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Political Wars, Part III

Political Wars, Part III

Last week I wrote about repercussions caused by attending political rallies. Here’s the story:

In 1948 my parents were fur trapping in Myrtle Grove, Louisiana. Children were allowed to skip school for trapping season so my sister Betty went and I stayed with relatives.

I was born during trapping season and was brought to the camp. Mom helped skin the muskrats and hang the pelts to dry. On rainy days they were hung indoors and the odor was overwhelming, but that was a trapper’s life.

When I was two, asthma nearly killed me, but a boat ride to Dr. John Gravois in Golden Meadow saved me. I don’t remember any of this, but what a regretful loss that would have been … or maybe not.

In 1948 Dad was trapping again and had brought Mom and sister Betty, leaving me with relatives.

My wife Dot’s parents were also trappers and brought the kids. She remembers watching them skin the muskrats and unpleasantly remembers rainy days. Her only recreation was a doll, a deck of cards and a radio that was limited to preserve the battery. Her sad, Maurice Guidry was a man who lived off the land with furs, shrimp, oysters and gardens.

Dad was a Huey/Earl Long supporter when a political leader showed up at his camp in a boat. He told the terrible story of me attending opposition political rallies. I couldn’t even vote, but his job was “S.O.P.” (standard operating procedure) and he went to great lengths to do it well. No incrimination intended --- all factions used similar methods to “guide” their supporters.

Well known with my band and radio programs, I was a potential future opponent that had to be “nipped in the bud”. Pure speculation, but that was Lafourche politics in 1948.

Dad was loaned a car to come “straighten” me out. He was a soft-spoken man, but he lectured me firmly about the “distress, damage and misery” that would befall us if his political faction lost, (maybe locus and plague, too).

Remember, in Cajun Lafourche, three pictures hung on the walls, Jesus, Franklin Roosevelt and Huey Long, not necessarily in that order.

He ended with, “what did I do to you to deserve this”, which triggered my reaction and I answered disrespectfully: “You sent me to school for an education and I learned to read that in this country. I’ll be able to vote how I want and nobody’s gonna stop me.”

With a sad look on his face he shook his head, shrugged his shoulders and said, “I’m going back to your mama and sister and run my trapping lines … do what you want.”

He got in the car and left. He was either deeply hurt or had bought my argument, but the subject never came up again. I resumed my misspent youth and rejoined my “gang”.

By 1952 I had converted my family to my political corner.

Richard “Dick” Guidry and I had been friends since grammar school and we often rode with his parents, John L. and Lillian Guidry, to LSU football games, cramped tightly in the back seat of their Chevy Coupe. They were well respected community and business leaders and the NSU stadium is named in his honor.

I spent many summers at their camp in Grand Isle where I found stacks of 1920’s 78 RPM records. I was already hooked on early Jimmie Rodgers and Ernest Tubb and I added Paul Whiteman, Fred Warring and Al Jolsen, (before the “Jolsen Story” movies), to my musical appreciation. Beethoven and Chopin would be added later as would Frank, Doris, Rosemary, Loretta, Carrie, George and Taylor.

Being a music lover means having to buy them again and again. I have the Beatle’s white album, all of Bob Wills, Ernest Tubb and Jimmie Rodgers collections in vinyl, cassette, 8-track, CD, and now MP3.
Stop inventing folks, I’m going broke.

That explains some of my peculiar musical background, but now back to politics and my friend, Dick Guidry. Little did I know at the time that a phone call from him in 1951 would shape our future and change our lives forever.

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