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Drums and Farewell

Drums and Farewell

Next week will be my last column for the Lafourche Gazette. The reason: sickness. My readers got sick of me. Just kidding! Bad joke. It was a management decision with which I concur since I realize that “all good things must end.”

I enjoyed writing it and re-living past years and since I didn’t get paid the only loss was part of my ego which I’ve been told I had too much of anyway.

When Editor Vicki Chiasson agreed that I write this column, neither she nor I had any idea how long it would run, a few weeks or a few months maybe, but never the two years it ran. Ms. Chiasson and the Legendre family have been wonderful to me and I thank them for their patience and endurance. “Boo” left a great legacy with “The Lafourche Gazette”. May it live long and prosper. (I still can’t do that Spock fingers splitting thing).

My final thoughts to come next week, but today a few funny musical episodes.

The Drum Anchor

Mr. Luke Charpentier, Sr., who had the first jitney dance in South Lafourche, had financed the organization of “Dudley Bernard and the Southern Serenaders”, and would drive the whole gang and equipment in a large Buick automobile. There was Dudley, Harry Anselmi, his son Luke, Jr., and me.

Drummer Gillis Foret would follow with his drums in a Volkswagen.

One Saturday in 1948 Gillis fell sick so we had to make a gig in Chauvin without a drummer. We also had to play a Sunday night gig in Morgan City at the “Merry Inn” so we had to find a drummer.

We knew a Lockport ‘older’ gentleman who had been a great big band drummer but had not played drums in years. He was probably in his late thirties, but we were in our teens and early twenties so he was old.

After pleading with him he agreed to play even though he had not played in years and had never played country music. I regret having forgotten his name.

We set up, hit the first number and the drummer came out swinging, good and loud. Our regular drummer played softly with brushes so we adjusted our volume and the crowd reacted favorably. We were a hit, but with one problem, the bandstand had a slick floor and as the drummer hit the bass drum, the whole set slid and he had to re set it.

At intermission, Mr. Charpentier said, “I’ll fix it.”

He left and came back with equipment he always kept in his car, a hammer, nails and a two-foot long 2 x 4 piece of wood which he nailed in front of the drum. He then put his chair against the drum and sat on it for the rest of the dance. The drum did not move again, the dance was successful, the drummer retired again and Mr. Charpentier never again was asked to play a drum anchor again.

The Wayward Drum

One Saturday morning in 1951, we were unloading our equipment for our weekly radio program on WWEZ in the New Orleans Hotel when a gust of wind took drummer Jimmie Cheramie’s bass drum and rolled it on Canal Street. The whole band chased it but it rolled a whole block to the opposite side of the street into the lobby of the Saenger Theater where the doors were open for the cleanup crew. It rolled until it settled into a seat as if to watch a movie.

When we stopped laughing, I told Jimmie, who had his sticks in his back pocket, “Give me a drum roll and hit about two bars as if playing a song.” He asked me why and I answered “humor me, just do it” and he did.

When he finished I said, “Now, Jimmie for the rest of your life you can say you once played music at the Saenger Theater”, and he did.

Unfortunately Jimmie, who was the younger brother of my hero friend, Aramise Cheramie, who was killed in World War II, also died young.

And the time when the drum was on top of the car and … but for now BYE!

Comments are welcomed at: leroymartin1929@gmail.com