VOLUME 2, ISSUE 2
LENA RANDAZZO TORRES 70+ YEARS OF PUBLIC SERVICE
THE SPIRIT OF TRAVEL Thank you to all of the hospitality workers and the people of Saint Bernard for making our community a place for all to enjoy. The coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency is having an unprecedented impact on the travel industry and the entire economy. Now more than ever, the travel and tourism community must come together, support each other and remind our country that even through the most difficult times the Spirit of Travel cannot be broken. SAINT BERNARD PARISH Only 5 miles from the Historic French Quarter For more information on events, attractions, and lodging visit www.visitstbernard.com or call (504) 278.4242
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What's Inside Legendary Lives
GATHERING AT THE RIVER: MARIE & CLAY HOSPITALITY P. 44 P. 26 ST. JOSEPH ALTARS
P. 8 PUBLISHER'S PEN: BEHIND THE SCENES P. 10 STATE CLIMATOLOGIST: GET READY P. 12 KATRINA REFLECTIONS BY SAMANTHA P. 14 SALUTING FIREFIGHTERS & CHIEF STONE P. 18 PANDEMIC PRACTICES: DR. DUCROS' LEGACY
P. 31 TORRES' LIFELONG LEGACY P. 36 UNCLE TOMMY'S SECRETS â€” ROCKY & CARLO'S
P. 51 "FIRST" LADY RETIRES P. 53 "DONUT KING" AARON BARKER P. 54 KIWANIS LASTING GIFTS P. 58 CHS 2020 GRADUATION
P. 40 HALL OF FAMER: GUY MONTANA
P. 23 SICILIAN ROOTS: GALLO'S TRADITION
P. 41 MUSIC ICONS: PEREZ & NUNEZ MAGAZINE
P. 42 FACES OF THE PARISH P. 50 GROWING TOMATOES
P. 22 TOUR 'DA PARISH
Photo by Corinne Barreca
VOLUME 2, ISSUE 2
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Publishe r and Editor-in-Chief
Charles D. Jackson, President JPR (Jackson Public Relations) Enterprises, LLC Oﬃ ce - Chalmette, LA Mail - P.O. Box 57801, New Orleans, LA 70157 Email: email@example.com Website: stbernardmagazine.com
(504) 609-7509 Assistant Editor Michelle A. Nicholson
Contributing Writers Clay Cosse Cisco Gonzales, Jr. Laura Guccione Barry Heim William (Bill) Hyland Charles D. Jackson Tammy Mercure Barry Lemoine Courtney Mpagi Samantha Perez Sidney D. Torres III
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Herbie Fisher Keith Hogan Sharon Hueschen Brionna Palmer
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Contact Us Email comments and suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 504-609-7509 © 2020 JPR Enterprises, LLC, New Orleans, LA. All rights reserved. Printed in the USA. The information contained in St. Bernard Magazine is intended for educational purposes only. JPR Enterprises, LLC, publisher of St. Bernard Magazine, does not endorse or promote any of the products or services described in the pages of St. Bernard Magazine, and the publisher does not verify the accuracy of any claims made in advertisements contained.
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BEHIND THE SCENES The magazine highlights the rich history, people, progress, traditions, culture, resilience, diversity, civic small businesses, schools, organizers, and the extraordinarily welcoming community atmosphere of St. Bernard Parish. This mixture makes ‘Da Parish, “The Most Unique County in the Country.”
(Three weeks before the magazine’s spring Home/Garden issue was scheduled for press, Covid-19 forced a shutdown.We decided to wait until restrictions were lifted to publish. In this edition, we merge our spring and summer issues. Our fall/winter issues also will be combined and published in November.)
e're proud St. Bernard natives, and residents play integral roles in publishing the magazine. Nobody knows ‘Da Parish better than those born, living, or working here. On that note, we welcome our new assistant editor, Michelle A. Nicholson, an Andrew Jackson High School grad, formerly an instructor of English for Chalmette High and UNO and writer/editor/copy editor for Where Y’at Magazine. Michelle joins a talented team of experienced writers (longtime educator/neighborhood leader/ freelancer Barry Lemoine, distinguished Parish historian/author/docent William (Bill) Hyland, Nunez College foundational writing professor Courtney Mpagi, and educator/counselor Cisco Gonzales, Jr.), designers (Brionna Palmer of Sign Express Outlet; Sharon Hueschen, formerly of The St. Bernard Post; and Herbie Fisher of Southern Silk Screening), and photographers (award-winning artist Corinne Barreca, teacher/freelancer Angela Bernard, community/chamber activist Troy Barrios, and freelancer Tammy Mercure). In this issue, two St. Bernard-born experts write guest columns: Southeastern Louisiana University History Professor/Los Isleños author Samantha Perez on Katrina’s 15th anniversary, and LSU Geography & Anthropology Professor/Louisiana State Climatologist Barry Keim on the 2020 hurricane season. For readers to get to know these talented folks, we begin this periodic profile, “Staff Snapshot.” Photographer Corinne Barreca is first to share her story.
STAFF SNAPSHOT SEEING THE WORLD THROUGH A CAMERA “It is now, in my 50s, that I have the opportunity to fully enjoy my habit and hobby of photography. Traditional. New Orleans. I’ve been inspired by life around me, intrigued by hidden gems, possessed by what my mind’s eye sees, and like to put a “twist” on my images. As an Army brat, I have moved quite a bit and lived in several countries. Finally, at 16, landed in St. Bernard, where I completed high school and college. I needed to spread my wings and decided on California, where I spent about 30 years. Back down south five years ago, to catch up on missed family, and settled back in 'Da Parish... so here I am. The World has changed around me, but my affinity for taking pictures and seeing life through a lens is my LOVE.”
- Corinne Barreca (Want to join our team? Got comments or ideas? Call 504- 609-7509 or email email@example.com )
THANK YOU, ST. BERNARD!
As we rolled into the year 2020, a number associated with perfect vision, the world has suddenly gone wild and turned upside down. This is what we’ve seen thus far in 2020:
• • • • • •
The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic 22 COVID-19 related deaths in St. Bernard The ensuing stock market and oil market demise The worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression The George Floyd atrocity Tropical depression Cristobal caused havoc
Even as our world as we know it seems to be a thing of the past, I know that history tells us that many horrific things will happen, and thankfully, the sun does rise again each and every morning and our Faith in God and life will persevere. It is with ALL these things going on that I would like to take the opportunity to THANK the citizens of this great Parish; St. Bernard Parish Sheriff ’s Office, St. Bernard Parish firefighters, EMT’s, health care workers, our business community and St. Bernard Parish Government employees. Thank you for maintaining your sanity, thank you for understanding and being diligent. Thank you for maintaining social distancing and practicing common sense throughout this ordeal. And especially thank you for lovingly calling St. Bernard Parish your home. I am sure that I can speak for everyone when I say the loss of 22 of our residents due to COVID-19 has left us heartbroken. As a community, we may not know what our next obstacle may be but here is what I do know. I know, WE as a Parish, the people of St. Bernard will stand together, look any crisis in the eye and WE will flourish and carry on. This is what we do in St. Bernard!
Parish President Guy McInnis
Storm Readiness Barry Keim
Rethink Plans in Face of Busy Season, Covid-19
OAA has spoken! The 2020 hurricane season in the North Atlantic Basin is expected to be busier than normal. Guest Columnist Experts are forecasting between 13-19 Barry David named storms, with 6-10 being hurricanes. Keim, a native of Of these hurricanes, three to six will likely Chalmette, is the become major hurricanes. An average season State of Louisiana has 12 named storms, with six of those being Climatologist and a professor in hurricanes, and of those, three are major the Department hurricanes. So even on the low end of the of Geography forecasted number of storms for 2020, we’re & Anthropology near average. Graphic: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at Louisiana This forecast is based on warmer than normal State University. storms, but the vast majority remained over the sea surface temperatures in the tropical North He is known Atlantic Ocean and did not effect land. We certainly Atlantic, the breeding grounds for hurricanes. There for researching can’t bank on that happening again. is also a lack of an El Niño and potential for a weak La extreme weather, Last season’s noteworthy storms were Hurricane such as hurricanes Niña, which will likely deliver favorable upper air winds Barry, making landfall in Louisiana; Hurricane Dorian, and heavy rainfall. or lack of wind shear. Furthermore, weak trade winds sweeping up the East Coast; and Tropical Storm are expected, which will only perpetuate the warm sea Imdelda, producing over 44 inches of rainfall over surface temperatures. southeastern Texas. PoydrasHardware_qtrpg.pdf 1 6/9/20 1:05 PM The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season had 18 named For us in Louisiana, Barry was interesting, in that the National Hurricane Center did a phenomenal job predicting the storm when it was barely a low pressure blip sitting over eastern Tennessee. This blip then ventured south into the Gulf and spun up into a hurricane. I don’t ever recall such a forecast being made and see it as a breakthrough in forecasting. However, there were forecasts for heavy rains of biblical proportions that were supposed to flood Louisiana that never manifested. Barry never came together as dynamically as anticipated. This hurricane season, we face a double wammy with a potentially hyperactive season in the midst of a viral Covid-19 pandemic, and with social distancing being paramount. As these two intersect, we need to rethink some of our strategies. For starters, to social distance, you want no part of shelters of last resort and then being transported like cattle to another location. This makes evacuation all the more important. HEED THE WARNINGS! GET OUT! As part of your hurricane kit for home, you obviously need to include all the basics such as water, canned goods, batteries, flashlights, and a radio. In the case of the coronavirus, you might also want to add some extra hand sanitizer, basic cleaning products, and masks, just in case….and I’m not talking about Mardi Gras masks!
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Katrina Publisher' Reflections s Pen
Guest Columnist Samantha Perez is an assistant professor of history at Southeastern Louisiana University and the author of The Isleños of Louisiana: On the Water's Edge. She earned her Ph.D. from Tulane in 2017 and was awarded Southeastern’s Endowed Professorship in 2019. Perez is a proud lifelong resident of St. Bernard Parish.
” e c n e i l i s “Re
t. Bernard has always been a community that shares. We share in each other’s happiness at our weddings and baptisms and in grief at our funerals. We share good food and good gossip, festivals, our neutral grounds, and lately, in 2020, we even share germs. As we approach another August 29, we also remember the collective trauma and loss our community shared 15 years ago when Hurricane Katrina flooded our parish. Fifteen years ago seems like another world. It is a memory we still use in 2020 as a guidepost that means nothing outside of the community that shared Katrina. Next to Schwegmann’s. Past the down-the-road K-Mart. By St. Robert’s. Landmarks that are and aren’t there. It’s a past we know exists but has faded, like the National Guard “X” that’s been scrubbed down on the bricks — still there, if you know to look for it. Our St. Bernard today looks different than the one we all remember. In rebuilding and recovery, we’ve created something new. We have new neighbors and traditions. There’s excitement when a building springs up in a lot that’s been vacant for over a decade. Maybe we’re a little more willing to try new things. Our community has always been defined by its resilience. When the first Isleño immigrants from the Canary Islands arrived in San Bernardo in the late 1770s, they encountered floods and disease that almost destroyed the early settlement. Costly hurricanes devasted crops and homes in 1779 and 1780, and after the Great Barbados hurricane of 1831, one newspaper commented that St. Bernard “had no other prospect…but that of being reduced…to poverty and ruin.” In the nearly 250 years of our parish’s history, we
St. Bernard Triumphs Through Storms of Life
“Our community isn't just defined by our loss; it's also defined by the bonds we build as we weather storms together.” - Samantha Perez, with husband Joshua Robin and daughter Catherine
have lived through wars, recessions, oil spills, and storms. We overcome, and despite all the struggle, there is something special in St. Bernard that draws us back to stay, fight back, and rebuild. As we approach this 15th year anniversary, I think about the hardships facing our community now, the next challenges we must overcome. Just recently, our 2020 high school seniors suffered
the cancellation of their traditional graduation in the COVID-19 pandemic. I was a high school senior when Katrina hit, and our Class of 2006 experienced the same disruption of normalcy and became adults during a crisis that brought us together. Shared experiences create community. As we’ve all learned since 2005, that’s the blessed consequence of our loss — that we are not alone.
Count Your Blessings When my family was evacuating for Katrina, my grandmother — paralyzed from a stroke in 2003 — reminded my dad, “Count your blessings.” Hard to do when you are ripping muddy carpet from the floors and mourning the futures you felt you had been promised. But distance yields perspective. Katrina set events into motion that brought me and the man I’d marry, a Meraux native, to Southeastern Louisiana University when both of us had originally planned to attend other colleges. The loss of the environment I loved taught me the value of preserving our history and inspired
me to pursue my career as a history professor. Our paths led us back to our community. For all the scars we carry from 2005, there have been hints of providence in our recovery. As we look ahead to the next 15 years and the rest that follow, there will be other crises: hurricane seasons that threaten to destroy us, the long war to sustain our wetlands, economic struggle, and pandemics. The challenges ahead may sometimes seem just as insurmountable as Hurricane Katrina did in 2005. But our community isn’t just defined by our loss — it’s also defined by the bonds we build as we weather storms together, the comfort that we are not alone, and the triumph of our recovery.
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SALUTING FIREFIGHTERS: Fire Chief Stone Marks 41 Years
e’s the first firefighter in the history of St. Bernard Parish’s Fire Department to rise through the ranks to become chief. Marking 30 years at the helm, Chief Thomas Stone has served a total of 41 years in the department, starting as an apprentice firefighter in 1978. His career is the one of the longest of a paid fire chief in Louisiana.
• • •
Some Notable Features of Fire Chief Stone’s Tenure:
he St. Bernard Parish Fire Department operates out of nine locations and employs 114 firefighters. In the 15 years since Hurricane Katrina, St. Bernard Parish has built eight new fire stations. In October 2018, the department signed a five-year contract to provide Fire Protection at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans East.
Instructor Insurance Rating
Improvements • •
Introduced Quint (Ladder/ Pumper) Apparatus and Rescue Squads. Increased training for first-year firefighters – 14 weeks at LSU and received certifications for Marine and Industrial Fire Fighting as well as Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives certifications. Enhanced department’s response time and safety when dealing with emergencies through the Opticom Traffic Intersection Priority Control System. Employed state-of-the-art Personal Protective Equipment and SelfContained Breathing Apparatus. Earned Class 2 Parish-wide
Bronze Trainer Awards – FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness 2009/2010 St. Bernard Parish Man of the Year – St. Bernard Parish BPW 2009 Louisiana Fire Department of the Year – Louisiana State Fire Marshal 2013 Leadership Award, Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Association 2014 Excellence in Government LifeTime Achievement Award – Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR) New Orleans.
Served as Incident Commander/ Unified Commander for 50 industrial incidents in the past 30 years. Deployed six times with the New Orleans Fire Department Incident Management Team, Louisiana USAR Incident Support Team, 2011 Tuscaloosa Tornado, 2017 Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, 2018 Hurricanes Florence and Michael, and 2019 Hurricane Dorian. Earned 18 national certifications, including Fire Officer III, Fire Instructor II, Fire Investigator, and Incident Command.
Honors • • • •
1987, 1988 and 1990 Fireman of the Year – VFW Post 7194 1993 Louisiana Fire Chief of the Year – Louisiana State Firemen’s Convention 1996 Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Association Leadership Award 2008 Silver Trainer and 2011
For 31 years, Chief Stone has been teaching at the internationally known Delgado Community College Fire and Industrial Training Center. He has instructed firefighters from all over the world in Marine and Industrial firefighting. He has taught Incident Command and WMD classes for the University of New Orleans and the New Orleans UASI Region. For 20 years, he has been an instructor for Exxon/Mobil at its annual corporate fire school, four years for PBF Entergy’s corporate school, and two years for Valero Corporate fire school—all at Texas A&M. Because of his involvement, St. Bernard Parish firefighters are allowed to attend these classes free of charge.
Memorable Fires Doused Tenneco Gasoline Tank, Mobil Hydrocracker Unit, Peppo Oil Works, Arabi Ice House, MV Brightfield, Family Dollar/Red White and Blue Shopping Center, St. Marks School, A-1 Appliance/Goodwill Shopping Center, Train-Tank Truck Collision, 40 Apartments in Village Square (PostKatrina), and the LeBeau Plantation.
15TH ANNIVERSARY OF KATRINA
Throughout the parish, about 150 people were sighted on rooftops in areas under 8–10 feet or more of water.
Rescue and Ruins St. Bernard Parish Fire Department responds after ﬂoodwaters from August 29, 2005 storm damaged or destroyed nearly every building. St. Bernard was the only parish in the state almost completely submerged, earning the distinction, “The only county in U.S. history 100 percent uninhabitable due to a natural disaster.”
We’re ready to provide the care you need. During these challenging times, we know your healthcare needs do not stop. Neither do we. With new safety and screening measures in place, rest assured that Ochsner is here to continue caring for you and your family.
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We are regularly cleaning our locations and equipment to ensure your safety. In addition, we have hand sanitation stations available throughout our locations to keep your hands clean.
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For more information about your appointment or the measures we are taking to keep you safe, visit ochsner.org/safe or call us at 504-493-2200.
HEALTHCARE PIONEER: Fighting Pandemics, Promoting Prevention
uring the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, St. Bernard Parish residents were given the same advice as today: stay home, cover faces in public, and practice proper hygiene. Those were the orders of Dr. Louis Alfred Ducros, the parish coroner whose Parish Historian/Site Manager, multi-tiered legacy includes Los Isleños Museum Complex, introducing preventive St. Bernard Parish Government healthcare measures. Those who heeded his advice lived to tell the awful stories of what happened. The “Spanish Flu” claimed more than 1,500 lives in the parish, particularly in eastern fishing villages and Delacroix, where Dr. Ducros spent days and nights tending to the sick and dying. Joseph “Chelito” Campo and Rosa Ducros Tennant both remembered Dr. Ducros advising residents not to leave their homes and, upon emerging outdoors, to wear handkerchiefs or bandanas soaked in whiskey over their nostrils and mouths.
By Bill Hyland
New marker at St. Bernard Catholic Cemetery identifying unmarked mass burial grave of victims of 1918 Pandemic.
When Dr. Ducros began his medical practice around 1900, the community was totally unaccustomed to a scientific approach to His love of medicine, Tennant said. For example, a deep gash “his” people, wound was treated by digging fervent desire muck out of the bayou or to serve and educate, yard and packing the open love of the natural wound. Spider webs were environment, and used as band aids. Families love of our cultural with seriously ill members, diversity constitute his suffering from diseases such legacy to St. Bernard as tuberculosis, slept in the Parish. same beds and ate out of unclean dishes. After the pandemic, Dr. Ducros intensified public education efforts, vigorously promoting preventative homehealth practices. During the 1920s and 1930s, he and his second wife, Annie Katherine Dittmar, traveled throughout the parish, conducting classes on personal hygiene and healthcare. He introduced using bleach as a disinfectant and insisted on residents taking vaccinations. Anytime day or night, he could be summoned to the bedside of a suffering patient in Delacroix, St. Bernard Village, Goodwill, Sebastopol, Verrettville, Walkers Lane,
LOUIS ALFRED DUCROS, M.D. Life Tidbits
St. Bernard Coroner for 43 Years Born on April 14, 1869, at family’s plantation in eastern St. Bernard Parish, Louis Alfred Ducros was a true son of Louisiana, wed to the natural environment and all the people shaped by it. Father, Raoul Victor Ducros, was a sugar planter, a descendant of Louisiana’s colonial elite, and a prominent political leader in St. Bernard for decades. Mother, Rosa Blanche Nuñez, a descendant of colonists from the Canary Islands, who settled St. Bernard Parish. Dr. Ducros remained proudly aware of these legacies throughout his life.
Ducros Historical Museum and Research Library
or Fazendeville. When a bout of illness was beyond his capacity to treat in a patient’s home, he ordered, “Shoot to Charity Hospital! Now!” To further preserve and promote public health, Dr. Ducros championed freshwater diversion from the river to Bayou Terre-aux-Boeufs, using a small siphon at Poydras and constructing bridges over the bayou to promote flow. The Bayou Terre-aux-Boeufs Drainage District emerged from that effort. Not only was he an outstanding healthcare provider, but an exemplary historian. Dr. Ducros was “a repository of the history St. Bernard,” according to William F. Roy, founder of The St. Bernard Voice. “He was always an entertaining conversationalist, especially when in a reminiscent mood. He remembered early settlers of the parish, their business, and their passing.” Louisiana historians and journalists, including Lyle Saxon, Harnett Kane, Hermann Deutsch, and Robert Tallant, interviewed Dr. Ducros in his St. Bernard Village home, which today serves as the Louis Alfred Ducros, M.D. Historical Museum and Research Library, part of the Los Isleños Museum Complex. His health declined in the late 1930s, compelling him to forsake his medical practice. He died Nov. 30, 1945, at age 76 and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, New Orleans. Appointed coroner in 1902 and re-elected consecutively, he was the longest-serving public official in Louisiana at the time of his death.
Learned fishing, hunting, and riding horses from Richard, a freedman who worked for Ducros family while enslaved and afterward. Determined to study medicine after his eldest sister, Maria Antonia, died of yellow fever in summer of 1883. Graduated from the University of Louisiana’s Medical School (now Tulane University Medical School) in 1896. Studied under Dr. Stanford E. Chaille, longtime dean, renown as the “Father of Public Health” in the United States. Developed a lifelong friendship with Dr. Rudolph Matas, professor of surgery who introduced the cure for aneurysm and is internationally known as the “Father of Vascular Surgery.” Lost no patients when the last yellow fever epidemic struck in 1905. Provided monetary assistance to locals desiring to attend college and trade schools. — BILL HYLAND
A New Doctor in Shoemaker’s House Dr. Jim Shoemaker and Dr. Lesichia Jarrell proudly welcome Dr. Tamara Finch to their office as a newly licensed chiropractic physician. Dr. Finch, a native of Lafayette, La., earned her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2015. Professional studies were concluded at Parker University in Dallas, where she became a Doctor of Chiropractic as well as a Master of Science in Neuroscience. Dr. Finch has extensive training in the field of human neuroscience and is especially interested and trained in the diagnosis and treatment of spinal injuries, headaches, whiplash, post-concussion syndromes and other neurological disorders and conditions. She is excited to join a thriving healthcare team of dedicated chiropractors, medical physician associates, massage therapists and therapy assistants.
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COMMUNITY OUR MISSION Valero collaborates with non-profit partners across the United States to foster improved quality of life and create measurable impact where unmet needs exist in communities.
OUR PRIORITIES Education We believe that education creates a necessary foundation for all children to thrive and for adults to lead productive lives. Investment in education is also the key to ending the cycle of poverty and dependency for future generations. Basic Needs and Social Services We believe in providing for basic needs such as food, shelter and safety for the working poor, elderly and those struck by unexpected life circumstances or natural disasters. Health Care We seek opportunities to support the development of strategic community health resources, facilities and services that will serve the current and long term needs of all.
OUR EMPLOYEES Our employees raise millions of dollars and volunteer thousands of hours every year to worthy projects in their communities. It is a commitment that has been part of our culture since the beginning.
Tree Tunnel on St. Bernard Highway at Docville Farm is described as “one of the most beautiful scenes in the state.” More than 100 live oaks line LA-46 Highway. Dr. Meraux had father of Lena Randazzo Torres plant trees nearly a century ago (p. 33).
One of the most photographed plantation homes in the area is Kenilworth. Its construction was completed in 1818. The house is held together by mortising and wooden pegs. ~ Katie Tommaseo, Director, St. Bernard Parish Government Oﬃce of Tourism & Film
SEE HISTORY FIRST-HAND!
t. Bernard Parish is home to five sites on the National Register of Historic Places. Three are located on scenic Bayou Road: Dr. Louis A. Ducros House (Los Isleños Museum & Cultural Complex), Kenilworth Plantation House, and Sebastopol Plantation House (both private residences). The Ducros House (p. 18) is open to the public. The other two sites are Chalmette Battlefield (open to public), on St. Bernard Highway near Old Arabi, and Magnolia Mound, a prehistoric settlement in the swamps of Bayou La Loutre (no vehicular access).
Sebastopol Plantation House, 721 Bayou Road, St. Bernard, LA
Photos by St. Bernard Oﬃce of Tourism
Kenilworth Plantation House, 2749-2763 Bayou Road, St. Bernard, LA
S T O O R N A I L I C SI
Sam Gallo and wife immigrated in late 1800s, worked family farming business, which is continued by grandson, Johnny Gallo Jr.
Pa ris h Farmi ng Le ga cy Grow s Cre ole Cu isi ne
BY LAURA GUCCIONE
companies, and 20 of these were surprisingly Sicilians. A few years later, in 1905, New Orleans was icilians arrived en masse in need of increased local food to Louisiana in the years production and saw in the new after the Civil War when immigrants an opportunity to they were recruited by improve what was grown near plantation owners after the repeal the city. of the 13th Amendment. As soon St. Bernard Parish was one as they could, these new immigrants of the areas where immigrants saved money to bring their families and bought cheap, unused lands and bought small parcels of land to grow cultivated them. On January 25, food. 1909, the Times-Picayune wrote By 1898, Soard’s New Orleans City of St. Bernard’s booming truck Directory listed 29 wholesale fruit farm businesses. The theme through Plows used by Sicilian farmers on display at Los Isleños Museum most articles of the Complex. time was that the rural Sicilians were prosperous hard workers who could miraculously grow food where no one had tried or had tried but failed. They had agricultural Special to St. Bernard Magazine-Chalmette
On January 25, 1909, the Times-Picayune wrote of St. Bernard’s booming truck farm businesses. knowledge and grew things that many thought would not grow in the area. They grew onions, garlic, celery, tomatoes, and many other fruits and vegetables that are now a part of what is known today as Creole cuisine. The sometime overlooked legacy and contributions of Sicilians to New Orleans cuisine ties directly to immigrant farmers who grew foodstuffs for restaurants and homes in the area.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Food writer Laura Guccione of New Orleans examines Italian inﬂuence in her UNO thesis: “Sicilian Roots: How the Agricultural Pursuits of Immigrant Sicilians Shaped Modern New Orleans Cuisine.”
‚ G ALLO S TOMATO LEG ACY JOHNNY’S PRODUCE ROADSIDE STAND
Photos by Charles D. Jackson
family tomato tradition, grown since by four generations: his son, Sam; Johnny R. Gallo Jr., 84, is the grandson, John; greatLast Man Standing. grandson, Johnny Junior; ut of nearly 40 Sicilian farms and great-great-grandson, that covered St. Bernard Jason. After Sam sold Parish’s landscape in the past his land, John purchased century, Gallo is the lone survivor, still acreage on Rosetta Drive nurturing a local tomato-farming legacy in the late 1940s. planted by his great-grandfather 130 “We farmed that years ago. land with dad,” Johnny Gallo shows oﬀ spring blossoms of grapefruits. In the early 1880s, Gaetano said. “When he stopped, “Vincent” Gallo migrated from Ustica, I bought 20 acres in 5 varieties of fruit trees; and100 Italy, and purchased farmland on Kenilworth in the early ‘70s and have cypress, 15 pecan, and 20 oak trees. Charles Drive in Meraux in 1890. been farming ever since.” He also raises 50 roosters and He was as one of the Johnny Gallo’s farm on Bayou chickens in a “mansion” of a coop. first generations of Road, across from the stately He once had an 8-acre crawfish Italians associated with Kenilworth antebellum pond on site. “When crawfish played selling fresh vegetables, mansion, was once part out, I said I was not going to leave it particularly tomatoes, at of the sprawling sugar bare,” Johnny said. “I went ahead and the French Market. plantation. planted cypress trees.” “They used to go Like centuries of But tomatoes have always been with mules and wagons Sicilian farmers known for the Gallos’ forte. It’s not just any down St. Claude Street, maximization of land, Johnny “tomato.” It’s the Creole “Celebrity” all the way to the French employs nearly every inch tomato, grown only in the delta-rich Quarter,” Johnny said. of his 600-feet wide, 2,500soil of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Patriarch Vincent feet deep farm to grow Orleans, and Jefferson parishes. Maya Angela enjoys Gallo thus planted a 20 different vegetables; “Once you leave this area, the Celebrity Tomato Photo By Angela Bernard
S TI LL GROWING On the Farm
Everyday, I work in the greenhouse. Every one I plant will - Johnny R. Gallo grow.” tomatoes have a different taste,” Johnny said. “The soil gives it the taste. “When the river ran wild for thousands of years, it dumped sand and that good delta soil here, which is very rich,” Johnny said. Helping maintain the farm is Johnny’s son, Jason. You’ll find Jason selling fresh fruits and veggies on the roadside of East Judge Perez Drive and the Bayou Road Extension (S.R. 46) – about 5 miles from the farm. Is Jason heir to the throne, carrying on the 100-year Gallo tomato tradition? Will he be the last Gallo standing? “It’s hard to say ‘cause this is a lot of hard work,” Johnny said. “I hope he does.” Without a doubt, generations of local tomato lovers would Creole tomatoes grown today on Johnny Gallo’s farm are the same hybrid introduced agree.
by great-grandfather at turn of century.
Vegetables Celebrity Tomatoes King Arthur Bell Peppers Pink Eggplant (very sweet) Cucumbers
Fruit & Nuts Trees Satsuma Naval Orange Lemon Grapefruit Kumquat Bananas Pecan Blood Oranges (Louisiana sweet)
Shade Trees Cypress Oak
Chicken Coop Hens Chicks “I planted 100 Cypress trees back here. People cut them down and I try to save them.”
The Sicilian Tradition Cisco Gonzales, Jr.
St. Joseph Altars Thrive in Parish
Cisco Gonzales, Jr., is public relations director for Louisiana Crawfish Festival Society and a member of the Knights of Columbus.
Mary Ann Pierce of Courtesy Furniture builds St. Joseph altars every year and invites public to partake.
t. Joseph Altars, known for yummy Italian cookies, beautiful cakes, Italian cooking, and bread in form of art, are no strangers to St. Bernard Parish. To many, St. Joseph is known as the foster father of Jesus or the Patron Saint of the Universal Church, unborn children, fathers, workers, travelers, immigrants, and a happy death. For St. Bernard Sicilians, March 19, St. Josephâ€™s Day, is a day to visit as many St. St. Joseph altars displayed yearly at Knights of Columbus Hall. Joseph Altars as possible. What is a St. Joseph Altar? Historians believe these altars date back to the Middle Ages in Sicily, where there were always many famines because of the geographical conditions of the island. The Sicilians would always pray for St. Josephâ€™s intercession, and St. Joseph would intercede with God, who blessed Sicily with an abundance of crops each year. In gratitude, they created the St. Joseph Altars. As Sicilians immigrated to New Orleans, they brought the tradition with them. Every year, a tradition, are available for all the single ladies to person could find a St. Joseph Altar within steal to help find a husband. For those struggling homes, businesses, Catholic Churches, and with infertility, stealing a lemon is said to help with Catholic organizations, such as the Knights of conceiving. Columbus. If these reasons are not good enough to visit an There are many unwritten traditions altar, you should go just to admire the beauty of a behind St. Joseph Altars, such as the Fava hundred-year-old tradition. Bean, a symbol of hope, which can be found in many wallets. Lemons, another unwritten St. Joseph, Pray for us!
San Giuseppe, Prega per noi!
Proudly made in St. Bernard Parish at The Ranch Film Studios 8301 W. Judge Perez Drive Chalmette, LA
The New Hollywood South
THE FORD PLANT A N A S S E M B LY P L A C E
27 ACRES OF
ST. BERNARD PARISH
F O R C R E AT I V E M I N D S
Living LEGEND Lena Randazzo Torres
“In 1940, at the age of 19, Lena Randazzo Torres entered the St. Bernard Parish Clerk of Court’s oﬃce fresh oﬀ a degree in dictation and typewriting and an upbringing in helping box and wash vegetables on her father’s Creole tomato and cabbage farm in Meraux,” wrote Benjamin Alexander-Bloch for NOLA.com on October 30, 2011. “At the time, the now-iconic Art Deco St. Bernard Parish Courthouse was brand new,“ he continued. “St. Bernard Parish counted around 7,000 residents, and Clerk of Court Anthony “Tony” Nunez’s staﬀ numbered two …
“Catholic saints, angels, popes, and priests stare up from beneath Torres’ glass-topped desk, where she sat each working day… (never taking a vacation)."
At 5-foot-1-inch tall, with her white hair coiﬀed into a classic pompadour, Lena Torres is St. Bernard’s closest thing to a stateswoman.
~ Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, NOLA.com
LIVING When Lena Randazzo Torres was born in 1921, women had just won the right to vote. At age 21, she became the first female poll commissioner in St. Bernard Parish, launching an unprecedented 70-year history in politics.
St. Bernard Courthouse plein air painting, by Sabrina Schmidt
“In a Class by Herself ” L
ena Randazzo Torres was born on January 29, 1921, in the small village of Docville (known for its scenic tunnel of oak trees) in St. Bernard Parish. The trees were planted by her father, Salvatore “Sam” Randazzo, who was the overseer for Dr. L. A. “Doc” Meraux.
The oldest of five children, Lena grew up on the Docville farm with her father, Sam; her mother, Petrina Livaccari Randazzo; her three brothers, Anthony “Tony”, Lawrence, Manuel, and her sister, Camille. Together with her family members, she contributed to the many chores associated with the work on the farm. As a teenager, one of her responsibilities was to assist “Doc” Meraux with the farm’s bookkeeping. It was through his insistence that she later attended Soule Business College in New Orleans. Women were first allowed to vote in the United States in 1920, less than a year before Lena was born. Active in politics her entire life, Lena served at age 21 as the first female poll commissioner in St. Bernard Parish. A graduate of Maumus High School and fresh out of Soule
Business College in 1940, she began a career in public service that would leave an indelible legacy in St. Bernard Parish. As a young Clerk of Court staff member, she studied, practiced, and respected the role and responsibilities of the Clerk’s Office - later transforming it into a model for Clerk’s Offices across the State of Louisiana. Lena met Sidney Torres Jr. at a political rally in 1942 and married him the following March. Two children, Lena Nunez and Sidney D. Torres III, were born of the union. Her husband, Sidney, was elected Clerk of Court in 1956, and Lena served as Chief Deputy until his death in 1988. She was appointed Clerk of Court and then elected that same year, unopposed, and served for 24 years. During over 70 years in public service, Lena built a reputation for always being on the job and available to anyone in need of assistance. Her
LIVING dedication and commitment to the citizens she represented, who she considered as family, makes her one of the most significant public officials to have held office in St. Bernard. Most notably, within days following Hurricane Katrina, Lena was in her office, where some areas had been submerged in water as high as 9 feet. The criminal department was the hardest hit, but with the District Attorney’s office on the 2nd floor, she obtained copies and reconstructed some 68,000 active criminal files. She received help from the Supreme Court to freeze dry damaged records, providing a less than 5-percent loss. With assistance from other Louisiana Clerks, their staffs, and members of her own staff able to return, Lena reopened the Clerk’s office in the Courthouse lobby in a matter of weeks, providing residents with vital records necessary to start rebuilding their lives. Besides her decades of public service, Lena has been active in numerous professional, civic, and philanthropic organizations and was instrumental in forming the St. Bernard Business & Professional Women’s Club. In 1963, she was chosen Woman
of the Year by that group and later received its Community Involvement Award and Lifetime Achievement for Public Service to the People of St. Bernard Parish. She was also the recipient of the Alliance for Good Government President’s Award, Louisiana Center for Women in Government and Business’ Hall of Fame Award, Louisiana State University School of Medicine’s Strength in Age Award, and the Louisiana American Italian Society Sports Hall of Fame Civic Recognition Award. She was also recognized multiple times by the Louisiana State Legislature, Governor, and Lieutenant Governor for her many years of loyal, dedicated, and ethical services to the citizens of the State. In addition to her two children, Lena has three grandsons, Leander G. Nunez, Sidney D. Torres IV, Anthony “Tony” Torres (deceased); two great granddaughters, Carlee Marie Nunez and Sefina Donecia Torres; and two great grandsons, Sidney D. Torres V and Drew Anthony Nunez. Some call her St. Bernard Parish’s “First Lady.” Lena Randazzo Torres, however, measures success not so much by accolades and achievements, but by the number of people she has been able to help during her many years of public service. She often tells others, “I enjoyed working, and I enjoyed helping people. I tried to do all I could.”
What Folks Say
I’ve known Miss Lena for many years, and I’ve always admired her ability to be politically tough while carrying herself with so much grace at the same time. ~ Sheriﬀ James Pohlmann
Ms. Lena is a trailblazer and an inspiration. Her service to St. Bernard Parish has made our community a better place and her legacy will extend far into the future. ~ Rita Gue, President of the Meraux Foundation
LEGEND She’s faithful in reading her daily prayers— morning, noon, and night. She’s sharpwitted and has an excellent memory. She’s helped so many people and would tell them, ‘You don’t have to tell anybody what I’ve done for you.’ I’ve learned so much wisdom from her. ~ Donnatte Maurice, Primary Caregiver
Always beautifully groomed, appropriately firm, and politely gracious, Lena Randazzo Torres represented the very finest image of St. Bernard Parish. ~ William de Marigny Hyland, Parish Historian
I call her the First Lady of St. Bernard. As Clerk of Court, she tried to make sure everything was done right. She was a little strict. You had to make sure you had all your ducks in a row. ~ Dr. Tommy Warner, retired Nunez Chancellor, State Legislator
What Her Children Say She is a humble and gracious lady with a tremendous work ethic and an unending desire to help people. She’s a wealth of knowledge and always willing to take time to share her knowledge with others. Her modesty understates her strength and abilities to get things done, which she has demonstrated time and time again. I think the Latin phrase sui generis best describes her – 'In a class by herself.' ~ Sidney D. Torres III
She’s a loving mother. Always there when you need her. She is very giving. She enjoyed working and helping others. She enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and great grandchildren. ~ Lena Nunez
Doing What You Like Every Day
55 YEARS: ROCKY & CARLO'S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
Barry Lemoine is an award-winning writer and educator. His commitment and passion for the parish and its performing arts has earned him the moniker of “The Bard of St. Bernard.”
"You know what you call something you do every day that you hate? A job."
hese words of wisdom were recently spoken by 83-year-old Tommy Tommaseo, one of the original family members who founded Rocky & Carlo’s Restaurant and Bar.
Uncle Tommy stirs meatballs and red gravy in 120-quart pots. He’s happy to report it “tastes just like mama's.”
Part of the immigrant community who made their way from Palermo, Sicily, to St.Bernard in the 1900’s, Tommy and his brother Rocky partnered with their brothers-in law Carlo, Mario, and Giuseppe Gioe and in April of 1965, history was made. Tommy said people expressed some concerns about the original business arrangement. “I remember people saying, 'Five Italian families working together? That’s crazy!' But we never had no big problems in all these years.’’ Uncle Tommy, as he is affectionately known, loves what he does, and what he does is feed people. For 55 years, the iconic Rocky & Carlo’s has served guests huge portions of family-style Italian food, and Tommy is behind many of the restaurant’s most famous offerings, including its creamy mac and cheese and the choice of gravy that accompanies it. Tommy’s workday begins early. “I wake before 5 a.m. to shave and get ready for the day,” he said. His routine includes preparing both red and brown
gravies in huge 120-quart pots as well as prepping 140 pounds of macaroni - five days a week. He said on special occasions, like Thanksgiving, the restaurant prepares nearly 400 pounds of baked mac. Tommy said the restaurant uses Perciatelli pasta, which is like bucatini but wider, for its signature dish. “If they send me the wrong macaroni, I send it back,” he said. Tommy said he started cooking at a very young age and had a knack for it. He said he’s happy to say much of the food he prepares “tastes just like mama's.” Other favorites coming out of the kitchen include veal parmigiana, stuffed bell pepper, and “the best roast beef around.” During the Lenten season, the restaurant changes gears a bit, preparing more seafood options and stuffing its famous bell pepper with shrimp rather than beef. But no matter the season, Tommy says his passion is cooking with his family. His customers literally feed off that positive family feeling. “No one goes hungry here, and they all leave happy.” Tommy’s motto? “You do what you like every day, and it makes you happy.” Sounds like a true recipe for success and a great example of Parish Pride. ROCKY
E T U
•Tommy and his brother Rocky partnered with their brothers-in law Carlo, Mario, and Giuseppe Gioe in April of 1965. Five months later, Hurricane Betsy hit. •The restaurant is named after the two eldest family members - Rocky Tommaseo and Carlo Gioe. •Many family members worked at another Parish restaurant, Angelo’s, more of a bar than a restaurant. That’s why when Rocky and Carlo’s opened, they added “Ladies Invited.”
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“Our Friend: The Rick Tonry We Knew” On July 3, 2012, St. Bernard and Louisiana lost a real stalwart, a great ambassador and defender of our Parish and State: Richard A. (Rick) Tonry. Rick was many things to many people, a proud Irishman, Seminarian, Teacher, Manresa Retreat Captain, Church Lector, Politician, Fighter, Legal Legend, Trial Attorney, Husband, Father, My Friend, Our Friend! In legal circles, Rick was an icon. He was proud to be called a Trial Lawyer. Rick felt that other than a Priest, there was no greater calling than to be an attorney. To have the ability to help those who could not help themselves, to be the voice for the injured, wrongly accused and unlearned, the ability to right wrongs and to make product safer. That is what Trial Attorneys do!
A Legal Legend
From million dollar civil cases, murder trials, to simply helping someone out with a ticket, Rick loved it all. He fought hard to make our local industries a safer place to work. Rick represented the working man. He was their voice against the money and power of big business. Rick represented those accused of serious crimes. He never lost a criminal jury trial. He was the first attorney in the State and a pioneer nationally to use the “Battered Woman Syndrome” as a defense to murder charges. When Katrina hit, he used his position as President of the St. Bernard Bar Association to meet with Supreme Court Justice Kitty Kimball and State Bar Association President Frank Neuner to get legislation passed extending the prescriptive period so that the working man, as well as business and industry, would not be deprived of their legal rights. Rick took on the powerful in every arena. When he took on the corrupt political regime that ruled St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parish for years, Rick won. Unfortunately it cost him his freedom for six months when he pled guilty to federal misdemeanor charges in order to put an end to the investigation and to save his law license. When asked upon his release to describe his stay in prison, Rick answered as only Rick could: “There’s no Joy in prison.” Rick was referring to his young and lovely future wife. Joy and Rick enjoyed many great years together. She was with him when his time came to an end. Rick was always a man way before his time. In the mid 1980’s, he was indicted for paying for the exclusive rights to hold bingo on Indian land. The conviction was ultimately overturned and now there is unlimited gambling nationally on Indian Reservations. While ever the proud trial attorney, Rick was most proud of being called “Dad”. He helped raise three marvelously successful children. His sons, Richard and Cullen, followed in their father’s footsteps and became trial attorneys. Cullen is now a candidate for Judge. His daughter Tara, also followed her father’s example and became a teacher, Rick’s first occupation. Her daughter, O’Brien, is now in law school. Rick was blessed with eight grandchildren that he loved unconditionally. He used to always say “It is much easier being a grandparent, you don’t have to say No.” As Rick would say: “To happy days and no lonely nights.” RICHARD A. (RICK) TONRY, JUNE 25, 1935 – JULY 3, 2012, OUR FRIEND! By: Mike Ginart Jr.
Music Legacies Guy Montana was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame with the Jokers in 2014.
Hall of es Famer Liv Low-Key Life
Here’s the scoop: Beginning at age 5, Guy had front-row seats to rehearsals of the city’s top Italian bands. For nearly 30 years, his namesake grandfather, Gaetano, managed the famed Italian Hall on Esplanade Avenue, headquarters of the “Sicilian sound” historians say immigrants brought and integrated with the regional African-American music that defined jazz as a genre in the early 1900s. Growing up in a working-class 7th Ward neighborhood, Guy started playing clarinet at age 10. His father, Joseph, played the eight-string mandolin. Guy followed grandpa, who played the saxophone, guitar, French horn, trumpet, and bass horn. Guy bought his first sax (second-hand) at age 17 and “learned to play on it” with tips from across-the-street neighbor George Lewis, a renowned black clarinetist who, in the 1950s, revived the original New Orleans jazz sound, preserving it for future generations.
BY CHARLES D. JACKSON St. Bernard Magazine-Chalmette Guy Montana, 82, has been living a secret life – somewhat.
You may have seen him sitting at Smitty’s, eating donuts at Aaron’s, or fishing down the road. He’s lived in St. Bernard Parish for over 40 years. But behind this unassuming, soft-spoken demeanor, Guy has a legendary relationship with New Orleans jazz and rock ‘n roll.
Guy’s grandfather, who emigrated here in the late 1890s, painted a mural of his childhood village, Alcamo, Sicily, on the Italian Hall courtyard’s wall. His artwork is mentioned in the book "Bread and Butter: Italians of Louisiana." Guy inherited his grandpa’s artistic skills, too. He designs intricate fly-fishing flies and lures. Guy was inducted into the Louisiana Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2014 as a saxophonist with The Jokers, the undisputed No. 1 band during the city’s rock ‘n roll era. The Jokers debuted in 1957 on the nationally televised Jerry Lewis Telethon. Guy joined the band in 1964, became manager in 1967 at the urging of founder Eddie Roth, and gave singer Harvey Jesus his first major gig, recording, “Don’t Break Your Promise” and “Soul Sound.” With Dr. Wade Schindler, Guy co-founded the Jesters, a popular R&B band, in 1990. The band practiced in Schindler’s suite at the Superdome and performed there, too.
Montana reﬂects on his life as a saxophonist for more than 60 years.
Photos by Corinne Barreca
And lastly, Guy is still gigging – sort of. Although he stopped playing sax four years ago, he still performs on Sundays, dancing to his favorite band in Metairie. My oh my, what an intriguing (and legendary) life this Guy’s been living … And all this time, you thought he just liked coffee, donuts, and fishing.
Music LegENDS Singer preserved fading Isleños language. Irvan Perez near his home in Delacroix Island
Photos by National Endowments for the Arts
I R VAN “Pooka” PERE Z • Born December 29, 1923, in eastern St. Bernard Parish. Considered the most talented decima singer in the Western Hemisphere and the last fluent speaker of the Isleño Spanish dialect. • Awarded a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship in 1991. Sang decimas, distinctive narrative songs composed of 10-line stanzas. Some of the songs dated from the Middle Ages and others preserved our Isleño community’s unique history.
ALCIDE NUNEZ, (1884-1934) “World’s Greatest Clarinetist” • Born first-generation Isleños, March 17, 1884, in St. Bernard Parish and also known as "Yellow Nunez" and "Al Nunez", was a world-class jazz clarinetist and one of the first musicians of New Orleans to make audio recordings. • Went north in 1916 to Chicago with Dixie Jass Band, which was to become famous as the Original Dixieland Jass Band. • Helped form the Louisiana Five in 1919, one of New York’s most popular bands, which recorded with several labels and toured the United States.
Died of a heart attack on Sept. 2, 1934 in New Orleans.
The decimas offered advice from those who survived hurricanes, unfaithful lovers, and hard times. • Performed at Carnegie Hall, the Wolf Trap National Folk Festival, and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, as well as for the King and Queen of Spain in 2001. • Appeared in a 1999 PBS series River of Song: A Musical Journey, which also features an audio clip of his singing, as does the Louisiana Division of the Arts’ Folklife in Education Project. • Visited at his home in Delacroix Island by academic researchers from around the world who studied the language, songs, and culture he worked assiduously to preserve. • Became an expert wood carver, creating realistically textured wild fowl and songbirds from cypress roots. Some have been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution.
Died January 8, 2008.
Source: National Endowment for the Arts
Faces of The Parish Newcomers and Longtime Residents
April Stephens and family moved from Indianapolis to Chalmette a year ago. Musician Vic Papa grew up in Old Arabi.
The doctor (Bertucci) is in the house at the Krewe of Lourdes Ball, joined by wife and friends, the Dysarts.
Lorell Hurts, Kerrion Turner, and Toni Dupard have lived here 10 years and love it!
Cindy Phu and Tate relocated to the Parish about 3 years ago.
Lifelong residents, the Leonard family enjoys a parade.
Mallory Gleber was born and raised in St. Bernard Parish.
Mardi Gras Matthew, left, with his parents and siblings from Camp Lejeune, N.C. Mom is a 1997 grad of Chalmette High.
The McCormicks moved here from New Orleans 8 years ago.
Beau dropped the feed & seed to get decked out for Young Men of Valor ball.
Entrepreneur Bill Jaber has lived in the Parish his entire life.
Originally from the Parish, musician JeanLouis Roberts moved back in 2018.
Iris and Pinky have called the Parish home since 1947.
By Tammy Mercure and Charles Jackson
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“If We Are Home, You Are Welcome”
- Clay and Marie Cosse
of The River Photo by Corinne Barreca
“We Love Our New Home” --
BY CLAY COSSE
Special to St. Bernard Magazine-Chalmette
Marie & Clay Cosse Land
A Perfect Spot On Riverfront
rowing up in Chalmette, A second-story Photos by Charles Jackson I never considered gallery provided living anywhere else. us with a narrow Marie grew up in Old view of river Metairie but got to St. Bernard as fast traffic. as she could. After a couple of moves, We were we built our dream home at 219 W. invited by a Urquhart Street in Chalmette. There, friend (now our we raised our three children with no neighbor) to a It is an amazing place to live with a spectacular view. Sunrise, sunsets, the city skyline, sights and sounds of river traffic, especially cruise ships, river pilots boarding ships, the fog, thunder and lightning storms plans of living anywhere else. function in Old all providing 24/7 entertainment. Arabi where we spotted the Toasting Old Arabi Neighborhood Association’s vacant lot next “royalty’ on gallery during Lundi Gras celebration. door, and here we are! We senior years. The gallery, where we moved into the 2,200 square-foot spend a great deal of time, was a given. house in July 2016. It was our 10th It is an amazing place to live, with a and final move after Katrina. spectacular view. Sunrises, sunsets, the By Clay Cosse The lot is only 32Special feet wide, to St. Bernard Magazine city skyline, the sights and sounds of so we were somewhat limited in traffic, especially cruise ships, river Growing up in Chalmette, Iriver never considered living anywhere else. Marie grew up in Old Metairie but g Katrina changed that. the layout. Marie and I designed to St. Bernard as fast as she could. After a couple of moves, we built our dream -pilots boarding ships, the fog, thunderhome at 219 W. in Chalmette. There, we raised our three children with no plans of living anywhere else. In the aftermath, we moved nine and contracted the Urquhart house St. around and lightning storms — all providing changed that. times, ultimately winding up in Bywater, three must-haves: aKatrina fireplace, 24/7 entertainment. -where we lived for eight “fun”years. stairwell, and an elevator for our
In the aftermath we moved nine times, ultimately winding up in Bywater where we lived for eight “fun years. A second-story gallery provided us with a narrow view of river traffic.
We feel truly blessed to be here and pay it forward, hosting Old Arabi Lundi Gras Royalty, 4th of July and New Year’s Eveto befireworks parties, birthday We feel truly blessed here and play it forward, hosting Old Arabi Lundi Gras Royalty, 4 of July and New Year’s Eve fireworks parties, birthday and engagement parties, marriage prep counseling for andcouples, engagement parties, marriage prep engaged Rosary gatherings, memorials and Bible studies. Whenever we leave, we can’t wait to get back home. counseling for engaged couples, Rosary -gatherings, memorials, and Bible studies. Whenever we leave, we can’t wait to get back home. The neighborhood is both quiet and hectic at different times. We enjoy the visitors to the river, the relaxed atmosphere, and having the Old Arabi Bar as a neighbor and live music venue. Our door is always open to friends and, at times, to curious passers-by. th
IF WE ARE HOME, YOU ARE WELCOME!
It is an amazing place to live, with a spectacular view. Sunrises, sunsets, the city skyline, the sights and sounds of river traﬃc,especially cruise ships, river pilots boarding ships, the fog, thunder and lightning storms– all providing 24/7 entertainment" ~ CLAY COSSE
-The lot is only 32 feet wide, so we were somewhat limited in the layout. Marie and I designed and contracted the house around three must-haves: a fireplace, stairwell and an elevator for our senior years. The gallery, where we spend a great deal of time, was a given.
Interior photos by Troy Barrios Marie entertains revelers on Lundi Gras and spends time with family in comfort of two-story home overlooking the Mississippi River in Old Arabi.
Marie & Clay
LETTER TO THE PUBLISHER They Made Me Feel Welcomed Inside Their Own Oasis
In the summer of 2019, my wife and I took our ﬁrst vacation to New Orleans. We both were expecting to spend our days and nights partying on Bourbon Street, but thanks to our tour guide Charles Jackson, we experienced much more than empty liquor cups and overcrowded bars. On our tour of Old Arabi, we met a couple – Marie and Clay Cosse – who invited us into their home and their lives. The impromptu social helped remind us that God is with us no matter where we go in life. My wife and I are newlyweds who are still getting to know each other. The husband is a couple’s counselor, which is something we were in desperate need of. I felt comfortable talking to him and his wife about my relationship with my wife as we sat on their balcony, enjoying the summer breeze, while being entertained by the passing Steamboat Natchez. We waved, and the ship’s captain responded with repeated blaring of the ship’s loud horn. My wife and I felt like we’re getting special treatment from everybody – people we don’t even know. The couple told us how they lost everything in Katrina but could rebuild and replace the things that the hurricane destroyed by keeping their faith in God and sticking together as man and wife. Their home reﬂected the mercy of God and his mercy for all his children who remained faithful to his word. I felt at home inside a house of strangers who made me feel welcomed inside of their own oasis. Their two-story home with wood ﬂooring and ﬁreplace reminded me of our house in Tampa, Florida. I like how the lower level is a sitting area and upstairs is the bedroom, family room and open kitchen. My wife likes the wooden staircase, furnishings, décor, and elevator. We are truly grateful for the Southern Hospitality that we experienced. - Santiago and Simone Rivers, tourists from Tampa, FL
Fast Facts & Tidbits
• Met on a blind date – Love at ﬁrst sight Clay in politics 20 years – Parish Council, Housing Board, currently Flood • Married 41 years – 3 children, 7 grands – 2 Protection Authority on the way Marie retired – 20 years – Sales Manager at Boasso, keeps busy with church • Clay - 40 years in seafood industry, 20 years duties, P/T business, babysitting and landscaping in Parish government Clay retired, keeps busy fishing, church duties and landscaping Owned 3 businesses, including Lil Fishermen Seafood for 16 years • Marie retired – 20 years Sales Manager at Marie and Clay’s parents “very loving, engaging, fun and always Boasso America, currently President welcoming”
Chalmette Containers • Marie & Clay - Involved in numerous church and civic activities, always up for a party.
like Nothing good old ospitality h n r e h Sout
Contact Karrie Medine
4901 Paris Road, Chalmette, LA 70043 Office: (504) 279-8254 Cell: (504) 439-0956 Toll Free: (888) 936-7837 Foster@FosterManf.com • FosterManf.com
Helping You Make the Right Mortgage Decisions Regions Mortgage knows the needs of homebuyers are as different as the homes they are buying. What works for one buyer may not work for you. With your specific needs in mind, Regions offers loans that include: • Fixed- and Adjustable-Rate Mortgages • Affordable Housing Products • FHA/VA Loans • Jumbo and Conforming Loans • Construction-to and Renovation-to-Permanent Loans Contact me for information on home financing. It would be a pleasure to help.
Nicole Cossé Dupre
Mortgage Loan Originator | NMLS# 1191770 c - (504) 258-7392 email@example.com regionsmortgage.com/NicoleDupre
© 2020 Regions Bank. Member FDIC. NMLS# 174490. All loans subject to qualification, required documentation and credit approval. Certain exclusions may apply. Loan terms and availability subject to change. The Annual Percentage Rate on all adjustable rate mortgages is subject to change after consummation period. Regions and the Regions logo are registered trademarks of Regions Bank. The LifeGreen color is a trademark of Regions Bank. (01/20)
WHOSE SIGN IS IN YOUR YARD? IT SHOULD BE AMANDA MILLER REALTY!
Amanda Miller Realty Group 300 W Judge Perez Dr Chalmette LA 70043 | Cell: 504-250-0059| Office:504-302-4610| Amanda@amandamillerrealty.com| www.amandamillerrealty.com| Licensed in the State of Louisiana| (each office independently owned and operated)
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Evening, Hybrid and Online Courses Offered I chose the coastal program at Nunez to help preserve our natural resources and give back to the community. - Dorian
How to Plant Celebrity Tomatoes Keep the plants watered to a depth of at least 6 inches so that tomatoes do not suffer stress from a lack of moisture.
Photo by Tim Mueller
Things You Will Need
• Rototiller • Well-rotted manure or other organic matter • Lime • Garden trowel • 8-8-8 fertilizer • Tomato stakes or bamboo poles • Soft cloth strips (optional) • Garden hose with watering wand
Celebrity tomatoes are slicing tomatoes that grow on determinate bushes in the home garden. Classified as a hybrid tomato, the Celebrity variety grows about 4 feet tall. It needs about 70 to 75 days to grow from a seed into a mature fruiting plant. The tomatoes are harvested over a period of about three weeks and weigh approximately 10 ounces each. Till the soil of the garden site to a depth of about 12 inches. Add a layer of well-rotted manure or organic compost to the soil and mix or till again to distribute it throughout the planting area. Add 3/4 cup of lime per tomato plant to the soil and mix it in well unless a soil test has indicated another amount is appropriate. The lime helps reduce certain problems, such as blossom end rot. Lime also balances the nutrients in the soil so that the plants can more easily absorb them. Dig holes for each tomato plant at least 2 feet apart from each other. Add 1/2 cup of 8-8-8 fertilizer into each hole, mixing it well into the soil at the bottom of the hole. Make two rows of plants instead of one long row for better pollination. Pinch off any blooms that have already formed on seedlings so that the plant concentrates on establishing a healthy root system. Place the tomato plants into the holes several inches deeper than they were grown in the cell pack. The top three or four branches should be above the soil line. Fill the holes around the tomato plants and firm the soil in place. Insert a tomato stake or cage around each plant to protect it from predators and high winds. If you used a stake, loosely tie a soft cloth strip around the stake and the tomato stem. Water thoroughly. Source: homeguides.sfgate.com
grow YOUR C
Celebrity Tomatoes • Squash Cucumbers • Fruit Trees & More 201 Bayou Rd, St. Bernard, LA 70085
Phone: (504) 372-3537
Tomato sticks (bamboo poles) are available at Beau’s Feed & Seed on Bayou Road.
Retiring “First” Class BY CHARLES D. JACKSON St. Bernard Magazine-Chalmette
hey showered her with gifts. Threw a drive-by block party. After 34 years of public service, Lenor Duplessis retired from St. Bernard Parish Government in May with many “firsts.” And certainly, in this day of social distancing and alternative ways to celebrate, the car parade was yet another “first” for her. Hired as a secretary to then-Police Jury President Louis Munster in 1986, Duplessis was the first black secretary in St. Bernard Government. She became the first deputy clerk under the new council form of government in 1992 and served until 2008, when she became the executive assistant to then-Parish President Craig Taffaro.
Under Taffaro, she also served as chair of the Employee Events Committee. In 2012, when Dave Peralta became Parish President, he retained Duplessis and gave her an additional duty as Public Information Officer. President Guy McInnis kept her on board as executive assistant/PIO, responsible for press releases, press conferences, and ribbon cuttings and for assisting with parish events and taking photos. Duplessis served as Peralta’s and McInnis’ representative on the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Foundation, Valero Citizens Advisory Panel, and Chalmette Refining Citizens Advisory Council. Her most recent appointment was Chair of the St. Bernard Complete Count Census Committee. She also
helped organize the St. Bernard Parish Government Choir to sing at the annual State of the Parish Address. Duplessis hasn’t decided on her next adventure, but for now she says she’ll enjoy spending more time with family. If history is any indication, expect more “firsts” in her “retirement.”
Don’t Sweat this Summer Come into Rick’s to Keep Your Pool Blue!
Games • Chemicals • Water Analysis • Service • Maintenance 3 Locations to Serve Your Needs • 504-277-8137 • 9081 W. Judge Perez Dr., Chalmette 601-749-2511 • 1618 Hwy. 11 North, Picayune, MS 985-653-0111 • 1036 W. Airline Hwy., LaPlace, LA
in the Garden
Renaissance Gardens 9123 W. Judge Perez Drive
St. Bernard Milestone
CONVENIENCE STORES Locally Owned & Operated Since 1985
5 LOCATIONS IN
ST. BERNARD PARISH
Aaron Barker, 80
Donut King Reigns at 50
617 Bayou Rd. Saint Bernard, LA 70085 (504) 272-0661 2004 Paris Rd. Chalmette, LA 70043 (504) 277-5573
3225 E. Judge Perez Dr. Meraux, LA 70075 (504) 276-4643
4725 E. Judge Perez Dr. Meraux, LA 70075 (504) 278-1799
5815 E. Judge Perez Dr. Violet, LA 70092 (504) 682-4990
BY CHARLES D. JACKSON St. Bernard Magazine Chalmette
t doesn’t take a rocket scientist to taste test that Aaron Barker makes the best king cakes on Earth (debates aside). But it helps when a team of NASA workers sample and confirm the theory. Aaron’s Donuts of Chalmette won People’s Choice at Stennis Operation Center’s Office of Human Resources inaugural “King Cake Fest,” outlasting Sugar Mama’s and Randazzo’s in 2018. On July 17, 2020, Aaron Barker marks another milestone: 50 years in the baking business. In 1970, he opened St.Bernard Parish’s first Dunkin Donuts franchise, across from the Government Complex on West Judge Perez Drive, near Jean Lafitte in Chalmette. Katrina floodwaters destroyed the building. He reopened Aaron’s shortly afterward, a half mile east at the corner of East Judge Perez and Paris Road. In 2009, Barker’s son Mark opened Barker’s Dozen Donuts in Violet. Barker later took over management and made it 24-hours. Barker lives in Mississippi, a few miles from Stennis, NASA’s largest rocket engine test facility. Who knows? Maybe Aaron’s sweetbread may take a trip to outer space. Wouldn’t that be out of this world?
McKay & Associates, L.L.C.
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Leaving “A” Lasting Legacy
BY ROBERT SHOWALTER (Reprinted with permission from the Greater New Orleans Foundation)
he story of St. Bernard Kiwanis is not only one of meeting immediate, urgent needs in our parish, but also one of making sure people’s needs will be met tomor tomorrow, next year, 20 years from now, and for as long as they are
needed. Years ago, we knew we needed to endow some funds to protect our projects. While the work we are doing to help improve children’s reading skills, give grants to teachers, and invest in scholarship funds needs to happen right now, we also wanted to protect this work in the future. We decided to ask Greater New Orleans Foundation to help us set up an endowment. We brought together people who wanted to support programs today and create a legacy. We are happy with our partnership with GNOF. The performance of funds has been consistent and has met our objectives perfectly. It feels amazing that every time there is a need for something, there’s money to do it. Plain and simple, we draw from the endowment to fund a project. Ours is a story of strong and steady planning that makes sure that no matter what happens, the money will be here to support our neighbors.
Photo by Jackson Hill
Robert Showalter, Treasurer, St. Bernard Kiwanis
He’s A Key Leader
Congratulations to Chalmette High sophomore An Tra for being elected new Lieutenant Governor for Key Club Division 4A District-Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee for the 2020-2021 year. Tra served as treasurer before his recent election. Chalmette High Key Clubbers, sponsored by the St. Bernard-Arabi Kiwanis Club, recently attended a “Preparing for Service” Spring Rally, learning how to improve leaderships skills through icebreakers, forums, and speeches. The Key Club is a national service or organization for high school students, under the auspices of Kiwanis International. St. Bernard-Arabi Kiwanis Club has sponsored Chalmette High Key Club since the 1960s. The club currently has 50 members and provides service projects to the elder elderly, children, and community.
TONRY C U L L E N
Election Day - 11/03/2020
-LIFELONG RESIDENT OF ST. BERNARD PARISH. -HOLY CROSS GRADUATE - CLASS OF ‘94 -UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS 1996-2000 -BACHELOR’S DEGREE FROM UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI (CLASS OF 2000) -SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL GRADUATE (CLASS OF 2004) -PRACTICED WITH DAD, RICK TONRY, AND MIKE GINART (2004-2012) -OPENED TONRY LAW FIRM - (2012)
A Message from Cullen:
Paid for by the Committee to Elect Cullen Tonry Judge
Serving rd St. Berna Residents ors and Visit
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Thank you for the continued support!
Weâ€™re proudly celebrating 15 years in St. Bernard Parish
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The Commencement Exercises for the CHS Class of 2020 took place in the school’s Cultural Arts Center and was recorded in segments over an eight-day period.
Photo by Barry Lemoine
Interactive Graduation Ceremony
Personal and Special BY BARRY LEMOINE St. Bernard Magazine-Chalmette
ovid-19 certainly impacted 2020, especially for schools. In addition to classes, field trips, and proms being cancelled, the usual end of the year celebrations had to change as well. While not exactly traditional, the recent Chalmette High School graduation for the Class of 2020 was a true celebration and an incredible testament to teamwork, planning, compassion, and empathy. District and school leaders made the commencement exercises personal and special for each of the over 500 graduates who participated. Conducted at the school’s beautiful Cultural Arts Center and recorded in segments for over eight full days, the program followed the longstanding traditions of Chalmette High in celebration of the achievements of this year’s class. With the classic march “Pomp and Circumstance” playing and family members cheering, graduates walked across the stage in cap and gown to receive their diploma. Graduates were also photographed three times during their scheduled time on campus: on stage with their diploma, in the lobby with their family members, and in front of the Chalmette High “C” with Principal Wayne Warner. This interactive ceremony followed the same program as all previous graduations, with senior class officers maintaining safe social distancing while narrating the proceedings. Recognition of honor graduates, scholarship winners, and award recipients as well as other special moments typical of a
graduation were recorded and aired on June 12th. In addition to being one of the eight valedictorians and the Senior Class President, Lina Abdellatif also served as the program’s host, introducing special guests and speakers throughout. Lina also was honored with two other major awards. The first was the American Legion Award, Photo by Alex Schneider given by Lt. Col. Mike Pechon, in recognition After receiving her diploma on stage, of Lina’s scholarship, CHS Senior Emily Cauthern poses for a patriotism, and citizenship. photo with Principal Wayne Warner. Lina also was given one of the two Harold Lagarde Awards, presented each year to Miss and Mr. Chalmette. CHS Assistant Principal Kelli Watson presented this award to Lina and to fellow valedictorian Connor Kenney, both of whom were chosen by their classmates for being model students. The other top graduates for the Class of 2020 include valedictorians Grace Bartholomae, Sarah Borne, Leanne Dacula, Logan Dusang, Ayla Hoey, and Cindy Solis. Also representing this year’s class on stage were Class Officers Yasmine Allan, Mallory Smith, and Malak Gaber.
In her address to the graduates, Superintendent Doris Voitier reminded the students of their special place in her heart: “Many of you started preschool the year following Hurricane Katrina, learning your ABC’s at our Unified School on the Chalmette High School Campus. Just as our school system has rebuilt and recovered, so too have you grown and flourished. You have been a part of a remarkable journey and an integral part of our success over these last 15 years. Unfortunately, just as your educational career began with our community in crisis, so, too, do you now, as Seniors, find yourselves part of a global crisis.” Voitier also highlighted the achievements of this year’s class: “Your class earned nearly 15 million dollars in scholarships. Several of the Class of 2020 will graduate with both a high school and a college diploma from Nunez Community College in Applied Science. And for the first time in history, we may have Owls in space, as seven of you have earned an Associate Degree in Aerospace Manufacturing Technology. I know I speak for all of your teachers, school leaders, and the people of our parish when I say how proud we are of you and the incredible things you were able to accomplish.” As he does each day at school, CHS Principal Wayne Warner reminded the graduates about the importance of making good choices: “Every day is a new beginning. On a day just like this one, Shakespeare sat down to write his first play, or Jonas Salk invented a vaccine to prevent polio, or Copernicus discovered that the earth revolved around the sun, or the United States’ Constitution was ratified, or Michelangelo finished painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, or Mozart wrote a piano
Photos by Raymar Photography
CHS 2020 VALEDICTORIANS
Photo by Raymar Photography
In addition to earning over $15 million in scholarships, the CHS Class of 2020 boasted eight valedictorians who received awards and academic honor stoles at graduation. masterpiece, and on and on. “Every day is a new beginning. You have another day to do great things ... or not” Warner said. “I hope that every day of your life, you remember that the choices you make today, shape your world, your life, tomorrow!” In her closing remarks, Voitier thanked all of the teachers, staff, and community members for their tireless efforts during a trying time and for their patience in planning and executing such a huge and unique undertaking: “This truly is a moment to celebrate. We do it together while apart, but forever united by Owl Pride and all that is right for those in maroon and white.”
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Chalmette Bicycle Store
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St. Bernard is my home. Letâ€™s make it yours too!
S T. B E R N A R D R E A LT Y
Jacques Alfonso 504-228-3803