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Good Mountain Press Monthly Digest #112
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In Memoriam
Hilman Joseph Matherne (1917 — 2011)

I will always remember
the love in your eye
The day you carved upon that tree —
"I’ll love you til I die."

~~~~~ View Video Slides of Photos of His Life Here ~~~~~

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~~~ GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #112 Published February 1, 2011 ~~~
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Quote for the Carnival Month of February:

The young sow wild oats and the old grow sage.
Winston Churchill , Author and British PM

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Editor: Bobby Matherne, Asst. Editor: Del Matherne
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©2011 by 21st Century Education, Inc, Published Monthly.

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Archived Digests

             Table of Contents

1. February's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for February
3. On a Personal Note
       Movie Blurbs
       Featured Reviews
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe of the Month from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen: Pumpkin Crisp
6. Poem from Hopkins Review:"Word and Hush"
7. Reviews and Articles Added for February:

8. Commentary on the World
9. Closing Notes — our mailing list, locating books, unsubscribing to Digest
10. Gratitude

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1. February Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
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For newcomers to the Digest, we have created a webpage of all the Violet-n-Joey cartoons! Check it out at: Also note the rotating calendar and clock that follows just to the right of your mouse pointer as you scroll down the page. You'll also see the clock on the 404 Error page if you make a mistake typing a URL while on the website.

The Violet-n-Joey Cartoon page is been divided into two pages: one low-speed and one high-speed access. If you have Do NOT Have High-Speed Access, you may try this Link which will load much faster and will allow you to load one cartoon at a time. Use this one for High-Speed Access.

This month Violet and Joey learn about A Valentine Kiss.

#1 "A Valentine Kiss" at

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Each month we choose to honor two Good Readers of our Good Mountain Press Digest from those all over the World. Here are the two worthy Honored Readers for February, 2011:

Carole Johnson in New York

Myla LeMaster-Gruber in Georgia

Congratulations, Carole and Myla!

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Out Our Way:

Del and I got up early and our limo picked us up outside our Residence Inn apartment and drove us back to LAX, Los Angeles Intl Airport for our return trip home. It was a bright sunny day, the same great weather you saw if you watched the Rose Parade on TV. To our right hand side, during the drive on the 405 freeway, we could see the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains lining the horizon, providing the classic background for another perfect Rose Parade in Pasadena, just a scant 30 miles or so north of where we were driving.

Sons Stoney and John with their families met us at the airport to share our flight back home. Flight 202 went off on schedule, and, except for minor turbulence about an hour from New Orleans, it was a perfect flight. We picked up our bags and headed to the white Maxima and drove home. I did stop at PJ's in the concourse for my regular daily small latte. As I like to say,

Seven days without a PJ's Make One Week!

We were well rested when we got home. We decided to eat our traditional New Orleans' New Year's Day meal of black-eyed peas, steamed cabbage, and cornbread. Del began baking the cornbread muffins while I was lightly steaming the fresh cabbage, steaming the long grain and wild rice mix, and cooking the black-eyed peas. In less than an hour we were saying Grace over our meal and enjoying it. It was a marvelous trip for us and the kids to Disneyland and a California adventure they will always remember.

That night Del & I watched The Closer and the Jesse Stone feature that we had DVR'ed while gone, and then I played back the Saints-Falcon game to enjoy it in HD. With the win, the Saints assured themselves of a playoff berth. Now to beat the Tampa Bay Bucs and wait for the Panthers to whip the Falcons. A long shot, but it would get us the vital home field advantage.

The second day of the New Year of 2011, we got up early to get ready for the Saints kickoff at Noon against the Tampa Bay Bucs. It was not a game we absolutely needed to win, so Coach Payton rested the starters after reports that the Falcons were beating the Panthers by a large margin, and the predictable result for the Saint: the Bucs won.

At that point if we beat Seattle and Green Bay were to win the next two games, we would have had home field advantage and playing the Packers in the Superdome. The Packers did their job, but the Saints fell short against Seattle the following week, and our beloved World Champions, the New Orleans Saints had to go to Seattle to play in the wild card game. Highly favored by the Odds-Makers and lowly favored by the Gods, the Saints lost all of their running backs and the game! Wait till next year! That sounds a lot better then it did before we had hung the Super Bowl XLIV pennant in the Super Dome.

If you have been noticing how busy we were in California and the two days we arrived back, you might have wondered how Digest111 got out on January 2, 2011. 'Tweren't easy, but by advance planning, I had all the other parts of the Digest prepared before we left on vacation for the last week of 2010. On January 2, 2011, from four PM, when we returned from the Saints loss to Bucs, until midnight I worked to update our personal notes and add the California photos to the Digest.

The next morning I dropped Del off to pick up her Cherry Maxima, refitted with a new trunk lid after the Christmas Crunch when she had a car full of teenage girls and rammed into Rob's large truck's bumper. I went to Rouse's and refilled our pantry with groceries for the week. I began doing the weekly groceries after I became a work-at-home writer in 1995 and Del continued to work full-time. Even after she stopped the workaday job, I continued the shopping under orders from Chef Bobby Jeaux who likes my selection of produce and other goodies. He and I have a direct line of communication while I'm shopping. I also picked up Rudolf and Rudette, the Christmas decorations, and their lights and wires before cutting the grass. Then I brushed all the cypress leaves onto curved driveway and hauled it to mulch bed. Started up the Snapper riding mower and cut the grass on Notch 7 to trim the highest grass and vacuum up all the cypress leaves. Filled up the hopper in just one pass at first. Dumped most of cypress mulch into garden mulch bed, and the rest into the south-side rose garden. Exhausted and dirty I took a long shower to get ready for a double-feature night back in our own Timberlane Screening Room.

How great it was to have five screens, a Cable Card and a DVR, at our fingertips again! The previous night, for example, in the same time slot, I had the PBS Robert E. Lee Special DVR'ing on one HD Channel, The Closer DVR'ing on another HD Channel, and I was watching the Hornets beating down the Sixers on another HD Channel using the Cable Card. People ask me all the time, why do you have 5 TV's? They likely cannot understand how we use all five TV's without observing what it makes possible. Here's how we did it. We held Closer till after RELEE and the Hornets game were over (both ended together), then we watched The Closer — Winter Season Finale in peace. After that we got interested in Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment with Peter Lorre as Roskolnikov the bad guy, who else? We watched it till the end. About 7 or 8 hours of programming compressed into 4 hours.

We had some leftover fixes to our Cox Cable system and the next day a new Cable Guy named Jimmy showed up to take care of them. My expectations were high given the expert work of Byron a couple of weeks earlier. Cox Man Jimmy eliminated the back-scatter noise from the house to the outside Cox box by removing all the lines running through the house that were not connected to a TV. He also put some noise reducing pass-thrus on the output of the 4-way splitter-amplifier in TSR. Jimmy said that the main wire from attic to outside box had to be replaced. Byron returned and got it done at the hardest. He told us that someone will come replace the wire from the house outside junction box to the central junction box on the property line which feeds several houses. Already the cable channels that were all crudded up are clearer. The new signal is cleaner than ever before. Thank you Cox! Thank you Byron and Jimmy.

While the Cable Guy was working in the house, I got a phone call from Janice, my sister-in-law who has helped Dad daily over the past ten years. She said that Dad had been placed on Hospice Care and that he had been mostly sleeping for past two days. Later that night Steve called to say that Dad had passed in his sleep about 6:45 PM. Later Kevin called to tell me to meet him and Steve at the Funeral Home the next morning to make arrangements.

The Westside Funeral Home is only a few miles from me, but they have to drive about 30 miles. We took care of the obituary, coffin selection, church service scheduling, and a spate of details the next morning. It was only Thursday, but the first date available for the Church Service and Father Finn who was to do the service was Monday. This was already a busy weekend with LSU playing Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl and the Saints Playoff Game in Seattle, but suddenly it got busier with my eulogy to prepare for Dad and my four offspring converging on us from Indiana and Texas with their offspring for the upcoming funeral of their beloved Pawpaw Buster.

On Friday, I stopped by our good friend, Rosie, who just made 90 and is facing an imminent move to her daughter's home in Slidell about 30 miles east of here, away from all of her friends and neighbors in Timberlane. That was on her mind when I stopped to tell her about Buster's passing. She knew my dad from his many visits with us to the French Language CODOFIL breakfasts over the past ten years or so. I noticed that in the past few years he had begun to talk more in his Cajun French, mostly in short sentences, more than I could recall from earlier in his life. It was as if he felt more comfortable talking in his early language.

I told Rosie the story of the 3-weeks that oysters take to adjust to new home, the results of an experiment in which oysters were sent from Long Island, NY to Wisconsin and were monitored for the time they opened their shells. Oysters open when the Moon is overhead. But they had moved three hours West, so when would they open in Wisconsin? When Moon was overhead in Wisconsin or overhead back in Long Island? Answer: for three weeks in Wisconsin, they opened their shells when the Moon was overhead in Long Island and afterwards when the Moon was overhead in Wisconsin. If oysters take three weeks to acclimate to new surroundings, then it is also true for humans. Ever noticed how you move into a new house and that doorknob seems strange at first, but after a while, it's your doorknob? Takes three weeks. I suggested to Rosie that she must stay in Slidell for a month next time. That will give her time to feel at home. Plus I suggested that she take the money she will be saving from heating and AC and other utility bills on her house in Timberlane and budget it for her wheels, a TAXI. Suggested that she find a Taxi Driver she likes, and use the taxi every time some big event comes up or if she just wants to avoid doing kitchen work in her daughter's restaurant business which is downstairs from Rosie's apartment. Suggested that she develop her own friends to play cards with in Slidell. I knew the price of a Taxi ride would upset Rosie, so I explained to her my concept of 1950 money. A taxi drive which cost $1 in 1950 costs $10 today because a Ten Spot today is only worth A BUCK in 1950 money. If she carried $40 in her purse back then, she needs to carry $400 today! I think she took that to heart.

Friday night Del grilled some Portobello burgers and we watched LSU demolish Texas A&M with a superb offense and dominating defense. LSU made 3 interceptions against A&M's quarterback who had thrown only one previously. LSU's Spencer Ware went on a bruising run, breaking four tackles during a romp through A&M's defensive backfield for 30+ yards — both he and Ridley topped 100 yds, and I can't remember last time LSU had two 100+ runners in a game. Another 11-win season for LSU Coach Les Miles and he should be looking for a perfect season next year.

Saturday flew by like a blur as I finalized Dad's eulogy, between talking to two daughters who were driving together from Texas. Cindy, Del's garden helper, needed a dryer and came by to pick up our dryer which had become redundant after our daughter Maureen gave us her new dryer which she had no electrical outlet for at her new house.

Ann Keller called to say that our classmate and friend from Hahnville High School Barbara Knobloch was in ICU with inoperable condition and might not leave the hospital in Arkansas. And Del and I watched Saints lose a playoff game to Seattle with all of the Saints regular running backs sidelined with injuries and the defensive backfield having its worst ever game. It was like they wanted to lose a game that they were 10 points favorite to win, as if they couldn't bear to play another game this season. After the Saints game was over, I drove to airport to pick up our son Rob who was arriving from Indiana. One more full day before the funeral.

Sunday was relaxing day. All of Del's four offspring were in Dallas for an important wedding and couldn't come in for the funeral, but all four sent their regards, flowers, condolences, cards, emails, and so forth. They all would have liked to be here. All four of my offspring made it to Timberlane by the end of the day. In the morning we sat in front of the blazing fireplace and Rob and I shared the newspaper as Del left to go judge gardens for her Garden Club. Gave Rob a new sports coat for his January birthday coming up in about 5 days.

Rob and I went to WWII Museum and we watched the 4-D presentation of Beyond All Boundaries — a movie of WWII narrated by Tom Hanks. The flashes of light, the red lights from behind during bombs and fires, the seats rumbling, the bomber nose cone, the radio, etc, all added verisimilitude to the flashing multiple movie screens.

Then we walked across the street to view the exhibits, most of which I had seen already, but Rob hadn't. He spent an hour upstairs looking at the bomber and other suspended from the ceiling aircraft, a Zero, a Spitfire, a Mustang, etc. Then we ran back through the rain to the Victory Café for some hot lunch. The oyster stew had some crazy flavor added which I didn't like, the black-eyed peas and rice had sausage, but no rice. Basically I don't like Chef John Besh's food. But it was a warm, dry place and we waited for the freezing cold rain strafing the streets diagonally all over to stop before we walked across the street to the car and headed home.

Later around dusk, all three of Rob's sisters came over to Timberlane and with two of our female grandkids, and we spent the night laughing and joking around the kitchen table. It was very much like an Irish Wake, full of wine, light-hearted joking, and just plain fun. Biggest surprise came from the CFNM acronym that Patrick and Rob told the girls to look up. Carla and Yvette were embarrassed to find it meant Clothed-Females-Nude-Males and the photos were quite explicit. Maureen enlarged a photo by spreading her index finger and thumb to show me. Yep, there were private parts on display. I handed the photo to Del, who didn't know about how the photos can be enlarged and as she looked at the photos with curiosity, her fingers touched the screen causing an embarrassing part to enlarge - YIPES! ! an electric shock went through her body as she screamed, and every one nearly fell on the floor laughing as they realized what happened. It was the highlight of a fun evening which allowed everyone to unwind from the long drives and flight and be ready for the sad day to follow.

Monday, the day of Dad's Funeral Service, Del and I were up very early to get to the church in time. Del and I drove in Cherry-Maxima so she could drop me off at Holy Family Church and then drop off the food for Amy (night help hired to help prepare food) at 304 Mimosa. By 8 am all my siblings had joined me in the church. Fr. John was there to offer his condolences. When I asked if there was some place to provide some food like donuts and coffee, he said, no, the children's school area was closed due to security considerations. One of the things so easy in a Funeral Home that you lose in a church funeral. So I asked Del to pick me something up to eat. I got an egg muffin which I ate in the car and that held me until after the interment. I brought my overcoat to brace me against the frigid 40 degF weather at the St. Charles Mausoleum.

People I saw and talked to were too numerous to mention everyone, but there was Herschel Burleigh (who led the rosary with the KC's), Fr. Finn who did the service (he now lives on Oak Lane, bought a house in Mimosa Park), Aunts Lydia, Carolyn, Lorraine, and Marie were there. Only Hilda couldn't make it at 95 and in frail health. Del mistook Kathy for Deanna. I told her Kathy was two years younger than Diana and the difference was very great when we were young, but they look a lot alike now. Frank and Deanna came, but Evelyn had a son in serious condition with a tooth abscess which got into his brain cavity in Nashville, Tenn, so she was with him. He has since recovered and is home on antibiotics. Many older folks simply stayed home because of the icy weather. Aunt Clarise, Myra, and Phil came, as did Danny Barrios, but not his mom Clara. Gaton, Leonard and Mally came but not Helen.

Charles Musso came, but not Teenie whose job doesn't give leave so close to year end holidays. Charles looks a lot like his daddy Frank did when he was Charles' age. Marie Musso and husband Earl Baudoin came. I got to greet as they walked up for communion, but they left after the service and I missed them.

Most of us siblings did not just stand at the front near dad's coffin, but mingled with the crowd as they came in, so there was no dreadful long line with nothing to do while waiting for a few moments with each offspring in order (as so often happens). The videos were enjoyed by folks coming into the vestibule of Holy Family. The photos of Dad and us on the large screen TV were spread out as if on a table and each picked up in order to pull forward, enlarged, to view one at a time.

I had the first reading (Old Testament) from Daniel 12:1-3 about Archangel Mi-cha-el and the final resurrection. When Fr. Finn called for the eulogy, I came up and began. I felt very comfortable at the podium, as I had already calibrated my speaking with the microphone during the reading so that everyone could hear me.

Eulogy Read by Bobby during Funeral Mass for his Father:

Let me begin with a few words about my dad Buster's faith.

Look around this room at the people who are here to pray for him. There is a testament to his faith.

Look at this beautiful church with a stained glass window dedicated to his wife of 62 years, there is a testament to his faith.

Look back at his early high school years which he spent in a seminary to become a priest, there is a testament to his faith.

He told me he had no trouble with Latin at the seminary, but when they started him on Greek, it was so difficult that he left the seminary. I have always had a fond place in my heart for the Greek language, because without it I would not have had him for my father since Catholic priests cannot marry.

Many of you here today have a lost a father and may be able to relate to what Diana Der-Hovanessian wrote about "when your father dies":

When your father dies, say the Irish,
       you lose your umbrella against bad weather.
May his sun be your light, say the Armenians

When your father dies, say the Welsh,
       you sink a foot deeper into the earth.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Canadians,
       you run out of excuses.
May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the French,
       you become your own father.
May you stand up in his light, say the Armenians.

When you father dies, say the Indians,
       he comes back as the thunder.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Russians,
       he takes your childhood with him.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the English,
       you join his club you vowed you wouldn't.
May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Armenians,
       your sun shifts forever.
And you walk in his light.

And I'd like to add this verse:

When your father dies, say the Cajuns,
       you must open your own oysters.
May you inherit his steady hand.

He had a steady hand in everything he did, and he did a lot of things. As we listened to the Friday Boxing Matches on our radio, he would create crab nets and trawls from string using a shuttle he made by hand. He made himself a pirogue for duck hunting which he strapped on top of his 1951 Kaiser when he drove to Northshore for duck and poul-doux-hunting. Later he made a 14' speedboat in our garage for some serious fishing. He made whiskey from alcohol using burnt wood shavings. He made ketchup from tomatoes. He re-soled our shoes with his shoemaker tools. He cut our hair until we were in our upper teens. His barber strap doubled as a disciplinary tool which ensured that the first and only person we got in trouble with was him. He carved his own working duck decoys and made his own duck calls.

In the days of 78 rpm records, he recorded his duck calling at home on a recording device a friend brought over. I went to several duck calling contests and heard him compete and win blue ribbons. After his duck hunting days were over, he began carving decorative decoys which he sold to collectors all over. One of these collectors Gary Lipham wrote a few days ago, "Strangely, I was in my duck room last evening and for some reason felt compelled to pick up, examine, and enjoy 5 of my 250 decoys in my collection . . . Mallards, Teal and Wood Ducks. . . . All five were carved by Hilman. About an hour later Jimmy Rodrigue called me to tell me the news of Hilman's passing." I watched Dad dig cesspools several times in Westwego and in Mimosa before public sewerage came in. He built several additions to our home in Westwego and our home in Mimosa by himself, with his brother Purpy doing the major electrical work. He did all the plumbing work, cutting and threading the old metal pipes, and he always had oakum and lead on hand for a plumbing repair. Generally if Buster couldn't do, it was worth doing. Through watching and helping Dad, we all learned to develop our fine motor skills.

Buster, as you all know him by, loved gardening, as did his father Clairville. Whenever we visited Grandpa, we always made a trip out to see what was growing in his garden. Dad followed that tradition, and I have begun to do the same. And he could cook — his specialty was wild game sauce piquante or redfish courtboullion. If you get an offer for something cooked by one of us Matherne's, don't pass it up. We learned from the best.

I went hunting many times and there were always empty shells around after a happy day of hunting. At the end of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's famous story, the Little Prince tells the pilot, "I cannot carry this body with me. It is too heavy." The pilot said nothing. The little prince continued, "But it will be like an old abandoned shell. There is nothing sad about old shells . . ." Let share with you my short poem.

            The Empty Shell

The Little Prince told us that
      it is not sad to look upon an empty shell.

In His time God loaded us into His gun
      and fired us towards our goal.

In our Time we leave behind only an empty shell after a life well-spent.

It is not sad to look upon an empty shell.

It is a sign of a life well-spent.

Do not look upon an empty shell in sadness.

Let us spend our life well
      so when others look upon
      our empty shell

They will see a sign of a life well-spent.

It is not sad to look upon this empty shell.

It is a sign of a life well-spent.

Buster had a favorite song back in the 1940s called "A Tree in the Meadow". The words and music were composed by Billy Reid and the song was sung by Margaret Whiting. He had a 78 record of the song and I must have heard it a hundred times when I was about five. I've been thinking about this song during this time because I think it has a message for all of us here to pay tribute to him today.

There's a tree in the meadow
With a stream drifting by
And carved upon that tree I see
"I'll love you till I die"

I knew at the time he was thinking of Mom as that song played and he did certainly love her until he died, but he also loved each of us. As I say goodbye to his empty shell, I'd like to close with the final stanza of that song:

Dad: I will always remember
the love in your eye
The day you carved upon that tree —
"I'll love you til I die."

[end of eulogy]

Becky Matherne, my nephew Mark's wife, sang the music and I loved her selection of music and her singing. Everyone seemed to agree that the service went off smoothly and beautifully. My eulogy was well received as I gathered from the many compliments I received after the service was over and later at Mimosa house. Becky came to the car as we were leaving the Mimosa house to say that the song "A Tree in the Meadow" really touched her as she had been reading a story about a leaf named Freddie to her girls Abby and Ellie to teach them about what dying meant. The story told about how Freddie, in his time, fell from a tree.

That night we watched a couple of movies as the BCS Championship game rolled on one of the side screens. Pulled for Oregon to whip Auburn and its professional quarterback Cam Newton, the best money could buy. Then we hit the sack after the longest weekend of my life.

One of my website projects, which had been developing in the background and waiting for some time to attend to, came to the fore after the funeral was over. Naively I had added AdSense ads to every one of my website pages which number about a thousand pages currently. Recently I had discovered that putting Ads on pages that are infrequently read cause the income for the other pages to fall significantly.

I decided to reformat the Ads also, changing them from top and bottom banner ads to the more productive Box-Sized Ads at top and bottom and a Wide Skyscraper (long banner) in the middle right edge of each review page. You should see such a tall ad at the right edge of this text. The ad may seen like it was written for your location in the world — it was! That's one of the wonderful things about such advertisements. They see you coming, know where you live and what you like to read based on the content of the page you're visiting, and pull out an ad targeted especially for you. Once I had that all set up, then I needed to find the least frequent review pages and turn off or nix the ads on them. The technique I hit on was to put the same Include files on all the reviews but to create matching Include files with no ads in them. With this technique, a minor change, the insertion of the word nix into the name of the file included for a review caused the Ads to be turned off for that one unpopular review. If that review ever became popular again, deletion of nix from the name would be enough to turn the ads back on for the review.
For just the ARJ2 reviews, I had to nix 168 reviews and turn on reviews for 222. For ARJ1, 273 out of 327 needed to be nixed. Since ARJ1 reviews had no include files, each ARJ1 review had to handled separately to remove the code. I took care of the ARJ1 problem by having a Folder for Reviews with Ads and a Folder for Reviews Nix Ads. Whichever review is sent out, With or Nix, determined if the ARJ1 Review appears with an ad or not. That leaves ART with its 75 or so reviews which handled similar to the ARJ2 reviews, using a nix code in the file name of the Include file. Only 8 ART reviews had to be nixed due to low popularity. Next month I will begin seeing the results of this month's of work on the website. I can tell you that my hard-working staff let up a collective sigh of relief when all these review changes were complete.

Both my oldest child and youngest were born on the same day in January. Rob was back in Indiana on his 2011 birhday, but his sister Maureen currently lives right across the river from us, so I invited her for a Birthday lunch near the large high school where she is assistant principal. I brought her a duck decoy to give to her daughter Tiffany who had asked me for one of the ones which both Daddy and David (my brother) had worked on.

Maureen asked for a small decoy for herself, one of Mom & Dad's miniatures. I had bought a lot of these from them back in 1980s when they were making and selling them. Gave away a couple of dozen of them to friends and assocaites over the years. Out of my small remaining collection of miniatures, I have set aside a wood duck for her as a birthday present. A couple of days later Del and I drove in the Babe pickup truck to Mimosa Park and retrieved the Westwego Table and the pecan wood chopping block. Very heavy, but I showed Del how to maneuver them into and out of the truck bed using a hand truck. When we got the Westwego Table home, I had to tighten all the table's leg screws and take out two nails to remove silverware drawer. It had 50 years of dust in it. Probably the drawer was nailed shut during move to Mimosa in 1955 and it was left that way. I washed the drawer clean.

Then a screw came out of one leg and I placed a stronger one in its stead. Was unable to open the tabletop extension, up until now. We decided to let Maureen keep the Cherry Table from Del's Grandma's estate with her till she was done with it, then it comes back to Del. And Del and I'll keep the Westwego Porcelain Table from Dad's estate until we're done with it and then it will go to Maureen. The other items we received were some Bing & Groendel plates which I had given Mom some 30 plus years ago. They now grace the wall above the Baker's Rack in our kitchen. The pecan tree slab which Dad made into a chopping block has become an accessory to our West Portico Barbeque Pit. The porcelain table will be an adjunct to the flower arranging table in the West Alcove.

One of the things which kept my sanity intact during the long hours of editing my entire oeuvre of reviews was the odd problem, poem, or comment which passed in front of my eyes by virtue of my revisiting these reviews en masse after many years. For example, this bit of marginalia came to my attention:

On page 19 from 12/13/1986 of the ART book titled, Dr. Copernicus, I wrote down the result of a conversation on December 13, 1986 with Malven Frank Lee at Waterford 3 where I was working at the time:

"What's the problem, Frank?"
"Two problems: Stubbornness and arithmetic."
"Only the second is solvable."

I also found another review which I had neglected to publish in A Reader's Treasury at the time, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, so it has now been published for the first time here in Digest112. In addition I found this statement I was inspired to write about reading:

Reading the words in a book is like ordering items from the menu of a fine restaurant — you will obtain no nourishment from what you order unless you consume it when it arrives and make it a part of you. It is not the words in the book that are important, but rather the effect they have upon you in the process of reading and studying them.

Del's brother Dan came for a visit on the night we went downtown to Le Chat Noir to view the six ten-minute plays by different authors which are featured on the third Wednesday of each month. This night our friend Paul Werner had a play in the mix called "Super Bowl Peas" and we enjoyed all six short plays, presented cabaret style.

We had hoped to get to our favorite restaurant, Houston's, to eat before the plays began, but we were late, so we parked across the street from Herbsaint Restaurant which was next door to Le Chat Noir (which means Black Cat, an unlucky omen). Inside we tried to find something on the menu worth eating in this restaurant with overpriced Italian food and a dining room that was too cold and too noisy. On a freezing cold night, the AC came on and made it even colder. The waiter apologized, but said the controls were set in the kitchen. I should have asked if we could sit in the kitchen. To make it worse, a woman with two dogs came to the door to make a reservations and since she could not come in with her dogs, she purposely kept the door opened letting in even more freezing air while she slowly arranged a reservation with the maitre d'. Whatever minor things we liked about Herbsaint blew out the door with that woman and her two pet poodles.

Super Bowl Peas was the second of two cabaret events we attended this month. The first was a Pre-Obit Party (ala Get Low) at the Cabaret on Sala Avenue in my original hometown of Westwego for Jackie Elliott on her 80th Birthday. It was a fun event, with Uncle Wayne Daigrepont sketching caricatures for all present who wished one.

The music was danceable, the food was good, and everyone had a good time. January seems to be a good month for Annual Meetings, and I attended the one for my club and also for the Timberlane Association. A zero is not usually an exciting number, but when it marks the number of burglaries in one's subdivision for the past year with the Gretna Police in charge, that is a memorable event. Before Gretna, zero was the number of good new items brought to us by the Jefferson Parish Deputies each year.

I changed around the Digest a bit this month, putting my Google Analytics World Map in the Honored Readers box (shows from which countries our Good Readers come). I also moved a beautiful violet-shaded Tree Mandala to the left of the ARCHIVES Box, replacing our grand-daughter Katy's handbag which said, "I have issues." We still have Digest Issues, but other issues have gone. Hope you like the new above-the-fold look of the Digest. I was delighted to have found time to finish reading and to review Bob Carr's splendid tribute to his adopted city, Raising Children on Bourbon. "Bob and Jan for Luzianne" will ring a bell for local radio listeners and TV viewers during the second half of the 20th Century. Their faces were instantly recognizable to millions in the metro New Orleans area. If you want to learn what makes people care about the "City That Care Forgot" this is the book to read. Here are two Midwesterners who raised their youngsters on Bourbon Street, something few locals would ever attempt. Reading of their adventures in the French Quarter will bring many memories to your mind, a smile to your face, perhaps a tear to your eye, and a laugh to your heart. The review of Bob's book is in this Digest. Perhaps we should all raise some Bourbon in his honor! CHEERS!

On the last few days of frigid January, during which month New York City dug itself out of 36 inches of snow, Del packed and left for lunch with our youngest January birthday offspring, Stoney, and from there embarks on visits to our kids in Baton Rouge, Kountze (Texas), and Alexandria for her grandkid overdose for a month or so, before her mommy-genes start throbbing again. Fortunately for me, I can spend these last days of January finishing my February Digest at my leisure instead of trying to do it all on one afternoon like I did after our California trip, or processing 837 photos in a jam-packed six-day schedule, such as I endured after our October Cruise last Fall. This Digest, each and every month, is an act of love — a giving birth which I consider worth all of its labor pains.

The past 30 days has been a month of deaths, Doyle Henderson (December 28, 2010), Dad (January 5), Barbara Knobloch (January 13), and Steiner (our beloved Schnauzer, January 21). May this next month be equally a month of celebrating new life and resurrection as we roll inexorable on towards Spring and Easter! Till we meet again in March in the full swing of Carnival time and Mardi Gras Day in 2011, God Willing and the River Don't Rise, whatever you do, wherever in the world you and yours reside, be it chilly or warm, snowy or sunny, Remember our slogan: Make It Heaven In Twenty-Eleven ! ! !


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New Quotes Added to quotes.htm this month:

  • Life is what happens when we are making other plans.
  • Below by Henry David Thoreau, from Journal, Volume I:

    Thoreau says that "True verses are not counted on the poet's fingers, but on his heart-strings." and goes on to express this thought in a poem:

    [page 275] Aug. 28, 1841

    My life hath been the poem I would have writ,
    But I could not both live and live to utter it.

  • New Stuff on the Web:
    Honda's Personal Mover, the U3-X. Lighter and smaller than carry-on luggage. See it in operation here. A motorized Unicycle that moves sideways easily as forward!!!

  • Five Featured ARJ1 Reviews:

    1. S.E. Luria's A Slot Machine, A Broken Test Tube

    What can one say about Salvador Luria: that he is a scientist's scientist (John Watson of DNA fame was his grad student); that he is a pinko socialist radical (regularly solicited donations for full page ads of 'concerned' scientists in the NY Times — his daily fare — and the Washington Post - delivered free to all of congress); that he once voted for a Republican (maybe more than once); that he never learned biochemistry (he got on with his physics knowledge he gleaned from Fermi and others); that he was a Nobel prize winner.

    He discovered the process called "fluctuation" for understanding bacteriophage mutations (the slot machine reference of the title) and the process of "restriction" in viruses (the broken test tube). An amazing man, completely open to all possibilities in pursuit of science and closed to all possibilities but socialism (" a just distribution of wealth and opportunities for all") in the pursuit of humankind solutions.

    He lived in Paris till the Germans entered it — he rode out towards Marseilles on a bicycle as bombs were exploding in the eastern section of Paris. A full recounting of his experiences en route would make good reading fare, I suspect.

    He said: in Paris men bought 5 or 6 newspapers a day so as to debate the essays of the various intellectuals in them. (When is the last time you read an intellectual in an American daily? Does Kilpatrick or Buckley qualify? Do we live in a backward country? I know teenagers who read both the Baton Rouge and New Orleans daily newspapers to compare sports writers comments on the latest or upcoming football game, but to read intellectuals? We seem to be heading towards a single nationwide daily, USA TODAY, and hellbent on stamping out all intellectual content by replacing it with the insipid intellectual tradition of Time, Newsweek, Look, and Life. The latter two, of course, no longer exist as weekly magazines.)

    The section on the DNA code, the protein stop-start signaling process are worth the price of the book. How similar the molecular machinery parallels the human machinery of communication and production. The presence of a sugar for food strips off a protein and uncovers a code to start production of an enzyme to digest the food. Sounds like the U. S. welfare free food surplus distribution program.

    2. Humberto Eco's Six Walks in Fictional Woods

    I first read this book in April 1994. I remember it well because when I reached page 88 on April 14, 1994, I read the following, " . . . today is Wednesday, April 14, 1993 . . . ". Exactly one year, 365 days, had passed from when Eco wrote the original words until I read them in a finished book, second printing. I noted the date in the book, and later, on August 14, 1995, I again encountered the same page in the course of re-reading this book, one year and four months later. I return to Six Walks like Eco gets lost in the woods in Sylvie. After his first reading of Sylvie at the age of twenty, Eco returned to it time and again: in his papers, seminars, and graduate courses he gave on the novel. He says, "Every time I picked up Sylvie, even though I knew it in such an anatomical way — perhaps because I knew it so well — I fall in love with it again, as if I were reading it for the first time." Eco gets lost in Sylvie's fictional woods like I did in the Foxborough State Park on my trail bike. Soon I came to know where all the trails came out, where all the waterfalls were, where the granite quarry was, but still I rode to enjoy new combinations of trails and the changing of the terrain with the different seasons of the year. Each time Eco's Model Reader reads the same book another time, the Empirical Reader is experiencing a different season of the year, of life. During our perambulations with Eco, we discover there are Model Authors and Empirical Authors as well — makes for a busy reading time, since four's company.

    Here is a potpourri of Eco from Six Walks:

    Eco gives a process description of a pornographic film: what is non-sexual takes as long as real life, what is sexual takes much longer.

    Eco asks, "How can a verbal text put something before our eyes as if we could see it." He explains how the impression of space is created by expanding "both the discourse time and reading in relation to the story time."

    Eco points out that "it was believed that the Morning Star was different from the Evening Star (Hesperus and Phosphorus, as they were called), but that these are really the same celestial body — namely, Venus." Thus, those who worshiped the Morning Star held their adorations in the morning. They were loath to believe that the object of worship of their evening worshiping brethren was the same as their beloved morning icon. Two perspectives, one object.

    Eco says, "During the seventeenth century, Francis Lodwick put forward the idea that original names were the names not substances but of actions." Like the American Indian names we hear today, such as "Dances With Wolves" or "Rainbow Dancing Waters." The focus is on the action, the process, not the thing. Using this naming process, one might call Umberto Eco: "Walks in Fictional Woods."

    3. Guy Davenport's Every Force Evolves a Form

    If the title is true one can wonder what driving force evolved the form of this book: twenty essays filling a "thin volume" of English criticism of anything that moves or goes bump in the night. The title essay is a curious assemblage of literary blurbs about birds: Poe's Raven, Wordsworth's Robin, Emily's Lark, and Whitman's Thrush. The essay "Balthus" consists of a melange of one-sentence paragraphs about the famous painter. In another essay we discover that Montaigne was the first to comment in writing on the observation that the number of tree rings equals the number years of life of a tree. Guy tells us there were precursors to Montaigne that were found later, all centered on the locale of Pisa in Italy. He tells us that the woodcutter who made the observation to Montaigne "had probably learned it from a professor at the university." This statement betrays Davenport's academic bias: where did the professor first learn of the rings if not from an observant woodcutter? Knowledge, contrary to Guy's understanding, originates not from professors and books but from direct observation of nature.

    I liked his essays in this volume much better than his "Geography of the Imagination" which I got bogged down in. Each essay in this book Davenport prepares like a little Italian pizza-maker: first, he twirls a subject in the air and when it lands, he deftly strews slices of mythology, chunks of fiction, sprinkles of poetry upon it, and then bakes the concoction in our brain until the smells of literature come alive and we're ready to sit down for a feast. By this time the essay has come to an end and we can hear in the other room the pepperoni being sliced in preparation for his next pizza pie.

    4. Benjamin Farrington 's The Philosophy of Francis Bacon

    And indeed it is this glory of discovery that is the true ornament of mankind.

    It was the glory of God to conceal a thing, the glory of a King to find it out.

    Writing at a time (1620) when America had not yet been named (he called it New India), Francis Bacon brought his training as a lawyer to his study of natural philosophy and laid the foundations of the inductive method upon which future scientists would erect their lofty edifices of thought.

    ...let Aristotle be summoned to the bar, that worst of sophists stupefied by his own unprofitable subtlety, the cheap dupe of words.

    Let Plato be next summoned to the bar, that mocking wit, that swelling poet, that deluded theologian.

    Thus, in turn he calls up and deflates the puffery of each philosopher, his animadversions verging on poesy.

    You, Paracelsus, adopted son of the family of asses, owe him [Peter Severinus] a heavy debt. He took over your brayings and by the tuneful modulations and pleasant inflexions of his voice made sweet harmony of them, transforming your detestable falsehoods into delectable fables.

    Bacon tells us that, what his precursor by 400 years, Roger Bacon, received from the Greeks was the childhood of science: "It has what is proper to boys. It is a great chatterbox and is too immature to breed."

    Thus did Francis Bacon bring maturity to the philosophy of science by his experimental method and his famous inductive method. He required scientists after him to receive truth "from the light of nature, not recovered from the darkness of antiquity." To seek new insights from the present, not the past, was a dramatically new concept for the scientists of Bacon's day, and the payoff began with the discoveries of Newton, Leibnitz, and has continued until this day. It was Bacon himself who found comfort in the remark, "The blacker the past, the brighter the hope of the future."

    "Not to try is a greater hazard than to fail. If we fail, it is the loss of a trifling effort. Not to try is to forgo the prospect of measureless good." Let us be thankful Francis Bacon tried.

    5. Reshad Feild's Here to Heal

    In this book Reshad covers some basics that any healer requires to be successful in his art. He covers the three R's of healing: Recognition, Redemption, and Resurrection. The second R, redemption, he says, we keep ourselves from by erecting three walls around our heart: the walls of resentment, envy, and pride. (See my poem, "Three Walls", which was directly inspired by this book.) Unless we dissolve, shake apart, or tunnel through these walls we will not heal ourselves and thus will not be able to heal others.

    Feild discusses his experiences as healer of the earth, called a geomancer. By divining rods held over maps, he discovers vortices of negative energy and using iron rods clad with copper, he is able to divert the energy into useful channels. A couple at a small cottage have their peace interrupted by fires and floods (from an underground river, no less). He discovers that the nearby site of an old monastery had been paved over (shades of Amityville) and once he restored the disturbed flow of energy to its former path by directing it around the slab with his copper clad rods, peace was restored to the cottage.

    He gives directions for the Mother's Breath: a sequence of 7-1-7-1-7 breaths: actually a rhythm, not a fixed time sequence. This is the same rhythm used by smokers of marijuana to produce altered states of consciousness.

    Once when moving, a glass desk top sheared and a huge guillotine shard of glass sliced across my wrist. I automatically began breathing deeply and regularly in a similar fashion. The result was that the cut hardly bled at all. A friend who was watching me said she saw me stop the bleeding. That was the Mother's Breath I'm convinced now. Everyone should practice enough of this to ensure its availability in time of need.

    Read this book and be ready with the Mother's Breath.

    [Bobby's commentary found in handwriting from Back Inside Cover]:

    April 20, 1989:
    Whenever you ask a question and happen to say remember when, if you mention a person, place or thing, you lead, via a subtle form of hypnosis, the other person into conjuring up an image of what you described. Do not do this unless that is your intention! ESPECIALLY note that the negation word "NOT" does not operate here. If I tell you "Do NOT think of a PINK briefcase," what color was the briefcase?

    June 4, 1989:
          Large Groups Suck:
    You must wait for everyone in the group to show up before you can move to another place. Thus, the person who has the most problems, the most kinks in their life, will hold up and inconvenience everyone else. This is the major difficulty with democracy. We are all dragged down to the lowest level of limitation, up until now!


Movies we watched this past month:

Notes about our movies: Many of the movies we watch are foreign movies with subtitles. After years of watching movies in foreign languages, Arabic, French, Swedish, German, British English, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and many other languages, sometimes two or three languages in the same movie, the subtitles have disappeared for us. If the movie is dubbed in English we go for the subtitles instead because we enjoy the live action and sounds of the real voices so much more than the dubbed. If you wonder where we get all these foreign movies from, the answer is simple: NetFlix. For a fixed price a month they mail us DVD movies from our on-line Queue, we watch them, pop them into a pre-paid mailer, and the postman effectively replaces all our gas-consuming and time-consuming trips to Blockbuster. To sign up for NetFlix, simply go to and start adding all your requests for movies into your personal queue. If you've seen some in these movie blurbs, simply copy the name, click open your queue, and paste the name in the Search box on NetFlix and Select Add. Buy some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. You get to see your movies as the Director created them — NOT-edited for TV, in full-screen width, your own choice of subtitles, no commercial interruptions, and all of the original dialogue. Often you get the Director's Cut Edition which adds back excellent footage that was cut from the theater releases. With a plasma TV and Blu-Ray DVD's and a great sound system, you have theater experience without someone next to you talking on a cell phone during a movie plus a Pause button for rest room trips.
P. S. Ask for Blu-Ray DVD movies from NetFlix.
Hits (Watch as soon as you can. A Don't Miss Hit is one you might otherwise ignore.):
“The Sentinel” (2006) Michael Douglas is charged with protecting the First Lady but gets charged by having sexual intercourse with her. Can he save the President from assassination without revealing his passion for the First Lady. Can he survive this movie with all parts of his body intact? Makes for a gripping movie even when Mike and Kim Basinger are off-screen. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Flipped” (2010) young love in bloom but neither knows the other has flipped over them. Rob Reiner production shines with wonder, family values, and love. A DON’T MISS HIT !
“Serious Moonlight” (2010) Meg Ryan and Tim Hutton in a “War of the Roses” farce with a twist of duct tape, “I am just a loser taped to a toilet.” A menàge a trois that could barely menàge! A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Remember Me” (2010) Tyler is a poet and writer who lost a brother and meets Ally who lost a mother, both tragically in their presence. The lost ones infuse their lives and bring this Romeo and Juliet together, for better or worse.
“Inception” (2010) “Matrix meets “Brainstorm” three levels deep in dreams. Begins with a dream extraction in progress which is confusing, and leads into an idea-implantation which is incredible. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! ! ! ! ! !

“The Good Earth” (1937) starring Louise Rainer. She was interviewed in 2009 on her 100th birthday by Robert Osborn of TCM and she is still a pepper. Great portrayal of Pearl Buck’s epic novel of China through the eyes of a small farmer. A DON’T MISS HIT!
“Legendary” (2010) Nerd decides to take up wrestling like his older brother whom he must rescue from self-destruction. Patricia Clarkson and John Cena star.
“First Knight” (1995) with Richard Gere as Lancelot and Sean Connery as King Arthur is a marvelous telling of the menage a trois between Guinevere, Arthur, and Lancelot. 2nd Viewing, see digest51 for 1st viewing back in 1995 when movie came out.
“Top Gun” (1986) is a movie I’ve watched dozens of times. In HD it’s as spectacular as it was on the big screen. Music, drama, fighter jet dogfights . . . it max’s out on every score. It will “Take your breath” away. A classic which never grows old. If you have never seen it, now’s the time. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !

“The Secret in Their Eyes” (2010) creates a thread through the movie to the end as communications are revealed by the look in their eyes. A mystery and love story as intense as “Girl with Dragon Tattoo”. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Killers” (2010) a gentler, funnier version of “Mr&Mrs Smith” in which the wife discovers she’s pregnant during a shooting spree.
“Ira & Abby” (2006) Ira, a loser, PhD wannabe but can’t finish anything including dissertation, 9 years almost engaged to a J.A.P., finally meets Abby who loves him immediately and unconditionally and marries her in a week. Then the trek begins: Marry, Annul, Marry again, Divorce, and live together happily — finally. A group therapy sessions of all their therapists is a hoot! A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Scrooged” (1998) Bill Murray is a hit in this new classic which ran all day around Christmas on one of the cable channels. Finally watched the whole thing. A whacky look at “Christmas Carol” that would cause Dickens to turn over in his grave if he were alive today.
“Red” (2010) stands for Retired-Extremely-Dangerous and the RED folder for Bruce Willis (Frank Moses) in the CIA vault contained information which led to him and 11 others being sought out for killing. Guess who survived and got the girl? Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich formed a powerful alliance to keep Bruce Willis and themselves alive and us laughing out loud till the end. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! ! !
“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” (2010) Mike Douglas sequel in which money is likened to “a bitch who never sleeps” and if you don’t watch her carefully, could disappear on you. Yucky metaphor and unfunny movie about losing love and money and how difficult it is to regain both.
“The Long Kiss Goodnight” (1996) If you haven’t watched Geena Davis and Sam Jackson play off each other in this spy thriller, shuffle across the floor humming and hit Instant Play on Netflix, you’re in for a treat. Like “True Lies” with wife as the spy, hidden from herself. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Remember Me, My Love” (2003) a story about Carlos and Guilia whose marriage has grown stale as their kids have grown into upper teens. Suddenly an acting job pops up for Guilia and an old flame flares up for Carlos. Can the marriage be saved? The answer surprised the couple.
“The Brave One” (2007) voice of the radio becomes death to hoodlums on the street. No one’s looking for a blond female, until an elevator rings a bell. A DON’T MISS HIT MISS! ! !

Misses (Avoid At All Costs): We attempted to watch these this month, but didn't make it all the way through on most of them. Awhile back when three AAAC horrors hit us in one night, I decided to add a sub-category to "Avoid at All Costs", namely, A DVD STOMPER. These are movies so bad, you don't want anyone else to get stuck watching them, so you want to stomp on the disks. That way, if everyone else who gets burnt by the movie does the same, soon no copies of the awful movie will be extant and the world will be better off.

“The Backup Plan” (2010) is this: WATCH A DIFFERENT MOVIE, one with good script-writing and good acting. JLO a NOGO.
“Greenberg” (2009) Ben Stiller in this quirky movie. NY’er leaves to L.A. and housesits as he tries to find a life. He does, movie doesn’t.
“A New Wave” (2007) with no script, no plot, and no acting. Bank fumbled in broad daylight. A DVD STOMPER! ! !

Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:

“Requiem” (2006) Epilepsy or demonic possession besets this young German Fraulein who decides to go to college anyway. Victim or saint, one never knows.
“A Prophet” (2009) Young man goes into jail for 6 years for supposedly beating a cop and learns how to read/write/sell drugs/murder before he is released out into the world. Along the way, he learns to respect his Arab culture.
“The Sensation of Sight” (2006) Teacher witnesses suicide in his classroom and quits job, family, lives alone selling volumes of antique encyclopedia given to him by the suicide. At one point movie says, “Light is responsible for the sensation of sight” an insightful quote from Goethe.

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NOTE: This is a Cajun Joke I think Buster would have enjoyed.
Boudreaux went into the confessional and said to his priest, "Ah'm sorry, Father, Ah almost had sex with another woman."

Father Mouton asked, "Boudreaux, you mean some woman other than Marie, your wife?"

"Yes, Father."

"Mais, told me what you mean, almost?"

Boudreaux said, "Wahl, we got undressed and rubbed together, but then we stopped."

"Mais, Boudreaux, let me told you sumpin, rubbing together naked is the same t'ing as putting it in. Ah don't want you to see dat woman again. For your penance, Ah want you to said five Hail Mary's and put $50 in the poor box as you leave."

Boudreaux left the confessional, knelt down and said his five Hail Marys, and then walked over to the poor box. He stood by the box, took a $50 bill out his wallet, paused for a moment, put the bill in his pocket, and then started to leave.

Father Mouton had been watching Boudreaux and ran quickly over to him, finger waving, saying, "Boudreaux, Ah saw that. You didn't put no money in dat poor box!"

Boudreaux replied, "Mais, Father, Ah done rubbed the $50 on the box, and like you said, dat's the same as putting it in!"

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5. RECIPE of the MONTH for February, 2011 from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen:
(click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
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Pumpkin Crisp

Background on Pumpkin Crisp:
Del raved about this dessert when our daughter Kim made it for her in Alexandria, Louisiana. She got the recipe from Kim and made it later for our family Christmas at Timberlane last December. Quick, simple to make and delicious.

1 Can of Pumpkin
1 cup of Evaporated Milk
1 cup of Sugar
1 cup of chopped pecans
2 sticks of butter 1 box Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix 1 tsp vanilla 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Melt the butter.

Cooking Instructions
Put all but the cake mix and butter into a greased 9X13" Pyrex dish.
Sprinkle cake mix on top.
Sprinkle pecans on top of cake mix.
Pour melted butter evenly over the top of mixture.
BAKE 1 HOUR at 350 degF or enough to just brown the pecans on top a bit.

Serving Suggestion
Allow to cool a bit before serving.

Other options
Top with fresh whipped cream or Breyer's Vanilla Ice Cream.

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6. POETRY by BOBBY from Hopkins:
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Word and Hush

A painter with earthen colors
       oils a landscape within a canvas wall.

A poet with ethereal colors
       coils an inscape within a footless hall.

What was without is come within
       the framéd painter's scape.

Will what was within ever escape
       the poet's footless halls?

There stands the painter's view — Behold!
       A thumbnail of the world unfold'd.

Where stands the poet's inscape rare,
       but in the harmonies of footéd air?

Listen with your heart and soul
       if you would hear
       the inscape colors in your ears unfold.

The painter works with oils and brush —
       The poet works with words and — hush.

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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for February:
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And for my Good Readers, here’s the new reviews and articles for this month. The ARJ2 ones are new additions to the top of A Reader’s Journal, Volume 2, Chronological List, and the ART ones to A Reader’s Treasury. NOTE: these Blurbs are condensations of the Full Reviews sans footnotes and many quoted passages.

ARJ2: Raising Our Children on Bourbon — a French Quarter Love Affair by Bob Carr

When John Churchill Chase, beloved editorial cartoonist for Times-Picayune wrote his book on New Orleans Streets entitled, Frenchmen Desire Good Children, I never expected anyone to surpass that delicious title which concatenated the names of three streets into a full sentence, Frenchmen Street, Desire Street, and Good Children Street. Yet Bob Carr equaled or surpassed his literary predecessor with his titillating title which suggests using blended whiskey instead of milk for rearing kids. The droll artwork by Rolland Golden on the cover reveals the true meaning of the title as the word "Bourbon" is shown on a street sign, the four children Tammy, Timothy, Tom, and Tiffany are shown looking down through the wrought iron balcony railing at their parents Bob and Jan who are waving up at them as they enter the front door.

Whatever possessed a mild Midwestern couple to move from Charleston, West Virginia to Bourbon Street with small children to raise? Most New Orleanians would never consider such a thing. We've seen Bourbon Street at night with its drunk Midwestern visitors, who raucously trash the entire street as if it were a stag party inside their Elks Club back home. They do things most locals here wouldn't attempt in public and the City spends the wee hours of the morning cleaning up after them so the party can start the next day, and it goes on 24/7 year round. Ask any local and they would reply, "Raise kids on Bourbon Street? No freaking way! You'd have to be drunk to think of such a thing!"

Yet, it came to pass that two sober Midwesterners drove all the way from West Virginia and bought a house on Bourbon Street. Where they acting silly? No, they were acting on an impulse, an idea, and as Lord Acton once proclaimed, "Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come", and come it did to Bob Carr, planted as it was years earlier in his head by his great-grandmother Aupagnier who always said, "In Novelle Orléans there's only one place to live, Le Vieux Carré!" That meant the French Quarter, and Bourbon Street was slapdab in the middle of the action in the French Quarter.

They sold their house, packed up the moving van, and filled their car with stuff including Tammy and Tommy, and drove to New Orleans in early 1960s before there were Interstates, just a long trek along US Highway 11, ending with a climax as they drove across the newly opened Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, 24 miles long. Well, perhaps you will agree the climax came as they drove down the street where they would be soon living. But first they had to cope with a well-known obstacle course avoided like the plague by any native: Tulane Avenue.

[page 19,20] In the excitement of finally being in New Orleans, we lost our bearings and ended up on Tulane Avenue, one of the main commercial thoroughfares.
      "Bob, we're on Tulane Avenue! I thought you said Ann and Bill told you not to get on Tulane Avenue because you can't turn left on Tulane Avenue!"
       "Jan, that's silly. There's bound to be a left turn somewhere."
      We kept driving toward the river, know the French Quarter was somewhere off to our left; sure enough, at each intersection, a traffic sign boldly instructed, No Left Turn. We continued on, more than twenty blocks, passing such interesting street names as Telemachus, Genois, Gayoso, Dorgenois, Derbigny, and Villere.
      "Jan, I feel like I'm in a foreign country!"
      "What worries me is how we'll ever learn to pronounce all these strange name."
      "Look, look, Jan! We're free at last! There's a left turn arrow, and look at the name, Liberty Street!"
      "Liberty, Hallelujah, free at last," we both chuckled, enjoying well-needed relief.

There was another obstacle course waiting for them know as driving down Bourbon Street. No one could have prepared them for what happened, no even Ann and Bill, as even natives can't predict what they'll find on a trip down Bourbon Street, but the ones the Carrs encountered will all seem familiar. In the 1960s the famous street was still open for one-way traffic from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue whereas a decade or so later, it is usually closed to auto traffic because of the abundance of pedestrian traffic. Tammy and Timmy still had red spots all over their faces due to developing chicken pox during the drive.

[page 20, 21] As we turned off Canal Street onto traffic, clogged Bourbon, I wasn't fully prepared for the effect the unfolding spectacle would have on the children. The sounds, the sights, and the smells along Bourbon Street were different from anything they had ever encountered. The experience was an incredible stimulation to their senses. They bounced from one side of the back seat to the other, trying to see it all at once.
      "Daddy, look at the lady in that big picture," Tammy shrieked, totally forgetting about her thumb and blanket. "She's only got her panties on!"
      The door next to the blow-up photo of Blaze Starr swung open revealing a gyrating stripper. Timmy yelped, flinging himself forward until he nearly fell out the window.
      Tammy burst forth with a piercing screech and then buried her head, ostrich-like, in her pillow. Moving at a snail's pace behind the ogling passengers in the car ahead of us, we passed several more strip places. Tammy kept her head nestled deep in her pillow. To Jan's consternation, Timmy had pulled himself out of the window and perched his derriere on the back seat windowsill so he could hang onto the topside luggage rack with both hands.
      "Daddy, can I sit on top of the car?"
      "No, indeed!" Jan quickly rebuked.
      "Timmy, I think you can see enough from where you are. Just hold on tight to that luggage rack, please."
      "Alright, daddy, but I can't see up on the balconies."
      The traffic was bumper to bumper. The barkers in front of the various nightclubs were boldly trying to hustle pedestrians into their particular joints. We eased past the Famous Door and got a generous earful of New Orleans Dixieland Jazz. Suddenly, a midget sporting an overly tall top hat darted toward our car from the narrow sidewalk in front of the Old Absinthe Bar. He approached Jan's open window hawking a Night Club Tour. She said, "No, thanks." He persisted, so she rolled up her window. He then stuck his face in the back window, but when Tammy looked up at him with her pockmarked face, he immediately fled.
      The traffic began to move a bit faster. Timmy was ecstatic. Still sitting on the windowsill, he was by now holding onto the luggage rack with one hand, the other arm fully extended with an open palm to catch the breeze. With his eyes darting hither and yon, Timmy's outstretched hand unexpectedly collided with the posterior of a buxom, peroxided prostitute.
      Startled, she turned around. "What the shit do you think yer doin'?" she bellowed. "My ass is my bread and butter. Black and blue it don't sell!"
      Timmy slithered down into the back seat and closed his window.

Just a typical day on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Soon they were ensconced in a home which was a short walk to the WWL radio studios where their morning show replaced the long-running Dawnbusters program, a New Orleans-style Breakfast Club. I missed the Carrs early years on New Orleans radio as I was in college, but I imagine this was typical of what they encountered in the international city.

[page 33] Our two-hour daily program consisted of chitchat on a wide range of child-rearing or marital topics, for which we did research or drew from our own experiences. We had a couple of regulars like Mrs. Francis Senter, "The Flower Lady," who gave advice about the planting and care of wonderful New Orleans subtropical flora.
      One day we were anticipating an on, air visit from Coco Chanel, whose parfums were being touted at Masion Blanche on Canal Street. Mademoiselle Chanel did not appear but rather her representative, a flashy and gregarious woman dangling a diamond encrusted cross in her cleavage, with 'the' perfect French accent to do justice to the eau de toilette product line. She pushed a small (very small) vial of No. 5 in Jan's direction, mentioned Coco had introduced it in 1921, and asked her where she would wear it.
      "Everywhere," Jan replied.
      "Non, non, Madame, where would you place it on your bow-dy."
      Jan blushed.
      I suggested behind each ear.
      "Oh, Monsieur, be more lavish. The ears, yes, but then the throat, de elbows, behind the knees everywhere you hope to be keest!"
      Jan's Irish complexion fired up even brighter.

The house they bought on Bourbon was run-down, but elegant with its 13-foot high ceilings, so the Carrs began renovating it. Bob quickly learned how to survive the New Orleans summers. In Sweden they say there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. In New Orleans we say there is no such thing as too hot weather, only too much clothes, so we strip down to the bare essentials for doing any kind of work during the summer. There are even ladies in New Orleans who do the same thing in Air-Conditioned Night Clubs, and unbeknownst to Bob and Jan several of them lived next door and used their backyard, on the other side of the Carr's brick fence, as a tanning area to prevent any tan-lines.

When it came time to strip and re-varnish the wood floors, Bob told the kids to look for archaeological artifacts in the backyard, which were plentiful in an area lived in since the early 1600s, pieces of old pottery, etc. This kept them busy, but busy meant they ran in with each shard they found and tracked over the newly sanded sections of the flooring. So Bob insisted they remain outside all day and find something to do. Tammy and Timmy found a ladder and set it up against the brick fence and spent the day sitting on top the fence chatting with their neighbors. Over the next several days, the work on the floors was progressing and Bob noticed that other neighborhood kids had joined Timmy and Tammy on the fence talking to the neighbors. Concerned that the kids might be bothering the neighbors, Bob climbed up the ladder to take a look.

[page 73] Oh, my God! There were, at least three of the children's pals: Donner, Blitzen, and Mrs. Claus, perhaps? Not worrying about chilly arctic winds, they were stretched out full-length at pool's end in the only strip of sunshine left on the patio. I'd never seen so many luscious boobs at one time and nipples screaming for pasties! I felt flushed. They were clothed in nothing but Coppertone, or maybe Sea and Ski, or could it be Sun and Fun?

Bob slipped and fell and one of the gals said, "I'll bet you're Timmy and Tammy's daddy, aren't you? They sure are cute kids. I hope you don't mind us talkin' to 'em." With that the Carrs soon got to meet the exotic dancers who worked at the Sho-Bar strip joint down the street. The Carrs had friends who lived way out in River Ridge who were always touting how great it was, and once Jan countered with, "Well, we may have a few strippers over the wall and in the Royal Street A&P, but at least there aren't any pimps in the block!" (Page 75)

They were soon discovering the many wildflowers who lived and worked in the French Quarter, the oldest urban center in the country, was full of wildflowers, some famous and some infamous. Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, and Chris Owens became good friends and work associates, Clay Shaw allowed the Carr's kids to swim in his pool, Lee Harvey Oswald was spouting kudos for Russia one day, and Truman Capote likely groped Bob in a Men's Room one night. Ruthie the Duck Girl, rolled by daily, dressed in a ballet costume, carrying her duck, and always said, "Hi, Mr. Cahr!" when she whizzed past on her skates. To locals the French Quarter became simply the Quarter and Jackson Square, the Square.

[page 88] Living in the Quarter could be likened to living in a field of varied wildflowers. Some are beautiful while some are not; some bloom brightly and of long duration, while others pale and fade quickly; but they all add to the uniqueness of the bouquet. The Square is the vase that, for a time, brings the blooms together in an ever-changing arrangement.

Not being Catholic, the Carrs eventually gave in to the kids request to go to Mass in the large church on the Square, St. Louis Cathedral. When it came time for communion, Tammy was ready to go.

[page 93] "When do we get in line, daddy?" Tammy asked quietly and confidently, her big brown eyes peeking up from under her hat.
      "We aren't getting in line, honey."
      "Just because, dear."
      "Because we aren't Catholic, silly," Timmy whispered loudly in Tammy's ear. "Pierre said ya gotta be Catholic ta do that stuff, besides he said what ya get up there is a piece of bread that's suppose to be God's skin and when ya eat, it sticks to the roof of your mouth!"
      Suddenly Timmy pointed to a lady whose walking up the aisle to receive communion.

[page 93, 94] Moving out of the pew, she had slung her grandchild over her shoulder while genuflecting — no easy balancing act on the slippery black and white marble floor. Unbeknownst to grandma, the flailing child had somehow gotten a firm hold on the hem of her rather loose fitting, rayon dress. The woman began to move reverently up the aisle, unaware that her grandbaby was tugging on the fabric of her skirt. The child kept pulling until the whole backside of granny's garment was in his tight little fist, exposing her rather scanty underpinnings, consisting merely of nylon hose supported by a black satin garter belt. The more-than-ample flesh of her derriére quivered with each innocent step toward the high altar. In a state of complete guilelessness, the unlikely Madonna strode with babe in arms toward the Lord's supper.

Jan asked Bob to pull down that lady's gown, but he demurred. Soon members of the congregation were tittering as she walked back. Bob was struggling to keep his composure, tears streaming down his eyes, as the following scene unfolded.

[page 94] Just as I glanced toward the front of the church, our lady was turning away from the priest. His reaction at seeing her backside so disoriented him that he bumped the altar boy, almost causing him to drop his paten. This was more than I could bear. I fell back onto the kneeler and wept openly.

Bob was rescued by the trumpet section in the choir loft which sounded like the Archangel Gabriel and restored him to sobriety. But there would be one more encounter with the gown lady who had sat down and restored her gown to its proper place. After the service was over, she approached Bob's pew with her two-year-old in tow.

[page 95] Passing our pew, she glance at me and smiled. She startled me as she leaned over and whispered, "I've hear you and Miss Jan on my radio and I've seen and your beautiful family in the neighborhood. Gawd Bless!"
      I smiled back politely, but I was thinking, Lady, you have no idea where I've seen you!

Timmy at age 5 was asked to play a part in a play at Le Petit Theatre and so far as anyone could remember, he was the youngest person to ever have a speaking part in the long history of the theater. For his part in Life with Father he needed his hair dyed red and eye makeup. Not able to read yet, he also needed help with learning his lines, but he did a fine job. Got quite an education in the process.

[page 104] Timmy's life in "The Theatre" was grand. In fact, he looked forward to it so much that he would come home from school at noon and pop into bed for his nap without even being asked-a miracle in itself. He became a sort of mascot at the theatre. Everybody catered to him. On opening night he had cake and candy bars, even a nip of champagne. He spent much time in the Greenroom learning to play blackjack and poker and also adding theatrical jargon to his vocabulary: proscenium, flat, hit, wings, cue, upstage, downstage, gay, fag, queen, and queer.
      Walter Persiveau, an acquaintance of ours reading for the next production, sashayed on gossamer wings into the Greenroom during a performance of Life With Father. According to Walter, Tim was so involved in putting together a puzzle while waiting for a cue that he didn't look up to see who had approached.
      "Hi, Timmy, what're you doing?"
      "Puttin' together a puzzle, sir."
      "What're you doin', sir? Readin' for the next show?"
      "Yes, as a matter of fact, I am."
      "Hope ya get the part."
      "Thanks, Timmy."
      Never looking up from his puzzle, Timmy added, "Well, just one thing, sir. If you get the part, don't let 'em put any of that eye makeup stuff on you. They put it on me — made me look like a little fag! It'll make you look like a bigger fag!"
      Walter thought it was hilarious.

Soon Bob & Jan for Luzianne moved to television and they were an instant hit, comparable to Dick Van Dyke who had been on WDSU during the early 1950s doing an afternoon kiddie show which I watched when I visited at my friend Barbara's house. I remembered his antics some ten years later when he teamed up with Mary Tyler Moore in the Dick Van Dyke show. His signature entrance stumbling over an ottoman for that show harkened back to the daily stunts he did live on WDSU to an audience of sub-teens in New Orleans.

[page 118] One of the engineers remarked he seldom watched with interest what appeared in his viewfinder but stopped to watch us because we aroused his curiosity. "I haven't seen antic like that since Dick Van Dyke was on staff."

Timmy became a fount of information about the old days in New Orleans and the South. Once during a conversation about where people urinated during the night without bathrooms in those large rooms with four posters and large elaborate canopies, Timmy gave a simple answer.

[page 129] "There were no bathrooms in those days. Instead, they used beautiful potties, which were usually kept under their beds."
      "Yuk!" came the reply from several of the girls.
      Timmy butted in again. "My daddy says in the olden days, people had a canopy over their bed an a can-o-pee under their bed!"

The editor of the Times-Picayune disliked television from its beginning, seeing it as an unfit competitor, and the names of TV personalities were forbidden from the paper's columns. Bob and Jan were invited to join editor Healy and others on a European trade mission for the World Trade Center of New Orleans. While the Carrs hoped to enlighten the Healys about the virtues of television, Mr. Healy talked on and on about the importance of the Healy clan in Ireland during their visit to that country.

[page 180] While at breakfast in Galway, a couple traveling with us barged into the dining room, beseeching our group, along with the Healys, to follow them. Away we all went along the avenue, down a side street, into a lane. We stood in awe. Across the bog was a somewhat dilapidated sign proclaiming Healy's Manure Works.
      "Hey, George, we always knew you were full of it, now it's in print!" rang out the mantra.

I grew up across the river from New Orleans and I thought everyone called the strip of concrete in front of their homes that were for people to walk on, banquettes. Here's how the Carr children found out the other name was sidewalks.

[page 274] "Hold on, he told us to wait about two minutes and then go out on the sidewalk."
      "Daddy, you mean banquette," Tom corrected.
      "Yes, the banquette and the sidewalk are the same thing."
      "How come there's two words to mean the same thing, daddy?"
      "Because they're simonims!"Tammy announced proudly.
      "What a cinnamon?"
      "That's two words that have the same meaning," Tammy replied. "Isn't that right, daddy?"
      "Sounds silly to me. Don't see why we got so many extra words for the same thing, it jis gets ever'body 'fused."
      "When you get older you'll see that synonyms make for a richer language."
      "Daddy, maybe you're right, but it jis sounds like a lot of extra spellin' to me!"

On the day Bob had walked through the newsroom and heard Bill Slatter interviewing Lee Harvey Oswald, there was a tour group going through the courtyard of the TV station's offices in the French Quarter.

[page 320] The Oswald fellow was mesmerizing, but knowing Jan was waiting to go over tomorrow's show, I retreated to our office. We loved our view overlooking the famous Brulitour Courtyard, a tourist favorite. Birda, an elderly maid with the station for many years, took great delight in leaning over the third-floor balcony railing when tour guides brought groups into the patio. The guides would explain these were "the Quarters" where slaves lived and worked. Birda would bend over the rail and cry out, "An' dey still does!"

Bob and Jan Carr loved living and raising children on Bourbon Street in the middle of the French Quarter. They all enjoyed and made friends with the characters who lived in and frequented the area. They became the darlings of New Orleans radio and television over many decades and are instantly recognizable to older locals even in 2011. Del and I each have four children, and three of the four live in other parts of the country and one lives here. Same for Bob and Jan, and it is only fitting that I allow the Carr kids to have the last word about their parents who raised them on Bourbon:

[page 368] In addition, our grown children seem to be unanimous in some variation of the following remark: "Mom and Dad, you both love the crazy culture of New Orleans — it's in your blood — you love the French Quarter characters as friends and don't realize that you yourselves have become beloved French Quarter characters as well!"

You can read the Review separate from the Digest at:


ART: Jonathan Livingston Seagull — A Novel by Richard Bach

NOTE: This is a review I found during recent updating of my review webpages. It has not previously been published to the website, so I hereby share it with you, my Good Readers.

First, let me say that I am not a fan of this book. In my pre-teens I read a book by Robert Lawson entitled, The Fabulous Flight, as I recall the title, about a young boy and a seagull that he befriended. He was able to shrink himself at will to a size that allowed him to ride Gus the seagull as one might ride a flying horse. I was entranced by Gus and the boy's adventures. Later Larson went on to write a story about a mouse who befriended Ben Franklin and helped him create his inventions, such as the bifocals. You may remember seeing a cartoon version of that story. But none of Larson's later works enthralled me the way the adventures of Gus and his companion did. I saw myself as the boy riding on Gus's back as we flew over the seacoast and towns.

When I first heard about this book about another seagull, I was excited, until I began to read it and found instead some gull who was interested in flying high and at very high speeds. I didn't like the book and struggled to read it. Even now I can't say if I've read the whole thing or not. I can understand Bach's enthusiasm for the story, since he is a pilot himself. Here's one quote about speed that makes good sense to me:

[page 64] "You will begin to touch heaven, Jonathan, in the moment that you touch perfect speed. And that isn't flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, of flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn't have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there."

How many people do you know who can just "be there"? Peter Sellers made a wonderful movie about just such a human being, who could just be there. The movie was entitled Being There and the story line was about how folks in a hurry, with an axe to grind, were quickly filling in the spaces that Chancy created in their interaction by just being there. We had the sense that Chancy was traveling at the perfect speed.

Being free is just being there. That is the perfect speed.

You can read the Review separate from the Digest at:


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I hear often from my Good Readers that they have bought books after reading my book reviews. Keep reading, folks! As I like to remind you, to obtain more information on what's in these books, buy and read the books — for less information, read the reviews.

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In this section I like to comment on events in the world, in my life, and in my readings which have come up during the month. These are things I might have shared with you in person, if we had had the opportunity to converse during the month. If we did, then you may recognize my words. If I say some things here which upset you, rest assured that you may skip over these for the very reason that I would likely have not brought up the subject to spoil our time together in person.

1. Padre Filius Notices a Sign on an Oyster House this Month:

Padre Filius, the cartoon character created by your intrepid editor and would-be cartoonist, will appear from time to time in this Section of the Digest to share us on some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he observes during his peregrinations.

This month the good Padre ponders a Question on the Acme Oyster House in Mandeville.

2.Comments from Emails:

  • EMAIL from Duck Decoy Collector, Gary Lipham:
I regret to discover that Mr. Hilman Matherne of Luling passed away last evening at his home. I will always miss the grin and twinkle in his eyes when he talked of duck hunting or decoy making while visiting in his home in Luling over the years, and also the never ending hurt in his eyes when he would mention his Wife, Annette and also his son David who predeceased him. Annette painted decoys Hilman carved in the earlier days and son David was a very accomplished carver in his own right. Strangely, I was in my duck room last evening and for some reason felt compelled to pick up, examine, and enjoy 5 of my 250 decoys in my collection . . . Mallards, Teal and Wood Ducks. . . . All five were carved by Hilman. About an hour later Jimmy Rodrigue called me to tell me the news of Hilman's passing. In our discussion he informed me that Hilman had expired about an hour previous to our call. Hilman carved working decoys and made duck calls from the late 30s to early 40s and created some of the finest decorative miniatures in the 70s and 80s. He was best buddies with Adrian "Ski" Roger. I hope you have seen the rare working Wood Duck Drake he made to gun over in the early 70s.
Some woodies had moved into their hunting area and he and his sons quickly made some decoys to make them feel right at home. He was a very special friend and I will truly miss him.

  • EMAILfrom Paul OLeary:
    Dear Bobby: An outstanding issue. I am blown away with its range and depth. thanks so very much.
  • EMAIL from Wes Gralapp on Dad's passing:
    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful man and a Cajun art that is the pride of my hunting artifacts which include guns passed down from generations before me. Now that David and your Dad are together again I know that the floors of heaven are insulated with delicate wood shavings and the sweet essence of your mother's love. We have all been blessed by their love and kinship. I look forward to your many writings which I am sure will enlighten us about the true spirit of family and heritage.
  • EMAIL from Betty in Kentucky:
    Which did I like most about this digest?? The flower pictures, pictures of you and Del, your family and friends, the Anna Lee Elf on the front, the Christmas pictures. . . . just so much, Bobby, how do you do all of this?
  • EMAIL from Luciano Galvani in Verona, Italy:
    Dear Bobby and Del,
    only today I know the sad news, I send you my sincere condolences for the passing of your father. From the heaven where he is now he will better see the great help you are giving to the world with your work.
  • EMAIL from Renee and Burt in Mereaux, Louisiana:
    Dear Bobby,

    Just this morning we heard of your father. For me, it helps to know the true journey we make when we leave this earth plane, however, the pain of the loss is still there.

    You and Del will be in our thoughts and prayers, along with your Dad.

    Take care, my friend. This, too, shall pass.

    With love,
    Renee and Burt

  • EMAIL from Mike Jamison in Metairie, Louisiana:
    Bobby & Del
    Gail told me of the passing of your father. I am so sorry and will keep you guys and him in my prayers.
  • EMAIL from Debbie in Chicago:
    Dear Bobby,
    I would send a card if I had your address. Since I only have this one, I want to send you and your wife, Del, my sincere condolances on the death of your father. Coming so close after the death of your mentor, Doyle, it must truly feel like a passing of the generations.
    Blessings to you and your family,
  • EMAIL from distant cousin Suzanne in Baton Rouge:
    Dear Bobby
    Thank you for letting me know about your Dad. Even in this short time I have known about him, I felt I knew him as family, which he is. He is loved and has left you with many memories. I am so happy I saw him through you. God Bless Him and your family.
  • 3. Barbara Knobloch Gasperetti (1938-2010)

    Barbara Knobloch was a classmate at Hahnville High. She was a couple of years older than I was, but was part of a group of good friends which included my pals Shelby Duhe, Robert Housden, Sidney Montz and her pals Ann Kadak and Kathleen Landeche.

    This photo of Barbara was taken at the Casablanca Restaurant in Metairie on April 14, 2005. A group photo can be found in this Digest. She has remained a good friend over the decades since graduation, most recently becoming a Good Reader of my Digests. She will always be remembered fondly by her friends.

    Go well, dear Barbara, into that silent land, from which your voice will reach not our ears, but our hearts.

    4. Steiner (1997-2011), Our Beloved Schauzer

    From my Journal of Monday Oct 6, 1997:

    Today we drove to pick up Ephraim Zebediah Steiner [EZ Steiner] from Patty Wolf north of Folsom near Loranger. We drove up 55, stopping for lunch at the world's slowest Denny's in Hammond. Patty lives in a trailer at the end of a very long road that runs along the World Wild Life Park. She had two Schnauzers to choose from — we chose the larger, older, and quieter puppy for us.
    Born May 19, 1997, Steiner lived almost 14 years, dying January 21, 2011. He was for all but the last year of his life, our constant companion and security system. When the mailman came to deliver the mail, Steiner would greet him vociferously with his barks, and the regular mailmen loved him as much as we did, inquiring about him if he didn't show up at the gate for a day or so. When we moved to a home without fences, Steiner moved to Kountze, Texas to live with our son, Jim Hatchett, and his family, who graciously accepted him and loved him. Steiner had two females Schnauzers for his companions and must have thought he had gone to Doggy Heaven. Now he has. Most miniature Schnauzers do not survive more than 12 years, but Steiner beat the odds and brought joy to another family for his final year. I have selected the best among many great photos of him over the years. He will live in our memory.

    4. I Remember My Father

    Buster was my dad. He asked me a few years ago about my occupation, "Is writing difficult?"

    I thought for a moment before I answered. "No, Dad," I said, "writing is easy — having something to say is difficult."

    Having something to say today has not been a difficult thing — because there are so many things that can be said about my dad, Hilman Joseph Matherne.

    Buster, they called him soon after he was born and christened "Hilman Joseph". In the early 20th Century, it was a common practice to say about a robust young boy, "Isn't he a buster?" Apparently with Dad, the name stuck. He was always robust well up into his 70s when he began to slow. Mom's death slowed him down, but it was the loss of his beloved son, David, that really slowed him down. He had a minor stroke shortly after the sad prognosis of David's illness was received. Dad couldn't stand to hear that he was soon going to lose David, and for a few days he literally could not stand. He never fully recovered from that loss.

    Buster was competent at all that he tried & he tried a lot of things — here a few of things I remember that he tried. Others here, friends and family will likely know of and remember things that I don't, but this is my list.

    He wove crabnets, castnets, and even did a 16' trawl once using a handmade shuttle and a ball of twine. We would sit with him listening over the radio to boxing matches on the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports Friday Night Fights as his shuttle went in, out, and around the growing net. He taught us to do two or more things at the same time like he did. When he needed lead weights for his castnets and trawl, he didn't buy them, but designed a die and poured molten lead into the holes to create the lead weights. When he needed a knife, he made one out of an old file. When he needed an outdoor burner for boiling seafood, he made one out of an old barrel which he had galvanized and outfitted it with a old burner from a gas stove. When he needed to lock nuts on the end of a bolt, he pounded the extended bolt flat over the nut with a ballpeen hammer. When he needed a trailer, he found a rear axle of an automobile and built a bed over it. When he needed something rust-proofed, he took it to a company to have it galvanized (covered with a thick coat of zinc).

    He cut our hair — four boys meant a lot of haircuts — even when haircuts were well under a dollar (his take home pay was about $67/week). He would set a board across the handles of the high chair we were otherwise too big to sit in, tie a sheet around our neck, and cut our hair with his electric clippers and scissors just as his dad did for living for 60 years. His dad, Grandpa Matherne, told me one day after he retired, "Bob, sixty years is a long time to walk around in circles." I'm proud to own one of his barber chairs and some of hair-cutting tools.

    If there was a way to do something at less cost by doing it yourself instead of buying it or hiring someone to do it, Dad did it himself.

    He hired someone to build our first house in Westwego, but he must have watched and learned because he build two additions to that house before we moved. And by the time it came for him to build our next house in Mimosa Park, he built it himself — while working full-time. When he wanted to have tiles on the wall of our kitchen in Westwego, he bought some wallboard marked in squares, painted it white, and then inked in the seams to mark off the tiles. For the Mimosa house, he couldn't afford ceramic tiles, so he bought plastic tiles and glued them on himself. When we needed a large window fan in the pre-air conditioning days in Westwego, he found a used 1/4 horsepower motor and built the fan himself.

    He wanted a pirogue to go duck hunting in, so he built one himself. He wanted a 14' motor boat to go fishing in so he built one himself. These were not made from kits — he bought plywood, wood strips, screws, and mixed his own casein glue. He laid out the plans, cut the wood, screwed everything into place, and varnished the result. The water craft worked and did not leak.

    He wanted a trailer to haul things around in, so he bought an old automobile axle and built a trailer himself.

    We boys wanted to buy a kite and he showed us how to build one using materials around the house: No. 50 cotton thread, tissue paper, and rags. The sticks we got by shaving a strip off of leftover weather boards and the glue to hold the paper on we made out of flour and water. I can't say for sure he taught me to make a kite, but I made the kite the way he would have. I learned "don't throw away old weather boards — they make great kites". Don't throw away anything — it will be raw material for some future project and save you a trip to buy it from someone.

    If he went deer hunting, his group always came to our house to butcher the deer and he showed them how. His first job was with Autin Packing Co in Houma and butchering was something he knew a lot about. If he came upon a large snapping turtle, he brought it home and butchered. I recall many times when he held up a large snapper to show us. It had jammed its jaws on a large stick and didn't let go until he butchered it. He helped butcher hogs on Grandpa Babin's farm and helped them make sausages and hog's head cheese. On Wednesdays night if he was not working shift work, he'd help Uncle Richard LeBlanc make sausage at his store — which meant we always ate homemade sausage that other people called store-bought sausage.

    He could cook all kinds of meat and fish. I remembered him cooking a young pig on an open fire in our yard in Mimosa Park in the 1950s. Back then such cochon-du-lait feasts were unknown except to those families lucky enough to have a dad who knew how to do it. When there were no hogs to butcher at his father-in-laws, he made hogshead cheese every winter from Boston Butt and Pig's Feet he bought at a local Supermarket.

    Needless to say, the store bought variety lacked any appeal to us after tasting Dad's version. He cooked a redfish courtboullion which was delicious. If he wanted a sauce piquante, he simply marinated the wild game of squirrel, duck, alligator, venison, or whatever came available from hunting or a local hunter and used the meat instead of the fish and voila! a sauce piquante. He always cooked on the stove in the garage to keep the house cool during the Air Conditioning months of summer. As Mom grew older, Dad took over most of the cooking.

    Once he brought home some freshly distilled alcohol, charred some wood shavings, and placed it in our attic to age into whiskey. Another time he brought home a curious press which I soon discovered was to squeeze tomatoes and make ketchup. When our shoes needed new soles, he'd pull out his shoemaker's stand, put our shoe into the holder, and with nails in his lips at the ready, he'd tap the new sole onto our shoes.

    He loved sports and bought us boxing gloves, basketballs, and baseball equipment. He coached 11-and-under Little League clubs when Paul and I were that age and taught us how to play baseball as our manager. He played baseball (or softball) on a team called the Lazy Nines and I enjoyed going out to the baseball stadiums in Westwego, Metairie, Kenner, Gretna, Waggaman, and other places to watch his team play. I never knew if they won anything, but they always had a great time playing. They must have gotten sore at times, but the only linament I ever saw them apply to themselves came in a beer bottle.

    We never bought crawfish at a store when we lived in Westwego — we ate crawfish when we caught them ourselves. Once after a heavy rainstorm he gathered up some of his old work gloves and took a couple of us boys with him and we picked a huge tub of crawfish off the edge of a highway where the crawfish were walking to escape from the high water. He showed me a crawfish mother which was carrying a teeming load of tiny baby crawfish in her curved together tail as she walked backwards.

    We never bought shrimp at a store either — we would have large shrimp boils whenever Dad came back from trawling with a large load of them. The other way we got shrimp was when he cast his castnet from the seawall along Lake Pontchartrain for them. We would drive up West End Blvd after dark and he'd stop to buy a bucket of clams for maybe 50 cents. He gave us a ball peen hammer and said, "Smash the clams." And so we did.

    It seemed strange to me later to find that people actually ate those things that for us were only good for smashing and using simply as food to attract shrimp. If you ever wondered why New Orlean natives rarely eat clams, that's why. When Buster noticed others throwing their nets off a ramp that went out over the water, he build himself such a ramp. We always had a working Coleman Lamp because he used it for attracting the shrimp and illuminating his casting spot.

    Oysters he usually bought direct from the dock, in Empire or Buras, and I recall him opening them for me and decanting the succulent oyster from its pearly bed directly into my mouth when I was literally knee-high. Oysters remained a great delicacy for him, especially during the last decade of his life, as he insisted on oysters on the halfshell whenever we took him out to eat.

    When he was laid off at Publicker Alcohol Co. at Nine Mile Point, he drove down to Buras to work as a carpenter. I remember those times because of the wonderful Louisiana Navel Oranges he would bring home to us each weekend when he came home.

    He loved the popular music of the 1940s and would buy 78 rpm records of Peggy Lee who was just beginning her career. I remember her singing, "Ain't You Ever Coming Back?" and other early ditties I have never heard since. Margaret Whiting singing, "There's a Tree in the Meadow", I heard many times.

    He loved to go duck hunting and practiced hours and hours on his duck call to get the Long Distance call, the Short Distance call, the Feeding call down perfect. He didn't buy a duck call, he bought some reeds and made his own duck calls by hand. He entered duck calling contests and won several contests he was in. He even had a man bring his phonograph recording equipment over and made records as he and his friends blew their duck calls in our back porch in Westwego. And decoys, he didn't buy — either they were too flimsy or cost too much. Instead he cut down cypress and tupelo gum trees from the swamp and designed, carved, and painted his own working decoys.

    He taught us how to catch crabs on a string with a chicken neck using a net. Or how to pull in a crab net without losing the crabs. Or how to filet fish so that no bones are left in the filets. Or how to boil crabs on an open fire in a huge black pot. Or how to batter and fry fish. How to gig frogs and clean them and fry them for breakfast. How to shoot squirrel and rabbit and make a sauce piquante with them. How to de-feather and clean poul-dous, French ducks, doves and whatever kind of fowl he killed. How to raise chickens and ducks from eggs and then kill and clean them. How to pick cooking pears and slice them and make pear preserves. Same for making fig preserves.

    Canning green beans, field peas, and basically any kind of produce that he got hold of free for the picking or cheap in quantity — if it was edible we shelled, snapped, peeled, prepared, cooked, canned it in jars or ate it directly. He would always buy oysters by the sack and from the time I was two, I was eating oysters from the half shell — not just from any half shell but from one being held by my Dad's loving hand. Oysters never tasted sweeter to me than the ones he opened and handed to me.

    When we needed a septic system, he dug a square hole in the ground, got some oysters shells for free (or saved the shells from the ones he had earlier opened to eat) and made us a cesspool with them.

    He loved to drink beer and fish and it seemed that those two activities were designed for each other. I recall going out with Buster and his brother Purpy out of Madison Canal one morning. They were all prepared for fishing with an ice chest full of a 24-pack case of Schlitz beer. We came back in the middle of the morning about 9 because we had run out of an essential: beer. I was too young to drink beer, about 12 as I recall, so Buster had Purpy had each consumed 12 beers and needed more to finish our fishing trip.

    When we moved to the rural area of St. Charles Parish in Mimosa Park, he bought five lots, three across the front for our house and two across the back which became for almost twenty years, our touch football field. We eventually planted a couple of stick size trees to mark the boundary of the lot and the football field. The back half of the third lot became Buster's vegetable garden which he enclosed in a chain link fence to keep out the newly invading armadillos, those refugees from across the Sabine River. He grew enough tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, snap beans, potatoes, okra, corn, and green onions, among other things to stock the larder of his six offspring and we all took advantage of that largess. His vegetables always tasted better than any we could buy in the store. Whenever we went there we had to take a trip out to look at what was growing in the garden and pick some to take home. He kept the garden going well into his 80's inspite of Momma's pleas for him to stop working in the heat of the Sun. Must not have hurt him a bit as he outlived her by a dozen years or so.

    He and David got to carving duck decoys after Dave came back from the Army, some of them decorative decoys with feathers added by a wood burning tool — very life-like. Dad even carved the feet from a sheet of lead for a standing wood duck he did. When his brother Purpy showed him how to go about making a boat out of matchsticks, Dad had to try it. One day after work at the nuclear plant, I drove into the driveway and saw him sitting a table in the garage doing something with his hands. When I got close I noticed he was burning boxes of wooden matches at a time to create the burnt matchsticks for a trawler he was building. He built at least two of them before he went onto other things. He carved about 100 or so 3" long wooden ducks, complete with the wood burnt feathers and fully painted. He'd carve them and Mom would paint them. When Annette finally got tired of painting the decoys, Buster tried it and did a few and decided he wasn't as good as she was at the painting thing and retired his carving and wood burning tools.

    The biggest long-term project that Mom and Dad worked on, outside of us kids, was their quilts. Once I brought them a quilt cover hand stitched from 2" squares of material by the deceased father of my of one of my friends. I asked if they would quote a price for doing the quilt from the cover and they named a price and began working on it. It came out great and after that experience, Mom and Dad began sewing 2" pieces by hand and making quilts from them. This is rather delicate work and the two of them were soon turning out hand-made quilts almost every other month, many of them without a single machine stitch in them.

    I was thinking specifically of Dad when I wrote this poem:

                When Cajun Hands are Gone

    Spiritual Light —
          the Hands of Beings
          shaping, knitting the raw material
          of our Eyes to catch the Light
    And what Light they catch —

    Allows us to ken the Shape
          of the Material World
          when Spiritual Hands are Gone.

    Tupelo Gum — hewn from the waterline of the Swamp,
          Cubed, sculpted, whittled and carved by Cajun Hands
    Featherings wood burnt, irridiscent colors layered
          one on another in Wood Ducken Glory
    And what Light they catch —

    Allows us to ken the Shape
          of the Wood Ducken world

    When Cajun Hands are gone.

    I have seen Cajun Hands shape: houses, toy airplanes, preserves of figs, pears, green beans, and pickles, pirogues, speed boats, decoys, pine needle baskets, knitted sweaters, shirts and shorts of flower sacks, crocheted doilies, handcrafted quilts, and handcrafted children. I am a product of my father's Cajun hands — a proud product — even when those Cajun Hands have gone.

    When Cajun Hands have gone,
    The Spirit will live on. . .

    This closing thought was inspired by the Dan Fogelberg song, "The Leader of the Band":

    Dad could make cabinets, "he tried to be a soldier once" (enlisting in the National Guard at age 17 by lying about his age), "his gentle way of sculpting souls took me years to understand", and I suffered to watch "his eyes growing old" in the final decade of his life. His entire life was a dance he did with the materials and people he found around him, whether it was building, crafting, hunting, fishing, or raising us children. We came eventually to hear the music he danced to and will join in that dance with him for the rest of our lives. We thank you, Dad, both for "the kindnesses" you showed us and for "the times when you got tough". We "thank you for the freedom when it came our time to go". "Your blood runs through our instruments" and we have become a "living legacy" to you "the leader of the band".


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