Center for Louisiana Studies Archival Catalog

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Interview with Tom Dedouen (part 1)

Accession No.: 
TH1-038

Tom Derouen, Jason Theriot, Hewitt Theriot:

-Summer of 1941 graduated from Texas A&M with a masters
-Hired at A&M and taught till March 1942 when he was called into the service; had received a commission from LSU in 1939
-In the service took basic at Fort Benning, Georgia; was a second Lieutenant and the youngest there (in his 20s)
-Already assigned to the 90th Infantry Division at Camp Barkley, Texas; spent a year and half there
-Moved over to the deserts of California and Arizona for 6 months before going to Fort Dix, New Jersey; took 10 days on a troop train

-While at Camp Barkley they would leave Monday morning for maneuvers in the hills and stayed outside until Friday or Saturday
-Slept on the ground, made their own latrines, dug holes for garbage
-Had to march out 15-20 miles and back each time (1942)
-1943 went to Fort Dix and stayed till March 1944
-Was loaded onto ships to Europe; was sea sick the whole time

-Landed in England and prepared for an invasion
-Had practice invasions at Devonshire, the Slapton Sands; it was a disaster
-When Derouen’s regiment, the 357th landed, everything was fine but the next regiment (either 359th or 358th) never came in
-Germans had snuck in on PT boats in the waterways and sunk the regiments’ boats; lost over 600 men before the actual invasion
-It was kept quiet so the morale would stay up; learned of it 20 years later

(9:30) Invasion
-Loaded onto boats at Whales, Bathe England
-Kept them in a big compound for a week as they loaded up
-Derouen made the invasion; “it’s not a pretty thing….I don’t like to talk about it much”
-Thinks he landed at Utah beach
-Landed next to the 9th, 4th and 1st divisions; each country had their own beach
-Was just a platoon leader for a heavy weapons company; attached to K Company under Capt. Woodrow Allen from Texas
-Fought with rifles most of the time and not machine guns (only had 4)

-Got in skirmishes with the Germans all the time
-In the hedgerows in France they were close to each other; Germans were prepared already with 88 mm canons, heavy casualties on the Allies side
-Derouen stayed in France until May 1945
-Before the invasion General Patton and General Middleton spoke to them
-Took about 6 weeks for them to break out of Normandy; the 90th split and some went to Cherbourg and the rest to Paris
-Still attached to K Company
-Half the time they didn’t know where they were or what they were doing; the orders changed a lot
-Casualties were high; Captain Allen was promoted to Battalion Commander and was killed the next day
-The mind went haywire with all the killing and bombing; men dying left and right of you

(17:05) Going Across the English Channel
-On a big ship and then went down a net to a Higgins boat
-Planes were passing over them
-Thought he was ready for adventure but he was scared
-You shot in the bushes because you were scared and maybe you shot a German or maybe a civilian

(19:12) Living in England
-Didn’t see much of England; trained all the time
-Only the elderly, women and children were left as all the men went into service; they were bombed every night
-American soldiers however criticized them calling them backwards; caused a lot of fights

(22:49)
-Had to march everywhere
-Derouen did not last the whole campaign in Normandy; was wounded on July 10th, 1944
-Was on guard patrol in the morning and crossing a hedgerow and he slipped and fell and his carbine shot off into his leg
-Spent about 6 months in England in a hospital; was not able to go back into the 90th division
-Was put in charge of training a company of soldiers on how to shoot; trained 200 men for 4-6 weeks
-Worked with other officers and sometimes they were trouble and did not do what was ordered; Derouen was in charge

(29:00) Talking
-Hewitt Theriot telling of his experiences; Derouen and Theriot comparing
-Looking at a map that was drawn on a cricket bat that Derouen used while at the hospital; inscribed: “HMS Deminion Monarch, Gen. Collins, March 1944”
-The bombing of Sainte-Mère-Église
-Staying at the hospital and therapy
-Back at the states stayed at the Augusta George resort hotel hospital for another 6 months; very well taken care of there
-Didn’t like the French, too lazy; German POWs workers messed around a lot
-Teaching at Texas A&M in 1941; born in New Iberia
-While at war, in England, ran into Butch Kennedy from LSU (football), was a paratrooper (47:10)
-Knew Eddie Gatto (killed in Normandy) and he was a good friend of Hewitt Theriot; stories about him
-Also both knew an All American football palyer from LSU, Tim Cavanaugh
-Before going back to the states Derouen stayed at a ski lodge in Switzerland
-How he met his wife, Lela in July 1946; married a year later

Transcription Begins:

Tom Derouen
New Iberia, LA
Company K, 357th Regiment, 90th Infantry Division
Utah Beach
Interview conducted on July 15, 2001

In the summer of 1941, I graduated with a masters from Texas AM. They hired me to teach. I taught till March '42, when I was called into the service. I received my commission from LSU in 1939. I took basic at Frt. Benning Georgia. I went to school there with a bunch of officers, some were Col. and Lt. Col. I was a second Lt. Some of those Col.'s were 40, 50-years old. One time I was shaving in the bathroom, when one of these big Col.'s walked in and stood next to me. His face was all red, and I said " Good morning sir" and he said " Son that is a matter of opinion." He had been out the night before and he had a hang over. I was in my 20's.

I had already been assigned to the 90th Inf.Division. They were organizing the division at Camp Barkley TX, south of Abilene. I went there after basic and spent a year and a half there. From camp Barkley we moved to the desert of California and Arizona for 6 months. From there we went to Frt. Dix New Jersey on Christmas Day. The train ride there was a troop train and it took ten days and we never got off.

In the desert we would sleep outside in tents. We didn't have any buildings to live in. In the morning we would leave on maneuvers all day. I learned how to live outside. At Barkley we would leave on Monday morning and would stay till Friday or Saturday morning. We stayed out there and slept on the ground. We made our own latrine, to urinate and defecate. We dug another hole to bury the garbage. We had to march 15-20 miles out. This was 1942. We walked there and walked back. We didn't like that. In 1943 we came to Frt. Dix. We stayed till about March. (Mr. Derouen is having difficulty remembering the time-line of his training in the states. He pauses and excuses himself.) Let me go get something, it will help me remember.

(He comes back holding a thin piece of wood about a foot long and 3" wide.) I own 35 acres right here" (of cattle grazing land near Avery Isl. The piece of wood seems to refresh his memory. He sits back down, more confidant now, gently rubbing the piece with his thumb. He corrects his early mistake.)

Uh… We kept training at Fort Dix. It was cold as heck out there. There was snow and ice on the ground. We left on March 22, 1944, we loaded up on some ships to go to Europe. In Liverpool England we landed. I was so sick, so sea sick on that ship I hardly ate. But they had good food on there. They had eggs. You never get eggs in the United States, maybe powdered eggs, but anyhow we landed in England and prepared for the Invasion. I didn't know what it was. In May we had a practice invasion at Devonshire England at what they call Slapton Sands. It was somewhat similar to the beaches in Normandy. What happened at that practice invasion was a disaster. I didn't know it, but my regiment, the 357th made our landing with packs and everything OK, but the 359 or 358 had a disaster. The Germans, with small PT boats, snuck in there and the navy was supposed to be guarding that water-way, but they somehow got in. And they sunk some of those boats that the troops were in and we lost over 600 men…drowned…before the invasion. They kept it quiet. Gen. Ike ordered this to keep morale up, nothing was said about it until about 20 years after I got back, I read it in the paper. The people at Devonshire didn't know what was happening, but I saw what was going on. I could see the bombs, the splashing of the water and I thought that was just part of the excersise. We lost 600 men right there.

We loaded onto boats at Whales, Bathe England. They put us in a big compound for a week or so, until we could load up on ships to go make the invasion. I made the invasion. It's not a pretty thing. They talk about this movie (Saving Private Ryan.), something about uh… They thought I should go see that…I don't want to go see that. I was part of it and I don't need to go relive the misery! I don't like to talk about that much.

Utah Beach. I was next to the 9th divisions and the 4th and the 1st, the big red one. Americans had Omaha and Utah. The Canadians had a beach; the English had a beach. I was a platoon leader for a heavy weapons company, with machine guns. I was attached to an infantry company, K Company, under Capt. Woodrow Allen. He was a tall Texas AM man. I had just graduated from AM. He was a few years older than me, and he was the company commander. A dern good man. I was in support of him. I had 4 machine guns, water-cooled. Only one time we set up. Most of the time we fought with rifles. These men carried the tri-pod on their back; one man carried the barrel. You carried a carbine or a rifle to protect yourself. We got in skirmishes with the Germans all the time. In the hedgerows in France, we would be close to each other, about from here to my fence over there (He points toward an old wooden fence outside of his glass sliding door, about 20 yards away) sometimes even closer. The hedgerows had shrubbery growing, like lagustrums. It was a fence, for property line. The Germans would be right on the other side of that, we'd been marching and the Germans were all set up with 88 mm cannons, rapid-fire rifles, all kinds of stuff. So we had heavy casualties. We stayed till May of 1945.

Before the invasion, back in England, Gen. Patton, and Gen. Middleton talked to us about the invasion. Well, Patton he was a ruff-n-tuff sort of fellow. I remember one statement he made, "don't wait till you see the whites of their eyes, shoot the SOB's before that." Then Middleton spoke. He was a Corp Commander, Third Army.

It was about 6 weeks before we broke out of Normandy. Some of us (the 90th) went to Cherbourg; the rest of us went south, all the way to Paris. I didn't know what was going on. You didn't know where you were half the time. They changed the orders all the time. Casualties were high even in the higher-ranking. Col. Sheeggie, the Regimental Commander was killed. Your mind just goes haywire with all that killing and bombing, your losing your men right and left. Captain Allen was promoted to Battalion Commander and the next day he was killed.

(He goes back to the voyage across the English Channel.) We were on a big ship, and we would go down a net to the little Higgins boats, the boats made in New Orleans. Planes were passing over. At that time in my life I was very young and ready for adventure and excitement. It didn' t take long. But I was kinna scared myself, I WAS SCARED! I won't lie to you. Americans are strange people. They talk about if you shoot in the bushes, you might shoot some civilians, women and children, but hell you don't know what's in those bushes, you're scared as hell, and you have to protect yourself! I hear about that in the news media. News makes a big deal out of it. Hell I know that I shot in some bushes many a times, I don't know if I killed somebody or not, I probably have. I've seen some of my men kill some Germans right out. That still worries me, it stays on my mind.

Living in England, well we didn't get to see too much of England, we trained all the time. We'd march through the countryside 5 or 10 miles a day, for excersise. What was left in England was old people, women young and older who were left to do the work. I admired the British people, because all their young men were in the service, they were fighting in the war. Also, they were getting bombed almost every night, so they did the best they could. But the American soldiers criticized them; they are backwards, they don't know how to do anything. One time, after the V-E Day, in Salisbury England, a British Crack-fighting unit came home. The Americans were at this big dance hall partying. They had the biggest fight between the two, and they beat the tar out of the Americans. That made the newspaper.

On July 10, 1944 I was wounded crossing a hedgerow. I was on guard detail. I was going to check on that. It was kind of drizzling and it was early in the morning. I slipped and fell, I was carrying my carbine with the barrel down, to keep the water from getting into the gun. That gun went off and a bullet cracked the bone in my leg and I spent at least six months in England in a hospital. Till this day I wear support hoes, cause it swells up. After that, they put me training a company of soldiers who were going to Europe. We were doing what they called Liberty Service. I was with other officers and NCO's who had fought in Europe and who could return. I trained 200 men how to be disciplined and how to shoot a rifle, automatic machine guns. I trained them for 4-6 weeks and then they went off. I told them to write me letters and let me know how they were doing, and some of them did. They tell me they appreciate the misery that I put them through. (No doubt his tuff training help save some of their lives)

(The piece of wood is a cricket board. He played cricket in the hospital. On the back is a map and an inscription- HMS Deminion Monarch. Gen. Collins, March 1944. The map depicts his journey across the channel to Normandy and the little towns he must have traveled through during the breakout.) St. Mare Eglise was a town of about 5,000, it was completely destroyed, I mean just rubble. We went right through it.

(He gets up again, walks into the hallway and comes right back with a small prayer book and a picture of himself in uniform in April 1945.)

I went back to the States and they sent me to Augusta George, to a hospital there. It was a resort hotel that the Army made a hospital out of it. It was a good-time place, let's put it that way. While I was there they straightened out my leg. They had a golf coarse, swimming pool, a dinning hall, gymnasium, and a chapel. At night they would have a nightclub. The nurses would come. (The Army took care of him on the way out!)

(During his interview, Mr. Derouen describes his feelings toward the British; how he admires them and describes why, he also talks about the French people, who he doesn't care for very much. He says the French take two hours for lunch. He also talks about a situation involving German prisoners; we take it up from here…)

One time some German prisoners were supposed to put supplies on a train. They were working kinna slow and I saw what they were doing, and I said "Look, if y'all don't get that train straighten out I'll take you behind those bushes and I'll show you what I’ll do to you." I meant it-and I didn't mean it. But I think he understood what I meant. For the longest time I hated Germans, even after the war, but my youngest daughter Michelle married a German from Germany. I didn't like him for a long time, but he is a fine young fellow, he works, they got married and have three beautiful children. He has a Ph.D. from LSU in Geography.

December 1941 I was teaching at Texas AM, I graduated June 6 1941 from AM, June 6 1944 was the invasion. I got my commission from LSU in 1939. I was born in New Iberia, across from the Evangeline funeral home. We lived in several places in New Iberia.

(I asked Mr. Derouen if he had ever ran into anyone from this area while traveling during the war) I wanted to tell y'all. I ran into Butch Kennedy, he played football for LSU when I was there. He was a husky fellow. He was a paratrooper. He got wounded in his thigh. We met in England and spent time together. I asked him, being a paratrooper, "how come you paratroopers are so brave", cause right after we made the invasion a lot of those paratroops had been dropped, and a lot of them landed in St. Mare Eglise, they were hanging from trees, dead, probably shot or what. The ones that landed were hunting for Germans. Butch told me, he said " You know, before me make that jump up there, we don't know whether that parachute is going to open or not, so when we hit the ground we feel safe and we are ready to take on anything". Y'all know Eddie Gatto. (Just then, my grandfather, Hewitt Theriot says out loud, "Don't tell me you know Eddie Gatto.") I didn't know him very well, but I know he died in Normandy. (My grandfather stands up from across the room and walks over to Mr. Derouen very excitedly and very happy to know of someone who knew his friend. He begins to tell a story that I first heard weeks ago about Eddie Gatto.) Hewitt says, 'It so happens that Gatto was my fraternity brother at LSU, Catholic fraternity at LSU, and we got to be very friendly. Recently a story appeared in the Times Picayune about Eddie. I have a son in New Orleans who I asked to go find Eddie Gatto's Grave and he did, wait I gotta go back. Some time after the war we went to the Normandy beachhead and I know that Eddie had died there so I went to the custodian at the grave. He had a book and I asked him I he could tell me where the grave of Mr. Eddie Gatto was. He said that I am so happy to tell you that the body of your friend was returned to New Orleans a few years ago'-Hewitt Theriot.

I ran into a football player in London, he was a big fellow, he was an all-American Tightend. I can't remember, but if you called his name…(Mr. Theriot says, " It wouldn't be Cavenauh?") "CAVENAUH. TIM CAVENAUH!" Mr. Derouen says loudly. We talked a little while in London. (Mr. Theriot says, "Tim Cavenauh, I can see him right now on the football field.")

(Feeling comfortable talking with us now, Mr. Derouen continues, excitedly…)Let me tell y'all about another little incident that happened to me just before I was shipped back to the United States. I was able to get a week's trip to Switzerland and the Army paid for it. 35 soldiers and officers could go on it. So we went up to a skiing resort in the Alps. But I couldn't ski because of my leg. But the hotel where we stayed was a girls ski club. At night they had an orchestra that played music and we could dance. These girls were Swiss and could speak broken English, but we got along good with them. I made friends with the ski instructor, and uh I really…(In the middle of his sentence he looks over, at his wife, whom is sitting across from the room.) she's look'n here now. (As he gently points towards his wife).

(About his wife) If you want to know the truth, I knew her since we were children, and when I got back to New Iberia in July, 1946, she lived right across the street from me, so my mama told me " why doncha take Lela out, so I took her out, and that was the beginning of the romance and a year later we were married. And Louisiana Tech gave me a job, they came to see me in the hospital in Georgia, and we had a little apartment there in Ruston. In 1948, LSU gave me a job.

I went to school from 1935-39. As a graduate Assistant in '39, I was paid $50 a month from TX AM to go study animal science. Room, board, and laundry was $30 a month. The second year I got a $10 increase, $60 dollars a month. I was saving all that money, and getting rich. Then in June 1941, they hired me to teach, they paid me between $300-$400 a month. I bought me a suit to wear. My first suit since I left New Iberia.

(Lela Derouen speaks) I was working for selective service; I was responsible for sending the boys off. Everyone was issued a draft number and when it was time, the board would review the files and pick the numbers of persons who were to go. They would send a notice by mail to your address.

(I asked him if he was informed as to the situation developing in Europe while he was at TX AM before the war.) Yes I was reading about it, I even tried to go in before my time. I wrote the war department and asked to go, they wrote back and said, 'when we get ready and we need you we'll call you.' You see I was in the cadet Corp at LSU. I was commissioned a 2nd Lt. I was on the regimental staff. We were well informed.

I wore an olive green square with a T and an O. It stands for 'Tuff Ombrey'.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Jason Theriot
Subject: 
Oral History: World War II; Infantry; Europe
Creator: 
Jason Theriot
Informants: 
Tom Derouen
Recording date: 
Sunday, July 15, 2001
Coverage Spatial: 
New Iberia, La
Publisher: 
Jason Theriot
Rights Usage: 
All Rghts Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
00:57:55
Cataloged Date: 
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Digitized Date: 
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Original Format: 
Mircocassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer 20

Interview with Tom Derouen (part 2)

Accession No.: 
TH1-039

Tom Derouen, Jason Theriot, Hewitt Theriot:

-Derouen and H. Theriot, both went to LSU and studied agriculture
-Derouen took a job and graduate school at Texas A&M, paid $50 dollars a month
-Talking about his days at A&M as a student and teacher
-H. Theriot talking to Lela Derouen about the home front in New Iberia
-How draft numbers worked and the mailing orders given
-Talking again about school days at LSU and A&M; working with horses
-His commission at LSU; military balls; girlfriend at LSU
-H. Theriot’s plans in wanting to work with the horses in France during the war
-Stories of Derouen’s time working with the horses and traveling with them on trains to livestock shows

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Jason Theriot
Subject: 
Oral History: World War II; Infantry; Europe
Creator: 
Jason Theriot
Informants: 
Tom Derouen
Recording date: 
Sunday, July 15, 2001
Coverage Spatial: 
New Iberia, La
Publisher: 
Jason Theriot
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
00:21:42
Cataloged Date: 
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Digitized Date: 
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Original Format: 
Mircocassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer 20

Interview with Jefferson Deblanc (part 1)

Accession No.: 
TH1-040

Jeff Deblanc, Jason Theriot:

-Describing a seaplane wild dogfight in the air with German pilots
-Seacrest (Jim Seacrest, another pilot from Mississippi) noticed 2 German zeros and 2 bombers targeting one the U.S. ships; his wingman was Joe Foster
-Deblanc’s wingman was a man form New York, Jim Felton, was shot down and crashed into an island; he survived through the whole war
-Tells how he outmaneuvered one of the zeros, trying to free up Seacrest to go after the German bomber planes
-Was shot down by one of the zeros but the bombers missed their targets
-The fight probably took about half an hour

(8:25) Stuck on an island now and is trying to get back to his men (in Pacific)
-Found a hut and spent the night there; woke up the next morning surrounded by natives with machetes
-They were headhunters but Deblanc found that out later
-Showed him how to crack open a coconut; took him prisoner after he ate
-They put him in a covered caged in their village; kept it covered as the Japanese pilots were known to raze the villages if they saw any white people
-They may have been keeping him to trade with the Japanese later for rice
-He was traded to another village chief; this chief had connections to the coast watchers
-One of the men of this chief was a native coast watcher; they all spoke pigeon English
-Deblanc showing Theriot a spear and other things these natives gave him

(19:04) “U.S.S. Jenkins”
-Jan. 29 was given a pre-dawn take off to “scramble” some Japanese fighters (in the Guadalcanal)
-Too dark to see so they had to rely on the plane’s instruments; if not watching could fly into the water
-Knew he was going to the East and needed to go left to miss the mountains and return to the sea
-Engine began to fail that night in a fight and it ran out of oil so he needed to glide down to the water
-Decides he might have to jump out before hitting the land but recalls that early that morning another man in his squadron had to jump and his chute didn’t open
-The parachutes are replaced every 15 days or so and Deblanc didn’t know if his had been replaced or not recently so he chose to stay in the plane and glide it down to the water
-Notices that there’s ships (U.S.) everywhere fighting and churning up phosphorus; made a glowing runway for Deblanc
-Landed in front of “U.S.S. Jenkins,” the same ship that Rene Broussard from New Iberia was on (TH1-026)
-Told them to pick him after the battle was over in case they were sunk; they gave him a raft and picked up around dawn the next day
-Then on Jan. 31 (2 days later) was when he was shot down and on the island with the natives

(25:18) Return to the island story
-The native coast watchers took Deblanc by boat to a missionary church (Church of England)
-Met a missionary by the name Sylvester, also part of the coast watchers
-The next morning he had to leave as the Japanese were coming to check the church

(27:36) Getting off the island
-“That’s how I learned the British soldiers were the best fighters in the world”
-British soldier Henry Johnson picked up Deblanc from the church; they went through by trails in the jungle up the mountain
-While walking they saw a group of Japanese looking around below them, slowly heading up to where they were;
-At the time Deblanc had been wearing a Japanese uniform to hide himself (did nothing)
-So Deblanc and Johnson were trying to move out of the way of the Japanese but about 3 o’clock Johnson stops; he said it was time for tea and they stopped to have tea (never was caught by the Japanese)
-The coast watchers finally picked him up on the other side

(32:03) Spent 6 more weeks in combat and then sent back to states to teach pilots for another 6 weeks
-Got tired of it and joined up again in a squadron on a carrier; thought it’d be easier
-Had to fight Kamikazes and the weather
-Fought in the Pacific for 4 months
-Continued to teach into the Vietnam War
-Talks about his time teaching and flying
-Other aircrafts Deblanc flew in combat

(36:30) Talking about the country today and people’s stances on war and America
-How to overcome fear: “don’t panic;” environmental surroundings and background can be very helpful in one’s survival

(Cuts off into silence for the last 10 minutes)

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Jason Theriot
Subject: 
Oral History; World War II; Pilot; Pacific Theater
Creator: 
Jason Theriot
Informants: 
Jefferson Deblanc
Recording date: 
Thursday, April 22, 2004
Coverage Spatial: 
St. Martinville, La
Publisher: 
Jason Theriot
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
00:43:42
Cataloged Date: 
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Digitized Date: 
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Original Format: 
Mircocassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
95 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer 20

Interview with Jefferson Deblanc (part 2)

Accession No.: 
TH1-041

Jeff Deblanc, Jason Theriot:
**dates, years, and places mentioned may be confused in his retelling**

-Prior to WWII was a product of the Depression, grew up in that environment; always looking for jobs
-After graduation from high school in 1938 worked in the sugar houses as a bench chemist; was able to go to college through the factory
-Never finished college as the war broke out in 1939; went to LSU
-Was already in training by the time Pearl Harbor happened as there was already a push for trained men
-At LSU had civilian pilot training (CPT) and Deblanc was in it by 1939 when war broke out in Europe
-When war broke out in U.S. Deblanc wanted to make sure he was not drafted into another department, like the infantry; wanted to fly for the Navy
-Brother, Frank, was an engineer and was going to go into the Army but Deblanc feared that Frank would be stuck building bridges in front of the infantry and be killed
-Told Frank to go into the Navy and become a pilot too; flew a four engine plane all through the war in anti-sub patrol in the Pacific
-Deblanc advanced into naval flight training in Oct. 1941 and was stationed in Corpus Christi; wanted to be a fighter as he was able to fight on his own terms

After Pearl Harbor (9:36)
-His class of cadets were assigned to be (?) pilots and Deblanc did not want to so he went and resigned for service in the Navy and was sent into the Marine Corps to be a fighter
-Deblanc’s group were known as the “Omega” pilots, because their training was too little to be actual fighter pilots; they needed bodies out there

(13:11) Describing his plane, M3N (?) plane, a by-plane
-Breezed through his air craft landing training and was sent to Corpus Christi, to what he thought was more training but was put in as reserved pilots and teaching
-Navy pilots had some run-ins with the Navy guys there
-Wore these large rings and would knock on the bar when ordering drinks to be served first—called them “ring knockers”
-Bar would be split by pilots in reserved and ring knockers

(16:49) describing the planes; F3F, they used at the air craft carriers from WWI with no gun wingmen; transferred to OOS2, a low wing monoplane
-Once graduated and passed training for instrument flying, had a total of 250 hours of flying time; sent on a carrier to Guadalcanal in August 1942
-Was given a plane that he had flew the least, less than 10 hours of flying time
-June or July 1942 (maybe he meant 1943?)went over to New Caledonia; 22 days at sea, not on an aircraft carrier as there were planes already there
-Was there to replace those in squadrons that had been killed; saw first combat in November 1942

(25:00) in service training he was given on how to fight Japanese planes in dog fights from older pilots
-While at New Caledonia was renamed as the “Cactus Air force;” those that fought from August 20 - January 23 1943 were a part of this air force in the South Pacific

(28:43) Looking at a photo of a F4F, the Wildcat, mid-wing plane; describing how he used it

First Combat (33:19)
-When he first ran into a Japanese plane was Nov. 10 1942; also the first day at Guadalcanal (maybe he meant New Caledonia?)
-Flew as the last man in the squadron formation, in the very back; were flying with others to see the layout of the islands
-Landed at 11 and then the radio went off about Japanese bombers (this happened everyday); Japanese plan was to push them off the island, literally
-Took off and was flying over Japanese territory; listened to Coast Guard radio on where the Japanese would be in the air and on land
-Had to have short messages on the radio from the Coast Guard as the Japanese could locate where they and the planes were if they stayed on long enough
-Used a lot of British slang and terms for codes

(37.45) Describing in detail of the planes on both sides, islands they flew over in the fight, where his squadron was and who was helping him
-What they were to except from the Japanese; how they lost one pilot, Joe Falcon

Life on Guadalcanal (44:02)
-Knew every night there was to be bombing; always tired
-Washing Machine Charlie plane had the loudest engine in the Japanese and they could always hear them when they were coming
-Ran a few times in patrol in the foxholes on the ground; scared him more to be under artillery fire
-Marine and Natives worked together to keep the base clear enough so the planes could take off
-Natives mostly stuck with the winners at the time, so they were always switching back and forth
-Night was the worst as anything that moved was shot, so no going out to the bushes for the bathroom
-Japanese sometime would ride bicycles down their (US) runway and fire at their tents
-The base was never truly secured until December; able to get supplies easier and Japanese were no longer destroying them
-Flew almost every day for 6 weeks; describing more on other attacks/bombings he was in

-On one flight after some Japanese bombers, 3 out of 8 planes had fuel problems; Deblanc’s plane was one
-2 pilots bailed and went back to the base but Deblanc chose to stay on
-Knew that if he got into a fight he will not have enough fuel to go back
-Decided that he’d fight and then fly back to a certain island and bail there, told his comrades
-Describes certain tactics used; starts talking about how he was shot down (same story in TH1-040)
-Returns to when he was flying back with little to no fuel after the fight; wasn’t his first time to have to fight with little fuel

Cuts off mid-sentence at very end

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Jason Theriot
Subject: 
Oral History; World WarII; Pacific Theater; Pilot
Creator: 
Jason Theriot
Informants: 
Jefferson Deblanc
Recording date: 
Thursday, April 22, 2004
Coverage Spatial: 
St. Martinville, La
Publisher: 
Jason Theriot
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
01:27:02
Cataloged Date: 
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Digitized Date: 
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Original Format: 
Mircocassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer 20

Interview with Francis Doerle (part 1)

Accession No.: 
TH1-042

***Disclaimer: recounting as a witness to an act of sexual abuse (55:06)***

Francis G. Doerle; Theriot

Pearl Harbor
-Was at Deer’s drive-in on East Main St., near a nightclub; on a date with his wife (girlfriend at the time)
-They were sitting there together that Sunday afternoon when they heard the news of Pearl Harbor
-People were going from car to car talking about it; it was the only thing talked about for days
-Already heard about the war from newsreels and a neighbor (Mr. Bernard) that had a TV with a 100 ft. antenna and could pick up other news stations

-Knew about what Germany was doing, had heard of Dunkirk
-Had heard of what the Japanese were doing to China but never saw them as an enemy like Germany
-Thinks Japan attacked the U.S. to stop us from declaring was on Germany
-Had a class A deferment so he couldn’t be drafted but signed up anyway since most his brothers and brother-in-laws were in the service too
-About 8 men from their family in the service and Doerle felt he should help too

-Worked for the Maritime Commissioner as a ship-building welder inspector at a shipyard in New Orleans
-They gave him the class 1-A deferment; built 6-7 liberty ships; worked as a fruit peddler on the side with his dad
His son David was born in February 1942 and a few months later Doerle told the draft board that he was leaving his job (and deferment) and be ready to send him off
-Was 24 years old at the time

In the Service (14:28)
-Oldest in his outfit, most were 18-19 years old or really 17 years old and had lied to join up
-Had no choice but to join the Army; wanted to join the Navy but the board said no
-Within 3 weeks after leaving his job shipped out to Camp Fanen Texas; stayed there for 10 weeks
-After basic sent to Camp Meade Maryland; outfitted with gear for overseas
-Shipped to Boston and put on a transport ship, “USS General Black” 10,000 on the boat
-Went through a terrible storm while crossing the Atlantic (sick the whole time)
-Were going to be replacements at the Battle of the Bulge; landed at Leharve France in a makeshift harbor and put on railroad cars
-When signing up, Doerle was with OJ Mannual (from Erath was a neighbor)
-They were together until split up in Nancy France; they were given rifles at Nancy

-They had landed in France in December 1944 and it was cold; they had issued clothes made from real wool
-After Nancy he was assigned to the 35th Infantry Division, 137th Regiment B Company, a rifle platoon
-January 1945 they were woken up and loaded into trucks; weren’t allowed to have the headlights on
-Drove till the next morning when they stopped to eat and continued on till evening
-Got off and it was ice and snow everywhere and each person was issued a white sheet to use a camouflage

Battle of the Bulge (33:00)
-They knew what was happening at the Bulge and the Germans were trying to break into Southern France
-They were there at the end of the battle to help push back
-When the Germans did break through, the 28th Division was completely destroyed
-Germans were strong people and very intelligent; the French were the opposite and lazy people
-Germans would change street signs and set traps to confuse or ambush the Americans
-Was at a town near the Ardennes Forest; the artillery and mortar shells would hit the trees and the branches would shatter
-Had to give their foxholes tops to keep from being wounded or killed by the falling debris
-The first night there was sent on patrol to capture Germans for interrogation; didn’t grab anyone for a few nights
-Had seen about 7 days of combat before reaching the Bulge; they didn’t tell them anything that was happening elsewhere

-One of his feet starting turning black but things started happening so he was taken from hospital after 5 days to help load/move ammunition trucks
-Couldn’t walk but he could drive—everyone needed to work
-Once into Germany they went through the Rhine Valley, Cologne and Recklinghausen; where he captured a German colonel
-Was at an outpost watching a bridge and saw some Germans near the CP and there was a colonel
-Another soldier took the colonel from him by threat
-Asked later if the German had been turned in by the other soldier and was told there was no German colonel prisoner (thinks the soldier killed the colonel)

***Mention of sexual assault and abuse***

***American soldiers were going crazy from fatigue and would destroy homes for no reason, loot and rape women; couldn’t stop them as they’d turn on you too; some did kill other Americans—sometimes they’d be fighting and those “crazy” soldiers would just shoot all their mates around them***

Firefighting and End of the War (55:43)
-Most of the time you don’t see who you’re killing; only saw once when he did kill a person
-Never saw the enemy face to face except when on patrol and when cleaning out towns
-Reached the Elbe River and stopped to let the Russians take over Berlin; Germans were surrendering by the truck loads to the Americans so not to be killed by the Russians
-Made a deal that in order to take German prisoners the Germans needed to surrender over American prisoners
-Took 10 days before the Russians took Berlin and Americans transported thousands of Germans by then
-Closer to the end of the war the Germans were easier to handle; only the SS Troops were difficult as life meant nothing to them

-Stopped at a town near the Rhine and found a well-stocked wine cellar; they had a nice time
-While there Doerle ‘s brother-in-law George came to visit; George was a warrant officer and was supplying three divisions
-George took Doerle to his CP that was a governor’s mansion and spent 2 days in luxury before being called back as they were crossing the river into Germany
-Took his first bath in three-four months
-Never saw or was in contact with is brothers; Harold was in the Air force; Paul was in the Navy in the Pacific
-Bobby was a Seabee in Okinawa construction battalion

Combat Life (1:09:00)
-Something not kept on the mind; especially the people you kill
-In situations like war each person has a different outlook and does what they feel was right; did what you had to do
-You don’t shoot someone eating lunch, you shoot someone who’s trying to kill you
-Always thought about what if he never made it back
-The war in Europe and the war in the Pacific were different
-Thinks the Pacific was probably tougher with having to take islands and fighting in jungles
-Europe was in cities and modern weapons to use (on land)
-Germans had more modern weapons than the Japanese; German machine guns fired 3-5 times faster than American’s machine guns

-Once crossing the German border, they advanced so fast into the territory their own artillery thought they were the enemy; sent off three volleys at Dorele’s outfit
-They were walking in the road in the open and the artillery thought they were retreating Germans
-Dorele knew the sound of American guns and knew they were shooting at them—but the 105 mm was slow so they had time to move out of the way (compared to the Germans’ guns)
-One guy was so badly shell-shocked just froze and fainted as everyone went to the ditches
-Another soldier ran in between volleys to grab him (confirms in TH1-043 that no one was killed or badly injured)
-Dorele’s outfit (35th) knew it was the 75th artillery unit ahead that was firing at them
-Was trying to call the CP to cease fire as the artillery were zeroing in on Dorele’s outfit's position
-Everyone was “hauling ass” to buildings and away from the road
-Dorele jumped a barbed wire fence with his gun, that got stuck in the mud and then 10 feet ahead of him a shell went off
-The shock caused bleeding to his ears (still has problems today) and he dove into the mud and made a mound to protect himself
-Finally they got through to the 75th to cease fire

-In the beginning of the war, carried a BAR until given a carbine; had a bazooka once to be used for German pillboxes
-Had to be careful when shooting at German tanks, the Panzer would just bounce the shells off

Transcription Begins:

Francis G. Doerle
Born November 21, 1920
35th Infantry Division
Battle of the Bulge

(December 7, 1941) I was at a place called Deer's drive-in on East Main St. There was a nightclub there. That afternoon, my wife, who I was just starting to court seriously, we were sitting there, it was a Sunday afternoon, and we heard that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. We thought about it a lot. Everybody was going from car to car. So we went about our evening as planned, and I took her home later and we talked about it a little bit with her parents. I came home the next day, and that was all that was on the news, that was all people were talking about.

Right in back of where I lived, Mr. Bernard had a tourist court and he was the only guy in town I knew who had a TV with a hundred-foot antenna. And he could pick up a few stations and we would watch the news (there), and at the movie pictures we would go to. During intermission they would show newsreels about the war.

Germany was walking all throughout Europe like there was no tomorrow. The only thing between Germany and us was Great Britain. That was it. Dunkirk had taken place shortly after that, so it was serious. I was aware of some of the stuff going on in China, although we were at war with Japan and Germany at the time. I wasn't worried about the Japanese. It wasn't a concern of mine. I never did figure them as the real enemy.

I had a class A deferment. I had a good job, but all my brothers were in the service, so I just decided that I had to get involved. I didn't feel comfortable staying here while all the men in my family were fighting in the war. I worked for the Maritime Commissioner as a ship-building welding inspector at the shipyard in New Orleans, so I was offered a deferment. I stayed for a while and helped build ships for the war. While I was there we built six liberty ships.

Before that I was working in the produce business here in town, and when I moved to New Orleans I was welding at the shipyard and conducting business for my dad at the French Market in the morning. I would go to the market at five in the morning to buy fruit and all kinds of fresh stuff. And my father would send a truck over there, and he'd call me and tell me what he needed the night before. After I would load the truck I would go to my other job at the shipyard.

My son David was born in February of 1944, and a few months after that I went to the draft board and told them I was leaving my job and to call me when they were ready for me. The draft board here knew that I was working in New Orleans, I stayed in touch with them every six months or so, but I had a deferment all that time. I was 24 years old when I decided to join.

The draft board was very strict and rightfully so, cause a lot of people would take off. Pete Oliver was on the board.

I signed up with OJ Manual from Erath. OJ and I got split up in a place called Nancy France. He was in a different outfit.

Within three weeks I was shipped to Camp Fanen Texas. (What made you chose the Amy?) I didn't, I asked for the Navy, but they said, "you got the Army." And that was it, when you got in that long line they didn't give you a choice. I took basic training for 10 weeks.

Most guys were from 18 or 19-years old in my outfit. I was the oldest guy in my platoon. Some lied about their age. There were some in there that were 17. This one kid named Ebiline was just 17.

At night, there was complete darkness (in combat). There were no headlights on cars or jeeps; you couldn't even light a match. This guy, Ebiline, started crying saying that he would never see his mother again. I told him he wouldn't if he didn't put out that cigarette. He had lit a cigarette in a foxhole. The next thing you know, you got an 88 in your pocket. And those Germans were so accurate with that gun. That was a hell of a gun.

After basic I came home for a few days then took a train to Camp Meade in Maryland. I got outfitted with all the gear I was going to need to go overseas with. From there I was shipped to Boston. I got on a ship (troop transport) in Boston and went through a hell of storm across the North Atlantic. I was on the USS General Black. There were about 10,000 troops on that ship. We went through the worst storm I had ever been in. It took the bow of the ship and bent it back like this. Fourteen days at sea. I stayed sick the whole time. Everybody was throwing up on everybody else. That was the worse (storm) I had ever been in. When we landed all I could do was suck on oranges; that was the only thing that I could keep down.

We had about 300 ships in that convoy with us. They were sending any and everything to the Battle of the Bulge as quick as they could.

We landed in December 1944. I was a replacement. I was to report to the 35th Infantry Division when I got to France. This was all during the Battle of the Bulge (December 16, 1944). They were taking replacements like crazy. I landed at Leharve France. From Leharve they put us in an ole railroad car, and old cattle car and shipped us off to where the fighting was all in the same day. There were 40 men in a cart.

Leharve was nothing but sunken ships and steel sticking up everywhere. It was a makeshift harbor that was erected in a hurry.

We stopped in Nancy France. This is where they handed me a rifle. It was snowing and ice (was) everywhere. It was cold cold. My gun was full of cosmaline. It's like a thick goo that they put on there to protect the gun while it was transported across the ocean. I had to clean it with gasoline. They said, "Son, I want to see that rifle shine."

They issued us plenty of clothes. It was all wool, real wool. I was assigned to a rifle platoon in the 137th Regiment, B Company. The headquarters was in Metz, France. That city was destroyed. Captain Azbell was the Commander of our company. I was ordered to report to the CP (Command Post). Angelo was my platoon sergeant. I still keep in touch with some of the guys from my outfit. We have reunions every year.

(The 35th was in combat at the Bulge. As men would get wounded or suffer from frostbite or battle fatigue, they would be sent to the back of the line. Replacements where they sent immediately to the front to replace these ranks.)

It was sometime after Christmas (’44); I'll never forget they woke us up in the middle of the night and we loaded on to trucks with all our gear. The truck had no lights and we drove down the road in the dark all night long until part of the next morning. We stopped in a little town where they feed us then we went back on the trucks and drove till late in the evening. When we got off finally, there was ice and snow everywhere. It was the coldest I had ever been in my life. They issued each of us a white sheet (snow camouflage).

We knew what was going on at the Bulge. And we knew they (Germans) were going to try to break out through southern France. But that didn't happen as you know. But we, the Americans weren't nervous about that. I wasn't there at the beginning when the Germans broke through; I was there at the end when we stopped them and pushed them back.

When they broke through, brother, let me tell you. The 28th (holding the line) was almost completely destroyed. The Germans were tuff soldiers. They were head and shoulders above us. There were some Americans, many of us, who thought that we were fighting the wrong people. The Germans were very intelligent people. It was Hitler's Nazi's that we wanted outta there.

The French weren't very smart people. They would shovel cow shit around the pipes that they were pumping water out of to keep the pipes from freezing, so it seeps down in the water-well. The cow shit would seep into the water-well. The French were lazy people.

The Germans were far more advanced than everybody else was. They were 20 years ahead of everybody. They had Autobahn highways, four lane highways. That's what gave Eisenhower the idea to build a highway system in the states years later.

The Germans, when they made their move, would turn the street signs around. It would confuse the Americans. A lot of Americans walked right into an ambush.

We got off in a little wooded town near the Ardennes Forest. The artillery and mortar shells would explode in the trees and the branches would shatter. (The flying pieces of shattered trees wounded and killed many Americans.) You had to build a top in your foxhole. I never dug a hole so fast in all my life. We used branches to cover the tops of our foxholes. We covered the tops with dirt.

That first night, my sergeant and I, Angelo Demem and about 5 others went on a patrol. Our orders were to find German's, capture them, and bring them back to the CP for interrogation. We stayed out pass the outpost for two or three nights looking for prisoners to take back. (The outpost was the farthest American post on the front line-closest to the enemy.) The Germans would walk by and we'd wait till they got close enough and then we'd stand up and shout, "Handy Ho you sons of bitches!" Handy Ho, you know, put your hands up. And we'd say, "Foshnell," which means put your hands up.

But we really didn't know anything. We didn't know where we were or want was happening elsewhere. They didn't tell you anything; you heard rumors, and that was about all. Some Sergeants might tell you a little bit about what was going on, if you got a chance to talk to him. See some of these guys had been on the line for months, some even since D-Day. I had only been there for 7 days, so I didn't know much.

My feet started to suffer. We were told to keep our feet dry, you know keep clean socks on. But I had one foot that turned black. I had to go into the hospital; I was off the line for about 5 days. This was later on. But they didn't keep me in the hospital. I helped move ammunition in trucks. I couldn't walk but I could ride. They needed every man that was fit to work, even those that were hurt. Till today I have to wear soles because my feet are nothing but bones.

I wore a long wool overcoat. Some weeks later I remember cutting it into a short coat because it was getting warmer. We were always on the move. I remember going into Germany after we got out of the cold, cold weather. We went into the Rhine Valley and crossed the Rhine River and went into Cologne. I went through Recklinghausen; that's where I got this colonel; I captured a German colonel.

I was out on an outpost watching the bridge with about 10 others guys and I came back into the CP, and I spotted some Germans near the CP. One of them was a Colonel. I took his pistol off of him; I still got it. Have you ever seen a good-looking German Luger?

This one guy in my outfit was really crazy. He did a lot of things in the war that wasn't right. I saw him kill other Americans. He killed some guys that were raping a woman. I saw him line them up and cut them down with a machine gun.

He took that German Colonel around the building and I followed him and he pulled a gun on me. He said, "Get your ass away or I'm gonna kill you." I checked with the CP later but they had no information on this Colonel. He was a high ranking German officer; he should have had some information. But he never got there. There was a lot of that going on.

I saw people going into other people's homes and destroying them. Beautiful things in these homes. They would knock things over and bust 'em and break 'em just for the hell of it. And you can't control most of it. Some of these guys were so off, so fatigued, that they're crazy, and they will turn on you. They will shoot you.

About a month or two later that same guy had a girl in a room and he made everybody get out. He raped her; he was out of his mind.

I got into a couple of firefights with the enemy. But mostly you don't see who you are killing. I only know of one guy that I actually shot and killed, because I went and checked him. The poor bastard had a picture of his family. You never really come face to face with the enemy, unless you are looking for a prisoner to capture at night. When you go on patrols at night you run face to face with them and when you are cleaning out a town you run into them. But a firefight that you know of, you rarely saw them.

Towards the end of the war up on the Elbe River I shot and wounded a German. I don't know if I killed him, but I know that I shot him. At night you could see the sky light up. You could tell there was a war going on. We were told to stop at the Elbe River to allow the Russians to take Berlin. And we did. The Germans were surrendering by the thousands. We could take all of them. It got to a point where we wouldn't take a German prisoner unless he brought an American prisoner with him. Truckloads of Germans tried to surrender. We agreed to take a truck of German if they brought us a truck load of Americans.

The Germans did not want to get captured by the Russians. The Russians would torture and kill them right there, because the Germans did the same thing to them. At the Yalta Conference Stalin and Roosevelt made a deal- the Russians would take Berlin. We stayed at the Elbe for 10 days waiting for them to take Berlin. We took a lot of prisoners in those 10 days.

Towards the end of the war the Germans were easier to handle because they knew it was kaput. They knew there was no chance for them to win. But we had to be real careful with the SS Troops (Nazi fanatics). They would kill you right there. They were the elite German soldiers who were Hitler's finest troops. Their life meant nothing to them.

I crossed the bridge at Remagen. It was the only bridge across the Rhine that the Germans didn't blow up. And we got there before they could take it out. It was the only bridge into Germany.

We rested in a little town near the Rhine for a few days. We ran into a wine cellar, so we had a good time. It was the finest wine in the world and every soldier had a case of red wine. My brother-in-law, George, found me there. He was a warrant officer. He was in charge of supplying all the men in our Corp. I got a call through the CP. He said, "Francis! God damn it, this is George!" I said, "George who?" He said, "George, your brother-in-law!" I said, "Well you SOB, what are you doing? Where the hell are you?" He said, "Never mind where I am. But don't you move cause I know where you are! And I'll be there in 30 minutes!" He drove up in a jeep with a driver. He was a big shot you know. I said, "George, where we going?" He said, "I talked to Captain Asbell. He said you can come spend a couple of days with me." I took a bath in a beautiful mansion, a castle that belonged to the mayor of the town. George was using that mansion as his CP. And I took a bath and I got in that tub and I soaked my ass in that tub for I don't know how long. It had been three or four months since I last took a bath.

We crossed that bridge a few days later. I went to Dusseldorf and Aachen. You should have seen Aachen. You would not believe it. There was not one roof on any building there. It was completely destroyed. Pitiful.

I was never in contact with any of my brothers during the war. Harold was in the Airforce flying the Hump (Himalayas). Paul was in the Navy, in the Pacific. Bobby was at Okinawa. He was a Seabee, a construction battalion.

(Tell me about combat life) It's something that you don't keep on your mind. The two people that I killed, I hardly think about it. Each person's different. You have to make up your mind. You are there to do a job and it's you are him. You decide what your responsibility is- to yourself, to wife, and family, to your children. You have to think of survival. I didn't relish the idea; it was something that I did automatically. If you saw a German and he didn't surrender right way, you gonna have to shoot him. You don't shoot somebody sitting down in a chair having lunch. You shoot somebody who's trying to kill you.

(Did you ever think that you might not make it back?) You think about that all the time. That's a given. Anybody who tells you that they not thinking about that is not being truthful.

The war in Europe was different from the war in the Pacific and elsewhere. In a lot of ways I think that it was tougher going from island to island. The European war was more of a modernized war. We were fighting in cities not in the jungle. The individual infantryman had a tougher time in the Far East. But the artillery part in Europe was worse. Those Germans could put an 88 in your pocket from 5 miles away.

That same little fella I was telling you about earlier, Ebiline…I saw him cut right in half. We were running from one building to another and the artillery was coming down and we ran into machine gun fire and Ebiline got hit and he folded over just like a piece of meat. The German machine guns (MG-42) fired 3 to 5 times faster than an American machine gun. It would go bbbblllllttttttt. American guns would go bum bum bum. That 17-year old boy got killed right there. I had to keep on running.

When we got into Germany itself I remember our own artillery thought we were the enemy because we had advanced so far. We were walking out in the open. They thought we were Germans retreating down the road. I heard these three volleys go off. I could tell it was an American 105mm. You could hear it coming. You got time to move cause it was slow moving. The Germans used those high velocity shells; you didn't hear them until it exploded. Anyway we were going down this road and I heard those volleys go off and I said, "Holly Shit!" And there was this guy who was kind of nervous; he was shell- shocked. He had taken about all he could take; he was about to blow up. But everybody was high-strung. Everybody up there had seen a lot, done a lot, and been through a lot. But this guy actually fell down right in the middle of the road. Everybody else jumped in the ditch when we heard those volleys. And this guy froze right there in the middle of the road. He was having a breakdown.

We started calling that artillery CP to tell them who we were and to tell them to stop. We knew who they were. They were the 75th. But before we could get them to stop firing we had to move quickly because they were zeroing in on that road, on our position. When those second volleys went off I jumped over a barbed wire fence with my rifle and a pack and all. And I cleared that fence like it wasn't there. I hurdled it. But the fence hit my gun and my barrel stuck in the mud. And man that was a no-no. Man one of those shells exploded about 10-feet in front of me and my ears started bleeding. I had enough awareness to get up and jump behind a mound of dirt for protection. We finally got through to those guys. To this day I am hard of hearing.

I was able to bring this Luger back to the states. I had to register it. It's a fine piece of work.

I carried a carbine after a while. I carried a BAR at the very beginning of the war. I fired it at some tanks. I also carried a bazooka. I fired it at German pillboxes. I saw a lot of German tanks. But you didn't want to be within 10 miles of those Panzers. Our shells would bounce off those Panzer tanks.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Jason Theriot
Subject: 
Oral History; World War II; European Theater; Army; Infantry
Creator: 
Jason Theriot
Informants: 
Francis Doerle
Coverage Spatial: 
New Iberia, La
Publisher: 
Jason Theriot
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
01:27:03
Cataloged Date: 
Thursday, April 4, 2019
Digitized Date: 
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Original Format: 
Microcassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer 20

Interview with Francis Doerle (part 2)

Accession No.: 
TH1-043

Francis G. Doerle, Theriot:

End of the War
-Was able to take a break (a leave) in Paris
-Your time on leave depended on how much time was spent on the front and when it was thought you were needed again; could be 5-10 days off
-Served the whole time on the front line; didn’t take time off, even when his foot turned black, helped in unloading trucks
-Did a lot of patrols at outposts during the night to capture German soldiers for the CP
-Detailing the work of the CPs and importance of them

-Everyone carried a backpack and packed what they needed/wanted
-Dorele had 1-2 bandoleers of ammunition, dry socks, dry shirts, 2 grenades but nothing for hygiene
-Used the buddy system; your buddy was the runner for more ammunition; stayed in the foxhole with you
-At night in the foxhole had to know left from right and who was near you
-Never spoke but would whisper to catch each other’s attention when they heard something

-Going across Germany towards the end of the war, all the little towns and cities were bombed out and people were living in cellars
-The Germans were ready to surrender, the soldiers were either really old or too young; most of the SS were dead by then
-Dorele did encounter a SS trooper one night, “I’ll never forget it;” was standing guard at a hospital one night and there was a SS in there for treatment as a prisoner
-Had to lock the man up as was acting like a “lunatic” and was a danger to everyone around him—made sure everyone knew what he stood for
-Never really talked to German POWs; mostly dealt with guarding POW camps of Polish and French POWs
-Couldn’t speak French or German but understood a little bit, used a little dictionary

-They were told not to go into Berlin, stopped at the Elbe River; Americans were happy to let the Russians take Berlin and kill the Germans
-Mostly stood guard at the river to capture any German soldiers that escaped Berlin
-Thinks there was probably a lot of German death at the hands of the Russians when they took Berlin
-The Russians wanted Berlin as payback for what the Germans did to them

After the War (24:17)
-The US never had to worry about war happening on their soil; Pearl Harbor was just a onetime thing
-If war ever did break out on our land, there’s no way Americans could handle it like the Germans, Russians, and English did
-Too many nationalities and politics would cause problems and make it worse

-While at the Elbe River the Russians met them after Berlin; they drank and danced that night; Russians were dirty people
-Stayed there for a week or two after the war ended in May 1945; the German people came up to them and thanked them for ending the war
-They were pulled out and were told they were going home for 10 days and then being outfitted to invade Japan on November 1
-They came home on a luxury-liner ship, the “USS Crystalball;” a nicer ride back than going to Europe
-Dorele’s division was one of the first to go home from the war in Europe after the end

-Docked at Boston by afternoon, but was not let off the ship; next morning they could hear bands and noise from the shore

(39:25) Captain finally comes over the loud speaker and says that Japan has surrender
-The Captain then goes on to say that their division was going to be a part of the first wave in the invasion of Japan—they were the luckiest men alive
-“We’re going home boys, we going home”; they also weren’t let off the ship as they wanted to let Boston have a moment to celebrate without a division in the city
-Had the biggest celebration when they got off the ship; stayed there for one night before being shipped off to Fort Meade, Maryland

-Was asked to reenlist as a sergeant but Dorele had enough points to go home and he said no; Fort Knox got his discharge papers and pay
-Can’t remember what month he finally made it back; his wife and family knew he was back in the states but didn’t know when he was coming home
-Talking about life before the war; where his brothers and brother-in-laws were at; where his German gun might be at in the house

Cuts off mid-sentence

Transcription Begins:

Francis G. Doerle:

I took a leave and went to Paris for 5 days. Your time on leave depended on how much time you spent on the front line and much time they anticipated they would need you.

Almost from the day I went overseas I was in combat on the front line. Even when I got frostbite I still stayed on the front lines helping unload trucks. I spent many sleepless nights at the front on an outpost. But the night patrols were the worse. We had to go into enemy territory to capture prisoners and bring them back to the CP for interrogation. The first thing they would ask is what unit the prisoner was in, because the CP had maps of everything, and they had to know exactly where the enemy was. This was all well planned out. We had to be well organized because you are talking about people's lives. This was not something that the CP would take likely. They were very responsible people. They didn't get in that position being irresponsible. The CP was in a room or a house, or a tent. The CP was the brains of the outfit. You had command people and radiomen in there making the decisions.

I always carried one or two bandoleers of ammunition; that was about 8 clips each. I had a pack and carried dry socks and dry shirts, but no toothbrush; not even a bar of soap. And I always carried two grenades. Grenades were good for clearing out a building. You throw a grenade in there and back away, and that clears out the enemy. Any time you had a need for ammunition you would send a runner or a buddy to fetch more. We used the buddy system. At night your buddy was always in the foxhole with you. Ebiline was my buddy for awhile. They would send word down about where we could get supplies. They kept us informed about all that.

I always knew who was on my right and left at night. We never talked out-loud, but if you heard something you would say, "pist." You would whisper to get the other guys attention. George Allen was always on my left and a fella by the name of Mulberry was on my right. We were close enough to whisper.

When we finally got across to Germany, all the little towns and cities were bombed out. People were living in shelters. We went through a concentration camp and I remember seeing the crematories, but we didn't stay long. We kept moving. There were no prisoners there; the Germans had taken all the survivors with them as they moved farther east into Germany.

Towards the end they were leaving the prisoners there at the camps. And they were ready to surrender. They were ready to call it quits. It was a hopeless fight. The soldiers were either very young or very old. Most of the elite soldiers, the German SS, were all dead.

I ran into one SS trooper one night. I'll never forget it. I had to stand guard at a hospital one night and there was a MF in there. He was a lunatic. You couldn't conduct medicine in there with a crazy person like that, so they took him away and locked him up. He let us know that he was an SS, and what he stood for.

We finally stopped at the Elbe River. We were looking for that wine truck! We were able to take a breather and relax. But I bet there was a tremendous amount of German people in Berlin who were killed by the Russians. That was their payback. I bet they slaughtered the Germans in droves. They (Russians) saved a lot of American lives by doing that. We didn't have to go and take Berlin; the Russians did that for us. But those Russians suffered horribly during the war. The Germans did the same thing to them when they tried to take Russia.

We were fortunate. We didn't have mass murders like that. We had Pearl Harbor and a few ships sunk in the Atlantic, but nothing like those people in London and in Russia. I'll say this- American people would not have been able to handle what the French and British and the German people went through. This country would collapse. Things are different here. There are too many different nationalites.

I think that this was something that Churchill and Roosevelt talked about. I think that they decided that they had had enough. They wanted to save as many soldiers lives as possible. That's why they let the Russians take Berlin.

We met them at the Elbe. We danced and drank vodka with them (Russians). But they were filthy, dirty people. We stayed there for a week or two after the war ended (May 7th 1945).

The German families would come up and kiss our hands and thank us. They said they were tired of war and tired of Hitler. They said they couldn't do anything about him. They claimed that he took over before anybody could do anything. But as a long as the German people were living the good life, and were prosperous, and making money; they just let it happen. They just let Hitler do whatever he wanted because things were so good. We do that here in this country. Hitler came to power because he made things so good for his people.

They pulled us back because my division was scheduled to invade Japan. They were going to send us home for 10 days and then outfit us for a trip across the Pacific and we were due to hit the shores of Japan on November 1st. I came home on the USS Crystalball. It was a luxury-liner.

I've got a great story about that ride home. There were 10,000 soldiers on that ship, living the good life. Going over it was hell, but going back home it was great. I don't know why but they selected us to go back home first. We were one of the first divisions to get home, and the war (in Europe) had just ended. So I'm laying there on the deck, sunbathing, thinking about all of this, when all of a sudden a bird flys over my fucken head and shits right on my face. Ten thousands soldiers on the deck of that ship and a bird shits right in my face, "Splat!" I was sitten there in deap thought thinking about why my group was so special and this bird said, "shit on you." And he got me pretty good. I had to go down below and take a shower. It was all over my hair and my nose and it stunk. I never have forgotten that. Why me? Out of 10,000 men, he picked me.

So we land in Boston and they wouldn't let us off the ship. We stayed the night on that ship. The next day the captain comes over the loud speaker and said that Japan had just surrendered. He said, "Gentlemen of the 35th Infantry, this is General so and so. You men are the luckiest men alive today. I want to tell you that you men were selected to go in on the first wave on the invasion of Japan. Japan has surrendered. We wouldn't let you off the ship last night while all of this was going on. We were afraid that if we put a whole division in Boston it wouldn't be the same!" We started hooten and hollering like you wouldn't believe. Then he came back on and said, "Now we gonna let you all off tonight to celebrate and we want ya'll to act like American heroes. We want you all to be proud of what you have done. The war is over. And we're going home boys…we going home."

There was a humungus party that night. There were bands playing in this big warehouse with food and drinks and all the WAVES and WACS were there. It was a huge celebration. And we were the first division to get back to states after Japan surrendered. That was a madhouse. I only stayed there that one night. I went to Fort Meade Maryland to get processed and they asked me if I wanted to be a sergeant. I said, "Sergeant of what?" They wanted me to reenlist. But see I had enough points to get home quick. I was discharged at Fort Knox and then came home.

I got to New Iberia about 10 o'clock in the evening.

We were lucky that Truman dropped those bombs and ended the war.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Jason Theriot
Subject: 
Oral History; World War II; European Theater; Army; Infantry
Creator: 
Jason Theriot
Informants: 
Francis Doerle
Coverage Spatial: 
New Ibera, La
Publisher: 
Jason Theriot
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reerved
Meta Information
Duration: 
00:55:21
Cataloged Date: 
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Digitized Date: 
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Original Format: 
Mircocassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer 20

Interview with Howard Dugas

Accession No.: 
TH1-044

Howard Dugas, Theriot:
**technical difficulties in beginning; truly begins at 01:36; will jump and skip around throughout; highway and lawn care noises in background**

Pearl Harbor
-Was shooting pool that Sunday when someone ran in and told them the news
-Figured everything would be settled in a couple of days, they didn’t really know what was going on
-Had turned 18 and just graduated from high school so Dugas joined the Navy
-There was more volunteers than ships so new recruits were put in the Coast Guard
-There was a lot of areas along the coast and Lake Pontchartrain to patrol for submarine sightings

-Boot camp at Harrihan, La which was the New Orleans Army base
-They had to share as the Coast Guard had no place and things were moving fast
-Explained to them that the Coast Guard and Navy was one unit
-Sent to Lake Charles and ran small boats and kept the bridge closed or open for shipyard workers

-Started a new patrol in Cameron, La; couldn’t drive cars as it was a black out area to hide from submarines
-Assigned to a Destroyer Escort “SS Mosley,” for patrolling and standing watch; also patrolled on horse in swampy areas and to keep from having to use lights
-In the early part of the war German U-boats were sinking 1-3 freighters a day in the Atlantic
-This was before the Destroyer Escorts could take over for protection

-Patrolling on horseback Dugas thought it was too easy and asked to be assigned onto the “SS Mosley,” the Destroyer Escort (DE) they had been patrolling for
-Always on alert but most of the crew had no experience with sea duty and neither did Dugas
-The Captain had been an office man and had only 90 days of training in school before taking over their ship
-Once the crew felt comfortable manning the ship they went out to sea to Bermuda for a shakedown cruise; there might have been two ships that went

-A DE was established for escort duty and submarine warfare and maybe some aircrafts
-Had 3 one inch guns, a 40-mm and 20-mm machine guns, K-guns, depth charges and a hedgehog in the back
-Before leaving, a lot of assembling for operations was done along the East coast by Virginia, the Carolinas, and Massachusetts
-Also where the German U-boats, never saw one in the gulf
-Dugas’s group was the first to escort convoys using Des
-Escorted 90-100 freighters at a time bound to the Mediterranean; never lost a ship to engine breakdowns
-They knew submarines would follow them all the way to the Straits of Gibraltar waiting for them to stall or lose a ship in a breakdown to shoot them

-Made serval trips from January 1944 to May 1945 bringing men and materials

Missions (22:40)
-On one mission to North Africa and Italy was asked to break away on the African Coast and look for a fishing boat
-They didn’t know what language the other boat used so the Captain asked Dugas to speak some French but the other boat called back and asked “What’s the matter, you don’t speak English?!”

-Went by Casablanca but didn’t see Humphry Bogart or Ingrid Bergman
-The Germans were further east by then to Tunisia thanks to the British; Hitler had his forces spread out too thin

Only Mission with Severe Causalities (26:35)
-Around dusk in the Mediterranean the lead ship of the convoy had radar (to intercept enemy or friendly planes) and saw a blinking light of unidentified planes that were coming in too low
-They figured because it was getting dark that the planes were going to make one pass and try to hit the freights
-The planes were coming too low anyway for the ships at the front to shoot so they let the planes fly over; Germans were well organized
-A freight at the very back started shooting 20-mm with tracers that could be seen in the night and then everyone was shooting but it was too dark to tell where they were shooting at
-The first ship hit was a troop ship and it had bombs and about 600 soldiers on board and it was hit by a torpedo
-The second wave of attacks hit two merchant ships (materials) and third wave hit the screening ship, hit with a torpedo—all three were beached but not sunk
-Dugas’s ship, the Mosley, laid up smoke screens at dusk to confuse the planes but it was too late
-After that every night they laid up smoke screens in case they got attacked again but they weren’t, just a few submarines

-This trip might have been the third or fourth trip

-Another trip along the African Coast and at night the radar picked up a surface signal for a boat and sent a message out that a convoy was coming and to get out of the way
-15 minutes later a torpedo cut the lead ship in half; couldn’t stop to pick up survivors in the water, they had to keep going

-Lost a lot of people during the war; too inexperienced and many mistakes made, very unprepared compared to the Germans
-By the second to last trip the war was almost over and there wasn’t much need for materials being sent out all over, it was all concentrated in Europe by then
Didn’t have much news on how the war was going, sometimes picked up BCC broadcast yet they never said anything about the war but mostly heard Axis Sally (German propaganda)

-Passed through the Strait of Gibraltar (he thinks) 8 times

-The Mediterranean was beautiful and at night they could see the phosphorus in the clear waters; Dugas’s captain was always excited to it

(38:00) Shore Duty
-After about a year at sea, Dugas was transferred to shore duty in New York
-Really enjoyed it as New York was the place to be for entertainment, could do anything or see anything all year around
-Like music and sports and he could go see stuff anytime
-Was sent to Port Security School to learn to patrol docks and check ships for explosives and fire hazards
-The German submarines they figured had been pulled out of their waters and were closer to home, as submarine warfare started phasing out
-It was a good duty, as they could have fun and take breaks; “always a bunch of girls somewhere”

(42:00) Trip to Greenland
-Towards the end of Dugas’s service he was sent on a trip to Greenland
-Was aboard a Coast Guard Icebreaker—it had a knife at the bottom to break the ice

-They were going to check something out; the ship had already taken a trip to Greenland and captured a German radio station
-On the way an engine went out and a 4 day trip took 2 weeks
-The wind was against them and one engine couldn’t push through it and had to watch for icebergs constantly so someone had to stand outside to look for them
-No clue why he was picked to go on this trip; people were always being sent around, sometimes with no place to go
-Once in Greenland as they came in, had to help a fishing boat break out of the ice, they followed behind them for 2 days
-It was cold but they had good clothes of 3 layers; but the worst was when up in the bridge and the wind blew on their faces and burned them; it was always so windy

-Didn’t stay too long as they had to get the Captain of the North Atlantic patrol was stationed there but he had a nurse with him (his girlfriend) and they had to take her too
-Then they just killed some time as it was Christmas time and by protocol so much of the crew had time off and the radio stations stopped

(51:15) Back in Boston
-People were being sent home on the point system as the war was ending
-Was sent to Baltimore and was waiting around to be discharged back to New Orleans
-Took a train to New Orleans and his parents met him and took him back home to Parks; **tape starts skipping around**
-As things slowed down went to work off shore for a while
-Learned to how to cook and was cooking for the rig then and worked about 15-16 hours a day so he got some good money

(55:15) Talking about what he did after the rig, his leukemia, his family, and answering some questions from Theriot

**hard to hear with tape skipping and background noise**

Transcription Begins:

Howard Dugas (9/9/01)
Parks, La.
Born: 8/13/22
Coast Guard/USS Mosley (DE-321)
Atlantic Ocean going escort

On Pearl Harbor Day I was shooting pool in Parks, La. It was December 7th, a Sunday. Anyway, that's when we heard the news. Somebody came down the road and said that they bombed Pearl Harbor. We said, "Auh, we'll finish that thing in a couple of days." Nobody knew really what was going on.

I had graduated high school and I was 18-years old at the time, so I joined the navy with a friend of mine. We took a bus to New Orleans. There were a lot of volunteers. To begin with there weren't enough ships to assign everybody too, so that's one of the reasons why they put the new recruits in the Coast Guard. There were a lot of areas that needed to be patrolled along the coast. The Coast Guard had a lot of small craft and they were equipped for patrolling the waters. (There were subs all over the gulf.)

We were sent to boot camp in Harrihan, La., which is an Army base in New Orleans. Actually we had to share space with the Army, because the Coast Guard had no other place to train.
After boot camp I was sent to Lake Charles and we mostly ran small patrol boats, mainly to keep the bridge open at peek hours so that the shipyard workers could get to work faster.

Early on, ships were getting sunk off the coast [by submarines] because of the silhouette from the city lights. Later, we were sent to patrol the beach area near Cameron, La. That was a blackout area. (Bayou Boys-Torpedo Book.) We couldn't use cars or trucks to patrol at night, plus it was too swampy, so we used horseback to patrol. They called it the Animal Husbandry detail. We were about 15-20 men patrolling along Holly Beach. People were volunteering for the navy so fast, they didn’t have any place to put them. So they put us with this unit patrolling the coast until the navy could build enough ships. It was easy duty, but I wanted to do something more.

We were getting tired of sitting on the beach and riding horses. So a couple of us asked the chief to see if we could get assignment for sea duty. We had heard that they were building and commissioning destroyer escorts in Orange, Texas. And sure enough, a few days later we were assigned to a Destroyer Escort, the SS Mosley (DE-321).

We were very inexperienced. The Japanese caught us by surprise. The crews of the destroyer escorts were half navy and half coast guard. John Mcloud from Parks, La., was the storekeeper on the Mosley. He and I were friends.

We were always making preparations. We were on full alert, but a lot of that crew had no experience with sea duty. Being from South Louisiana I had been in small boats, but sea duty is really something different. Even the Captain was an office-man who they sent to a 90-day school before he took over the ship. But this was going on everywhere.

During the early part of the war, the German U-boats were sinking anywhere from 1 to 3 freighters in the Atlantic a week. These freighters didn't have any protection; they would sail on their own. This was before the Destroyer Escorts took over.

Once we felt comfortable enough to go to sea we went on a shake down cruise to Bermuda. That was nice, generally speaking. I think there was another DE with us. It was rough going there, but that's how you learn the ship, you go on a shake down cruise. There were only three cars on the island. Everybody traveled by bicycle. It was a beautiful place. The DE was established for escort duty and submarine warfare. We had three inch guns, and 40-mm and 20-mm machine guns for defense. We had K-guns on the stern to roll out depth charges, and we also had what they called a hedgehog. It was right in front of the flying bridge. It would (fire) shoot-up 24-small torpedoes at one time. We trained with all this while in Bermuda. We used as much of the equipment as we could while we were there.

The first mission was to escort a convoy out of Norfolk, Va., to Texas Gulf ports and back, which we did. Then starting in January 1944 we began escorting ships across the Atlantic through the Mediterranean and on to North Africa and Italy. Most of the convoy operations for the shipments of supplies and soldiers across the Atlantic were based along the coast of the Carolina's, Virginia, and Baltimore. That's where the convoys would assemble, and that's where a lot of U-boats would patrol. We were one of the first groups to escort convoys [using DE’s]. We were escorting 90 to 100 freighters at a time, bound for the Mediterranean. We had Navy ships and Coast Guard ships. In a year-and-a-half we made quite a few trips across the Atlantic (Starting January 1944 to May 1945). We made several trips. These convoys were bringing men and materials to the Mediterranean.

We were lucky though. None of freighters ever had engine troubles or breakdowns, so not one ship ever got left behind the convoy on the trip across the Atlantic. If one would have broke down, we couldn't have stopped for it. It would have been a sitting duck for the subs. Enemy submarines would follow us all the way to the Straits of Gibraltar.

Once we were ordered to break off from the convoy and sail along the African coast to look for an important fishing boat. (This fishing boat was friendly, so we pulled up to it and our Captain told me to speak French to them over the radio, and this other guy spoke Italian to them. The guy in the fishing boat came back and said, "What's the matter, you don't speak English!") We located the boat and escorted it to port.

And we went by Casablanca, but I didn't see Humphry Bogart or Ingrid Bergman. We stayed there at port for a couple of days. By this time the British had pushed the Germans further to the east in Tunisia. Hitler had his forces spread out too thin. I think that's one reason why he lost the war, because he was fighting on too many fronts and he ran out of gas.

(April 20, 1944) We were carrying everything in those convoys, even troops. In April we sailed with a convoy to North Africa. It was dusk as we passed through the Straits of Gibraltar along the Algerian coast. The lead ship picked up a surface contact in front of the convoy and sent a blinking light to the ship ahead of us to tell them that a convoy was coming—big mistake! German bombers attacked us in three waves. We used radar to recognize the enemy planes from friendly planes. But these planes were coming at us low to ground level and we couldn't identify them on the radar. They were coming at us from about 20-feet off the water. They were JU-88's. They came right down the line in our convoy and we were in front so we didn't shoot at them at first, but the ships behind us identified them as enemy and started shooting. One of the planes dropped a bomb and it hit a merchant ship carrying demolitions and troops. “The first attack blew the troop-loaded merchantmen Paul Hamilton out of the water, killing 580 men; the next wave hit two more merchant ships; and the final strike sank the screening ship Landsdale (DD-426) with a single torpedo. The Mosley laid covering smoke and opened up with anti-aircraft fire during the strikes. Her guns splashed one JU-88 and damaged another German bomber during the first strike.” (Source:) We got credit for that. We couldn’t stop to pick up survivors that were in the water; we had to keep going. There was lot of confusion and inexperience that caused this. After that incident we would put up barrage balloons and lay smoke screens at night for protection, and we never had another incident with German planes after that. But we ran into a few submarines.

One day we picked up a signal on with our sound gear. It was a German submarine. So we and another DE dropped dept charges. A little while later the debris came floating up; oil and trash from the sub. We were credited with, along with the other DE, for sinking that U-boat. That's what is terrible about war. A lot of people were lost during that war-50 million people died during WWII. On our last two trips we didn't have any problems, because the war was being concentrated in Europe. Hitler had pulled everything out of Africa and the Mediterranean and brought it all in close to Germany.
The Mediterranean was beautiful. At night you could see phosphorus in the clear waters.

(Inexperience and mistakes is what made the war last so long. We were unprepared in a lot of ways and our equipment wasn't as good as the Germans. There was no comparison between our tanks (Sherman) and the German tanks (Tiger/Panzer). The Germans had tanks, real tanks. Those things were monsters compared to the toys we had.) After about a year or so at sea they transfered a few of us to shore duty in New York. New York was a heck of place to be especially back in those days. I like music and sports, and New York was the place to be for all that. They had three ballrooms and all the great bands would come, and Madison Square Garden had great boxing fights. You could do whatever you wanted anytime of the year there.

While I was in New York they sent us to Port Security School. By this time the German submarine warfare had eased off. They sub's were also being pulled closer to Germany. We patrolled the docks and we checked ships for explosives and fire hazards. It was good duty. At the end of my service I went on a trip on a Coast Guard Icebreaker to Greenland. We were going to check something out over there. Before I went on that trip, this same ship and its crew had captured a German radio station in Greenland. We had engine trouble on the way. A four-day trip took us two weeks. It was real cold up there, but we had good clothing.

Back in Boston, the war was ending and they were sending people home on the point system. I got back to New Orleans on a train. And then I came home.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Jason Theriot
Subject: 
Oral History; World War II; Coast Guard
Creator: 
Jason Theriot
Informants: 
Howard Dugas
Recording date: 
Sunday, September 9, 2001
Coverage Spatial: 
New Iberia, La; Parks, La
Publisher: 
Jason Theriot
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
01:08:39
Cataloged Date: 
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Digitized Date: 
Thursday, August 8, 2013
Original Format: 
Mircocassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer 20

Interview with Homer Dugas

Accession No.: 
TH1-045

Homer Dugas; Theriot; Mrs. Dugas; Hewitt Theriot

Pearl Harbor Day

-Was in Abbeville out dancing with Mr. Zenou Bodie’s daughter (use to work for him)
-When he dropped her off her father told that them the news and that the President was going to declare war tomorrow
-Had never heard of Pearl Harbor and he or the daughter (she was few years younger than Dugas) knew where it was
-“Little did I know that’s exactly where I was heading for! It wasn’t long before I was in Pearl Harbor.”
-Joined the Marine Corps right after as he knew was going to be drafted since he was the right age and wanted to be in the Marines
-Went to New Orleans with Angus Mestayer and Lloyd Broussard (TH1-024) and they were separated the minute they signed up and Dugas went to boot camp in San Diego
-They did this in case men were related so as to spread out the risk of losing all of a family line; talks of what happened to the Sullivan brothers that were all killed
-Thinks he was in San Diego in September in 1942 for 13 weeks; might have been 18 or 19 years old

-After boot camp shipped to New Zealand and their climate was the opposite, left in the summer and landed in the winter
-Rained almost every day and mud on top of mud and it made it difficult to walk
-Camped out about 15 miles out of a town in a field; had a lot of sheep everywhere and eat a lot of them too
-Got together with about 4-5 guys and bought a Model T-Ford to drive around and to go into town easier since there was hardly any trains; but no island hopping
-They were training in New Zealand to land on beaches and knew they were going to islands to fight; was in the 2nd Marine Corp Division
-Trained when approaching the beach on Higgins boats; was told that Hitler was very impressed by the Higgins boats and wanted them

-Wasn’t there for D-day (he is referring to the battle of Tarawa that happens after he leaves New Zealand), but was in a Higgins and his Lt. was on Dugas’s left side and he was on the right with the gate in front of them; both were smoking cigarettes left and right

(9:28) His Lt. looked at him and said, “You’re really enjoying those Camels, huh?” Dugas replied, “Yes sir. I’m kinda nervous.” To which the Lt. said, “Don’t worry, I’m twice as nervous as you are. You’re just an enlisted man and you have to do what I tell you. Me, I have to do it myself!”
-Was probably in New Zealand for about 2 months but Dugas isn’t sure, just knew it was for a good while

(10:15) Mrs. Dugas has a question about the battle on November 20, 1943; they are consulting a book and photos

-It was a big battle and it took a few days, not just one day
-One Navy guy jumped the boat once and went back to the ship; doesn’t think he was punished for it
-Invaded Tarawa November 21st 1943, so he had been in the service for about a year
-Took a transport to Tarawa from New Zealand; they knew they were going into battle but not where, as that was a secret
-Once anchored off from the beach they unloaded down cargo nets into the Higgins boats
-Landed on one side of the island and dug a foxhole in the sand the moment he hit the beach
-Stayed there for a couple of days, standing halfway up in the hole; the first island was Betio

-Was wounded on this island; he was only a rifle man
-When landing their craft on the beach, it got caught on a reef so they had to get in the water and wade to the beach, carrying their rifles above their heads to keep dry
-They landed at the wrong time because the tides were all wrong and couldn’t fight or the rifles would get wet; it was too deep
-The Japanese waited to fire at them the closer they got to the beach; remembers seeing a raft of dead people floating in the water
-The Navy ships and planes had bombarded the island beforehand to help in the landing, near the Japanese airfield

-The island of Betio was nothing but a large airstrip

(20:35) Question: “How were the Japanese fighting you back?”
-The Japanese were in concrete bunkers that were built in 1938, so the only way to get at them was for two men to go on either side and come around to the slits of where the enemy was firing from and throw in hand grenades
-A lot of men were shot doing this; Dugas carried a M-1 rifle; looking at a photo of the island again

(22:33) When Dugas was wounded
-There was an airstrip that they had secured and his Lt. ordered Dugas and another man from Texas to send a message
-They were walking back when a machine gun went off and hit Dugas in the back of the leg and he went down
-His partner came over to help him but Dugas told him to keep going and get the message delivered; he was hit in the leg so he couldn’t walk

-A Marine came by later and saw Dugas was still alive and knelt beside him; Dugas told him lay down on him or the Japanese would kill him
-Just as the guy was laying down a bullet went right through the backside of the Marine’s shirt and left a hole, but the man had no injuries thankfully—he was lucky!
-Then another Marine came by with a jeep and they put him on the hood and left Dugas with some natives in a straw hut on the beach for the rest of the night
-They couldn’t speak English but stayed all night with him nonetheless

-The next day they brought him back to the ship and the doctor was waiting for him
-The doctor was talking to him and asked Dugas where he was from in Louisiana and Dugas answered “How do you know I’m from Louisiana?”
-Told him that the way Dugas talked gave it away so Dugas told him he was Loureauville and the doctor said he knew where that was since he was from Scott—it was a funny thing!

(31:38 - 44:54) recapping what he retold so far since the beach landing to getting wounded and then leaving on the boat
-Referencing the book they’re looking at again and looking at photos

-Was eventually put on a transport ship to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for his wound; doesn’t really know how he got there or how long it took as he slept most of the time

-Afterwards they sent him to San Diego to have surgery done and to recuperate for a year; had to rebuild the leg by breaking it five times to fix it an inch at the time
-The first time he was able to leave the hospital after being able to start walking with crutches was when a Lt. came by and asked him if Dugas wanted to go into town with him that night
-Went to a nice place with girls that would dance with them but he couldn’t dance so there were a few that sat with him and talked

-His mother wrote to a senator in Baton Rouge to ask for Dugas to be moved to a hospital in New Orleans
-His commander came to him and asked why this senator was writing to him and why Dugas would want to be moved to New Orleans—told him that’s where his family was
-Was put on a train the next morning, was given 2 seats so he could lay out and rest his leg
-Had an older lady come on and he tried to give her one of the seats but the conductor told Dugas he couldn’t as the government gave him those 2 seats and no one else could sit there

(55:37) End of interview
-Recapped the battle of Tarawa again; Hewitt Theriot comparing his experiences with the Japanese in-between
-Eventually discharged in Florida later; he was nineteen years old when he signed up; *talking in background*
-Received a Purple Heart medal at the hospital in New Orleans; everyone looking at his medal

-Talking about life; had a replaced hip; Dugas’ children; looking at more home photos
-Debating differences on sweet potatoes and yams; others Theriot has interviewed and exerts of their stories (see TH1-024)
-Hewitt telling them about Theriot and his job and fiancée; Mrs. Dugas and Dugas explaining how she caned their chairs and what type of wood works best

Transcription Begins:

Homer Dugas (3-9-02)
Born: February 4, 1924
903 N. Main
Loureauville, La, 70552
2nd Marines-Tarawa

For Pearl Harbor Day I was dancing in Abbeville with Mr. Zenou Bodie's daughter. I used to work for him. When we got back he was sitting on his front porch and he said, "The Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor. The President is going to declare war tomorrow." His daughter was much younger than I was, and I asked her if she knew where Pearl Harbor was. She said, "I have no idea." I said, "Neither me; I never heard of it." Little did I know that was exactly where I was headed for and it wasn't long before I was at Pearl Harbor.

I joined the Marine Corp soon after. Three of us from Loureauville went to New Orleans to join. It was Angus Mestayer, Lloyd Broussard, and myself. The sent us directly to San Diego to boot camp. The minute we got there, they separated us. Boot camp was 13 weeks long.

After that, they shipped me to New Zealand. It's across the equator, opposite of our climate here. I left here, and it was the summer. When I got to New Zealand, it was winter. Mud on top of mud. We were camped out about 15 miles from town in a field. Boy they had a lot of sheep out there. We ate a lot of that too. We stayed there a good while. Four or five of us bought an old Model T Ford so we could get around when we weren't training. We trained to take a beach. I was in the 2nd Marine Corp Division.

When we'd approach the beaches, we were on a ship. Then we'd get out and load into those little Higgins boats. That's the boat that Hitler wanted. Boy Hitler couldn't get over that Higgins boat. He was really impressed with that. It was built in New Orleans.

We took a transport from New Zealand and headed to Tarawa. We knew we were going into battle, but we weren't too sure where we were going. We anchored off a few miles from that beach, and then we started unloaded down this cargo net, down into those little Higgins boats. (November 20, 1943) On the approach to the beach at Tarawa, I was on one side of the Higgins boat and my Lt. was on the other side. He was smoking cigarettes left and right. I was smoking too. He looked over at me and he said, "May you really enjoying those Camel's huh." I said, "Yes sir. I'm kind of nervous." He said, "Don't worry, I'm twice as nervous as you are." He said, "You are just an enlisted man, and you have to do what I tell you. Me on the other hand, I have to do it myself."

On the way to the beach, our landing craft got caught on a reef and so we had to get out in the water and wade through it to get to the beach. When we hit that coral, the boat stopped, and the gate dropped and they told us to move out. We were a good ways from that beach, probably a couple of hundred yards. And the water was pretty deep. We carried our rifles on top of our heads so they wouldn't get wet. Everything was messed up. We came in at the wrong time. The tides were all wrong.

The navy ships and the planes bombarded the island first to soften the landing. The Japs held off their fire right until we got close to the beach. I remember seeing these rafts of dead bodies floating all in the water.

I landed on one end of the island, at Betio. I dug me a foxhole right when I got there at the end of the airstrip, and I got in it. I sleep there in that hole that night. The island was one big airstrip. The Japs were in these concrete bunkers and pillboxes. We had to crawl on the ground to get to these bunkers, and then throw hand grenades in the little hole to take them out. A lot of men were lost that way.

Not long after we landed, we were able to secure the landing strip. I came in from the right corner. Me and this boy from Texas were ordered to deliver a message to the back. When we started going, I was up and running and a Japanese machine gun went off and it caught me right in the leg and I went down. That boy came over to help me, but I told him to keep going, because there was nothing he could do. I was hit in the leg and I couldn't walk. I told him to keep going to deliver that message. So I lay there for awhile. This Marine Corpsman came by and he saw that I was alive, so he kneeled down beside me. I told him that he better lay down on top of me otherwise the Japs were going to kill him. And just when I said that, a bullet passed right through his shirt. You could see the hole in his shirt where that bullet went through. He was lucky.

This other marine came with a jeep and they helped me up and put me on the hood. That night the marines took care of the rest of those Japs right there. They brought me to the beach and I spent the night with these natives in their straw hut. They couldn't speak English. I was coming in and out of conscious, but they stayed with me all night long.
The bullet had crushed all the bone in my leg, and I could see through the hole.

The next day, they brought me aboard ship, and the doctor came and talked to me. He asked me what part of Louisiana I was from. I asked him how he knew I was from Louisiana, he said because of the way I talked. I told him I was from Loureauville. He said he was from Scott. He said he knew where Loureauville was. It was a funny thing.

It's amazing the things that happened during the war. Its amazing how they planned for all this stuff. And we were trained so well for being so young. I was only 19 years old.

Before I left I had saw that we had captured 6 Japs from Tarawa. There wasn't many left alive after that fight. When I got on that ship, I knew that I wasn't going back to that island. I could the island from that ship. They treated me very well.

("There were some forty-five hundred fighting troops and another twenty-two hundred construction troops and Korean laborers on Tarawa. The commander's orders were to fight till the last man. They fought to the last 146; all the rest died."- This was taken from a book that I read. The Pacific Campaign. Dan van de Vat. 1991. P. 299.)

I got to a hospital in San Diego finally. The doctor broke my leg five times, and it was about 5-inches short. They fixed it an inch at a time. They did a lot of work putting me back together. I ate well in that hospital too. I had a pleasant stay in that hospital. I had to walk in a cast for a long time too. I remember when they came and brought me the Purple Heart.

The first time that I was able to walk on my own, I had walked outside of the hospital and I was sitting on the bench. This Lt. came by and so I saluted him. He asked how I was doing and asked if I would like to go to town that night. I told him that I would like that very much. When we left he said, "You wanna go see some girls." I said, "Well, if it's just to look at them, I'd like to go, other than that no dice for me." So he brought me to a place, and it was a very nice place. There were some nice girls and they would dance with the boys and some of them came and told me hello, but I couldn't dance because I was on crutches. I danced when I got back to Loureauville though.

My mom wrote to a senator in Baton Rouge, asking him to get me out of that hospital in San Diego. And one day my commander came and asked me if I knew that senator and I said that I did. I told him that if I were to move to the hospital in New Orleans I would be closer to my family. That commander told me I would be on the train the next morning.
I had two seats on the train; one to sit on and one rest my leg.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Jason Theriot
Subject: 
Oral History; World War II; Marine Corp; Tarawa; Pacific Theater
Creator: 
Jason Theriot
Informants: 
Homer Dugas
Recording date: 
Thursday, May 9, 2002
Coverage Spatial: 
Loureauville, La
Publisher: 
Jason Theriot
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
01:16:07
Cataloged Date: 
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Digitized Date: 
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Original Format: 
Microcassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer 20

Interview with Robert Gerami

Accession No.: 
TH1-049

Robert Gerami, Theriot, Hewitt Theriot:

-Volunteered in Jeanerette with the National Guard; long before Pearl Harbor—early 1941?
-After passing the tests sent to Camp Blanding, Florida; trained in Company E, 156th Infantry Regiment, the 31st Division, and was the cook
-The camp was training draftees; Gerami was just a cook though so he was not part of these trainings
-Sent to Bowie, Texas to train some more before going to New York to be shipped out to England
-The whole 2nd battalion and a band came over on the ship “O’rentas Barrows”

-Snubb Derouen, from G Company, was with Gerami’s unit; he commanded Gerami’s company at one time
-Clay Penn, Warren Hebert, Wilson Clark, Norby Dooley, Jack Martin, Gerald Whattigny, were in E Company
-F Company was Breaux Bridge, G company was New Iberia, H company was Franklin; these four companies made up the 2nd battalion
-200 men to a company; but they were split in North Africa

(9:20) Spent 4 months in England, then went to North Africa and made MPs and then split, one half of the companies went to Italy
-In Italy Gerami was working in the police department as an interpreter as Gerami family was Italian and could also speak in French

-In England they were protecting the air bases; he was the cook so he didn’t do much but be a guard
-In North Africa at Oran they guarded German and Italian prisoners; stayed there for about 6 months
-Gerami was discharged in Oran 3 years later on the point system
-While there a large tent mess hall was built for them; had 2 Italian prisoners that helped him, G.G. and Rommell
-The men gave them their families’ addresses to give to their parents when Gerami went to Italy; their families welcomed them and cooked for them one night

(16:23) Gerami’s father died while he was in North Africa but he did not know until much later but he knew the army wouldn’t have let him go back for the funeral anyway
-The Red Cross had sent a telegram about his father’s death but he never got it
-Found out from Wilson Clark who had a letter from his wife telling him of Gerami’s father’s passing; eventually Gerami’s wife wrote to him about it
-His father was from Italy (Palermo?) and moved to Louisiana in Jeanerette for the sugar houses where he met his wife (Gerami’s mother)
-Was actually already married in Italy but left that woman and brought their two sons over to the US; those 2 half-brothers lived in Lafayette

-Spent most of his time at the camp cooking
-After being made MPs his company went to Italy to help secure it; this was where he worked in the police department
-They encircled Rome to run out the Germans; the Vatican was left untouched and they couldn’t go in anyway

(21:45) recounting his trips to England and Oran by ship; looking through different books at the pictures to help jog Gerami’s memory

-After Italy they went to France; doesn’t know why and never really questioned it
-Cooked mostly in England and North Africa and sometimes went around and did guard duty; tells some short stories
-Each company had 6 cooks and 3 cooked one day and the next had the day off as the other 3 cooked
-No one knew when they would go back home
-The Italians were nice, they never wanted to fight against the Americans, that was all Hitler
-More recapping his trips and work again with different retellings

(34:49) His Lt. came and told him that he could go home; the war was over by then (May 1945)
-Sent to Texas where he got his discharge papers and then went back home
-Talking about life before the war and growing up in Jeanerette
-Didn’t really try and get together with those he was with during the war
-Talking about his family

Transcription Begins:

Robert P. Gerami, Sr.
Jeanerette, La.
Company E, 156th Infantry Regiment, LA National Guard
Cook
Interview conducted by Jason P. Theriot

I volunteered for the National Guard here in Jeanerette. I was sent to Camp Blanding, Florida. We were Company E, (156th Infantry Regiment) 31st Division. I was a cook in the kitchen. We were in Florida training with draftees. We went to Camp Bowie, Texas and from there we went to New York and left for England. Our whole battalion (2nd) went over together, even the band. The O’rentas Barrows was the name of the ship.

We had the whole unit with us. Snubb Derouen, from G Company, was with us. He commanded our company at one time. Clay Penn, Warren Hebert, Wilson Clark, Norby Dooley, Jack Martin, Gerald Whattigny, all these guys were with us. We were E Company, F was Breaux Bridge, G was New Iberia, H was Franklin. Those four companies made up our battalion.

We spent four months in England, guarding and protecting the air bases there. I was the cook and the rest of the guys were acting as guards to keep the people safe. We went to Oran, North Africa in March of 1943. There was plenty going on over there. We were guarding the German and Italian prisoners. They built us a big tent, a big mess hall where I cooked. We had two Italian prisoners: G.G. and Rommell; they helped us clean up. They gave us their addresses back home in Italy and a letter to show their mama back home. We went to visit their parents [in Italy] and they welcomed us and cooked spaghetti and meatballs for us and gave us wine. We stayed there in Oran about six months.

My daddy died while I was overseas, but I didn’t find out till much later. Wilson Clark told me; that’s how I found out. I ran into him one time and he asked me about my daddy. I told him that my daddy was fine…and then he told me that his wife had written him a letter saying that my daddy had died. The army wouldn’t let me come home, and I don’t blame them. My daddy left from Italy [or Palermo?] to come here, and lived in Jeanerette.

We were split up and they made us MPs; half of us went to Italy, some went to Sicily. (The other half went to Corsica) We landed at Naples, and there was still fighting going on. In Italy I was sent to the police department to be an interpreter. I’m Italian, so I could speak Italian. I was raised with the French people and my wife was French, so I could speak a little French, too. They took me out of the kitchen to work as an interpreter.

The Italians liked the Americans. They didn’t want to fight…Hitler convinced them to fight.

Our forces encircled Rome and ran the Germans out of there. We bypassed the Vatican City; that was left untouched. We left from Italy and sailed to France, where we stayed till the end of the war. One day they told me it was time to come home, because I had the highest points in the unit; I had two kids, too. I shook hands with my lieutenant and told the boys goodbye. Gerald Whattigny told me to go see his wife when I got home. So I did and I told her that he was okay and that he would be home soon.

Three years overseas…that’s a long time yeah. After the first year you think that you never gonna get home. When they declared surrender and the war was over…boy, we were glad.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Jason Theriot
Subject: 
Oral Histories; Wolrd War II; European Theater; Cook; National Guard
Creator: 
Jason Theriot
Informants: 
Robert Gerami
Recording date: 
Sunday, February 2, 2003
Coverage Spatial: 
Jeanerette, La
Publisher: 
Jason Theriot
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
00:43:25
Cataloged Date: 
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Digitized Date: 
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Original Format: 
Mircocassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer 20

Interview with Howard Freyou

Accession No.: 
TH1-050

Howard Freyou, Theriot, Mrs. Freyou, Hewitt Theriot:
**references the book USS Maryland from Turner Publishing (1997)**

Pearl Harbor Day

-Was at the park in St. Martinsville, sitting in the car listening to the radio; they came across on the radio with the news; was about 16 years old
-After that he left the family farm and went to Baton Rouge for a year; then left to Morgan City to work in the shipyards for another year
-It was around that time that his father called Freyou to tell him that he had a yellow letter—it was a draft notice
-His father was on the draft board and knew that Freyou was getting the letter and asked him if he really wanted to go or he’d take him off; “So I said what the hell, I’ll go.”

-Had already tried once to get into the merchant marines but he wasn’t 18 yet
-Had gone to the docks in January and was ready to board a ship for the marines before the draft board got him; sent him to the Navy July 1943
-Was sent to boot camp in San Diego and then given a 7 day leave so he got married
-Afterwards sent to California to report on the “USS Tennessee” to go overseas to Pearl Harbor
-Once there was told he was not needed on the ship so they put him up in a hotel to wait for when the dock board needed them; there was about 35 guys from New Iberia there

-Then one morning the board had his name and a dock number
-Didn’t know where this dock was and the chief told him to wait at the launch to be picked up eventually
-No one had told him which ship or where to go at the launch
-Once there the chief told a captain that he had Freyou’s orders as an extra man for their ship
-Went upstairs with him and the chief couldn’t understand Freyou’s accent so they sent him out
-Freyou sat on the deck for about 3 days since he didn’t know where to go and no one could help him since none of them understood what he was saying

-Eventually a man from Tennessee came by and asked Freyou what he was doing on the deck
-Told him he didn’t know as no one told him where he was supposed to be or what division he was even in
-The man sort of understood Freyou and told him to talk a little bit slower and went to the chief to sort out where Freyou could go
-Told them he was a farmer from Louisiana

-They put him on “USS Maryland” (this ship had been at Pearl Harbor during the attack and was one of the few ships that survived) and that’s where he stayed till the end of the war
-He was a trey-man on 5”/51 gun as he had to put the trey down to protect the brass around the gun so when the breech was closed it wouldn’t be damaged when fired
-The ship had 10 of these guns and Freyou was number 10
-His ship was one of the first to have these guns and 16” guns, 20 mm, 40 mm, (names a few others in passing throughout the interview) as well as planes; 2,400 men aboard of the ship

(13:20) First Action
-Boarded the “Maryland” in October 1943 and saw action in Tarawa in November 1943
-Last stop was Okinawa; participated in 7 invasions and 2 sea battles—the Leyte Gulf battle and Surigao Strait battle
-They would shell the islands in the early morning hours till late at night before allowing the marines to take the land
-Use spotter planes to find the pillboxes and blow those up with the 16” guns; the shells weighed over a ton each and could shoot accurately from about 20 miles out
-Freyou was on the 5” guns and shot at planes mostly; everything ran on hydraulics
-The first encounter with a suicide plane (Kamikaze), the pilot was going for the stacks and when Freyou looked out his hole window he could see the pilot’s face
-They opened up the 5”, 20 mm, and 40 mm guns on him; took off the wing and the plane crashed onto the front deck
-As crashing the pilot dropped 2 bombs and one however went through 4 inches of steel straight into the bottom deck of the sick bay and blew up—killed everybody
-Had to go back to Pearl Harbor for repairs; referencing the book and an article that says that 31 men were killed and 29 injured in this attack

(19:53) Okinawa Kamikaze Attack
-The plane that hit them in Okinawa happened when they thought they were secured; weren’t too far off from the island but they had dropped back because they thought it was safe
-Freyou was laying out on the deck when he saw a plane leave the island
-Thought it was American plane circling them so no one shot at it since the ship had been firing on the island all day and had finally stopped that night
-Thought this until the plane dropped a torpedo that was going straight towards them
-Freyou jumped up and took off running towards his gun in the back; referencing a photo on where he was in the book

(22:16)
-After the war was over in Europe Freyou’s crew was sent back to the states to get ready to fight the Japanese
-Went on leave for 38 days and when he came back to the ship, it had been remodeled and his gun had been taken off
-(Looking at picture and commenting on how rough the sea was)
-The Philippine Sea was a rough sea and it was where they hit a really bad storm; was hitting 40-foot sea waves
-“Everybody was carrying a bucket. They'd ask me, "Frenchy, where in the hell is your bucket?" I'd say, "My bucket for what?" They said, "You ain't got sick yet?" I said, "Not yet, but when it gets rough I'm gonna get sick." They said, "well goddamn, how rough it's gotta get for you?" I never did get sick overseas.”

(23:36) Talking
-Looking at pictures; Hewitt and Freyou comparing nicknames for guns they used; war reunions Freyou has been too; only radio was from Tokyo Rose

(29:09) Battle of Leyte Gulf
-The worst sea battle of the war was at Leyte Gulf; was apart in the convoy with Nimitz but they were jammed in that gulf
-What saved them was when Nimitz was called back and he arrived with his planes and dive-bombers
-The last night when Nimitz came back they fought till about midnight using radar
-Sunk and messed up a bunch of Japanese ships—including 2 of the biggest Japanese battleships

(30:50) After the War
-Hewitt and Freyou comparing experiences of battles
-Spent his last year in the Bahamas; was left in charge as he was a hard worker
-His nickname was Frenchy; his wife wrote a letter everyday
-His ship could go 22 knots

-Was at a tent city on Okinawa and was there when a typhoon hit; this was after the war and he was there for occupation for 5 months
-Before being transferred the Marines left first and one had left about 5 tons of dynamite
-Told the younger boys to watch out around that tent; one wasn’t careful one day and set it off, the ground shook when it went off and killed a lot of young men from boot camp
-On Okinawa was in charge of shipping jeeps and equipment back to the states
-“Maryland” was being used as a transport to the states when the Japanese surrendered

-Eventually was given his orders so he left Okinawa to Pearl; at Pearl given orders to go to San Diego on a steam ship
-San Diego didn’t have his orders to so they sent him to Frisco, then Bremington and St. Pedro before sending him back to San Diego and the office had his papers
-Walked off the ship and caught a train in Chicago and went to New Orleans; was in the Navy for 2 years and 5 months
-Was given $300 and discharged; asked him to come back for Korea but he refused

(52:12)the group moves away from recorder and the voices are distant and then Theriot thanks Freyou for his service and cuts out

Transcription Begins:

Howard Freyou
Born January 1925
New Iberia
Battleship Gunner-USS Maryland

On Pearl Harbor Day I was on my way to the park in St. Martinsville in the car. I had my radio on and that's when I heard that they bombed Pearl Harbor. I was about 16. My ship was there; it was one of the few that got out.

After that day I left the farm and I went to work in Baton Rouge. I worked there for about a year. Then I worked at the shipyard in Morgan City for about a year. That's when my daddy called me, he said, "You got a yellow letter here, so you better come home." So I came home and it was a draft notice. But my daddy was on the draft board. He knew they were going to draft me. He told me, he said, "If you want to go you can go, but if you don't want to go I can take you off." So I said what the hell, I'll go.

I had tried to get into the merchant marines, but I wasn't 18 yet. I was at the dock, ready to board a ship when they came and got me, the draft board. They wanted me for the draft. They drafted me into the Navy in July 1943.

I went to San Diego for boot camp. Then I came home on leave for a few days and got married. I went back to California and I was ordered to report to the USS Tennessee. I went overseas on the Tennessee and we went to Pearl (Harbor, Hawaii). When we got there they told me that they didn't need me. So the Navy put me up in a hotel and morning I would go down to the dock and wait to see if I had duty that day. There were about 35 of us from New Iberia there. I walked there one morning and I saw my name on the board- 'Howard Freyou report to so and so dock.' So I asked the chief where was the dock. He told me to go down there and wait at the launch to get picked up. I didn't know where I was going or what ship I was assigned to. They didn't tell me anything. So I went down there at the launch and waited for a ship. He gave my orders to this captain and he told him, he said, "You need an extra man, so I brought you this fella here." So I went with him upstairs, but he couldn't understand me at first. There was a lot of difference in the language. I stayed sitten on that deck for about 3 days, because I didn't know where I was going and nobody could understand me.

Finally this one guy from Tennessee came by and he asked what I was doing. I told him I didn't know. He asked me, "Well what division are you with?" I told him, "I don't know that either, nobody come and tell me anything yet." He kind of understood me, so he said, "Just talk slowly and I'll get you to where you need to go." So he went and talked to the chief. He told the chief, "There's a man down there but he's hard to understand." So the chief asked me, he said, "Where you from?" So I told the boy from Tennessee, and I told him real slow, that I was a farmer from Louisiana. The chief said, "He's a farmer, he'll be a good hand." So they put me on the (USS) Maryland, and that's the ship I served on; all throughout WWII. I went aboard ship on October 14, 1943 as Seaman/3rd Class.

I was a trey-man on a 5”/51 gun. That was a pretty big gun; it was a 5" gun. We had 10-5" guns. I was on number 10. We worked in a small gunroom. It took ten men to fire one of those 5" guns. We had ammunition hanging on the racks in that little room. I helped load the round. I had to put that trey down before they loaded it. My job was to put the trey down to protect the brass around the gun so when they closed the breech it wouldn't damage it when fired.

We had the big 16" guns on there too and the torpedo tubes and the spotter planes. We had 20 mm and 40 mm guns too. There were 2,400 men on board that ship.

My first action was at Tarawa in November of '43. I took part in seven invasions and two sea battles. I was in the Surigao Strait sea battle and the Leyte Gulf sea battle (October 1944).

When we'd start an invasion we would shell an island from early in the morning till late at night. Then the marines would go in. We would use the spotter planes to locate the pillboxes and we'd blow that up with them 16" shells. The shells weighed over a ton each, but everything was run by hydraulics. We could shoot accurately from 20 miles out with those big guns.

But I was on a smaller gun, a 5". We shot at the planes mostly. We could shoot 50 rounds in a little while.

(June 22, 1944) One morning off the coast of Saipan we had dropped anchor. I was on the deck lying down. I had put my shoes under my cap and I saw a plane take off from that island. I thought it was an American plane. That plane came around, and he came around, and he dropped a torpedo and then went off about his business. Nobody even shot at him. Boy when that thing hit us, the deck of that ship jumped about 4 foot. (Two men were killed.) I was lying down and the explosion through me up on my feet. We weren't in general quarters at that time, everybody thought it was an American plane. It did some serious damage. It put a big hole in the bow of the ship. They had the new bow already built by the time we got to Pearl for repairs. They chopped off the front-in and welded that new bow on there.

I was in the worst ship battle in the world, the biggest sea battle ever. That was the Battle of Leyte Gulf (October 23-26, 1944). That's where we busted up the Jap fleet. We were jammed in that Gulf. The Japs tried to lure Nimitz away and they were going to come from behind, but we stayed right in that Gulf. When they called Nimitz back and he arrived with all his planes and dive-bombers, that's what saved us. On that last night we fought till about midnight. We had to use radar. And we sank quite a bit of them. And we messed up a bunch of ships. Two of the big Japanese battleships were sunk there.

(Leyte Gulf. November 29, 1944.) When that first suicide plane was coming to us, I mean it was coming right for the stack, I looked out my hole and I saw that pilot’s face. We opened up with our 5" guns and the 20's and the 40's. We knocked his wing off, but he crashed on the front deck. His bomb made it through four-inches of steel and went down to the bottom deck and blew up. It killed everybody in sick bay. We were in a hell of a fix. We had to come back in to Pearl for repairs.

“Everything close by was demolished in the area. Bulkheads were torn open, lockers smashed, plumbing, lighting and ventilation ducts were ruined as the ship caught fire. Only a few men survived the tremendous concussion in the nearby vicinity of the explosion. Thirty-one men were killed with one officer and 29 men injured.” (USS Maryland. Turner Publishing Company. 1997. P. 12)

(April 7, 1945) In Okinawa we got hit right on top of turret number three by a Kamikaze. I remember this boy was on fire and they jumped on him to try to put the fire out. Then boys kept firing at him, but he hit us. Seventeen were killed on that attack. Only one sailor made it off that turret alive. His name was Justin David.

"A Japanese Kamikaze plane crashed his plane with its 500-pound bomb into the top of turret III. The bomb exploded and all but one of the men manning these mounts were blown form their stations. The gallant seventeen men who stood by their guns on top of the turret until the enemy plane exploded in their midst, had made the supreme sacrifice." (USS Maryland. Turner Publishing Company. 1997. P. 13)

We ran into a storm in the Philippine Sea. We were in 40-foot seas. Everybody was carrying a bucket. They'd ask me, "Frenchy, where in the hell is your bucket?" I'd say, "My bucket for what?" They said, "You ain't got sick yet?" I said, "Not yet, but when it gets rough I'm gonna get sick." They said, "well goddamn, how rough it's gotta get for you?" I never did get sick overseas.

Before we were set to invade Japan they had sent us back to Washington to get remodeled. The war in Europe had just ended. I came home on leave for 38 days. When I got back to port they had changed everything. They added all kinds of new guns. They had added new 40's (mm) and new 20's (mm). The gun that I was on had been taken off.

On our way back to Pearl from getting repairs in the states the war with Japan ended. We dropped the bomb on them. So they let go half of the crew. I was transferred back to Okinawa. I stayed on the island for five-and-a-half months. I was in charge of shipping jeeps and equipment back to the states. I was there for that typhoon. I spent the night in the mess hall in-between two large iceboxes. I thought it was safe there. That wind blew like hell all night. I bet you it blew 200 mph.

After that I went down to the Marine barracks on the other end of the island to get some dry clothes, because all of my clothes were wet. There was a tent right next to my tent where this marine had stored five tons of dynamite and he they didn't tell anybody. He sat down to heat up his food and he wasn't paying attention. I told them boys to be careful when they were fooling around there, but this one boy he let his fire get away from him and that dynamite blew up. I mean it shock the whole island. So I was making my way back with my dry clothes and I could see these people running away. I asked what was going on. I felt the island shock. They said, "You lucky, because I don't believe there's anyone alive over there." That accident killed I don't know how many of them boys.

I'm lucky I'm still alive.

My wife and I wrote letters to each other every day. I was gone for two-and-a-half years.

One morning I went down to the dock and I saw my name on the board again, 'Howard Freyou report to so and so dock." So I went down and they told me to pack my gear; I was going home. Coming home, that was a tour out of this world. I took a steamship from Okinawa to Pearl then to San Diego for my orders. They didn't have my orders there so I went down to Frisco, then to Bremington, then to St. Pedro, then back to San Diego. I made about five ports right there. I went to the office and they finally got my orders. They gave me my papers, and goddamn it I walked off the ship, and that was it. I came back home.

I caught a train in Los Angles and I went to New Orleans. They discharged me and gave me $300 and sent me home.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Jason Theriot
Subject: 
Oral History; Wolrd War II; Pacific Theater; Battleship Gunner
Creator: 
Jason Theriot
Informants: 
Howard Freyou
Recording date: 
Monday, September 24, 2001
Coverage Spatial: 
New Iberia, La
Publisher: 
Jason Theriot
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
00:56:41
Cataloged Date: 
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Digitized Date: 
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Original Format: 
Microcassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer 20

Interview with Charles Hagan (part 1)

Accession No.: 
TH1-051

Charles "Charlie" Hagan; Theriot

-Hagan owned a barbershop; some family history of his father from Nebraska and mother from New Iberia
-The places where they lived; siblings and children he had

(02:47) Pearl Harbor
-He and his best friend, both married at the time, had gone to Avery Island that morning
-It was around noon as they were driving back that the radio announced the news; they had no idea where Pearl Harbor was
-At the time when he was in high school (learned this in debate club) was that the US had a small army
-The Democrats were trying to build it up as the Republicans were isolationists
-There was a peace time draft after he graduated from high school but Hagan wasn’t 21 yet
-So he went to LSU for engineering but failed in trigonometry and chemistry
-It was a hard time to get jobs now unless you could work in the oil field but one had to be weigh at least 180 lbs., and Hagan was too small

-Hagan’s half-brother was a barber and had a second chair open in shop at the time and needed an extra hand
-So he went to barber school and when finished had to work as an apprentice
-Came back home with his apprenticeship license and his father knew of a barber shop that Hagan could buy
-There was a second barber there that Hagan kept but he was an alcoholic so Hagan wouldn’t allow him to come in to work most times

-The war broke out and Hagan wasn’t 21 until July 1941 so he missed the June draft
-Later in the year there was another draft that caught him, but he was now married
-So he was given a classification of 3-A as they weren’t taking married men yet
-The next year of 1942 the draft broad started taking married men, Hagan’s classification changed to 1-A
-Hagan was already now thinking about voluntarily joining up to the air force
-When he did go to war, he had to shut down his barbershop but he had already paid for the next 3 months rent when he was drafted
-He told his father to either rent out the shop for extra money or continue to pay the rent—his father paid the rent the whole time Hagan was away

(11:29) Basic Training
-Draft in December 22, 1942 and had to report to the courthouse in New Iberia; there were 50 men and they were all sent to Lafayette to be examined
-If they passed the examination they were sworn into the army right then but if they failed, they were given classifications of 4-F and sent back home to wait to be called on later if need be
-Once sworn in they gave them 7 days to go home and get their affairs in order and then report to duty
-But they got some extra days for Christmas and really shipped out on January 3rd

-Took a bus to Camp Beauregard (there for a week) and in Hagan’s unit he had only one other person from New Iberia with him
-Was Harold Vilmore (he became a major’s jeep driver so he never saw him during the war)
-Vilmore was transferred to headquarters as Hagan was sent to A Battery
-Basic training was at Camp Stewart, Georgia; went by train and had to hike with all their baggage to the camp; it was a camp to build them up physically
-Was very insecure of his weight (125 lbs. by then) and height and doubted he could hold his own against about 200 lb. Nazi if it came to it

(17:14) Army Barber
-Was assigned as a barber for his unit at first as his captain knew his background
-Hagan would cut hair at night and not just for his unit but others within the camps
-Still had to do everything else everybody else would do but sometimes was given leave of his duties to go cut hair on army time
-Was paid, charged .50c a hair and everyone was allotted for 2 haircuts so they would pay $1 and Hagan would get 35% of the collections; sent them home to his wife

-Started getting weapons, a 40 mm machine guns; Hagan wound up as a generator operator
-The generator provided the electricity for the gun to be operated remotely and Hagan had to set it up and take it back down
-The halftracks had M-15 with a 37 caliber cannon on the back, plus two .50 caliber machine guns; the M-16 had a quad 50’s on the back
-Hagan was an extra so he was not assigned to any particular gun but had to be able to use either guns when needed
-Goes into detail on how each gun worked and mishaps when in combat as his unit was not really good

(25:47) Desert Maneuvers
-Sent across the country on a troop train and Hagan cut hair the whole way to California; not really sure where they were at
-There was no camp there but it was called “Camp Dump” as they were dumped off to go and build scaffoldings and showers for outfits (not clothes)
-They were part of the 9th Armored Division when they were doing maneuvers
-Sprained his ankle his last week of maneuvers and at the hospital met a famous actor that would talk and play pool with them
-Tells of his adventures of trying to find his outfit in the desert after he was discharged

(40:37) Different Trainings
-Jumping around to different camps for various trainings: amphibious, artillery—did exercises for different battle fronts in Europe and Africa
-They knew what was coming when they would go overseas
-Last camp was Camp Shanks (New York) waiting for a transport ship to England
-They were split up, A Battery (Hagan) and the cooks loaded up on a different ship while the rest of the batteries and headquarters went on a different ship
-Cut hair while they travelled
-Took 13 days to cross the ocean to Liverpool (February 1944) and went south to Bristol Bay to get supplies, weapons and halftracks

(49:45)
-Then went to a beach town and the batteries were separated again; one group went to marsh area while Hagan and others were a part of an invasion
-A and D Batteries were sent over the Channel on an LST with personnel and equipment
-Landed on Omaha Beach 3 weeks after D-Day; they joined up with Hagan’s outfit and CP
-Hagan was now a part of the 2nd platoon of A Battery

-St. Lo they had a bombing but Hagan had been told to stay to cut hair the next day; the CP was a mile from where the bombing was happening
-Ordered to find a foxhole from the retreating Germans to hide in

(audio cuts off at 57:30)

Transcription Begins:

When I was in high school, we had a debate club. I was on the affirmative side: Should the United States build up its Army to equal that of other nations? At that time the Democrats were trying to get our army built up and the Republicans were considered isolationists; they figured we had two oceans to defend us and that an army would just get us into war. I was the only one who really put up a good argument, but the teach called it a draw.

On Pearl Harbor Day, I had a good of mine—we were raised together on Fulton St.—we were inseparable friends coming up. He was married and I was married. We went to Avery Island. We were on our way back around noon and we were listening to the radio when they announced that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. I didn’t know were Pearl Harbor was; I didn’t anything about Pearl Harbor.

Back then, jobs were hard time around here, unless you were in the oil field. And I was a small man, so unless you weighed 180-pounds, you couldn’t get a job out here. So my brother was barber and he had a shop in Beaumont, Texas. He had two chairs, but he only operated one, and he could have used another barber. He kept mentioning that, so that’s why I decided to go be a barber.

I went to barber school and after I had to work as an apprentice. When I came out, I bought a shop from another barber and my daddy backed me up. After a while they had the peacetime draft come up, then the war broke out. I wasn’t 21 until July of ’41. I was married at the time; I had gotten married at barber school. So they gave me the classification of 3-A, as married. They weren’t taking married people then. But then later the next year, 1942, they started taken married people. That’s when they changed my classification to 1-A. I was drafted on December 22, 1942.

I had to shut my barbershop down. Fortunately, I had paid up on my rent for three months and my father kept paying the rent for me until I got back from the war.

I received my draft notice to report to the courthouse in New Iberia. There were about 50 of us. Then we took a bus to Lafayette to take an examination. If you failed the exam, they classified you as 4-F and sent you back home, where they might have called you up again later on. If you passed, you were sworn into the Army right then and there. They read us the articles of war and were then part of the Army. They gave us a seven-day leave to go home and take care of our business. After seven days, we were to report for duty.

We got an extra few days because of Christmas. On January 3, 1943, we took a bus to Camp Beauregard, which was the induction center. This is where they assigned you to your unit. Harold Vilmore and I were assigned to the 467th AAA. He went into headquarters, and I went into A battery. We were sent to Camp Stewart, Georgia.

It was just basic training. They built you up physically: hikes and obstacle course. It was military training. I felt insecure about my size. I was about 125 pounds. We went through bayonet training and all that. And I didn’t feel very secure; if I had to come up against a 200-pound Nazi and I had to battle against him, I didn’t feel too secure about that. Things like that ran through my mind.

So from the very beginning, I wound up as the barber. But the Army doesn’t have a barber; you got your haircut from the PX. But most of the units made barbers like me. Our captain assigned me as the barber, because he knew my background. I started cutting haircuts at night. Later on they had me cutting hair on Army time. It was beneficial because I made money. They gave me a roster of all the names in our battery. When it came time for payday, they’d come to me and if I had you down for two haircuts, then you paid me $1, fifty-cents a haircut. Then I take 35-percent out of that collection and I give that to the battery clerk. I took the rest. I sent all of that to my wife.

Then we started getting our weapons. The first weapons were these 40mm machine guns. I wound up as a generator operator. The generator provides the electricity for the gun to be operated remotely. So we trained with those for a while and then we got these halftracks. The M-15 had a 37 caliber cannon on the back, plus two .50 caliber machine guns. The M-16 had quad 50’s on the back. I was an extra so I wasn’t assigned to one particular gun, but I could be used on either of the guns.

We moved to California for six weeks of desert maneuvers with the 9th Armored Division. From there we moved to the east coast. We headed out of Camp Shanks, New York and board a transport ship for England. We landed in Liverpool in February 1944, and made it down south. We picked up our halftracks and went to a camp on Bristol Bay along the Channel.

We knew what was coming up; we knew we were going into France. Just before the invasion, the captain told me to give everybody a GI haircut. But just before, they separated some of us from the battalion: myself, the cooks, those who were assigned to a halftrack, plus all of D Battery personnel and their equipment. We went to one place and the battalion went to a marshaling area with their halftracks.

We wound up going over the Channel in an LST along with D battery personnel and equipment. We landed three weeks after D-Day. I ran into Al Duetney on Omaha beach. He was a photographer and had a print shop right here in New Iberia. At that time I joined up with the rest of my outfit.

I was part of 2nd platoon of A battery. The night before the bombing of St. Lo, I had reported to the CP and the captain told me to stay there and cut hair the following day. The CP was about a mile from where they were bombing. That morning the bombers started coming in. The ground was shaking. The captain told me to find a foxhole and get in it.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Jason Theriot
Subject: 
Oral Histories; World War II; European Theater; Army
Creator: 
Jason Theriot
Informants: 
Charles Hagan
Recording date: 
Monday, September 6, 2004
Coverage Spatial: 
New Iberia, La
Publisher: 
Jason Theriot
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
00:57:31
Cataloged Date: 
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Digitized Date: 
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Original Format: 
Mircocassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer 20

Interview with Charles Hagan (part 2)

Accession No.: 
TH1-052

Charles Hagan, Theriot:

*picks up on story of battle at St. Lo*

-Hagan went up to the CP and captain at the jeeps the next day to see when they wanted him to cut hair
-Was told once the bombing was over they had marching orders so when dinner was ready he could do it before they leave
-Hagan then went back to his tent by his foxhole to wait and bombs started being dropped and the ground started shaking so he dove into his foxhole
-It was a formation of B-26s with 100 lbs. anti-personnel bombs

-When he came out he heard problems happening all over
-A guy near a halftrack that had been shaving had a bomb dropped 27 ft. from behind him and he ended up in coma later
-People were trying to help others from bleeding out; a radio operator was walking around without an arm and Hagan gave him first aid before sending him to a field hospital
-The captain by the jeep had both legs blown off, one eye was gone and other hanging out but somehow he was still alive and was talking to them, “that shook me up pretty good. That stayed with me for years. If he had been dead, it wouldn’t have been so bad.”

-Once the injured were taken care of and sent away on ambulance, another B-26 formation was seen coming
-So Hagan began looking for a foxhole and leaped into one of the deep German foxholes
-About broke his neck going in head first and then rolling onto his back and cut his nose and leg on a piece of shrapnel—left a scar

(9:55) trying to figure out dates and places where Hagan landed in an invasion; maybe Omaha Beach?
-Then went on to St. Lo that had bad causalities in A and C batteries so both were combined together
-Assigned to the 2nd Armored Division when General Patton went into Brittany and then Failaise
-Attacked at the town Mortain and the Germans were trying to cut them off as the Americans were trying to contain the Germans
-After each battle the British and Americans was gather their dead but the Germans didn’t so when trying to drive on the roads the Allies had to run over the bodies
-If they tried to dodge they might’ve hit a land mine off the road; the stench was terrible and any chance they could they’d try and wash off the halftracks

-Eventually made into Holland after France and Belgium; they were at the Siegfried Line and took part in that siege at Aachen; ordered not to retreat
-Had a group of combat engineers with bazookas so they made booby-traps to take out the German tanks; were given the presidential citation award for their actions
-Made it to Luxembourg when it was Thanksgiving; had a nice party

(21:34) Battle of the Bulge
-Still at Luxembourg when the battle of the Bulge broke out; their division was near the town on Malmady (the Malmady Massacre)
-The 1st Platoon Hagan was in was sent inside the town to stop tanks but were very ill equipped and thankfully never saw any Germans

-One night when it was snowing the Germans were sending down paratroops to booby-trap roads and change post signs to confuse the Allies
-Hagan’s platoon was the last coming out and had the last group with a M-16 and it’s snowing and they had a problem with their fuel line that was dry rotted
-They had to pull into a small town to try and fix the line; was snowing so bad they couldn’t tell when they pulled in that the town was German occupied
-The Germans opened fired on them—somehow made it out

-Was making their way back to Luxembourg to head over to Bastogne to where Patton was at; they were coming to relieve the 101st that were trapped
-Explains their battle tactics and what their guns were able to do
-Went in behind CCA and CCR and the infantry when pushing into Bastogne
-Once the invasion was over Hagan and his outfit was shipped out to Nancy France with the 8th Armored Division

(32:02) Speaking French in France
-Came up into a village that was covered in snow and ice but it wasn’t on the front so the villagers let the men sleep in their homes
-Only knew a little bit of French but enough to get by

-The CP asked Hagan to buy a goose off one of the famers so Hagan when asking realized he had no idea how to say “goose” in French
-The lady had chickens and geese so he couldn’t just say “white bird” or he might have ended up with a chicken (too small)
-So Hagan told her “I want to buy one of those big white birds” and the lady was a bit taken back but he still got a goose
-The Parisian French people were more educated, spoke faster, and used different words than the French words Hagan knew and rural people of France (i.e. airplane)

-Followed the 8th Armored Division into Remagen; goes into a story of when he first met the 8th Armored at Camp Polk
-Their halftrack would conk out on them the whole way there; it was snowing once when the halftrack stopped and they were under fire, had to hide in ditches under the snow
-Eventually made it to their station by a bridge to shoot down anti-aircrafts; stay there about a week

(44:57) Got in trouble at Remagen
-The bridge collapsed after 3 days so they moved upstream to another bridge
-Told to shoot at anything that came down the river or over the bridge—red alert

-They had to have 3 men manning the guns 24/7 in groups of 5 so only 2 got a rest until taking their places
-10 PM one night a jeep driver came up and told Hagan that the captain wanted Hagan to cut his hair
-Told the man he couldn’t leave unless someone could take his place since they were under a red alert
-The driver came back and told Hagan there was no one available to take his place but the captain has now made it an order to come and cut his hair
-So Hagan retorted that the tools he has come from his civilian life and the army did not pay to furnish him or to maintain them
-He had to send them back to the states for his wife to sharpen them when he could
-So unless the captain can maintain and furnish Hagan’s tools then he’s not leaving to cut hair—his tools are going to stay in his halftrack until then
-So the driver and a couple of guards came back and arrested him under court marshal for insubordination
-Locked Hagan up and was guarded 24/7—ironically his guard changed every 2 hours but apparently none could have come and took his place when asked for a haircut the first time

A 2nd Lieutenant in Hagan’s section found out what happened and went to the office of the captain and got in his face for one
-Going over the Lt.’s head with orders for one of his men and secondly, knowing full well that taking a man and not replacing him from red alert jeopardized the mission and the crew
-Then the Lt. threatened to put a court marshal for this captain unless they let Hagan go by 5 PM that night
-After that if anyone wanted/needed a haircut then they had to ask this 2nd Lt. if Hagan was available

(50:10) D-Day
-Hagan’s A Battery was part of the same squad that had the Sergeant Hyman Haas that is credited for knocking out enemy pillboxes on Omaha Beach; sections M-16 and M-17
-Landed that morning between 7:30 and 8 AM; Ernie Pyle interviewed all the men on that halftrack after the battle to release the story; one guy was from New Orleans

-After the war, Hagan went to a few reunions and ran into D Battery twice; Haas (from New York) came to the first one and he and Hagan still write to each other
-They worked together to get a plaque of their names placed on that pillbox but they couldn’t called a battery as the war monument commission only recognized battalions or higher so they’re called the “A Battalion” on the plaque

-Haas had to get all of his actions verified and the war department had to go through the history to document what was done
-Their reports showed that Hagan’s outfit landed at 9 AM (tapes cuts off story continues in TH1-053)

Transcription Begins:

His command jeep and trailer was parked alongside of a hedgerow that ran parallel with the road. There was a halftrack with radio equipment parked right next to him. So at about 11:00 a.m., I went to talk to him to see if he wanted me to give him hair cut. He was sitting on the ground with his back up against the jeep trailer. He had a bunch of maps and everything with him. And he looked at him watch and said, “Well, after this bombing is over, we gonna have marching orders. We’ll have an early chow so let’s wait until then.” So I walked back to my pup tent, which was 150 feet at the most. I got in my tent and pulled out a tablet from my field pack. I was getting ready to write a letter when I heard these bombs coming down. So I dove into my foxhole. These B-26’s were dropping 100-pound anti-personnel bombs. After the formation passed, I heard problems coming from the captain’s jeep, where I had just come from. The driver of the halftrack had been sitting down by the door and shaving when I walked over to my pup tent. An anti-personnel bomb landed approximately 27 feet from where he was shaving. When I got to him, there was crowd around him trying to help him. They were ripping up shirts and everything to try to stop the bleeding. Blood was everywhere. They were telling me different things to get inside of the halftrack to help him. By that time, they had another guy who came walking up with his arm all tore to hell. So I grabbed him and I grabbed a shirt, tore off the sleeve and put a tunicate around his arm. This jeep came driving by and I stopped him. He said there was a field hospital near by, so I said take him and send some ambulances because we got a few people down. But in the meantime, nobody was tending to the captain. You could see that his vehicle was down. So I said, “What about the captain?” They said, “Don’t worry about him, he done had it.” That’s the remark that I remember. When the ambulance came, I walked over to his jeep and he was messed up pretty good. He had no legs; they were all tore to hell. He had a hipbone that sticking out about a foot. He started talking and saying, “Get off my legs! Somebody is on my legs!” But he had no legs. He said, “I want to see my legs.” But he had no legs, and hardly had any face. His eyes were gone and hanging out. That shuck me up pretty good. That stayed with me for years. If he had been dead, it wouldn’t have been so bad.

A funny part of this story was after the ambulance left; here comes another formation of B-26’s. So I start looking for a foxhole. All of those foxholes were deep. I didn’t want to take off running like a coward, but I was walking as fast as most people could run. I heard those bombs coming down and I made one leap into that foxhole, head first. It was only a few feet deep. Man I like about broke my neck. I went over backwards, I was upside down. I had my face in the mud. When I got strait, I had blood coming out of my nose. I caught a piece of shrapnel. I think it tore my pants and cut my leg. It landed in the foxhole with me—a souvenir!

We were then assigned to the 2nd Armored Division after the breakout. Soon after St. Lo, Gen. Patton drove onto Brittany and then to Failaise. But before that, the Germans attacked at a town called Mortain; they were trying to cut off the two peninsulas. They had us in that area of Mortain. We were trying to contain them. It was a seesaw battle. During the battle, we would pull out our dead and wounded, but the Germans didn’t. After the battle, we drove on through that area and we were told to keep on the road. That time of the year it was hot, and there were a lot of dead bodies everywhere and they were blown up and everything. It was terrible. You had to run off of the road to dodge some of them. So you had to just run over and that stench stayed with you. We’d try to find a puddle of mud or water to try to wash off our halftracks.

We followed the 2nd Armored Division all the way to the Seigfried Line and into Holland. We hit the Germans in Aachen and we took part in the siege. We were with a group of combat engineers; they had bazookas. We would booby-trap the Germans and take out their tanks. The Germans were trying to get through with every thing they had. Our unit and that engineer bazooka team got the presidential citation award for action in Aachen.

We went to Luxembourg for Thanksgiving and then came the Battle of the Bulge. We were near Malmady during that time. We were attached to Patton’s 4th Armored Division and drove in support of them to relieve Bastogne. After the siege, we stayed in Bastogne for a few days before heading back to France.

I spoke a little French, so one day they asked to go to this farmhouse near Nancy to buy a goose. I went up there, but I couldn’t think of how in the hell to say “goose” in French. So I went over there and this old women came to door and these geese were big and white, there were chickens too. I couldn’t think of how in the hell to say goose, so when she opened the door I said, “I want to buy one of those big white birds.” So I could get by with my French.

We were with the 8th Armored Division. Before we went overseas, the 8th Armored used to be camp out at Fort Polk. And there weren’t too many soldiers around New Iberia, and these guys would come to here on three-day passes. Our people in this town had sons stationed all over the place, but they didn’t have any stationed close by. So when the town’s people saw somebody who was a soldier, they would treat them like their own son; they’d invite him to their homes to have lunch and they’d treat him to crawfish.

One day when I came back from guard duty on the gun, they told me that there were some people in 8th Armored heard that I was from Louisiana and they wanted to see me. So I walked in there and all these guys are standing around this stove and they said, “Are you the guy from Louisiana.” I said, “Yes.” They said, “What part?” I said, “New Iberia.” They hollered, “Oh! That’s God’s country!”

We followed the 8th Armored into Remagen. We set up our AAA guns to defend that bridge for a week. We shot at everything that flew over and everything that floated down that river. That’s when I got in a little trouble. We were on red alert, and when you are on red alert you need three men on the gun 24-hours a day. We had five men total, so that left only two men to relieve the other three. Well this driver came to me and said that the captain what me to give him a haircut. I asked him if he had somebody to take my place, and he said no. So I told him to go back and tell the captain to send somebody to take my place and I’ll give him a haircut. I said, “We’re on red alert and I can’t just leave.” So he goes back and said that the captain said that there was nobody available. I said, “Tell him when they get somebody available then I’ll come see him.” So he goes back and then comes tell me that the captain said it was an order. So I told to tell the captain that those tools on the back of that halftrack are tools that I bought in civilian life, the Army didn’t furnish them. And when I need to have them sharpened, I have to use my own money to send them back to the States to have my wife sharpen them and send them back to me. So you tell the captain that when the Army is going to furnish the tools and maintain then, then he can give me an order to cut his hair. But other than that, until he sends somebody to take place, my tools are going to stay in the back of that halftrack. So he came back with a couple of guards and they said, “Sorry Hagan, we’ve got to take you in. Your under arrest.” So I come in and I had to report to this captain. First thing that he wanted to know was, did I bring my tools. I told him no. Man he had me down for court marshal, insubordination and I don’t know what else. So they put me in this room and me under guard all day. So this 2nd Lieutenant who was in our unit was a good guy and he found out what had happen. So he went to this captain and got in his face and said that he had taken a man off of a section that he was in charge of and went over his head with him knowing anything about it that could have jeopardized the mission as well as the crew itself. The Lieutenant said if there is going to be a court marshal, he was going to go after bars, not PFC stripes. He said that I had better be back on that jeep by 5:00 that night. Sure enough, I was let out and back on my jeep. From then on, every time somebody wanted a haircut, they would have to talk to him first. Then he’d call me on the radio and said, “Hagan, you feel like cutting some hair today.” If I said yes, then he'd send a man to take my place. If I said no, then he would say that I was not available.

We had two reunions with D Battery. Haas only came to the first one. But he and I continued to correspond. And I can’t remember if suggested the idea to me or not, but since I was the secretary of the battery, I brought up the idea at a reunion about having an plaque placed on the pillbox with our name on it. Those who were in attendance agreed that we should do it. So that’s when I started working on it and we had to fund it ourselves. I wrote the proclamation and send letters to all the members. I was on the committee to collect the funds. Haas, who had knocked out the gun, laid the groundwork by going through the war department to see whether we could get it done through the war monuments commission. We were trying to get it done as a battery, but the War Monuments Commission doesn’t recognize anything less than a battalion for a plaque. So we had to go with the battalion.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Jason Theriot
Subject: 
Oral Histories; World War II; European Theater; Army
Creator: 
Jason Theriot
Informants: 
Charles Hagan
Recording date: 
Monday, September 6, 2004
Coverage Spatial: 
New Iberia, La
Publisher: 
Jason Theriot
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
00:57:57
Cataloged Date: 
Thursday, May 23, 2019
Digitized Date: 
Monday, August 19, 2013
Original Format: 
Mircocassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer 20

Interview with Charles Hagan (part 3)

Accession No.: 
TH1-053

Charles Hagan, Theriot:

*picking up on the story of Hagan and Haas trying to get a plaque made in their battery’s honor for their action on D-Day*

(Official records saying one thing as the men knew another from their interviewed story)
-While in reality they had landed earlier on the beach and this was because the headquarters of the battalion landed around 9:30 AM and they filled out the action reports
-They listed the first units as coming in at around 9 AM; when the enemy gun had been knocked out well before then—big controversy

-Goes on to talk about different reunions and things he learned later about those he met during his time in the Army; mentions a few experiences and men he met while traveling after Bastogne

(13:50) End of the War
-Wound up in Czechoslovakia before going through Munich, Germany for occupation
-It was there that Hagan was told he had 79 points and could go home but the machine gun guy left so Hagan needed to take over it—still cut hair too

“I had a unique experience. I cut hair all over the States, I cut hair on the Atlantic Ocean, I cut hair in England, I cut hair in France, I cut it in Belgium, I cut hair in Holland, I cut hair in Luxemburg, I cut hair in Germany, I cut hair in Czechoslovakia. It didn’t make me a better barber but gave me a lot of experience. I carried my tools with me everywhere I went.”

-Looking at photos in books Theriot had, some which show Hagan cutting hair; some of Hagan’s personal photos; awards given; an article Hagan wrote

(20:42) slowly cuts off into silence

Transcription Begins:

Haas had to get all of his actions verified through the war department to allow this. They had to go through the history to document what was done. He got the report and took that to the War Monuments Commission and they approved it. It was controversial because the records show that we our outfit landed at 9:00 a.m. on D-Day. Actually, headquarters of the battalion landed around 9:30 a.m., so when they filled out the action reports, they listed the first units as coming in at around 9:00 a.m. Well, that enemy gun had been knocked out well before 9:00 a.m.

We started getting reports in the next day about the invasion.

I had a unique experience. I cut hair all over the States, I cut hair on the Atlantic Ocean, I cut hair in England, I cut hair in France, I cut it in Belgium, I cut hair in Holland, I cut hair in Luxemburg, I cut hair in Germany, I cut hair in Czechoslovakia. It didn’t make me a better barber and I gave me a lot of experience. I carried by tools with me every where I went.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Jason Theriot
Subject: 
Oral Histories; World War II; European Theater; Army
Creator: 
Jason Theriot
Informants: 
Charles Hagan
Recording date: 
Monday, September 6, 2004
Coverage Spatial: 
New Iberia, La
Publisher: 
Jason Theriot
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
00:21:18
Cataloged Date: 
Thursday, May 23, 2019
Digitized Date: 
Monday, August 19, 2013
Original Format: 
Microcassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer 20

Interview by Michael Tisserand with Charles (C.C) Adcock

Accession No.: 
TI1-001

5:40-7:00: Charles Adocock talks about white peple in Blues music and how modern blues resurgence is "a white thing"

7:00-9:30: Charles Adcock talks about Sonny Landreth, who was one of the first famous white musician in a zydeco band.

10:29-Charles Adcock first zydeco record was "bon temps rouler" by clifton chenier

16:27-22:00: Adcock talks about Racial diversity and segregation in Louisianian music 

22:00-38:00-: Adcock talks about him growing up and his musical influences

38:00-End: Adcock talks about touring with buckwheat zydeco's band,Touring anedotes (Canada and Europe), Buckwheat's leadership and rivalries among the band members.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Micheal Tisserand
Subject: 
music zydeco guitar
Creator: 
Michael Tisserand
Informants: 
Charles Adcock
Recording date: 
Saturday, July 20, 1996
Coverage Spatial: 
LA pizza kitchen-New Orleans
Publisher: 
Center for Louisiana Studies
Rights Usage: 
All rights reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
1:34:06
Cataloged Date: 
Tuesday, June 7, 2022
Digitized Date: 
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
Wav
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 khz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer-111

Interview by Michel Tisserand with Corey Arcenaux

Accession No.: 
TI1-002

Arceneaux talk about his introduction to music and how he became and accordion player.

1:48-Corey arcenaux originally played guitar (at 7-8 years old) but quickly prefered accordion.

4:00-He had mentor who taught him to play with all his fingers they practiced for seven month.

6:15-Arceneaux was a fan of Nathan WIlliams, he came to see him every week. One day Nathan williams brought him on stage

13:50-Arceneaux started a band at 17, he attended the holy rosary institute in lafayette. His first band struggled to find a steady guitar player.

15:37-Arceneaux was voted quietest kid in his school in 1993, he says he is very shy.

16:09-he won his first zydeco award in 1994

17:51-Corey Arceneaux's family initiated him to zydeco, they always listen to zydeco. His family took him to plaisance zydeco festival.

19:50-buckwheat has been one of his Idols.

26:30-Arceneaux does not speak french, only his grand parents on both side do, even his mother does speaks but not fluently

30.40-Arceneaux used to work as a DJ on KJCB radio station he even got an FCC licence for this.

35:39-His favourite musician at that time was Keith Frank

37:14-Arcenaux explains his song writing process.

47:00-Arcenaux talks about playing when he was under 21, he had issues when he was playing in casinos and bars.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
tisserand
Subject: 
accordion zydeco
Creator: 
michel tisserand
Informants: 
corey arcenaux
Recording date: 
Thursday, March 14, 1996
Coverage Spatial: 
1:04:26
Meta Information
Cataloged Date: 
Wednesday, June 8, 2022
Digitized Date: 
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
896 KHZ
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer-111

Amede Ardoin tribute at the Liberty theatre

Accession No.: 
TI1-003

Concert hommage a Amede Ardoin (Tribute to Amede Ardoin) et Denis McGee

0:00-Introduction

Bois Sec Ardoin Set (Tribute to Amede Ardoin)

2:19-Le two step de Eunice (Eunice Two Step)

6:44-La Valse du Dimanche apres midi (Sunday Afternoon Watz)

10:47-Allons Danser (Let's Go Dancing)

15:13-J'ai ete au bal (I Went to the Ballroom)

20:00-Michael Tisserand seached in the mormon archives and the US army data bases to find Amede Ardoin's birthdate, which is March 11 1898

21:40-Ti'maurice (Little Maurice Waltz) 

27:57-Le two step de Lac Charles (Lake Charles Two Step)

32:03-Jolie Blonde

35:28-Fond de culotte (Seat of the pants)

38:31-La valse des orphelins (The Orphans Waltz)

41:41-Duralde Ramble

Part two: Tribute to Dennis Mcgee by Eric and Clay Chapman

1:00:58-La reel de Desautels (Desautels Reel)

1:04:37-La valse a pop (Pop's Waltz)

1:08:33-Devillier Two Step with Billy McGee

1:11:23-Chere bebe creole (Dear Creole Baby)

1:14:30-La reel des Millers (Miller's reel)

1:16:44-Adieu Rosa (Farewell Rosa) also called Demain c'est pas dimanche (Tomorow isn't sunday)

Michael Doucet and Beausoleil Set: songs made by Amede Ardoin and Denis Mcgee

1:22:26-Two step a Maman (Mama's Two Step)

1:26:10-Lacassine Special

1:28:57-One step a Chameau 

1:33:37-Madame Etienne also called La robe barree

1:38:17-Two step de Midland

1:43:05-Le blues de la prison

Language: 
French
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Tisserand
Subject: 
Amede Ardoin Dennis McGee music
Creator: 
michel tisserand
Informants: 
Bois Sec Ardoin, Eric Chapman, Clay Chapman, Michael Doucet
Recording date: 
Friday, June 10, 2022
Coverage Spatial: 
Liberty Theatre
Publisher: 
Center for Louisiana Studies
Rights Usage: 
All rights reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
1:47:01
Cataloged Date: 
Friday, June 10, 2022
Digitized Date: 
Friday, June 10, 2022
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
896 KHZ
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer-111

Interview by Michel Tisserand with Bois Sec Ardoin

Accession No.: 
TI1-004

Micheal Tisserand interviewed Bois Sec Ardoin for an arcticle on him and Canray Fontenot about Creole Music.

3:26-Bois Sec talk about the difference between Creole music and Cajun music.

Bois Sec Claims that he doesn't play Zydeco.

Bois Sec's Granchildren are also musicians, his grandson Chris Ardoin plays zydeco.

12:20-Bois Sec said he convinced belton richard to keep playing cajun music instead of shifting to swamp pop

Bois Sec says he feels good about the younger generations playing Cajun Music.

21:11: When Bois Sec was young, the clubs were segregated (split in two separete parts for black and white people)

26:29-Bois Sec started music by playing Triangle with Amede Ardoin at 

32:00-Michel Tisserand asks Bois Sec about his cousin Amede Ardoin

Bois Sec explains that Amede was liked by his family for being a great talented musician and he did not want to work hard.

34:44-"He didn't sweat much"

Amede had good relations with white people, he often played for them.

Bois Sec didn't have a record player at home, he could not listen to his cousin.

38:52-Bois Sec Talk about when Amede Ardoin was beat up by white men after a show.

Some white men did not like that a lady handed Amede a hankerchief when he was sweating a lot during his show. 

42:00-Ameded ardoin had to play dead so they would stop beating him, then we crawled to a man named Celestin Marcantel who helped him. 

According to Bois Sec Amede kept playing after he was beat up.

Later on, he got sick an started to become insane. He ended up at an asylum and died their a coupled years later. 

Barry Ancelet did a lot of work to find when and where Amede Ardoin died so he could have a grave to be remebered.

45:12-Bois Sec Talks about meeting and playng with Canray Fontenot

Bois Sec says him and Canray have a special chemistry  that they both cannot find with other musicians

55:10-Bois Sec says that some people wouldn't let him play blues at their houses because it makes people dance too close.

57:00-Bois Sec talks about Bon soir moreau, he doesn't know who wrote it.  He says it can be danced like a Blues, like a waltz or even like a two step.

58:52-Bois Sec talks about the styles of dancing

59:00-Bois Sec tells Tisserand about baisse bas

1:03:23-Bois Sec explain that music is a way to preserve the creole culture

1:07:47-Bois Sec and Canray were still in good health despite numerous health problems.

1:11:04-Despite not playing zydeco, bois sec already played at Plaisance zydeco festival

1:12:00-Bois Sec talks about Creole language. in music

1:15:53-According to Bois Sec every male in  the Ardoin family is a musician

1:17:42-Bois sec talks about emotions when singing

1:19:00-He has 14 kids

1:21:59-Bois Sec says he usually drinks whiskey when he performs "When you don't drink, you don't play"

1:24:00-Bois Sec talks about the Ardoin's family reunions

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
tisserand
Subject: 
creole ardoin cajun accordion
Creator: 
michel tisserand
Publisher: 
Center for Louisiana Studies
Rights Usage: 
All rights reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
1:33:28
Cataloged Date: 
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Digitized Date: 
Thursday, October 13, 2022
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
896 KHZ
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer-111

Interview by Michael Tisserand with Chris Ardoin

Accession No.: 
TI1-005

0:30-Chris and his brother Sean Ardoin are often working together, they are used to write songs togeteher. Sean has reggae and rock influences, whereas Chris has rap and rnb inflences.

0.50-Chris Ardoin talks about his new album, he is especially proud of the song Beauty in your Eyes, Gon be Jus Fine and Lake Charles connection.

10:37-Chris Ardoin was 16 at the time of the interview, he wanted to go to college and keep playing music at the same time.

12:26-Sean was 28 at the time of the interview.

14:00-Despite not speaking french, Chris Ardoin recorded a version of "Un dimanche apres midi" originally recorded by his grand-father bois sec

His father Laurence Ardoin influences him to keep his family heritage alive.

Chris Ardoin claims to have a more modern approcah to zydeco.

Part 2: Lawrence Ardoin (Chris's father)

18:00-Lawrence Ardoin explains that the Ardoin has their own pitch of voice, he compares it to a "flavor in the gumbo". Their voice us their signature  spice.

Bois Sec Ardoin already had health problems at the time, Lawrence seems worried about it.

 

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
tisserand
Subject: 
accordion zydeco ardoin creole
Creator: 
michel tisserand
Informants: 
chris ardoin
Recording date: 
Thursday, March 27, 1997
Coverage Spatial: 
phone conversation
Publisher: 
Center for Louisiana Studies
Rights Usage: 
All rights reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
29.35
Cataloged Date: 
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Digitized Date: 
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
896 KHZ
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer-111

Interview by Michel Tisserand with Lawrence Ardoin

Accession No.: 
TI1-006

0:00-Lawrence Ardoin talks about his accordions and the technical issues he had during tours/recording sessions

6:54-Lawrence Ardoin talks about playing music when he was growing up and his childhood in duralde.

7.40-Lawrence did not hear good things about Amede when he was growing up

8:15-Lawrence calls Canray Fontenot's father Adam Acaze instead of Adam Fontenot

10:38-Lawrence played fiddle with his father (bois sec) when he was eleven but he did not like it. He stopped fiddle after Canray Fontenot quit performing.

Lawrence used to play in Lake Charles every friday

12:34-Lawrence played at the ardoin club (also called the Cowboy Club) in duralde

13:30-Back in the days people used to buy old houses to turn them into music clubs

16:00-Kids were welcome in the Zydeco clubs

16:40-Lawrence talk about the  baisse bas style of dancing

19:17-Lawrence talks about asking girls for a dance

20:30-Lawrence talks about Amede Ardoin

25:00-Lawrence Ardoin talks about house dances during Amede's time

26:40-Lawrence says his son Sean is a good entertainer and a good singer.

30:42-Lawrence talks what makes a song "sound" creole

31:40-Canray Fontenot was often drunk, the ardoins plyed "Mamou hot step" to sober him up.

32:38-Lawrence talks about a merry go round pulled by a mule in his town. People used to play music there.

38:05-Lawrence talks about mardi gras celebrations.

42:00-Lawrence talks about forming a band after his brother died

47:18-Lawrence talks about Boozoo Chavis and John Delafose

51:15-Lawrence talks about the rivalry between bands and the competion in music

53:40-Lawrence Ardoin talks about the racial segregation in the 1950, he says Eunice was very segregated

1:01:38-Lawrence talks about Chris first album (when he was only ten) for "maison de soul"

1:06:20-Lawrence claims that Boozoo cannot play his style, but he cannot play boozoo's style either

1:13:45-Lawrence talks about band etiquette 

1:27:24-"Zydeco is not a polished music, all the flaws are a part of it"

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
tisserand
Creator: 
michel tisserand
Informants: 
laurence ardoin
Recording date: 
Sunday, October 20, 1996
Publisher: 
Center for Louisiana Studies
Rights Usage: 
All rights reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
1:33:43
Cataloged Date: 
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Digitized Date: 
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
896 KHZ
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer-111

Interview by Michel Tisserand with Lawrence Ardoin and Chris Ardoin

Accession No.: 
TI1-007

0:58-Chris Ardoin played at Carnegie Hall in 1985 at 8

1:32-Chris Ardoin started the accordion at 3

3:05-Chris Ardoin started triple note accordion at 10

4:27-Chris Ardoin talks about his new album at the time "Lick it up"

5:30-The students in Chris Ardoin's school at the time pretented to not like zydeco but he saw them at dances on the weekend.

7:30-Chris Ardoin explains that he wanted to release his album as quickly as possible to enter the music industry

11:21-Sometimes Chris wanted to be more fluent in french like the rest of his family

11:54-Chris talks about his future

13:45-Lawrence Ardoin explain how crowds react differently and how he ajusts his setlist and playing style accordingly

21:53-Chris says he records songs everyday

23:29-Chris thinks young people are still going to like zydeco in the future

24:40-Michael TIsserand asks about the differences between the people who go to hip hop clubs and the people who go to zydeco clubs.

26:00-Tisserand talks about the book he is currently writing (The Kingdom of Zydeco)

31:15-Lawrence thniks the mixing on the last Ketih Frank album is bad

35:20-Lawrence says that all the cajun music today comes from Amede Ardoin. Lawrence does not like Iry Leujeune because he got the credit (and the copyrights) for Amede's songs. 

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
tisserand
Subject: 
creole
Creator: 
michel tisserand
Informants: 
Lawrence Ardoin
Recording date: 
Friday, June 17, 2022
Publisher: 
Center for Louisiana Studies
Rights Usage: 
All rights reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
42:39
Cataloged Date: 
Friday, June 17, 2022
Digitized Date: 
Friday, June 17, 2022
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
896 KHZ
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer-111

Interview by Michel Tisserand with Milton Ardoin

Accession No.: 
TI1-008

Milton Ardoin was Amede Ardoin's nephew

5:26-His father was Beaudoin Ardoin, he sang with Amede Ardoin

6:58:-Milton Ardoin explains Michael tisserands about the song "Mon bon vieux mari"

11:26-Milton Ardoin talks about Amede's death.

12:21-Milton was 20 when Amede died

12:36-Milton explain that 2 people were hired to kill Amede (Richard Miller and Elias Deville,  they beat him up and rolled over his head with their car close to Eunice (besides the "john deer place")

23:00-Amede played music at Milton's house, he played solo most of the time

24:50-Milton Ardoin tell about a time where Amede was shot by someone jealous of him.

32:26-Amede started the accodion after Milton's father (Amede's brother) gave him an accordion. Amede was still a child, his feet did not touch the ground when he was playing.

34:40-Milton could not visit Amede in Pineville hospital, because was working at the CC corps and he did not have a car.

36:45-Milton only visited Amede once. Amede was not the man he used to be. 

42:34-The two men that were hired to kill him were black

49:38-Milton tells about a time where Amede Ardoin was shot through a chruch window.

51:23:Amede Ardoin played for white and black people, mostly for white people. He also played with Dennis McGee who was a white fiddler.

52: 55-Amede worked im the fields with the rest of his family

53:04-Milton claims that Bois Sec never played triangle with Amede Ardoin

55:11-Milton was 16 years old when Amede got beaten up. Amede's mind was off after the accident.

58:20-Milton Ardoin's father did not go to chruch, his mother went to a baptist chruch. He does not remember Amede singing religious songs.

59:50-Milotjn Ardoin's Grand-Father (Amede's father) died when Amede was twelve. A bridge broke when he was crossing it with cows. His grand mother (Amede's mother) died when Amede was 30. She was very strict with Milton. 

1:03:31-Amede Ardoin never married, he did not have any official children

1:05:20-Milton Ardoin talks about "La valse des orphelins" to Michael TIsserand 

1:10:58-Amede could not play after his accident

1:15:09-Amede used to drink, he did not drink a lot because he was small.

1:20:00-When Amede had a cold, he would drink Castor oil to grease his throat so he could sing

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
tisserand
Subject: 
Amede Ardoin
Creator: 
michel tisserand
Recording date: 
Tuesday, August 13, 1996
Publisher: 
Center for Louisiana Studies
Rights Usage: 
All rights reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
1:20:12
Cataloged Date: 
Tuesday, June 21, 2022
Digitized Date: 
Tuesday, June 21, 2022
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
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Bit Depth: 
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Sampling Rate: 
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Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer-111

Interview by Michel Tisserand with Morris Ardoin

Accession No.: 
TI1-009

Morris Ardoin was the oldest son of Bois Sec and Lawrence Ardoin's brother.  

In this interview he talks about his childhood, his family and the mardis gras celebrations.

0:46-The interview took place the day after the Centennial Olympic Park bombing

Morris Ardoin worked in a farm where he felt exploited by his boss, he struggled to feed his family.

12:40-Morris Ardoin's father (bois sec) worked in the cotton field.

17:40-He had five brother and nine sisters

18:19-Morris opened a music club, called the cowboy club

26:17-Bois Sec had a club at his house for two years

30:30-Morris talks about how people lost interest in Cajun music when 

36:10-Morris talks about his mardi gras celebrations

54:05-Morris explain what the mardi gras dances were like at his time

1:08:00-Morris started playing music with the guitar but moved to accordion soon after.

1:11:40-Morris talks about Amede Ardoin's incident in Eunice

He says that Amede Ardoin never got married but he had an affair with a woman. Officialy, Amede does not have any children.

1:19:35-Morris Ardoin tells Michael TIsserand about Milton Ardoin (the last nephew of Amede Ardoin at the time) and where to find him.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
tisserand
Subject: 
ballrooms accodrion
Creator: 
michel tisserand
Recording date: 
Thursday, June 23, 2022
Publisher: 
Center for Louisiana Studies
Rights Usage: 
All rights reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
1:30:11
Cataloged Date: 
Thursday, June 23, 2022
Original Format: 
cassette
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WAV
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24 bit
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896 KHZ
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Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer-111

Interview by Michel Tisserand with Morris Ardoin side 3

Accession No.: 
TI1-010

0:15-The Ardoin brothers started a band in 1966 when morris came back from Mississipi.  They got together to increase their chances to all suceed in music without their father (Bois Sec). They played in Lake Charles, Lafayette and New Orleans. They named themselves the Ardoin Brothers aftert the Balfa Brothers. Morris talks about the formation of the band.

11:08-Michael Tisserands asks why Bois Sec Ardoin did not play at the Jazzfest. Morris says it's because he did not give an awnser to the Jazzfest organisation  . As he got old, Bois Sec always used to say he would stop playing but kept playing anyway.

16:50-Morris Ardoin starts to talk about when Amede got beat up and the racial segregation in Louisiana. People worked together but did not dance together. Black people could only enter white people parties as performing musicians.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
tisserand
Subject: 
Ardoin
Creator: 
michel tisserand
Recording date: 
Monday, June 27, 2022
Publisher: 
Center for Louisiana Studies
Rights Usage: 
All rights reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
27:21
Cataloged Date: 
Monday, June 27, 2022
Digitized Date: 
Monday, June 27, 2022
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
896 KHZ
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Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer-111

Interview by Michel Tisserand with Sean and Erika Ardoin

Accession No.: 
TI1-011

Sean Ardoin and his sister Erika Ardoin are talking about zydeco dances and creole culture

4:08-Sean Ardoin, talks about timing in Cajun and Zydeco dances.

6:50-Sean Ardoin talks about dancing, he gives advices to michael tisserand and explain how a zydeco dance works. 

White people are welcome to zydeco dances. Nevertheless, black people are not welcome at Cajun Dances, Sean and his Sister get stared at and feel like intruders.

28:40-Sean talks about the rivalry between Beau Jocque and Boozoo Chavis but also between the Ardoin Family and the Delafose Family. 

37:12-Sean says Beau Jocque stole ideas from other musicians he even stole a song from the Ardoin's.

50:50-Sean says that Cajun music comes from european music, zydeco comes from RnB and Afro-Caribbean music

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
tisserand
Creator: 
michel tisserand
Publisher: 
Center for Louisiana Studies
Rights Usage: 
All rights reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
51:50
Cataloged Date: 
Monday, June 27, 2022
Digitized Date: 
Monday, June 27, 2022
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
896 KHZ
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer-111

Interview by Michel Tisserand with Sean and Erika Ardoin part 1

Accession No.: 
TI1-012

0:27-When Sean grew up (in the 1970s), there were no radio stations playing zydeco music. Some Cajun radio stations played Clifton Chenier once in a while.

1:36-Lawrence Ardoin (Sean's father) played music with the family band (the Ardoin Brothers).

2:31-Sean started music by playing drums.

3:10-Lawrence Ardoin made between 600 and 1000 dollars per gigs in the 1980. 

4:14-Creole music was called French Dance or Lala

6:37-His father did not encourage him to play music

11:34-Beau Jocque was a big influence for Sean Ardoin when it comes to the rythm.

18:10-Sean studies in General Education with a social science concentration.

18:47-Sean says that Geno Delafose sounds "old style" like Lawrence Ardoin. 

20:58-Sean says that Chris was already a very good accordion player at 14, he just lacked visibility.

26:20-The dancing style changed, because the music changed too.

27:04-Sean started liking Zydeco when he was studying at LSU, he realized how important it was to preserve his creole roots.

30:04-Sean is proud of the Creole heritage, he wishes more people would be aware of the culture.

32:26-He did not speak french nor Creole at home, he wishes he spoke more.

38:00-Sean uses the example of Amede Ardoin to explain how black people are rarely given credits for the things they achieve.

39:30-Bois Sec could afford a confortable life by being a famous musician, everyone respected him

40:55-Him and Chris are the only musicians of their generation in the Ardoin family

42:15-Sean depicts boozoo as a very pretentious man, he charged a lot for his gigs.

44:25-Seans says that everyone in his family had jobs outside of music to be more independent from the music industry. They did not have to accept every gigs, unlike John Delafose.

59:06-Sean learned to dance from Erika, his sister

1:03:14-Sean explains that younger people don't like zydeco, as it was something for older people. At the time it was not as trendy as hip hop.

1:13:00-Sean says zydeco shares similarities with African music and Caribbean music

1:19:11-Erika and Sean talk about their experience with racism and segregation

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
tisserand
Subject: 
accordion zydeco
Creator: 
michel tisserand
Informants: 
Sean Ardoin
Recording date: 
Tuesday, June 28, 2022
Publisher: 
Center for Louisiana Studies
Rights Usage: 
All rights reserved
Meta Information
Cataloged Date: 
Tuesday, June 28, 2022
Digitized Date: 
Tuesday, June 28, 2022
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
896 KHZ
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer-111

Interview by Michel Tisserand with Lynn August

Accession No.: 
TI1-013

Lynn August was in Lafayette, he was coming back from a  tour on the East Coast.

2:15-Lynn talks about cooking and food he eats on tour.

4:53-Lynn always carries hot sauce with him

5:15-Lynn August talks about his diabete and cholesterol, his wife has to cut on fats and sugar when she cooks

10:15-Lynn talks about the origins of zydeco (snao beans)

16:30-Lynn says gumbo tastes bad elsewhere in the US because they do not season as much as in Louisiana

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
tisserand
Subject: 
accordion zydeco
Creator: 
michel tisserand
Informants: 
lynn august
Coverage Spatial: 
phone conversation
Publisher: 
Center for Louisiana Studies
Rights Usage: 
All rights reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
31:41
Cataloged Date: 
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
Digitized Date: 
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
896 KHZ
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer-111

Interview by Michel Tisserand with Christine Balfa

Accession No.: 
TI1-014

0:53-At that time Christine Balfa was planning to do a record with Bois Sec (the album "Allons Danser" Released in 98), the interview is mostly about this project.

3:30-Her father (Dewey Balfa of the Bafla Brothers) already played with the Ardoin Family.

9:42-The Balfa and the Ardoin have always been close to each other, they often played together. Christine danced to Bois Sec Ardoin and Canray Fontenot songs when she was little. The families often played together at festivals.

19:05-Michael Tisserand and Christine talks about how Cajun and Creole music compare to mainstream genres such as country music and RnB

27:10-Christine explains the song "fond d'culotte" two step to Michael TIsserand. It's an instrumental song that Christine plans to record with Bois Sec.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
tisserand
Subject: 
Balfa borthers
Creator: 
michel tisserand
Informants: 
Christine Balfa
Recording date: 
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
Coverage Spatial: 
phone conversation
Publisher: 
Center for Louisiana Studies
Rights Usage: 
All rights reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
32:10
Cataloged Date: 
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
896 KHZ
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-Drawer-111

Interview with Beau Jocque by Michael Tisserand #1

Accession No.: 
TI1-016

Former Accession # TI1-001

0:00 Happy with how new album turned out. Hoping it goes a long way with Rounders capability to push nationally and internationally. Hopes people get to know him through his music.
1:45 Guys in the group call him a perfectionist. Doesn't read or write music, writes songs. Took music since sixth grade but used ear.
3:22 Reflection of blues/spiritual in music, wishes was a better singer. Ray Johnson- guitarist, Chuck Bush- bass, Stevie (18 years old) drummer.
9:17 What you gonna give me for a porkchop
10:20 Hopes to make another album every 6-8 months. People steal songs, record gig from back of club.They can steal the songs but they can't recreate something that's not their style.
13:13 Porkchop added 'What you gonna give me for that porkchop' gives extra rhythm. When band goes from Porkchop into Cornbread, he laughs that people think he wants to sell everything he's got. Gets crowd in good humor, mood to have fun.
15:15 Played Zydeco Festival for the first time ever. Everyone said to Tisserand 'you have to hear Beau Jocque'.
16:14 How music career began. Started playing around 7 years ago and got into accident about 10 months after started playing, just when things were starting to happen. Started playing on accordion. Dad said 'You might as well put that down. Not something like a horn you can pick up and play.It's very hard to learn. Don't fool with it.' Dad wouldn't play much. He tied the accordion to drinking and having fun and it would tend to get out of hand so he left it alone. Dad lives near Mamou. Joque bought his own accordion then about 10 months later got some guys together and started playing. That was around '87, accident was in '86. The accident was an explosion at work at Texas Gas where he was an electrician and welder. Fell sitting down on concrete, broke back and left legs partially paralyzed. Had three surgeries on lower back. Couldn't get around for 9-10 months, can't lift anything.
19:30 Dad conned him into playing accordion by telling him he couldn't do it. Dad laughed afterwards and said 'works every time'. There's a lot that dad can do on accordion he'd like to do. Would like to play with him every once in a while. Marc Savoy told him he'd like for him and his dad to go on tour to Rhode Island where somone is looking for a father and son group that could represent Zydeco and Cajun--dad plays Cajun.
21:13 He played for a while and then the insurance company and attorney said to let it go or they would regard it as an occupation. He couldn't afford that, wasn't making a living from playing. It was just something to keep him from depression. It's hard being laid up doing nothing. He had to shut it down and leave it alone for about 5 years. But during that time, he and his wife would got to shows. Would see Boozoo Chavis and listen and pay attention to what the crowd reacted to most. They would go out and listen to different groups: Zydeco Force, Nathan Williams, Terence Simien. That experience gave him the chance to get out within a year's time. He says he's been out a year this past Christmas. Staying very busy drawing people of all groups. Playing around Opelousas, Lafayette. It paid off studying other musicians and analyzing things. Got a lot done that way.
23:50 Does some of Boozoo's music. People love Boozoo's music. That particular style people love to dance to. Clear beat, good dancing beat. Boozoo's timing is real bad. But his son plays drums in the band and knows his dad so well that he can cover him so fast audience doesn't realize. The whole band can. Boozoo's timing is not good but his style is, so Jocque developed a style like his. Beau Joque's original name is Andros Espre. Dad is Sandrus Espre.
26:24 Beau Joque is a nickname he always had meaning Big Jocque. Grandfather and brothers would tease him because he was so much bigger than he was supposed to be for his age. He would play with high school boys when in elementary school. The nickname was just a family thing for a long time. Then wife said 'why don't you use that name when you start playing again?' Wife thought people would like it. It's unusual. A name is more important than people realize--especially in music. Has to have flair, be catchy, draw a picture. Beau Jocue means big guy. He's 6'6".
29:28 Used to try to sit down with father and learn some of his songs but he's hell to learn from. Very, very strict. Nothing ever right with him. Dad came to Kermon's place for wife's birthday and Kermon asked dad 'what do you think of your boy now?' Dad replied 'he's coming along.' Kermon said 'Coming along?! The place is packed!' Dad replied 'Yeah, but maybe they didn't have no where else to go.'
30:48 Dad and friends used to jam out in the piney woods where parents are from out near Oakdale. They would start around 2pm and play until 1 in the morning. Beau Jocque would go listen. They played music he'd never heard before that had never been recorded.
32:45 We speak Cajun French dialect. Around Lafayette they speak a Creole French. Totally different. The first time he heard Creole French was when he enlisted in the service and met guys from Lafayette. They spoke French but he couldn't understand it. He grew up speaking French and English. 37 years old right now.
33:44He grew up around Mamou and Oakdale area. He sings Cajun French. Cajun French is regarded as the formal French in Louisiana. Creole French is a broken dialect of French. They can understand Cajun French, but he can't understand Creole French. Creole French not broken down from Parisian or Canadian French. Just a dialect from that area, a regional thing.
35:30 Style dad plays is Cajun French but lots of the old stuff he plays is not Cajun. Don't know what it's called but it's not Zydeco either. Soulful bluesy style that's hardly known. Similar to what Canray Fontenot plays on the fiddle. Heard Canray's very sick. But he's still playing. Came to New Orleans a couple of weeks ago. Still doing shows, has cancer. He speaks Cajun French but his music style is often called Creole. Plays Cajun music but gets into bluesy style like Amede Ardoin.--bluesy style of French music. Marc Savoy probably knows more about that history.
38:40 Beau Jocque never listened to Cajun or French music growing up as a kid. Listened to stuff on t.v. Would go to Mardi Gras with other kids and listen but it was never something he considered doing. Maybe the injury made it all possible. Stuff comes to him so easily, like he inherited it. Dad would make up songs on stage. He does too. Unless his wife has a tape recorder, he'll never know that song again. The guys in the group will say he pulled another rabbit out of the hat. Feels like he's done it before in a former life. Didn't start playing at a young age. Would have ruined life. He was a very excitable person with few limits. Had to mature before God let him go on to do his thing. He lives for his wife and kids now. He's more responsible and predictible than he was in his teens and twenties. Parents wouldn't allow them to have any instruments in the home. He was raised to think that musicians were bums and drunks and womanizers. But he says it's not the music that makes you do those things. It's the person. Dad and friends would get together and drink too much and mom didn't like it. When his oldest brother was born, his dad put away the accordion. The first time he really heard him play was the day he got married. It made him cry. He played that well. And he could see his dad loved it so much.
43:58 Drove to Memphis about two weeks ago. Don't like driving, loading and unloading. Had to stop outside of Jackson. Too tired. Always try to make it back to catch Sunday gig in Mamou. Hoping to get a bus and a driver. It's too dangerous being on the road tired.
46:38 He writes a lot of songs. Kermon asked him to make a song up about Richard's. No one has and it's the oldest Zydeco club around. He made up about 4 different Richard songs. One came together and they played it one night. Kermon loved it. He was dancing behind the bar. Kermon said 'If that's not a hit I'll eat my hat.' Beau Joque said 'but you don't ever wear a hat.' Kermon said 'Well, it's gonna be a hit anyway.'
49:22 Cornbread--old, old song. Willis Prudhomme put out a version of it. That's wear Beau Jocque heard it. Don't know who did the original. Scott said it could be regarded as traditional. People would ask for Cornbread. Beau Jocque changed it around, polished it up. No one plays it that way. They break it down and put a spotlight on each band member. Chuck didn't want a spot--afraid he'd miss a note. Wilfred Pierre is the scrub board player. Everybody calls him 'Caveman'. Vocal style on song comes from John Lee Hooker. He likes his style. Nobody can duplicate his style. It's a laid back style. Very effective.
54:00 Tisserand asks if he describes his music as Zydeco. He says 'Yeah. It's Beau Jocque Zydeco". He tries to put as much heart into it as he can. Strong kick, a lot of drive. At the end of the night you've had a good workout. He wants to create a lot of excitement. Beau Jocque asks if it would damage his image if he went up there and recorded a few x-rated songs. Scott says yes. They are funny and make people laugh. He uses a rap style. He says it's more effective when people aren't talking so fast you can't understand them.
58:37 People who have never been to Louisiana will hear the new album. He thinks they will appreciate it.
59:34 He wanted to use a piano accordion on Brown Skin Woman because it has more notes to playbut he got rid of his piano accordion and couldn't get one for the recording.
1:00:09 He switches accordions on Damballah, Beau's Mardi Gras, Beau's Boogie. Damballah is just some words. Stevie and Chuck watched the movie Chucky. In the movie, a guy is practicing voodoo saying 'damballah'. Beau told them he didn't believe in it and thinks it's evil and told them to cut it out. Stevie and Chuck told Beau they thought he was scared of it. Beau said he wasn't scared. He'd make a song out of it. One night while playing in Vile Platte, he came out with the song and the people covered the floor. The band just looked at each other and laughed. He said he doesn't know if it's some kind of evil and they acted a fool and recorded it. It comes from that dumb Chucky movie.
1:04:26 A couple of the songs are basic, stripped down Zydeco one-chord songs. Some are in minor keys. You can get more bluesy in minor chords. He decided he wants to get into the blues with a blues harmonica when he gets good enough. When he was 8 or 9 years old, he played the blues harmonica very well. People would come listen to him play during recess. He would play some low-down blues that he had heard his brothers play on old records they had at home. He is thinking about bringing the blues harmonica into the material.
1:06:24 One song, Creole Queen, that he wrote has a lot of words to it. Tells a story and starts out serious. In the end the guy falls out of bed and realizes he was dreaming. He gets pissed off because the dream was just getting to the good part. John Lee Hooker is Beau Jocque's favorite blues singer. He's a natural, has a style nobody can copy.
1:07:29 Beau's Mardi Gras. They have been playing it over and over this week. It's been a while since he played a trail ride. Problem with trail rides is that they always cost him money. Dust gets into power amps and they have to be repaired. He's going to do two this year for some old friends that pay very well. Sort of a family reunion. Serious money. He will go by Vincent's and rent some power equipment and save his.
1:09:04 For Mardi Gras he played an old-fashioned Mardi Gras run at an old-fashioned place in Eunice that used to be a warehouse for feed storage. A guy made a club out of it and opens it for special events. He's been down to play there for Mardi Gras for 6-8 months. They had a good time, played an hour over. Just about all older musicians have a version of Mardi Gras song. Each region, different areas have their own story. Usually a similar melody. Sing for charity, a duck or a chicken or anything you care to give, a piece of fat meat or something that would help the feast tonight. We mean no harm we just come once a year to have a good time. If you would like us to dance we'll dance a while for you. And then captain says it's time to move on. Let's go to the next neighbor down the road. That's basically what all the songs say but melody is different.
1:11:10 The melody for Beau's Cajun Two-step came from the theme song for Jambalaya. They play a similar song. He changed the tempo and added a double kick. Gives more time to dance, a more kicked up beat. Dancers like it. If you can't create a groove, something's not right.
1:13:18 Tisserand tells Beau he has a real strong deep voice he hasn't heard on other Zydeco records. Asks him what's the secret? He doesn't know. For a long time was convinced he'd never be able to sing. He was always told--don't even try. Just play the instrument. He was told that by his rude brothers. He has one sister that has always been really good to him. They wouldn't dare put him down in front of her. She told him that he could do anything he wanted and better than them. That's why they are always on you. He has two brothers. He is the youngest.Neither can play. They like to dance. Wouldn't give themselves enough time to learn to play. When he would sing they would tell him to please just put the harmonica back in his mouth or just hum.
1:14:59 He prays a lot. Asks God to bless him to become as good a singer as he'd like to be. There are lots of things singers do that fascinate him. One guy that no one knows or has heard of from Palmetto has an unbelievable tone in his voice but has no ambition. He also plays blues guitar well and sings B.B. King music--makes his guitar sound like Lucille. He had recorded a demo with a con artist who took him for a ride and that finished him off right there. He's Chuck Bush's father-in-law. I told him I'd like him to do 2-3 songs in my show.Told him I couldn't give him much money but I draw 500-600 people to the show that would give him lots of exposure and let the audience find out who he was. One night in Breaux Bridge He sang with Beau. Sang Rainy Night in Georgia. Beau considered adding him to his show, adding that B.B. King sound. But older club owners told him not to add him. Said don't ever do that and that people pay to see Beau Jocque and hear Zydeco music, not this other stuff. Clifton Chenier never added anyone and that's why he stayed number one as long as he lived. People don't like an added feature. They feel like they are being cheated. Beau can't remember the guy's name.
1:19:30 He says he'd like to sing well enough to make somebody cry. One old man said if you can't make 'em cry and you can't make 'em laugh, you ain't done nothin'. If you can make them go from one extreme to the other extreme, you're doing something.
1:20:07 Beau says his wife is always in his corner. She encouraged him all along. She's always been a very good friend to him. He wrote the song "Shelly Shelly" for her. She didn't like the idea of him singing "Brown Skin Woman". She'd say 'Who you talkin' about?! You should say something about Shelly'. He decided not to put Clifton's song "I'm Coming Home" on the album.
1:22:05 Nonc Adam is a part of a song his dad would play when mom wasn't around. It's a dirty joke about an old couple. The old man bought himself a long banana. When he peeled it, it just fell down. Madam was excited but in the end let down. Mom would catch them on the porch playing that song and get mad.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Michael Tisserand Collection
Subject: 
Zydeco, Cajun, Creole, Oral History
Creator: 
Michael Tisserand
Informants: 
Michael Tisserand
Recording date: 
Thursday, March 10, 1994
Publisher: 
Michael Tisserand
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
1:33:34
Cataloged Date: 
Monday, August 31, 2020
Digitized Date: 
Monday, August 31, 2020
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
wav
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-- Drawer 111

Interview with Beau Jocque by Michael Tisserand #1 (part 2)

Accession No.: 
TI1-017

Former Accession Number TI1-002

00:00 Talks about Ardoin kids. Wants them to open for him at Richard's but Kerman says no. Mentions Club Lexus in Grand Coteau. October 1991 was his first time to play there.
2:14 During the 5 years he and his wife were analyzing and studying groups performing he would sometimes sit in on accordion. One night, Retell Chavis (bass player) called Beau and asked him to fill in on accordion in his band, The Night Rockers. Beau said he was looking for a band but wanted them to change their name to The Hi-Rollers. The Night Rockers thought about it and said no, but when Beau told them he would find a different band, the agreed and became the Hi-Rollers. He said he named the band Hi-Rollers because he wanted to accomplish great things.
5:07 Over time, Beau lost the original members. Retell (one of Boozoo's nephews) developed a bad drinking problem and fell on stage with his bass during a show. Beau fired him the next morning but they remained friends. Chuck (who had been playing guitar) became the bass player. Beau found Ray Johnson (who had been playing with Morris Ledet) and put him on guitar. The drummer got on crack, robbed and stabbed a man and was now in prison. Beau was able to get Steve Charlot who had played off and on with Roy Carrier.
10:07 Whenever you have a band with each member giving 100 percent, it's easy to get right.
11:04 Bought a Fender 6-string bass for Chuck at Vincent's Backstage Equipment
12:12 Beau talks about the clubs where he performs regularly. He plays once a month at Vincent's, Mon Ami in Grand Marais and The Big Hat in Grand Coteau. Alternates the other Saturday and sometimes goes to Houston or New Orleans. He also plays at Raymond's in Port Arthur, The Harvest Club in Beaumont, JB Entertainment in Houston and Mid City Lanes in New Orleans. He will be playing at Jimmy's and the House of Blues in New Orleans and has some tours this year in London and D.C. He says he supposed to be playing in Germany, Belgium, Canada, Africa. Concerted Efforts out of Atlanta sets up the band's international tours.
18:46 Beau had been stationed in Mildenhall aabout 60 miles outside of London when he was Andres Espre. No one calls him that anymore. He didn't listen to Zydeco music then. He started listening to Zydeco when a couple of friends told him about Boozoo Chavis and he became fascinated by the sound of the accordion and the effect it had on the crowd.
20:53 Beau's injury was September 4, 1987. He says talking about it leads to depressing things.Things looked dim to him. The person he was with at the time was not compassionate.Things went from bad to worse. He had fallen around 20 feet onto concrete while at work. He was tightening a level monitor onto a vessel when the pipe wrench slipped and he fell backwards.He was brought to a hospital in Eunice where they put him in a tub and he couldn't see a doctor. He got fed up and had his family doctor call up someone he knew in Lake Charles, Carl Gunnerson. Beau talks about his surgeries and their complications. He's not able to do heavy lifting. He says the French and triple row accordion are not heavy like the piano accordion.
28:27 Wife from first marriage did not want kids but Beau did. She became pregnant after 10 years and had an abortion.
28:50 The phone rings and Beau steps away to talk to Caveman for a bit to discuss meeting times for their gigs that weekend.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Michael Tisserand Collection
Subject: 
Zydeco, Cajun, Creole, Oral History
Creator: 
Michael Tisserand
Informants: 
Michael Tisserand
Recording date: 
Monday, August 31, 2020
Publisher: 
Michael Tisserand
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
42:32
Cataloged Date: 
Monday, August 31, 2020
Digitized Date: 
Monday, August 31, 2020
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-- Drawer 111

Interview with Beau Jocque by Michael Tisserand #2

Accession No.: 
TI1-018

Former Accession # TI1-003

0:00 Talks about his children. Oldest boy, 3, pick up accordion. Youngest will probably be drummer and singer, beats on everything.
0:54 Tisserand talks of new raw, horse Zydeco singing style. Joque noticed a lot of folks doing that. Thinks it's because they don't train their voices. Big scream/ no tone. Would like to become better singer and have a teacher or video. Loves to sing
2:50 Richard's Club--sounds like a place you want to go.
3:13 Family background cross German/Coushatta Indian/Black. Mom's mom full blood Coushatta . Mullato, dad's family has some Coushatta too, multi-racial family. Wife's family Cajun and Coushatta. Want everyone to learn to like each other. Too much hate in the world. Teach kids love, not hate/predjudice.
6:13 Hate/predjudice is a sickness in the South. Bad seems to overpower good. Heard old man say "empty buckets bring the most noise"
6:40 Chere d'Allien is an old traditional song. People love to dance to it. At the gigs, sometimes songs last 4 or 5 minutes because dancers like longer songs.
9:13 Beau talks about the Saturday dances. Some people have gone to Zydeco dances their whole life. No matter how bad things are, they go to the Saturday dance and it makes all the hardships of the week alright. A good dance and church on Sunday morning and everything's alright. He loves the older people coming up to him and complimenting him. They are bigger critics than the young folks.
13:27 Wants to do Brownskin Woman with a B3 sound and add keyboard sound to some of the other slow songs. He plays octaves on the accordion, get a fat sound. Dad always told him if you're gonna play accordion, learn to play in octaves or don't say you play accordion.Talks about difference between single row, triple row and and piano accordion.
16:20 Talks about Richard's Club being their regular stop. They mostly play there twice a month. Says it was Kerman and his wife who encouraged him most. Kerman said he learned from his father and being in the business over 40 years how to spot a sure thing. Kerman told Beau that he'd be number one by Christmas and was right. By Christmas, he was outdrawing Boozoo and Zydeco Force. Kerman said there's a certain electricity in the air when a band is right.
20:00 Tisserand asks Beau what he wants people to know about him and his music. Beau says his music is a mixture of things he hears and things he wants to hear in Zydeco music. It's a cultural and traditional thing. He inherited a lot of talent from his father. He says nothing is more effective than playing and singing from the heart. Wants people to listen to the music and expect something to happen. They will feel part of his heart--compassion, happiness, excitement, peace of mind--things he cherishes most and tries to reflect in music.Wishes he knew more about spiritual/gospel music. He wants to write songs with more meaning and feels Zydeco music is missing out on a lot of that.
24:00 He talks about the song Brownskin Woman and how it came from him goofing around at home with his wife. Tells a story of his parents showing up at his house after church while he was in the middle of playing it.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Michael Tisserand Collection
Subject: 
Creole Zydeco oral history
Creator: 
Michael Tisserand
Informants: 
Michael Tisserand
Recording date: 
Thursday, March 10, 1994
Publisher: 
Michael Tisserand
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
26:48
Cataloged Date: 
Monday, August 31, 2020
Digitized Date: 
Monday, August 31, 2020
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-- Drawer 111

Musical Performance of Give Him Cornbread by Beau Jocque

Accession No.: 
TI1-019

Musical performance of Give Him Cornbread

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Michael Tisserand Collection
Subject: 
Zydeco, Cajun, Creole, Oral History
Creator: 
Michael Tisserand
Informants: 
Michael Tisserand
Recording date: 
Monday, August 31, 2020
Publisher: 
Michael Tisserand
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
8:06
Cataloged Date: 
Monday, August 31, 2020
Digitized Date: 
Monday, August 31, 2020
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-- Drawer 111

Interview on the road with Beau Jocque by Michael Tisserand #2

Accession No.: 
TI1-020

0:00 Michael Tisserand and Beau Jocque are traveling in the car on the way back from his performance at the House of Blues in New Orleans

1:50 To stay awke on long rides Jocque says he keeps thinking and planning. Down the oad he'd like to own his own club.

8:18 Talk about the show at House of Blues earlier that night.

10:35 Jocque watches B.E.T. to get ideas and study what makes people popular.

17:15 They talk about imitators and people sampling Jocque's music without permission. Rounders had attorney write letter to Fred Charlie in Eunice who produced Keith Frank, Preston Frank's son who recorded the song "Yesterday". They toldhim to pay royalities or pull from shelves.

23:36 Todd Mouton, writer for the New Orleans Times-Picayune wrote a negative article about Zydeco and Cjun music where he called Beau Jocque the Michael Bolton of Zydeco.

26:10 Willis Prodhomme plays the song Cornbread. He and Jocque are friends and Jocque says he is going to teach him how to play the triple node accordion.

33:24 Jocque has another nickname "Juke Jack" given to him by Warren Ceaser back in high school at W. W. Stuart High School in Basille. He and Warren had a band back then that would play pop music around DeRidder. Jocque played tuba this was long before Warren played with Clifton Chenier. When Jocque enlisted, Warren went on to play with several big names including Isaac Hayes. Jocque says Warren was arrogant. But that he and all the guys in the band were like family.

38:12 Jocque met Clifton Chenier once at Chenier's house with some friends in 1979. He has played Margaret Chenier's club once. He wanted to buy one of Clifton's accordions from Margaret. Someone offered her $40k for the one that he wanted. It was a Petosa. Jocque spent $10k on a Gabbanelli he felt was just as good.

43:38 Jocque says there's only one King of Zydeco--Clifton Chenier.

47:18 Jocque says he was exposed to neurotoxic gas while in the military. He had top secret security clearance.

52:00 They talk about an incident at Hamilton's when Jocque threw Hamilyon against a wall when he was reaching for a knife in his pocket.

55:00 They talk about the new album coming out. He says he records what feels right to him. Says he wants to record and release the song "Yellow Moon" soon as a single. Michelle Espre wakes up and speaks occasionally throughout the rest of the interview. Jocque says his favorite Zydeco musicians are Buckwheat and C.J. Chenier.

1:06:30 Wolfman Jack

1:09:50 Jocque was asked to call if he ever wants to play Mulate's in New Orleans. Steve Riley plays there every Friday night.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Michael Tisserand Collection
Subject: 
Zydeco, Cajun, Creole, Oral History
Creator: 
Michael Tisserand
Informants: 
Michael Tisserand
Recording date: 
Thursday, March 10, 1994
Publisher: 
Michael Tisserand
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
1:16:11
Cataloged Date: 
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Digitized Date: 
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-- Drawer 111

Hackberry Ramblers in New York City

Accession No.: 
TI1-022

0:00 Tisserand is traveling with the Hackberry Ramblers and their crew and guests and have arrived in New York City for the Grammy Awards ceremony for which they have been nominated. Luderin Darbone talks about using an amplifier with the violin. The violin couldn't compete with the volume of the accordion, but the accordion has only so many notes and the violin gives you the half notes that some tunes need. Tisserand points out Radio City Music Hall, where the Grammy ceremony will be held. Darbone says the band has gone through 30-40 musicians over the years but has only had one violin player. He says his influences are Hank Williams and Bob Wills and mentions an old late-night Bob Wills radio program out of Tulsa that he used to listen to in the car.
5:15 He talks about how he found out he was nominated for a Grammy and how he responded. The Hackberry Ramblers recorded their first record, a 78, on RCA's Bluebird label in 1935. He tells the story of the first time he visited New York with his wife in 1970 while taking a trip to visit friends and Nova Scotia.
14:08 They have arrived at the Grammy ceremony and are being interviewed. Darbone tells the interviewer that the band started in 1933. When asked if he ever thought the band would be playing this long (65 years), he tells the interviewer that he didn't expect they'd play 2 or 3 years. They started at a time when jobs weren't available and piut the band together to make money playing dances and parties. He talks about how music has changed since then and how, in SW Louisiana at the time they begin playing, people were tired of hearing Cajun music and enjoyed their hillbilly music. He talks about the bands influences, how audiences respond to the group, and what it feels like to be up for a Grammy.
21:25 When asked about retirement, he says it's too late to retire. He's asked about how it feels to be playing that night with Jim Lauderdale, Ralph Stanley, Guy Clark, and the other nominees. He tells the story of the first amplifier they used in 1934. He was living in Crowley and a lot of country dancehalls had no electricity. He found a guy in Rayne that had a generator that converted AC to DC.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Michael Tisserand Collection
Subject: 
Zydeco Cajun Creole Country Oral History
Creator: 
Michael Tisserand
Informants: 
Michael Tisserand
Recording date: 
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Coverage Spatial: 
New York, NY
Publisher: 
Michael Tisserand
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
1:32:49
Cataloged Date: 
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Digitized Date: 
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV

Interview with Carl Brasseaux by Michael Tisserand sides 1 and 2

Accession No.: 
TI1-024

Former Accession # TI1-017

1:09 Brasseaux begins by telling the history of the populations of South Louisiana as a whole and says it's regarded by anthropologists and cultural geographers as the most complex rural society in rural U.S. Most outsiders believe that the French speaking culture is monolithic but it is anything but. The French speaking population arrived from a multitude of regions. The second largest free black community was in this region of south central Louisiana, the first being in New Orleans. He talks about the manumission of the mistresses of white planters and their children. Many of the free black were prosperous and some even owned their own slaves. During the Civil War, their sympathies would often lie with the Confederacy.
8:20 Land among the Mississippi was a premium during the 18th century and the free blacks migrated to New Orleans or this region where there was more available land. Transportation was waterborn. A long-lot system was adopted from Normandy and Canada. This gave the land owner access to the stream, which was their means of communication, and the more fertile land. In the 19th century, a large black community emerged from the surplus slaves from the Carolinas, Virginia and Tennessee being brought in from slave merchants. The French speaking black population was tied to the French speaking white population by culture and religion.
13:00 Students did a research paper on Allons Danser Colinda. The Calinda dance originated in Africa and brought in by slaves from the West Indies.
15:00 There are differences in areas where there were nodules of settlements along Bayou Teche and Bayou Vermillion. The geographical area where Zydeco originated forms a triangle from Ville Platte to Crowley to Cankton. That's the region where three cultures came together--the free black community, white creoles and prairie Cajuns. The crossing of the cultures is represented in the music and in the cuisine.
20:00 The musical distinctions came in the 40s and 50s when Cajun became more country and Zydeco became more Rhythm & Blues, and with the introduction of Swamp Pop.
22:00 Going back to the 19th century, it wasn't usual for black musicians to play white parties. Amede Ardoin and Clifton Chenier were successful at melding styles. The country dances early on were a form of entertainment and a way to renew community ties. They were mostly free from violence prior to the Civil War, but became increasingly violent post-Civil War. Dance Halls also faced issues of violence--especially when people from other communities would gather. The people in the area were self-isolated socially and culturally due to negative stereotypes.
25:15 There was a multitiered society in the beginning of the 19th century with white Creoles being the top aristocratic tier, followed by the Acadians, the free people of color, and then the slaves. After the Civil War, the region was seemingly third world with small elite and middle-classes and a large number of dispossessed. There was a large migration to E. Texas by economic refugees at the beginning of the 20th century. under the tenantry system, people of all backgrounds worked side-by-side in the fields which was a source for cross-cultural exchanges.
38:57 There were staggering acts of violence in the Cajun prairie areas in the early part of the 20th century. There was an attempt to establish a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in Lafayette until the newspaper published a member list which led the group to disband.
43:00 Cookie and the Cupcakes played at the Southern Club in Opelousas but were not allowed in the club itself, only the bandstand. This was common up through the 1950s. Mrs. Hebert, a war widow in New Iberia, transformed her house into a dancehall in the wake of the Civil War. He says Tisserand should contact Shane Bernard about stories at the Southern Club when black musicians crossed the line.
47:30 They talk about violence in the black community at the turn of the century in the region.
53:20 There are some myths dispelled such as one that Mallet refers to mulatto. The talk about influx of migration from Santo Domingo.
57:00 Only in the last Census is there a category for Cajun. But there is none for Creole. Brasseaux grew up in southern St. Landry Parish. There was little Creole and Cajun music performed when he was growing up because it was a time when those communities were under extreme stress. Cajun culture was publicly denigrated in the Opelousas newspaper as late as 1964. Most of Clifton's shows were on the road, particularly East Texas. It wasn't until the first Cajun Music Festival in 1974 that young Cajun activists insisted that Creole musicians be included. The members of the Cajun elite (including Barry Ancelet and Jimmy Dimaggio) who were part of the CODOFIL establishment were adamantly opposed to their inclusion. The festival provides a forum for these people who had been shoved aside during the 40s and 50s. Had it gone another decade. Brasseaux believes both musical forms may well have disappeared. It attracted a new following of younger generations.
1:05:55 They talk about efforts to stamp out the local cultures in the mid 20th century by educators. This trend was reversed in the 70s for the Cajun clulture, followed by the Creoles in the 1980s.
1:09:40 Tisserand asks about social functions and institutions in the late 19 and early 20th centuries. The Cajuns had a social function that enforced a sense of community called la ramasserie, which was a communal harvest of people gathering to help out those who were shorthanded. They was another institution called a boucherie, which was a weekly butchery for people in the community. The dances were for community ties as well but also included courting rituals. It was discovered only recently that many Jewish families of German and Eastern European consciously changed their identities and converted to Catholicism to integrate into the community. There were instances of a need to look for outer marriages in some Creole communities like Natchitoches due to the small population. There were high instances of genetic problems in areas where there was horizontal marriage. This was more common in bayou areas than in the prairie areas where people could move around more freely.
1:15:57 The talk about the genetic presence of Native American blood in the Cajun and Creole cultures. Brasseaux believes it is exaggerated. He said the natives in the region were sparce to begin with and that the Attakapas Indians were cannibalistic. The last full-blood Attakapas died before 1910. There was a western influx of Coushatta Indians in the 1790s but their co-mingling was limited. The Chitimacha intermarried but is was largely confined to the Charenton area. Within a decade of their arrival, the Acadians formed commercial ties with the Attakapas with a smuggling ring that extended into central Texas.
1:22:60 The term 'bright' is often used by the darker-skinned black community to describe the lighter-skinned community. The tension between the two communities and lingering hostility is discussed.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Michael Tisserand Collection
Subject: 
Zydeco Cajun Creole Oral History
Creator: 
Michael Tisserand
Informants: 
Michael Tisserand
Recording date: 
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Coverage Spatial: 
Lafayette, LA
Publisher: 
Michael Tisserand
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
1:33:51
Cataloged Date: 
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Digitized Date: 
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-- Drawer 72

Interview with Don Cravins by Michael Tisserand

Accession No.: 
TI1-024

0:50 Don got involved in Zydeco around 1987-88 when his brother, Charles, told him about an opening at Z106 in Maurice for a Zydeco radio show. Don and Charles did the show together and it became very popular. They involved people in the community in the show by telling stories and having regular call-ins like Floyd. They had some bands play live in the studio including Zydeco Force who they had discovered in the parking lot of Richard's. They took the show on the road to the trail rides and nursing homes.
4:10 The show played a big role in Don's decision to run for public office. He grew up in Mallet, La. and says he remembers hearing Marcel Dugas play La la music, but that his first memories of Zydeco were of John Delafose.
7:50 About a year after the radio show started, they began to produce a television show where they went to the local clubs, like Richard's, to film. The shows were produced throughout Southwest Louisiana, primarily in St. Landry Parish. They worked with a lot of bands. Boozoo Chavis was probably the first broadcast. Charles worked with Nathan Williams and gave him lots of radio time making Nathan popular locally. Don says that Nathan just played the Democratic Convention last week. He talks about how band rise in popularity in Zydeco and how there never seems room for more than two or three bands to do well locally at the same time. He says the mindset of the fans usually allow them to only support one band at a time and it causes great competition in the Zydeco music scene. The rivalries do not serve the musicians and he feels that if Zydeco is reach it's potential, the musicians should work together.
16:50 Don talks about Boozoo Chavis as a master musician and how he set the stage for the new generation of Zydeco musicians.
20:10 The return to taking about the rivalries between Zydeco musicians. He's had bands refuse to play on the same stage as other bands at festivals and finds it foolish. He says sometimes the audience gets involved in the rivalries too. He talks about some of the musicians who are the nicest to work with too, including John Delafose and Willis Prudhomme.
27:24 He says he misses producing the show and looks forward to doing it again. The show had regular dancers that would come out. Mona Wilson won a dance contest they put on and Don shows a picture of her with her trophy. She teaches dance now. There were rivalries between the dancers too. The dance moves have evolved quite a lot.
32:00 He tells the story of discovering Zydeco Force in the parking lot at Richard's during a trail ride. The played for beer in the gravel parking lot.
33:30 They held contest on the radio for people to suggest the name for their television program, Zydeco Extravaganza. He remembers that it was Zydeco Force that played the first broadcast. They also recorded the theme song for the program. Places like Richard's and El Sido's host political benefits and are centers of the communities. He says Sid Williams is very involved in his community. He talks about how Sid runs his businesses.
37:00 He talks about how being known through the television and radio show created his political position to a large extent. When elected to public office in 1991, he was the first man of color to represent his area. He says he certainly feels his Creole lineage gives him a sense of difference in his position. They talk about the different definitions of Creole and lack of central understanding of the term Creole. Don understands it as African-Americans of French heritage who are bilingual. Mayor Marc Morial in New Orleans fought to have the word Creole removed from 'A Creole Christmas' whereas the people from Acadiana assert to have the name recognized. They talk about the blanket attempt to market all of the regional music as Cajun and the musicians, like Buckwheat, who have been asserting the distinction of Zydeco. He's aware of historical divisions within the Creole community but has not experienced that in his lifetime.
48:00 Wilbert Guillary who produces the Zydeco Festival in Plaisance is Don's cousin. The work together to promote Zydeco music so that both festivals are successful. Don feels like Zydeco music is the best expression of his culture and is glad to see younger musicians carrying on the traditions--especially the children of older Zydeco musicians.
53:30 Trail Rides evolved as a family event. Broadcasting the show from the trail rides injected a festival experience into the events. Showing the horses at the trail ride was an expression of pride.
58:35 The contest was started for a way for the young kids to express themselves and get interested in the music.
1:01:07 Don has so many videos of events to sort through. He says he has ideas for using the materials on the tapes and would like to donate some to a USL cultural center. He wants them to be well-preserved.
1:03:45 He talks about what Zydeco means to him and how it reminds him of family and times gone by and the days he cherished so much. He identifies it with kinship and family values.

Language: 
English
French
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Michael Tisserand Collection
Subject: 
Zydeco, Cajun, Creole, Oral History
Creator: 
Michael Tisserand
Informants: 
Michael Tisserand
Recording date: 
Monday, October 12, 2020
Publisher: 
Michael Tisserand
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
1:20:56
Cataloged Date: 
Monday, October 12, 2020
Digitized Date: 
Monday, October 12, 2020
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-- Drawer 72

Interview with Carl Brasseaux by Michael Tisseand side 3

Accession No.: 
TI1-025

0:00 After the Civil War, there was no longer a legal distinction between free people of color and slaves. The free people of color were a de facto elite due to their land holdings. Below them was a large population of former slaves, which within, also contained a small minority of descendants of while planters and their slave mistresses who were not manumitted. It is this minority population, for the most part, who are responsible for the Creole revival movement and are the musicians playing Creole and Zydeco music.
5:00 The majority of these descendants would have been from the original wave of slaves brought in from West Africa, the Bambara, from what is now present day Mali. Brasseaux sees the inference that there was a large population from Haiti as an exaggeration. He says it would be nice if the Saint-Domingue connection was true as it would solve some riddles, like the population of Creole speakers, both white and black, stretching from Parks to Cecilia. There's an all-white Creole speaking population on the fringe of LaFourche/ Terrebonne Parish. But he believes it's the case of parallel developments. Because the slave trade was a monopoly handled by one French company, you see a population of Creole speaking people in the French islands in the Indian Ocean that were colonized at the same time as Louisiana. The community of Creole speaking people in the West Indies even has a variety of music they call Zydeco, a term believed to be a French corruption of the Wolof infinitive for "let's dance".
10:34 In 1964, the Opelousas newspaper wrote derogatory remarks about Dewey Balfa and others who were playing at the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island. Tisserand brings up the Opelousas newspaper covering a 1929 accordion contest that was pro-Cajun music. Brasseaux says there were many things happening simultaneously at that time. The release of the film 'Evangeline' in 1929 was followed by a movement by the elite to establish the Evangeline Longfellow National Park. Dudley Leblanc was the spokesperson for the community. At the same time, The Bayou Pom Pom radio program was the Cajun answer to Amos and Andy and French language was being suppressed in the schools.
14:55 LSU was at one time a hotbed of Cajun and Creole research when James Broussard was there. They pride themselves on being a center for Old South Studies. But there's not much of this information there or at Tulane. Most you will find here in the folklore and folklife collection here that Barry Ancelet administers(at UL). He says it's a wonderful resource that's going to waste and is not staffed. Brasseaux suggests Tisserand try to contact Alan Lomax.
17:52 The free people of color adopted some of the elite's attitudes towards poor whites during the Antebellum period. The term Cajun became associated with white trash by the civil war and was used by blacks themselves as an insult in their own community. Queen Ida muddied the water by using the name Cajun for herself. Tisserand says that in California there seems to be a resentment to be told you play Creole music, as if it infers that you can't play Cajun music. Joe Simien. Brasseaux agrees that that dynamic doesn't exist here. The Creole Newsletter is published in Simi Valley. They talk about resentments by parts of the community towards the infusion of other genres into Cajun music.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Michael Tisserand Collection
Subject: 
Zydeco Cajun Creole Oral History
Creator: 
Michael Tisserand
Informants: 
Michael Tisserand
Recording date: 
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Coverage Spatial: 
Lafayette, LA
Publisher: 
Michael Tisserand
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
23:37
Cataloged Date: 
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Digitized Date: 
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-- Drawer 72

Interview with Mack McCormick by Michael Tisserand

Accession No.: 
TI1-029

0:00 McCormick compiled two LPs "A Treasury of Field Recordings" put out by 77 Records in England around 1959 to let other people know about musical traditions in Houston. He said he wouldn't do it again. It's too much of a mish mash and nobody likes all of it, but that that's the nature of documentary recordings. He says when he talks about Zydeco, he means the music of Frenchtown in Houston. He doesn't accept the second layer of the use of the word Zydeco and believes in was usurped by Louisiana tourists and that the lines were blurred in the 1960s.
7:50 McCormick says that zydeco came before Clifton Chenier. Clifton brought it back with his heated performance, but his period of fame and influence came later than what he's talking about. By the 1940s when he started recording it wasn't common in Frenchtown. He says he remembers seeing all of these different spellings of the word on posters including zordico and Lightnin' Hopkins put out a record called Zologo. He talks about deciding on the spelling of the word and settling on 'zydeco'. His spelling ended up being the one most used. He talks about doing the same thing with the word 'songster' from his record note writing. He talks about a lack of black scholars.
16:40 He worked for the Smithsonian for 10 years. He was interested in and worked in jazz earlier. When he heard a man playing guitar on the street he became interested in that kind of music and began recording people around Houston and branched out to E. Texas. It was then that he realized his real interest was in what makes cultures expressive and when and why the cultural expressions happen. He doesn't have the answers but, in his research, found things that suggest answers. He gives the example of the 4th ward section of Houston which had a population of 10,000 people in the 1920s that produced 200 professional musician. There was a grocer in the neighborhood who had put a piano in front of the store and the kids would fight to play it and an older man would teach them. He recorded Buster Pickens and did a movie about him and then went to Austin to find Robert Shaw and found that he knew the distinctive 4th ward sound.
25:10 He talks about the German influences that are overlooked and gives some examples of how they could have influenced early jazz and blues and the use of brass instruments and the accordion. He found the influences all along the gulf coast. He says that there was more investigation into guitar players than piano players in blues. He says there was a begrudging acknowledgement of piano and women singers and jug bands.
35:00 He talks about doing a grid search around Texas and Louisiana and finding there were pockets of interest in different instruments and styles. In 1965 he was invited to bring some convicts to Newport to sing Texas work songs.
40:30 McCormick mentions Carl Seashore, a psychologist who studied musicianship in the 1920s. He looked at the abilities of the families of musicians.
47:35 He talks about what Frenchtown and the adjacent sections were like at the time he was doing his fieldwork and Frenchtown's Catholic distinction and the perception of the Frenchtown community by blacks outside of the community.
52:52 They talk about the folk etymology of La la, Zydeco. McCormick talks about including mediocre artists on his Treasury of Field Recordings to document what was happening and the roots of later, more-famous artists like Clifton Chenier. He talks about star-power's ability to corrupt what's commonplace in the musical genres.
59:00 He believes Anderson Moss to be the most accomplished musician in Zydeco who did not deviate in the way Clifton Chenier did. Clifton asked McCormick to help him get some recognition and he said it reminded him of Jimmy Ford "The Great White Bird". But he never recorded him. It's not what he was interested in. He doesn't recommend show business. He thinks Anderson Moss made better decisions than Clifton in that regard. He talks about Clifton and Lightnin' Hopkins fighting on stage. Irene's was a small stage in Houston where the prima donna attitudes where not tolerated.
1:14:55 They talk about the last years of Clifton's life and about what Tisserand's book will be about. McCormick talks about Lightnin's association with Zydeco musicians and Spider Kilpatrick's presence in the band and cultural overlaps in the music in Houston back when he was working in field recording. They discuss the geography of Frenchtown and the surrounding area. McCormick believes that Kashmere Gardens was designed to attract the Louisiana migrants and about Houston's growth. Frenchtown was a sort of tourist destination for other Houston residents. McCormick talks about the string bean breaking dance. He says Zydeco was the dance first.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Michael Tisserand Collection
Subject: 
Zydeco, Cajun, Creole, Oral History
Creator: 
Michael Tisserand
Informants: 
Michael Tisserand
Recording date: 
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Coverage Spatial: 
Houston, TX
Publisher: 
Michael Tisserand
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
1:33:55
Cataloged Date: 
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Digitized Date: 
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-- Drawer 72

Interview with Bebe Carrier by Michael Tisserand

Accession No.: 
TI1-037

Former Accession # TI1-011

2:12 Bebe talks about having a fiddle with rattlesnake rattles in it. He would put two or three rattles in the violin to improve the tone. One day he realized someone had taken the rattles out. They had been in the violin for years and he never figured out who took them out. He got the idea about putting the rattles in by some old friends.
5:20 There weren't many musicians around where he lived when he was young so he heard music from records. There were house dances with accordion players. He heard a record by Amede Ardoin. Eunice Two-Step. Bebe played bass with Amede at a Creole house dance around Lawtell. Bebe was asked to play a house dance in Ville Platte but didn't want to go. He said Ville Platte was too rough. He went anyway and it went alright. He said he'd played a party once in that area when someone was shot and he had been in the line of fire.
12:03 Bebe played his first club with his brother at Richard's in 1940. He played when Eddie Richard ran the club. He played other clubs around Louisiana around Welsh and Iowa. Bebe talks about one night he played in Iowa at a time it was forbidden to have whiskey. The club owner picked Bebe up from his dad's house in Welsh where he'd been working in the rice fields. They went to get a load of whiskey and were stopped by Lake Charles law enforcement and got arrested and had to stay in jail for 4-5 days. He says it was the first time he'd ever been to Lake Charles.
17:28 White Mule was the bootleg apple punch Bebe had on him when he was arrested. He talks about making white mule in the 1920s in Lawtell.
22:25 They talk about the old house dances. Bebe said that the young girls would ask the older people if they could use their house and they'd take all the belongings out of the house and put them back after the dance. Sometimes Bebe would play solo for the dances.
25:30 Bebe talks about drinking lemon juice and taking his medicine. He says he was diabetic but a doctor in Beaumont took him off the meds and he doesn't have it anymore. He mostly just has pain now.
27:20 They talk about dancers back then that danced swing and waltz dances. The men would extend a white handkerchief to ask a woman to dance. Bebe talks about playing with Douglas Bellard. They didn't call the music Zydeco back then. They called it Lala. He first heard music called Zydeco a few years ago with Clifton Chenier. Bebe played the Beverly Hillbillies theme song. Kentucky Waltz. Bill Monroe. Jimmy Rogers. Bob Thibodeaux wanted him to play dancing songs in church.
34:18 Bebe wrote the song Blue Runner. It was Bebe's biggest song. It's a fast snake that whips you with its tail. Bebe likes hillbilly music. Jimmy Rogers. Bill Monroe died about a month ago. When clubs like Richard's opened, the house dances discontinued. The clubs drew people from all over whereas the house dances were just people from the neighborhoods.
38:50 Bebe started playing the blues on the violin and would listen and learn from records.
41:19 Bebe says he was brought up on a farm planting cotton, corn, sweet potato, etc. Then his first wife left him when he didn't want to go to Lake Charles. He was raised in Lawtell. Bebe's dad played the accordion. He says he learned violin playing one made from a cigar box. His dad bought him a real violin in Church Point when he was about 12. Bebe talks about tuning his violin in different ways for different music.
46:38 Blues of Bebe. Baby Please Don't Go Back to New Orleans.
48:20 They talk about alcohol and musicians drinking. He says even the doctors would recommend alcohol.
50:38 Beb didn't make his first record until about 1978. Amede was the first to record in the area after he was discovered at an accordion contest in Opelousas. Bebe and his brother started playing together around 1965 and played clubs. Madame Faielle was written about a woman who lived outside Lawtell.
56:03 John Delafose passed away at Richard's. Geno is taking over the band. Willis Prudhomme. Leo Thomas.
59:09 Nathan Abshire.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Michael Tisserand Collection
Subject: 
Zydeco Cajun Creole Oral History
Creator: 
Michael Tisserand
Informants: 
Michael Tisserand
Recording date: 
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Publisher: 
Michael Tisserand
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
1:34:00
Cataloged Date: 
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Digitized Date: 
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-- Drawer 111

Interview with Canray Fontenot by Michael Tisserand #1

Accession No.: 
TI1-071

Former Accession # TI1-006

0:33 A lot of people come by to see Canray for articles and t.v. and radio interviews.
3:05 Plays at Marc and Ann Savoy's Liberty Theater between bands often. He talks about traveling abroad for shows and says he had to do about 25 interviews in 20 days for one trip. They didn't want to interview anyone but him. He thinks it's because there aren't many black fiddle players. They talk about Clarence Gatemouth Brown.
6:55 He talks about why he doesn't like to play for kings and queens.
8:18 He's been fighting cancer for two years but is doing better.
11:57 He says he's no the kind of musician who plays a lot unlike his uncle or Dennis McGee. McGee told him he'd rather play than eat. Canray says he's different. He says he could have made a living playing the fiddle but didn't like it enough. He always had a hard job doing hard work.
13:50 One time he quit playing for three years and sold all of his fiddles and equipment. That was around 1963. Canray tells a story of a friend of his who drove a garbage truck in Jennings and found a fiddle in the trash that he gave to him. Canray lived in Oberlin at that time.
17:02 He told Clifton Chenier he was no longer playing and sold all of his gear. Clifton told him not to stop and that things were just beginning to get good. In the last part of 1963, a car pulls up to Canray's house in the country. It was Bois Sec Ardoin and a man from New York who wanted them to play the Newport Rhode Island Jazz Festival.
22:00 Milton Vanicor stops by with peaches for Canray. Milton tells them he just recorded a tape two months ago in Lafayette with his nephew Terry Huval who plays with Jambalaya.
25:10 Milton plays the tape for them.
36:00 Canray talks about the first time went to a festival. He played the Newport Jazz Festival in 1966 and they gave him a fiddle workshop with a bunch of big-name fiddle players. He was embarrassed with his little old fiddle. But it went well. He asked what the heck were they (he and Bois Sec) doing there at a jazz festival when he doesn't play jazz. He was told all the Dixieland music went back to the slaves. They talk about the song "Home Sweet Home". He had not yet made a record at that time, but he was recording on his way back home from the festival in Washington D.C.
44:40 Columbus Stockade Blues came from a French tune. Moon Mullican.
43:40 Canray talks about him and Bois Sec growing up with musicians like his father and Amede Ardoin. He remembers his grandfather and a bunch of old men getting together on Christmas Eve to sing songs all night. They would take the coal from the Christmas fire to make their calendar. They would take onion, salt and garlic and put it on the calendar and see how it reacted to predict how the year would turn out. He talks about songs moving from one generation to another. He talks about going to France in 1990 and recognizing songs.
51:20 Amede Ardoin was the first black man to make a French record. Amede and his dad would fix their own accordions. Sometimes they were competitive. Amede didn't like to work and never married. He always had his accordion with him and wanted to play for money, Canray's dad was a foreman and had a wife and played dances for the black people in the area. Sometime he'd be paid with firewood. But Amede didn't want that. He would play for the white people.
58:27 Canray's dad didn't speak a word of English. His mother played the accordion too but just for the children. Women didn't play dances. Women who played music were considered bad women.
1:01:10 Canray talks about how a lot of musicians he knows don't read music or know keys or what an octave is.
1:07:00 Canray has been playing with younger musicians. Beausoleil, File. They are learning a lot from him. He says Michael Doucet has recorded nearly his and Bois Sec's entire album. Canray doesn't think Doucet has recorded any original music. Zydeco Gris Gris. Canray doesn't like him playing only other people's music.
1:11:12 Canray had a string band called the Basille Boys. They never recorded. Canray talks about trouble Amede would get into for some of the songs he wrote. Amede was living in Pineville when he died.
1:23:23 Douglas Bellard. Canray made cigar box fiddle with screen door wire.

Language: 
English
French
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Michael Tisserand Collection
Subject: 
Zydeco, Cajun, Creole, Oral History
Creator: 
Michael Tisserand
Informants: 
Michael Tisserand
Recording date: 
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Publisher: 
Michael Tisserand
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
1:33:31
Cataloged Date: 
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Digitized Date: 
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-- Drawer 72

Interview with Canray Fontenot by Michael Tisserand #2

Accession No.: 
TI1-072

Former Accession # TI1-007

0:00 Barres de la Prison, Bonsoir Moreau. Canray talks about funny rules that the older folks had.
5:23 Creole music. Canray says he didn't know the term Zydeco coming up. He says Zydeco is nothing but a snap beat. If you were white, you played Cajun. If you were black you played Creole. Back then, it was an insult for a black person to call a white man Cajun. The music was different, but not much. Black people played more from the soul. With Dewey Balfa in D.C., the saw a man from Mississippi, Johnny Shine, and asked him how he likes the white guys playing the blues.
10:02 Talks about difference between Creole and Zydeco. He said Clifton changed the speed.
13:59 Talks about racial tension in 1950s. Talks about white musicians singing in French but not speaking French.
15:53 Nonc Adam
20:20 Canray says that Dewey Balfa went to Philadelphia and had some people make him feel bad because they called him prejudice when they asked him to play one of Canray's songs and Balfa said he could not. But Canray told him he should play it his way and so Balfa did play and record the Prison Bars. Michael Doucet recorded it too. Douglas Bellard wrote Prison Bars, but Canray is often credited with it. It's one of the first songs Canray learned to play.
28:00 In D.C. and Pennsylvania, some older folks asked the band to play a Mazurka. Only Canray knew how to play one that an old man, Olivier Edward, had taught him on fiddle. There's a distinct dance done to a Mazurka that they did that Canray saw for the first time.
29:50 Canray has been playing all kinds of music with File. He says the best way to learn music is to relax and not strain.
35:11 Talks about working at the Feed Store for 14 years. He has six children. Some went to college. They all finished high school. One of his daughters is a lawyer. When Canray went to school, they only went for three months a year. He started school sometime in 1938 or 1939. He only went as far as the 5th grade.
41:28 He went to Belfast, Ireland and was impressed by the fiddlers. Canray tells the story of playing in Ireland and how an Irish musician responded to his music. Canray celebrated his 71st birthday in Belgium, Ireland and London during that trip.
45:30 Canray said he likes to play with Bois Sec but that Bois Sec can't play like he used to since he had his stroke.
51:15 Edward Poullard
56:45 Canray says it's funny that the song that everyone likes best is the one you hate to play.
58:12 Canray wrote 'Joe Pitre'. It's an old song but he put the words to it.
1:00:53 La Jog Au Plombeau (Jug On The Saddle Horn)-- Canray recorded it but doesn't play it anymore. His wife and another woman got into a brawl one night while he played it. They talk about songs having sad or happy memories attached to them.
1:05:13 Canray talks about his father. He says his dad never wanted to record and didn't like the idea of his music still going after he was dead. He says he has recorded all of his father's songs. There was one he couldn't remember but was reminded of it one day by Shelton Manual, an accordion player from Eunice.
1:12:20 They tlak about Canray's father's religious beliefs and superstition and about Canray's sickness and recovery.
1:25:20 They recall more stories about Amede Ardoin getting into trouble.

Language: 
English
Media Type: 
Audio
Collection: 
Michael Tisserand Collection
Subject: 
Zydeco Cajun Creole Oral History
Creator: 
Michael Tisserand
Informants: 
Michael Tisserand
Recording date: 
Monday, September 14, 2020
Publisher: 
Michael Tisserand
Rights Usage: 
All Rights Reserved
Meta Information
Duration: 
1:33:49
Cataloged Date: 
Monday, September 14, 2020
Digitized Date: 
Monday, September 14, 2020
Original Format: 
cassette
Digital Format: 
WAV
Bit Depth: 
24 bit
Sampling Rate: 
96 kHz
Storage Location: 
Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore-- Drawer 72

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