Evergreen - Memories Letters
Memories of the Elmer James “Boulet” or “Bullet” Riche’ Grocery Stores by Larry Jude “Pete” Riche’
The first store that we owned was purchased from Mr. Walter Dugas in October, 1948 and was located facing main street and on the left side of the bridge/road going to Rabbit Lane. Mr. Ford Robert's store was on the right side of the bridge/road. Across main street was the Post Office and Robert Tanner’s store.
Other than regular groceries, sales consisted of 50# sacks of potatoes, rice, flour, and corn, 25# cans of lard was also a big seller. Some of our customers had credit which was paid once a year after their crops were harvested.
Some of the tobacco products were the roll-your-own named Bugler, Bull Durham, Prince Albert in the can (let me out, please), Target and Kite. You needed a book of papers to roll the cigarettes. The package cigarettes were Camels, Viceroy, Lucky Strikes, Kools, Winston’s - to name a few. You could buy 2 cigarettes for 5 cents or a pack for 25 cents.
In the meat department, round steak and ground meat were the most popular cuts. You could get hand sliced lunch meat, bologna, ham, and hoop cheese. Smoked sausage was sold in bulk. Don't forget the salt meat and the slab bacon.
The POP'S of the day were the Nehi BELLY-Washers (grape, strawberry, orange) RC Cola, Nesbitt Orange, Squirt, and Coca- Cola which came in returnable bottles (1cent a bottle). A contest was held to see which coke bottle was distributed the farthest distance by city and state (ex. Seattle, Washington) from Evergreen. I remember the bottles of pop were cooled in a water circulating enclosed pop box which would smell of rust and well water.
On the counter sat clear Jack's cookies tubs which you reached into to get moon cakes and red coconut balls. Remember the taste of moon pies, stage blanks, ginger bread snaps, Ms. Tuckers pecan pies, honey buns and lemon squares? All types of candies were available, Milky Ways, Mounds, Snickers, jaw breakers, and kits.
Loaves of bread were left in bread boxes in the front of the store before the store opened. You did not have to worry about any one stealing in those days!
I remember the coal oil tank in the front of the store. If a customer needed coal oil you would go out and pump the fuel into a container which would always spay out on to your clothes and the smell would last all day.
Remember the years of the slot machines, aka, one-armed bandits? Every store had one or two machines. We had an older player who was a little shaky and I would put his coins in the slot machines and he would pull the handle. What a team! I was 7 years old and he was 70. Graven berg, with the Louisiana State Police broke up the Louisiana slot machine industry around 1954.
Another fond memory was when a politician came into town doing a stump speech. When Earl K Long chose our store, he gave daddy $5 for the cost of electricity and passed out nickels to the kids to buy pops. I remember when Dudley Le Blanc came into town and sold us ten cases (240 bottles of HADACOL) which would have lasted us for ten years!
Do you remember the contracted field hands (picking or hoeing cotton) coming out of the fields to buy their lunches which consisted of bread, lunch meat, bologna, potted meat, sardines, moon cakes, crackers and a big belly washer?
Some of the school children would leave school at recess or at lunch time, walking on the well-worn path and head to the stores to buy treats. The older ones might sneak in a quick cigarette!
On a rainy September night in 1959, a speeding car hit the gas pumps, starting a fire which burned the front of the store. Mr. Willis Rachal (Town Marshal) purchased the store and operated it as Rachal’s Grocery. We purchased an old dance hall in Plaucheville, which we moved to the front of the house on Hill Street (across from the park) and operated it until 1970. Later on T- Robson opened it as Robson’s grocery and it is still in operation in the year 2009. It is the only grocery store operating in Evergreen today.
Thank you for allowing me to share my memories with the Evergreen Pelicans!
Submitted August 19, 2009
EES Class of 1959 and BHS Class of 1963
More of Pete’s Memories - Submitted August 20, 2009
Momma's full name was Ollie Rabalais Riche’. The children would call her “Ms. Boulet” if she was with daddy on the school bus. In the store, everyone would call her “Ms. Ollie”.Daddy's name was Elmer James Riche’, but was always called “Mr. Boulet or Bullet”. It seem that if he was driving the bus (because he would drive a little fast) he would be called “Bullet.” In the store he was called “Boulet” by children and adults.
Thank you for the hard work and time that you and the staff contribute to make this such a memorable web site. I want to help in anyway that I can.
EES Class of 1959 and BHS Class of 1963