Evergreen - Memories Letters
ANNABELLE JEANSONNE BLANCHARD - PLEASANT MEMORIES OF EVERGREEN
(ORIGINALLY WRITTEN 11-15-2000)
When I started school in 1944, my family lived in the Bay Hills on Highway 115. I had to walk a long dirt road to meet the school bus on the main highway. My brother, Lawrence, and sister, Adelice, older than I, also walked. There were so many days we either missed the bus or the weather was just too bad to walk. I stayed in the first grade two years. I always liked my teachers and loved going to school. My family moved up on the main highway a couple of years later and it sure made it easier for us to watch for the school bus.
I attended school in Evergreen from the first grade through the tenth, then we moved back to Bunkie, where I was born. I was a majorette for three years and Head Majorette for one year. I played softball and basketball, well I did get to go with the team sometimes. I belonged to the Circle Eight, which was a group of square dancers. I think that lasted a year or two. We performed every time there was a concert in the gym. That was a lot of fun. I think my partner was Rodney Armand.
To be a student at Evergreen High School was more than just attending school. It was a second home for us, a safe place with dedicated teachers who cared and loved us; and the patience to teach. They knew our parents, where we lived and had taught most of our brothers and sisters. The same teachers were there year after year. Mr. Anthony J. Smith was principal at the school every year I attended.
My favorite time of the year was Spring. Preparing for the May Festival was a lot of fun. We all looked forward to going on the baseball field to practice our parts. Everybody in school was out there. The program was always at night with all the lights turned on at the field. All family and friends were invited to come.
I loved the parts when I could dance. One year I had three different parts and my mom said I could only be in one because of the cost of the costumes. Mrs. Scarborough, my sixth grade teacher, had to have two more dancers for her Scottish dance routine and asked if my sister, Burnelle, and I would take their parts. I told her we couldn’t because we were already in another routine and our Mom said we couldn’t afford another costume. She was kind enough to pay for the fabric and Mom sewed the costumes. I remember waltzing to “Some Enchanted Evening” and dancing, wearing a swim suit, twirling an umbrella to “Singing in the Rain”. I never knew how they picked those songs, but I loved every minute of it as long as I could dance. I still love music and still love dancing. I now belong to a group called the “The Country Kickers”. We do country line dancing. We entertain all eight nursing homes in the Parish and dance anywhere Avoyelles needs us.
I have lived away from Avoyelles Parish for twenty-three years. I now make my home in Evergreen. I purchased the home of Mr. Ivy Holston. The years I attended school he was the Maintenance Man at school. I’ve lived here for the past twelve years. I’ve always loved Evergreen and feel this is where I belong. I attend the Church of the Little Flower were I sing in the choir. It makes me feel good to know that I attended Mass here as a child with my family. I made my first Holy Communion and Confirmation here also. Now I look around on Sundays and see people I went to school with and I see my Biology teacher, Mr. Raymond Ducote. I know now why I can call this my home.
When we were not in school or on weekends, we rode our bikes to Bunkie from Evergreen. Sometimes on Friday nights we would get together at someone’s home and have a bonfire and wiener roast. We sat around the fire and played games like Post Office, Spin the Bottle, or told ghost stories. The people in that group were my brother, Lawrence, and Elliot and Shirley, Sandra, Murphy and Jean, Mary Jo, Maggie, Bobbie, Nellie, Mattie, and Drew. Different ones got invited at different houses. The worst thing we ever tried to do was smoke cigarettes. Bobbie stole a pack of Lucky Strikes from her father’s store and we went under the train trestle and sat there and tried to smoke. Well, one was enough for me. I knew I could never like that. Well, we went back to the store so she could steal a pack of juicy Fruit gum so we could get the taste and smell out of our mouths.
One day, when we were at school, we went into Elmer Riche’s store and put our nickels together because we needed a quarter to play the Jukebox. This was after lunch and a lot of us kids would go into the stores then. We were having a great time dancing when Mr. Smith walked in. I don’t need to tell you the fun stopped. He grounded all of us after that, we had to get a pass from the office to go into town and could only stay five minutes. Oh, by the way, you could play three songs for a quarter, get a coke for five cents and a bag of peanuts for five cents. This was probably in 1951.
One Saturday, my brother dropped Shirley and I off in Evergreen to meet the gang for the day. One of the girls got her Mom’s car and we all piled in, about eight of us, and went to Bunkie, got ice cream and cokes, then went back to Evergreen. Later that afternoon, Shirley and I walked home to the Bay Hills where we lived at the time. But on the way, we stopped and got a flower off a grave in the cemetery on Rabbit Lane. Before we got home, we threw them away. I couldn’t sleep that night thinking of taking that flower from that grave. I still think about that when I drive down Rabbit Lane.
One year, Huey Ducote and Bobby Slocum got motor scooters for Christmas. Well, all the girls wanted to ride on those. This was something new. They were the only ones who had them from our school. Riding home on the bus one afternoon, Huey asked if he could come pick me up and take me for a ride. I did go and it was fun. I couldn’t wait to tell my girl friends that I rode on the back of his scooter.
One year at the end of the school session, the girls invited a boy to go on a bus trip to the skating rink in Chicot. Maggie invited Judy, Myrtle and I to spend the night at her house. It was a Friday and we had to fix a bag lunch for ourselves and our date. We fixed tuna salad sandwiches and lettuce and tomato and brought cookies. Maggie and Gerald always paired off together. Judy and Otis were together. I invited Ken, who was a new boy at school. We had a great time. I loved to skate and my date was very good at it too. I saw Ken a couple of times after that during that summer, but haven’t seen him since. I think we were in ninth grade then.
Avoyelles Parish Fair in Marksville was always a fun thing every year in October. All the bands were in the parade and would line up around the Court House. It was always so cold standing there on the street in our little majorette outfits. Most of the boys were ready to let us wear their F.F.A. jackets before the parade started. We stayed all day on the fair grounds and rode all the rides, ate foot long hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn, and always tried to win teddy bears. Then, the bus would take us home. We just had good clean fun. I treasure all those times and the years it all happened.
A few years ago, my friend, Georgie Galland Gremillion, and I had a school reunion at her house. We got in touch with as many people as we could from our old school days. A couple of our close friends from here brought their guitars and I had my tambourine. We played and sang and it was such a big hit that we started a band. We got in touch with others and they, too, joined the fun. We call our band “Reminisce” because anytime we get together with old friends from Evergreen high School, we would reminisce about the good times we had there. We now meet once a month with about forty members to our group. There are nine members in our band. We have a dance and a meal and everyone has a great time.
I feel very fortunate to have
gone to school here in this small town of Evergreen.
I have wonderful memories of my school days and I’m
so happy to be able to share them with others with
this letter. My friend, Georgie, and I have spent
many days reminiscing about our days at that school
on the hill, Evergreen High School.
A POEM BY
ANNABELLE JEANSONNE BLANCHARD
I live in a town named Evergreen
I went to school here when I was a teen.
It’s small in number of people there.
The churches are clean and painted white
To welcome the people day or night.
Walk the streets or ride your bikes,
Enjoy the scenery, no evil in sight.
The trees are green, the lilies in bloom,
The scent of magnolias, gardenias so white.
Through the window I look, only beauty I see.
The foot bridges are painted all white in the Spring
To make them look good another year again.
The flag flies high up on the hill
Where I live now and always will.
With good people, good memories I don’t need to roam
Evergreen, Louisiana, this little town I call home.