I was an only child for eight years until my sister Betty came along and diluted my monopoly. I had to learn to share and that was hard for a brat spoiled rotten by his mother and aunt, as I was described by some family members.
I refused to believe that I have ever been anything except the kind, friendly, loving soul that I turned out to be. (If you buy that, I have some ocean front property in Arizona I’d like to sell.)
Truthfully, I have always loved Betty and I know the feeling is mutual. There was the age gap that kept us from having the same friends and schools or enjoy the same music, but she always knew where to find me at a fair or movie for some cash (which I gladly gave and she gladly took).
Whenever her friends, Ramona Peck (now deceased) and Audrey Orgeron came over, they loved to harmonize and were very good. So I asked them to sing background on my next sessions for Jin Records.
My producer, Huey Meaux liked them and used them on many sessions with his other artists, like Joe Barry, Mickey Gilley, Barbara Lyn and Freddie Fender. They were billed as “The Blue Belles.”
Despite my singing, some of my records were regional hits because of them. After four recording sessions at Cosimo’s Studio in New Orleans for six different artists, they disbanded, choosing marriage and careers instead.
But their voices remain on the records, which are still available on the Internet.
Betty, now widowed, lives in Lafayette and visits as often as she can. She brings me those great Cajun ‘gratons’, which I love, but they chip my teeth. (I sometimes think my dentist pays for them.)
In the Catholic religion, if you’re asked to be a Godmother or Godfather, it’s “an offer you can’t refuse.”
NOT! Of course you can, but people seldom do. (I just couldn’t resist the joke).
I’m honored to be Godfather of four: my first cousin, Joanne Griffin; my first boss’ first born, Scott Autin; my neighbor’s son, Walton Terrebonne, Jr.; and my niece, Betty’s daughter Vickie Renois.
Since Scott, Walton and Vickie moved away I seldom see them and it saddens me to hear that Scott has medical problems. Betty, many years later, became Godmother to Michael, Dot and I’s first born who was tragically taken away from us this year.
In 1941, my aunt Elecia Callais Griffin and her husband Frank had me excused from my 7th grade class to be Godfather to their first born, Joanne.
“Uncle Frank,” I asked, “what are the requirements?”
“The Church doctrine obliges the grandparents provide for the child should anything happen to the parent.”
“I’m only 12 years old,” I teased him. “I’m not going to sign any contract like that.”
“Get to the church or I’ll break your neck,” he answered with a smile.”
Now THAT was an offer I couldn’t refuse!
Joanne was born on September 7, 1941, three months before Pearl Harbor, and in less than a year, Frank was in the Navy, piloting Higgins landing crafts in Pacific invasions. He returned safe and sound and became a top gun in the oil drilling business until his death.
Elecia, like Mom, lived to be 90.
Joanne became a certified nurse and worked for Lady of the Sea Hospital for 41 years. She was on duty when my father and mother died, and when I lost half my colon to diverticulitis. She’s my neighbor and a computer nerd, very helpful to me because the computer and iPhone are mysterious gadgets to which I have not yet fully adapted.
I was recently asked if I was old enough to remember Pearl Harbor. Yes, I was 12 years old and there was a hit song everybody sang, “Let’s remember Pearl Harbor, as we go to meet the foe. Let’s remember Pearl Harbor, as we did the Alamo”.
I do NOT, however, remember the Alamo, the Lusitania, or Sherman’s march to the sea. I do, however remember a ship called the Titan----scratch that … just a movie I once saw.
Posted on Tue, October 14, 2014
by Leroy Martin, Contributing Writer