Ms. Mary Attawa was my first school teacher, and her brother, it seemed like he worked on the boats with Papa at one time. So, let me tell ya. So, I'll tell you who,, when his wife died and he married,, the house that Harold and Loretta lived in, Nez and them's aunt, by marriage. Their uncle's wife, she was a widow. He married her. And they lived in that house. Harold and Loretta bought that house from them. So, the night of,.. Mr. Attaway. when he died. The night of his wake, Sewel, Nez, and all them went. Sewel knew him too, Mr. Attaway. So, and I didn't go. So the next day Sewel said, "Boy, you missed it, Vic! Your old first school teacher was there last night." I cried, when he told me that! Darn! I'd of liked to met her! He said, "Your first old school teacher was at that wake." (Robyn, Paw Paw that's probably the only wake you've ever missed in your life) Dogone! I hated I missed her, y'know!
Boy, we had a Christmas tree, I'll never forget it! We had a big cedar tree as tall as this ceiling. You know what they had? Candles! Lit! I'd think a many a day, in a wooden building like that! To take that chance! They got on a step ladder and lit all them candles. Later years, I'm thinking,, there's alot of times now, I'm thinking what a fire hazard that was! And that cedar would've burnt like gasoline if one of them candles would of touched it! They had it fixed where the candles,, (Robyn, But still!) (Paw Paw at the same time) But still! (Robyn, That's dangerous, I mean now a days you wouldn't even think about doing something like that!) We didn't have electric lights though, see. (Robyn, yeah)
I'll never forget they had the jail in the back yard, of the school house. In the back yard! A wooden jail. (laughs) It didn't last! They tore it down in later years. Didn't never nobody, uh,, we had the town marshall. And Uncle Tom was mayor. And Mr. Bordages was the town marshall. And we never had no trouble, other than drunks, somethin' like that! We never had no crime. (Robyn, yeah, those were the days!)
I was telling Joe Price one day, you know his daughter, works there, (Robyn, Jolynn) Yeah, she married one of Uncle Tom's grandson's. I think his name is T.J., if I'm not mistaken. So, I saw it in the paper. And I told Joe, "You know your son-in-law's a distant relative of mine." He said, "Sure enough?" I said, "He is!" I said, "His daddy was my first cousin." (Robyn, Small world) T.J. junior, he was my first cousin, that was Aunt Jenny's boy, y'know.
(Robyn, tell us about when your daddy died Paw Paw) Yeah, you mean, how, when, what,or? (Robyn, well just, you know, just so we can remember) Yeah, Well,,,uh, y'see,, (Robyn,wasn't he comin' home from work or somethin') No,, It was on a Sunday. Let me tell ya, We went, it was Tunney, my cousin, Tunney Necaise, and I think the little boy, Peterson. You know Sheriff Peterson? His daddy. He was a bus driver. We were all going to the Bay together, y'see. We called him Acey, Acey Peterson, there was Tunney, Sewel, me, and Jesse Marquez, in his Model T. (laughs) We all passed by and we said let's stop by and we'll give Papa and them a drink, y'know, him and Jules Favre. Papa was working for Jules. So, we went by and gave them a drink, y'know. So that night there was a dance in Waveland. We had a open dance hall with no roof. So, it was across the street from Aunt Jenny's. So, I said, "Papa, why don't ya'll come down there tonight." he said, "We might." So, we went of to the Bay. And then come in that night, and we were going to the dance. We were going with girls, Tunney and I, from the Bay, see. One of them was Sewel's cousin. So anyway, We um, hired,..Tooney got, um,, one of the Bourgeois had a taxi, and we got him to take us, pick us up at the Bay, take us to the dance, pick us up and take us back to the Bay. So, Papa and Jules Favre had went to uh,, up to,.. not Bayou LaCroix, the next bridge, McCloud bridge, to see about rolling a house. Y'see that's what they did. They'd build houses and rolled houses. Like them Hammond's do, but they didn't do it like the Hammond's do. They jack it up and run a truck under it and go off. (the Hammond's) Papa and them had to roll it with a horse, with a wigglers, you know on rollers. And uh, they went to see about a job. So, then Papa came home and it was about eight- thirty or something like that. And Mama say's she's sorry she told him I wasn't in bed! He said to her,"Did Vic get home?" And she said, "No, he's at the dance." He said, "Well I told him I'd come down there." So he was walking, to the dance. And these guys, had been at the dance, who lived in Gulfport, and we had a ferry that run across the Bay, no bridge. So they was rushing to make that last ferry. And they swerved, and my daddy was coming, facing this way. See this is the road y'see. He's over here, and they coming, and there was a car, going too. And they went around this car and run off the road and hit my dad, see. Well,, so, they didn't know who did it. But there was a Bourgeois from Bay St. Louis, that came to Uncle Tom, he and his girlfriend, she was a nurse. He come along and he saw it, and stopped and picked my daddy up, put him in the back of the car. They was going to take him to Bay St. Louis, there was no doctor, no hospital. And he told him about it, Mr. Bourgeois, later. Mr. Bourgeois that's got that little place that sells lumber, but right there by railroad and thirty eighth, one block from the laundry down there. Bourgeois' Building Materials. I think it's one of his brother's. That's Uncle Tom's distant half cousins. Well anyway,, he uh, he told me later years, they picked Papa up and his wife, he married her later, she was a nurse. And she was holding his head in her lap, and when they hit the Bay, just as they turned in, they called it Devil's Elbow there, he died, he told me,"Your daddy died right there." So what they did, they didn't know who it was. So the sheriff in the Bay, went to the ferry. And the man on the ferry told him, there was a bunch there, that looked very excited about something. Excited about something that happened, he said. So he gave the description of the car. And it was an Essex automobile. And they found it, but they didn't do nothin'. So later years, somebody told me the sheriff's son was with them. They gave him a ride, and he was with them at the dance, y'see. So I come to find out it was Godfrey Delcuze. And they were all from the Bay, the Delcuze's.
So, when I was reading meter's. I saw the car that killed my daddy. They had it in his mother's backyard, they had it up on blocks. I saw that car! I was so upset, I think uh, I could kill him, at the time I was so mad! Y'know. But, anyway, I forgave him. He just died here about a year or two ago, in Bay St. Louis. Anyway, I asked God to forgive me, how I felt. ( He speaks real quietly)I said, I guess it was one of them things. He was young like me at he time. He didn't mean to do it. So, I forgave him for it, y'know. It could of happened to me maybe, y'know.
But, I loved my daddy like everything,,, I don't think anybody loved their daddy as much as I did mine! I guarantee ya! I thought he was IT! Boy, (quiet laugh) And he was! I tell ya when he worked in that shipyard in Handsboro, I guess they had three hundred men, or five hundred men working out there. So, I went to a wake at Lange's when they were on thirty second avenue, that big two story house. So, I went by with a relative there one night. So, one of these Pavolini's was there from the Kiln, Delisle was there. Four or five men or more was talking, we went in that room there, so they introduced me to him, "Ladner?", He said who was my daddy, and I told him Etienne Ladner. He said, "Etienne Ladner's your daddy? I worked in the ship yard with him, man." I said, "I know you did." Because they were Mr. Martinolich's brothers. (in law) See them Pavolini's. And I knew it. I used to hear Papa talking about 'em, y'see. And I said, "Yeah, I remember when ya'll were working there." I said, "I was twelve years old." He said, "Let me tell ya'll one thing." He told this guy, he said, "That was the strongest man in the shipyard! There wasn't a man who could pick up with him!" See back then they built ships with big timbers, y'know.(laughs) They had them big twelve by twelves. They had to take two men with on of them hooks. You set them on each side of the timber, like an ice hook, and they had to pick them up. You see he said there wasn't,, an I bet they were about fifteen feet long, I don't know. But he said, "There wasn't nobody could pick up with him! No man could pick up that other side!" They said, "He was the strongest man in the shipyard and everybody knew it too!"
So awhile back, who was it, one of them girls, who was working up there. Who couldn't get over, they said, "Vic you must've come from good stock!" I just laughed. I didn't tell 'em. But, I DID! I guarantee ya boy! And I was not near the man my daddy was! Eww, Father was a man, he was! Robyn, and Michelle, when I was about, I don't know if I had started school or not, I was around six or seven years old, I guess. My daddy was hauling those shells. Back before the storm. They had been hauling for several years. Two of my cousins were working on the boats. (Noise from the tv, loud) How the,(Robyn,God, that scared me) Scared me! (Laughter) But anyway, at one time they had horse and wagons y'see, they were hauling them shells. The schooner was anchored off in the deep water. They'd load the shells in the skiff and they had a long sand bar and the wagon would go on that sandbar, the skiff, and it was deep enough water for the skiff's to come up. So my cousin Simon, his skiff sank. In about this deep of water. And it was them shells and all that water. So Papa slapped his bow and said, "I'm coming." I'll never forget this, they called Papa Uncle Man. Yeah, So they called him Man, did you know that all Papa's aunt's, I mean sister's, and all of his nieces and nephews called him, Uncle Man? (Robyn, Uncle Man? laughs) That's right! And called him Man. So, uh,, Simon said, "Uncle Man you can't pick that up." Papa says, "Get out the way." He picked that skiff back up, it come up!(chuckling) Now you can take a skiff with water in it, without shells. And I saw this with my own eyes! He picked that boat up like this, and all that water rushed out. He dropped it nice, and said, "Now finish bailing it out." And gave him the shovel. (laughing) That boy, was right! He was powerful! Boy! That man, hear me,oohho, strong as a bull! And I saw that! I was about six or seven years old. I remember the words Simon said. He said, "You can't pick that up Uncle Man."( laughs) Nunc Man he said. Nunc was uncle in french y'see. Nunc Man you can't do that! ( big chuckles)
I remember a big strong man. With a ready laugh. A laugh that came from deep inside. Arms dark and hairy, with hands that were work worn. Digging potatoes in the garden. What a joy! Picking beans from the pole. Always finding him in the utility shed, hands busy, the smell of wood all around. Letting us build things from scraps. Pretending to be asleep, letting us sneak up on him. Then suddenly coming awake, growling and grabbing us, tickling us, and laughing. Stories, endless stories of what it was like when.... Oyster shells, and the smell of fish. Uniforms, badges, and handcuffs. Seems like he was always busy, but somehow he always had time for you.
He is greatly missed by us all. But thankfully he will live on in our hearts.
I am thankful that my children got to know and love him.
That is a special joy. It was for him too.
I'll always remember him playing with the kids.
The way his eyes lit up when he saw them. I felt like I gave him something back in return for all he was to me. Something that was worth more than gold to him. The pleasure of those children meant the world to him. But I'm not sure if he knew that he meant the world to us.