In 1963, I held a full time job as Lafourche Parish Deputy Assessor, hosted a 5 hour Saturday radio program on K.T.I.B., maintained a part time bookkeeping job, played dance music three nights a week with my band, ‘The Vikings’, wrote a weekly column called “Gumbo File” for the Lafourche Weekly Press, mailed a weekly report on Cajun music to Billboard magazine, (remember envelopes and stamps? No fax or email then), sent my weekly Top 20 D.J. hits to Cashbox and emceed beauty pageants and other social functions.
Sometimes I nearly forgot I had a wife and three kids. One night when my wife Dot was firmly reminding me, our four-year old son Perry took sides. He kicked me in the shin.
Wisely, I gave up my weekly column and other activities. Dot was very understanding. Not Perry.
I found time to go to Ville Platte to sell songs to record guru Floyd Soileau. I had produced two national hits for him with our band, 1959’s Joe Barry’s “I’m a Fool to Care”, and in 1962 Barbara Lynn’s “You’ll Lose a Good Thing”.
Floyd said, “YOU record them! Go to Cosimo’s in New Orleans.”
I was ‘Lee Martin’ on Jin records and the first sales merited more releases. The second was a regional hit, (south Louisiana and the Gulf Coast), “Born To Be a Loser” with “The Vikings”, and my sister Betty’s vocal group, “The Blue Belles”.
My manager, Huey Meaux booked me as a solo artist. I played a gig in Bayou Pigeon with a piano accompanist named Dale Houston. He and Grace Broussard, known as “Dale and Grace”, had national hits in 1959 with “I’m Leaving it All Up to You”, and others.
By 1962, their hit days were over and Dale was also a solo act. We clicked together and did several more appearances.
I cut eight more 45’s for Floyd but by 1968 my sales had declined, so by mutual agreement we terminated the contract.
I made a few more 45’s for other labels but realizing I would never be a major artist, I concentrated on my other jobs. Good thinking! In 2000, after 47 years, I received my retirement from the Assessor’s office.
My son Mike won the job to replace me. He died at age 58 in 2014, during his fourth term. His Chief Deputy, Wendy Thibodeaux ran recently and won and is now the Assessor of Lafourche Parish.
This has been a long story for my “small world” theme, but since most of my readers were too young, not born or don’t remember any of this, I hope you might find it of some interest.
Flash forward to 1984 when my wife and I attended the annual International Assessors’ Conference in Toronto, Canada. We had hoped to enjoy French chats with our Canadian cousins. WRONG PROVIDENCE! The only French speaking person we encountered was an elevator operator who was not in a chatting mood.
Toronto is a beautiful city and Canada is America’s best friend, as the movie “Argo” depicts.
Also during the Vietnam era a Canadian artist had a hit record with “The Americans” which praised the virtues and denounced the detractors of the U.S.A. Tex Ritter also recorded it.
One lovely evening, Dot and I took a stroll in the entertainment part of the city. While walking by a Night Club, the marquee read: “Tonight, Recording Artist, Dale Houston”. We stared at each other thinking, “can it be him?”
We went in, took a table, had a cocktail and for two hours enjoyed his singing and piano playing. Every intermission, he joined us and we reminisced the past. It was a lovely evening.
Dale Houston was not then and had never become a national artist, but he and Grace had their 15 minutes of fame as Andy Warhol had proclaimed.
My story is just to reiterate that it’s a “small world, after all”.
Please don’t consider these stories as me bragging or tooting my own horn, but remember the old saying: “He that does not toot his own horn, that horn will not be toothed.”
Toot Toot! Bye now!
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Posted on Tue, December 9, 2014
by Leroy Martin, Contributing Writer