October 30, 1998

Somebody asked me the other day how I remembered all the things that I write about. I just suppose that all my experiences in life account for this.

I was a fireman for almost 20 years and saw all the big fires as they occurred in Berwick. I also participated in three of the largest fires in Morgan City; namely the Arcade, the Opera House and the Dixie Theatre.

I also worked at the Berwick picture show for almost 40 years, and in so doing, I gathered a lot of information there. While I was in high school in Morgan City, I wrote for the Student Prints. I also supplied news for the Berwick Banner in the 1940s. When the floods came in 1927, I filled sandbags to combat the high water in Berwick. During the onslaught of Hurricane Audrey, I filled sandbags in Morgan City, at which time the water came up about 6 feet high over the banks of the river. I saw the Atchafalaya River go dry during one of the season’s major hurricanes. Also, I saw huge blocks of ice floating down the river during a freeze and cold winter we had one year.

Whatever happened in Berwick during my time, I saw it and knew about it.

As previously mentioned, I witnessed several serious accidents which occurred on the Southern Pacific Railroad – my life-long residence in Berwick is on Pacific Street which is right next to the railroad. I saw four men get crushed by trains on Pacific Street; one man lost both his legs, cut off close to his waist. He was in so much pain, he kept begging for someone to shoot him. Dr. Berwick gave him a pain pill about the size of a marble but it didn’t help. He died later at the Patterson Hospital.

I was sitting in my yard the other day thinking about an old friend I use to work with at the Oyster Shell Product in Morgan City. This was Charles Burgess. Charles was a high-class person, friendly, honest and he was a good company man. I’ll never forget one day, while we were working at the plant, we decided to go to Breaux’s Cafe, which was about 3 blocks away, to get something to eat. When we got through eating, we stepped outside of the cafe and ran into Mr. Goff, the superintendent of the Oyster Shell Plant. He was tough – he would fire you on the spot for any work infraction, especially if you were away from the plant. He looked at us and took off driving to the plant. Upon seeing him, I said: “Charles, let’s run for our lives!” We ran those 3 blocks so fast that we beat Mr. Goff back there. Charles got busy stenciling bags and I got busy grading shell dust on the scales. Boy, did we look busy. Mr. Goff looked at us and started scratching his head – he wasn’t sure who he had seen at the cafe. We watched him and saw that he went back to his car to go to Breaux’s Cafe to look for two people that looked like us.

Charles was married to Mildred January. They made a lovely couple. Mildred’s brother, Bill, was also one of my best friends.

* The End *

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