In 1918 a letter addressed to Arthur Scott, Principal at Golden Meadow Elementary School, Golden Meadow, Louisiana, (no zip codes then), was nervously opened by the recipient. The first word he read was “Greetings”. He had been drafted into the army.
America had joined World War I and Principal Arthur Scott would soon become Private Arthur Scott.
Turning to his assistant, Miss Loretta McCabe, he said, “It’s all yours, I’m out of here,” or something like that. I wasn’t there.
Miss McCabe had been his assistant since the school opened in the teens. A junior high, built in 1931, became a high school in 1933.
Leonard Miller was appointed principal, (head man, top dog numero uno, leu prom-yea … OK, you saw the movie “Airplane”, too. Actually it was Airplane one.)
Miss McCabe became assistant principal again.
Sometimes, during that period she married Menton Chouest, a local businessman. They had three children, Menton, Jr., whose son Daniel married my best friend Vin Bruce’s first born, Gail; Thelma, who became a doctor, and Jackie, whose beauty and long hair made the high school boys swoon.
At the time, I wasn’t interested in older women, and she had at least two years on me.
Jackie grew up to marry the son of famous New Orleans restaurateur Diamond Jim Moran. His real last name was Brocado.
Mrs. Chouest was a handsome woman who never appeared in public without full make up. She wore her hair in braids, piled on top of her head, probably long like daughter Jackie, but we’ll never know.
Mrs. Chouest also taught classes like Mr. Miller, and together, with their colleagues made a Golden Meadow High School diploma, in effect, equal to today’s college B.A. Degree.
The classes I had with her reinforced my need to read. She introduced me to great literature and the classic authors, Poe, Dickens, Emerson, Hemmingway, Mark Twain and Shakespeare. I know you’ll say, Shakespeare … “ugh”. I must confess, I never fully read any of his plays, but I loved his soliloquies.
Mrs. Chouest made me memorize them, and I can still recite a few; “Is this a dagger I see before me? The handle towards my hand?”; “To be or not to be, that is the question”; “Alas poor Yorlick, I knew him well, Horatio”; “What light through yonder window breaks”; “Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow”; and my all-time favorite, “The fault dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves”.
End of literature lesson. No charge.
Mrs. Menton Chouest was a refined and cultured lady and her legacy and influence still remain. Her greatest achievement: She brought the pomp and circumstances and the beauty and glamour of a New Orleans Carnival Ball to the auditorium and stage of Golden Meadow High School. With students as king, queen, dukes, captains and pages, the spectacle of her annual productions were as real as a Mardi Gras pageant as one can experience.
Fortunately, it was not just for the teachers and student body, but the general public was offered and welcomed to view the extravaganza which is fondly remembered and cherished.
Mrs. Menton Chouest personified class and she brought and shared it with a community that remains eternally appreciative and grateful.
On a personal note: Two of my CDs are still available on line at Amazon, Flat Town Music and Itunes. They are Leroy Martin, “Cajun Folk Songs”, and Leroy “Lee” Martin, “My Old Swamp Pops”, a double CD with 60 songs, including Cajun and English Christmas and New Year songs. (A sample review in a national music magazine, Leroy “Lee” Martin remains a South Louisiana legend, the wonderful wizard of Bayou Lafourche music. This is an impressive 60-track history and a 1-and ½ hour visit with a famous friend.) Wow! I’m all that?
My friends know better, but who am I to question it? Anyway they’re cheap and make great Christmas gifts!
Any revenues I may receive are and have always been donated to charitable organizations.
Next two weeks, humorous holiday experiences.
A man walked into a record store and asked: “Have you got anything by The Doors?”
“Yes,” he was answered, “A bucket and a fire extinguisher.”
Comments are welcomed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on Tue, December 16, 2014
by Leroy Martin, Contributing Writer