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Political Wars, Part V

Political Wars, Part V

John L. Guidry’s Galliano family was well respected and had supported the Jones/Davis political faction in the past, so when David Barker, son of defeated Sheriff Dr. Charles, re-organized the remnants of the party in 1951, he wanted as a candidate, family member Lloyd Guidry. When he declined, younger brother Richard “Dick” Guidry accepted. He was only 21 years old.

The “old regulars”/Earl Long faction held almost all public offices in Louisiana and all major offices in Lafourche Parish. They were Senator A.O. Rappelet, Sheriff Frank Ducos, Assessor Max Rizan, Clerk of Court Raoul Legendre, Coroner Dr. Leo Kern and State Representatives Leonard Toups and Paul Dufrene.

All incumbents were running for re-election but Senator Rappelet had announced for governor and was replaced by Leonard Toups.

Paul Dufrene did not seek re-election so Harvey Peltier, Jr. and Eugene Gouaux ran for representative.

The Jones/Davis faction in Lafourche was hungry and with a new name, “all parish”, opposed every incumbent and candidate of the “old regulars”. Their ticket included: Clyde Caillouet, Senator; Clinton Cheramie, Sheriff; R.J. Soignet and Richard “Dick” Guidry, State Representatives; Alvin Louviere, Assessor; and Jeanne Coulon, Clerk of Court.

Other candidates, known as the Melancon-Robichaux-Landry ticket, included Wilson Melancon, Sheriff; Dave Robichaux, Assessor; and Ambroise Landry, Clerk of Court.

Another, the “Chiasson” Ticket, offered Edwin Chiasson, Sheriff; Roy Dupuy, Assessor; and Mrs. Edward Daigle, Clerk of Court.

All except the “old regulars” endorsed Dr. Philip Robichaux for Coroner. Most of those names are long forgotten but pay attention … a pop quiz will follow. (Just kidding).

The “old regulars” teamed with Judge Carlos Spaht for Governor, (Earl Long was term limited), while “all parish” supported Judge Robert Kennon from Minden.

The sound trucks, signs, rallies, poll watchers and haulers, (some called this vote buying but all sides did it so it was not an issue), were all ready to go.

Dick Guidry called to inform me saying, “Our first rally is tomorrow in Chackbay.”

The next day, in my 1950 Oldsmobile I had won in June, I headed for Chackbay, Ward 6 of Lafourche, predominately Cajun and a much desired voter group.

The candidates were speaking to a small crowd when Dick walked to the mike, fiddled with the cord, raised and lowered the stand, and his hesitation was excruciating. It was only 10 seconds, but it seemed like an hour. He finally spoke and said: “I’m Dick Guidry, I’m running for Representative, please vote for me,” and sat down.

My arms dropped, my mouth went dry and I thought: “Danger, Will Robinson!” (No, I couldn’t have—“Lost in Space” was still in the future.)

I shook Dick’s hand and fibbed “good job, Pal.” But traveling home I worried and many ideas ran through my mind so I stopped for a drink. Suddenly the proverbial electric light bulb lit above my head and I shouted “Eureka! I got it!”

The bar crowd looked and I gave a sheepish smile while I metaphorically patted myself on the back and thought: “what a bright boy am I.” (I was young with a big ego.)

Fronting a band for four years, I could address audiences and owned sound equipment and a new gadget I had bought from Dick’s family furniture store … a tape recorder, (invented by the Germans in World War II, hard to afford at $120 but I had to have it). Now I knew why!

The next day, Dick and I hauled the equipment to the stage of his father’s Star Theater, and for the next week or so, I had him make speeches, recorded them, let him listen and did it over and over again until one day I said:

“By George, I think you’ve got it!”

My friend was ready!

By the end of the campaign Dick was a force to be reckoned with. He gave passionate speeches using enthusiastic hand gestures and got favorable reactions from the crowd. My Professor Higgins to his Elisha had worked. I was proud and remembered an old quote from Albert Camus, “Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.

Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk besides me and be my friend.”

That we were!


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