The first Drivers License Examiner in South Lafourche was now operating out of the Golden Meadow Town Hall.
The town had only one jail cell located across the hall from me. One morning I heard: “Hey Leroy, you got a smoke?”
The cell door swung open and a guy I knew said, “It’s not locked, Police Chief Bob Mayet lets me sleep one off when I drink too much across the street.”
We laughed as I handed him a cigarette.
Across the street was the “Town Club” or “La Nige”, Golden Meadow’s favorite watering hole and dance hall where I played music many times through the years. Ironically, today a Catholic shrine stands there.
I remember an episode from “La Nige”. My wife Dot had brought our four-year son Mike to hear me play, (you could then)!
My guitar kept shorting out and in frustration I banged it against the wall. Mike took his toy guitar and smashed it on the chair. Dot picked him up, and as they were leaving she told me: “He’ll see you play again when he’s old enough to come by himself.” (Hello doghouse.)
One day a stranger, who had evidently been drinking, walked in and threw a license on the table.
“I want this renewed,” he angrily told me.
“One moment sir, this is an Alabama license and there are procedures.”
He grabbed my shirt with both hands and slammed me against the wall. Police Chief Bob Mayet who was in the building heard the commotion, rushed in, grabbed my assailant and carried him to the jail cell about 15 feet away.
The Chief got a radio call, locked the cell and told the prisoner, “Shut up and I’ll deal with you when I get back”.
My nervous students heard him rant and rave and we learned new Alabama cuss words that day. He threatened me with being skinned alive and boiled in oil. I was happy when Chief Mayet returned, loaded him in his squad car and headed for Thibodaux. The next day he told me, “Leroy, you survived a close one. He’s got a long rap sheet in Alabama, even a possible murder charge.”
My training and pay grade certainly did not include this!
One day, Mr. Whitney Rebstock, a well-known and respected Golden Meadow citizen, limped into my office. I knew he had a wooden leg so I pulled up a chair and he sat down and handed me his expired drivers license. In Cajun French he said, “Tee Mar-tan”, (little Martin), “fix me up.”
I knew his family, among whom were Linton, Morris and my classmate from the Golden Meadow graduating class of 1946, Joe, and later David Cheramie’s grandfather.
“Mr. Whitney,” I said, also in French, “I’m going to have to give you a test, ask a few questions and take a ride with you.”
His jovial smile turned into a frown. He slowly got up and said, “Tee Mar-tan, I know your father, your grandfather and I knew your great-grandfather, and you’re going to give me a test? You see this wooden leg? I lost it in the war (World War II) and you are going to give me a test? Shame on you!”
Without any further discussion I wrote out and handed him his new license. He thanked me and limped out again. I was humbled and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Next day I went to Dick Guidry’s office and told Dick, “I can’t do this anymore. The people who used to like me, danced to my music and listened to me on the radio, are going to tar and feather me.”
He shrugged his shoulders and said, “OK, but stay until I find a replacement because we have bigger fish to fry and it involves you!”
My replacement Mr. Rudolph Cheramie, father of another classmate, R.J., Jr., served a long time. It soon became public knowledge that wrecks and highway deaths declined so the public eventually accepted the law. Much to his relief, Mr. Cheramie served a long time without tar and feathers.
Next week begins a new adventure for your humble correspondent.
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Posted on Tue, August 11, 2015
by The Lafourche Gazette