THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF SLIDELL
WE SAY KEEP IT FRESH KEEP IT POSITIVE
Vol. 145 November 2022
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This month’s cover is a jolly, jubilant, giant giraffe by one of the talented artists of the STARC Art Program, Terri. Terri enjoys listening to Elvis and Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons. That means she has great taste in music! She also likes to watch T.V. game shows, playing card games and working on puzzles. Some of our favorite things too! Terri sounds like she is a lot of fun!
Terri always has a smile on her face, each and every day, as you can see. You can also see how talented she is at creating and coloring fantastic art pieces through the STARC Art Program. Slidell Magazine is honored to share the talents of the STARC artists on our covers. This is the THIRD cover for STARC Art and we look forward to many, many more!
You can purchase this art, as well as dozens of other art pieces, cards, calendars and creations by visiting: www.starcla.org
Last month, Slidell Magazine lost its co-creator, co-editor, and greatest inspiration, LouDog Maness. For me personally, I lost my son, my best friend, my protector, and my constant companion. It’s hard for me to write about, and nearly impossible for me to verbalize, exactly what Lou meant to me. After 14 years together, I’m adjusting to a new normal without him.
I called Lou my “zombie son” because he was killed twice before I got him. I keep the vet records just to prove it.
I was living in Arkansas in 2008 and was active in animal rescue there. I had about 14 foster dogs at the time so I knew the local veterinarian very well. The vet’s office called in a panic. Could I come by immediately and pick up a young dog to foster? Upon arriving at the clinic, the staff met me out back, carrying a hyper 6-month-old pup covered in a blanket. Handing me his records, they quickly explained the predicament: Lou’s previous owner was elderly and had adopted him from the shelter. Once home, he proved to be too rambunctious for her to handle. Unbelievably and insensitively, she brought him to the vet to have him euthanized because of his behavior. The vet techs took him in, charged her credit card for the procedure, and she left. But the vet just couldn’t do it. Lou stayed at the clinic. Two months later, the elderly lady called to schedule vaccinations for the new, smaller and more docile pup she had adopted. Again, the techs scheduled Lou for euthanasia before she returned to find out the truth. And, again, they couldn’t do it. The morning of her appointment, they smuggled Lou out of the clinic and into my arms, where he stayed for the past decade and a half. He was never a foster. He was my son.
I named him LouDog after a line from the song by the band Sublime, “Love is What I Got”.
“Living with Louie Dog’s the only way to stay sane...”
This is the first Slidell Magazine that’s ever gone to print without Lou’s stamp of approval and celebratory game of fetch. I hope to make him proud.
PO Box 4147 Slidell, LA 70459 www.slidellmag.com 985-789-0687 MAGAZINE STAFF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Kendra Maness Editor / Publisher Editor@slidellmag.com Michael Bell Graphic Designer Graphics@slidellmag.com John Case “The Storyteller” Charlotte Collins Extraordinary Slidell
of Your Money Donna
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Neighbors Mike Rich
Bush Dutch Habor: Part II Kendra Maness STARC Celebrates 50 Years Ronda M. Gabb Legal-Ease
Krista Gregory Administrative Assistant Krista@slidellmag.com
COVER: “STARC ART: GIRAFFE”
terri Editor’s Letter
Maness, Editor / Publisher
There’s one thing I would like to do, Fish until my days are through And when I have made my last cast, Of Him above, I humbly ask That when in the net I lay asleep He’ll look down and say, “He’ll do to keep.”
~ Poem by Charles Huff (Charlotte’s Grandfather)
Weare lucky to be living in the Sportsman’s Paradise state. We love our seafood! If I mention crawfish, fresh fish, shrimp, crabs, and oysters, does your tummy start to rumble like mine? Just being on the water, whether by push pole, by yacht, or by dock, gets in your veins. I know that many of my readers live to grab a pole or a net, and head to the lake or bayous to catch your own dinner. But when you aren’t catching your own, where do you go for fresh seafood, seafood po-boys, and boiled or fried seafood? I think you are already thinking the same thing I am. Certainly we all agree that Kenney’s is the place to go for fresh catch. The quality is always hand selected, inspected, and expected. We also know their
meals will be cooked and seasoned consistently. And though the lines may form, service is fast and courteous. I always need a go box after my meal. The best part is that if you are having friends over for a boil, all the fixings are right there. But to my way of thinking, why not have the experts do the boil to your request? Yep, they can even do salt-free, or add any quirky ingredient you bring them.
Kenney’s has grown since my youth, but no matter how much they add on, the quality remains the same. I had no idea the risks and hard work that were behind this establishment. I also was blissfully unaware of the myriad of challenges behind the research and experimentation for every good recipe. If Bob Kenney was anything beyond the kind man I was speaking with, he was resourceful. But why should I tell you about his journey, when the founder of Kenney’s is right here, ready with his version?
I got to Kenney’s early in anticipation, as I had been waiting for this interview for months, while I was working through my other stories. Those extra few minutes gave me plenty of time to absorb all the signs, photos, and
artwork scattered throughout the main rooms. Remember that shark with the hand sticking out of its mouth? Well, it now has a whole head in its mouth. I wondered how long ago that change was made? I am in there regularly, and never noticed. I couldn’t seem to stop looking at a photo in the back dining room. The little girl was steering a big boat with a look of such concentration that I kept imagining the story behind the scene. At any rate, the wait was entertaining, except for watching everybody else eat with that dreamy look on their face after every bite.
When Bob Kenney sat down, he flashed his contagious smile and immediately informed me that he is 77 years old, happily married for 56 years, and that he has lived a full, happy life, much of it spent fishing. But like most of us, he had to find a career in order to raise his family. I bet very few of you can guess what Bob, also known as “Pappy” to his family, did before Kenney’s. Nope, I suppose I need to reveal what he gave up in order to bring us Kenney’s Seafood establishment. Pappy was a stock broker in New Orleans.
As we sat and talked, I learned that he had owned a boat since he was a
A biography by Charlotte Collins
Robert “Bob” Kenney
little bitty kid, and loved to fish, or do anything just to be out on the water. He met Linda on a blind date in high school. They married in 1966, and Bob immediately went into the service with the Naval Air Reserve. He was called to active duty within a month, and Linda moved to Memphis, Tennessee where he was in boot camp. When they came back, he went back to the brokerage firm for about six years, and Bob continued to fish every chance he got. But, he expressed, “I felt like a duck out of water at the firm, because I was with all these very wealthy people. My father was a brick layer, so we never had a whole lot. I took accounting courses in college, and became a registered stockbroker through a correspondence course.” He laughed, “That was pretty good for a fisherman I thought!”
Three years after they married, their son, Bobby, was born, so Bob went fishing, shrimping, and trapping mostly on the weekends. He sold his catches out of ice chests at random places here and there. Finally, in 1972, he bought a 60 foot shrimp boat named the Captain Dwayne. He explained, “I worked on fixing that boat up for about six months. When it was ready, I took a two week vacation. I wanted to see if I could make it full time, so I was shrimping the whole time. When I came back after two weeks, I gave my two week notice. They said, ‘Are you out of your mind? You are an up and coming stockbroker with prestige, good money, and everything.’ My family said almost the same thing. ‘Are you crazy?’ was all I heard.” He chuckled heartily, and his grin was full of pride. My first question was - what in the world did his wife say when he told her of his plans to give up big earnings to become a full time fisherman?
His blue eyes sparkled as he explained, “Everybody thought I was crazy, but not Linda. My wife is a wonderful person. If it makes me happy, she’ll go along with it. I couldn’t have done
this with anyone else! She was more than supportive, she jumped in and worked right beside me here. And that first year was pretty tough. If you’re not an experienced shrimper, it’s always tough.” He shook his head then nodded his chin upward announcing, “But I remember we made as much money as I made when I started working at the firm. So I knew it would get better.”
He reflected back and described that he started shrimping down around Leeville. Everyone there spoke Cajun French, so it felt like a different world. The only electronics they had onboard was a CB radio. That allowed them
to hear where the shrimp were biting and communicate with each other. But Bob was on his own for the most part, as he couldn’t understand the dialect. Then he decided to move his operation back over on this side of the river. That is when his luck changed. Actually, it was more than luck. Anyone who knows Bob Kenney would describe him as a kind person, and this is how he befriended some experienced shrimpers. As he puts it, “I was lucky enough to get in with a bunch of guys from Alabama that were shrimping over here. And they helped me out with so many tips.”
In 1968, the US Army Core of Engineers completed a 76-mile channel we now know as MR-GO, the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet that got a bad reputation after Katrina. As Bob started shrimping, it had just been cut out through the marsh, all the way out into the Mississippi Sound, and it was a really deep channel. It went from the Mississippi River out to the islands in the Gulf. Bob described it as, “40 feet deep in the middle with a really soft bottom, just what the shrimp like to go lay on. I noticed few people shrimped there because it was too hard to drag your nets along that soft bottom. I ran my test net and I remember the first time I pulled my nets up, all I had was a whole lot of mud. I adjusted a few things and tried it again for two or three days. I never caught on. That’s when I noticed how well the Bayou Le Batre boys from Alabama were doing. So I went over and asked them how they did it. The owner was just the nicest guy you ever met. He offered to come look at my rig. After I followed their advice, I was catching more shrimp than the local guys! But it only happened that way because I was open and honest. It’s about being kind. The local guys were too proud to ask. I’ll tell you one thing about fishing and the brokerage business, I met a lot of smart people in both businesses. Back then, the fishermen were the smartest, most intelligent people I ever met in my life.
They figured out things because they had to survive. From that day on, I always made more than if I had been working back in the firm.”
So he took the risks, stuck with it, learning from the best along the way. In October of 1972, he formed a corporation, Kenney’s. But the hard times were not over. I learned that winters were rough, and Bob would resort to trapping nutria and muskrats from Highway 11 to Bayou Lacombe. He also caught basically anything edible, including alligator. I was surprised to hear that Louisiana was the biggest producer of muskrats at one time, before the nutria took over.
Before long, Bob noticed that every year started getting a little bit better in terms of income. He even started making more from selling his fish. Back then, the laws were not as stringent; he could catch as much as he wanted and sell them. He caught mostly redfish, speckled trout, flounder, drum, and sheep head. Sometimes he would take his catch to New Orleans to sell, sometimes in Slidell. His next adventure came when he took a job in the winters running crew boats for Crew Boats Incorporated. He got a license to run crew boats and worked his way up from running a small crew boat, to bigger and bigger ones. As the company grew, Bob stayed a step ahead with licenses for even bigger boats. He beamed and announced, “They ended up being the biggest crew boat company around at the time. I ended up getting a 3,000 ton license and a Celestial Endorsement, which meant I could use it anywhere in the world!” He patiently went over all the licenses and the distance allowed. I learned that, to go outside of the Gulf, you have to be licensed to navigate from a Sexton.
Once the shrimp were biting again, Linda Kenney would sell shrimp from the house and deliver them to people and restaurants. Bob was also selling from his ice chests. Then he found a guy that would sell from ice chests from at least five locations in Slidell, and he sold his shrimp in bulk to that entrepreneur. Bob pointed out the picture window, “He even sold at this particular spot right here in the parking lot. There used to be a gas station here that was built in the 1930s, and this was his main location. You may even remember those stacks of red and white ice chests? Every night, when I was finished shrimping, I’d bring them here about nine o’clock after he was closed. I would put them in a cooler and lock it with a key. Each cooler was for a different sized shrimp and drew a different price. But I was doing all the work, getting up at three o’clock in the morning, shrimping all day for 10 - 18 hours a day, seven days a week.”
One day, Bob learned that the property was for sale from the bank. His rationale was that it had been such a great
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spot that he wanted to buy it from the bank. He painted the scene: “The place was really banged up, and the windows were knocked out of the front of the building. I replaced all the windows, and talked to my wife because I thought we could do something there on our own. She agreed, so we did! We went to the city and they gave me a long list of everything I had to do to open a seafood market there. It was kind of overwhelming, but I went down the list and did everything they asked. I had two pots to boil 50 pounds of crawfish apiece. I was doing the cooking now, and my wife was out front. It was Friday, two weeks before the end of Lent, and there was no way we could keep up. After that, we just kept expanding and expanding. But you have to have a really good recipe to make it. So every time I’d go out somewhere I would order crawfish, and see which one was best, and I tried crawfish from everywhere. Charlotte, you know the one place I really liked the most? You probably don’t know it, but there’s a hole-in-the-wall in New Orleans called Whitey’s Pool Hall.”
I chimed in instantly, oh that place was the best, I loved it, my favorite place to eat crawfish! Tom took me there, and when it was time for the boil to be ready, everyone quit playing pool and they would put 4x8 boards over the pool tables. We ate on top of the pool tables, and the flavor was the best, coupled with iced cold beer. Now I knew why I loved the flavor so much at Kenney’s!
I started asking questions and learned there are things that are top secret. He will share a lot, but not everything. The word got around about Kenney’s special recipe, and the crawfish took off. Bob found himself adding more boiling pots. Now they have 10 large pots and 6 extra large ones that boil anywhere from 200 to 500 pounds of crawfish a piece. This meant they also had to keep expanding and remodeling the store because of the popularity. No matter how they grow, the customers keep coming, like me!
The problem is, everyone wants their crawfish piping hot, whether it is 11 in the morning, or five o’clock in the afternoon. Bob had it all figured out! He starts each pot five minutes apart. If he saw that business was slowing up, he would just space it out a little bit more, or vice versa. Let’s say you wanted 200 - 300 pounds of boiled crawfish for a party. No problem! Bob had those ready and piping hot at the designated time. Now, shrimp turned out to be a different problem. He didn’t sell as much shrimp relative to crawfish. But shrimp also have an added problem in that they tend to dehydrate when you cook them, so you lose a lot of weight compared to when you purchase them, almost half their weight. Shrimp also are harder to cook, but you and I both know, Kenney’s has got it down now.
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To my surprise, Bob added, “The most important thing for shrimp is to be able to peel them easy. The cooking time changes depending on the different times of the year. I have to be very hands on. The other thing, and this goes for all food, a lot of people like their food highly seasoned. Others are bringing them home to their little girls who may not like much seasoning, and I have to make everybody happy. It’s hard to strike that balance. If we get a head’s up, we can do anything, including salt free on special orders. Then there is the added challenge that a lot of customers want their seafood and vegetables mixed together. But we have to cook them all separately, because the cook time varies with every ingredient.”
In spite of all the thought and research Bob put into the food, he gives most of the credit to Linda. He adamantly insists, “She was the main person
that grew this business. You walk in our store and you walk out with a friend. She actually remembers those conversations, and asks about the sick child, or parent, or the broken boat motor, whatever you talked about. I don’t know how she could do that, but she could! It makes a world of difference to people. My memory is just not that good. She could recall how many kids our customers had, names, ages, it was unbelievable! She loved that part of the business.”
Speaking of kids, I wanted to know about the Kenney children. Remember that photo of the little girl steering the boat so intently? I pointed at it, and got a big laugh from Bob. Perplexed, I waited for the story. Bob admitted, “See those lines (ropes) on the steering wheel?” I squinted. “It was tied off so that Aimee couldn’t really steer, but she obviously believed she was. We just told her the story recently about
that, and had her come look at the picture up close.”
Both Aimee and her older brother Bobby loved to go out on the boat. Bobby is now a charter boat captain and runs crew boats like his dad.
Aimee and her husband, Brian Cappy, both worked for Bob in high school, and Brian took to it like a fish to water (ugh, bad pun, sorry!) They were the ones that helped get the store and restaurant going after Katrina. Bob and Linda’s house in Bay St. Louis was wiped out, but he managed to save the boats! They lived on a beautiful 75foot boat with staterooms for awhile. After Katrina, Bob and Linda stopped coming in every day. Now, they are both retired, but I could tell Bob was at the restaurant fairly often. Aimee and Brian own and operate Kenney’s. They started in slowly enough to learn all the nuances that Bob could teach them about the seafood market and
restaurant business. Their children come in and work here also now, including my friend Abby.
Bob assured me, “It’s definitely all about family. I can’t be away from my family, so we stay really close. I come nearly every day to see them, say hello, and order whatever is fresh. Speaking of which, are you hungry?”
I nearly jumped out of my seat. I’m certain he heard my belly every time a new table was served. Now, I got the Grand Tour. That place is a labyrinth, but eventually all the rooms circle back around to the dining rooms. The cooler area included a 5-6 foot ice bin for packing and shipping seafood. The boiling area was clean as could be, with a few boilers working at a time. Bob grabbed a tray, and started filling it with hot boiled shrimp and cold raw oysters. Soon, we had cold beer, fried fish and soft shell crabs that were so hot, we had to wait for them to cool.
We made small talk while we enjoyed our delectable meal. Bob told me about retired life. He does woodworking and gardening, and then Aimee bought him art supplies for Christmas. Now he has an abundance of paints, canvases and brushes and just started painting. Once we managed to push away from the table, he brought me out front to see the oyster shells he had painted. There was a basket full of shells with different types of fish hand painted on each one. Since then, he has painted a couple of landscapes, birds, and whatever moves him.
I asked about his bucket list. “My wife and I travel a little bit with the kids, as we have one granddaughter studying in Paris. Mostly, we just want to be around each other. We can’t stand to be away from each other too long. I’m very fortunate to have my children, and grandkids. They keep us busy and they keep us young.”
It makes me happy to know that my friend, his granddaughter, Abby, is interested in the business. She may even carry on the tradition one day. Bob agreed, “I would love to live long enough to see what goes on in Abby’s life because she is so capable. She comes in the store and she takes over. Everyone loves her smile and she is so good with people.”
There is one thing that keeps families together, and that is living near each other. I love seeing so many Slidell families coming back to Louisiana to share in each others’ lives. I know it’s helped my family be stronger.
I also think it’s the simple things, like going out as a family to enjoy a meal at Kenney’s or enjoying a sack of oysters or crawfish together. Louisiana families thrive on passing a good time and a good platter of seafood!
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Dutch Harbor, Alaska PART 2
Read Part 1 in the Sept 2022 Edition of
Story and photos by Donna Bush
Two months ago, I shared with you my first trip to my dream spot in Alaska - Dutch Harbor. I mentioned how difficult it is to travel 800+ miles out into the Aleutian Chain. The shear distance; unpredictable and often changing weather; plus, the challenge of landing and taking off at the airport, add to the complexity. Yet, for those brave enough to overcome these obstacles, the trip is beautiful and rewarding!
As I shared in the first edition, we had to replace our rental car, a vintage Ford Explorer, within about 4 hours of picking it up. While driving a very secluded mountain road, a mysterious alarm began to sound. The dashboard flashed an ominous message “SERVICE RSC NOW!” The ear-piercing noise would not stop for more than a minute or two at a time. This made it quite frustrating to drive and terrified any nearby wildlife. In addition to this, the check engine light was on and intermittently illuminated “change oil now.” As soon as we gained a bit of cell coverage, we called the agency who asked us to return to their location for a quick check. Of course, we were on a tight schedule as we were trying to make it to the hillside above the airport to shoot Ravn airplanes landing and taking off.
When we arrived, techs quickly appeared and began checking the vehicle. Initially, they thought they would be able to reset the code and we could continue on our trip. Another tech walked up to confer and stated that this particular code would continue to cause an alarm until the issue was repaired. He also explained that RSC stood for Roll Stability Control which helps the vehicle avoid rolling over. Sounds kinda’ necessary driving on gravel mountain roads. Bummer! Now what? Within a matter of minutes, they had another vehicle parked beside our previous rental and we were transferring our gear to the replacement. Wow! Each vehicle just gets larger! I’m not a fan of driving big vehicles but no way could I put up with the annoying alarm. Now we are sporting a Ford Excursion! As we drive off, I notice the illuminated change oil now on the dash screen. We quickly headed to the hillside for photos but were stopped by a crossing arm signal blocking the road. The crossing arm looked just like one you would see at a railroad crossing, but there weren’t any railroad tracks! Being curious, I asked Carlin why there was a crossing block. “It’s to stop traffic while airplanes take-off and land. We’ve actually had landing gear clip the roof of a vehicle!” After hearing this, we were happy to wait!
The arm lifted and we headed to take our photos. I slowed to a stop and thought I would roll down my driver’s side window. Well, that’s about all I was able to do; think about it. It did not budge! The passenger window had a mind of its own and would occasionally open when the button was pressed but rarely rolled up. Later, I realized the door lock button locked everything except the backseat
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passenger side. Such fun! We scored some great shots of both landing and take-off. Afterwards, we continued our tour of the island.
Prior to the trip, we had researched and targeted some subjects. On the list were the foxes of Dutch Harbor that roam the local neighborhoods, like a greeter welcoming you to visit.
Unangan folklore contains many references to the red fox, often referred to as a magical guide capable of transformation. The fox has long been known for its cunning and mischievous nature. While foxes were indigenous to Unalaska and Unimak Island, they did not exist on many of the other Alaskan islands. Arctic foxes from the Commander Islands were introduced on Attu in the 1750’s by the Russians. Over the years, both Arctic and red foxes were introduced across many of the Aleutian Islands for fur farming. However, this took a toll on ground nesting birds. Government policy changed from farming to fox removal. A drop in fur prices led to less interest in fox farming. On many of the islands, the foxes died off naturally or were over-trapped. The red fox out-competed the Arctic fox on Unalaska and reigned supreme. Nesting bird populations recovered once the Arctic foxes disappeared and red foxes were reluctant to swim to the nesting locations.
As Carlin guided us around, she shared, “You will see foxes everywhere.” Yet we didn’t. We were starting to wonder if we were jinxed when we saw one meandering across a parking lot. A few minutes later, we found another lounging inside the fence of the beautiful Russian Orthodox Church.
Also known as the Church of the Holy Ascension, this National Historic Landmark was built in 1898 and has been the spiritual center of the Unalaska community ever since. It was regularly maintained by parishioners until their internment in Southeast Alaska, at which time the military used the Church as a warehouse for the next 3 years with no maintenance. Upon returning home, locals found their beloved Church in terrible disrepair with holes in the roof,
missing shingles, and broken windows, allowing the wind and rain to wreak havoc. The destruction was so great, the modest parishioners could not afford the extensive repairs needed. Only patch work was performed as the building continued to deteriorate. In 1970, the Church was designated a National Historic Landmark and, in 1996, it was restored to its original splendor with funding from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, and the Russian Orthodox Church. Next door to the Church is the Bishop’s House designed and constructed in 1882 in San Francisco. The distinctive Italianate styling and Victorian trim was shipped piece by piece to Unalaska where it was reassembled at its present site. It was destined for Bishop Nestor, who unfortunately was lost at sea during his travel to Unalaska and never lived in the home.
One of the big perks to hiking in this part of the State is the lack of bears and bugs! Trust me, you cannot say this about many places in Alaska. Most of the State is plagued by ferocious biting insects that include black flies, deer flies, biting midges and mosquitos. While we didn’t have a lot of time, we did manage to hike a section of the Ugadaga Trail, which leads from Overland Pass Road down to Ugadaga Bay. The hike offered amazing vistas of the treeless tundra dotted with tiny wildflowers, along with the beauty of the Bay.
Speaking of flowers, the lupine around the island really put on a show for us. Lupine are perennials and part of the pea family, with stunningly showy blue to purple flowers. Some of the genus’ seed pods can be toxic. It is best to avoid eating them.
The Aleutian Islands provide a rich, diverse and thriving marine ecosystem which is home to over 450 species of fish and invertebrates. This is one of the reasons Dutch Harbor is a huge mecca for commercial fishing of Pacific halibut, pollock, Pacific cod, Atka mackerel, red king crab, sablefish and Tanner (or snow) crab. Several species of salmon, rockfish, flounder, shrimp and sea urchins also
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inhabit the area. With all this delicious and tasty seafood, there’s no wonder that the waters are rich with year-round sea otters, sea lions, and harbor seals. The summer months bring humpback whales and harbor porpoises to the bay area; while orcas, Pacific white-sided dolphins, sperm and gray whales are occasionally seen further out to sea.
As we motored through the bay and out to sea for our boat tour, we were thrilled to see the first schools of herring moving in the bay. Where herring are, they will soon be humpback whales!
We motored around several waterfalls and even went ashore to photograph a beautiful waterfall with lupine and other wildflowers in bloom. Nearby were a pair of pigeon guillemots perched on a rock. These black seabirds sport a distinctive white wing bar and large red, webbed feet. They are said to “fly” underwater, swimming with their wings to propel them. Like humpback whales, they enjoy a tasty meal of herring, as well as other small seafood creatures. We were able to see both tufted and horned puffins as we motored around a rookery island nicknamed “puffin island.” In the same Alcid family as pigeon guillemots, the puffins also swim underwater using their wings for propulsion and feet for steering. Both puffins spend the majority of their time in the water and only come ashore for nesting. Mating
for life, the pair both raise and care for their single chick. In order to avoid predation by bald eagles and peregrine falcons, puffins flock together in large groups in the water and fly between nesting and feeding areas as a group in a distinctive pattern resembling a wheel, making attacks difficult.
We visited a haul-out for the endangered Steller sea lion. A haul-out is where these huge mammals rest when not in the water foraging for food. The average adult male is over 10 feet in length and weighs 1245 pounds. While smaller, females average a little over 8 feet in length and 579 pounds. They breed in June, but the fertilized egg does not implant until October with birth taking place the following June. As you might imagine, their diet is entirely seafood. Although they do not migrate, they will change haul-out locations based on seasonal concentrations of their favorite prey.
Of course, we saw one of my favorite marine mammals –the sea otter; who eats, sleeps, mates and gives birth in the water. These cute creatures are actually members of the weasel family, which includes wolverines, minks, martens and badgers. Air trapped in their fur help them to maintain their body temperature in the cold water. They lose this insulation capability if the fur becomes soiled or matted with oil. This is one of the reasons they are often seen meticulously grooming themselves. They rarely travel far
unless an area becomes overpopulated causing a scarcity of food.
Sea otter moms raise their single pup alone without any assistance from the father or any relatives. She will be 24/7 as she raises her infant for the next six to eight months until old enough to survive on its own. The adult is often seen cuddling young on their chest as they bob up and down in the water, like a fishing cork. Curious and cautious creatures, when approached they may dive and surface a bit further away, warily watching; or they may lift their head out of the water to observe and appear as if waving to you.
After a wonderful boat tour of the area, we began our return to the dock. Prior to entering the protected waters, right around where we saw the herring feeding earlier, we think we see a spout or blow from a whale. Our captain paused our forward motion as we all scanned the horizon looking for more blows/spouts, which are a plume of water formed when a whale exhales at the surface. Once we sighted another one, we stayed put and watched as
they got closer, surfacing quite near our boat. Our captain turned off the engines and we drifted for over a mile with a mom and calf humpback whale swimming circles around our boat, staying with us the entire way. Carlin and our Captain shared, “These are the first humpbacks we’ve seen this summer!”
As I mentioned before, bald eagles are quite prolific in Dutch Harbor. The population of 4700 people live among approximately 500 or more eagles; perching on light poles and docked or motoring trawlers, picking through trash or swooping in to grab someone’s lunch or grocery bag. With the fishing industry of Dutch hauling in millions of pounds of pollack, cod and crab, it is no wonder eagles flock to the Harbor. Even though many locals consider them to be overgrown pigeons, they take it in stride. After all, they are the National Bird of our Country and protected from harassment by federal law.
We were limited to how much time we could spend on the island by my return flight. Hoping to pack as much
as possible into our trip, we flew to Dutch on the first flight of the morning and scheduled our return for the last flight of the day at 7:30pm. After an action-packed first day, we began to hear reports of a major storm headed our way. Hmmm! We might actually get to experience the challenge of flight out of Dutch! We were able to reschedule our boat tour from early Wednesday morning to Tuesday afternoon. Even then, the wind and seas were starting to pick up. Over dinner that night, we discussed our options of maybe taking an earlier return flight to Anchorage. Cathy reached her Ravn Airlines contact who agreed that would be the smarter thing to do. We stopped by the airport and were able to change our flights to the first flight of the day. It turned out to be a really good choice, as the two other flights were cancelled for that day and the next!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my bucket list trip to Dutch Harbor, far out in the Aleutian Chain of Islands. Perhaps this has piqued your interest in pursuing your own bucket list, or maybe even getting off the beaten path!
How to Identify Different Whales by their Blow
The shape and size of the blow is distinctive to each species, based on the size and shape of their blowhole. Gray whales, for example, have a double blow-hole, and their spouts are heart-shaped. Humpback whales have a tall, column-shaped blow. And orcas typically have a bushy-shaped blow.
“Your Estate Matters”
By Ronda M. Gabb, NP, JD, RFC
FREEZE LOUISIANA SECURITY
Do you worry that someone may “steal your identity” and open new credit lines if they obtain your Social Security Number (SSN)?
If so, there is a way to “freeze” your credit file so that no one (not even you) may access it without your unique personal identification number (PIN) issued by each credit bureau. The good news is once your credit is frozen you could put your SSN on a billboard without a worry in the world. The bad news is that you better not lose your PIN number! I was probably one of the first people to freeze my credit and a month later all my PINs got destroyed by Katrina! It was not an easy task to get them reissued.
Louisiana was actually one of the very first states to implement this “security freeze” law back in July of 2005. The actual law is found at La. R.S. 9:3571.1, but for a layperson, the best information can be found if you simply do a GOOGLE search for “Credit Freeze”. After all the “AD” links and websites that come up first, then scroll down and look for either the consumer.ftc.gov or nerdwallet.com links. Both will have direct links to click on to do the credit freeze online and will also list the telephone numbers (see below).
You must contact and freeze with each credit bureau individually. The “Big 3” are the most important: 1) Experian (1-888-397-3742), 2) Equifax (1-800-685-1111), and 3) Transunion (1-888-909-8872). However, there are two other smaller reporting bureaus that you may want to contact as well: Innovis (1-866-712-4546) and National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange (1-866-349-5355).
The good news is that since September 21, 2018, it is all FREE! It is free to both freeze and “thaw”. This change is due in large part to the huge Equifax data breach of 2017 that affected almost half of the U.S. population (145 million people)! Prior to this change, it was only free for those 62 and older.
Once your SSN is frozen, no one may access your credit information without knowing your unique PIN, not even you. If anyone tries to access your credit file through your SSN it will come back as being “blocked” or “frozen”. This even applies to the Social Security Administration itself for some activities, like opening an online account with SSA.gov. In order to do this after the freeze, you must contact your local social security office (and be forewarned, that may be a LONG wait).
To allow access to your credit (to open a new bank account, credit card, or get a credit score or loan, etc.), you must plan in advance and “thaw” the freeze for the amount of time needed to run your credit report. I recommend that you call ahead and ask the bank (or lender) exactly which bureau they use to pull credit reports so that you only need to lift the freeze from that particular bureau. This “thaw” usually occurs within the hour. Be aware that many mortgage lenders require a “triangulated” credit report so that all three major bureaus must be lifted at the same time.
You can also have a security freeze placed on the credit file of “protected persons”. This would be minors or someone who has been interdicted by the Court (placed under a legal guardianship).
In my opinion, the benefits of having a security freeze still far outweigh the downsides, mostly just having to plan a little bit ahead. I no longer pay for any credit monitoring services, but you still need to keep a good eye on your open credit cards/accounts as the freeze only applies to opening new credit/accounts, and doesn’t protect those you already have in place.
A security freeze also solves a problem that is becoming increasingly rampant—new credit lines being opened literally a day or two after someone’s death. When the SSN is “locked”, no new credit may be opened, even post-death. If this freeze was not in place at the time of death, the credit bureaus will not “lock” a deceased person’s SSN until they are in receipt of a death certificate. Another disturbing trend is that death certificates can take weeks (or even months depending on the manner and place of death) before they are issued.
A security freeze is certainly worth the minimal effort (and now NO COST) to give yourself peace of mind and prevent the huge hassle caused by identity theft. And last but not least, NEVER give your personal information to anyone who has contacted you directly by telephone or email. Do not call the numbers provided, or click any links in emails from unknown sources. Realize they often seem legitimate, and it is easy to be fooled. Instead, find the telephone number on your statements, or go to their “official” https:// (the “S” means secure) website. If you are cautious and follow these recommendations, you will protect your identity and minimize your chance of being scammed.
See other articles and issues of interest!
40 Louis Prima Drive (off Hwy 190, behind Copeland’s) • Covington, Louisiana • (985) 892-0942 • RondaMGabb.com Ronda M. Gabb is a Board Certified Estate Planning and Administration Specialist certified by the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization. She is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the Governor’s Elder Law Task Force. Ronda grew up in New Orleans East and first moved to Slidell in 1988, and now resides in Clipper Estates. GABB MORRISON LEGER LLP Estate Planning & Elder Law Practice A LOUISIANA
STARC of Louisiana’s mission is impressive. For individuals with disABILITIES in St. Tammany and four surrounding parishes, STARC provides a lifetime of Services, Training, Advocacy, Resources and Community Connections.
But it’s how STARC achieves its goal that is truly awe-inspiring. Their programs and services in early intervention, day care, respite care, work training, vocational employment, home care and residential living help move individuals through a life-long process toward greater well-being and independence. Their reach is broad, yet their attention to detail is vigilant. At STARC, there is truly something for everyone.
This November, STARC is celebrating their FIFTY YEAR anniversary. Many of us don’t know what our community would look like without STARC; they have always been a part of what makes Slidell and St. Tammany Parish the best place to live, work and play. Other than the services they provide to those who may otherwise be overlooked, STARC is an economic boom for our parish. They are one of St. Tammany’s largest employers. Even more telling of their
impact is that many of the STARC families will attest that they chose to move to St. Tammany Parish specifically because of STARC’s services.
My relationship with STARC is a long one. Some of my earliest memories are helping volunteer with my mom at the STARC picnics held at the Elk’s Lodge. When I was 20, I began working at STARC as a Personal Care Attendant, helping three different families care for their children. One of these children, Ginger Graham, is my friend still today. I helped care for Ginger throughout her senior year of high school. She has Spina Bifida and is in a wheelchair, but her intellectual capacity is the same as mine. We were close in age and became best friends. I accompanied her on her senior trip to Disney World, allowing her parents to take their very first vacation alone together in twenty years. It was a magical time for everyone.
In 2010, I created Slidell Magazine. For my very first cover, I decided to picture the 8 most prominent figures in Slidell (in my opinion), each representing a different quality that made Slidell the best place on earth. One of those eight individuals was previous STARC
Executive Director, Dianne Baham. She represented Charity and Faith and, even amongst the mayor and sheriff, etc, she was the most recognizable face on the cover. STARC touches all our lives in some way.
To celebrate the big 5-0, I sat down with STARC’s Executive Director Mark Baham and caught up on all the awesomeness that is happening now and planned for the future of St. Tammany’s most beloved charity. How it all began: Heaven’ story Heaven was a beautiful little girl, born completely normal. She was the first child to her parents Laura and Gerald Delaup. At six months of age, Heaven was bitten by a mosquito carrying encephalitis, causing her brain to cease development. For the next couple of years, Laura took her to many different doctors and specialists. They all pretty much told her the same thing – Heaven would likely be a vegetable and they should put her in an institution and get on with their lives. 50 years ago, that was the norm. But Laura refused to accept that. She got to work. She did her own research and she brought different volunteers into her home.
By Kendra Maness
They did what’s called “hand-overhand therapy”, using muscle memory. One person would get on each arm and one on each leg and they taught Heaven how to crawl and, eventually, how to walk.
Because of Heaven and her parents’ incredible efforts, STARC was born in 1972. Heaven has never spoken; yet she is her parents’ greatest teacher. Heaven is now 57 years old and continues to require 24-hour care.
As Heaven’s needs have grown over the years, so have STARC’s capabilities. Today, STARC offers more than 35 varied programs, services and supports that enrich and enhance the lives of more than 1,000 individuals with disABILITIES and their families. Heaven, for example, is a resident of The Potter’s Clay Community home, where she lives happily, comfortably, and safely with seven other ladies who also have developmental disABILITIES. STARC’s countless devoted employees, board members, advocates, and volunteers make it possible.
Mark begins, “Our mission is to serve individuals with developmental disABILITIES. We like to say that we’re a voice for those who don’t have a voice.”
Mark has been employed at STARC for 22 years, but you could say he was “raised” on the STARC philosophies and mission. Almost 50 years ago, about 6 months after STARC began, Mark’s mother, Dianne Baham, was hired at STARC. She went on to serve as the Executive Director for 47 years, until Mark took over in January 2019 (just before the pandemic, bless his heart). “STARC’s been my life for my entire life,” he says. “I really feel it’s my purpose.” After serving in the military and graduating Southeastern with a degree in Marketing and a minor in Management, Mark had big plans of moving to Houston to pursue a career in pharmaceutical sales. There was a little marketing PR position starting at STARC and Dianne encouraged Mark to get his feet wet in the business world before he headed off to Houston. Mark laughs, “She knew, once you get here, you’re hooked. Everybody here loves their job. She always said that she could tell, as I was growing up, the way I would connect with the individuals with disABILITIES, that it was just what I was supposed to do. I didn’t see it back then, but I see it now.” Mark served in marketing, then as a coordinator of one of the Day Centers, then as Assistant Director for four years before the board hired him as Executive Director. He is quick to credit his mentors, “Dianne’s passion and the way she emotionally connects with people is what’s gotten us to the place we are today. She and Laura are rockstars. They were just a perfect partnership.”
Over the past 50 years, STARC’s reach and services have grown exponentially. “We have such a generous and compassionate community here that has supported STARC over the years. It’s allowed us to do the things we do,” Mark notes.
began serving adults and the name changed from Children to Citizens.” About ten years ago, Mark initiated a name change to better symbolize the STARC mission. “We wanted to keep STARC because we were so well known, but we changed what it stands for. I try to educate the community and let them know we no longer use the word ‘retarded.’” STARC is now an acronym that perfectly represents the vast scope of work they do: Services. Training. Advocacy, Resources. Community Connections. Brilliant!
Another change you will notice throughout this story was brought about by Dianne Baham. Dianne sought to focus on an individual’s abilities rather than their disabilities so, disABILITIES is now used exclusively at STARC. You will also hear the terms varying abilities, differing abilities, and different types of abilities. Great changes!
STARC’s services do not change based upon the income level of their clientele. Nearly all clients of STARC are eligible for services through Medicaid and there are scholarships available for families that don’t get funding.
At a ceremony Sept. 27, 2022, STARC renamed their Fremaux Complex “The Laura Delaup Center.” Pictured are l-r: Dianne Baham, Gerald and Laura Delaup with their daughter Heaven in the center, and STARC Executive Director Mark Baham. STARC’s Mandeville Campus center has been renamed “The Dianne Baham Center.”
The STARC acronym reflects the scope of their services as times and needs have changed over the past half-century. “We formed in 1972 and only served three children, one of which is Heaven. At that time, the name STARC stood for St. Tammany Association for Retarded Children. As the years went by and we grew, we
It’s impossible to list ALL of what STARC does. How can you enumerate everything involved in raising a child? Now, think of that, times 1,000, every single day, for their lifetime. Add in providing extremely specialized care and meeting medical needs while riding legislative roller coasters to fight
for funding and advocating for their clients. All while providing education, resources, support and love for the families. Whew!
Here’s a glimpse of the nuts and bolts that make up the structure of STARC’s services:
STARC’s early intervention Early Steps services are available to any child from birth to 36 months old who has a developmental delay.
The program offers services as dictated by the Individualized Family Service Plan. Services listed in the child’s plan may be accessed through private providers who are registered through the Early Steps program.
STARC may provide services that include Occupational therapy, Speech/ Language therapy, Physical therapy, special instruction and family training. “We provide therapy in a family’s home for kids before they go into the school system. They need the help reaching milestones in their lives. From 3 to 21, they are in the school system. After that, they can come back to us. I think it’s such an important program because some of these kids, like autistic children, usually aren’t diagnosed until they’re two and they’ve already missed a ton of milestones.”
The Family Support Services provided directly to the child enable a family to keep the child at home to enhance family function. For example, STARC can
assist families in obtaining necessary supplies, such as those for incontinence, and in-home supports/personal care attendants.
STARC will also provide Environmental Accessibility Adaptations, which means they can help with any physical adaptation of the family home or vehicle necessary to ensure the health, welfare, and safety of the child and/or which enables the child to function with greater independence in the home.
Mark adds, “We have what’s called a Single Point of Entry person here, so a family can call if they have any sort of need and she directs them or gets them the information they need, even if it’s not a STARC service. Let’s say there’s a 2-year-old who was just diagnosed with autism. If they haven’t already gotten Medicaid, she goes through the process of how to get funding. If they’re in dire need and they don’t have funding, we figure out a way to help them right off the bat. We have money budgeted to be able to do this kind of thing. The Single Point of Entry person is so important because the parents are just devastated trying to just live and figure it out. It’s a hard process to go through so she helps them.”
STARC provides a home and 24-hour care for 16 ladies and 16 men throughout 4 residential homes in St. Tammany Parish. The homes have eight private bedrooms for the residents, plus living accommodations for the staff. They have large, spacious kitchens and common rooms, are all handicap accessible including restroom and bathing facilities to meet any specialized care needs, and each resident has their own climate control for their room. One home is in Slidell, one in Covington and the two newest homes are in Mandeville. All have beautiful and secure yards that provide lots of outdoor recreation.
One of the things that most impressed me when I visited the homes was the varying degree of abilities of the residents, which makes for a great mixture. Mark agrees, “Every one of our homes has very high functioning folks that can pretty much do everything
themselves - feed themselves, toilet themselves, bathe themselves, get themselves dressed. Then, every one of our homes has total care folks that need help with all of that. Some are wheelchair dependent total care. That’s one thing that really sets STARC apart from many other residential facilities –we take ALL abilities. I’m proud of that.”
“We have our Adult East Program in Slidell and a mirror program of that in Mandeville called Adult West. Folks come in, some of them work on bead contracts, some go out in the community doing activities, they do art… it’s a wide variety of things Monday - Friday during the day. Again, in the Adult Programs, we serve everyone, from the severeprofound to our higher functioning individuals.”
Some clients are transported there by buses from STARC, particularly if they are living in one of STARC’s residential homes. Other clients receive transportation from COAST or their parents.
“Our day programs are great services. For the clients that live at home, it allows their parents an opportunity to work, while giving their adult children an opportunity to have a productive, fun-filled day. We call it ‘the gift of time.’ These families just need time to be able to do their normal routine because, when you’re caring for an adult with a disABILITY, it’s nonstop.” The programs are also part of the daily
life for the clients who live in the STARC residential homes, as well as other residential communities that provide housing for adults with disABILITIES.
Supported Employment Program
STARC’s Supported Employment Program is for their higher functioning individuals. “We find them jobs in the community and then we provide a job coach. If you would like to hire one of our folks who’s autistic or has Down Syndrome, for example, you might not be able to train that person effectively. So, we have a job coach who goes through the whole training process with them. Then they do ‘follow-alongs’ and visit as needed. The manager contacts the job coach if there’s any sort of thing they need to work out. The businesses get tax breaks for hiring our folks.” Winn-Dixie and Rouses have been long-term partners, as well as many small businesses throughout the parish. “We have a lady who just made her 22nd year at Goodwill! They’ve been great to work with for decades. We also have a gentleman with autism who just made 10 years at Goodwill. He was a door greeter and he just made production manager!”
You don’t have to have a developmental delay to work in supported employment. Individuals work at a variety of different businesses, including working at STARC itself, where 52 of the 228 employees have a disABILITY. For example, STARC employee Laura Garrity, who was spotlighted as a Slidell Magazine
Extraordinary Slidell Neighbor, is blind. She’s a whiz at just about everything she does, as I found out when she politely corrected the grammar and spelling mistakes in her story. Wait, she’s BLIND! What the heck? “Laura is amazing. She uses technology to convert things to Braille or to have her computer read things out loud. She’s an asset to our staff,” Mark says. “We have 142 individuals in the Supported Employment program throughout our service area, which covers the Florida parishes.” Tony is another great example. From her wheelchair, she may be small in stature, but her impact is large. “Tony works in our HR Department and runs all our background checks. The board identifies money every year for me to hire these clients. It helps STARC as well as the clients.”
Supervised Independent Living Services (SIL)
The SIL Services assist individuals aged 18 years or older to acquire, improve, or maintain social and adaptive skills necessary to enable them to reside in the community and to participate as independently as possible. Individuals who receive this service may choose to live in an apartment or home, with or without roommates, given the proper level of support. STARC currently owns two shared SIL homes, one of which was donated through a benefit estate plan. It’s staffed the same as the STARC residential homes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, it’s just funded differently. Planning your estate with STARC in mind can provide lifetimes of care!
Better Way Services
STARC serves St. Tammany Parish Schools by picking up, laundering, repackaging, and delivering mop heads to 55 schools throughout the parish. Because the St. Tammany Parish School Board outsources its mop-cleaning needs, STARC clients enjoy meaningful work. There’s also the popular Mardi Gras beads program and the STARC Art Program. “The individuals love having the responsibility of a job, it makes them feel valued and needed. They can work at their individual pace and receive minimum wage. It’s their money; it’s important to them. They have a lot of pride in having a job.”
There are so many stories within the STARC story. Mark told me about Paul and Mark, brothers who have been STARC clients for 30 years. “When Mark first came to us, he wouldn’t say a word. Now you can’t get him to stop talking! Paul is a character, he’s really funny. He works on the janitorial mobile crew at the hospital where he is affectionately known as ‘The Mayor of Ochsner.’ He greets everyone with the same humor and friendly familiarity. One day, as he was passing the physician’s desk in the ER where the doctors and nurses had their heads bent over their work, he declared with his hands held high, ‘Hold all my calls!’ The whole place started laughing.”
The Mardi Gras Beads Recycling program has grown exponentially over the years. STARC individuals sort beads by color and length, which helps them improve
their fine motor and recognition skills, while socializing with their fellow workers and earning a paycheck. Each client works at his or her own pace and within their level of ability, with guidance and encouragement from the staff and their fellow workers. The recycled beads not only provide therapy, employment, and socialization for STARC clients, they also prevent landfill waste and are a FANTASTIC value for any float rider to get high-quality throws at affordable prices. Love love this program! When you’re catching beads from my float this year, you are helping support STARC! How cool is that?
The STARC Art Program has become something of a phenomenon in our community these past few years. I’ve been proud to showcase STARC Art on three of my Slidell Magazine covers as well as throughout my home. All individuals enrolled in STARC programs or who receive STARC services are eligible to participate. Local artists, all of whom specialize in highlighting the artistic abilities of individuals with disABILITIES, engage the clients in a variety of art activities. This outstanding art program gives individuals with disABILITIES a chance to earn money as they enjoy personal growth, self-expression and a sense of pride and accomplishment. The artists who participate in STARC Art explore their unique artistic talents in a variety of media. Completed works may be matted, framed, or otherwise displayed and sold at outlets throughout the state.
The STARC Art Program is completely funded by donations and money raised by STARC. “We do it for our folks, and we are blessed to have the financial support of the community. We put all of our money raised back into our programs and our folks.”
Prints from the STARC artists’ work are also used to make note cards, which are then sold through STARC and at locations statewide. You can shop their wonderful selections by visiting the Fremaux Administrative Complex or online: www.starcla.org.
Throughout the interview, Mark continually notes that all the STARC services and successes wouldn’t be possible without the support of the STARC employees and the community.
“We have been blessed with amazing employees, some of them here for 30 or more years. We’re a non-profit, so you know they could make more money working somewhere else. There’s another quote that we like to use when we talk about our employees – ‘To make a difference in someone’s life, you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful, or perfect; you just have to care.’ We appreciate our employees. We have an annual end-of-the-year party and awards for them, but it’s also on a daily basis. It’s a philosophy that runs all the way through every single person at STARC.”
“We have a great, visionary board of directors made-up of many different professions. We always like to have parents of individuals with disABILITIES on our board because they provide a completely different perspective on how you look at things.”
When he starts talking about STARC’s community partnerships, Mark’s eyes grow wide. “It’s unbelievable! I mean, truly driven by God! We have so many great community partnerships!”
One of my favorite events of the year is the Starlight Ball, which is a STARC community partnership. “Adams and Reese Law Firm wanted to do something for us years ago. Laura Delaup said, ‘You know, Heaven never had a prom.’ From there, the Starlight Ball was born. It’s a great event where the individuals come in limousines, tuxedos, and evening gowns. We have a court. Adams and Reese decorates the gym, they provide all the food, the music, everything.”
STARC also holds smaller, quarterly dances that give their clients the opportunity to mingle and socialize, eat great food, and dance the night away.
Funding is always present-of-mind with any charity and STARC is no exception. “We’re talking about full-time, 24hour days, seven days a week of lifetime care. All that costs a tremendous amount and there’s always a need for funding. We strive to go above and beyond for our people and our programs. 80¢ of every dollar that we bring in is spent on programs and services.” But Mark notes, “Not everything is a financial number. We don’t always measure the bottom line by net profit or loss. We measure by the difference we’re making. We are changing someone’s day or someone’s life. We are providing a meaningful job and a meaningful service.”
Chuckling, Mark tells me a hilarious fundraising story: “One time, I was going to give a presentation to a company for a large grant. I always like to bring one of our participants so they can see who we’re serving. I asked a young man to go with me and I told him to dress nice. I picked him up and he had gone to Party City and bought a plastic suit with $100 bills all over it! I’m in a boardroom with my buddy here in his plastic money suit!” And guess what? They got the grant!
The community partnership stories make me proud to live in St. Tammany Parish. Again, there are too many to tell, but here are just a few:
Jazz on the Bayou was the biggest fundraiser for STARC for many years but has sadly ended with the passing of founders Ronnie and Gardner Kole. Through God’s grace,
STARC has formed new partnerships with business and civic organizations to help offset the loss of revenue.
“After Jazz on the Bayou stopped, we were really worried about losing that fundraiser. About that time, In-Telecom contacted us and wanted to help. We had a jambalaya cook-off at their building and raised $12,000 in a day! Then they offered to do a golf tournament for us. We had our first annual golf tournament in October 2021, and it was a massive success. This year’s tournament was even bigger!”
There is also an annual tennis tournament held by Pam Brandner that has raised money for 23 years.
For over 25 years, Norman and June Hardy have held a Thanksgiving banquet, serving hundreds of individuals in the Adult Program a bountiful dinner.
Another great community partner is Blue Jean Farms. “We have a group that goes out to their stable every Friday. They ride the horses and clean the stables. They love the interaction with the animals.”
STARC’s newest building is being constructed by K.B. Kaufmann, another big supporter of STARC for many years.
And, of course, the Slidell Elks Lodge is still holding those wonderful picnics for STARC that I remember from my childhood.
And, Mark reminds me again, there are many, many more over the past 50
years and currently that are not listed here but all are so very appreciated!
Through the volunteer services of specially trained coaches, STARC provides individuals of all ability levels an opportunity to participate in Special Olympics bowling and bocce events. STARC individuals who train for these events are invited to compete against others of similar age, ability, and gender in the local, state and national Special Olympics games. Individuals can earn gold, silver, or bronze medals, or fourth- through eighth-place ribbons in each event. The rules accommodate all levels of athletic ability and enable individuals to compete against athletes of similar skills so that all have a fair chance to win.
SMILE FOR THE CAMERA!
STARC recently began a partnership with Faught Marketing to create videos that run on their social media pages. “Our video of Sheriff for the Day got about 50,000 views!” Mark notes. “We film two videos a month. It’s a great way to keep the community informed and engaged. I did a virtual tour of our homes and facilities during the COVID lockdown because we couldn’t have any visitors. You can still see it on our Facebook page. It’s important because people want to invest in success, and some may not realize the size we’ve grown to.”
If you want to make your day better, I encourage you to visit STARC’s Facebook page: Starc of Louisiana, Inc or their website: www.starcla.org, or look them up on YouTube. Smiles are GUARANTEED!
“I want to continue to educate the public so that everybody can be an ambassador for people with disABILITIES and STARC,” Mark says. “Fetal alcohol syndrome remains a leading cause for developmental disABILITY and it’s totally preventable. I think the public needs to know more about that.”
Mark’s vision also includes expanding STARC’s services. “We’re always going to do the different things; but, to me, our residential program is our most important service because of the enhanced lives folks are living with the services that we’re providing. They’re living better lives and longer lives. 30 years ago, if you had a son or daughter with a disABILITY, you didn’t have to worry about them outliving you. Now, we get them set up and take great care of them for the rest of their lives. I want to continue to grow that program. There’s a moratorium on beds in Louisiana so I can’t just go and open a residential home. You have to have the licensed bed to be able to bill Medicaid. We have to buy them from another provider. There’s a waiting list for this service, so I definitely want to grow it.”
His vision also includes developing new programs for the families STARC serves. “One of the main things that I want to do in the future is build a Respite Center within one of our facilities. I think that’s very important, maybe like a weekend respite center. Say you have a son or daughter with special needs at home and you and your spouse want to go away for the weekend. You can get them signed up to stay in our respite center over the weekend and we will staff it and make sure they’re taken care. That’s what I’ve got people working on right now.” Mark sums up, “It’s all about the gift of time.”
Congratulations STARC on 50 incredible years!
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DEATH ON THE PEARL
Deep friendships usually don’t develop overnight, but for some relationships there is a defining moment when an occurrence solidifies a bond that may have been growing for a long time. Such was the case with Freddie Brumfield and Johnny Mays.
During the mid-1930s in rural communities, a high school graduating class could be very small. This was due to the area being sparsely populated; and the fact that, by high school, many had dropped out. Education may not have been deemed important. Freddie and Johnny were two of only 18 students in the class of 1942. With so few to choose from, you were friends with almost everyone; but in their case, they developed a special bond. It
was due to an incident that happened on a cold, late-October night in 1938.
The friends enjoyed fishing on the nearby Pearl River and hunting in the adjacent Honey Island Swamp that lay just on the opposite side of the river. On that day, their plan was to squirrel hunt. Using a small skiff and outboard, they traveled two miles downstream and lashed the boat to a cypress tree on the opposite side of the river.
That afternoon, the weather worsened and it began to rain. The boys realized they needed to get back to their boat and return to the dock. Both boys pulled the starter rope until they were exhausted, but the outboard wouldn’t start. They realized they were stranded until help came, which could be the next morning.
Neither felt any life-threatening danger; but they realized, to have any comfort from the cold and rain, they would have to improvise. They gathered firewood and drained gasoline from the outboard. To further ignite the wet wood, they carved kindling from a fat pine stump. As dark set in, the straitline wind gusted to 60 mile per hour. Without the fire, they would have been in danger of hypothermia. It was, to say the least, a very uncomfortable experience and they were pleased to be rescued the next morning. Neither knew what a mystery that night would produce in the years to come.
There is something almost universal that kids and even teenagers enjoy doing. That is to build their own cozy, small place.
Club of Slidell North Shore In Our Community In Our World Rotary Club of Slidell North Shore meets every Tuesday at 7:30AM Pinewood Country Club
RCSN member Dr. Scott Bonson with Rotarian Ntambi Salongo from Kampala, Uganda. RCSN made a generous donation to the “Save A Life” heart program in Uganda.
RCSN members build school desks for at-home learning for children in Slidell.
Young children may place blankets over chairs to create dark rooms beneath. Older kids will build a fort. Others built tarpaper shacks. Based on their experience of being stranded on the river, Johnny and Freddie had a much grander idea. They would build a houseboat. It would be their get-a-way and maybe a place that some other stranded fisherman or hunter could shelter if needed.
They scavenged material. The boat would float on pontoons built of 55-gallon drums, welded together and coated with tar to retard rust. There would be ten drums on each side. It would be twenty-five feet long, eight feet wide and include a front porch. They built four bunks inside and heated it with a small potbellied stove. A kerosene stove was used for cooking and kerosene lamps for lighting. It was quiet impressive when complete and they moored it to the same cypress tree they had tied their skiff when they were stranded.
They used it often. Over the next few years, the two became maybe closer than brothers.
For a high school graduate in the waning years of the Great Depression, there were few opportunities for young men, and even less for young women. Freddie knew he wanted to be in law enforcement. Due to his love for the river and the swamp, he thought of being a game warden.
Johnny was less outgoing than Freddie, and maybe less ambitious. He had not given much thought to his career. One thing he did know was that two days after graduation, he would marry Mary Ellen. The two had been an item since seventh grade and never dated anyone else. Mary Ellen spent her senior year planning her wedding, but she had a more pressing obsession. She wanted a baby as soon after marriage as possible and spent even more time planning for that.
On December 7, 1941, their lives, as well as the rest of the world’s, would change. President Roosevelt said it was the “Day of Infamy.” Pearl Harbor was bombed; and shortly afterward, both Johnny and Freddie knew their future would be redirected.
In April of 1942, they knew it would be their duty to enter the military. Johnny tried to explain to Mary Ellen that it was the thing to do and, in fact, he had no choice. If he did not join, he would be drafted. She insisted on marriage before he enlisted and maybe she could have a baby while he was gone. Johnny knew this was not a good idea. There were already local boys that were being killed in combat. He didn’t want to leave a widow; or worse, a widow with a child. Mary Ellen resented him for that but promised she would wait.
Freddie chose to join the Marines. Johnny, on the insistence of his mother, joined the Navy. She said if he had to die, she wanted him to die clean, not in some muddy trench like the photos she had seen of WWI. No one knew at the time it would be over three years before they would return home. Each time the mail came, Johnny would search for a letter from Mary Ellen first. He expected a “Dear John.” After all, she resented the postponement of their wedding and being a mother was most important to her. When he received a letter, he quickly read the first paragraph and the last. Somehow, he felt he could get the gist of the letter quickly. The “Dear John” letter never came.
Both Freddie and Johnny were involved in combat. Most notably, Freddie at Iwo Jima among other places; and Johnny would be at the invasion of Okinawa. Feddie would be wounded, not life-threatening, but he would be awarded a Purple Heart. Johnny would later tell his story, or at least part of it. He remembered the dawn of Easter Sunday. As the sun rose, the invasion fleet was in place. It seemed like he could see ships anchored for miles. He said, at first, it was the most beautiful morning he had ever seen. But then the kamikazes came. That is all he would talk about, but that does not begin to tell the story. His ship got hit by a downed kamikaze. Luckily, the entire explosive package did not activate, but there was damage, and he was struck by shrapnel. There were several wounds, mostly to his lower abdomen. As soon as possible, he was evacuated to a hospital ship, the USS Mercy. In a few
days, a doctor gave him the news. No one knew how it would change his life. Bedside manner was not the long suit of military doctors during wartime. There was too much to do; and if a wounded soldier was not critical, they were given little attention. On that day, the doctor briskly approached his bed.
“Sailor, you’re going to be fine. You are lucky, but there is one small problem.”
“What’s that, doc?”
“As a man, you will be fine. You can do anything you did before, except you can’t have children. Other than that, everything down there is good. Go home and shoot blanks. You’re lucky.”
With that, the doctor departed.
It would be a year before Johnny was discharged and each day his mind dwelled on what would he tell Mary Ellen. She wanted children more than anything. Her letters were filled with the hope of him returning, their marriage and children, lots of children. What would he tell her?
He chose to tell her nothing, and he would regret that the rest of his life. On November 27, 1946, they were married. They rented a small two-bedroom cottage and immediately Mary Ellen decorated the spare bedroom as a baby’s nursery. Freddie came home about the same time and got a job as a deputy with the sheriff’s department. Both were considered local heroes for their military service, and Freddie’s outgoing personality made him a favorite in the community.
Johnny got a job at the shipyard, dismantling small craft that had been used in the war effort. An unreasonable amount of his take home pay was spent by Mary Ellen, buying things that would be used when the baby came. Of course, Johnny knew this was a waste of money, a baby was not coming. He felt guilty. Even though the two were happier than he had ever imagined, he feared she wanted a baby more than anything else.
A couple of years passed. Mary Ellen made an appointment with a doctor in New Orleans to see if he could determine her
inability to conceive. He found nothing, and suggested she have her husband checked.
When she revealed what the doctor had told her, it led to the most severe disagreement they had experienced in their marriage. He refused, reminding her that she had never complained about the frequency or the quality of their intimacy. She tried to reason that, medically, it went beyond that; but he could not let his secret be known and refused her request. Soon, their marriage seemed to cool. Nothing serious, but she no longer discussed the subject with him, and he felt a distance coming between them.
It was now 1951. The parish sheriff had decided to retire. Freddie would run for the position. With an outgoing personality, being a war hero, and the backing of the retiring sheriff, Freddie won by 69% of the vote. His first week on the job, he asked his best friend Johnny if he wanted a job as a deputy. Johnny liked the idea, but Mary Ellen thought it too dangerous for a father-to-be. Johnny turned the job down.
It would be unfair to say Johnny and Mary Ellen’s marriage deteriorated. He worshiped her and she him, but she felt incomplete with the lack of being able to become pregnant. She realized it was a problem she had to deal with and attempted to turn her interest to other projects. She thought about opening a daycare; at least she could be around children. There was not a daycare in fifty miles, but she did not have the space in their small home or the money to get started.
She volunteered to help any way she could at the school, aiding in the teaching and caring for elementary children. She became a Red Cross volunteer and a member of the PTA, even though she was not a parent. All this involvement took time away from Johnny. He sensed a lull in their relationship, but nothing that really concerned him. After all, they had been married six years. Her time away from him was missed but not resented.
It was late June of 1953. Johnny came home from work and Mary Ellen was beaming with excitement.
“Johnny, I have a surprise. I want to blind fold you so I can surprise you.”
She carefully secured a bandana snugly around his eyes, tying it in a tight knot at the back of his head. She then led him through the small house to the spare bedroom. Then she slowly unfastened the blindfold.
Johnny didn’t understand what he saw. The bedroom had been transformed back into a nursery with all the items Mary Ellen had collected through the years but had been in storage for the last two. She watched carefully to capture his surprise and excitement.
There was some, as he asked Mary Ellen, “So you have decided we will adopt?”
“No, no, no Johnny. I’m pregnant.” What excitement Johnny had displayed ceased immediately and he turned and walked out of the room and into the back yard.
He was caught off guard. Never in his wildest dreams had he expected Mary Ellen to be unfaithful. He wondered who it was. He had no knowledge of any male friends, only the ladies in her volunteer groups. Why would she do this? Except for her being childless, he felt they had a perfect marriage. How could she do such a thing? How could he raise a child that he knew was not his?
Out on the lawn, alternating through fits of rage and grief, he contemplated what he would do. He had to get away. As far as he knew, at this time, it would be final. She had breached the ultimate trust.
Mary Ellen was completely shocked by his actions. She reasoned he must be having some type of breakdown. Why would you not be excited about your wife’s pregnancy?
In about an hour, Johnny came in. He didn’t speak, just went to a closet, and pulled out his Navy duffle bag. In it, he placed the barest of necessities, including a few clothes, shaving equipment, and his work boots.
He said nothing to Mary Ellen as he attached the small boat and trailer to his truck and left for the houseboat. The next day, he
didn’t go to work, nor did he go the next day. This was not like him. He was a hard, dependable worker. His employer came to his house and asked Mary Ellen about his absence. She could not, or would not, tell him what had happened. She actually didn’t know herself.
In a small community, news travels fast, and the rumor was gossiped that she and Johnny had separated. No one in the community could believe it or had any idea why.
One afternoon, Freddie was waiting at the shipyard gate when Johnny got off from work. It was about a week after he left home.
“Johnny, do you want to talk about what’s happening? I’ve done some checking and I know you are living on the houseboat. I know things are not good between you and Mary Ellen. Do you mind sharing? I am very concerned about both of you.” The friendship between the two was still close and Johnny needed to confide in someone.
“Freddie, Mary Ellen is having an affair. I don’t know who with, but there is no question she is having an affair.”
“Johnny, how do you know?”
“Freddie, I just know.” He did not mention the pregnancy, nor had he ever confided in Freddie about his war injury.
“Johnny, I will do some checking and see if I can turn up whoever it might be.”
“That is not necessary, its over. I’m not going back.”
Three weeks passed. Johnny began to think more clearly. He missed Mary Ellen and knew he still loved her. He reasoned, maybe it was only fair that she got pregnant by someone else. She wanted a baby so bad; she could not have one with him. Maybe it was just physical, with no emotional attachment, for the purpose of conceiving. If so, maybe he could live with that.
Each day, he drifted more and more toward reconciliation. He decided that Saturday he would go home and have a talk with Mary Ellen. It was Thursday.
Friday morning was a beautiful morning. He felt good going to work that morning and had basically determined he would reconcile with Mary Ellen. He had some concern that she had not attempted to contact him, but reasoned he deserved it. It was now early July.
July weather can change quickly, and afternoon storms were not uncommon. The rain came about 1 pm and lasted until after 3pm. Luckily, it was over when he arrived at the boat dock from work to take his skiff to the houseboat.
Before Johnny moved onto the boat after leaving Mary Ellen, the houseboat had been used occasionally, but less frequently than years before. Maintenance was bare minimum, and the right pontoon, the first 55-gallon drum, had a gradual leak and a gaping hole in the upper portion of its end. This caused the port side of the boat to ride lower in the water. This had one advantage. It made the step onto the porch easier, as it was not as high out of the water.
Johnny skillfully maneuvered the skiff for a docking with the houseboat. He steered it a few yards downstream and then turned against the current to have more control. Before he even reached the boat, some twenty feet away, he knew something was wrong. He could see a red tint in the rainwater that had blown onto the porch. After tying the skiff to the boat, but before stepping out of it, he knew something was seriously not right. He had shot enough animals to know what he saw looked like diluted blood.
The door was partially open. What he saw was something he would think about the rest of his life. Lying on the floor, in a massive amount of blood, was Mary Ellen. The blood had begun to coagulate inside the houseboat, but Mary Ellen was warm to the touch. It may be only due to the July heat. Due to the amount of blood, he knew she was dead.
Her head was lying on its right side; and on the left, exposed side was a cut. It extended in a circular pattern from her ear, toward her chin and circled across her
neck to her shoulder. Most of the blood had come from the neck area. For a few minutes, he just sat on the floor by her body and wept, some of the blood seeping into his pants. Who could have done this? he wondered. Maybe the father of the baby?”
He had to do something. The nearest phone would be about a mile from the dock. There was a payphone there and he would call Freddie.
Johnny tried to relay the happenings to Freddie, but through the sobs it was hard to tell the story. Finally, Freddie told him to wait for him. Don’t talk to anyone. He was on his way.
The two friends made their way by skiff back to the boat. After examining Mary Ellen’s body, Freddie asked the inevitable question.
“Johnny, we’re friends. I don’t believe you did this, but if you did, don’t tell me. It is important for your sake that I do not know.”
“Freddie, you know I didn’t do this, and I don’t have any idea who did.”
“Johnny, we’ll talk about that later. We’ve got to get her body to the funeral home. The coroner will come by tomorrow and examine her.
The two friends loaded the body of Mary Ellen in the skiff and returned to the dock. They had wrapped her in a blanket from the boat, and luckily, no one was at the landing. She was placed in Freddie’s patrol car.
“Johnny don’t talk to anyone. Don’t say one word. I’ll see you in the morning. You go to your house and spend the night. Don’t go back to the boat. We will have to search it for any evidence we can find. Do you hear me?”
“Yes. I hear you.”
Mary Ellen had bought to rock the baby, but that was years ago. Still no sleep.
Investigation Day 1
The sheriff had asked a physician to perform an autopsy. The coroner was just an elected position and the present one had no medical training. The best he could do with any authority was to pronounce her dead, which he did and then departed. Meanwhile, Johnny, Freddie and his chief deputy Paul Stone went to the houseboat. The hot July day and the abundance of blood had attracted flies. The smell was not pleasant.
The sheriff noted:
No sign of a struggle.
No obvious footprints in the blood except what most likely are Johnny’s and mine from the day before.
Most disturbingly, there is no indication of how she got here. Since there was no skiff attached, she had to be brought here by someone.
What was the motive?
Investigation Day 2
The doctor reports that she died of a cut from the ear through the neck, cutting the jugular vein. She bled out quickly. She was pregnant.
Sizable bits of rust were found in the wound. Who would take a rusty knife with them to murder someone?
The weapon used to cut her neck and into part of the crewneck shirt she was wearing appeared to be dull, as if to tear more than cut.
Freddie surmised, based on the weapon or lack of a good one, the murder was not premeditated.
That night, there was no sleep for Johnny. He lay down on the bed he and Mary Ellen had slept on for years. Somehow, this felt like an invasion of privacy, so he then moved to a large rocking chair. It was one
By the third day, the incident was the main subject of gossip. The public found out the couple were separated, she was pregnant, she was found on the houseboat, and she had been transported there by someone. On the fourth day after the discovery, the following letter to the editor appeared in the local newspaper.
It is obvious who killed Mary Ellen. It could have been no other than her husband. It is well known that our sheriff and the killer have been friends for many years. For the sake of decency, he should recuse himself from the investigation. It should be turned over to the District Attorney to investigate and the husband should be arrested. He not only killed his wife but his unborn child.
Maybe it is time to elect a new sheriff for this parish.
Investigation Day 5
Sheriff Freddie arrived at his office early that morning. He avoided breakfast at the local cafe because he did not want to hear the criticism of the dozen or so that met there for breakfast. He understood that the evidence against Johnny was great, but years of friendship give you insight into someone that defies all evidence. In his mind, he knew that Johnny didn’t kill Mary Ellen. But if he didn’t, who did and why? This was a question he had to answer for himself, and more so, for his constituents.
Almost as soon as he arrived, the phone rang, and he answered.
“Boss Sheriff, this is Lige Wade. You know me, I has the boat launch and rental on the river.”
“Yes, Lige, I know who you are. What can I do for you? Has someone stolen a skiff?”
“Naw Sir, nobody stole no skiff.”
“Then, what can I do for you?”
“Sheriff, I may know sumpum about the lady that got kilt.”
“What’s that Lige?”
“I ain’t gone talk about it on the phone, yous need to come to my place but don’t bring nobody with you.”
“Lige, you can tell me on the phone. But, if you insist, I will be right out.”
“Yes, Boss, I be waiting for you.”
Freddie knew Lige had a drinking problem, but he also knew he was honest and never given anyone any trouble. For years, he had owned a boat launch and a skiff and outboard rental on the Pearl.
It took thirty minutes for Freddie to arrive at Lige’s boat launch and Lige was waiting for him. There were two fishermen launching their boats, so Lige asked the sheriff to walk a few yards away out of earshot.
“Lige, what do you know about the murder of Mary Ellen Mays?”
“I don’t know whats I know, but I knows something.”
“You want to tell me about it?”
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“I don’t wants to, cause I don’t wants to get mixed up in it, but I guess I gots to.”
“Ok Lige, what do you know?”
“That lady rented a skiff from me on the day she got kilt. She was in a hurry, because a thunderstorm was coming. I tried to talk her into waiting but she refused. She had two jars with her. I could tell there was dumplins in one and greens in the other. It turned out she had some cornbread, but I didn’t see it then. I cranked the motor for her, even though she said she knew how to do it. She took off up the river.”
“Is that all Lige?”
“No, Boss, there’s be more. About two hours later, I look out in the river and here comes my boat drifting past. Ain’t no lady in it. I paddle out there and gets my boat and bring it to the dock. In it, I sees the dumplins, the greens and the cornbread, but aint no lady in it.
“Is that all Lige?”
“Naw Sir. There was a little bit of blood on that flat part near the bow. I suspected something, so I pulled the boat on shore and covered it with a tarp.”
“Can I see it Lige?
“Yes sir Boss, it’s back here.” He led the sheriff to a tarp covered boat.
The boat still contained the food and, as Lige had said, something that appeared to be blood.
“Lige, why have you waited five days to call me?”
“Boss, youz a good man. But I was the last to see that white woman and there is blood in my boat. It ain’t gone be good for a black man to be the last one to see a dead white woman. It could even be bad.”
“Why did you decide to call me?”
“Boss, I knowed Mr. Johnny more than I knowed you. He didn’t kill that woman.”
“I know that too, Lige, and you may have saved his life. Don’t touch the boat or let anyone around it. Don’t tell anyone about this conversation. I will have the boat picked up. You can take off the motor. When this is over, I’ll return your boat.”
“Yes sir Boss.”
What Lige had said was the best clue in the case. It was now clear Johnny did not transport her to the houseboat and may not have known she was coming.
Could she have been coming to attempt reconciliation and surprising him with his favorite food?
Why had she not unloaded the food and why had she not secured the boat?
Most importantly, why was there blood in the flat boat?
He had an idea. He had to make another visit to the houseboat.
Public opinion continued to mount against Johnny and against Freddie for the failure to arrest him. Freddie’s biggest supporters called a meeting and insisted Freddie act. Finally, he had to do something. He decided to turn the case over to the District Attorney to investigate.
He turned all the information over to the DA. The boat, the statement from Lige, and some evidence he found at his last visit to the houseboat. He had photos and a statement from the doctor who did the autopsy and accompanied him to the houseboat the last time he went.
His decision to turn the case over to the DA came because of public pressure; but more so, it came from the fact that after his last visit to the houseboat, and taking the doctor with him, he felt sure he could exonerate Johnny. The grand Jury would be the decision maker and Johnny would not spend the rest of his life under suspicion. The DA had agreed not to arrest Johnny unless the grand jury indicted him.
A grand jury was summoned. Freddie would present the evidence almost as if he were a defense attorney.
First, he established the fact that Mary Ellen used a boat she rented to reach the houseboat which was two miles upstream. Lige testified.
He then pointed out that the food was never removed from the flat boat.
He presented what was determined to be human blood on the flat boat.
He pointed out that a person planning murder would not take a very rusty knife to be the weapon.
Finally, he laid out the evidence of what he had found when he and the doctor last visited the houseboat. His findings were backed up by the doctor.
Here’s what he found:
On the top edge of the partially submerged pontoon was the key to the mystery. Age had caused the pontoon to deteriorate. On the very rounded end, where you would tie your boat on arriving, he found a small bit of fabric and a small bit of skin. He could only assume the skin was human. Johnny said he had not noticed that, and assumed in docking the boat, Mary Ellen had rammed the pontoon, causing the rusty end to become jagged and more exposed.
The fabric matched the nick in Mary Ellen’s shirt fabric and the rust in the wound matched the rust on the pontoon.
The conclusion was that when Mary Ellen arrived, as she attempted to board the houseboat, she did not secure the skiff. She fell while in the skiff striking the side of her head on the pontoon. It was rusty, sharp and almost the same circular shape as the wound she had. She bled some on the skiff but managed to climb onto the porch and into the houseboat before bleeding out. The skiff drifted downstream.
It was just an accident.
In less than an hour, the grand jury decided in favor of Johnny. There would be no arrest.
In a situation as above, there will always be non-believers. There will always be conspiracy theories. This case was no exception. It was discussed and reviewed for years. It was a popular subject when Freddie ran for reelection. He only won by fifty votes.
As for Johnny, the public showed him little mercy. He would grieve for years over Mary Ellen, her infidelity, and her dying. He blamed himself for not telling her the truth about his war injury. Maybe she would have married someone else and today be a loving mother.
He blamed himself for leaving her so hastily. Maybe he could have raised someone else’s child. His recovery would be long and hard and maybe never complete.
He considered a fresh start. When the shipyard closed, it was a perfect opportunity. He applied for a job in Texas with the railroad. He knew a railroad job had good benefits and the pay was good. He got the job.
It was similar to what he had done at the shipyard. Dismantling and refurbishing freight cars. Hard work but regular hours, and work is really all he had to do. He knew no one.
A couple of years passed. He had lived like a hermit. His home was one room in a boarding house with people that would come and go. No one asked him about his past and that was fine with him. In 1958, he bought a Magnavox high fidelity phonograph. It was on sale, as it was believed that stereo sound would be available before year’s end, and it could be converted. Other than an outboard motor, it was the only semi-expensive thing he had ever purchased for himself. The first album he purchased was Elvis Presley’s Golden Hits.
He spent hours in his room listening to “Loving You” and “That’s Where Your Heartaches Begin.” A few weeks later,
he decided to go to an Elvis concert in a nearby town. For some reason, he bought new, more appropriate clothes. They were the first he had purchased, other than work clothes, since Mary Ellen died. After shaving and dressing, he looked in the mirror with new confidence. He felt alive again.
The concert was packed and there were no reserved seats. He chose a seat by an attractive woman that he assessed was of similar age, 34. She was a brunette, tall, dark eyes as best he could tell, and beautifully dressed. She had a healthy, athletic look but not unfeminine. They acknowledged each other but little else was said.
The concert continued. Elvis began his song, “That’s Where Your Heartaches Begin.” Shortly after the song started, he looked at her and could see tears streaming down her face. He realized he was having to try hard not to cry himself. It occurred to him that they both had something in common, heartache. He wondered what hers was. Unconsciously, he placed his hand on hers. She squeezed it.
The concert ended and he exited the hall. He intentionally stayed around the entrance until she exited. Their eyes met. She walked straight toward him as if she had been summoned.
He could tell she was a truthful person and had no reluctance to bring up the hard subjects. “Looks like you have had some heartaches too. My name is Jane.
“Nice to meet you, Jane.” He didn’t remember to give her his name. “Can I walk you to your car?”
“Sure, it’s three blocks away.”
“That’s ok, I need the fresh air.”
The conversation as they walked was easy and gentle. As a romantic interest, he had only known Mary Ellen. She had always been there since grade school, and he hadn’t developed the skills of dating.
Too soon in his opinion, they reached the car. “Would you like to have dinner with me? I’m sorry, I am assuming that you don’t have a boyfriend and are not married.”
“Your assumption is correct and, yes, a dinner would be fine. I need it. There is only one thing...”
“You haven’t told me your name.”
“Oh, my Lord, my name is Johnny Mays.”
“And I am Jane Dalton.” She began to scribble a phone number.
On their first date, they both commented that neither had been so at ease with another of the opposite sex. It seemed like there was nothing they couldn’t discuss. On that night, little was said about either’s previous spouses except he told her his wife died in an accident and she told him her husband, a policeman, was killed on duty. Both discussed it with ease, but not in depth.
On the dates that followed, there was no question a relationship was developing. Could there be something to this relationship? Johnny was beginning to question himself. He had decided that, after what happened with Mary Ellen, he would never be untruthful in a relationship, if there was to be a relationship.
For over two years, Johnny had lived in the boarding house as a recluse. He reasoned that living in a boarding house would not be a turn on to someone as perfect as Jane. He moved to an apartment. Soon, their relationship got more intimate.
One Sunday afternoon in July, she asked him to go on a picnic at a local lake. She would pick him up and have everything they needed. He could not help but think that was the anniversary of Mary Ellen’s death. The thought kept reappearing in his mind. He hoped he could pass it off and enjoy the day.
The blanket was spread, the food was unpacked, and Johnny knew it was time to be honest with Jane. He would not deceive her in anyway.
He told her the story of Mary Ellen’s accident, that she was pregnant, but not by him since he could not have children, and his being suspected of killing her. He emphasized that he could not have children so strongly she started laughing.
“Johnny, do you think I care? I am 35 years old; I have not gotten pregnant yet and, let me be honest with you, I have had the opportunity. I could care less if you’re sterile.”
It was a good day. There would be days he would think about Mary Ellen, but the guilt had lessened.
Six months after their first date, Jane and Johnny married. It was a Justice of the Peace wedding, but Freddie drove over to stand with Johnny. Freddie liked Jane and felt she was good for Johnny.
Johnny could not believe that he had found happiness again and he even felt better he was not hiding anything. Jane was the happiest she had ever been.
They bought a cabin on the same lake they had picnicked on with no nearby neighbors. Both could not wait to get home from work and be with each other. They seldom went anywhere, and except for work, always went places with each other. That is the way they liked it.
About a year after their marriage, Jane got home before Johnny. She didn’t know how she was going to handle it, but she decided to lay out the old Navy duffle bag and block his boat trailer with her car. She sat a bottle of champagne in ice with two glasses and made some pimento and cheese sandwiches, his favorite.
“What’s up, Babe? Why the champagne?”
“Notice your duffle bag. It’s been sewn shut. You’re not going to put anything in it. Notice your boat trailer. It’s not going anywhere.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m pregnant and don’t even suspect it’s not yours. I have you an appointment with an urologist tomorrow to prove that you’re not sterile. Now finish that champagne and let’s go to the bedroom. You have to take a sample for the doctor. I borrowed a baby food jar from a friend. That’s what you put it in. This is gonna be fun.”
Johnny believed her. He had questions and concerns, but he believed her. It occurred to him that Mary Ellen’s baby could have been his. There was that guilty feeling again. In a few minutes it passed.
The next day he gave the sample to the nurse with embarrassment. In a few minutes, he was called to the examination room. In a few more minutes, the doctor came it.
“Mr. Mays, you have a weak sperm count but you should have no problem having children.”
Nine months later, a son was born. He was named Freddie.
The houseboat has been gone for years. Its demise is unknown.
John S. Case November 2022
Keith Anderson Monster Truck Races
Sweet Tea Trio
November 18 & 19, 2022
ADMISSION: $20 a day OR $25 Weekend Pass Facebook.com/HoneyIslandSwampFest/ DeepSouthPromo.com PEARL RIVER, LA LIVE MUSIC | FOOD VENDORS ARTS & CRAFTS CARNIVAL RIDES & GAMES MONSTER TRUCK RACES Rat Rod races FREE PARKING!
39576 Pump Slough Rd
by: Mike Rich, CFP® | Pontchartrain Investment Management
Why You Need Me As Your Financial Advisor
It wasn’t light, summer reading, but my beach book this year was Putin’s Playbook – Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America. The author is Rebekah Koffler, a Russianborn U.S. intelligence expert who worked at high levels in the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency’s National Clandestine Service. She tells a sobering and frightening story, and her timely book is worth the read, especially with what is happening in Ukraine.
Ms. Koffler wrote that while still a college student in Russia, she worked as a tour guide in Moscow and other Soviet cities, leading sightseeing excursions. She continued, “Particularly struck by Americans, I noticed they smelled good, had super white teeth, always
smiled, and had an attitude that nothing was impossible.”
“Nothing was impossible.” That’s big, and my guess is that Ms. Koffler is not the only person who thinks that in America anything is possible. And yet, I run into plenty of people who think that achieving financial success is impossible. I don’t think that. I think people simply need a guide to help them. That’s what I do, and here’s how I might be able to help you:
1) I will help you organize your financial life. One of the biggest hurdles many people have to success with money is financial disorganization. Just about everyone has four or five or six different parts to his or her financial life. For example, you might have homeowner’s insurance, a Roth IRA, a mortgage, a
Securities & advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, member FINRA/SIPC. mypontchartrain.com | 985-605-5066 Open Camera App & click web link. 2065 1st Street, Slidell, LA See our SERVICES on our WEBSITE In November we give our Thanks for our Military Veterans Spring Cleaning
Read Mike’s past articles online
401(k) at work, a life insurance policy, and maybe a lot more. Are all of those parts of your money life working together to optimize your family’s well-being? If you don’t have a financial advisor, how would you know? Is some stranger on the Internet going to tell you?
2) I will help you set goals and design a financial plan. If you don’t have goals for your money, you could end up just stumbling your way to what I call “financial mediocrity”. When I work with clients, we make their goals specific. Here’s an example: “I want to retire at age 64, with an income of $60,000 in addition to my Social Security benefit. I want my income to keep up with inflation at a rate of 3% per year, and I want to take a nice cruise with my spouse every other year until we are 80. Then, I want to leave $100,000 for final expenses, with our home going to our children.” Now, that’s what I call a goal, and I can design a plan that might get us there.
3) I will work hard to keep you from making “The Big Boo-Boo.” The gory details are different for everyone, but it boils down to making a huge mistake with your money at the worst possible time.
Like, selling your 401(k) to cash when the market is down, even though you’re only 50 years old and thinking that you’ll know when it’s the right time to “get back in.” That kind of stuff. My job is to try to keep it from happening.
Just like Ms. Koffler guided good-smelling Americans around Russia, my guess is that more people than not would like someone to guide them financially. They just don’t know where to turn. Who can I trust? How much will it cost? How long will it take? What value will I get? These are legitimate questions, and you deserve honest answers. So, make an appointment to come in, and let’s talk.
Tulane offers comprehensive neurosurgery care including Skull Base, Pituitary, Open Cerebrovascular and Spine surgery. Tulane is internationally recognized for utilizing cutting edge research and stateof-the-art technology to improve neurological health and quality of life.
37 Cleaning? Securities and Advisory Services are offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor. Member FINRA, SIPC. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
CONTACT US TODAY TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT T: 504-988-5564 www.tulanedoctorsneuro.com
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Slidell Magazine was EVERYWHERE last month! Here are just a few of our adventures!
ALL HAIL! Kendra, the outgoing Queen of Mona Lisa & MoonPie, welcomes MLMP King 2022, Slidell Magazine cover artist Matt Litchliter, to the royal family. May your reign be amazing my friend!
Creepy, but cool... maybe? Everyone had a good laugh at Nathan Eberhardt’s shirt with 1000 Jess Steelman faces on it at the Wild Game Cookoff.
The cotton candy served by Slidell City Council members David Dunham, Bill Borchert & Cindi King was a huge hit with the kids at the National Night Out Against Crime held in Heritage Park. What a great event!
HE’S GONE QUACKERS! Nicholas Eirich gives his cardiologist Donald Duck - I mean, Dr. Jake Kleinmahon, a once over at Ochsner’s main campus. Nicholas has a brand new heart and is on the road to recovery!
Kendra & The Storyteller, John Case, enjoy the tradition of sharing a bourbon at the grave of William Faulkner while on their trip to Oxford, M.S.
Congratulations to Kentrell Jones for being named 2022 Young Athenian and to Karen Vander for winning the prestigious Anthena Leadership Award!
300 Robert St | Olde Towne Slidell 985-288-4302 BOBBY OHLER FINE DINING | CATERING | EVENTS
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