They are grandparents, even great-grandparents today, but half a century ago, they were teens with active social lives, hanging out in their cars at local drive-ins, engaging in highway drag racing and seeking out dances across the area.
John Jackson, now in his late 70s, remembers the 50s “track to the tree” drag-racing along Little Bayou Black Drive when he was a student at Terrebonne High School. “I experienced all that. I had my own car, a 51 Ford convertible. Hanging out at Ernie's drive-in was the 'in thing.' We would tune our car radios to KCIL or WTIX and play the music loud.”
Occasionally, Jackson admits, he was one of the drag racers, driving his own car, but sometimes he used a more experienced driver. One race, he said, had Joe Teuton and Jerry Dover driving in a race involving Jackson's Ford and Lester Davis's Pontiac. “When I drove, I would leave a lot of rubber, without maximum speed.” Other drivers could somehow turn the power into speed.
Jackson listed other “hangouts,” Tony's and Dominoes' pool halls on Main Street, the high curb in front of Dupont's where six or eight young men could sit comfortably to watch the girls drive by, hoping that one might stop for an encounter. Dance halls of the day included the Legion and the KC hall in Houma, the WOW hall and College Inn in Thibodaux, the Fun Pavilion in Raceland and a place in Schriever “just across the tracks” whose name Jackson can't remember, but he recalls Fats Domino playing there.
Your 50s and 60s “hangout” recollections are welcome. Call or write.
Showcase report: The weather finally cooperating, the Terrebonne Visitor's Center in Gray was the scene Saturday of a display of Terrebonne culture, foods and crafts, intended to bring tourists and locals together. It worked, and tourism director Sondra Corbitt said she hopes to do it again. Turnout, despite heavy local media coverage, was light. Few travelers seemed to have gotten the message, partly because of highway department restrictions on roadside signage. Solutions are being sought.
Local Legion: Information, memorabilia, recollections, photographs, scrapbooks relating to Lennox Hotard Post 31 or other Terrebonne posts are needed by organizers planning for the 100th anniversary celebration of the American Legion in August. Call Lee Shaffer at 804-2265 or Gary Phillips at 381-6315.
Trivia: Its regular schedule thrown off by Mother's Day, the Friends of the Terrebonne Library monthly trivia contest returns at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Terrebonne Main Library. There will be refreshments. The small entry fee is waived for Friends members. The public is welcome to watch or play.
Cane sculpture? JoAnn Pellegrin noticed and inquired as to why the metal sculpture outside the Houma Post Office was missing and quickly learned that it had been shipped back to the sculptor for refurbishing before re-installation. Coincidentally, on an unrelated trip to the post office, I ran into Peter Broussard, who had seen the sculpture being removed.
“There were trucks with Ohio license plates. They parked right there for two or three days, dismantling the pieces and packing them in crates. Official inquiries should reveal the full story, including the name of the artist, and the estimated time of re-installation."
Summer camps: The Wetlands Discovery Center holds three camps in June for kids 9 to 12 years old. There will be lots of field trips and tours included in the $135 tuition. Visit www.slwdc.org or call 580-7289.
Arts camps begin June 11, June 18, July 9 and July 16 at Downtown Gallery 630. Sessions run 10 a.m. to noon for second through fifth grades and 1:30-3:30 p.m. for sixth to 12th grades. Parents must register in person at 630 Belanger St. from 1-4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday for one or all the weeks. The cost is $40 per week per child.
Responding? Contact Bill Ellzey at 381-6256, at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or c/o The Courier, P.O. Box 2717, Houma, LA 70361.