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Vol. 78 January 2017

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Editor’s Letter

Kendra Maness

Editor/Publisher Slidell Magazine

There’s a new Sheriff in town! No matter who you voted for, Slidellians should be proud to have one of our own leading the law enforcement for the Parish. Randy Smith is a lifelong Slidell resident, and was educated by Slidell’s public schools. He led our nationally-recognized Slidell Police Department for six SAFE years and dedicates his life to the service of our community. HAPPY NEW YEAR SLIDELL! It’s time to pack away last year and start on new adventures and journeys! We have lots of things to reflect upon as we see 2016 through our rearview mirror. Globally and nationally, this past year offered challenges for everyone. Politics, good and bad, were capturing headlines across the world. I’ve watched many of the “Year In Review” specials on the networks, resulting in some pretty emotional introspection. Indeed, 2016 was tough. But, my constant search for the brighter side compels me to share with you some of the POSITIVE political changes that our community has experienced this past year.

PO Box 4147 • Slidell, LA 70459 985-789-0687

Kendra Maness - Editor/Publisher

Devin Reeson - Graphic Designer Illustrations by: Zac McGovern CONTRIBUTING WRITERS EFOP, Charlotte Lowry Collins The Storyteller, John Case Jockularity, Corey Hogue Pet Points, Jeff Perret, DVM Crimmi-Mommly Insane, Leslie Gates Making Cents of Your Money, Mike Rich Super Moon...Super Puerto Rico, Donna Bush President’s Awards, Kim Bergeron


Welcome Randy Fandal, our new Slidell Police Chief! The police chief election was a win-win-win-win. We had four fantastic candidates with amazing resumes. Chief Fandal is also a lifelong Slidell resident and graduate of Slidell High. He has served and protected our community for over 33 years. We had the honor of wishing a happy retirement to District 1 Senator A.G. Crowe, who served us well in the Louisiana House of Representatives, then the LA Senate, for a combined 16 years. Welcome Senator Sharon Hewitt! Senator Hewitt is another Slidell resident and former PTA leader in our Slidell public school system. Sharon is accomplishing great things already in her first Senate year, serving on the Environmental Quality Committee, the Finance Committee, and serving as Vice-Chairman of Transportation, Highways & Public Works. She is a mover and shaker and is sure to make us all proud! Lastly, we have a new president. Disliking him is soooo outdated - it’s last year’s news. We are now in 2017 and we support our President. We pray for him and all of our government officials to do good things for our country and our world.

Cover Artist

adam sambola CONGRATULATIONS ADAM ON YOUR PRESIDENT’S AWARD FOR VISUAL ART! This is the seventh time Slidell Magazine has had the honor of showcasing the talents of artist Adam Sambola. This cover is especially exciting, as you will read in our centerfold story, because of the Parish President’s Award for the Arts that he will receive this month. We’ve enjoyed a great friendship and collaboration with Adam over the years. Below are Adam’s six previous covers, starting all the way back at our fifth edition. EYE CANDY!

VOL. 5, DEC. 2010

VOL. 14, SEPT 2011

VOL. 46, SEPT 2014


Vol. 68 March 2016

Vol. 69 April 2016





VOL. 64, NOV 2015

VOL. 68, MAR 2016

VOL. 69, APR 2016



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Extraordinarily Fascinating “Ordinary” People

Gardner Morrow Kole

by Charlotte Lowry Collins

“If I had a flower for every time you made me smile and laugh, I’d have a garden to walk in forever.” Author Unknown PHOTO BY KIM BERGERON

If you’ve ever volunteered for a non-profit in Slidell, chances are you’ve met Gardner. Gardner Morrow came from Birmingham, Alabama where she learned what a difference organizations can make on individual lives. Her family taught her to take nothing for granted. To this day, she and her husband, Ronnie Kole, and her children host various fund raising events in Slidell at their home, Chateau Kole. I remember the Easter Egg hunts hosted there as I was growing up. The home was built in the sixties, entirely of St. Joe Bricks. You see, Gardner’s late husband, M. Pete Schneider, Jr., was brought to Slidell to further his family business, St. Joe Brick, which is known nationally as the provider of uniquely styled bricks. The property was once owned by the New Orleans Archdiocese for Archbishop Rummel’s summer home. Sons Peter III and Christopher joined St. Joe, as did their children, continuing a fourth generation family business legacy. All the while, they each pursued a path to stay involved in Slidell’s progress. We will get back to the 8

second chapter of Gardner’s life with her famous jazz pianist husband, but first, she will take us on a walk through the early days of Slidell. As Gardner recalled her introduction to Slidell, she painted an image of post World War II, when young people were just beginning to come back to their hometown. “When Pete and I moved

here, I didn’t see other young adults on the streets. There were few jobs here. We bought a home in Olde Towne on Carey Street, and met your parents,” she said, motioning to me. Looking off, Gardner painted a picture of Slidell at that time. “Slidell had a Chief of Police, one deputy, and one police car. They hadn’t paved Pennsylvania Street

or Maine Street at that time; none of what is Brugier Subdivision or the area that would become the hospital was paved. Cows walked freely throughout my new hometown.” Because there were so few young adults, Gardner took on more than one person’s share of responsibilities. “Your mother, Pomeroy, had taken ballroom dancing in Jackson, and heard I was a ballet dancer. She asked me if I would teach. Then Jimmie Garner moved here and helped teach tap dancing. We taught dance on the second floor of Dr. Polk’s building. That is now the Time Out Lounge. At one point, your mother and I volunteered to teach dance at Southeastern Louisiana Mental Hospital. After a tight situation or two, your Dad asked her to stop when she became pregnant with you,” Gardner smiled at the memory. “Your parents were the first young couple in our group to move back. I don’t know if you realize it, but your Mom’s family was one of the founding families, the Dunhams. She had so many old friends, and never met a stranger. Then Zully Howze, Gloria Goldman, the Miramon’s, Grushes, and Fritchie’s moved here, and we all became friends. I remember your Mom was one of George Dunbar’s first friends, and she introduced us all to him. Our group continued to expand, as did Slidell.” “As the next generation came of age, they brought their wives, and started the Chamber, Jaycee’s, Rotary, and so many of the important non-profit organizations. I remember the first Rotary meeting was held at the White Kitchen on Shortcut Highway. Pete and your Dad were there, and there was a literary speaker. It was a big deal,” she laughed. “Slidell was fertile ground. I came from Birmingham where we had already established great progress through our non-profits. I was able to make suggestions based on Alabama to bring back to my new hometown for Slidell.” But she also filled the unglamorous roles. Ralph Rousseau was principal when her son, Peter, was in fifth grade at Slidell Grammar School. Because they reorganized the school system at that time, they separated the middle school grades from the grammar school and junior high. Laughing, Gardner described that they were forced to use the town library for Pete’s class. “They bused the kids back for lunch. There was no staff to count lunch money or tend to sick students. So, as part of the PTA, I helped out. I also helped them with the “Fresh Air Farm’, where we would pick up kids who had nothing to do in the summer, and take them off to swim, fish, play ball, and feed them lunch. We rotated dance, drama and other classes, and gave them clothes. For Thanksgiving we fed their families. I always was in charge of making a huge salad. I had to buy a plastic garbage pail, as I couldn’t find a bowl big enough,” Gardner chuckled. “You remember Mr. Plauche? He was principal of Slidell Grammar School, and he gave us money to buy

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told me that I’d be there, but he wasn’t sure if he would. He was such a humble and good man. My answer was, ‘I’ll see you there.’”

Gardner Kole, community leader and activist

shoes and clothes for students in need. He would offer them hot showers, while I went to Champagne’s Department Store on Carey Street to buy new shoes and clothes. What made it worthwhile was the smile on the kids’ faces, and their parents were so appreciative. One of those kids turned out to be Valedictorian of their class,” she said proudly. “In a small town, you did whatever was needed. My major in college was Sociology and Psychology, so I enjoyed that role. I was always concerned about generational poverty, and in a small town, we were able to make a difference. We even raised money to buy an air conditioner for the school office.” She laughed again as she motioned how she embarrassed her kids by volunteering to direct traffic. “I really loved that job. It was exciting!” I could see the spunk of her youth in that moment. She pointed up to a painting of her daughter, Doree, as a ballet dancer. “I vividly remember Doree’s senior year in high school. That was the year of integration for this town. She told me how sorry she felt for the class. They had no rings that year, no prom, or any of the milestones seniors looked forward to as their right of passage. I asked the principal, Professor Brooks, if we would be friends in Heaven if we made it through this transition. He was black, you see, and well respected from St. Tammany Vocational School. He 10

“I remember starting the Junior Auxiliary with Ruth Zatarain and Barbara Nix. I had belonged to Junior League in Alabama, and saw them do significant things. Everyone here was very receptive to those ideas. Remember the triangular property on Pontchartrain that Homer Fritchie owned? The ministers in Slidell and I started a Living Nativity, and it was a hit. I made the robes, and created the schedule. Everything back then was a grassroots effort. I made a little stool for Mary to sit on, and dressed the kings and shepherds. Believe it or not, it was hard to buy hay, there was a shortage that year. Mr. Fritchie had to erect a fence around the scene to protect the hay. But we had a live nativity scene, by George,” and Gardner toasted a salute as Ronnie served wine. Settling in, she continued, “Next, I remember everyone wanted to raise money for the statues of the founders of Slidell, and I said, ‘We’ll just beg.’ I meant it. We had a walking parade, and all the ministers joined us. Our elders were a huge influence, and helped us progress. We couldn’t afford a band, but went business to business asking for donations. Not brilliant, but it worked,” said Gardner with a gleam in her eye.

Gardner at her indoctrination into the esteemed Commanderie de Bordeaux, an international wine society. Ronnie and Gardner are wine afficianados, and have visited France each summer for the past 30 years.

Soon, Gardner was asked to take on the role as President of the Slidell Women’s Civic Club. Then, the Jaycee Jane’s started and she was asked to lead that. As a young mother of three, she kept herself occupied. Then NASA came, and this small town found itself in the middle of the space

Early 1990’s: Celebrating a successful Jazz on the Bayou. 2017 is the 25th anniversary of the two-day party, held at Chateau Kole. To date, Jazz has raised over 1 million dollars for charity.

Ronnie has played for every US President, from Gerald Ford through Bill Clinton (he once played piano accompaniment with Bill Clinton on saxophone). The Koles tell a humorous story about the picture of Gardner with Nancy Reagan, where Barbara Bush chides Ronnie about his lack of photographic talent and takes the camera from him to snap the shot. So, photo credit: Barbara Bush! Of Ronald Reagan, Gardner says, “His aura filled the room. You could actually feel it when he walked in. You would get within a few feet of him and his aura was all the way out here (motioning wide with her arm). He was electric. It made the hair on the back of your neck stand up.”

program. “The growth was disconcerting, especially for the schools and churches. I remember NASA representatives came and spoke to our Chamber, and forewarned us of the changes we would see. Slidell tried, but our planning couldn’t keep up with such a surge.” Of course, she got to do fun things too, like volunteering with Slidell Bantam Baseball Association and Slidell Little Theatre. Gardner smiled when she recounted, “I had 40 kids singing ‘You Gotta Have Heart’. My job was to keep them in a bus until their song came on. I also took off the letters on the baseball uniforms for the play, then sewed them back on afterward. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes. I also did choreography, and obviously costumes,” she smiled. She was fortunate to start the Slidell Performing Arts Guild and bring Tarkanowsky and her Spanish dance group. “We bused the kids in to the Municipal Auditorium. Then we brought the Ronnie Kole Trio from Florida. That’s how Ronnie and my family first became friends.” “After my husband became ill, Ronnie continued to visit Pete, and it brought him great joy. After Pete passed, we remained friends, and one day it turned romantic unexpectedly.” Ronnie jumped in to explain. “I remember that day. It was my birthday. I finished a gig in New Orleans, and the Slidell Performing Arts offered to make breakfast for me here. I was leaving and gave Gardner her usual peck on the cheek. I stopped and realized, I wanted to kiss her again.” Gardner ’s smile widened, as she interjected, “I knew I was in trouble. I felt like a schoolgirl again.” “Now, I travel with Ronnie all over the

Of George and Barbara Bush, Gardner recalls, “They are such good people, so down to earth.”

world. What a wonderful education! He is fun, energetic, and doesn’t mind getting his hands wet. I went with him to play for Pope John Paul II. Our wedding was unbelievable. I had 27 bridesmaids, because we couldn’t leave anyone out.”

Gardner concluded, “I’m content at 86 years. I never knew anybody this old. My parents and grandparents didn’t live this long. The kids are doing great, and I know their dad would be proud. I know I’m proud of the way they manage themselves.”

Ronnie added, “Love changed everything. Father Coco was our jazz clarinetist, we had a Rabbi, Father Carroll, and a Presbyterian Minister. They weren’t sure about my religious background, so we just had them all,” he said tongue in cheek.

As I was packing up, Ronnie offered to play for us. He asked Gardner for a request, which was “Misty”. That was beautifully followed by a very complex version of “Grenada”, another of her favorites. Her face glowed the entire time he was playing.

They smiled at each other, and confided that they ran away for Thanksgiving to be with friends in Alexandria, then on to the Grand Hotel. For Christmas, they will start with a tradition, breakfast with family, then the love birds will take off together again.

As a finalé, Ronnie rose and announced he was calling for pizza. Then he pointed to a barrel on the carport. “That’s one of our favorite spots. I call it the ‘Barrel Pub’. We listen to Big Band music on my I-Phone, and enjoy a final glass of wine around that barrel.”

Today, Garder and Ronnie Kole, together with their children and their families, continue to host Jazz on The Bayou, and support STARC and Easter Seals, along with volunteering and donating to countless charities. And the tradition of giving continues. Gardner spoke reflectively, “You know, I think our kids are even more civic minded.”

As our New Year begins, I hope we all follow Gardner’s example and take her words to heart, and consider giving back to our wonderful community!


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Storyteller SNOW BOUND Authors Note: I changed the names in this story. One person did not object if I used his name, but the other may have and I could not get her permission. I will just call them the Johnson family.

Highway 51 was a narrow two-lane highway constructed during the 1930’s, before the interstates were even thought of. Coincidentally, there is at least one famous resident that lived along this highway at that time. Elvis Presley’s famous Graceland Mansion is beside Highway 51. Of course, his mansion was in Memphis and my humble abode was in Bogue Chitto, so we were not exactly neighbors.


he dates of this event is easy enough to determine. It was December 30, 1963, through about January 3, 1964. I know this because it was the year that it snowed in New Orleans on New Year’s Day. Now some of you may not know, but snow in New Orleans is unusual. I thought I was younger because things like this tend to make an impression on kids; but I was a junior in high school, not exactly a kid. The incident did make an impression on me, and one that I have thought about many times over the years.


Let’s understand the geography. I lived in Bogue Chitto, Mississippi. Bogue Chitto is a crossroads village about 30 miles north of the Louisiana state line. It is located on U.S. Highway 51 which, at that time, was the main route from Chicago to New Orleans.

Let’s understand the times. I remember that year being one of my family’s more affluent years. Using the word “affluent” is a stretch, but Dad had bought a new car that year. It was one of only two I ever remember him having. We put up a Christmas tree, something we did not always do, and the holiday spirit permeated the family. The family was only my Mom and Dad and me, because my sister and brother were married and not living at home.

The best I can remember, it must have been December 30, 1963, about noon. We did have a telephone, one of the few in the area. I still remember the number, 3223. Dad received a call from Frank Boone, who owned a store just over the hill from our house. He told Dad that there was a family whose automobile had broken down and they needed some assistance. Frank could not leave the store, so he often called Dad in situations like this. My Dad and Mom were good Samaritans. Even though that parable does not perfectly fit, our house was open to strangers 365/24-7. On more than one occasion, I had woken in the morning to find a stranger in the other bed in my room. Some passerby with car trouble or a hitchhiker was offered shelter with no questions asked. We did not even have a lock on our doors and never took the keys out of the car ignition at night. My family was not as unusual as it may seem to us today. That is just the way life was, especially in our community. Knowing my Mom and Dad’s benevolence, Mr. Boone did not hesitate to call Dad. When Dad answered the call, he discovered a family of six in an almost-brand-new Cadillac Fleetwood which was disabled just about 100 yards from Mr. Boone’s store. Since the car was under warranty, it was decided to call the Cadillac dealer, Slay Motors in Brookhaven, Mississippi, and have the car towed to the shop for service. Dad invited the family to come to our house, as it would be more comfortable than waiting at the dealership for the repairs to be finished. It was evident that the family was well-off. First, a Fleetwood Cadillac was not a poor man’s car. I also saw a decal on the car of a snake wrapped around a pole. I knew that meant the man must have been a doctor. There was also a University of Alabama decal on the back glass. Dad and Mom never judged a book by its cover. A person could be dressed in rags or in silk and they would be treated the same way until a more in-depth judge of character could be enacted. We all liked this family. It consisted of a mother and father I will call Doctor and Mrs. Johnson. I never knew their first names, or at least I don’t recall them. Traveling with them that day were Doctor Johnson’s parents. There were also two children, a son Randy who was about twelve years old, and of course, the one I remember the most, a daughter Melanie who was sixteen. We learned they were from Tennessee and were on their way to the Sugar Bowl game in New

Orleans. The game was between the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and the Ole Miss Rebels. About five o’clock that afternoon, we got a call from the dealership. The part had to be ordered from Jackson and would not be in until the next morning. The family asked if there were any accommodations such as a motel or hotel nearby. Dad told them about the Nation’s Tourist Court that was a few miles up the road. He also told them to take our car and use it as their own as he had his pickup if we needed to go somewhere. They thanked us and left. In about thirty minutes, they called from the motel. There were no vacancies and no known vacancies for miles around. Snow was predicted for New Orleans and for our area. Some football fans had decided to lay over to see what the weather was going to do. Dad told them to go to the dealership, get their luggage, and come stay with us. Looking back, it was clear this family was classy and not one that would drop in on strangers to spend the night. I am sure we were not what they were expecting for their holiday trip. Route 2, Box 5, Bogue Chitto, Mississippi, was not exactly the Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans. Eunice Case’s menu was not Galatoire’s and, maybe the worst thing, there was not a drop of alcohol in the house and not a legal drop north of the Louisiana state line. I don’t know what the family thought, but they were stuck with us, and I suppose they felt that they could handle anything for one night. Well, that isn’t what happened. I brought their suitcases in from the car. I am sure Melanie was watching me to see what I would do with hers; but somehow, my eyes caught hers and I began to blush. She smiled. In those days, we usually ate our evening meal early, but due to the unexpected guests that night, we did not finish our meal until about eight o’clock. That was a good thing, because what were we going to do to entertain them for the rest of the evening? It was one of the few times Mom had plenty of food on hand without a trip

to the grocery. I remember our evening meal that first night. Fried pork chops, butterbeans Mom had shelled and frozen just five months prior, corn picked and frozen at the same time, cornbread, and sweet tea. For dessert, there was a congealed lime Jell-O dish. I remember it had cream cheese and pecans in it. After dinner, my mother and the two Johnson ladies had a long discussion on the virtues of freezing foods versus canning them. Mother was of the opinion some things were still better canned than frozen and, from what I could tell, the Johnsons seemed quite interested. If the truth be known, I doubt either of the Johnson ladies had ever canned anything or even frozen ice cream, but it least it was a conversation that passed the night. Dad and the two Mr. Johnsons went to his workshop to look at a wooden boat Dad was building. It seems the elder Mr. Johnson had been a master woodworker. Melanie may have been a year younger than me, but she had me in the palm of her hand and she had done so in less than eight hours. While eating that night, I saw her watching me again. This time, she blushed. The adults were being entertained, or at least pretending to be, so it was left to me to entertain Melanie and Randy. I was smitten with Melanie from the moment I saw her. I suppose there were girls I knew that were as perfect as she, but I was so infatuated I could not recall one. As a junior in high school, I was not exactly a stranger to girls my age, but I had never had one in my house that I knew was going to sleep there. Even I could tell her clothes were expensive. Her hair was the most unusual I had ever seen, the color of polished copper. Her maturity, not only in her behavior and poise, but in her feminine features, were most developed and perfect. I also knew that somewhere deep inside me hormones were raging every time I saw her or sensed the smell of her perfume. I had it bad. Randy was a twelve-year-old shit head. How I wished he was not on this trip and I could devote all my attention to Melanie. What would I do to entertain them, with the emphasis on her? I have always loved music, and prided myself in having the most up-to-date audio systems. I had a collection of not only the latest music that would appeal to my age group, but a collection of easy listening which I soon discovered had little appeal to Melanie. 17

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The three of us went to my room to listen to music. I felt that I had something that, in spite of their affluence, they did not have. It was a high-end sound system. I had built it from a mail order company called Heathkit, and the speakers were castaways from an audiophile named Felix Shipp. I was confident knowing they may have had a Fleetwood, but they did not have a Heathkit. Melanie and I found common ground here, so much so she wanted to dance; but I was a terrible dancer and avoided the invitation. Randy was not entertained; however, I had something for him too. In my large walk-in closet, I had a trunk where I kept several family mementos. My uncles had brought back their WWII relics, such as a Japanese sword, a German grenade that had been defused, and a German officer’s pistol. It worked. Randy was fascinated. It never occurred to me what the sleeping arrangements would be. We had four bedrooms, two downstairs and two upstairs. I might add that there was only one bath, and that was downstairs. Mother and Mrs. Johnson decided to let the elder Johnsons use the extra downstairs bedroom. The parents would sleep upstairs at the opposite end of the balcony from my room, and the three of us would sleep in my room.

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I had never slept in the room with a beautiful woman before, and when I found out the arrangements, I was almost breathless. Unfortunately, I knew there would also be little brother. I knew that Randy’s presence is the only reason these accommodations were allowed. There were two single beds in my room. Mother had an old Army cot that she put between the two beds. In the back of my mind, I looked forward to sleeping there, knowing I would be that much closer to Melanie; but again, Shit Head interfered. He had never slept on a cot and thought it would be fun. I’m sure Melanie had some of the same apprehensions I had. I always slept in my undershorts but that was out of the question. She slipped under the blanket that night with her clothes on and I did the same.



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The next morning, I woke up to the great smells of Mom’s breakfast cooking. It seems that the whole house was up, even the human chastity guard, Randy. Melanie and I were alone, in a bedroom. I looked across the room and I could see her. She was completely wrapped in a sheet with nothing but her eyes visible. She was watching me. We stared at each other for what must have been five minutes. Finally, she asked me to turn over and get completely under the bed clothes. She said she had to get up and did not want me to see her without her makeup and hair brushed. I had to... I peeked. She was beautiful. I think I learned that day that a beautiful woman needs no makeup. More bad news, the car part was back-ordered and it would not come in until late January 2nd. I say bad news; but it was the best news I had ever heard. Just sleeping in the same room with this princess was more than I had ever fantasized. Mom drove the two ladies to town on New Year’s Eve to buy a few items and to add to the grocery list. Melanie and I tried to get her brother to go, but in keeping with his reputation, he refused.

That night it snowed, and it snowed deeper than I have seen before or since. New Year’s Day, we got out of bed to no electricity and no running water. Mother was embarrassed, but they assured her that it was not in her control. We would just do the best we could. We turned on all the space heaters. They were a blessing. To keep up with the Sugar Bowl game, we placed the radio in the center of the room. Mom and Dad did not care who won, but I was an Ole Miss fan. Just to appease Melanie, I promised her that on this one occasion I would be for Alabama. My first lesson in the persuasive powers of a beautiful woman.

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Late the next afternoon, we got a call that the car would be ready the next day about noon. That would have been January 3rd. That morning after breakfast, I moved all the luggage to the patio while Dad drove Dr. Johnson to the dealership. The sun was beginning to melt the snow in the open places, but in the shade of the trees the snow was yet undisturbed. I had become so attached to Melanie, it was beginning to be an emotional morning for me, but I could not let anyone know. I decided to go for a walk. Reflecting, I know I was running away from emotions I did not understand. I did not invite Melanie to go, but she followed me. We walked up the hill, and as we passed the barn and entered the pine woods, she took my hand. As infatuated as I was with her and I think she with me, that was the first time we had touched in a romantic gesture. If you have never been in a snow-covered forest, the silence is deafening. The snow absorbs the sound. It was just the two of us and, finally, we stopped our walk. We were both old enough to know that not a word had to be said, emotions can be communicated in silence. We stopped and faced each other. Our first kiss was quick. More like just a brush of our lips. In the snow-induced silence, we could hear our hearts beat. There was no other sound. Then we kissed again, a long passionate kiss. We kissed again. I felt the salt as it gathered on my lips and then on my tongue. The salt was from the tears from both our eyes. Nothing was said but I knew, even if she didn’t, our worlds were too far apart, both culturally and geographically, for us to consider sharing a future. We walked home without saying a word. We would never see each other again.

JAN 6/7/13/14/20/21/27/28 at 8PM

8 DAYS A WEEK a tribute to

FEB 3/4/10/11

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We wrote letters for a couple of years. Then that stopped. I don’t know if I stopped writing first or she did. That was a long time ago. I do remember that, for years, mother would get a Christmas card from the family. I remember some of the events that were mentioned in those cards. I remember when the elder Johnsons died, and I remember about eight years later the card said Melanie had married and moved to the West Coast. I don’t know when those Christmas cards stopped coming, but ultimately they did. I have thought often about those four days we spent together, the two families, and especially Melanie and me. I wondered what happened to them; but more importantly, I wondered what happened to her. I decided to Google Randy Johnson, Millington, Tenn., just to see what I could find. There he was, Dr. Randy Johnson. I felt confident that this was the correct Randy Johnson. Sons often follow their dad’s profession.


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I punched in the number on my cell phone. If you have ever tried to get a doctor on the phone for any reason, you will understand the problem I had. When I told the receptionist it was not a medical matter but about an incident that happened fifty-three years ago, there was a long silence.

We discussed the deaths of both of our parents, what had happened to us over the years, and of course, the forces of nature that brought us together. I held back asking about Melanie, as if I felt he would still intentionally come between any closeness we may have had for each other.

“Sir, you cannot speak to the doctor,” she replied. “OK, could you have him call me?”

We must have talked ten or fifteen minutes before I asked, “How is Melanie?”

“That would be highly unlikely, sir; you are not a patient of ours.”

He hesitated, then answered. “Things have not gone well for her.”

I was tempted to say that, at one time, I was hoping to be his brother-in-law, but I refrained.

I wanted him to continue, but he paused for a long time.

“Look, ask him if he remembers where he spent New Year’s 1963. Ask him if he remembers playing with a sword and a pistol. If he does, have him call me,” and I left the number.

Then he said, “She married and moved to the West Coast. Her husband worked for Boeing. I am told he was abusive; but, John, I am not sure. She had her problems. You see, when she was about thirty, Melanie had a mental breakdown. We did all we could for her.”

That night, the cell phone rang. Yes, he remembered. He said he had thought of that New Year’s many times. He said he goes to New Orleans from time to time and once took the Bogue Chitto exit. There is an interstate highway now taking the place of Highway 51. Interstates make things look different. He said he thinks he found the house, but he was not sure and no one was home.

He left me hanging again. “She has passed away?” I asked. “No, not really. She was homeless and wandered the Coast for several years. We found her. She did not want help; but somehow later, she found help and, for the last few years, has lived in a half-way house in Portland.”


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“What a shame. She was the prettiest girl I ever knew.” “She still is. With all she has gone through, she does not look a day over forty.” “Some years ago, I would say three or four, we talked about you. I did not remember your name. She did, she called you Johnny. She talked about the snow, how quiet it made everything. She dwelled on the silence of the snow. John, she said something strange. She said that in that silence, it was the only time she ever heard love.” “What do you think about me contacting her?” I asked. He thought a minute, “No, I don’t think you should, but if she ever decides to come home, we may just take a trip to New Orleans. We will stop at Bogue Chitto. I will let you know. Maybe you can meet us. “ I didn’t tell him that no one in the family lived in Bogue Chitto anymore.

 John Case

January 2017

My Mother’s Legs


DON’T THINK that my mother ever truly believed that I went to medical school and actually became a doctor. I guess it must have something to do with the fact that your child is always just a kid to you. It got to be a little aggravating at times however; I had been doing cardiac surgery at Tulane University for a couple of years and she was still phrasing questions to me like, “Now, when THEY do bypass surgery do THEY...blah, blah, blah?” Anyway, you get my point. Well, you can imagine my surprise when she recently decided to travel to Louisiana to have me correct her long-standing venous insufficiency. I was ready to say, “Golly shucks Mommy, you mean you really do think I’m all grown up and actually became a real doctor?” She did have quite a bit of disease and was having substantial symptoms from it for quite some time. She went through the procedures like a champ and thankfully everything went fine. While I was doing her procedures, I was thinking about my own legs and being reminded of how much venous disease can occur due to a purely hereditary factor. Some of the usual risk factors that we commonly think of for developing venous problems of the legs are age, female gender, pregnancy, obesity, prior leg vein clot formation and professions that require us to stand in one place for prolonged periods of time. But nothing is quite as important as genetics. I really think that the hereditary factor has to be in place and then all of these other risk factors will have their effects in a secondary sort of fashion. What are the statistics? Well, if both of your parents had venous problems of one sort or another, then there is a 90 percent likelihood that you will also. If one parent had venous disease and you are male then your likelihood is 25 percent; and if you are female then your likelihood is 62 percent. Eighty percent of people that we see day to day in the office are reporting to us that they have a family history for venous disease. The hereditary factor is very strong and something of which we must be aware.

So what should we do with that information? Well, if you have a strong family history of varicose veins and/or vein disease then there is certainly no reason why you shouldn’t have some minimal screening examination which is something that we do routinely and free of charge in the office. For me, I’ve been scrutinizing my own legs much more closely these days. Wait a that a bulging vein? Oh, thanks Mom! Dr. Juleff is triple board certified by the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine, American Board of Surgery, and American Board of Thoracic Surgery. His practice, La Bella Vita Laser and Vein Center is located at 1431 Ochsner Blvd. Suite B, Covington, LA 70433. To learn more please call 985-892-2950 or visit

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Of Your Money By Mike Rich, CFP® Pontchartrain Investment Management

Nine simple financial steps you can take now in working to make 2017 great. HAPPY NEW YEAR! I wasn’t big on New Year’s resolutions until a couple of years ago when I realized that making a resolution to do something important in my life is the same thing as setting a goal. In my type of business, which relies solely on my own efforts and energy to stay on track every day, specific and realistic goals are important. Early in 2016, I laid out several goals that I

thought would help improve my business, my health, and my personal life. I wrote them down on paper and ended up with eleven. As I sit here and write this article, I can report to you that I have successfully achieved six of them, and they were pretty good ones. As for the other five? Well, 2017 is another year, and it’s full of opportunities.

IT’S A NEW YEAR! Is your financial plan ready?

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The beginning of a new year is a great time to assess your financial situation and, if needed, resolve to make your own changes for the better. I’ll admit, however, that maybe it’s not the first thing you might want to do in January, so let’s make it easy. Here are nine simple things you can do that could make 2017 a little better financially for you and your family: 1) CONSIDER PURCHASING AN UMBRELLA LIABILITY POLICY: My experience has been that most people are under-insured for personal liability in the event of a major accident or lawsuit. Depending on your financial situation (having teenaged drivers at home comes to mind), you might need an umbrella liability policy. This is an easy and relatively inexpensive fix. Check with your property and casualty agent for a quote. 2) CHECK YOUR CAR INSURANCE LIABILITY LIMITS: The minimum coverage requirements for bodily injury in Louisiana are $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. Property damage is $25,000. Yeah, the TV commercials focus on how low the premiums are, but those low liability limits can get you into deep trouble if you cause an accident, get sued, and lose.

Consider increasing your coverage. Your premiums will go up, but you might be able to offset some of the increase by raising your deductibles. As above, call your agent. 3) CONFIRM YOUR BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS: Name changes, divorces, remarriages, and other family issues happen all the time. The beginning of a new year is a great time to make sure the people you name to receive insurance proceeds, IRAs, annuities, and pensions are the ones you want to actually get the money. Check now. 4) MAKE SURE YOU HAVE HUMAN LIFE VALUE LIFE INSURANCE COVERAGE: If you are the breadwinner for your family and you don’t have at least Human Life Value life insurance coverage, your family could be in financial peril if you die prematurely. Don’t leave this to chance. Call me and we’ll figure out if you are protecting your family adequately. 5) LEGAL DOCUMENTS: Even after nearly nine years in this business, I’m still amazed at the number of people – young and old – who come to our office and don’t have basic legal documents. If you and your spouse do not have wills, powers of attorney, and living wills, it’s time to get them. The attorneys I work with have templates for these documents, which makes it easy to get started. And, for you grandparents out there who might be taking care of grandkids, ask your attorney about drawing up an affidavit of juvenile responsibility, which will give you authorization to seek medical care for your little ones, in case their parents cannot be reached. It takes only a phone call to an attorney to get started, so do it now. 6) ANALYZE YOUR SPENDING: OK, this one might take some time, but it’s simple to do, and the result could make you sit up and take notice. Here’s

how I do it for myself. I look through my credit card and checking account statements for the past 12 months and categorize Mary’s and my spending for the year. I don’t worry about every penny, but I try to capture enough detail to make the end result useful. Stuff like food, gasoline, gifts, cable TV, pocket money, entertainment and dining, utilities, insurance, etc. I try to not have a big “miscellaneous” line item. When I have our spending categorized to my satisfaction, I divide the amounts by 12, which gives me our average monthly spending. The entire exercise takes less than an hour. I’ll tell you this: if you do only one thing on this list, do this. The results might amaze you. Actually, they might shock you, but you’ll get over it. 7) MOVE YOUR OLD 401(K) PLAN BALANCES TO AN IRA: If you have changed jobs over the years, you might have 401(k) balances left behind with your previous employers. Bad, girls and boys, bad! You have several options, including leaving your money in the old plan (if permitted, but I don’t recommend doing this), rolling over the funds to a new employer plan (if you have one and it’s permitted), and cashing out the account value (a big no-no, IMO). Another option is to take control of this part of your financial life by doing a rollover to your own IRA. It’s easy to do, maybe with just a phone call you and I can make from my office to the 401(k) plan custodian. So, gather up those monthly statements and call me to set up an appointment. 8) THINK ABOUT YOUR LONG TERM CARE STRATEGY: If you are in your 50s or beyond, you should be thinking about how you will pay for your care if you are old and can’t take care of yourself. Believe me, it’s a real-life issue and I’m seeing it happen all the time in my practice. There is a 70% chance that you and/or your spouse will need some type of long term care if you live beyond 65 years of age, and, if you can’t find someone to do it for free, you’re going to have to pay for it.1 It’s not cheap, but insurance companies can help. In my

opinion, paying for long term care will be one of the defining financial issues for baby boomers, and there are too many of us to expect the Federal government to pay. So, it might make sense to get ready for it now. Call me, let’s meet, and in approximately one hour we can figure out a strategy that will work for you. 9) START A LONG TERM INVESTMENT PLAN: The beginning of a new year is a good time to start saving for all kinds of things: buying a house, sending your kids to college, a nice vacation in two years, and, for the time way in the future when you might not want to work anymore (or can’t), a retirement fund. Slow and steady generally wins this particular race, and, the earlier you start, the better. Here’s an impressive fact: if you invest only $50 a week every week for 40 years and earn an average of 8% on your money, you’ll end up with more than $762,000.2 Even 40 years from now, that’s decent money. However, ANY amount going into your investment account is better than nothing. It takes just a few minutes to get this set up. Call me for an appointment. My hope in this new year is that you and your loved ones enjoy good health and that your home is a haven of peace from the troubles of this world. Knowing that your financial house is in order can bring a level of confidence to your life that fewer and fewer Americans are experiencing. Don’t be one of them. Work toward taking control of your financial life now, and make 2017 your best money year yet. I’M NOW ON THE RADIO! Listen for my ad on The Bridge Radio, 88.7FM Probability of needing LTC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Clearinghouse for Long Term Care Information.


This is a hypothetical example and is not representative of any specific situation. Your results will vary. The hypothetical rate of return used does not reflect the deduction of fees and charges inherent to investing. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.


Securities and Advisory Services 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.


President’s Arts Awards

Celebrating the arts in presidential style Story by Kim Bergeron


rts make life better. On any given day in St. Tammany, residents and visitors have an opportunity to enjoy an array of visual arts, live music, delectable culinary fare, performing arts and literature penned by local authors. Many of these opportunities are made possible through the generosity of patrons of the art who understand the value of, and need for, these celebrations of creativity. Once every year, the St. Tammany Parish President and Commission on Cultural Affairs present the President’s Arts Awards, honoring some of the area’s finest creatives for their cultural contributions. “We treasure the arts here in St. Tammany, and the legacy the arts have left for generations to come,” said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. “Our artists—whether culinary masters, entertainers through the theatre and music, or visual, hands-on creators— ultimately bring joy, beauty and vibrancies to our community. The arts in all forms elevate our quality of life and perpetuate the distinct identity of St. Tammany Parish.” The Awards were founded 11 years ago by then-Parish President Kevin Davis and the Arts Commission. A staunch arts advocate, President Davis’ creation of the organization was among his earliest actions when taking office.


“The arts create a spirit of community and are very important to our quality of life,” he said. “So what better way was there to help expand the offerings by honoring our own local artists in a special evening sharing stories about them?” This year, five of the honorees have connections to Slidell. While the accomplishments of all of the recipients easily could fill a book, it is the Slidell recipients whose successes will be highlighted in this story.

Marty Sixkiller, Native Son Award When Slidell native Marty Sixkiller was just five years old, he spent hours, days and even weeks at a time creating large scale buildings with his modular skyscraper kit. Just as soon as he would finish one, he’d dismantle it and begin the creation process all over again. He loved the freedom to think and create something he could see and touch. When he was in high school, he worked as a layout artist typesetting business cards and learning the printing industry. Upon his graduation from Salmen, Marty headed to LSU. He funded his education by working several jobs, including graphic designer, prepress apprentice and a paintbox artist intern at a local video production facility. It was the graphic design and print production jobs that provided

his moments of clarity. He came to realize that while the finished product of design must pass through numerous hands and processes, as the paintbox artist/animator he had complete and final control over the end product. That moment guided him to focus on motion graphics and animation. After he graduated, and worked locally as an animator in the video industry, Marty accepted a position in Miami, where he had an opportunity to work as an animator on high profile national campaigns. Then he landed a position with PDI/DreamWorks in Danville, California. One of the bright spots in his career was gaining a film credit on the movie, “Antz,” but it was the work he completed on the blockbuster “Shrek” that has bought him a tremendous sense of pride. He learned of a young, very sick little boy who was hospitalized for months and fighting depression. His mother shared with Marty that it was seeing “Shrek” that brought joy back into the young man’s life. It was then that the animator realized that what he does makes a difference. Since then, he has never taken his career for granted. In 2013, Marty accepted a position in San Antonio, where he now resides with his wife, Joan, and his two children, Chloe and Cole. He says he is honored and humbled to be the recipient of the Native Son Award, and he remains grateful to everyone in his hometown who helped guide his career along the way.

Adam Sambola, Visual Artist of the Year When your professional career begins when you are in first grade, you’re sure to have a promising future. That was the age at which Slidell resident Adam Sambola sold his first drawing. The price? One dollar. The purchaser was a fellow classmate. His talents did not go unnoticed by the other students, resulting in several more sales. If those kids have managed to hold on to those drawings, they are now worth much more than the single dollar each paid. While he was part of the talented arts program in elementary school and junior high, it wasn’t until he continued in the high school program that he realized he could pursue a career in the arts. The program enhanced his drawing and artistic skills, but for the most part, Adam is a self-taught painter, noting that his direction and use of color are skills he has developed on his own. His first paintings were religious subjects, and three of the five sold, with prices ranging from $300 to $800, quite a leap from his dollar sales years prior. It was when he started creating festival posters that the artist started seeing tremendous support from the community. Through the years, he has created commemorative works for numerous events including the Hospice Annual Crawfish Cookoff, Jazz on the Bayou, Louisiana Veterans Festival, Lacombe Crab Festival and Slidell Jazz & Blues Festival. Among the works of which he is most proud are the murals at North Shore Square and on the corner of Fremaux Avenue at Front

Street, plus the many sculptures of his signature RedBean the Crawfish dotting storefronts on the west side of the parish, created as a fundraiser for the St. Tammany Cancer Fund. The artist cites the opening of his first gallery as a career highlight. He has since made the move to Sambola Gallery in the East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce’s Marketplace at 1808 Front Street. Adam was speechless when he learned of his receipt of the Visual Artist of the Year Award, saying it is the biggest honor he has received in his career. His advice to aspiring artists is to enjoy what they do and to get involved with the community, especially local non-profits. The latter of these is really big, he says, because the giving comes back. He shares that philanthropic spirit with his wife, Heather, and their children, Isabelle and Collin.

Chef Michael Frederic, Culinary Artist of the Year Chef Michael Frederic has fond childhood memories of watching his mother and grandmother cook family dinners, offering to be the official taste tester as often as possible. It marked the beginning of the refined palette that would pave the way to countless culinary blessings. At the age of 15, he began a career path in restaurants, working his way up from busing to waiter to captain. It wasn’t long before he had a yearning to open his own fine dining restaurant. In 1994, he made the move to the north shore, following much of his family who had already done so. He opened Le Petit Chateau in Slidell, then extended to Michael’s Catering. In his first week, the restaurant was open for lunch and dinner, and he booked catering for three weddings, a large order for a hospital Christmas party and prepared lunch for a school program. Over the next year, he and his employees worked seven days a week, 16 to 18 hours a day, which he says was concurrently exhausting and a tremendous learning experience.

Those efforts paved the way to opening Frederic’s Restaurant and Catering in the historic Salmen-Fritchie House. But when a beautiful waterfront venue on Pontchartrain Drive became available, Chef Frederic leapt at the opportunity. What resulted is Michael’s Restaurant, a fine restaurant that is celebrating its 17th year. In 2011, Chef Frederic was one of the inaugural recipients of the Best Chefs of Louisiana Awards presented by the Culinary Institute of America. Among the recipients have been Chefs Leah Chase, John Besh, John Folse and Paul Prudhomme. He joked that when he got the call advising him of his receipt, he was sure they had dialed the wrong number. But it turned out to be a dream come true. He remains grateful for loyal customers who have followed him from his early beginnings at Le Petit Chateau to where he is today, some of whom still dine with him several times a week. Additionally, he recently was selected as the official caterer of Bayou Haven, a newly opened bed and breakfast on Bayou Liberty in Slidell. Chef Frederic and his wife Courtny’e reside on their farm in Carriere, Mississippi, where they grow many of the seasonal, heirloom fruits and vegetables used in the restaurant’s dishes. To aspiring chefs, he offers this bit of advice: You’ve got to love it, to be dedicated to it. It’s like a roller coaster ride, with many ups and downs. But when it all comes together, it’s a real blessing.

Gary Mendoza, Performing Artist of the Year There are some folks who swear that creativity flows through New Orleans water. Like many of this year’s President’s Arts Award recipients, Gary Mendoza may be yet more proof of such. Though born in New Orleans, this year’s Performing Artist of the Year and 27

his family made the move to Slidell when he was in second or third grade. Gary discovered his passion for theater quite by accident when he was in high school. A friend persuaded him to join the crew for a school play. When one of the actors had to miss a performance, Gary was asked to fill in. He was an instant hit, and ended up being in every school show the following year.

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Though he began college as a history major, his passion for theatre was undeniable, despite occasional doubts. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with Theatre emphasis, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting. Along the way, he garnered extensive experience in acting, directing, lighting, design and set construction experience. But it was a moment in which he turned an ordinary scene into an extraordinary interpretation that provided his epiphany. It was then that he knew without a doubt, theatre was his calling. Gary accepted a position as a theater teacher at Covington High School in 2005—the year of Katrina. He says that the past 12 years have been very educational, providing an opportunity to find his footing as a director and to foster a similar passion for theatre in his students. Since his first experience in theater during his high school days, his life has been one extended performance, leading him through countless community theatre performances, to teaching, to the never-ending quest of learning. This past summer, he had an opportunity to celebrate his love of Shakespeare, completing a three week course at Shakespeare’s Globe in London: Teaching performance through Shakespeare. His dream is to someday present theatre in his own space. Until that time, all the world is a stage for Gary. And his greatest role is that of husband to his high school sweetheart, Stephanie, and father to their two sons, Riley and Reese.

Bobby Ohler, Musical Artist of the Year As a young boy, Bobby was intrigued by his grandfather and his uncle, both of whom were trumpet players and band leaders. So it was only natural that his Christmas list included a trumpet of his own. The day he received it, he learned to play “When the Saints Go Marching In.” In the years that followed, the young New Orleanian honed his musical talent. But it was a traveling theatre unit vising the New Orleans Recreation Department that laid the groundwork for his future, with an opportunity that changed his life—that of performing on stage.


By age 12, Bobby had joined Dunc’s Honkey Tonks, a New Orleans Dixieland jazz band. Under the tutelage of founder and leader Warren Duncan, the youth band

performed at events around the city. It was during one of these performances that young Bobby met Bob Hope. It was a moment that would come full circle when, in the 1980s, he contracted a thirty-member orchestra to accompany the celebrity at a New Orleans fundraising event. Bobby was awarded a scholarship to attend the Loyola University College of Music. In his sophomore year, his interest shifted from performance to music education. On weekends, he performed with a number of New Orleans bands and enjoyed opportunities to participate in recording sessions with New Orleans musician icons Cosimo Matassa and Allen Toussaint. All the while, he focused his efforts on earning his Master’s degree. His music career led him to that full circle moment, a local performance with Bob Hope, plus K.C. and The Sunshine Band, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight, Tony Bennett, Bing Crosby, George Burns, Englebert Humperdinck and piano virtuoso Ronnie Kole. It was his appearance with Doc Serverinson and the Tonight Show Band that remains one of the highlights of his career. In the 1990s, Bobby formed “The Harbor Band,” which to this day performs a wide range of musical styles in various configurations. Bobby says he is humbled to receive the Musician of the Year Award and considers it an affirmation of the many years of dues that he, like many musicians, has paid to arrive at a point of success. His advice to aspiring and up-and-coming musicians is simply this: “Practice makes permanent.”

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Featuring selected works from St. Tammany Parish student artists, from Kindergarten to 12th Grade.

2017 Juror - Robin Miller-Bookhout January 27 - March 11, 2017 • Free Admission Slidell Cultural Center at City Hall • 2055 2nd Street Wednesdays & Fridays, 12-4 PM & Thursdays, 12-6 PM (985) 646-4375 •

Presented by the City of Slidell, the Commission on the Arts, the 2016-2017 Cultural Season Sponsors and Supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts as administered by the St. Tammany Commission on Cultural Affairs.

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Additional recipients of the 2016 President’s Arts Awards are Emery Clark, Lifetime Achievement in the Arts; Carlos Sanchez and David Fennelly, Arts Patrons of the Year; David Armand, Literary Artist of the Year; and St. Tammany Art Association, recipient of the President’s Award. The awards will be presented during a special ceremony on Saturday, January 28, 6 to 8 pm at the St. Tammany Parish Justice Center in downtown Covington. Admission is free, and reservations are not required. For more information, call 898-5243.

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Bobby and his family have lived in Slidell since 1991, when he accepted a position as principal of St. Margaret Mary School. This school year will mark his last, as he celebrates his retirement, paving the way to spending more time with his wife, Sue. And, of course, his trumpet. As is the case with many creatives, the trait all of these recipients have in common is a deep passion for what they do. And our community is better as a result.

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Go Beyond

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RESOLUTIONS: The old me did… the new me does…


your New Year’s resolutions outlast your New Year’s Eve hangover? Are you the type of person who makes resolutions, breaks ‘em, or ignores the whole thing?

There’s something about the ritual of resolving, and putting it out there, that makes the whole thing seem more significant.

For my mental health, it’s simple. If most of my drama is because of someone else’s drama, I will remove myself from it.

More importantly, what’s your life going to look like in December 2017 if you make no changes? What will it look like if you make the changes you desire?

After all, you can’t hit a home run if you don’t swing. So, I turned to the heavy hitters on the staff of Slidell Magazine and posed the question of the “fresh start effect” of resolutions to our contributors.

If IT IS my own drama, I will keep retesting the gym equipment until I figure it all out. If I need alone time, I will take it, even if it’s in my own home, on the bathroom floor, eating my cold baked potato and writing this.

Sometimes, I just resolve to fold and put away the clothes on my bed in one day, one laundry load at a time. That would be an improvement in my life.

When it comes to fresh approaches, Slidell Magazine’s “Crimi-Mommly Insane” writer, Leslie Gates, has everyone beat. Just listen to her plan:

Sometimes, I want to listen to that wanderlust whispering in my ear and walk into an airport and buy a ticket for the next plane leaving for St. Somewhere. Buy all new clothes when I get there and unplug. Spend a week or a month, and then follow the gentle breeze back to my own (uncluttered) bed.

“This is the year I am going to ‘grow up’, just enough to get my mind and body much healthier. I will continue to donate to my local gym, but THIS YEAR, I will try TESTING the equipment I’m paying for.

But, most of all, in 2017, I will learn to let go of the things that I can’t control, pray away any negative thoughts, and do my best to give my family the best of me.”

Usually, I re-resolve to be less than 10 days late with my column deadline, and that’s enough to make me feel like superwoman. 30

Wine will only be consumed occasionally, for my enjoyment, not hooked to an IV bag on a constant drip when I’m stressed out. Smoking cigarettes... DONE, since mid-November!

Thank you, Leslie, for giving us all the very best of you in the pages of Slidell Magazine. And, know that you’re not alone in those health and fitness goals, because if you Google the most popular resolution, the answer is an unsurprising “Diet and Fitness.” “Jockularity” columnist Corey Hogue s t a r t e d t h a t p a t h t h i s p a s t y e a r, conquering his nemesis – The Gym.

“…A dreaded place of sweat, hard work and selfconsciousness. It was the bane of my comfortable existence. Only, I had gotten too comfortable. My doctor and I consider myself very healthy, but as I hit and passed thirty (gulp), it became more and more important for me to stay that way. So, after years of being too lazy to get up and go, I decided to put my legs to work. I have been working out this year, consistently. Sure, 5AM was tough at first, but slowly it has gotten easier. And it’s been so great! I’m not paying attention to the scale, because it’s about getting healthy. I still have a ways to go to get to the lifestyle my body deserves, but I’m on a healthy start. And now that I’m up, I’m not going to stop. Bring it on Fitbit! Bring it on crack of dawn! Bring it on, 2017!” Most gyms expect only about 18 percent of people who buy memberships to use them consistently. Bravo, Corey, for being in that number. Corey introduced me to the Fitbit way of tracking your steps, and he’s an avid reader as well as fantastic writer (and my nephew-in-law!). Corey recommends books to me, and he introduced me to the Divergent series. I resolved to only listen to the books while working out. That kept me looking forward to both the next chapters and the next workout. So, there’s another key to making a concrete plan that’s got stick-to-it stuck into it. Do something rather than start something.


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Our ever-organized and efficient “Making Cents of Your Money” columnist, Mike Rich, has that margin covered. “I resolve to keep the horizontal surfaces in my office as free from clutter and unneeded papers as possible,” Mike says. And I believe he will, as Mike has a way of balancing not only the books, but also the practical and illusive. “I resolved for 2015 that I would take three one-week vacations and at least two weekend vacations, and I did it. I also resolved to take off from work every other Friday, and succeeded at that, as well!” Mike, sign me up for whatever you resolve in 2017 – you knock it out of the park! And he’s not the only Slidell Magazine writer who’s backed up resolve with reward. Readers of Donna Bush’s stories know her amazing photographs, but they may not know the route she’s taken to become an award winning photographer. Here’s her story: “In September of 2012, when I took an early out from my federal government job, I vowed that I would pursue my career as a nature photographer and writer. Two things that I never had enough time to devote to while working full-time (and way too many hours of overtime) in my fed job. I also 31

promised myself that I would write, write, and write! My other resolution when I took that early out was to pursue a certification as a yoga teacher. I had been practicing yoga since 1999. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to teach, but I felt the training would teach me a lot about myself. It did! I started yoga teacher training in October of 2012, received my 200-hr RYT certification and then my 500-RYT certification! I’ve now been teaching yoga 5 years and writing for Slidell Magazine for 3 years. I’ve won a few awards for my photography through Louisiana Outdoor Writer’s Association and Southeastern Outdoor Writer’s Association. For 2017, my resolution is to submit queries to more national magazines to extend my writing and photography beyond Louisiana. Wish me luck!” Donna, it’s going to be fun to keep up with your achievements in 2017! And I hereby resolve to get back to your yoga classes more often! Slidell Magazine’s wealth of artistic talent is perhaps most epitomized by Zac McGovern’s illustrations. Zac brings an editorial comment to every cartoon and illustration, and his honest and heartfelt resolutions are testimony to his talent. “I think one of my resolutions from last year was to be more patient, and I’m still working on that. But I have been practicing some breathing exercises and trying to remember that whatever I’m feeling now will pass - regardless of how overwhelming it may be. 32

Another resolution was to remember that, even though I am obsessed with making art and communicating things through this effort, I need to be present with family and friends and put people first in my life. I think I’m doing better in this area, but I will have to ask around.

I’ve been a ‘closet’ smoker for decades, hiding it from most of the public. This was especially true after I was diagnosed with cancer. Even then I didn’t stop. Another year, another resolution, another broken promise to myself.

I resolved to exercise more to fight depression and anxiety, and in this area, I have more or less stayed true. I don’t want to fall into the trap of looking to substances to help me deal with the ups and downs of life and the occasional drought of creative inspiration.

Last year was indeed the LAST year – and I’m proud to say, I haven’t touched a cigarette since June 2016. And I’ll never EVER smoke again.

I definitely look at myself as a work in progress and pretty much any resolution I ever make is to just be a better person, try not to give into the easy way out, and to focus more on the positive (even though I am horribly pessimistic by nature).” Zac, I’m a fan who smiles and learns from every cartoon or illustration you’ve created. Whatever you’re doing, keep on keepin’ on! Our prolific and talented Storyteller, John Case, insists he’s made a lot of resolutions and may never have lived up to a single one. Learning guitar and hiking the Appalachian Trail may be long term goals that are illusive, but still on the table. But John’s success with the publication of a collection of stories named Bogue Chitto Flats not only pop from the pages of this magazine and his book, but were also brought to life onstage in 2016. Home run, John! And John’s also accomplished something that many, many people strive to do. “I quit smoking, but not because of a resolution, it was because the doc said quit or else. I never touched another cigar or pipe. It’s been two years.” John, you’ve got the resolve to do anything you wish. A government study finds almost 70 percent of American smokers want to quit, and more than half tried last year, but only 6 percent succeeded. And no one knows that statistic better than our magazine Editor and Publisher, Kendra Maness. “Every January, I pen my list of New Year’s resolutions. First on the list each and every year – QUIT SMOKING.

For 25 years.

How’d I do it? I used the patches and gum, but those were just the nicotine replacements that helped me get past the hand-to-mouth habit. The real motivator? Calculating the years I had smoked then writing that number every day. 25 years. 25 years. A QUARTER CENTURY. It worked. I’ve had urges, and gotten past them. I’ve gained weight and that’s OK. Smoking was my addiction, not food. I’ll drop the weight over time. What’s important is that I’m SMOKE FREE. I did it!” The key to success can be something as dire as a doctor’s warning or as gentle as a whisper in your ear. Find a picture of yourself at the beginning of 2016, and think of whom you’d like to be in the end of 2017. Look at the big picture of your life for a while. But just a little while. Then, get off your ass, get on a plane, hit a treadmill or a trail – and look forward to that December 2017 picture. You got this. You’re gonna love saying I DID IT! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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After thinking long and hard about my resolutions, about what I want to implement in my life in the new year, I decided that I do not have enough football in my life. That’s right, you heard me. Not enough. I have missed too much. There are too many new names, too many teams that have gone from zero to hero, from king of the mountain to barely notching a win. So, with that in mind, I have decided that now, January, is the time, when winners are decided, that I will reinvigorate my football spirit. Now, where to start? The Rose Bowl...nah. What about the Sugar Bowl?... Yuck, there is no way Auburn is going to reignite my football passion. Football Playoff Championship? Pass...Eureka! I have found the perfect game! It’s a man’s game, a game where legends roam and friendships forged

in steel are tested in the fires of competitive passion. Wait for it….The 2017 Pro Bowl!! *Insert applause for Corey here*. Thank you, thank you. Yes, it is perfect, I know. In all seriousness, the Pro Bowl is the perfect game to get excited about. It’s got a lot of history, is filled with a lot of potential, and always involves talented players and coaches. It doesn’t get enough respect, and maybe some of that is deserved, but I believe that it can be better. The Pro Bowl as we know it started in 1970. From 2014-2016, the NFL experimented with a “school-yard pick” system, where two Hall-of-Fame players picked the players for their teams. Before that, and starting again this year, the teams are NFC vs. AFC, and the players are voted to the teams based on

votes from fans, players, and coaches, each group having one-third of the total vote. There are some differences in rules from normal NFL games, mostly to keep players safe. The Pro Bowl, though, has suffered from a lack of interest for years. Which is sad, because it has so much potential. Whether it’s players deciding not to go, the fact that the game doesn’t count towards anything, or the simple playbook that teams run, one thing is for certain: the players don’t play like they would during a “real” game. To illustrate that point, the Pro Bowl played in 2012 was widely criticized as a glorified flag football game (when the Associated Press says players were hitting each other “as though they were having a pillow fight”, that’s pretty bad). It’s not all bleak, though.

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The game still features serious talent. Even though some players do pull out, and Super Bowl teams are not allowed to compete, the game has featured players like Russell Wilson, J.J. Watt, and, of course, Drew Brees. These players are nothing to scoff at. You won’t see Joe-schmo who can’t play no mo or Ray Beam who got kicked off the team. Granted, the Pro Bowl teams don’t always include the “best” talent because of the players who can’t or won’t attend, but these teams are still teams that could win the NFL if given the chance. The Pro Bowl is SUCH a missed opportunity for the NFL. The players need to play harder, sure, but if they were playing for something other than money, it might motivate them to play harder. In some All-Star games in other sports, the winner decides home-field advantage, or the game includes celebrity involvement, or the proceeds go to the pension fund of the players. The incentive for the Pro Bowl? Fame, and a little money. Well, little for NFL players, though I would take being a loser in the Pro Bowl and earning an extra $28,000. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing George Clooney throwing a pass to Julio

Jones, or Blake Shelton returning a punt. Or maybe something wild, like the winner decides which player on either team has to sit out a quarter of the Super Bowl. Bottom line, I miss watching players like Sean Taylor at the Pro Bowl, who played full speed no matter if it’s the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, or some backyard pickup game. (If you don’t know who that is, look him up. Trust me. He was such an intense, incredibly passionate player.) What makes me scratch my head with the NFL is that the Super Bowl is an incredible event, a full-bodied and rich experience for the host city and everyone who attends. Oh yeah, and waaay more people watch it. The Pro Bowl is much more relaxed, which

is good, and a bit of a bore, which is very bad. I fail to understand how the NFL can throw a dud of a party one month and then make a history-making sensational event the next. I believe the NFL and any other organizations involved can put more effort into the Pro Bowl. There is room for two major professional football events in a year. I mean, who wouldn’t want another excuse to chow down on serious game snacks. I am excited to get my football spirit back! It’s about time that I start giving Sean Payton my advice again. And yes, despite all of that negativity about the Pro Bowl, I still want that to be the big game that I watch first. And not only because it is being held in Orlando this year, a stone’s throw away from Disney World...wait...THAT WOULD BE PERFECT! Hold the Pro Bowl at Disney World! The Pro Bowl reminds me of my relationship with football. Once it was strong and seemed important. It has waned lately, but there is potential for it to become great again. Stronger, even, than it was before. But it is going to take a little effort, a little work. I know it’s definitely worth it.





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Super Moon... Super Puerto Rico Story & Photos by Donna Bush Where better to photograph November’s super moon than in Puerto Rico? Beautiful beaches, beautiful palm trees, beautiful moon! But, wait! What about a beautiful sunset and a beautiful moonrise from a sailboat, too!

We hope you enjoy this installment from award-winning outdoors photographer and writer, Donna Bush. Inspired by life... Curiosity seeker... Inviting all Slidell Magazine readers to join her.


Our first night was a perfectly delightful trip aboard Sailing Dreams Yacht Charter with Captain Judith and 1st Mate Marie for a 3-hour sail. We left Old San Juan Harbor and toured past many historical landmarks, such as La Fortaleza Castle, the Capitol Building, and El Morro Fortress, as the sky changed from a color palette of pale blues and grays to a variety of pinks and dark blues with the building lights reflecting in the water. We learned about the history of Puerto Rico. It is a commonwealth of the United States and was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493. It was originally named San Juan Bautista, but when gold was discovered in the river the name of the island was changed to Puerto Rico, or “rich port” and San

Juan became the name of the capitol. The island became a vital military outpost for Spain as many unsuccessful attempts to conquer were made by the French, Dutch and English. Hence, the massive wall built around the city, 42 feet tall, up to 45 feet wide at the base and 2 feet wide at the top, built over 150 years. At one time, there were six gates around the city, each serving a different purpose. The gates were locked at sundown to protect the city

from invaders. If you were outside the gates at sundown, you would remain outside until the next morning. Today, one gate remains, named La Puerta de San Juan, in honor of St. John the Baptist, still comprised of the original wood and hardware from the 1700’s. The best way to see the wall and the gate is to stroll along El Paseo del Morro, a 1.5-mile recreational trail that leads between the bay of San Juan and Old San Juan. You will be accompanied along the trail by several of the city’s most famous inhabitants, the Old San Juan feral cats. Indeed, as we strolled the walkway we noticed first one cat in the bushes, then another under a car, and another and another, until finally we realized they were everywhere! Then we discovered that we were standing in front of the building that housed food, water and several kennels for the cats operated by a grassroots organization, known as Save a Gato (Spanish for cat). Of course, we ventured inside to meet the volunteers and the kitties. The group also provides T-N-R (trap, neuter and release). In fact, during the wintertime, when kittens are in demand as gifts and not readily available, several are sent to mainland US to find their furever homes. Our stroll continues past blue cobblestone paved streets and up to the El Morro Fortress, officially known as Castillo de San Felipe del Morro. Designed to protect San Juan Bay, construction

began in 1539 under the orders of King Charles V of Spain. Over the next 400 years, many complex structures were added to the original fortress. Today, there are six levels rising from sea level to 145 feet in height. Along the walls are dome-covered guardhouses, known as garitas. A lighthouse was built above the citadel in 1843 but destroyed in the 1898 bombardment of the city by the United States. The lighthouse was replaced by the US military in 1908. The entire fortress comprises over 70 acres and hosts several of the Island’s resident iguanas. After touring the fortress we made our way back towards Fortaleza Street past Spanish Conquistador and explorer, Juan Ponce de Leon’s home, Casa

Blanca, and the San Juan Cathedral where his tomb is enshrined. We stopped for lunch at Verde Luz (Green Light); enjoying the best calamari I’ve ever tasted followed by a delectable grilled grouper filet. We asked our waitress, “Please pass our compliments to the chef.” Soon, we were greeted by the chef and discovered that in the late 1980’s, she cooked at The Court of Two Sisters in New Orleans! No wonder the food was so delicious! I must say, we ate really well on this trip. Lots of local Puerto Rican cuisine – rice and beans, plantains, fresh seafood and mofongo! I’m pretty sure I had fresh fish every day, sometimes twice. Mofongo is a local dish consisting of plantains (think banana-like looks, with better taste) fried in olive oil, then mashed with a variety of different ingredients. I had traditional mofongo – plantains mixed with onions and peppers; I had it mixed with beef, with pork, and with duck; and I even had it stuffed and drizzled with lobster! Did you know that the second largest radio telescope in the world is located in Puerto Rico at Arecibo Observatory? It was the largest until September of this year, when China opened a radio telescope 195 meters larger. Arecibo was the brainchild of Professor William E. Gordon from Cornell University over 50 years ago. He wanted to use it to study the Earth’s ionosphere, which is defined as “the 37

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layer of the Earth’s atmosphere that is ionized by solar and cosmic radiation.” “The Arecibo Observatory planetary radar system provides low-cost ‘fly-bys’ of dozens of asteroids per year by characterizing the surface and subsurface properties of solid bodies from Mercury out to the rings and moons of Saturn.” The system operates at frequencies from 50 megahertz up to 10,000 megahertz. Twenty-six electric motors control the platform, driving the azimuth, the Gregorian dome and carriage house to any position with millimeter precision. The 1-megawatt planetary radar transmitter located in a special room inside the dome directs radar waves to objects in our solar system. The 305-meter reflector is constructed inside a large limestone sinkhole. This, along with their location near the equator, made Puerto Rico a perfect spot for the Observatory. Arecibo has appeared in numerous films and television shows, but became more famous in 1999 when they began collecting data for the SETI@home project. SETI stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence and their aim is to answer the question “Are we alone in the Universe?” The Science and Visitor Center offers a fantastic self-guided tour of their many educational exhibits, some of which are interactive. A short movie provides insight into the building of the telescope followed by a guided tour to the observation deck where visitors can get a real view of just how big and breathtaking the radio telescope is! Bioluminescent bays in the Caribbean have long offered unique nighttime tours either by kayaks or electric boats. In mid-August 2015, the area experienced a deadzone, where oxygen was depleted from the water. Dinoflagellates Pyrodinium bahamense, or single cell algae, are the cause of the bioluminescence in these bays. When the deadzone occurred, numerous fish were killed causing a huge bacteria bloom, which had a detrimental effect on the dinoflagellates. Large lunar tides and two late season storms helped to flush out the bay. Long periods of sunlight increase the intensity of the glowing plankton. The bay has begun to recover. However, the recovery began in October, which is when the bay moves into what is known as a null season, where circumstances are not favorable for bioluminescence - long days of cloud cover, rain and cooler than normal temperatures. Currently, the area is in a rollercoaster pattern where there may be several days with lots of sunshine and clear water, allowing the bioluminescence to peak, and then the null time where their may be zero glow. With optimum conditions beginning in March through September, the area hopes to once again enjoy the beauty of the glowing bays.

El Yunque National Rain Forest, located on the northeastern side of the island, is the only tropical rain forest in the national forest system. It is made up of 28,000 acres of lush jungle-like foliage, crags, waterfalls and rivers on the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo Mountains. There are many trails to hike, water falls to enjoy - some that you can swim in, and a couple of tower observation points with spectacular views if the clouds aren’t socked in. This is a beautiful place to see even if you go on a rainy day. Of course, keep in mind, it is a rainforest and it rains most every day. However, the day we visited, a weather system was moving through with thunderstorms. I’m not a fan of hiking with lightening nearby! Despite the downpours, we were able to see a lot and the drive was spectacular. The highlight of our trip was a twilight tour in El Yunque with Michael Grasso, owner of Enchanted Islands Eco Tours and El Yunque Tours. Michael, his wife and team run the best top-notch eco tour organization in Puerto Rico. They offer a wide variety of tours including kayaking, hiking and historical tours. We debated taking the moonlit kayak tour, but after a conversation with Michael we decided on the twilight tour instead. What a perfect decision! We met Michael and his guide, Angel, at the Angelito Trailhead at 4:30pm to allow time to get outfitted with our provided backpacks, water and headlamps. Yes! We will be hiking out in the dark! By starting before dark we were able to see and hear the sounds of the rainforest before it awakened and came to life at dusk. Sixty percent of the rainforest inhabitants are nocturnal. Although the trail is only about a half mile one-way down to the Las Damas (The Ladies) Natural Pool, we will take more than 3 hours to make our trek. We were able to see the magnificent flora and fauna, such as the ausubo tree, a massive evergreen. This tree was used extensively in Spanish shipbuilding due to the strength of the timber and its rot-resistance. It earned the name bulletwood because cannon balls could not penetrate the decks! I saw the largest philodendron leaves I’ve ever seen, about the size of a dinner plate! We discussed evolution and how many of the plants and wildlife have evolved to survive in an environment where they would normally not. As an example, we saw several breadfruit trees much taller than normal, because settlers planted them in this location and survival required them to grow tall to reach needed sunlight. As darkness settled over the rainforest, the noise level increased dramatically – cicadas, birds, and crickets – many of the usual suspects that we hear in Louisiana each night. With darkness, we donned our headlamps set on red beam to help us look

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for wildlife and light our path without deterring our night vision. Instantly, we found anoles and snails on the move. Then we heard the coqui, whose call sounds exactly like the name, ‘ko-kee.’ We began our search to spot it. When they awake, they begin their move up to the higher elevations of the trees. This small tree frog, considered the mascot of Puerto Rico, comes out at night and begins emitting its mating call looking for a female to bond with. There are 17 species of coqui in Puerto Rico and our guides could identify every one of them! Yes! We found one! In fact, we found several. Only the male sings. It’s amazing how much noise they emit for such a


tiny creature. Coquis are only about 1 - 2 inches in length and weigh about 2 - 4 ounces. Their scientific name, Eleutherodactylus, means ‘free toes.’ Unlike most frogs, they don’t have webbed toes. Instead they have disc like pads on their feet that allow them to vertically climb up structures and cling to trees and leaves. Also unlike most frogs, the coqui does not have a tadpole stage. Tiny frogs with short tails emerge from the eggs and are protected by males from predators until they are large enough to survive on their own. We also observed bioluminescent fungi on our walk. There are 71 species

of these fungi throughout the world and seven are found in El Yunque. It was so cool to see glowing leaves on our hike out of the forest as if they were lighting our path. Along with the illumination of the fungi, we had click beetles, ‘cucubano’, which are similar to our fireflies in that they emit light from their rear segment. However, these little guys can also emit light from their middle segment, independently, giving the appearance of two headlights and one backlight. We were also guided by the Puerto Rican firefly, ‘cucullo’, which is only about a half inch in size. Both emit a bright green light. Have you ever seen a blue tarantula?

Well! They have them in Puerto Rico, known as the ‘cobalt blue’. We also saw one in the post of a sign by the river. They are really quite lovely, as tarantulas go. Normally screech owls and bats serenade the hike out, but we had a nearing storm so we were only able to enjoy the coqui, cicadas, crickets and fireflies. All in all, this was my favorite part of the trip despite the lightening that pushed us up to the trailhead earlier than we wanted. Hey! It is a rainforest! You will have rain! LOL! Actually, they receive about 240 inches a year at the higher elevations. I only had 3 days in Puerto Rico and, as you can tell, I packed a lot into a short time. There is so much more to do. The island is well known for their snorkeling, diving, hiking, sightseeing, sailing and historical tours. If you get a chance, take a few days to experience all the island has to offer and don’t forget to try Mofongo!

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"Have I gone mad? I'm afraid so. Entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret... ALL THE BEST PEOPLE ARE." ~ Alice in Wonderland

EDITOR’S NOTE: We invite you to enjoy a reprint of Leslie Gates’ story from January 2014. We loved it so much we wanted to savor it a second time! My 6-year-old daughter told me she wants a “normal Mommy.”

So, this got me thinking...

I don’t know what this means.

And WHAT IS “normal”?

After all, my therapist told me I’m a great Mom! Then something about when my meds are adjusted properly... blah, blah, blah... anyway, OBVIOUSLY not important.

I was on my way out the door, about to go on a run through the woods.

Am I “normal”?

Now. Just stop here a moment.

Let me give you a visual:

Go back and re-read that visual again.

When my daughter said this, I was wearing an Alice in Wonderland costume, holding a teapot full of flour.

But read it as a 6-year-old child. I’m sure you can see her concern.

No, it wasn’t Halloween. And I wasn’t having a tea party, or baking cookies.

I am a part of a running group, and every run has a theme. We also follow

Ok... Continue, so I can clear things up.

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a trail of flour to get to the end. I can see where this might seem a little abnormal to my child, or anyone for that matter. But honestly, it is something I enjoy. It’s different... It’s fun... Don’t judge me. Anyway, while trekking through the swamps and swimming across canals, I had plenty of time to think. Alot of those thoughts DID include what was lurking beneath my feet, but mainly, all I could think about were my daughter’s words. Oh yeah, and the one lady who was hiding her children from my view as I passed by... THAT kinda disturbed me too. Made me question my sanity a bit. Although I did look like I had escaped from a mental institution... running with my mud soaked blue dress, backpack in tow, laying a trail of flour and dragging full thorn branches behind me. Can’t blame her, I guess. But my child’s thoughts of me not being “normal”, bothered me the most. Running along, I figured that coming up with some New Year’s resolutions might be helpful. Oh, no, not for myself; FOR MY CHILDREN. I’m perfectly fine just the way we are. I was more so wondering what is “normal” through their eyes. And that maybe doing this list, could somehow help me see it better. So here are a few that popped in my head... 1.  I will take the plastic off of the popcorn bag BEFORE putting it in the microwave.     2. I will sleep with my school uniform on, including shoes, and possibly school bag, to make Mommy’s mornings easier. 3.  I will not put my lizard on Mommy’s shoulder. Not only will it give her a heart attack once she discovers it’s there, but reptiles poop too. And

they don’t care where they do it. 4. I will no longer drag my sister around on a leash, or put her on a skateboard tied to the back of a go cart. 5.  I will figure out WHY it is so hard to pee INTO the toilet bowl. 6.  If my pant bottoms are not AT LEAST down to my ankle bone, I will realize that they belong to my younger sibling, and I will not walk out of the door with them on. This makes Mommy look bad… and possibly not normal. 7.  I will not put my fingers in the hot candle wax and flick it all over the wall. Or pour it on the carpet. 8.  I will not hide my games under the sheets at bedtime. Mommy is not stupid. 9.  After I fill my big toy dump truck with dirt and rocks, I will not throw it in the pool. 10.  I will not annoy my big brother until he hits me upside the head...

with his shoe... that mommy can never find the next morning before school... as the bus is honking... and Mommy is yelling... which makes her feel horrible after I get on the bus. 11. I will not use my shoe to hit my little sister upside the head. It will stay in the closet with its mate, so we can find it. I will use something else. 12. Last but not least, if I have questions or concerns about anything EVER, I will make sure to include Daddy, because he REALLY wants to know, and help in ANY WAY possible. So here’s my conclusion... What our kids think is “normal” comes from what we (and people around us) teach them is “NOT normal”. We can teach them to be safe, of course. I’m all about keeping them alive and well. We can also teach them that making mistakes doesn’t mean you are not normal. It just means you are learning. But in my opinion, we are all different, 43

and so NO ONE is normal. There is NO SUCH THING. Now, some things are not acceptable around your children, such as... Naked hula-hooping... Running with scissors naked... Doing drugs while naked...basically, anything naked. For a full list of these inappropriate activities, just use your imagination. OK. Quit thinking about naked people. Sicko. That is soooo NOT normal. Back to my point... There is no normal parent, but there is such a thing as a parent doing the best they can with who God made them to be... one who loves their child...that will worry for hours if they are a good enough parent after one simple statement. Or protect them from the crazy lady running through the woods. 44

We never know a person’s story, but we can make our own, and teach our children to make their own. So that the word “normal” is out of our vocabulary, and it will be ok to function as an individual human being. As a good friend once told me, “We are all gonna screw our kids up in some way, it will just be a different way than our parents screwed us up.” We just do the best we can and teach our children to simply be THEMSELVES. I love my kids more than anything in this world. But there is not anything in this world that can keep me from being myself. And I want the same for them. Find who you are, be who you are, and love who you are, even if you have to do it in costume. THERE IT IS. So yeah, I’m not normal.

Neither are you. BUT, to be clear... I’m definitely NOT crazy. And if you have any questions about that, just ask the Mad Hatter. He was running next to me.

& .



Citizens of Slidell,

May God bless you and your families with prosperity, good health, and happiness in 2017 and beyond!

From the Pichons Glynn, Katrise, Tre, and Kendall

Glynn Pichon Slidell City Councilman District A

Pediatric Dentist


504-831-2120 DR. JACK DEVEREUX’S OFFICE 45

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by Jeff Perret, DVM

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JUST SAY NO TO SAGO As a young kid, I always wanted to go to the toy store. Times have changed. Little did I know back then that for me, stores like Barnes & Noble and Lowes would replace Toys R Us. Instead of action figures, I now buy books, power tools and plants to spruce up my landscape. But were you aware that some of those plants available for purchase could kill your dog? That’s right folks: at Home Depot or your local landscape store, you will likely find a plant resembling a pineapple with spiked green ferns poking out from the top, called a sago palm. Also known as Cycad palms, these hardy evergreen yard plants are widely available,

especially here in South Louisiana. Plants from this family include the Cycad (sago palm), coontie, cardboard palm, and Japanese Cycad, and their increased use as houseplants has resulted in even greater availability in recent years. All parts of the sago palm from its base, to the fruit, to the seed, are TOXIC to your dog or cat! There are male and female

plants, with the female plants being more toxic (I’m just the messenger). The sago palm can be sold as an indoor ornamental, bonsai-type houseplant, or landscaping plant, thereby increasing the chance of exposure to pets regardless of geographic location. So, unless you’re living in Alaska, you can probably get your hands on one.

Dr. Jeff recommends using:



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Sago palms contain three nasty toxins capable of causing potentially life-threatening liver failure and central nervous system toxicity. All parts of the plant are considered poisonous, but the seeds contain the largest amount of toxin; ingesting as few as two seeds can result in your pet developing signs of illness. So if the seeds are as tasty to Fido as a Lay’s potato chip ― “betcha can’t eat just one” ― he’s probably in big trouble.


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Signs of illness with sago palm toxicity can be seen within 15 minutes to several hours after ingestion. The three main organ systems affected are the GI tract, liver, and central nervous system. Signs can include decreased appetite, vomiting with or without blood, weakness, diarrhea with or without blood, dehydration, abdominal pain, uncoordination, muscle tremors, seizures, coma, and death.

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Routine lab testing performed by your veterinarian can reveal evidence of sudden liver failure, blood loss, and inability of the blood to clot appropriately. Clearly, prompt treatment is warranted. When appropriate, vomiting should be induced, such as if a pet has just recently ingested part of the plant but displays no signs of toxicity as yet. This does not mean, however, that a veterinarian’s exam isn’t necessary. At the vet’s office, activated charcoal may be given to reduce absorption of toxins. Additional therapy depends on severity and length of exposure, and can include hospitalization with IV fluid support, anti-seizure medications, liver protectants, and blood products such as plasma or vitamin K. Prognosis can vary with sago palm toxicosis. Factors such as how soon ingestion is identified, how quickly vomiting is initiated, and how severe the pet’s signs are all play a role in the potential outcome. If liver failure is severe, prognosis is very poor to grave. The rate of death for sago palm toxicosis is as high as 50 percent in some studies. How soon death can occur depends on several factors, including how quickly the pet gets veterinary care, his body weight, and how much toxin is ingested. In a pet with substantial liver damage, death could ensue within several days despite aggressive medical therapy. Take it from this veterinarian: This is not a plant you want to have in your home or on your property if you have a dog or cat. I’m sure you’ve heard someone say, “This one’s a bad seed.” Well, if you’re referring to the sago palm, it literally is. Pet owners should say NO to SAGO!

The staff at Double M Feed Pet & Garden Store wishes everyone a Happy , Healthy, Prosperous & Safe New Year!

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celebrating 30 years!

For more than 30 years, Birmingham Optical’s owner and Optometrist, Dr. Fred Birmingham, has dedicated himself to the Slidell community. Through his professional career and charitable work, Dr. Birmingham (known by everyone as “Doc”) has served as a true leader in our city. Dr. Birmingham is the youngest son of the late Dr. Russell Tiffany Birmingham and the late Mary Lynn Powell Birmingham of Nashville. Dr. Russell Birmingham was a longtime obstetrician and gynecologist who attended medical school at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and Mrs. Birmingham was a domestic engineer raising four boys (Mrs. Birmingham is to the right in the above picture, next to Fred at his grand opening). Dr. and Mrs. Birmingham were college sweethearts, who met while studying at Lambuth College in Jackson, TN, which was Dr. Russell Birmingham’s home town. Mrs. Birmingham was from nearby Brownsville, TN. Fred Birmingham continued the family legacy at Lambuth College where he graduated in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. By 1980, Fred had heard his calling to help others and enrolled in Southern College of Optometry, where he graduated with a Doctor of Optometry degree in 1984. Moving to Louisiana in 1984, he began his career in Optometry with group and commercial practices. However, he soon yearned to take his patient care to the next level and open his own practice.

DR. FRED BIRMINGHAM In 1986, Dr. Birmingham took the leap into small business ownership and established Birmingham Optical. Shortly thereafter, Doc married and had two beautiful children, Mary Kaitlyn and Adam. Now in its 30th year, Birmingham Optical has become a staple in the Slidell community, offering comprehensive vision examinations and specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide array of eye diseases, conditions, and problems. Dr. Birmingham’s mission has always been to provide the best eye care services possible by using only the most advanced, state-of-the-art diagnostic technology and eye care products available. He remains committed to educating his patients and providing personalized eye care services to the people of Slidell. Dr. Birmingham has been an active community servant for more than 20 years with the Lions Club, serving as President for the past 12 years. The Lions Club is the largest service club organization in the world. One of their primary missions is to help the visually impaired, allowing Dr. Birmingham to use his expertise to help our neighbors and those around the world. Thank you Dr. Fred Birmingham for 30 years of excellence in the Slidell business and health care community!

Dedicated in loving memory of Mary Kaitlyn Birmingham








JA NUARY Mona Lisa MoonPie Par ade

t For MAY - Habita oyal Rosies” H umanity’s “R

SEPTEMBER - SeptemBEE R Fest for Hospice

FEBRUARY y St. Tamman Real Men of

JUNE - “Divine Sister” at Cutting Edge Theater

Vince Vance OCTOBER ash Halloween B


MARCH St. Patrick’s Day Parade

l Auditorium JULY - Slidel lice Prayer for Po

NOVEMBER - Main Street “Ghosts and Ghouls” Lunche on

(985) 649-8055 Michael A. Frederic Executive Chef/Owner

4820 Pontchartrain Dr. • Slidell, LA (Hwy.11 at Carr Dr.)


ag Slidell M 2017 anuary


ber Expo

m APRIL - C ha

AUGUST Red Beans & Rice Cookoff

k you tny’e than & wife Cour el giving ha & ic t M an f C he el’s Restaur ha ic M ur yo at & for dining serve you y rtunity to pp po ha op e ry th ve us everyone a ng hi is W . ! ar guests rous New Ye and prospe


The Shoulder Clinic at OrthoLouisiana is a specialized or thopedic practice built on the expertise of Dr. Brian Kindl. Dr. Kindl is a board certiďŹ ed and fellowship-trained surgeon who specializes in upper extremity and sports medicine surgical procedures including: Shoulder Arthroscopy Rotator Cuff Repairs Labral Repairs Shoulder Replacement Reverse Shoulder Arthroscopy Dr. Kindl specializes in Minimally Invasive Surgery, using small incisions to decrease your pain.


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