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Political Wars, Part IV

Political Wars, Part IV

In the Lafourche Parish Library in Galliano stand three glass exhibits of notable citizens of South Lafourche, Ervin “Vin” Bruce, Richard “Dick” Guidry and Leroy “Lee” Martin. All three are now or were former public officials and two are musicians.

Vin and Dick certainly deserve it and while I am honored, I question my worthiness, but I am proud to say that the exhibits I stand with honor two of the best friends I ever had.

I have often written about Vin in other columns, but being this is the fourth in a “Political Wars” series, today I recall memories of the youngest state representative ever elected in Louisiana history, my friend, Richard “Dick” Guidry.

He is gone now and is greatly missed for his personality and his political career, during which he secured many benefits for his area and his parish. He was also a good family man with his wife Phyllis, daughters Lisa, Lillian, Phyllis “FiFi” and sons Dennis and David. Another son, Paul, died in a tragic accident years ago. His departed family were parents John L. and Lillian, brothers Lloyd and Robert and sister Rosie, all outstanding citizens.
As a businessman, he drilled for oil in Kentucky, had boats built in Spain, was a partner in theaters, The Jet Cinema and Drive In, (anybody remember the Jet … best hot dog chili around, served with mosquitos), an insurance agency and some I probably don’t know about.

He was not always successful, had ups and downs, successes and failures, but always recovered and came back stronger.

That pretty much describes my friend.

Our friendship had many coincidences, one being we both married a Guidry and that worked because his lasted till the end and Dot still tolerates me.

I remember when he and I were in the High School Glee Club. Dick could not carry a note or tune in a bucket so Professor Wilson had him sing bass where he couldn’t do much harm. As Joe E. Brown once said to Tony Curtis in a movie, “Nobody’s perfect”.

Age wise, we were only a month apart, but his transfer from Cut Off High, (now LCO), set him back a year. The reason? His mother thought that being good friends, we would study together. Study together? We did everything but! Once again, nobody’s perfect, although mothers come the closest.

Since our friendship dated back to grammar school, his father’s Star Theater was our headquarters. A bus transported people to and from the picture show and we rode it both ways nearly every night discussing baseball, football, food and world domination. (Just kidding). Our thoughts had not fully focused on girls yet, but they were fast heading in that direction.

Our National Guard years with friends Donald Owens, Ames Savoie, Edmond Rodrigue and Roland Guidry also were memorable. Dick was company clerk, and when he earned an honorable discharge because of bad feet, he recommended me and I got the job --- no more bivouacking or field trips, until one day I raised my hand. I had forgotten the cardinal army rule: “Never volunteer for anything!”

I had enrolled in officers’ training school in Fort Reilly, Kansas. Bad idea! I was promoted to Sgt. anticipating my 2nd Lt. rank, given a squad to train and it was back to bivouacs and field trips.

Goodbye soft desk job.

Enter politics!

Our political adventure began in 1951 with a phone call from Dick. We didn’t have a phone so he called next door at my Uncle Lorris Callais’ house and one of my beautiful cousins, Rosemary, Camille or Bea, or not as beautiful, Lorris, Jr., came to fetch me … I forgot which one.

“Lee,” he said, “They want me to run for State Representative. What do you think?”

I told him, “That’s a good idea, go for it.” And after a brief pause, I asked him, “What’s a state representative?”
You can tell I was very politically astute.

He accepted the invitation and the new “All Parish” ticket was completed to battle the incumbent “Old Regulars”.

We had joined the political battle of 1952 and the conflict was about to begin.

“Lay on McDuff, and damn he who cries ‘hold, enough’”. (Shakespeare)

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