All my Heroes are from Bunkie

By

 Jerry LaFleur
JerryLaFleur@comcast.net

I left Bunkie in the mid-1950's under the shadow of the “Owl'sNest” and having made it all the way to the 10th grade after four years at Bunkie High.  I have not been back among my many Bunkie classmates until this reunion.  Returning to Bunkie with my wife, Silvia, for the 50's Decade Reunion was an event that we looked forward to with mixed feelings: Silvia knew absolutely nothing about this particular period of my life and I envisioned a welcome return to a life I had left far behind.

It didn't take long for Silvia to realize that Bunkie lived up to its reputation as being one of the truly two best spots on “Topside of God's Green Earth.” The words “one of the two” is inserted because the village of Zermatt, Switzerland, where we were married, shares this special attribute.  In this respect, I want to thank everyone for the warm hospitality and heartfelt welcome given to her.

We first learned about the 50's Decade Reunion during the annual Louisiana Mardi Gras celebration that was held in February at Washington, D.C. Don and Jackie Hines, who invited us to the Mardi Gras party,  asked Silvia and I to visit them while the Louisiana Legislature was in session.  He said we could do this either before or after attending the reunion.  Arriving in Baton Rouge at the Capitol around noon on Tuesday, April 20, Don not only introduced us to the body of the Louisiana Senate, (thank you, Don!) but more importantly, to the Mayor of Bunkie, Gerard Moreau.  Gerard, displaying a unique and remarkable personality, became an instant and open friend to both of us, reminiscing about people that we knew in Bunkie and remarking that he was eagerly looking forward to the 50's Reunion Decade which was just a couple of days away.   Afterwards, he proudly gave us a complete tour of the historic State Capitol Building and his presence at the evening events that we attended with Don made the occasions very enjoyable.

my-pictures0013The next night, in the music room at the Bailey in Bunkie, he discarded his Mayor's hat and became citizen Gerard Moreau.  Dancing with Silvia, I noticed a movement on three of the glass framed windows of the door leading to the outside patio - it was Gerard with his face pressed on the middle window holding two giant bullfrogs against the two immediate windows next to his face and motioning for me to tell Silvia to turn around.  “My God,” I said to Silvia, “look at the door!”  She took an extra step and jumped backwards - never before seeing such a sight decorating a window!  Gerard, with a big grin, invited us to the patio outside the room, and explained to Silvia the culinary pleasures of bullfrogs and how to catch them.  It was indeed a remarkable way to close out our first day in Bunkie. 

 The Bailey Hotel, like a diminishing dream, is one of the few remaining icons of Bunkie.  In the unique Southern tradition of fine hospitality, the Bailey surpassed even that well-known Southern reputation.  Upon our arrival, Pat Barone warmly welcomed us and took care of every request we had.  However, the one thing that she could not control was the trains and their loud horns that kept us awaken most of the night.  The last time I remember the train horns of Bunkie was during Conrad Goette's English classes on the third floor of Bunkie High in the 1950's. 

 Prior to our arrival at the Bailey, an absolutely beautiful bouquet of flowers was placed in our room by Ina-Claire Marchive.  (Thank you very much, Ina-Claire - what a nice welcome to Bunkie!)  Our room was 223, on the top floor at the corner, which gave us two windows for a better view of our immediate surroundings, including the laziness of Bayou Huffpower that was superb. Before leaving in the evening to visit family friends, we met the first of the many Bunkiens that would be arriving for the 50’s Decade Reunion – Ronald Sawyer.  He hadn’t changed much, except that he seemed taller.   

 Thursday, April 22

 The next morning, I left alone to pick up the “Welcome Package” at the Haas Auditorium that contained the tickets to the three-day event.  The first two people I met were Mickey and Bill Hunt - yes, Bill Hunt, in person.   His recent article, “Yes, I Remember Bunkie” published on Bunkie.com, was one of the best that I have ever read about Bunkie during that particular period of time - the 1940's/1950's.  His friendliness and outward greeting was the same that it has always been.  When you talk about Bunkie, you have to mention Bill.  His remarks are always interesting.  I commented about a relative of his that was a neighbor of mine when I lived in Texas 50 years ago.  Bill’s outstanding personality is one of the several reasons that he will forever be remembered in Bunkie. Next, I talked to Hugh Bradley and Bubba Davis just before entering the Haas Auditorium.

 I believe the first person I met upon entering the old music room was John ‘Cut-Cut’ Clarke.  John hasn't changed at all, and for sure he does not look fifty years older from when I last remembered him in the mid-1950's.  For those of you who do not know how John got the nickname Cut-Cut, here it is:  John, an extraordinarily excellent pool player, was famous for seemingly always “cutting” the balls into the center pool table pockets and soon acquired the name of “Cut” for continually exhibiting this particular skill.  The double "Cut" derived when those watching him would begin shouting:  “cut the ball, Cut,” thus “Cut-Cut.”  Then along came John's lovely wife, Lynette.  She is the same exciting person that she has always been and still retains her immensely attractive smile.  I think that Lynette was three years behind me in High School.  Lynette and John really enjoyed the Decade Reunion event.

my-pictures0006After that, I took care of the reason for being at the Haas Auditorium - obtaining the Decade Reunion welcome kit - which I received from Paul and Anne Plaisance who were sitting together at the first table upon entering the room.  Anne asked if I wanted to keep the CD that was enclosed in the welcome package that Bobby Richardson had recorded for all the participants for the Decade Reunion.  “Only if some of the songs of Hank Williams are included,” I replied.  When she found that his songs were there, I readily accepted the CD.  Thanks, Bobby - on our two-day drive home, we listened to your CD regularly. It contains wonderful and very well programmed music from the 1950's. 

 Anne and Paul looked great.  How can anyone say that beautiful Anne is not as lovely as ever?  When reviewing the talent that Bunkie has produced over the years, Paul and Anne rank among the best.  They could easily be Mr. and Ms. Bunkie.  Paul is one of only two Bunkiens from the Decade of the 1950’s that was promoted into the Senior Executive Service in the Civil Service of the U.S. Government - a rank equal to that of a General.  Congratulations, Paul!

 It was time to go back to the hotel for Silvia.  Upon returning to the Auditorium, we first met Alice Holland.  Alice has always been special. Has anyone ever seen Alice Holland without a smile that doesn't light up the room?  When we played baseball next to where she lived 50 years ago, she had the same refreshing smile!  As Alice had visited with us in Bangkok, Thailand about 18 years ago, I reintroduced her to Silvia and she remembered the visit to our high-rise apartment.  Alice invited us to view the inside of the refurbished Haas Auditorium.  What a magnificent sight that was.  In observing the wide-open space, it was hard to believe all the hours and days that that everyone from Bunkie High spent at that place.  In our memory, the Haas Auditorium is still the “heartbeat” of Bunkie.  Thanks, Alice, for the tour.

 At this time, a very good Eola friend was standing near-by, Glenda Boone Roberts and her husband, Roy.  It really is a small world - Roy and Glenda live in Victoria, Texas - which is just a short distance from where I lived when I was completing high school there in the 1950's.  Always attractive, Glenda is wonderful to be around, as is Roy.  We were with them constantly for our four days in Bunkie - both at the events and at late evenings in the Bailey Hotel dance room.  We certainly had good times together. 

 my-picturesGlenda reminded me of something that I had completely forgotten - the time that I put a dead bird behind a picture in Mr. Kirby Tyrone's English literature class.  However, there is more to the story:  Arriving in the classroom a couple of minutes before the beginning of class I was standing by one of the open windows and spotted a dead bird near the sidewalk.  As Bootsie Davis was nearby, I got his attention and asked that he throw the bird up to me on the second floor.  As he was in the process of throwing it to me, Mr. Hatley, looking out of the window of the Music Room in the Haas Auditorium, noticed Bootsie throwing the dead bird into Mr. Tyrone’s classroom.  He quickly walked over to report this to Mr. Massey, the Principal, and en-route to his office called out to Bootsie and demanded that he come with him to the office.  Shortly thereafter, the three of them, Mr. Massey, Mr. Hatley and Bootsie, arrived at the door of Mr. Kirby Tyrone’s classroom.  That’s the reason that the bird was behind the picture on the wall – I put it there when I noticed Mr. Hatley hastily walking towards the school with Bootsie in tow.  To Mr. Hatley’s utmost consternation, neither he, Mr. Massey or Mr. Tyrone could find the dead bird.  This was in 1952.

 Next, we talked with Richard Roy, Bobby Richardson and Shang and Canoe Lutz.  Even after 50 years, they were easily recognizable.  I told Richard that I was on his father's school bus in 1952 when the police stopped it and asked me to come along with them and go to the Parish Courthouse in Marksville to question me about the "Owl's Nest".  Richard said that his dad had never told him that.  This was a real credit to his father as I had asked Mr. Roy to keep this to himself when I departed the bus.  Bobby Richardson was on our baseball team when we played Morrow a couple of times and Shang was on our Eola Bulldogs softball team in 1948.  Because of his immense presence, I told Shang that I guessed that the band would stop playing for a moment when he entered the room!!  Canoe was several years younger and he is as friendly as ever. 

 Now, it was about 12:00 o'clock and since we had not had breakfast, I asked about places to eat.  John Clarke recommended the Dugout, and before I realized it, Silvia and I, along with my brother Kelley, were on our way there.  However, before we left, I asked Paul Plaisance if he kept a cooler of beer under the table where he was sitting.  No, he said and Anne, sitting just next to Paul, replied that if I wanted a beer I would have to come to 800 Beech Sreet between 3 and 6 in the afternoon.  I told her that we would be there.

 After lunch at the lively Dugout, Silvia and I dropped Kelley off at the Haas Auditorium and we went downtown for a stroll down Main Street.   We visited three places - Parrino's Drug Store, Griffins Antique Shop, and the outside garden shop next to the railroad track, a place called Gibko.  All of the people at these places commented about the interesting people that were returning for the Decade Reunion.

 Around 4 p.m., we drove to 800 Beech Street for our pre-arranged get-together with Anne and Paul Plaisance.  Arriving at the front entrance to their early 1900 home that was splendidly redone, Anne, with a large smile, commented that our visit must be “formal” since we were arriving at the front door.  Anne invited us for a tour of their home that we thoroughly enjoyed and she excitedly described the ways and means of improving their one hundred year old home.  With a wide selection of beer to choose and enjoy, we covered a wide range of subjects. I have to say that Paul has an unusual in-depth knowledge of current international events, country by country, particularly in the Middle East.  Anne and Silvia enjoyed their visit together.  It was a warm and wonderful hour that we spent with them.  Being in their company is always a special event.  We returned to the Bailey and rested for a while before arriving at the Haas Auditorium for the Cajun Crawfish Boil around 7 p.m.

 The first Bunkiens from the 50's we met that evening were two very close friends - Lucille Carter and Catherine Nettles.  How wonderful they looked!  I was in the first grade with Lucille at St. Anthony's about 65 years ago, and I have to say that she still has that distinct “Carter” look. I would have recognized her anywhere.  It was a pleasure talking with Lucille after all these years.  Her father was my godfather.

 Silvia commented that Catherine Nettles had the most clear sparkling blue eyes and lovely smile.  About this time, an old friend from Eola, M.C. Lutz, appeared in front of me.  “M.C. Lutz,” I said.  The first thing he said was for me to go over to that corner, about 45 feet from where he was standing, and went through the motion of pitching softball.  Yes, he was the pitcher and I was the catcher in those wonder days of 1948 when Eola had a softball team - the Eola Bulldogs.  M.C. said the LaFleur's and Lutz's comprised six members of the team, with a big M.C. Lutz laugh.  It was simply great seeing M.C. after all these years.  M.C. was not a leader; he was the leader.  We all knew that.  I told him how much I appreciated the effort and time that his father spent with us during our young years in Eola.  At this time a very attractive Pat Feazel Lutz appeared and gave us a gracious greeting. She looked lovely.  Unfortunately, a photo was taken with M.C., Pat, Silvia and I - that left our heads off - and no trick in the world can re-create it to include our heads!  Sorry, M.C. - we'll try harder next time.  I really enjoyed seeing M.C.  

 Simultaneously, Burton and Lloyd Newton were at our side. Burton replied that because I immediately said his name meant he hadn't changed at all!  I also thought that Estelle looked tremendous.  Burton and I used to open the grate of the gas heated floor furnace at St. Anthony's on orders of the Nuns - presumably to give a lesson to some of the students that did not follow the instructions of the teachers.  Lloyd, as always, remains Lloyd - a complete gentleman, friend, and excellent companion over the years.  Lloyd thanked me for sending him some Christmas cards from far-away-places years ago.  He certainly has a good memory.  Lloyd and Nancy Jo invited us to their home on Bayou Boeuf for Friday afternoon, but we just could not make it. 

 Seeing Jackie and Bobby Rachal was an exceptional moment. Again, 50 years plus have passed since I was in their presence.  Jackie and Bobby remain a very attractive couple.  Doris Townsend, Marion and James were there too.  They are indeed lifelong friends.  All those school bus rides with M.C. and his brothers, and with Doris will never be forgotten. Marion and James - they looked strong and tough, just like their father, Mr. Gus.  I have to say that when Mr. Gus spoke while supervising the construction of board roads in the woods and swamps in a hundred mile radius of Bunkie, an immediate reaction always followed.  It was great seeing James and Marion - two outstanding brothers from a remarkable family.

 About this time, P. T. Palermo was at our side talking about our days working in Bayou Gauche, in southern Louisiana during the mid-1950's.  Then he started laughing and we re-lived the ride from Bayou Gauche to Bunkie in his brand new red Ford when he was on Fatty Candella's orders to get Dooley Wolf in Bunkie by 7:00 p.m. for an important softball game.  It was a trip that is remembered to this day because Dooley had a problem and Leo Godchaux had a paycheck.  P.T., following Fatty's orders, was determined to be in Bunkie for the 7:00 p.m. softball game.  To accomplish this feat for the 180-mile trip from Bayou Gauche, P.T. decided that there would be no stopping whatsoever for the trip to Bunkie. 

 It didn't matter to P.T. that Dooley had an urgent call of nature while on the road between Krotz Springs and Bunkie.  Leo Godchaux, being extremely frightened by P.T.'s 80+ MPH driving had taken off his shoes and inserted his bi-weekly pay check into his shoe because, he said, “if we have a wreck, my Mama would find my shoes and the check would be secure.”  Leo was sitting on the back seat between Dooley and Sam Lindsay, and I was on the passenger side of the front seat and Len Brown was in the middle position.  Dooley really had to relieve himself and I offered my large .25 cents potato chip bag, a very large bag in those days.  Dooley completely filled it and instead of just throwing it out of the window, he gave it a sort of backward swing, across Leo, so it would easily be ejected from the red Ford automobile.  However, it burst directly over Leo and completely filled both of his shoes, causing significant damage to his paycheck.  To say the least, this was not an enjoyable ride for Leo.  P.T. accomplished his mission and Dooley was in Bunkie for the 7:00 p.m. game.    

By now, time was passing and seemingly everyone was just about finished eating crayfish and we were stillmy-pictures0008 talking.  We helped ourselves to a huge serving and sat next to Bill Hunt and Eddie Grimshaw and his wife, Tina.  I had forgotten how to eat crayfish - can you believe this? Bill Hunt, thankfully, demonstrated the procedure to Silvia and me.  Eddie Grimshaw had a look of genuine surprise when he realized that I really did not know how to extract the meat from the tail of the crayfish!  Our only comment was two words:  “Unbelievably delicious!”

Upon finishing, I approached Don Fletcher and Anita because I wanted to tell them how happy we were to attend such a well-organized event that everyone was enjoying.  I mentioned to them their efforts were appreciated by all in attendance.  He surely was enjoying himself as was his gorgeous wife, Anita.  Thank you, Don and Anita for this remarkable event! 

During this time we talked with Billie Jon and Oliver, Tooney and Ralph Goudeau, Barbara Michel, Barbara Franks, Mercedes Aymond, Marie Lipoma, Stella Landry, Claude and Cecilia Ferguson, Barbara Dee Bordelon, Harold Brown, Fred Vollman, Ralph Crouch, and Paxton McCoy.  Paxton noted that he had a relative in Texas where I used to live and I replied that yes, I knew that - his aunt lived next to the house where I was living - really a small world.  How tall are you, Ralph Crouch?   I mentioned to Gerald Dubroc and his pretty wife, Diane, that I had talked with a relative of theirs, State Representative Ronnie Johns while in Baton Rouge just a couple of days earlier with Don Hines. 

 It was nice to see Fred Vollman - both Silvia and I met his very, very beautiful daughter about two years ago at one of the Mardi Gras events in Washington, D.C., and we told Fred how pleased we were to meet her.  Lillian Barker spoke to us and said a few words about Ms. Finley's English class.  Also I had the pleasure of seeing Charles Ford.  I enjoyed discussing with Bobby Chatelain the art of hitting baseballs on the slate roof of his father's garage that was near the St. Anthony's playground and how angry his dad was about his slate top roof being constantly damaged.  

 Not long after finishing the crayfish, I noticed someone looking in our direction -- it was  Pam Biles.  We shared a delightful few minutes talking about our days at Bunkie High.  I also told her that I worked a couple of summers with her dad, Mr. Palmer Biles when he was a foreman for the Townsend Brothers Construction Company.  We also had a few exchanges with her cousins, Dicky and Sara Biles.   As we left to return to the hotel, we saw Nicky Parrino and his wife and talked about how nice the Decade Reunion event was.   We said good night to Nicky and left for the Bailey.  After, we danced to the music of a wonderful band until it closed, which was around 2:00 a.m. Leaving the room, we stopped to talk with S.L. Campbell - whose great-aunt Chris married Bill Hunt's great-uncle Jesse.  They both lived in the same town of LaWard, Texas where I lived in the 1950's.  S.L., it was nice to see you.      

 Friday, April 23

 We slept soundly - either we were extremely tired after the day's festivities or the trains forgot to sound their warning horns on Thursday night considering that we did not sleep at all on Wednesday night.  After visiting family friends during most of the day, we returned to the Bailey before leaving for the 7:00 p.m. Cochon de Lait feast and program. 

 As it turned out, another great evening was already beginning.  Almost immediately upon entering the Haas Auditorium, we were approached by Alice Ladnier Aymond and taken to the area where her husband, Dave was located.  We shared an exciting few minutes together and Dave Aymond is still the Dave that I knew years ago.  We talked about the foot race across the Bayou du Lac Bridge that we had upon returning from a 4-H meeting in Marksville in the late 1940's while we were students at St. Anthony's.  We all remember this because Dave won the race. Wonderful seeing you, Dave!

 Standing tall in front of us was the always-remarkable Boo Devillier - the same Boo that I began the first grade with at St. Anthony's in the very early 1940's.  He put his two large hands on my shoulders and looking me directly in my eyes, said:  “Jerry, you're my hero!!”  And when he was introduced to Silvia, he said something quite different:  “How did you manage to stay out of jail?”  Then I asked him why he had jumped out of the window when we were in the 4th grade?  Boo replied that he "was asked to sing!”  Thinking about this, I guess I would have done the same thing.  Silvia told me that she thought Boo was the best looking man there.  I can't comment on that!  We spoke with Boo's wife, Jo-Ann who is still beautiful to this day.  She said she remembered Silvia's photo in the Bunkie Record when we were married. Jo-Ann, you have a remarkable memory - that was 32 years ago!  I asked Jo-Ann if Sally Reynolds was present and then Sally joined us.  They are two striking ladies.

 The program was moving forward at a fast pace and we found ourselves looking for a place to sit.  The only remaining open seats were on the last row - and we lucked up as my brother Dan was sitting there with our very good friend, Alice Holland.  It's always exciting to be with Alice - so real and so natural.  It's really easy to talk with her.  Shortly thereafter, Gerard Moreau asked me to join him and Don Hines for the unveiling of a plaque that recognized Don's great efforts in sponsoring and overseeing the renovation of Haas Auditorium.  Later, Gerard also asked that I join them for a photograph.  Thank you, Gerard.

 I was completely surprised when Don recalled the “Owl's Nest” episode of 1952.  The events regarding this experience forced me to continue my high school education in Texas.  I have to say that Don related the background very accurately. 

 However, one memorable occurrence was not mentioned.  While Sammie Guillot and I were inside the "Owl's Nest" early one morning around 2:00am, the windows had fogged-up and upon hearing a noise outside the front entrance door, I took my hand to clear the humidity on the window pane so I could look outside and see what the noise was about.  While doing this, a policeman, standing directly opposite me, outside the front door, was doing exactly the same thing, on the same window!  We were eyeball to eyeball and I blinked.  "Sammy, we have to get out of here - now"!!  Always keeping an escape window open, we ran through the building to the back room and I jumped through the top section of a double window at the back of the building.  Sammy quickly followed, but got tied up in the window shade string that was attached.  When he finally cleared the window, the string was wrapped around his neck with the shade attached - he looked like Superman running as fast as he could from the building towards Bayou Huffpower!

 Time does make for a change.  No one was clapping their hands at that time back in 1952 when this incident played-out.  Thanks, Don, for the recognition and the kind words.  I really do appreciate your thoughtfulness.

 Following Don’s speech, Jesse Baker came and sat next to us and made a few comments about the “Owl’s Nest.”  Jesse looks the same as he always did – if he didn’t have a beard he would appear to be exactly the same as the photo in the 1954 Bunavola. 

 Melvin Sharpe stopped by and wanted to know why my hair wasn’t black anymore, and that it was more the color of his – pure white.  My comment to Mr. Sharpe was that he was the teacher that I most remembered at Bunkie High, and he wanted to know how did he obtain that distinction?  My response was that on the first day of the first class that I had with him which was typing, he instructed us on how to dispose of a sheet of paper.  His instructions were not to “crumble” the sheet of paper, but to insert the paper into the wastebasket without bending, folding or crumbling it.  This way, according to him, you could put a thousand sheets of paper in a wastebasket instead of a limited few sheets.  Mr. Sharpe remembered this, and replied that he made sure that everyone followed his instructions on how to dispose of a sheet of paper.  That’s what I remember about Mr. Sharpe. This was in 1950. 

 Listening to the fine evening program describing each class from 1950 - 1960 was rewarding as the remarks by the speakers brought back many memories.  This event was very well presented, and everyone appreciated the efforts of the representatives of each class. 

 We returned to the Bailey and along with Glenda and Roy, and Judy and Marvin Thevenot, danced until the place closed around 02:00 a.m.  Again, it was a wonderful way to complete a day celebrating the Decade Reunion. 

Saturday, April 24

 After visiting with family members and my godmother, Mary-Virginia Melancon, who always seem to be looking remarkably splendid, Silvia and I arrived at Jackie and Don Hines' residence.  Jackie had prepared an interesting and tasty assortment of Hors d'Oeuvres that was served with Chianti Classico Argenina, a smooth red Italian wine from Tuscany that Silvia presented when we arrived.  While enjoying the moment, we reminisced about memorable events from our High School days in Bunkie. 

 I recounted to Don and Jackie that I remembered the first day that Don walked into Bunkie High School.  It was in late summer, 1949 and Don and I were looking for Mr. Edwards' civics class.  We both had the distinct honor, along with our other classmates that happened to be in this particular class - because this was the first day of the first class that Mr. Edwards instructed during his several years in Bunkie.  After introducing himself, he talked about developing a winning football team and a winning team comes from students with good grades and good attendance records.  Mr. Edwards told our civics class that every member of his football team must know what the Motto of the United States is because the Motto of the United States would, in a general sense, apply to his football team. 

 Then Mr. Edwards asked the question:  What is the Motto of the United States?  No responses.  Then he asked everyone to reach in their pockets and look at their nickels -- because the Motto is written on the "tails" side of the nickel.  I have to admit that I had the unique pleasure of responding to the first question that Mr. Edwards asked during his several years at Bunkie High.  Searching for a nickel in my pocket, I quickly raised my hand and he proudly asked me my name.  OK, "Jerry, tell the class what the Motto of the United States is" -- "Mr. Edwards", I replied, "my nickel has five cents written on the 'tails' side of the coin"!! 

 I mentioned to Jackie that I remembered how beautiful a bride she was when they were married in Marksville in 1957.  Silvia recalled the magnificent Mardi Gras parties in Washington the last few years and how much we enjoyed being with them for the celebration.  Jackie and Don gave us a tour of their well decorated home both inside and outside.  It was a most relaxing evening.  We soon departed for the Haas Auditorium. 

 In my opinion, Don Hines is the personification of Bunkie; all of us in Bunkie, Avoyelles, the surrounding parishes and many others throughout the state, recognize Don's many years of extraordinary contributions to improve the conditions and health of the people that he represents.  His significant role as President of the Senate bodes well for the State of Louisiana and particularly, Bunkie.  Thanks, Jackie and Don, for working so hard for all of us. 

 Arriving at the Haas Auditorium, we met two more friends from many years ago: Hilda Firmin - still pretty as always, and Leo Godchaux - my colleague from our summertime days of working in Bayou Gauche and Paradis, Louisiana.  Time has been good to both Hilda and Leo.  It was particularly nice to see both of them – but I didn’t have the heart to ask Leo if he had a problem cashing his 1953 paycheck that he carried from Bayou Gauche to Bunkie in P.T’s red Ford automobile.  

 “The Boogie Kings” were truly the kings of the evening as their music was magnificent for this special occasion.   I know my limits - and I have to say that I immensely enjoyed the moment when Silvia danced with Don Fletcher - doing the “Boogie.”  The events of Saturday evening were an unforgettable way to close out one of the most remarkable celebrations that Bunkie will ever have. 

 As with the established pattern of the previous evenings of ending the night, we went to the dance room at the Bailey but this time the music was too loud and the crowd was too large.  At 2:00 a.m., we joined Judy and Marvin Thevenot for an early breakfast.  Pauline, a superb waitress, took very good care of us.    

Sunday, April 25

 On Sunday morning, my brother Kelley visited to say good-bye.  While he was there we took a few photos.  We also said good-bye to others:  M.C. and Pat Lutz, Glenda and Roy Roberts, Bobby Richardson, Catherine Nettles, William and Dickey Billeaud, Fred Rabalias, Franklin Kyle, Ardie Keller, Coach Brister, and Judy Thevenot and her mom, who looked splendid.  After saying good-bye to the hotel staff, we visited with Gerard and Carla Moreau and their children.  Next, we went to L. F. and Ina-Claire Marchive's for a delicious brunch which we shared their wonderful family members. 

 Our last stop before leaving Bunkie was to visit the most special of all Bunkiens: Leodocia Pope.  Few people have the will and positive outlook that characterizes her astonishing personality.  Leodocia is the strongest person that the decade of the 1950's produced.  Her special determination and strength of mind represents a standard that few will ever reach.  Leodocia, we all love you and thanks for your magnificent contributions towards making the Decade Reunion such a notable success.  We know that you will be home soon.    

 Speaking for myself, I just want to note that the Decade Reunion was the ideal forum for which to return to Bunkie after being away for more than 50 years.  Like a happily ever-after ending, everything came together to produce a perfect four days in Bunkie of fun, laughs, remembrances, and a grand sense of “belonging.”  I have previously commented in the Tattler’s “Bunkien Birthdays” of Bunkie.com, that “All my heroes are from Bunkie and Eola.”  After this marvelous event, I can gladly say that all my heroes are still from Bunkie and Eola. 

 Don, Anita, Leodocia and all the wonderful Bunkiens that put this program together - many thanks. 

 And I must mention, also, that Silvia knows a lot more about Bunkie’s wonderful hospitality than she did just a few short days ago.  She really enjoyed herself and was amazed with the charm and warmth of everyone she met.  Thank you, we surely enjoyed ourselves! 

Return to the 50's...

Dale - This old photo was given to me by my Mother, Addelene Kelley LaFleur in 1975.  She noted that it was taken at the "Old Eola Schoolhouse".  I came across it recently and thought that I would forward it to you for entry in
your website. (My Mom listed the names on an attached paper.  There is no
date on the old photograph).   Perhaps someone will find it interesting.
Jerry LaFleur Left to right, top row:  1) Willie Solmon; 2) Camille Tifreau; 3) Kate O'Quinn; 4) Cora Kelley; 5) Helen Vernon; 6) Ruth Prosser;
7) Miss Mary Tanner; 8) Gracie Bass; 9) ?; 10) Linnie Prosser; 11) Dick
Kelley; 12) Ogden Vernon.

Middle row:  1) Clarence Prosser; 2) Dave O'Quinn, 3) ?.

Bottom row:  1) ?; 2) ?; 3) Frank Prosser; 4) Nellie Kelley; 5) Jake Kelley;
6) ?; 7) Bessie Vernon; 8) Ethie Vernon, 9) ?.