If you are a first time or casual reader, here are a few facts about me you might find interesting. Or not.
I am a Cajun, a descendant of the “Grand Derangement”, the deportation of French Acadians from Canada in 1755 who settled in South Louisiana.
We were despised immigrants who eventually assimilated and became accepted despite our different language and customs.
I could not speak a word of English when I entered school in 1936. I did know the alphabet, numbers and my prayers (Catholic), but all in French. I also knew a national anthem, but it was France’s “La Marcelais”.
Since July of 2014, I have written about my experiences as a bandleader, musician, songwriter, radio (30 years) and TV personality, and elected public official (Parish/County Assessor 1983-2000) in a courthouse job I held for 47 years, 1953-2000.
I enjoy writing about interesting experiences during those years, which are true, but be warned, I have a weird sense of humor which I sometimes inject into my columns.
I was writing about an episode that my friends and I experienced in Nashville, which I will conclude next week. But memories of my childhood during World War II flashed back and I wrote about one such experience last week. Here’s three more.
In 1942, I was in seventh grade in what is now the Golden Meadow Middle School when an oil tank, less than a city block away, exploded knocking down windows, desks and students. Sabotage? Some believed it was, but it sure let us know that our country was at war.
In 1943, I rode with my Dad who was delivering gasoline and oil, (worth gold then), to a dock in Grand Isle. We passed barricades with armed soldiers in tanks and blimps flying overhead.
With binoculars we watched the smoke of a tanker that had been torpedoed by a German submarine. Fifty-seven such ships were sunk in the Gulf in 1942 and 1943, but only folks with a view of the ocean knew about it because of wartime censorship.
Now -- “paper, scissors or rock?” No, there were no wartime drives to collect rocks but there were many for paper and metal, like scissors. I was doing my bit helping my mother gather newspapers and magazines for recycling. I remember her stacking and binding packages for a scheduled pick up.
I gasped when she threw in a stack of comic books which I had been accumulating since I was 7 years old and carefully guarded under my bed where she had found them.
I panicked and begged her to let me keep only two, my prized possessions, Detective Comics number 27 from 1938, and Action Comics number 1 from 1938.
They had cost 10 cents each and I treasured them for bragging rights and as an investment. Hey … by 1944, they were probably worth a dollar each!
I cried and pleaded, but in her firm Cajun voice she said, “Non! (No) C’est pour la guerre,” (“It’s for the war!”)
Those four words would veto and negate any request to withhold something that could help the war effort, even two comics that were over 5 years old. I felt shame and tearfully threw them into the bag. I never forgot my sacrifice even if it did help us win the war.
Last year, with tears in my eyes, I read an article which included pictures of my two long lost and recycled comic books and told how a well preserved issue of Detective Comics number 27, published in May of 1939, in which Batman first appeared, had been sold by actor Nicholas Cage for $1,075,500 and a pristine copy of Action Comics number 1, which introduced Superman, had been auctioned on EBay for $3,207,852.
I had once owned a copy of both!
Now that’s a memory I am unsuccessfully trying to forget.
Some reminiscing brings smiles and joy, but some can be very painful. No truer words have ever been spoken than those by John Greenleaf Whittier, who said, “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are, it might have been.”
Amen John, Amen.
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Posted on Tue, February 16, 2016
by The Lafourche Gazette