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Calcasieu Historical Preservation Society

Ellen Garber Smith Remembers

Ellen Garber, 1st Grade, 4th Ward ElementaryBy 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.

Although I was only a lowly freshman, on each side of me now resided a LCHS SENIOR, Pam Watson in the corner house and Bill Shearman on the other side. How cool was that! With the Shearmans' six kids, the Tetes' six on the opposite corner and all the Lobdell boys on Grove behind us, the neighborhood was always rocking. Will Lobdell roamed the neighborhood and knocked on doors to have a chat. My father has forever been a big football fan, so there were always plenty of neighborhood football games on the lot between our house and the Shearmans. I had my share of Kiltie and poster parties at the house.

My grandmother Adaline Brooks spent some of her last years in a house on Grove St., whose backyard was directly behind us. She loved working out in her yard with her flowers, and her yard always looked pretty. She was a little bitty lady who could barely see over the steering wheel, and she had no intention of ever quitting driving. I remember my father secretly disabling the car and her calling someone to come fix it.

garber_pithonandparkMy cousins Sally and Mike Garber lived on Park Ave. [The photo to the right was taken on the corner of Park Avenue and Pithon.] In the backyard, Uncle Doc and Aunt Nancy had what they called the "penthouse", an old two story wooden structure where Sally and I would play as kids until the rats from the other coulee beyond the field swarmed the place, and we were too scared to play in it anymore. There was also a secret, or so we thought, room under the house where we liked to hide from the grownups. Mary Ferguson lived two doors down from Sally, and she was lucky enough to have a horse she kept in the field. We all made many a trip down to Borden's. The ladies that worked there weren't too friendly, but the ice cream sure was good! And oh, those banana splits. I think a single scoop cone back then was five cents. Hard to believe.

When summer came, we all were grateful to the Parets (George, Melvin, Frances, and Beverly Gray) on Griffith St. because the grandparents had a swimming pool across the street (filled in last year). At that time, the pool was not fenced in. Such a different era. I think I learned to swim in that pool, which seemed awfully big back then. By the time I left for college, the Baggetts had bought the Watsons' house next door, and they put in their own pool with beautiful landscaping in the backyard. I recall one summer home from LSU, I had foot surgery with casts on both feet up to my knees, but I was determined to lay out and get a tan anyway. Gael Baggett came out to check on me and ask if I was sure it was a good idea to sweat with those plaster casts on. What we did for a tan back then!!

Margaret Place is a wonderful neighborhood. I love to see it currently thriving with a new generation of families.

Vernon Garber, Chris Baggett and Doug Shearman
"The Three Margaretteers!"