Louisiana Trilogy

I lived a majority of the first ¼ century of life in South West Louisiana.

Even though I am not a Cajun, I do have traditions and ideals I learned in Cajun households. I spoke with a Cajun accent for most of my first 25 years and I still say some things in the accent because they just don’t mean the same thing without it. The first time one hears “Cajunese”, those who are not lucky enough to have spent any time down Lafayette way, it had to be repeated and explained. That’s okay, it’s part of the charm.

So, I have a deep love for my old stomping grounds. I’ve lived in Broussard, Abbeville and Lafayette. I’ve bar hopped in Breaux Bridge, St Martinville, Mamou, Catahoula, Intracoastal City. I started first grade in Lafayette and graduated there, too. I go back every two or three years. I always go to the St Martin De Tours church. Drive by my old homesteads on St Pierre St and John Wayne Dr.

Katrina hit me hard, emotionally. We took hurricane refugees into our Casino Hotel, as did all the other casinos in the area. We set up computers at our bell desk so that they could file their FEMA claims online. I worked, telling them where to find things, help them use the computer is they needed, gave directions to Wal-Marts. Most of the people that visited during my shift were from Plaquemine and Metairie and many of them had homes underwater. They were in disbelief. They were still too shocked to grieve, it was still new. Let me also acknowledge the damage and loss in my home state of Mississippi.

Rita was even worse for me cos it actually affected areas where I had lived, loved, partied and dined. Also Rita hit Lake Charles harder and that is where my BBF Van and many of her progeny are.

Now there’s this oil spill tragedy. I haven’t followed the story a lot, but I don’t have to see media footage to know that it is tragic.

This is a hauntingly beautiful song about a flood in Louisiana in 1927, but it also fits recent water catastrophes.

Thanks for the idea. Deanna.


Daddy, Don't You Walk So Fast

I am one of those people who does not know their father.

My mother and father were married. When Dot found out she was pregnant, she decided to leave Kenny. Her side of the story was, “he wouldn’t hold a job, I was always supporting him. I’d rather support two people than three.” So, as I’ve always been told, she left him at 2 months pregnant, the divorce was final when I was 18 months old.

I am my mother’s only child. I am my father’s second of six. It’s so weird to know that you have brothers and sisters, probably all living right there in Memphis, and I have never met them. Two boys and two girls, with wife 3. Another brother, son of wife 1, is Hispanic. I have never been bothered by White/Hispanic relationships because I knew my older brother was the product of one and though I’ve never met him, I feel a loyalty to him. It’s subliminal. He grew up not knowing his father, too. Back in the late 50’s/early 60s, there was generally no joint custody or visitation or anything like that. I can’t speak for Larry (that’s his name) but my mother chose to remove herself from Kenny’s life and she was very successful in that. Dot tells me Kenny was abusive to Larry’s mother. Kenny was not abusive to Dot, but that’s another story for another time.

I did connect with my father eventually, sort of. I met him formally when I was 9. I was visiting Mama Lou ( Dot’s Ma) in Memphis, summer 1970. I convinced her Dot said I could meet my dad if I wanted to. Dot says she never said this, but somehow I got that idea and I went with it. Kenny came over to my grandmother’s house and I got the shyness and Mama Lou was stuck talking to him for two hours while I cracked pecans at the table and cut up with a neighbor girl. I never heard the end of that one, lemme tell ya.

When I was 19 or 20, I was working at Answering Service of Lafayette, and during an idle time at the old western electric switchboard, I got Kenny’s number from directory assistance and rung him up. His mother-in-law answered the phone and he was not there, so I said “Tell him his daughter from Louisiana called” and hung up. Now I try to imagine the shock I gave that old lady and it must have caused quite a fracas in the Kenny household.

The next attempt occurred when I was 22. X1 and I came through the Midsouth on our way out west so he could meet my aunt and her family. I tried calling him then, on a payphone in Southaven, but I didn’t get an answer.

It was when I was 30 that we finally met and I heard his side of the story. All those years Dot was insistent that I have nothing to do with him. Auntie Virg convinced her that it was only right that he should know he had a grandchild. So I finally had the official okey dokey to proceed.

Kenny was thrilled to hear from me. He came down to the motel in Hernando, where I was a desk clerk and we visited, then after I got off, we went for cokes to talk. He still had feelings for Dot, she had broken his heart. He didn’t know where I was. In this internet age, it’s easy to find someone, back then it wasn’t easy. His wife had been jealous of my mother and she kept him from searching too seriously, so that’s how it goes.

The story does not have a Waltonesque ending, sadly. He was willing to start some sort of relationship, but I believe his wife discouraged it. If I could tell he still cared for Dot, certainly his wife had been harboring ill feelings their entire marriage. He came out to the house, (he and Dot got along fabulously, Dot was flattered that he still cared, it was quite a boost to her ego.) took me and Chris to movies, invited me to a family reunion which I slunk out of, and Chris and I went to dinner at his house one night and his wife was less than charmed. She was rather cold to me and I can understand why. I had given Kenny photos of me and Chris, which he had proudly displayed on his home mantle. His wife and Daughters were outraged and demanded we be taken down. It was a nice try, but it didn’t work out.


50 is the new 30

I’ve been feeling very reflective, of late.

I’ve always been one to do a lot of thinking. Too bad I didn’t have enough gumption to go beyond high school, school wise. I just wanted to be done with school, so it never crossed my mind to try to go to college. I wasn’t a great student, hated to study. In fact I never studied. Not once. I eked by on random memory and lucky guesses.

Saturday morning, it’s foggy outside so that the room is bathed in gentle gray tones. I have fans and a lot of white noise going on. White noise helps me relax, total silence makes my ears ring. It’s perfect for ponderings. My mind jumps around like a whack-a-mole. I tend to think in spurts.

I’m being dragged into October kicking, screaming, latching on to stationery objects. It’s like a giant wind machine is blowing me backwards toward my next birthday. Five Oh, we ain’t talking Jack Lord and Danno here.

Now that I’m here, approaching 50, it ain’t so tragic. I still feel young, mentally. I still have challenges to conquer and unfinished business to see to. Life keeps changing, you can’t set anything in stone, cos you have to roll with the flow.

When my mother turned 51, I made her a “cake” out sugar free lime jello with “Dot” spelled out in cantaloupe balls. (She was newly diagnosed diabetic.) And "LI" (51 in roman numerals, silly) I got Auntie Virg to get Dot and Chris out of the house and I set up the boom box with 50’s tunes and sat out her “Elvis” Bradford Exchange plate collection. Hung some streamers. Auntie Virg, Kat and lil' Chris thought the whole thing was great. I think Dot did too, but something in her personality made her always have a “this is ridiculous, why are you wasting my time” attitude, even though she was tickled with the attention at the same time. (She was a wonderful cook and loved Mel Brooks movies)

I may still have a few tricks up my sleeve. I am a fast learner, um, most of the time. Always something to look forward to, except that gets clouded by something to dread, sometimes. Of course, I’m always busy imagine the worst case scenario, too. A worrier’s work is never done. Everything always smoothes out, eventually, I’ve been lucky that way.

These pics are almost 20 years old, from the “Over the Hill Party” RonDan threw me when I turned 30.


Look Out World....

It’s almost here, May 19th. The day of graduation for the 1978 class of Comeaux High School. 32 years.

Thirty-two years. Oh My Gawd! If I didn’t feel old before, I feel it when I hear numbers like this.

What was I like 32 years ago? Sometimes I miss that carefree 17 year old. The seventeen year old Vi did not think she was carefree, but what did she know? She was just another teenager that thought she was all grown just cos she graduated High School.

I remember that day at Blackum Coliseum in Lafayette La. They herded us through the cow shoots for practice. There was hay everywhere and if I am not mistaken, MUD. The school teachers that were along to assist in our preparation talked to us like children! “If you don’t keep quiet, you will not walk and get your diploma!” Riiight, like you ain’t ready to get rid of us. We’ve been running around all school year being all senior arrogant; time to let the junior class rise to the top.

After they decided we were ready, they let us go and I’m sure me and my BBF Van spent the rest of the day preparing for the most exciting thing to happen to us so far. I don’t remember at lot of details between the practice and the ceremony. I was torn between the excitement of graduation and the sadness that my Mother did not plan to attend. I can’t remember why. We were getting along pretty good, then, but she absolutely refused to go. I was heartbroken. I had lived here four years, but I wasn’t kin to anyone except Mama. I had a very plain high school experience outside of football games and a few after game dances, I was also in Speech Club. But that’s all the extra-curricular actives I enjoyed and two of those we because my BBF Van was in Pep Squad.

So here’s the night, hot and muggy, if I recall, correctly. It’s threatening to rain. We go our little Pomp and Circumstance march in, up through the middle of the seats, around your section to the row you’re on, then go to the end of the row. Seated, I began to search the crowd, hoping Dot had changed her mind. I didn’t see her. Oh, well.

I was supposed to stand at the bottom of the stage stairs until my name was called when the graduate before me was walking off stage. In my excitement, I rushed when then girl on from of me name was called, the ushers stopped me and I stood there while she walked across stage. I was very anxious to be done with it. I was at the very end of the alphabet, W, so it really was over soon after that.

Being back outside, a balmy breeze was blowing and I watched my classmates huddled in groups getting snapshots with family members. You could have knocked me over with a feather when my mother and our friend Mona K walked up. Mona had shamelessly shamed Dot into coming to my graduation, and my mother had been there after all. I wish I had known while it was happening, but it was a good feeling once I did know.

Afterwards Van and I hooked up with a couple of fellow fella grads and went out to eat, then bowling. I had my first real job the next day. I was a young adult, high school behind me, a job. I thought I was pretty cool, but I knew a lot less than I thought I did. Growing up is a humbling experience.


"Scardy Cat"...."Am NOT"......"Are, too!"

What’s scary to you?

I love spine tingling ghosty stories. I love looking at ghost photographs, watching ghosty vids on you tube. Ghosty movies, not that hack and slash crap, but a good ghost story, heck it ain’t gotta be good. There are a plethora of “good” awful ghost movies on Hulu.

I’ve had the occasional ghostly experience. Sometimes my mother rattles around, but it’s not scary. I know she is here when I smell coffee brewing and I am not brewing coffee. We catch glimpses of movement in the corner of our eyes. She just drops by from time to time to check up on us. You get used to it after awhile.

I don’t care for clowns. I can only stand 3, Bozo, Ronald McDonald and Fizbo. All other clowns are evil and must be shunned. It’s not so much that I’m scared, I just hate clowns. I don’t trust anyone who won’t show their face. You can’t even trust Jimmy Stewart for cry-eye. Remember that movie “The Greatest Show on Earth”? Jimmy Stewart plays a circus clown hiding out behind the face paint, cos in real life (Real movie life, isn’t that an oxymoron?) he’s a fugitive running from the law for murdering his wife. You can’t even trust George Bailey after he schemers on the clown white.

My cousin, Dood Cuz, has this philosophy regarding clowns. People who hate clowns hate with a real passion. You don’t kinda just hate clowns if you’re a clown hater; you hate them with every fiber of your being, violently and carrying invisible pitchforks. Loathe entirely!

You know what would be the most awfullest thing ever? A Ghost Clown. If the theory that ghosts are lost souls trying to make sense of their deaths is true, imagine how many ghost clowns there could be. Clowns must die in plenty of embarrassing ways. Their squirting lapel flower could get turned around the wrong way and squirt water up their nose and drown them. And, how embarrassing to die in a clown car accident. When you jam that many passengers in a tiny vehicle, the ratio to body parts that intermingle tragically and comically would be very high, I would think. And all those red rubber noses lying around in the debris, it’s just too overwhelming to imagine.

Then, there’s your clown murders. Clowns piss people off, and every now and then they get whacked. Most clown murderers get off, though..crime of passion, justifiable homicide. Clown came at me with a pie, I’m deathly allergic to custard cream and he knew it. It was self defense. He just kept pulling and pulling those silk scarves from his sleeve, it drove me mad I TELL YOU…………..M A D!!! I had to kill him (insert dramatic sobs) I HAD….To…..…..Keel Heem.

When I was little it was one of my mother and step dad’s hobbies to go “ghost hunting”. We would travel the wilds of Rankin Co Mississippi (I think the wilds ceased to exist many years ago) looking for run down abandoned houses to explore. It was mid to late sixties, people didn’t post many “No Trespassing” signs back then. I don’t remember ever seeing a ghost, but it was rich in creepy goodness, just the same. Today, me and my girls enjoy touring antebellum homes in Natchez and The Myrtles in St. Francisville La. We like walking in grave yards.

Mel and I visited our dearly departed today. Mother’s Day is a popular day at cemeteries, we were lucky enough to miss the crowd. This little cemetery is off the main road, very scenic and peaceful. In living in the same place in excess of twenty years you make friendships and sometimes they dissolve at some insurmountable conflict and people stop speaking. Recently, I only found out about a former BBF’s stepson dying by discovering his plot on one our little visits. That rattles you just a little bit. You see tombstones with dates that span too short a life and you wonder “what’s their story?”.

Graveyards don't scare me. I think they are beautiful and peaceful. Back in 9th and 10th grades, I roamed the Sacred Heart cemetery in Broussard La. It was the only place I had to escape an ugliness going on in my home life. I frequently found myself there at night. Graveyards are good places to be alone (although, you're anything but alone) a quiet place to roll some thoughts around in your head. A good place to reminisce and be calm.