/pet thing and knew we had to deal with the turtle escape issue to maintain peace in the household.

A couple of years previously, MB had built a “swimming pool” for the kids. It was a “swimming pool” in name only, thus the quotation marks. It was simply a concrete tub about the size of a king-sized bed and maybe 18 inches deep. Since it lacked a filtering system and any means to drain it once the water became fouled, it failed in its design function.

Now, my dad was a brilliant man in many respects. He skipped two grades in school and entered LSU two years younger than his classmates. He was a great family doctor. In the days before all these tests, he could make an accurate diagnosis of illness with only a brief examination and a few carefully worded questions. Other doctors often described him as one of the best diagnosticians they ever knew. But as a “tinkerer,” he lacked finesse, the alleged “swimming pool” is a good example.

The useless “swimming pool” would become the new home for the turtles and was christened the “turtle pond.” These were land turtles and needed “land” to live on, so MB built an island in the middle of the pool leaving a moat all around. My mother populated it with various kinds of plants and had MB erect a statue of St. Francis in the middle of the island.

Baby Box TurtleThe turtles moved in and thrived. My mother feeding them cat food daily must have helped. They mated and laid box turtle eggs and we had new generations of turtles! (The one in the picture is a baby.)

Eventually, my folks moved out of Kenner to River Ridge. In fact, they moved no less than four more times, and my dad had to build a new turtle pond at each house. (This was their “gypsy phase.”)

Meanwhile, I grew up, went to college, married, went in the Air Force and moved back home after discharge, settling in Old Jefferson. Finally, my dad got tired of building turtle ponds and moving turtles, so I inherited them. I wasn’t asked, I was told, “Here are your turtles.”

Well, I wasn’t about to build any turtle ponds, but I did have a fenced vegetable garden area inside my fenced yard, and the turtles went in there to “free range.” And they prospered, mated and laid box turtle eggs! Our boys learned about sex watching box turtles mate.

The turtles also came in handy for Heath’s and Ryan’s birthday parties. I would collect up as many turtles I could find, paint numbers on their shells and the kids would have turtle races. Each kid picked a turtle, which we placed in a circle in the grass. The first turtle to make it out of the circle won a prize for its “owner.” The kids loved it and those we run into years later often mention our turtle races when they were young.

Disaster struck. We had a couple of really cold winters. Box turtles bury themselves for the winter and most did not survive. But a few must have, as we would sometimes encounter a young box turtle in the yard for years after.

In 1986 we moved from that house to one about four blocks away as the crow flies. Every few years I find a box turtle roaming around the yard. When I do I release it into the fenced area of our yard. Either they get out again or are really good at hiding because I very rarely find one inside the fence again. However, last summer Janis found a baby box turtle in our garden. We must have a mated pair somewhere in our yard!

I am sure the ones I am finding today are descended from that original bunch I brought back to Kenner from Waveland.


Filed under Family History, Growing Up, Waveland


Easter 1958I have two sisters. Jeanne is the elder of the two and seven years younger than me. Martia followed Jeanne by almost two years. Because they are so much younger than I am, I didn’t have a lot to do with them, plus they seemed always underfoot, especially when I started dating. Actually, very annoying would be a better description. They were always up to something, and I suspect Jeanne was the instigator since she was the oldest. I have already posted about the girls and the Dwarf Parrot, and here follows a few more Jeanne and Martia incidents I can remember. I’m sure more will come to me.

Snow in July?

Some of you may recall Ivory Snow. It was a laundry detergent that was in the form of soap flakes rather than granules or liquid like most laundry detergents today. The stuff looked like you took a pocketknife to a bar of Ivory Soap and cut off thin flakes about the size of a fingernail. Except for its flake form, it had all the usual properties of a bar of soap.

I have no idea why they did it; you will have to ask Jeanne; but they took a whole box of Ivory Snow and spread it (the WHOLE box) on the oak flooring all around the dining room table. THEN, they took their tricycles and rode round and round the dining room table through the Ivory Snow turning it back into a bar of soap, albeit one that was now a very large and thin donut shape.

I think this transpired while my mother was sleeping and MB was on his morning calls. I have no idea how MB got all that ground-in soap off those hardwood floors.

“Do you know where those girls are?”

My grandmother and grandfather lived on the corner of Sixth Street and Minor at the other end of the block from us. My grandfather never drove a car, and no one would ever explain why. Of course, that led to all manner of speculation. My grandmother drove him everywhere he went, or he bummed a ride with someone. Since he was the principal at Kenner High School, my grandparents were always up early, and Buck (what we called him, Prof Barbre to the rest of Kenner) was at school before most everyone else.

On the way home from dropping him at school one morning, my grandmother drove by our house on Sixth Street. It was January and cold, and my mother got a wakeup call from her mother. “Neva Lou, do you know where those girls are?” she asked in a very demanding tone of voice, a voice she had perfected through years of asking similar questions.

My sisters were not yet school age, so my groggy mother replied, “In bed?”

To which my grandmother replied with an even harsher tone, “No, they are not! They are running around in the front yard buck-assed naked, and it is cold outside!”

No, I have no idea why they were doing that. You will have to ask them.


Back in the fifties everyone smoked, including my mother and dad. My mother’s favorite brand was Chesterfields. MB favored Lucky Strikes as I recall. Brands were, of course, unimportant to Jeanne and Martia, they just wanted to pretend smoke cigarettes, which usually meant my mother’s because they were left laying around. The girls, only about five and three at the time, would have several cigarettes in their mouths at one time, and they were all slobbery wet with little girl spit from saliva glands over stimulated by the taste of tobacco.

One time in Waveland, they were doing their cigarette slobber thing, and big brother decided to teach them a lesson about the evils of smoking. This was another of those “it seemed like a good idea at the time” things. As usual, each had at least three cigarettes in their mouths, so I lit them all! Two puffs later and just about the time my mother entered the room, both hurled cigarettes and breakfast all over the kitchen.

Needless to say, I got punished, but the girls never touched a cigarette again, at least until they got a lot older.


Filed under Family History, Growing Up, Kenner, Waveland

Another Chicken Story

This must have been around 1957 or so. A pet shop opened in an old grocery store on Williams and immediately became the favorite hangout for us kids. In addition to pets, it also featured plastic model kits, and I was in my plastic-model-kit-period at that time. The cold drink machine was also a big draw. We motivated there either by bicycle or go-cart, parking them all outside on the sidewalk. The place looked like a biker bar for kids, except the bikes had no motors, just playing cards attached to the frame with clothes pins. They made “motor” sounds when the spokes of the spinning wheel hit it. That is yet another story—for another time.

Come Easter time, they got in a load of cute little baby chickens, which had all been dyed various Easter colors: pink, blue, green, purple, you name it. Way too much eye-candy for a kid my age to pass up, so I bought two and took them home to my sisters for Easter presents. Actually, maybe I bought myself one, too? The two for my sisters were for the sole purpose of legitimizing mine.

My folks were not happy. Well, MB wasn’t happy, but my mother was ever willing to have another pet, even if it was three lowly chickens. She should have held no illusions about chickens as pets, because my grandparents had a chickens for eggs and meat when we lived with them on Williams when I was very young.

Baby chicks do what baby chicks do: they eat, make chicken poop, and become not-so-cute adult chickens, in this case, White Leghorn roosters—no hens, just roosters. By then my sisters and I were bored with the no longer cuddly roosters roaming around in our back yard in Kenner, but we could not even consider eating them! After all, cute or not, they were pets.

The ever-clever MB came up with a solution to rid himself of the three roosters without upsetting the rest of the family. The roosters would make a trip to Waveland to visit Boyd and Mary.

Boyd and Mary were the black couple that lived about two blocks from our house in Waveland. Boyd cut our grass, and Mary cleaned the house after we left after a stay. And they had chickens, lots of chickens, mostly White Leghorns, all roaming their mostly grassless yard making chicken noises among the impressive junk collection they had scattered about.

I shouldn’t be so hard on their hoarding, because Janis and I bought some of that “junk” when we got into antiquing years later. “Mary, how much you want for that old ice box?” (Notice I said “ice box” and not refrigerator? That is because it used block ice to chill the contents.) She would hem and haw, and I would say, “$5?” She would unsuccessfully try to hide her glee and reply, “Oh, OK, Baby.” I am sure she was thinking we were two crazy white folks. She was right.

Back to the chickens—

Our three roosters moved into the Boyd and Mary chicken ranch. Of course, one condition of this gracious gift was they would not actually eat our chickens. Yeah, right! Like they needed three more roosters in their yard. I’m sure MB had worked out some kind of deal with Boyd and Mary, probably paid them to take the stupid chickens off his hands.

We soon mostly forgot about “our” chickens left in the tender care of Boyd and Mary until a trip to Waveland a few weeks later. As was customary, MB visited Boyd and Mary to pay them. Naturally, my sisters and I insisted on going along to “visit” our chickens. We, of course, still laboring under the assumption they had not seen the inside of a stew pot.

“Where are they?” my sisters and I innocently asked of Mary.

Mary was really cool about this. Without hesitation, she simply pointed at one of the numerous and unidentifiable white chickens free-ranging among the junk in her still grassless yard and said, “Look, Baby, there’s one now!”

And we believed her.

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Jim 1 / Boo ZERO

This story takes place not in Kenner but over on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in Waveland. Waveland was such a huge part of my growing up, that I can’t tell stories about life in Kenner without mentioning it.

We had a summer home there. It wasn’t anything fancy, just a three-bedroom house with one bath, a kitchen and sort-of den, and a screened porch. My dad, MB, and his friend, Pete Constancy, built it themselves on weekends and summer vacations, mostly from materials they scrounged from a house Pete was tearing down. It wasn’t on the beach, either. It was back behind the RR tracks that run through Waveland, about 4 or 5 blocks off the beach. As you can see, I am not talking fancy summer beach home here. Such was not my father’s style. It sat on about an acre of land purchased from my uncle and aunt, Son and Margie Manard who lived in Kenner on Williams at Sixth.

Son Manard’s name was Robert L. Manard Jr. Most adults called him Son or Sonnyboy. We kids knew him as Boo, which is a term of endearment down south, especially in South Louisiana.

Boo and Margie owned ten acres as I recall. They called it “Manard’s Manor” and even had a “fancy” sign hanging over the entrance gate announcing its name. Their house wasn’t any fancier than the one my dad would eventually build, a low slung three-bedroom with a screened porch. Before our house was built, we would visit Boo and Margie at theirs for weekends and even use it for a week at a time during the summer. Often there would be a crowd of people there, mostly family, and lots of kids.

That ten acres was heaven for us kids. About a two-thirds of it was wooded and the rest mostly open with scattered pine trees. We played baseball and football in one of the fields and explored the woods, discovering all manner of animals and other interesting stuff not found back in Kenner. Those were absolutely wonderful days! Waveland was a really cool place for kids and adults.

The story I am about to tell took place one summer at Manard’s Manor around 1952. I was about 8 years old at the time. I was witness to the first part and only found out the conclusion many years later when my dad told me.

My aunt and uncle and my two cousins, Melanie and Bobby, were there. My family was also there as guests as well as a few others from the Lagasse clan for a weekend of swimming, fishing, crabbing, and fun. The kids had ten acres to play on, and the adults had lots of adult beverages cooling in a tub for when we weren’t at the beach or fishing or crabbing.

Jim and BooTwo horses resided at Manard’s Manor: Jim and Nancy. Jim was a big gray horse and very gentle. Their days were largely spent grazing on the grasses and drinking cold water from the continuously flowing artesian well on the property, a pretty easy life for a horse.

On this occasion, Boo decided he wanted to ride Jim, and when Boo got something in his head, it was hard to get it out. Normally, Jim would come right up to you, and you could pet him or feed him treats. But instead of a slice of bread or sugar lump, Boo approached him with a bridle. Jim took one look at Boo with that bridle in his hand and knew exactly what was coming, and he wanted no part of that program. Jim promptly turned and decamped with Boo in hot pursuit calling to him, first in gentle dulcet tones eventually becoming a lot louder and laced with profanity.

Jim got the message, but Boo got the lasso.

Evidently, Jim also knew what a lasso was for, because he then put even more distance between himself and that crazy man with the rope.

Boo moved closer. Jim moved back. Boo threw the lasso. Jim ducked. The rope missed. Boo got madder.

If horses can laugh, Jim was definitely laughing.

After collecting the rope, Boo went after Jim swinging that lasso over his head like some deranged cowboy.

Jim ran. Boo ran. Jim was faster.

I don’t recall how long this game of “catch Jim” lasted, but it went on for quite a while. (Did I mention that Boo didn’t give up easily?)

I do recall sitting outside the house with my cousins, taking a break from play and enjoying cold Dr. Peppers, Nehi sodas, and such, when Jim came trotting from around behind the house, trotted passed us kids, and went trotting around the other side of the house. Boo soon followed swinging that lasso over his head, but he was obviously much blown from the effort.

Eventually, Boo caught Jim. I never knew how, but I am guessing he managed to corner him and get the lasso on him.

Then came the saddle.

Boo’s saddle was a genuine, war surplus, U.S. Cavalry, McClellan saddle. It was old! George McClellan designed it around the time of the Civil War, and they had been in continuous use by the Cavalry until they traded in their horses for armored vehicles about World War II. At the time, it could have been anywhere from nearly 100 years old to maybe only 20 or so. In my opinion, McClellan saddles are not the most comfortable looking devices.

Boo got the saddle on Jim and rode that horse all the way to Clermont Harbor, which was about six miles round trip. He arrived back at Manard’s Manor, feeling much the winner in this little contest of wills, and joined the rest of the party for dinner. Jim went back to slurping cold water from the artesian well—and probably laughing.

My dad told me the next part of the story years later.

Sometime after dinner when all the adults were sitting around talking and enjoying adult beverages, Boo started squirming in his chair. He leaned over to my dad and suggested they take a walk. Many reading this will know that MB was a doctor. Boo escorted MB into one of the back bedrooms where he confessed, “MB, my butt hurts! Bad!”

Now, MB couldn’t make a proper diagnosis without an exam and calmly replied, “Drop your pants.” Boo obeyed.

This is how he described what he found, “Lane, Boo’s butt was so inflamed that it looked like it was from one of those red-assed baboons in the Audubon Zoo!”

Boo couldn’t sit down and had to sleep on his belly for a few days. Jim had gotten the last laugh. I don’t recall Boo ever riding Jim again.

Jim 1 / Boo ZERO.

The image is of Jim and Nancy with Boo and my two cousins Melanie and Bobby in Waveland. Thanks to Bobby for digging this old image up – Lane

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