My first column hit the street last week and nobody has yet thrown a rock through my window, so here’s number two. Fasten your seat belts---it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Last week I said that my first venture in journalism was in 1963 but I was wrong. My memory, which comes and goes, (mostly goes), came back and actually the following is my first.
In 1946, the year I graduated from Golden Meadow High, I met Joe Silverberg at the G.M. Youth Center, which was an old cajun type house next to the Catholic Church, which had been converted for the teenagers of the area.
After we chatted, he asked me to be the lower Lafourche correspondent for the Lafourche Comet. I never liked the word lower, I preferred south, but that was the word for our area that was used at the time. That later changed to “south”.
He and his partners, Ed Jackson and Sam Larson, had just purchased the weekly newspaper from the family that had started it.
Hey, my first job! I started and since I was paid by the line I tried to elongate the column. When I ran out of items like “so and so motored to New Orleans to visit relatives” (very exiting) I started to write items like “many lower Lafourche bucks were lost last night by betting on the Louis-Marciano fight.”
Mr. Silverberg called and said I was “padding” the column and fired me. I had lost my first job. (Big loss then…about $3 a week.)
Comedian Slappy White once said, “The trouble with unemployment is that the minute you wake up in the morning you’re on the job.”
The three partners made up for it in 1953 when they brought a radio station to Thibodaux and hired me to run a five hour Saturday afternoon D.J. program of country, cajun and later swamp pop music. The name swamp pop had not been invented nor recorded yet and south Louisiana rock and roll music was not called that until 1959 and I became a minor part of it.
Bobby Charles recorded what is considered the first of the genre, “See You Later Alligator” and made a lot of money when Bill Haley recorded it. Bill Haley had recorded “Rock Around the Clock” and it was used in the movie “The Blackboard Jungle”, which made rock and roll and swamp pop music the national rage.
A young man with a guitar from Memphis also helped, but I forgot his name. (I’ll remember it in about three columns.) I’m sure Mr. Joe did not remember me and I did not remind him.
The “Leroy Martin Show” ran for thirty-three years and ended when I was elected Lafourche Parish Assessor in 1983. I could not be on radio and be an elected official because of the F.C.C. Equal time law, which was repealed later on and brought the era of Rush Limbaugh, for better or worst.
By that time the hundreds of cards and letters (3-cent stamps and 1-cent post cards) and telephone calls I got in the 50’s and 60’s had dwindled down to a very few. I blamed the cost of postage, but I guess it was time to move. (More about my radio days in future columns.)
Well, that’s it for now. My wife Dot is on her easy chair watching old T.V. westerns and I’ll soon be on the sofa listening to Pandora Radio hoping to hear some of my favorite songs like Dobie Gray’s “Give Me the Beach Boys, and Free My Soul”, or Crystal Gayle’s “Donuts Make My Brown Eyes Blue”. (Sometimes the lyrics are hard to make out).
Posted on Wed, July 30, 2014
by Leroy Martin, Contributing Writer