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Cajun mariners and family trip

Cajun mariners and family trip

Last column I mentioned boats, and next to oil wells and pipelines, oil field supply vessels create the major industry and tax generating entity in our parish.

Lafourche Assessor Wendy Thibodeaux certified that the 2014 tax roll, to be filed in November, assessments on watercraft will amount to 40% of the entire tax roll or $49 million out of $124 million to be collected.

These are the taxes that fund our schools, levees, roads, drainage, hospitals and other government functions that are necessary to maintain our quality of life. A major hurricane could devastate the industry and our tax base, not a comfortable thought to dwell on.

The pioneers such as Nolty Theriot, Edison Chouest, Alan Danos, Minor Cheramie, Donald Bollinger, Mavis “Bobby” Orgeron, and so many others, left a legacy and a huge impact on the economy and lifestyles of South Lafourche.

The history of how it began is a fascinating story of Cajun ingenuity, bravery and good old common horse sense and Woody Falgout’s bestselling book “Cajun Mariners” is the definitive history of the men who started the industry, their successes and failures, the dangers and perils and rags to riches stories.

It’s a definite ‘can’t put it down’ book. When I fell asleep reading the book for the third time, Bobby Orgeron was caught in a hurricane in the marshes with a small boat, fighting for his life. Although I knew the ending, I couldn’t wait to read it again.

Woody tells how Cajuns saved the British oil explorations in the North Sea with Nolty Theriot’s boats piloted by brave South Lafourche natives like the Vizier brothers who brought their families.

It was charming when children who left with Cajun accents came back with limey or cockney accents. Bloody cute!

When the natives learned the trade, our great Cajun mariners were disposable, so they came back home. What stories they will have for the grandchildren from the land of Mary Poppins, Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes!
My friend Dudley Bernard worked in England, but they could never take away his Cajun accent. After all, he had for years been the radio voice of the Cajuns, with thousands of listeners.

Now back to the future. (Is that the terminology?)

On October 17th to 20th, 1938, the Catholic Church held its eight Eucharistic Congress in New Orleans, a monumental event in church doctrine.

In conjunction with that event the Thibodaux Knights of Columbus hosted a big celebration. Dad borrowed a car and drove me, mom and Betty to Thibodaux. Little did I know that I was to spend 47 years of my life working in the same Court House where we gathered that day.

Across the street stood a two-story white building owned by “The young men’s Business Club”, doctors, lawyers and businessmen of Thibodaux who would meet at lunch time to read the newspaper, play cards and discuss the events and politics of the day.

Radio station K.T.I.B. eventually bought the building and there I spent 33 years on Saturday afternoons, my day off, broadcasting a 5-hour country, Cajun and swamp pop D.J. show called, (you’d never guess), “The Leroy Martin Show”.

Meanwhile the storm clouds over Europe were getting darker and the four horsemen mounted their steed, ready to ride. Not the four horsemen of Notre Dame – they played football and brought cheer, but the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, whose names were “famine, conquest, pestilence and death”. They played WAR – they brought fear.

All I knew about war was from the movies, and I visualized it like a coming attraction trailer. “Coming to your favorite battlefield … all the excitement, blood and gore you crave. Bombing, shooting, killing … Don’t you dare miss it.”

We didn’t because we couldn’t, but we wish we had.

And now, soft choruses of “God Bless America” and “ Lillie Marlene”.

Bye now.

Correction: In my column of October 15, my godchild is Ryan Autin, not Scott Autin. When writing the column of Oct. 8, cousin Scott Badeaux picked up my car for repairs and – well, you know … I tolerate Scott because it’s convenient to have an auto repair shop in my street and his son Cameron will probably own the neighborhood someday.


Jimmie & Tommie Vizier