Segments of this column are paraphrased from a short biography of Golden Meadow by Mrs. Earl Rome, written in 1966 and located in the archives of the Lafourche Parish Public Library.
The Rome family were prominent citizens of the town she writes about. Earl Rome worked for the Tamplain brothers in the shrimp and ice business. His office was over the Tamplain ice factory which was next door to General Seafoods where I worked. Earl’s father, Mac, Sr., was our night watchman.
I remember Earl’s office had a unique air conditioning system at a time when a/c units were rare. The word conditioning denotes that the moisture and other factors of the cold air are controlled. This system was not. It was connected with a tube to the ice storage room below with a fan blowing in the cold air.
It was always too cold for me, but Earl and staff had adapted. The Tamplains were not necessarily frugal but their business was ice, so to them, cold was good.
Earl’s brother Harold was my boss when I worked at Golden Meadow Diesel.
The Tamplains owned land on Highway 308 where Mavis “Bobby” Orgeron built his home.
Mrs. Rome wrote that the Lush, York, and Williams families were the first settlers of Golden Meadow and came down Bayou Lafourche in 1842 from Natchez, Mississippi.
The Lush and York names are long forgotten, but not the Williams. Lush sold property to Abraham Griffin, Olucien Cheramie and Paul Callais, Sr., my great-great grandfather.
Earlier, some damn Yankee, (Mrs. Rome, who was a cultured lady wrote Yankee, but to me, that’s only half a word), had bought land from the Cheramies and built a big ditch, known as the “Yankee Canal” in Golden Meadow.
It’s still called “Canalle Yankee” by the Cajuns.
They brought pumps to drain the swamps to raise rice. But when they failed, they went back to Michigan voluntarily. There was no Confederate army at that time.
Then came the first grocery store, Ernest Falgout, 1906; first fresh meat store, Charles Falgout, 1913; first school teacher, (in a one-room building), Mrs. Herman Rebstock, 1913; first ice factory, Dunbar-Dukate, (era 1914); first Catholic priest, Father Grall, 1916; first shrimp factory, T.K. Devitte, 1917; first movie house, Jefferson Rebstock, 1922; first bank, People’s Trust, 1922, (the picture show lasted until 1966 but the bank did not survive the depression); the first resident physician, Dr. John Gravios, and dentist Dr. Louis Leblanc, both 1928.
Prior to that, visiting doctors Tetreau and Lemkowitz and dentist Thibodeaux and Trappy served the medical needs of the community.
1929 brought the first oil well in Leeville and in Golden Meadow, the first Medical Examiner; the first supply boats, (who was first and timeline unknown), were Milton “Cap” Eagle with the ‘Lauri Ann’ and my grandfather, Paul Callais, Sr., with the ‘America’.
The first Catholic Church was started in 1922 under legendary LaSalette priest, Father Pierre LaBelle.
Today a new church building stands on the land, bought from my great grandfather Mathurin Callais.
Unfortunately, also came the first hurricanes: Caminada, 1893, and Leeville, 1915, causing two more Cajun “Grand Derangements”, first from Cheniere Caminada to Leeville and then to Golden Meadow.
Hurricanes were orphans without names then, and they blew into our lands uninvited, unwelcomed and very destructive.
Among the first evacuees in both cases were my paternal grandparents, Eugene and Odile Martin.
Small ‘devastated’ world! (To be continued next week.)
We interrupt this column for this special note of appreciation. (Hey, just like TV.)
I wish to personally thank Mr. Paul Chiquet and the Lafourche Library Board for building a special glass exhibit for me in the South Lafourche branch. Their first offer was to bring me to a taxidermist, have me stuffed immediately and put on display. Thinking that might not be too much fun, I declined.
We re-negotiated and agreed, just my guitar, pictures and memorabilia.
My best high school friend, the late state representative Richard “Dick” Guidry has a glass case, too. His is bigger, because he was. Come see us.
Posted on Tue, November 25, 2014
by Leroy Martin, Contributing Writer