Two days after the 1952 “All Parish” versus “Old Regular” Lafourche Parish election, arguably the fiercest political battle of all times, the races for sheriff and representatives were still too close to call and the poll commissioners were still counting paper ballots.
Although most races were determined Sheriff Frank Ducos was slightly ahead of Clinton Cheramie, and Dick Guidry was 17 votes ahead of Harvey Peltier, Jr., in unofficial tabulations.
My campaign song parody of “Shrimp Boats” entitled “Insurance Checks” had been played on radio and sound trucks favoring the Kennon/All Parish ticket against the Spath/Old Regulars in Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes. It was mostly about local issues. Keep that in mind.
That morning, I answered a knock on my door and in walked sheriff candidate Clinton Cheramie, whose election status was still in doubt.
“There’s trouble brewing about that campaign song,” he said. “Someone is coming to interrogate you (his words) and I have arranged to meet them at my office tomorrow morning. Do you have a copy of the record? I destroyed mine.”
“I have one,” I answered and he said “follow me”.
Walking to the banks of Bayou Lafourche, less than 50 feet from my house, he took the record and sailed it into the water. We thought he had, but it caught the wind and sailed across the bayou unto Highway 308.
“Let’s go find it,” Clinton said and we jumped into his car, drove two miles north to the Galliano Platoon Bridge, crossed over and drove to the approximate area we thought it had landed.
Sure enough, there it lay in a ditch by the road. He picked it up and unsuccessfully tried to cut it with his pocketknife, but it was aluminum coated with shellac so he bent it, stomped it with his foot and threw again. This time it sank, much to our relief.
“I think we’re safe now,” he assured me as he drove me back home.
“Safe from what” I wondered as the situation and his concern began to worry me. I was 21, had never been in trouble and now I thought “for a stupid song?”
The next morning I met with Clinton and his lawyer and in walked a pretty young lady with a camera and note pad in hand who announced, “I’m from Life Magazine and they want a story about the Governor’s election and especially that campaign song Shrimp Boats about deadheads.”
“I wrote and recorded it,” I confessed, “but it only played in Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes, and the Governor’s election is only mentioned once with the line ‘Kennon will win, he’s gonna clean out, the deadheads that are ruining our state.’ Otherwise, it was about local issues.”
She kept writing and asked me to pose with my guitar, which I didn’t have.
“No problem,” she said as she handed me a record from an old phonograph in the corner. “Cover the label with your hand and hold it up,” she said and took more pictures. Clinton and his lawyer were grinning as she left, saying, “The issue comes out Monday.”
Life had the largest circulation of any national magazine.
Early Monday I went to the drug store and bought a copy. I saw pictures of Kennon and candidates Carlos Spath and Earl Long with their wives and entourage gathered around a radio. They looked sad.
The headline read: “Long Long Rule Comes To An End”. Kennon promised to cut taxes, fire the Long deadheads, and at every stop throughout the state, to the tune of “Shrimp Boats” his sound trucks would blare out his own campaign song “The Deadheads are Going”.
No picture of me, so my ego was bruised, but more importantly she had completely ignored the facts and indicated the song was all about Kennon and that it had been played statewide.
I had lost my copy of Life in the Hurricane Hilda flood of 1964, so I held back this column until I hopefully found one. Amazon came through. I bought two for $7.00, (cost then .20 cents) stored one away and used relevant parts from the other to appear with this column. I hope you found it interesting.
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Posted on Tue, July 28, 2015
by Leroy Martin, Contributing Writer