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.
Two 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