Margaret Place Memories
Stacy Shearman Remembers Life in Margaret Place
Growing up in Margaret Place was idyllic. I was the 5th Shearman child of six being raised at 109 Pithon Street. My best girlfriend, Judy Hickman (now Brewton) lived across the street at 110 Pithon Street (where Sadie and Chris Shearman live now.) We went to kindergarten together. We did nearly everything together. My first play room was underneath the stair case of that terrific two story home. Those stairs have a 900 turn. Underneath was place fit for only a small child, her dolls and friends. Then there was our large, long gone garage that Ann Garber talks about in her memories of growing up in Margaret Place. It was a wonderful, huge, old wooden structure with stairs going up to the attic. We had so much fun in that barn like building. There was a concrete driveway about as large as a regulation half court basketball floor in front of the garage. With the basketball goal hanging from the front of the garage it made for a terrific place for basketball games.
Football, softball and kickball were played in the yard between the Garber's house and ours. I remember when the Garber's lived on Alvin Street. And, I remember when they moved in next door to us at 105 Pithon Street. Cathy Garber and I were in the same grade. Another friend for life.
The First Night and Beyond
The first night in our house at 105 Pithon Street in 1963 was a magical one for me. As fate would have it, two third grade classmates not only resided in the neighborhood, but one, Stacy Shearman was right next door and the other, Judy Hickman, directly across the street. I couldn’t believe my luck! Stacy and I sealed our new friendship that evening chatting into Dixie cups attached to a string that stretched across the field between our bedroom windows. Sound waves passed through a new medium that first night on Pithon.
Each Halloween, the Shearmans would transform their garage into a very eerie Haunted House. Ordinary rooms that I played in during the day turned into dark pits of terrifying sounds and sights. Even though I had helped them to peel the grapes (eyes) and boil mushy spaghetti (brains), one never knew what scary surprise Stacy and Walker had staged for us behind the next door.
Lemonade stands, ice cream, clubhouses, Barbie dolls and a Lamb
One of my favorite things was roller skating everywhere we went, to 7-11 on Ryan Street to get deposits back on glass Coke or 7-Up bottles so we could head over to Borden’s to get a 6 cent orange or grape popsicle, or a 5 cent scoop of ice cream in a real sugar cone. Two scoops were 10 cents and if I had babysitting money (at 50 cents an hour) I would sometimes splurge on a Hot Fudge Sundae with chocolate instead of vanilla ice cream! Oh my, I can still remember those wonderful flavors of ice cream all those ladies behind the counter served us through the years. Sorry Blue Bell, but you don’t even come close to the Lake Charles Borden’s ice cream!!!
Crabbing and Fishing, The Coulee, Neighborhood Dogs
My love of seafood and of fishing comes from growing up in Margaret’s Place, just a mere block from the lake. We would spend many summer hours crabbing on “Aunt” Mary and “Uncle” George McNess’s wharf overlooking the lake. It was the perfect place to catch blue crabs and cast a line! The Paret’s wharf was also a great place for catching those wonderful crabs and fish. My Dad, the engineer, taught us oh so carefully, how to properly get the net under the crab as you slowly lift the string out of the water to get the crab (devouring the chicken neck) without losing it! I can remember him saying when I flubbed up, “Geez Ann, how did we lose that BIG one!!” We caught lots of bushels of crabs over the years. Those family crab boils were awesome. I really liked to peel all the meat first and let it soak in lots of butter and lemon juice and then enjoy the crabmeat at one sitting. The crab claws always had the sweetest meat!
1607 Griffith St.
The NFL in Margaret Place
Margaret Place back in the late 1960's and throughout the 1970's was fortunate enough to have its own NFL team affectionately known as the Neighborhood Football League. The league was comprised of several robust teens and perhaps, in retrospect, braver pre-teens. Select members included local luminaries the likes of Robert Tete and brother Greg Tete (Wilson Ave.), Jimmy Gayle and Lee Leibendorfer (Grove St), Douglas Shearman, Christopher Baggett, and myself (Pithon St.....pictured to the right), Brian Reddin and brother Patrick Reddin (Park Ave.).
Occasionally, other laddos would appear from other areas of the city and would be divided accordingly, usually by age and skill level. Wells Watson was one known to show (Shell Beach Dr) to lend skills at QB.
When Mary Kay asked me to pen something about my father's "beautiful" whistle, as she put it, I had to laugh. From as far back as I can remember, my father has always been a whistler. He has been known to whistle any time of day, or even in the middle of the night when he has trouble sleeping.
Now whistling is a good thing, I think, indicative of a happy state of mind. It can even be charming or amusing, or at least some former or present neighbors such as Willie Mount or Nancy Draughn have led me to believe.
Ellen Garber Smith Remembers
By the time my family moved to 105 Pithon St. in 1963, I was a freshman at LCHS. I was the oldest of the five children (Ellen, David, Catherine, Ann, and Vernon), and my younger years were spent at 1516 Alvin St. two blocks away. Our house backed up to Drew Park, and we spilled out the gate into the park to play under the supervision of dear Mrs. Landry. I am sure my mother was forever grateful for that gate. I spent many happy hours in that park.
What fun times my Fourth Ward buddies Willie Landry, Pat Hutchins, Susan Shidler, Carolyn Woosley, Tinnelle Mancuso and I had swinging, riding the merry-go-round, playing tetherball, paddleball, and climbing that HIGH slide. We made "houses" in the brush near the edges of the park and dug for sassafras roots. I can still hear those old Fats Domino 45 rpms blasting on the record player inside.
Those "Ozzie and Harriet" generation years seem so simple now compared to the computer generation. However, when my father now at age 91, talks of his childhood growing up in Morgan City during the 1920's and 1930's Depression era - now that really seems simple! My parents even let us keep some ducks in the back yard until one night Charlie Moss's hunting dog Ike decided to pay a visit to our yard. Boy, were we mad at him for a while! Anyway, my family with five kids had definitely outgrown the Alvin St. house by the time my youngest brother Vernon came along.
A Tale of Two Houses
My reentry into Margaret Place was a bit circuitous and a couple of things had to happen – and they did.
This essay is not a sequel to my first centennial missal but again, a flood played a significant part.
You've come to the right place!
Hilda Day and her son, Steve, came calling one afternoon at 220 Wilson Avenue.
Hilda said that Steve was taking piano lessons at his school (Hamilton Christian) and doing very well.
They were to have a recital soon and Hilda and Dean had a keyboard at their home, but no piano. Did I know of a neighbor who had a piano, who would not mind a boy practising for an hour or so after school?
How Doug's dog got his name!
Kathleen and Walter Lobdell (109 Grove) called on my birthday eve (Nov 28) and asked me to come over for a Birthday drink. Fine, Fine.
On arriving I said, "What is that Noise?" Walter said, "There is a puppy under the house, and the men who have come can't get under there."
A little boy's aquatic wonderland!
Margaret Place was once a little boy’s aquatic wonderland, many years ago.
Correspondingly, for the homeowners on the Griffith Coulee curve and much of Lake Charles, it was a post-torrential, insidious nightmare.
In May, 1953, I was seven years old and in Miss Fern Hebert’s class at Fourth Ward School. My parents had purchased 109 Pithon St., in December, 1952.
On about May 21, 1953, the areas north of Calcasieu Parish were inundated with heavy, tropical rains. By comparison, Lake Charles had some rain but only light showers.
My parents left Lake Charles on about that date to cruise to Galveston with three other couples, leaving my siblings John, Nancy and myself with our trusted nanny, Vine.
But, as the late comedian Richard Pryor once said, “All that water gotta go somewhere.”
No Car? No Problem!
I was graduated from Loyola (New Orleans) with a D.D.S. in 1946; passed my boards, and completed a preceptorship in anesthesia at Baptist Hospital in New Orleans. While there, I hitch-hiked (No car; NO money! for the Greyhound) to Lake Charles to visit my Mother on a week end.
Drs. Walter Moss, Ben Goldsmith, W. A. K. Seale, Stanley Levy, and others urged me to come to Lake Charles as there was only one full time person doing anesthesia and he was being overwhelmed. Dr. George Kreeger was only doing scheduled cases and was about to retire, Etc. St. Patrick’s was THE ONLY hospital in Lake Charles and environs.
Mother started trying to find a place for me--I had no car.
She found that I could rent a room at 101 Grove, the corner of Grove and Wilson. Mrs. Greene’s? So, when I left the Parish Prison (where I was living--that’s another story), at least there was a place for me to stay in Lake Charles. As you might know, this was just after WW II and there was little housing to be had.....
There were 4 of us living there: Alvin Dark, Tom Kirby, Quentin Trahan, and myself.
Growing up in Margaret Place
My family, Dr. and Mrs. (Elizabeth) John Keller Griffith moved to Lake Charles in 1948/49 with their daughter Beth. My father began his medical career in Lake Charles with the Fisher Clinic located on the corner of Ryan (Dr. Michael DeBakey Drive) and Wilson Ave. Their first residence was a garage apartment located on the alley between Park and Wilson avenues owned by the Castle family. By 1950 my family had moved to a duplex apartment on the corner of Grove and Harrison streets living there when my twin brother (John Keller, III) and I were born. When my mother went to St. Patrick's hospital for our delivery, the other duplex occupants, the Cecil (Lillian) Cutrers kept my sister Beth until Granny arrived. After a brief move to a home on Pujo St the Griffiths bought the home at 317 Wilson Ave. around 1953. The home had been previously owned/occupied by the Preston (Ethel) Savoys and Sheriff Ham Reid.
Margaret place was a wonderful neighborhood filled with children. Some of the families I remember during the period of the Griffith family residing (1953-1962) in the neighborhood were: Charles Noble, Dr. Edgar Percy, Dr. Charles Hatchette, Dolby, Firmin, Walter Lobdell, Petitjean, Richardson, Richard Gerard, Moreau, Knapp, Art Shepherd, Hugh Shearman, Clarke, Mixon, Lewis, Gabert Hickman, Jackson, Archie Hickman, Ed Watson, Bailey, Henry Mangan, William Tere, David Garrison, Lipscom, Mancusso, Joe Davidson, Shirley, Rahbany, Oliver Stockwell, Locke Paret, Sr. and Jr., Goode, Pearl Watson, Freeman, Roy, Dr. Jared Garber, James Ferguson, and Graves Castle.