Like Christmas Eve, I spent forty New Year’s Eves on a bandstand somewhere, always a full house and the best paying gig of the year.
Some were more notable than others.
On New Year’s Eve, 1950, America was at war with North Korea. President Harry Truman called it a “Police Action” but our local boys were being drafted, shipped overseas, wounded and killed in action.
I lost a cousin and classmate from our 1946 Golden Meadow graduation class, Hubert Theriot. (Je comprend Dieu! C’est a guerre! Mais pourquoi mon amie?)
I was enjoying my new 1950 Oldsmobile that I won playing blackout bingo at the Golden Meadow Fireman’s Fair on a $3 card.
Leroy Martin and the Southern Serenaders were playing outdoors on a wooden bandstand and dance floor. The date was June 25, 1950 and my friend Dick Guidry came to inform me that North Korea had invaded South Korea this very day and being South Korea’s protectorate, America was involved.
North versus South. (Hadn’t that happened once?)
The National Guard, which Dick and I had recently joined, was put on alert. How’s that for a good news, bad news day?
Another memorable New Year’s Eve was December 31, 1953. I had married Dorothy Guidry on October 3rd and for the first time I was accountable and being watched by a wife in the audience. I realized my bachelor days were over. (“Eh bien!Cest la vie”!)
New Year’s Eve, 1985 fell on a Wednesday and Vin Bruce and the Acadians were playing four nights straight at the Stage Coach in Galliano. (Monday was a wedding dance).
On Saturday the 29th I left the bandstand for a call from my son Mike, who informed me that he and Tammy had made me a first time grandfather with the birth of Hal Michael Martin. I shared it with the audience and they cheered. Playing music that weekend was a joy as Hal has always been. I now have three more, Caitlyn, Katelyn, and Camille and one great grandson, Trinity.
December 31, 1983 was notable because on November 4th “that guitar plunker”, as one of my opponents called me, had been elected Assessor of Lafourche Parish. I served 16 years (30 prior) and retired December 31, 2000.
My son Mike succeeded me and died in office March 4th, 2014.
I soon left my music career to devote full time to my new job. It had been quite a ride.
Flashback to January 31, 1949. With Dudley Bernard, I was playing at the Merry Inn in Morgan City.
At intermission, in the restroom, I was tapped on the shoulder. “Nice music, Leroy,” a voice said. He continued,
“Forget that you saw me or the lady I’m with tonight.”
I said “O.K.”, we shook hands and I felt something in my palm. It was a $20 dollar bill. With that and band pay I had my car note. It was the easiest secret I ever had to keep in my life, because to this day, I don’t have a clue as to who that gentleman or the lady were!
In the 1970’s, a New Year’s Eve dance in Erath, Louisiana ended at 2 a.m. and Vin Bruce was signing autographs so I laid down in the front seat of my car and fell asleep.
Later, thinking I was still in the club Vin fell asleep in the back seat.
The sun woke us up that morning, and we noticed well-dressed families going to church. I had left a drink on the dashboard and Vin one on top of the car. We saw frowns on their faces as if to say, “look at those drunks!” We were not! We were just tired from the long drive and hours we had played.
I found a phone booth (no cells then) called Dot and said, “Don’t pay the ransom, we got free.” It didn’t work.
That afternoon we came home with our tails between our legs and on the radio, Hank Williams was singing
“Move over little dog cause the big dog’s moving in”. Ouch! That hit home!
Happy New Year! Bye now!
Comments are welcomed at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on Tue, December 30, 2014
by Leroy Martin, Contributing Writer