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“Pop, Shrimp, and Stamps”

“Pop, Shrimp, and Stamps”

First, many thanks for the emails, Facebook and land line comments, even the one from the United Arab Emirates---and that’s pretty far!

This “pop rouge” story centers on the brand name M.B.C., a popular soft drink bottling company that was located in Lockport and owned by the Caillouet family. It was the most popular brand of soft drink in south Lafourche, with the possible exception of Coke, known then only by its formal name Coca Cola.

The “pop rouge” was actually a strawberry soda, but no one called it that. They made other flavors and were also distributors of national name brands, but “pop rouge” and M.B.C. orange were by far the most popular.

The orange had small bits of orange pulp in it. This was my favorite and I’d give $100 (they only cost a nickel then) to have one right now, and although I’m a type two diabetic, I’d risk a few sips.

Mr. Caillouet often made the trip with his route men and one day I heard him say at my grandfather Paul Callais’ grocery store, “people often think M.B.C. means “Made by Cailliout” but actually it’s the initials of my mother’s maiden name.”

I kept the craving for many years, and one time at a conference in Chicago I ordered an M.B.C., orange with my meal. As the waiter stared blankly, my boss at the time, Lafourche Assessor Hubert Robichaux, had a good laugh and never let me forget it.

The red dye used to make “pop rouge” was eventually taken off the market by the F.D.A. and it then became “pop clair” (clear).

The tiny bits of orange pulp were not compatible with modern machines and eventually the company was sold to Barq’s of New Orleans and the brand disappeared from the market. What a pity.

In the 1930’s my grandfather opened a gas and grocery store on Highway One in front of his house. When he died in 1939, and with the threat of war bringing gas rationing, blue or red stamps were required for all purchases. The stamps were issued by the government according to family size or job priority, along with other rules and regulations.

When the stamps came about, the family closed shop.

I remember the gas pump had a glass dome on top which contained fuel dispensed by gravity, and had to be refilled with a hand crank. That was my job after school and on weekends.

The thirties were extraordinary years as were 1940 and 1941, until December 6. The next day, December 7, 1941 was the “Day of Infamy,” and our lives would never be the same again. America was united in fighting a “just” war.

For the sake of humanity, good prevailed over evil.

But during that time, here in the Cajun communities, life went on as usual, if you consider a few hurricanes, some flooding, a paved highway, electricity and a shrimp strike to be usual. At that time, a 210-pound barrel of headless shrimp would bring the trawler five or six dollars so they went on strike, demanding $8.50.

The big shrimp buyers asked “how greedy can they be?” (They sure were greedy … that’s approximately 4-cents per pound! WOW!!!)

I feel I have been given the privilege of documenting my generation and I will try to make you visualize the prominent personalities I have met, the humorous and the tragic events that I witnessed and the ventures I have been involved in. I doubt very much that I am good enough to do this, but if you stick with me, I’ll give it my best shot. So much to write about and so little time to write it!

In the coming weeks, a boucherie, a charivari and how the common pig contributed so much to mankind. All these things in my head makes me wonder----did a light bulb appear over Thomas Edison’s head the first time he thought of inventing one or can anybody tell me where next year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival will be held?

I’m out of here. Bye now!