1937 Buick Special

Me and Olivia

Me and Olivia
Click On The Picture For MOTAA Web Site

Me and "The Hell Bitch"

Me and "The Hell Bitch"
My 50th birthday gift to myself a 2004 Harley she is named after Captain Call's horse on Lonesome Dove.

I Want This Bike!

I Want This Bike!
Me On A 1942 Harley

My Favorite TV Show

The Location Of My Visitors!

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Class of 1977 my life or a small part of it!

I was born in Ruston on September 23, 1959. I was the first child of Nolen and Omega Huffman Brown. We lived in Dubach for a year which is where my parents are from. My Daddy took a job with Blackburn gas plant which is now Duke Energy in Evergreen. My mother Omega Brown worked at the Webster Parish Library until 1996 when she retired after many years.
I was a 1977 MHS Graduate. Minden High in the Seventies! What more do you need to say. Or better yet what more can you say and get away with it! It was a different era to say the least. I better described it in a story that I recently wrote for The Minute Magazine.

The Dixie Cream to the Dairy Queen

The ruts in the highway back in the early 70’s may not have been just typical Louisiana roads. I’m sure the Shreveport and Homer Road running through Minden was grooved out from a constant circle of teenagers. If we weren’t at the Dixie Cream on the Homer Road we were circling through the Dairy Queen Lot. It was an endless routine of cruising the streets in search of something better to do.
Making the loop used up probably half the nations oil reserve. I would sometimes put several hundred miles in a night on a car and never leave the city limits! You don’t see kids hanging out these days like we did. I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. We weren’t sitting in front of a computer or a television that much. The one thing we did watch was something new and we thought sooo… cool. We came home to watch it and then headed back out to continue our gas consumption.
Saturday Night Live (SNL) has been broadcast by NBC nearly every Saturday night since its debut on October 11, 1975. It is one of the longest-running network entertainment programs in American television history. The original (1975-1980) repertory company was called the “Not Ready for Prime-Time Players”. The first cast members were Second City alumni Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, and Gilda Radner and National Lampoon "Lemmings" alumni Chevy Chase (whose trademark became his usual falls and opening spiel that ushered in the show's opening), Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman, and Garrett Morris. The original theme music was written by future Academy Award-winning composer Howard Shore, who--along with his "All Nurse Band"--was the original band leader on the show. Paul Shaffer who would go on to lead David Letterman's band on "Late Night" and then "The Late Show," was also band leader in the early years.
One of my favorite shows to catch every now and then is “That Seventies Show” the writers of this show were definitely in tune with that era. They have pretty much captured my life from 1974- until graduation in 1977 from “Dear Ole Minden High”! The seventies were fun and maybe the last of the somewhat innocent era of my life. The seventies were all about having fun and hanging out with friends. We gathered in large groups and we hung out till all hours of the night or early morning.
We went to outdoor music festivals and we never worried how we would get there or get back. We went to every Texas Jam in the Cotton Bowl! We traveled in cars that probably never should have left town. But somehow we usually made it to where we were going and most of the time we made it back on schedule. We loved music and were as comfortable listing to The Rolling Stones as well as Willie, Waylon and the boys. We headed to the Sound Company when we had a little money in our pockets, always in search of that new great album or tape.
It was the beginning of young adulthood for me. It was the beginning of growing up. It was right before I had to get a job and pay for my own gas!
The defination of the seventies from Wikepedia, encyclopedia:
The 1970s decade refers to the years from 1970 to 1979, inclusive.
Societally, the United States, which had become an influential global power, experienced a significant transition. While the sixties saw social activism, society became more self-absorbed in the seventies. Analyst and writer Tom Wolfe epitomized this feeling in 1976, calling the seventies the "Me Decade." Music became at once more introspective with the singer-songwriter movement and more carefree with the rise of disco music. As the decade continued on, the American world view became apprehensive, with continuing inner-city poverty and rising urban crime rates, the Watergate hearings broadcast on television, and the Vietnam War still fresh in the national memory. Network, arguably one of the decade's most representative films, dealt with narcissism and paranoia as violence escalated in the Middle East and America was crippled by the Oil Shock of 1973. As the economy slipped, the use of recreational drugs increased and many began to fear purported cults such as the Children of God. 1977 saw the launch of the Star Wars phenomenon (although Woody Allen’s introspective Annie Hall shut Star Wars out of the Oscars.) By the end of the decade the feminist movement had helped improve women's working conditions and environmentalism had become a major cause in the United States and Europe.
If you grew up in the Seventies you know where I’m coming from! Some things in Minden are still the same. If you go to the D.Q., Freddie Green still will be a familiar face. Freddie has been with the D.Q. for thirty years! I also love the fact that bell bottom jeans are back! They make you seem thinner! It was the best of times and the worst of times. It was the Seventies!
This story is in the Summer 2006 The Minute Magazine issue.

Bour-Davis Model "21-S" Not Just One Man's Dream

Back in the early seventies Philip Pedro a member of the Ark-La-Tex Antique and Classic Car Association was interested in finding a rare Bour-Davis car for the club to restore. The hunt for the illusive car was on. The idea and dream turned into a project that has lasted from the early seventies till 2004!
In the beginning the Bour-Davis; named from the two founders, Charles J. Bour and Robert C. Davis, was originally manufactured in Detroit till 1916, before the company was sold to the Shadburn Brothers in 1917. They moved to Frankfort, Ind., and promptly went bust. It was proposed at the time that a car be manufactured to sell for $800.
The Louisiana Motor Car Company was formed in 1917 in Shreveport, La. and they promptly purchased the rights to the Bour-Davis in April 1918. The LMC Company opened their doors for business in the old Merchants Building on the corner of Milam and Market Streets in Shreveport. A new name was wanted for the Louisiana car and a contest was undertaken in the “Shreveport Times” newspaper.
The contest had a nice gimmick, name this automobile and you can have it! This first place prize of a Bour-Davis auto had a value of $1,550. Mrs. A.R. Kilgore of the Cedar Grove area of Shreveport, with the name “Louisianne” was the winner of the car. The name was briefly used or maybe never used because the Bour-Davis logo was still on cars until 1922. Second prize would be $500 worth of stock in the LMC Company. Third prize $300 worth of stock, fourth and fifth would also land you $100 worth of LMC stock. Not worth much in the years to come.
One stipulation in the rules of the contest was that you had to own at least one share of stock to enter the contest! This small detail was clever on LMC’s part. The newly formed LMC Company was formed by a struggling but enthusiastic group.
The LMC Company had a plan to sell shares of stock to build a proposed plant in the Cedar Grove area. They had a wonderful layout of a seven buildings to be built. They also included what investors should profit by joining in with LMC Company. They wanted to compare with the other new manufactures such as Ford, REO, Stutz, Chevrolet, Overland, Hupp to name a few. The car business was still in the beginning stages, just a little over 12 years old at the time.
Many men had high hopes and big dreams of making it rich with this new venture. It was a once in a life time opportunity for the people in the area to jump on board and make it big. “The manufacture of automobiles is the most profitable and safest business enterprise in the world.” Is a claim printed on the LMC Co. proposed plan.
The Bour-Davis show room would be located on a site at 1035 Texas Ave. The factory never quite made it to the seven building plan. It was first just a few tents, in June of 1918 at 1648 Texas Ave. Later two buildings would be constructed at the proposed Cedar Grove site. This site was later occupied by the J.B. Beaird plant and then Kast Metals Corp.
Unfortunately, production never grew beyond a few hundred units because of mismanagement. The result: 267 cars built in 1916, 22 in 1917, four in 1918. These early models were to be priced against the Hudson and Cadillac at $1,200. Twenty were produced in Frankfurt, Ind., and one in Shreveport in 1919, and 296 were produced in 1920. Figures were unavailable for 1921 and 1922 and by the time the 1921 seven-passenger models rolled off the lines they were priced at $2,385, compared to $525 for a Chevrolet touring car, $935 for a Buick and $3,150 for a similar Cadillac. This price jump would put the company into receivership due to slow sales and an inventory of parts for 700 cars.
On May 18, 1921 the assets were sold to Commercial National Bank and the stock of 4700 investors became worthless. J.M. Ponder of Shreveport purchased the entire assets of the Louisiana Motor Car Stock from the bank on May 29, 1922 and organized the Ponder Motor Manufacturing Company, Inc. with all former stock-holders having stock in the new company. Not enough new capital, $1,500,000, nor sales enough to sustain the new beginning, Ponder and Bour-Davis ended and era in 1923.
They sold the cars, made a profit, but the profit was drained off by the upper management. It was a good car, just not very attractive, and pricier than what had been planned in the beginning stages. This would be the end of the line for Bour-Davis, until the 1970’s when the dream was brought to life again by the Ark-La-Tex Antique and Classic Car Association.
Philip Pedro thought he had found one of the extinct cars in the early ‘70’s when he received a letter from a man in Dahinda, Ill., claiming to own the illusive auto. Pedro misplaced the letter, but found it again twenty some-odd years later in 1990! Pedro told Dick Nelson, A.A.C.C.A. car member, about the car.
Nelson, a car enthusiast and auto historian, located the owner and made the deal. In November 1990, Nelson and car club members Joe Greene and Robert Smith drove to Illinois to pick it up. They found the car was actually a Davis, not a Bour-Davis. Although built by different companies, the car was similar in wheelbase, engine, body design and other components because different auto makers purchased these components usually from one company. This gave A.A.C.C.A. a good foundation to recreate a Bour-Davis.
The car’s remains were brought home to Shreveport and inventoried. They had a Davis chassis, Bour-Davis windshield frame, and the correct radiator, engine and assorted pieces, and they also had the most important part a Bour-Davis emblem.
Nelson said, “It’s like making an apple pie. You have a recipe book and you have some of the ingredients and you know how to get the rest to put it all together. You put it all together and you have an apple pie.” The body will have to be fabricated from sheet-metal. As a guide, A.A.C.C.A. used a Studebaker body; which car club members; Mike Deeter, Harold Coburn along with Nelson traveled to San Diego, California, in an adventure filled trip, to retrieve. Salvaged pieces from other cars were meshed, throughout the years, in this assembly process that the club called “Bour-Davis work day”. “Bour-Davis work days” have seen temper tantrums and high-fives all in one day. A lot of blood, sweat and tears have gone into this project.
“We are making sure the dimensions and physical characteristics are identical. We’ve done some ad-libbing, but we now have a 1921 seven passenger model “21-S” Bour-Davis automobile.” This is the only one known to exist. Club members hope that with the completion of this car another car will surface one day.
The restoration has taken many years to complete, with an on-again off-again process. The process of refurbishing or building every piece of the car, including wheels, engine, electrical system and interior has been extensive and painstaking. Many club members over the years have worked on this project with more than a few not living to see their dream roll off the “A.A.C.C.A.” and I guess you could say the resurrected “Louisiana Motor Car Company” assembly line.
The restoration has cost in excess of $10,000, with money coming from club fund-raisers. We place the value of the car at $20,000-$30,000. “However, when you add the uniqueness and rareness of the car, it may inflate considerably,” Nelson said.
The 1921 Bour-Davis will once again have a permanent home in Shreveport, Louisiana. This one of a kind auto will tour throughout the country at various car museums and auto shows. The club is proud of the recognition that the car received as a feature car at the 2005 Mid America Old Time Automobile Association annual Father’s Day show held each year atop Petit Jean Mountain in Morrilton, Arkansas at the Museum of Automobiles. This museum will one day house the Bour-Davis for display. This show was also the maiden voyage of the Bour-Davis for a drive around the field. The excitement on Dick Nelson & Doug Olson’s face was evident that day as they got behind the wheel and took off under the cars on power.

If you would like to donate to the restoration and preservation fund of the Bour-Davis Automobile please mail your donation to:
Bour-Davis Fund
PO Box 3353
Shreveport, Louisiana 71103

Ark-La-Tex Antique and Classic Car Association was formed to promote the restoration and preservation of antique, classic, milestone and special interest type automobiles in the Ark-La-Tex area. The club provides technical and social contacts for over 100 members by sponsoring shows, swap meets, special charity fundraisers and social functions for members. For more information contact us at http://www.arklatexantiquecars.com/
A.A.C.C.A. is an affiliate club of M.O.T.A.A. “The Mid-America Old Time Automobile Association” which is based at the Museum of Automobiles in Morrilton, Ark. See the M.O.T.A.A. web site for more information on this fine organization.

The AACCA 1921 Bour-Davis team

The AACCA would like to acknowledge all the people that have made this project possible, throughout the many years of tireless work and dedication. If anyone has been overlooked, it is by accident. Please let the AACCA know of a name that should be added to this page. The following names are in alphabetical order.

Mark Bandy / Clifford Bayer / Bob Bitowski
Clifford Blackwell / Jim Bostic / Will Burns
Harold Coburn / Mike Deeter / Terry Dove
Charlie Elliot / Ralph Findley / David Freeman
Harry “Red” Gibson / Joe Greene / Archie Hardy
Chuck Henley / Noble Hoots / Bob Hunter
Victor Kunce / John Kreymer / Alan Law
Mike Matlack / Buck Monroe / Dick Nelson
Doug Olson / Bob Peterson / Bobby Platt
Tommy Rascoe / R.S. Robertson / Eddie Sangid
Erwin Sanchez / Ray Shaw / John Simons
Robert Smith / Bill Spahr / Herman Van Os
Maurice Wright

Deceased members that never saw the project completed.

Philip Cancelleri / Ralph Goldsby / Bobby Harper
Al Mauldin / Phillip Pedro (the man behind it all)

(We would also like to thank many of the ladies of the club that have sacrificed while their husbands were at the Bour-Davis work days!)

The Mother Road of the South Hwy 80

I noticed the other day as I drove down I-20 some new construction work. It made me think back to the first day that I went from Minden to Shreveport on I-20 and not Hwy 80. It’s something that we do everyday now and don’t even think twice about it. But it’s only been a little over 30 or so years that we have had that stretch of I-20 opened. If you think back on it I bet most of you can remember the first time you went to Shreveport on the main highway. My maiden voyage was with my Aunt Ellen. It must have been in the fall or winter months, because I remember we were going to look at something for a possible Christmas gift. I bet a lot of you can remember going down Hwy 80 all the way to Dallas! I still am a huge fan of traveling Hwy 80. Driving this old road is less traffic and not quite as stressful. For others that are riding with me they probably have a different opinion.
Not much remains of the old diners, roadside attractions, and mom and pop motels. These are the things that now lie in the corners of my mind. I remember the Lee’s gift shop on Hwy 80, close to the Army Ammunition Plant. This establishment not only sold concrete statues for your yard but also alligator babies! My cousin Craig once had one of those alligator babies. A baby alligator is not something that you want to turn a kid loose with, especially around a dog. These roadside exhibits are probably the reason that the legends of alligators in the sewer system were born.
If you travel through Gibsland and Arcadia much of these towns remain the same. Once you get into Ruston things change to a more modern look. I like to take Hwy 80 all the way to Monroe. Once in Monroe you can catch an occasional glimpse of time gone by building and faded advertising painted on the side of some long forgotten businesses. One of the things I remember the most were the ice cream and barbeque shacks that we always stopped at in our travels.
Head west on Hwy 80 and follow it into Texas. The same thing you will find a few of the old building left but time has taken its toll on all the old landmarks. You will still find a few if you look hard enough. But the feel is still there. I always take 80 when I head to Marshall or Jefferson.
In the 1920's, automobile use was booming thanks to Henry Ford and the Model T’s of the early car era and the Model A’s of the later 20’s. New models were starting to hit the market. And these cars were affordable for the burgeoning middle class. The Good Roads movement had started in response to bicyclist needs. This movement soon shifted to promoting longer, transcontinental roads for the new automobile owners.

US Highway 80

The Broadway of North America
US 80 was once a transcontinental highway that went from San Diego, CA to Tybee Island, GA. In California it went from US 101 in San Diego to the Arizona Border at Yuma. It is a road of historical note since it includes sections of the first paved road to connect San Diego with points east as well as containing the plank road that took motorists over the Algodones sand dunes east of El Centro as part of its route in 1926. US 80 remained for a longer time than many other California US highways, as it existed until 1974 when the final section of I-8 was completed. Almost all of it is still intact today, looking the same as it did when it still was the only highway heading east from San Diego.

US 80 at a Glance
Original Routing
US 80 was a true transcontinental highway when it was commissioned in 1926 until 1964 when it started to be decommissioned in California. During this time, it went from San Diego, California to Tybee Island, Georgia. Its general route appears to have remained unchanged from its eastern terminus to its current western terminus in Dallas, Texas. From its current western terminus its route follows I-30 (west), to I-20 west to I-10 (west). Its route departs I-10 at Road Forks, New Mexico via New Mexico SR-80 and Arizona SR-80. After it dips down near the Mexican Border at Douglas, Arizona, it goes through Tombstone, site of the duel at the OK Corral. SR-80 rejoins I-10 near Benson, Arizona and follows I-10 to SR-77 at Tucson. To the north, it followed SR-77 to US 60 at Florence Jct, and then followed US 60 to Phoenix. According to Richard Moeur, a section of Van Buren St. at one time was marked US 60/US 70/US 80/US 89 and SR-93. Talk about confusion! The route paralleled I-10 to SR-85, which replaced US 80 south to I-8. Once in California, US 80 followed I-8 to its terminus in San Diego. The original route separates from I-8 following Imperial County S80 and several parallel roads through the mountains. Once in the San Diego area, it followed Main St, El Cajon Blvd, Washington St, SR-163 (former US 395) to Market St, ending at Pacific Hwy (former US 101).
Current Status Outside of California
About half of the transcontinental route of US 80 still exists. Over the past 30 years its western terminus has gone eastward to its current location at I-30 just outside of Dallas, Texas. Arizona, New Mexico and Texas decommissioned most parts in the 1980s. Its eastern terminus remains at Tybee Island on the Atlantic coast of Georgia.
Current Status in California
US 80 was officially decommissioned on July 1, 1964 in favor of I-80 to the north. However, it still remained signed in San Diego and Imperial Counties until the corresponding sections of I-8 were completed. By 1974, all the signs marking US 80 had been taken down and US 80 ceased to exist completely as a signed highway within California. As mentioned before, much of US 80 remain intact throughout its run in California, with only a few miles paved under I-8. Some of the most pristine sections run through the Laguna Mountains and a few good sections remain in the desert. Unfortunately, there are some sections, while shown on maps as through roads, are almost impassable. Generally, the remnants of US 80 can be found near I-8.
US 80 From: Mississippi state line near Delta To: Texas state line W of Greenwood Length in LA: 199 mi Dates Signed in LA: 1926 - present Bannered Routes: Truck US 80 Minden History in LA: 1925: proposed; 1926: assigned
The automobile changed the world and even today the automobile is the dictator of the way America conducts business. If you get the chance take one of America’s older highways. You may see something that will make you smile! Until next time keep it between the ditches.

Is It Turkey Yet!

One of my favorite times of the year is the fall season. I love the brisk mornings and the cooler days that seem to happen overnight. My birthday is also September 23rd which is the first day of fall. Fall means school is beginning, the fair is coming and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. It is also a good time to get “Olivia” my ’37 Buick out and go to a few car shows. September, October and November are to me the best times of the year!
The older I get the faster September 23rd seems to come around. Geezzz…. The years are flying by. I think somewhere between my mother telling me that I was too young for that outfit I was wearing and now the comment of, “that outfit is too young looking for you,” I have turned middle aged. Middle aged I thought was somewhere around 60! But how many 120 year olds do you know?! Oh well, life goes on and on. My theory on life has changed through the years. I am a firm believer that life is short and you better not waste it and wait until later for the things that you dream of doing or seeing. I was standing in my aunt’s kitchen a few months back and noticed something hanging on her wall that I had painted. I noticed the date and was shocked to realize it had been hanging on her wall for 20 years! That’s what I mean. It just seems like a few years ago that my parents and I were doing craft shows and flea markets. I don’t know how we held up to doing it but we did for many years.
The holiday rituals are changing too. I can remember that when Halloween rolled around you were gearing up for the Lowe Jr. High Halloween Carnival. Every kid in Minden that went to Lowe Jr. High remembers the huge cake walks and games that were held every year. After Halloween you were fast approaching Thanksgiving and a week- long vacation from school. Now days Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are all out on the store shelves at the same time. You don’t get to enjoy one thing at a time anymore.
Getting out of school for any reason was something to look forward to and a turkey holiday made it even better. A turkey holiday is any holiday where the serving of turkey is accepted as not only the norm but a must have. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Easter are all appropriate turkey holidays. I can remember a few turkey disasters during my 45+ years. One of the most memorable is the year that my cousin Craig was smoking a turkey and caught the yard on fire and almost burned the house down on Christmas Eve! Another episode and this one happened a few times. The ever popular mistake of forgetting to take the gizzards and livers out of the cavity of the turkey until it has already been cooked. Several over cooked episodes come to mind and the always good idea of the experimental fried turkey. Just give me the good ol’ “cook it in the stove under its foil tent turkey”. So for all of you out there that want to do your own turkey and not depend on your local restaurant to prepare it I will give you how to cook a turkey for dummies quick guide below. This is from the Butterball web site. Easy Cooking Guide: Roasting to Perfection, whether you’re a novice cook or a seasoned pro, this will help you roast a tender, juicy, picture-perfect turkey every time. It's easy with the Butterball Open Pan Roasting Method. Place thawed or fresh turkey, breast up on a flat rack in a shallow pan, 2 to 2-1/2 inches deep. Brush or rub skin with oil to prevent the skin from drying and to enhance the golden color. Insert oven-safe meat thermometer deep into the lower part of the thigh muscle, but not touching the Bone. When thigh is up to temperature and if turkey is stuffed, move thermometer to center of stuffing for stuffing temperature. Place in a preheated 325°F oven. When the turkey is about two-thirds done, loosely cover the breast and top of drumsticks with a piece of lightweight foil to prevent overcooking the breast. Use this roasting schedule as a guideline; start checking for doneness 1/2 hour before recommended end times:
Net Weight ( in pounds) Unstuffed ( in hours) Stuffed (in hours)
10 to 18 3 to 3-1/2 3-3/4 to 4-1/2
18 to 22 3-1/2 to 4 4-1/2 to 5
22 to 24 4 to 4-1/2 5 to 5-1/2
24 to 30 4-1/2 to 5 5-1/2 to 6-1/4
If unstuffed, the turkey is done when the meat thermometer reaches the following temperature: 180’F deep in the thigh; also, juices should be clear, not reddish pink when thigh muschle is pierced deeply.
If the turkey is stuffed, move the thermometer to the center of stuffing to read temperature. If both the thigh and the stuffing have reached temperatures listed below then the turkey is done: 180’F deep in the thigh; also, juices should be clear, not reddish pink when thigh muscle is pierced deeply. 160’F in the center of the stuffing. Before removing stuffing and carving, let turkey stand 15 minutes to allow juices to set and stuffing temperature to rise to 165’F. HOW DO I KNOW WHEN THE TURKEY IS DONE? Turkey is done when the meat thermometer reaches the following temperatures: 180°F deep in the thigh; also, juices should be clear, not reddish pink when thigh muscle is pierced deeply. With stuffing stand 15 minutes. This stand time allows the stuffing temperature to reach 165°F for an added measure of safety. Now that you know how to cook a turkey you will do just fine tin the kitchen for your next turkey holiday!

One of my other favorite traditions when I was a kid was watching the Macy’s parade on TV while my mama and aunts and grandparents cooked the huge meal for the feast. Do you remember the old black and white box with the tin foil wrapped around the rabbit ears for that great reception after beating it on the side for that vertical and horizontal adjustment? If all else failed your dad would go outside and turn the antennae until you yelled ok! When the only remote in the house was when your parents told you to get up and turn the channel for them! This maybe why people had more kids back then. They always wanted to have a “remote kid’ on hand for the many channels that we had like 3, 6 and 12.
After parades and feasting came football games and napping. Then you would repeat the meal again in no less that 4 or 5 hours. The turkey never tasted as good the second time around. I think it was the anticipation of seeing it carved with all the juice running out of it. Until next time don’t let your turkey dry out!

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Important Things In Life

Happiness and well being is the theme for this issue of the Minute Magazine. So as I tried to think what to write about. The things that make me happy are many. I love so many things. I love my family and I love that special man in my life and his daughter most of all.
Then there are my hobbies and the things that I love. Recently I talked this over with my significant other. Have you ever wondered how much you are influenced by your surroundings? Is it nurture or nature? We decided it may be a little of both. We both like Harley’s and cars but others in our family don’t have that same interest. I have loved both since before I could drive. I also have loved antiques most of my life. I did have an aunt that had an antique store so part of this love may be in my blood. I think the love of old things relates back to that love of antiques. I am most at ease when I am at a flea market such as Canton, Texas or a car show such as Petit Jean Mountain’s Father Day Show.
Certain times of year make me happy. I enjoy the crispness and the smell of the fall season. Fall air makes me want to put the top down on a car or jump on the back of a Harley. Holidays make me happy and sad all at the same time. Various family events some good and some tragic have happened during holiday times so those are always mixed emotions for me and my family. Through the years so many defining moments of ones lifetime seem to be remembered most during holidays. You always remember that favorite Christmas and what you got from Santa. Or the year the Easter eggs got all smashed before you got a chance to hide them. The funny holiday mishaps such as Cousin Craig dropping the Strawberry Jell-O salad and watching it explode all over the kitchen from the ceiling down. The year the yard caught on fire from the Christmas ham on the smoker and 30 of your relatives were outside in their underwear trying to put the fire out before the house went up in smoke. The simple traditions like the cutting of the Thanksgiving turkey by various relatives many long gone now. Fourth of July Bar-B-Q’s with every female relative in charge of one of the many ice cream freezers with your daddy and all the uncles and cousins lined up by the masses adding salt to the ice and taking turns turning the handle while all the kids watched in anticipation that slow steady stream of salt water oozing down the driveway into the street. Then later on when motorized ice cream makers were invented it just wasn’t the same anymore.
Ten years ago when my niece was a baby just watching her breath made me happy. I spent many hours sitting by her baby bed holding her soft, tiny hand while she went to sleep. She was a joy and still is. She is the light of my family’s life. She is a true miracle child to me and my whole family. She came during a time when our lives were about to take a horrific turn. Without her I don’t know what we would have focused on. My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and my brother had passed away just a few months earlier. Our lives would never be the same. I always think of the Bible verse from Isaiah 11:6 “and a little child shall lead them.” With God’s help and this child to bless us and so much faith from hundreds of non-stop prayers from countless individuals we were eventually pulled through to where we are today in life.
Spirituality is also something that makes many happy and for most of us it is something we take for granted until something takes us by surprise. I believe that true happiness is such a part of this inner peace along with the fact of knowing where you are going when you finish on this earth. I believe without inner peace with yourself and your God you can never truly be happy. I sometimes have found myself singing “Jesus Loves the Little Children” at the oddest times in my life. It is such a simple song but it is one that has always been easy to grab a hold of when you needed it.
Jobs also play a big part in a person’s happiness and unhappiness. For years I have wondered what am I going to be when I grow up. I have had many jobs in the past 48 years. Some jobs were better than others; some were making a lot more money than others. I have figured out that it is not always the money that makes you happy but the love of what you do. My newest job as the director of the soon to open Dorcheat Historical Museum is my dream job. I get to put on the events that I love and think of fundraising activities all while promoting the importance of preserving our past. From busting potatoes at Bonanza, sewing buttons on pants, being a cocktail waitress, to selling cars for many years, my job list is long and varied. Working for the Minute Magazine selling ads and writing stories is more of a therapeutic job. Writing for me has become an outlet for emotions. Many folks for some reason have told me that they enjoy my stories and I guess I have developed a small following. In fact it is a mystery to me but I have now written for several magazines by request from the magazine editors. I don’t even know where to put a comma in a sentence. I once had someone tell me, “boy I run out of breath just reading your stories to myself.” Thank goodness for all those poor folks that have to edit me. Sometimes they don’t even catch my mistakes. So when you run across a mistake in the Minute just smile. It will make you feel better than wondering why I didn’t do it correctly. I am not a professional writer by any means. I just write what I feel and think about. If sometimes the material seems to be running out remember I only have so many memories.
Shopping! I love to shop. In fact I sometimes shop all day and never buy one thing. I can stay in Shreveport all day and not buy anything at all except maybe a Starbucks stop. But I get the urge out of my system for awhile and that is the important thing. In fact I have learned that the longer I stay in a store the less I will buy. I analyze way too much when I am in a store like T.J. Maxx. I might pick up items and in an hour or so I will decide I really didn’t need that or have the money for it. I do the same thing in Wal-Mart. If I go in and I am in a hurry I grab items I probably could live without. So my plan is to go later at night and spend a lot of time on buying nothing. It’s all about the looking. I just enjoy looking and seeing the new trends, fashions and cookware. Food on the other hand is a different story. I hate food shopping especially when I am hungry. I try to make a list for this chore.
I do like to cook as most true G.R.I.T.S. (girls raised in the south) do. I just wish I had a kitchen to do it in. What it must feel like to have a huge kitchen like you see in those kitchen make over books. All the new fancy gadgets to work with and all that counter space. I have limited plugs and NO counter space. In fact my can opener is in a closet with the door open and plugged into an outlet by the closet because I have NO counter space and NO outlets that it can go in. I bet those women are happy with their big nice kitchens. My friend Debbie just go a kitchen make over. I bet she is happy. It did take her awhile to finish the project but she has a nice kitchen! Her husband Barry is a lot like me he loves cars. Debbie likes to keep us apart because she is afraid he will add on to the garage again!
That brings me to friends. Where would you be without them? I have lifelong friends that I don’t see often but know if I need them all I have to do is call. Then I have newer but just as important friends. It reminds me of the Girls Scout song; Make new friends while keeping the old, one is silver and the other gold. Friends are an important part of your well being in life or at least they are to me. Sometimes a friend can make you smile when nobody else can.
Everyone has something that makes them happy. Songwriting for my Dad is his form of art. This is what makes him happy. For so many it is so many different things. If you don’t know what makes you happy I urge you to sit down and try to figure it out. If you don’t have a hobby or a love or passion in life, something that makes you smile just to think about it, then you need to sit down and have a talk with yourself and find something to give you that peace that we all so deserve. Until next time, “Tell your mama-n-em I said hello and ya’ll come see me real soon.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Ellen and Mama

Randy, Ellen & Mama with Granddaddy at Granddaddy's 90th birthday at the Hamilton Warehouse in Dubach, La. 2007

What I did on my summer vacation! Do you remember writing that essay when you went back to school? My favorite summer vacations were always spent with my aunts. I’ve had lots of people that I called aunts during my life. Most were my aunts and some were my great aunts. All of them were fun to visit, especially during the summer.

My Aunt Ellen, my mothers little sister would always take me home with her to Dubach, La. when I was in grade school. My Aunt Ellen and Uncle Norman lived on Fuller Hill when they first got married and back then Fuller Hill was where most of your young married couples lived. Young families could afford to live on the hill because the rent ranged from $25-$40 dollars a month. Back then, even that money was hard to come by especially in Dubach. Most folks worked for the highway, gas plants, or oil fields.

My Aunt Bobbie and my Uncle Pete also lived on the hill. Aunt Bobbie is my daddy’s sister. They had two boys, my cousins Gary and Craig Couch. Next door to my Aunt Bobbie the Williams family lived; with kids Rene’ and Mike. Fuller Hill kids were tougher because they had to rule the hill. You probably aren’t considered a true native of Dubach if you’ve never lived on Fuller Hill. Mark Twain could have written Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn easily after a visit to the Hill.

One of my favorite parts of staying with my Aunts was being able to walk to the store by myself or with the gang of kids that ruled the Hill. “Mr. Johnny’s” was the store and to me it always had the smell of fresh cut meat on the butcher block and fresh vegetables lying in a bin in the center of the store. I can still remember the little shopping cart with the squeaky wheels on the old cement floor. Behind the counter you had a wide assortment of items that you may need from car fuses, fly swatters, hair rollers and cigarettes. But the best part of all was the penny candy, and the Coke box with the 5 cent Big Chief Chocolate Drinks and the Big Chief Red’s. I loved those and they have never tasted as good as they did when you were barefooted and covered in North Louisiana dirt. I can still hear the pop of the screen door on that old store as we would go in and out a million times a day with our pennies.

We played hard and we played all day on the Hill. The big kids built forts in the woods that were off limits to the little kids! With the help of my Uncle Pete a two-story fort was built for the younger kids. This architectural wonder was off limits to the big kids! The girls would just make houses out of pine-straw. We ate watermelon on the back porch in the evening, caught lightning bugs in jars at night, rode our bikes till they made us come in and got up early in the morning to start the day at Dubach’s Summer Recreation program. All of this with out wearing shoes. I don’t think we wore shoes all summer!

Summer Recreation was held in the gym of the old Dubach High School. Mrs. Tutter Colvin and Mrs. McKeithen were the ladies that supervised all the kids. We thought we could build the world, with Popsicle sticks, glue and glitter. I bet lots of mothers that have lived along Hwy. 167 still have their jewelry boxes or maybe a bird house or two that was constructed by kids in the early 60’s. These were cherished works of art. We had mosaics for the more advanced artist. I never advanced!

Most of the boys played basketball while the girls made their Popsicle stick master pieces. You sometimes got an occasional basketball right in the middle of your art work. I always sat on the top row of bleachers to keep this from happening to me. You would work for several days or even all week on your projects because they had to dry for quite awhile. We kept Elmer’s in business, due to all the glue we used.

I remember leaving the gym with some of the kids, my uncle, Randy Huffman, or my cousins, Gary and Craig. We would walk down to the train track that ran through the middle of town to lay our pennies on the tracks. We would try to go back the next day and pick up the flattened out copper spheres.

We would go to Ball’s pharmacy and sit on the floor to look at the comic books. If we had money we’d sit at the ice cream counter for our milkshakes or a cone. I loved to watch the Mexican Jumping beans that they sold. My Aunt Ellen would always buy me a package of them every time I stayed with her. I always wanted to bust them open to look inside but never did. Especially when my Cousin Craig told me it was worms inside that made them jump! I didn’t believe him then, but I guess he was right.

Another good place to go in Dubach back then was “Hamilton’s”. It seemed to me that this store had everything you could want in there. They had the little stripped canvas carry-all that you would pick up at the door to do your shopping with. My favorite thing in this store was the tradition that every kid got a free, big lemon cookie out of the Jack’s cookie container that sat on the end of one of the shelves. Later in life I found one of these cookie containers and bought it, just because of that memory of my childhood. Do kids today even know what a Jack’s cookie is?
My daddy’s other sister Betty Lou had a big family and we would load up in one of their big old cars and head to Ruston for Buck Night at the drive-in. We would take a blanket and load the car up and head out. Do you remember the mosquito coils that you burned at the drive-in? All the kids would lie on the blanket on top of the car. I don’t think cars today could take that much weight on top of them with out caving in. We also would go to the Dubach skating rink. This was an old building with a huge fan in the wall, at one end and holes in the floor at the other. This was one of the best places to me as a kid. You could bring your own 45’s and pick them up and the end of the night. The closest thing that Minden had to this was the Sibley skating rink. It was about the same set up and was the cool place to hang out on Friday and Saturday night. My Mama would drop me and my friends off and threaten to kill me if I went outside. The kids that smoked hung-out outside. We were younger so we didn’t venture out too much! I think the building is still there where Tharpe’s wrecking yard is.

My Great Aunts had dairy farms or drove school buses in Hico, La. this was a good place to go too. One of my great, great aunts; Armour Hood, dipped snuff and could spit all the way across the room to hit a spittoon. She was also an avid watcher of Jack Lelane. We would do jumping jacks and she would spit across the room. I was always amazed at her aim. Her son, my cousin, Reese Hood lives in Minden today.

My other Great Aunt, Inez Barnett, had dairy cows. Her barn was always where you spent all your time watching them milk the cows before the electric milking machines were put into use. I would sit on a stool with cats all around me. She would shoot me with milk as she was milking. I was never good at learning to milk a cow. I did once fall through the hay bails in the barn and about had a near death experience. I didn’t climb on the hay after that. She had an out-house back then and I hated that thing. They later did get indoor plumbing but I still remember taking a bath in a #3 washtub on the back porch! She had a little house in the back they called the “Brown House” and I loved to sleep out there when we stayed overnight. I remember the old iron bed and kerosene light. It seemed the smell of fresh hay in the barn was always so strong, especially at night.

The other day I went to Dubach and cried all the way home. They highway department has made a lot of progress. I think they have killed Dubach. I always thought two lanes were plenty! How many lanes do you need to get to Ruston or El Dorado? They have taken almost all the houses, buildings and the school that I remember as a kid and torn them down. Downtown still has a few businesses but not like its hay-day. Fuller Hill is long gone.

The memories still remain for anyone that ever had the privilege of living on a limited income and with the love of lots of family members that were all so close it didn’t matter if you were staying with your mom’s side one night and walking down the street to your dad’s side of the family the next night. We were all one big family and we still are. Even though some of the ones that I remember so fondly are gone now they will always be in my memories and a part of our family!

Dubach Restoration and Beautification Organization has done an amazing job in trying to give Dubach life, DRABO is alive and well and the Dubach Chicken Festival is a great gathering of “Dubachians.” It is a place and a time to remember the old times and the old places. If you are from Dubach you want be sure and be at the Chicken Festival on Saturday September 25th or any other events that are scheduled to promote Dubach. The Hamilton Warehouse is a great old building that is a wonderful place to rent for family reunions, etc.

I have lots of great memories of Lincoln parish summers and this is only a small part. Dubach will always have a special place in my heart. Maybe later I will remember more until then I will be seeing you down the road.

Play Me A Song Daddy

Daddy in the 60's and Daddy in the 2000's at the Blue Bird in Nashville, Tenn.

The Brown Reuion in Dubach, Louisiana 2006
Daddy and Aunt Bobbie, and Uncle Billy, Aunt Betty with old Model A Ford 1940's

Daddy and Mama 1970's

I have called my daddy Nolen Brown the pied piper of Claiborne Avenue because of the fact that he has always had a guitar in his hand and a notebook in the other. My daddy is a songwriter. He expresses his emotions on paper and in song. He was always a hard worker until his retirement several years ago. He worked many a shift over the course of thirty-eight years at the gas plant on the Lewisville Rd.
He never spanked he left that up to my mother. He was the daddy that liked to ride the rides with you at the fair. He was the daddy that liked to play hide and seek and scare you on Halloween. Now he is the papaw and he does a good job at that. He still writes songs and he still has the guitar not far from his side. Some things never change. I hope they never do! You can read more about my daddy and his music on his web site
By Schelley Brown

When I was a little girl my daddy was the Pied-Piper of Claiborne Ave. All the kids would follow him and ask him to sing and play his guitar for them. He was always surrounded by the neighborhood kids on the front porch or in the back yard.

For family vacations we always went to Nashville “The Home of Country Music”, that’s where daddy fits in the best. As a kid, I thought everyone went to Nashville for vacation. In the sixties, we would load up in our old Chrysler, in the middle of the night and drive while it was cool. We usually had a car load of people going with us, from aunts and uncles, to my great-grandmother. Back then you could get a lot of people in a car! I can remember that my mama would fill the back floorboard with pillows and we would sleep on the way to Tennessee. We stayed and played in the pool while daddy would cut demos and meet with other singers and songwriters.
I remember one trip to Nashville when the whole family went. By this I mean several car loads of family. While we were on a tour bus to see Music Row, daddy had gone to take care of music business. The tour guide was saying, “Over here to your left is Acuff-Rose Publishing and if you look you may see some famous stars.” About that time the doors opened and out came Daddy and my Uncle Pete. We all waved and said, “There’s daddy!” I didn’t know that he was a great songwriter, he was just my dad. All I had ever known was the man that always sang, played his guitar and wrote songs.

He grew up, the son of a share-cropper in Dubach, La., with one brother and three sisters. They grew up with out much money and less to do for fun. They would have song contests with each other and daddy would make guitars out of cigar boxes and sticks. He still remembers some of those first songs that came to him as a young boy. He has music in his blood; Mickey Gilley (Urban cowboy Gilley’s) is his cousin. Mr. Boe Cook, of KASO radio in Minden used to help Daddy celebrate his birthday by playing his songs and calling January 10th “Nolen Brown Day”.
In the sixties and seventies he was a contract writer for Acuff-Rose which at the time was the biggest publisher in the world. Acuff-Rose was later bought out by Sony Music. Bobby Bare wanted him to move to Nashville to write for his publisher but he didn’t think he could sit in a room for eight hours a day and write. He needs inspiration to write and four walls wouldn’t make for good songs. He had a family and a good job. Growing up poor you didn’t give up a good job and up-root your family easily. He made a sacrifice and stayed in Minden. He never gave up the dream and continued writing and going to Nashville always hoping for that one great break. He has written and co-written hundreds of songs and had many songs recorded by famous singers such as Roy Orbison and Joe Stampley to name a few.

I once took him to show-and-tell at Richardson. He sang his songs for the class. I was the only kid that had a dad that came to school and sang. He always knows how to entertain a crowd young and old!

Daddy retired a few years ago from Duke Energy. This has given him and my mom the time to get into his music full time. He writes from his heart which underwent five by-passes last year and from many of his life experiences. Even while in ICU he was thinking up songs and singing to the nurses. He has become accustom to phone calls and meetings with important people from Nashville. Not many people have a standing invitation to perform at the Blue Bird Café in Nashville, but he does!

May 1st, 2004 my dad was informed that his song “It all hit home today” was named one of the top five songs in the Songwriter Universe Contest. It was the only country song in the top five. You can go to songwriteruniverse.com to hear this song. He was also a finalist in the Nashville song search for 2003 for his song “I need a Mr. Right, Right now.” He also has a video out right now by Tony Douglas for his song “Did I Say Something Wrong.”

Anyone that knows him believes that one day soon he will have a number one hit. Nobody deserves it anymore than my daddy Nolen Brown. So if you see him around ask him to sing you a song. He’ll be glad to share his gift of words with you! My Daddy has given me many things through out the years but the gift of love is his best gift. Happy Fathers Day Daddy! Go to http://www.nolenbrown.com/ to read more about Nolen Brown and his music.

These Are The Faces Of Breast Cancer

My grandmother's sister and brother Inez and Elgin Cooper
My Aunt Nez was diagnosed with breast cancer later in life.

My Grandmother Marie Huffman Died from Breast Cancer Age 36

My niece Aubrie with my sister Lauri on Mother's Day 2006
My mother Omega and her little sister Ruth Ellen 1948
My Aunt Dr. Ruth Ellen Hanna
La Tech Retired Math Professor
Radiation, Chemo and Surgery and Still Smiling! 

My cousin Krista Hanna Hines ( my Aunt Ellen's Daughter was diagnosed in 2011 while my Aunt her mother was still having treatment) This was taken in 2012 my family is tough when it comes to CANCER!
I put this on the windshield of my motorcycle for a 2013 Breast Cancer Ride in TN.  These are the women in my family that have been affected by Breast Cancer.  We are from strong stock!
Every year thousands of women are diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Most of us know someone that has had or has this terrible disease. In 1997 my 30 year old sister Lauri was one of those people. There are no words to describe the horror and confusion that you feel when you are given this news. My sister had a baby that was less than one year old at the time. Our year had been like a nightmare that you couldn’t wake up from.
Many people think of Breast Cancer as the cancer for older women. But this story is about the real faces of Breast Cancer. It is not just women in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s that get this it is now women that are in their 20’s, 30’s and early 40’s. Some say it is genetic and it probably is in my family. My grandmother died when she was thirty-six years old my uncle was two years old at the time. All of my great-aunts also developed it at different stages of their lives but not all died from the disease. In February of 2008 my mother’s younger sister; Dr. Ruth Ellen Hanna found a small lump that mammogram had not detected. We felt sure it was nothing since the mammogram had not seen it. We were wrong. Once again breast cancer had touched our family. Ellen made the decision to have a double mastectomy due to the fact of our genetics. She made the right decision. When the test came back the other breast that had no sign of cancer came back positive for cancer cells and a very small growth. She is now on the road of treatment and recovery. In fact less than one week after such a radical surgery she attended her granddaughter’s college graduation ceremony at Louisiana Tech. Louisiana Tech has been my Aunt’s whole life. She is a math professor and has been teaching math since she graduated from Tech. Her daughter (and my cousin) Krista is also a math teacher at Tech. I like to say that side of the family got all the brains. Mine got diluted with the Brown genes! In 2011 again my family was struck by CANCER when Krista Hanna Hines was diagnosed.  Again a double mastectomy, radiation, and chemo for a year.  I live in fear not for me but for Aubrie and the younger girls in our family.
Cancer research has come along way since the early 1950’s. Treatments are so much more advanced and maybe not as harsh as and much more hopeful than fifty years ago. Now Cancer is not a death sentence but it is still a shock to everyone involved. I wanted to do this story about the new faces of Breast Cancer so that younger women will be more aware and remember that it can happen to young and old alike. Remember to get your yearly exams and if it runs in your family get a mammogram even if insurance doesn’t pay for it, age has no barrier with this terrible disease.
I am also proud to say that my sister Lauri is a Cancer Survivor. After going through almost three years of surgery and extensive treatments she is strong and has a will to survive that I admire and hope that I would also have if I were told the same news that she had to deal with. She is a natural fighter from the time we were kids and even now we still fight. She always wins! She does not give up until she gets her way and maybe that gives her the edge to fight for her life like she has. My niece is now nine years old and we think of her as a miracle because she kept everyone focused during those terrible years of struggle. God blessed us with this beautiful baby girl to get us focused and to deal with the hard times that were ahead.
The following letter was written by Lauri to preacher Rick Spencer of the First Baptist Church in Minden during the beginning of her treatment in 1997. It was also the beginning of my learning about how to email and try to contact every prayer room and church and anyone else that I thought could send a message to Heaven. I was determined to have the whole world pray for my family and I may have come close to my goal. Lauri started to get cards, letters, books, anointed cloth, phone calls and even written about in the Survivors Magazine in California. She once went for treatment at LSU and someone in the hall said, “So you are the famous Lauri Stahl! Did you know that people all over Shreveport are praying for you? She told this man that it wasn’t just Shreveport is was all over the world!”
The Chicken Soup for the Soul books had just started coming out and many of the people that had written in these books called and contacted Lauri during this time. We started a scrapbook that turned into two or three filled with prayers and love from people that we have never met. But the amazing part was that they cared enough to stop and call a complete stranger just because of the story that I had mailed and put out on the internet. The power of prayer is an awesome thing to behold. I believe that what happened with my sister was a true miracle.
“I’ve been blessed with Cancer” by Lauri Brown Stahl was sent to thousands of people around the world and later published in the Survivors Magazine.

“I’ve Been Blessed With Cancer”
“How”, you asked, “could anyone be blessed with cancer?” I, too, would ask myself that same question if I hadn’t been diagnosed with it a month ago.
After being diagnosed with Breast Cancer, I’ve never before received such an outpouring of love from so many people. I have been wondering to myself, “How in the world am I ever going to thank everyone for the cards, letters, flowers, visits, and most of all, the prayers I’ve been receiving.
It’s Thursday, May 22, 1997 another sleepless night, due to the steroids, the doctors say, I received from my first chemo treatment a week ago. After tossing in bed for hours, I finally just got up. I picked up the “Praise Newsletter” that came in the mail yesterday and I began to read. I was comforted in so many ways and I said to myself, “I’m going to start writing down some of my thoughts.”
It was only three days after this past Christmas when I lost my brother from his own battle with major depression. “Why?” I asked God, “Did this have to happen?” I was angry, frustrated, confused, and every emotion you could imagine came over me. Prayers for my family began pouring in from everyone. The loss of Jeff has been overwhelming at times, but I can always find comfort in knowing that ‘one sweet day’ we’ll all be together again for eternity.
Almost four months after our loss, I was put in the hospital for a biopsy and the next day followed with a mastectomy. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of thirty and precious little Aubrie was all of eight months old. All I knew from that point was that I had to get well for my family. “Why?” again I asked God, “Was this family chosen to deal with another horrible illness?”
Your love and compassion for me and my family began to pour in again. God has spoken to me through your cards and letters and so many of the words I repeat to myself daily…”God never gives us more than we can handle”, “He hears us when we speak”, “Ask and you shall receive”, “He is the great physician”, “He walks beside me wherever I am “, “He is with me always”…and so many more have comforted me.
I still have more treatments to come, followed by a bone marrow transplant, followed by radiation, followed by five years of oral treatment. It’s still a long road ahead, but I know that God will be with me every step of the way.
You ask yourself again, “How could she be blessed to have cancer?” Well, I can answer that by saying, “God has opened by eyes and showed me not to take ‘life’ for granted and every chance you get, and show love and compassion for someone else as you all have shown to me. I’ve quit asking “Why?” and am now thanking God for everyday and everything He gives me, no matter how horrible the day may be or how rough the road ahead may get. I’m truly blessed with His love!”
God Bless All,
Lauri Stahl

The Kids of Oak Noll Street (Born In The USA)

In the 60’s and 70’s Oak Noll Street in Minden was the place to be, especially if you were a pre-teen or a teenager. Looking back, the street seemed to be straight out of a movie set. Almost every home was filled with kids and most of them were all about the same age. Most were boys… with a girl or two thrown in for good measure.

It was during those times, when all a parent had to do was stick their head out the door and holler and you would come a runnin’. It was a time when families sat down to eat meals together. It was the years when we thought we didn’t have much to do, especially during the summer! It was pure Americana at its best! It was the time in you life that everything you did was an experience. It was our age of innocence!

I was able to have my Oak Noll experiences, because of my Aunt Bobbie and Uncle Pete and Cousins Gary and Craig Couch. They moved to 708 Oak Noll from Dubach, La., to be closer to the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant, where my Aunt and Uncle both worked. During this time LAAP was at full production, due to the Vietnam War. My two cousins fit right in with the Oak Noll way of life, without any problems. You had to be a little on the mischievous side to fit in without anyone noticing. They were both “up to snuff” on trouble. They had a PHD in “TROUBLE”.

Across the street you had the Rentz family with three kids’ two boys the same age as my cousins (Lamar, Randy (DINK) & little sister Donna Sue). Next door to the Rentz’s you had the Davis family with the same set up, two boys and one sister. Next to the Davis’s you had the Brook’s & McEachern’s and then the Culpepper’s with more boys. At the top of the hill you had the McCrary’s and the McCowen’s with more kids. You had the Hines family next door, with their bunch (now Dr. Carl Hines and Sister Ava Morgan). On the corner you had the Sander’s family, with son Guy. There were 20 to 30 kids on this street, all within a few years of age to each other. To go along with all the kids, you had dogs, cats, raccoons, birds and one rescued fawn as residents of the neighborhood. The fawn was found beside the road one evening by my Aunt and Uncle on their way home from the Shell Plant. Bambi would later venture down to Sander’s Gulf, before being let go in a game reserve.

I loved to ride my bike from my house to Oak Noll. We were over there almost, everyday. My family did a lot of cooking, out on the newly installed gas grill. The yards were a-glow at night with the new gas lights and grills that were all the rage back then. We would all gather for my Uncle Pete’s Bar-B-Q Chicken with all the fixin’s including homemade peach ice cream(Uncle Pete had a peach route so we called him “Pete the Peach”). I have never had better Bar-B-Q chicken or peach ice cream since.

The big thing to come to Minden back then was the ICEE machine in the store next to Sander’s Gulf station. (The voting machines are kept in this building now.) It was the only one in town for the longest time. I would get my younger brother or sister to call my uncle Pete in the afternoon, after my mama went to work at the parish library. Uncle Pete never let us down; he would drive across town to deliver the frozen ICEE treats. The store sold a wide assortment of candy such as the huge Jaw Breakers that my cousin Craig kept in his mouth all the time. My… mother would never let me have one because she thought I would choke! They had little wax coke bottles of syrup and candy cigarettes too (no candy cigarettes for me either).

The boys would build ramps to jump their bikes over. All the cool banana seats and the tall sissy bars were the rage back then. Skate boards also came out during this time. Oak Noll was the first street to have a skate board ramp, I’m sure! There were a few garage bands and everyone could at least play Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water”. At night we would stand under the street lights with socks tied in knots to throw’em in the air, so the bats would dive at them. We would play hide and seek at night and climb up the huge Magnolia tree at the end of the street. This tree has now taken over the whole yard; at times it’s still tempting to get out of my car and hide. I know that the kids of Oak Noll today must still play around this old tree.

The most fun thing was the Go-Cart races that we had. All the kids would make Go-Carts out of ammunition boxes brought in from the Shell Plant. The boys did a lot of modifications on these boxes to have them road ready. Many a lawn mower suffered because of these primitive high-tech vehicles. Not a lawn mower around had wheels left on it! We would start at the top of the street at Webb Court. You had to have someone at the bottom to stop traffic, just in case you managed to get enough speed up that you made it to the Chandler St. and couldn’t stop. Craig and Lamar even built a go-cart ambulance that was a little more dangerous than the regular rides we had. It had bicycle wheels on it which did seem to make it go faster which probably wasn’t a good thing. We had a few good crashes & a few stitches but I don’t think we ever had any serious wounds. What we did have was the chance to create a lifetime of great memories and we didn’t even realize it till now. We were enjoying the fought for freedoms of America during war and we were too young to realize what was going on in the big world around us. Our world consisted of Minden.

For Christmas my cousins always got cool stuff like Rock-Em-Sock-Em Robots, Electric Football, cool car race tracks, Magic Eight Ball, Mr. Snow Cone machine and always new bikes. They were pretty rough on a bicycle. Two weeks after they got a new bike their carport would look like a scene from “Orange County Choppers”. They did a lot of slight modifications, not only on their stuff, but for anyone that would let them get a hold of a bike.
Oak Noll St. also was a battle ground with more than a few fights and wars over the years. One side of the street would be mad at the other side of the street so the water balloon fights or fist fights would be furious. After a day or two they would make up and then be on guard for the next attack. With that much testosterone flowing something exciting always seemed to be happening in the neighborhood.

During the teen driving years the boys would be outside a lot working on their cars. Nobody got new cars back then; you just got something that would get you there (maybe)! My cousin Gary had a Blue ‘64 or ‘65 Mustang that I loved. During the driving-a-car years you started seeing other kids come into the neighborhood. Oak Noll seemed to be the teenage hangout for many years after that. The girl to boy ratio probably had something to do with that. Oak Noll had more boys per capita than most streets! Girls soon found that out and you soon saw more high fashion among the boys. Striped bell bottoms and double-knit pants were the rage! Roman sandals and Go-Go boots were big with the girls.

It was all a part of growing up in Minden during the 60’s & early 70’s. We all stood around whining to our mothers that we didn’t have anything to do. Now looking back these were some of the best times of my life and I got to be the girl hanging out with the “Boy’s of Summer”.

Cars, Car Clubs and most of all life-long friends!

I have loved cars since before I was able to drive them. My first car was a 1951 Pontiac Chieftain. I later would be fortunate enough to be able to purchase a 1937 Buick Special, 1958 Cadillac and a 1928 Ford Model A Roadster. All of these are great cars but one of the added bonuses that came with most of these cars is the people that I met or became acquainted with because of them.
As with most antique and classic car owners we eventually join a car club. This again acquaints all of us with a unique group of people with one common interest the love of old iron. The first club I joined was the Mid-America Old Time Automobile Association (MOTAA) this national car club’s headquarters is located at the Museum of Automobiles on the top of Petit Jean Mountain in Arkansas. I wanted to join this club because when I was a kid my parents had taken me to the car museum and this was where the first spark was ignited that later would turn into a full-fledged fire in my heart for old cars and antiques. I was honored in 2005 to be elected to the board of directors of MOTAA! I was amazed and overwhelmed when I was elected to become Jr. Vice President for the 2006 term! Here I now sit on a board with all men that know a whole lot more than I ever hope to know about antique cars. I guess they realized that I do have a true love and appreciation for the history and preservation of the antique automobile even if I can’t change my own oil! I have met some great people and friends through the MOTAA organization. I look forward to all that the next year will hold.
The second club I joined was the Ark-La-Tex Antique and Classic Car Association in Shreveport, La. When I joined this club I had just purchased my 1937 Buick and just wanted to meet a few people and have some fun. Boy was I in for a treat and not only did I meet members of this club I meet hundreds of people from the Ark-La-Tex to boot.
I think when folks join a club they think, ok I’ll go to some meetings drive my car some and that will be about it. It can turn in to a way of life and life-long friends. The first folks I meet and became close to are my friends Ray and Linda Shaw the proud owners of an Model A Ford. Ray and Linda took me under their wing and Ray made sure that I had a trailer and anything else I needed to get to my first car show on Petit Jean Mountain. Ray later helped me purchase a 1928 Ford Roadster that he worked on and got it running and ready all for no charge. Ray is a Model A whiz and the greatest when it comes to wanting to help. He is what being in a car club is all about. People helping people and sharing their knowledge on a particular car with others is why most folks want to join a club.
Going to that first car show was a thrill for me. As I drove thru the judging stand with the Buick I had such an overwhelming feeling of finally making it! To top it off I had a group of friends from the AACCA cheering me on. I also had Mr. Wayne Chance the man that sold me my first car the 1951 Pontiac when I was in high school watching.
The 37 would later go to Senior Car status which I was so proud of. The man that I bought her from Mr. John R. Young from Eunice, Louisiana said he felt like a proud Grandpa. This man has become another friend. He owns 1937 and 1938 Buicks and introduced me to the 1937-1938 Buick Club of America. I would later be honored by this California based club when I was asked if they could publish a story that I had written about my Buick. That meant Olivia and I would be internationally known. This club has many members world-wide and is growing everyday.
Then in 2003 I was asked to serve as vice-president and later stepped into the presidency position of the AACCA until 2006. These last three years I have met so many folks and been involved in so many things from watching a one of a kind car the Bour-Davis come close to completion to creating my own car show the Minden Cruisin’ For a Cure for St. Jude car show in Minden, La.
From car shows to overnight trips and weekend getaways all of these car folks have banded together to form a tight knit family of sorts. We care about each other and when one of us is sick or our car is sick we care. We try to help and sometimes all we can do is just be there for someone. But the important thing is that we all have a common love and that gives us a little bit of happiness. I believe all car club members would agree nothing gives you a since of belonging than when you are going down the road and ahead of you is maybe a 1963 red Corvette with a good friend behind the wheel and when you look in your rearview mirror you see a 1957 Chevy Nomad with two more of your good friends waving at you. When you see a long caravan of antique cars going over a hill in front of you, you just have to smile and thank God for letting you know all of the great folks behind the wheels and in the passenger seats.
If you aren’t a member of a car club look on the internet for a club close to you are give me a call or contact me at iluvoldcars@yahoo.com I’ll try to help you out on the right club for you. You will be making a life changing decision when you join a club! It can turn into a lot more than just a Sunday meeting and a drive or two! Until next time be safe and keep it between the ditches.