Tag 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.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Family History, Growing Up, Waveland

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.

3 Comments

Filed under Family History, Growing Up, Waveland

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.

WavelandTrain

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Family History, Growing Up, Waveland

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

Comments Off on Jim 1 / Boo ZERO

Filed under Family History, Growing Up, Waveland