February 13, 1998

Did you know that the Teche Bus Station used to be at Charles Bella’s Store on Pacific Street? The four Bella boys were bus drivers – Joe, Vincent, Allen and Peter. However, they didn’t cross the river as Berwick was their last stop on this side of the river. Later on, the Greyhound Bus Company bought the Teche line out.

I was told by Joe Watkins that Bonnie and Clyde had just robbed a bank in Campti, and had six large bags of money. While they were going through here on their way to New Orleans, Clyde told Bonnie, “Let’s pass by the bank in Berwick and check it out.” When they got to the bank and saw how deplorable it was, Clyde shook his head and told Bonnie to throw a couple of bags of money in front of the bank. Clyde said, “Looking at the condition of the bank, they need the money more than we do.”

Remember during the war, in the ’40s, how Front Street in Berwick flourished every night? The Sport Center, the Doodle Bug, the Buck Horn, and the Brown Derby were packed with service boys – Sailors, Marines, the Army boys, and English soldiers were all well represented. We also had air raid warnings. I remember when I was still running the theatre, Betty Drew, who was just a young girl at that time, told me to put out the lights in front of the theatre. As I said, Betty Drew was just a very young girl, but she was an Air Raid Warden so I put out the lights. People didn’t realize it then, but the German submarines were only 18 miles from our area. I remember one night, Betty Drew walked up to “Soo Pep” (George Gaspar) and told him to put out his cigarette, because the Germans could see the bright light. “Soo Pep” told Betty, “There aren’t any Germans around here except old Dad Roder and he’s my friend – he wouldn’t hurt me!” Betty, because of her youth, had a hard time being an Air Raid Warden around here!

The German subs blew up a great number of our boats right at the mouth of the Atchafalaya River. We could hear and see the reflections of the explosions right here in Berwick.

There were a lot of happenings in sports around Berwick in my days. I remember O’Neal Boudreaux, whose nick name was Gavin after the “strike out king” who went through the whole season striking out and walking. One day, the pitcher threw a wild ball that hit O’Neal’s bat for a foul that went up against the stands. Willie Roder, in the stands, stood up and hollered for O’Neal to go and get the baseball that he had fouled and frame it because this is the only time you’ll ever hit a ball with your bat!

I can remember in my times there were only two really outstanding athletes in our area. They were Jimmy Conrad of Patterson and Paul Geisler of Berwick. Paul Geisler was one of the most outstanding athletes to come form Southern Louisiana. He played every position in every kind of different sport. He made All-State at Morgan City High School. He was tall, fast and tough! When the Morgan City Greenies would use Paul as a full-back, and then most of the time as an end. He could catch a football with one hand, leaping at a height of nine feet. At Centenary College, a small college in Shreveport, Paul made All-American as a member of those 11 players selected nationally who played both offense and defense. Today, if one of those professional players would run 30 ft., the coach would take him out to rest. Not Paul Geisler – he played the whole game – 60 minutes.

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