February 3, 2014

Amanuensis Monday ~ The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 34

The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
Late 1930s...
Charles “Moe” Bourke was sitting on that ole Knight Store porch.  The porch used to be way up off the ground.  The store was close to the railroad.  Moe was sitting up on that porch with his back up against the wall.  He was running the ice house for somebody.  Blocks of ice would be brought in and stored in an ice house. 
Knight Store
Charles “Blue” Cloy came by in his daddy’s A-model car smoking a cigarette.  As Blue passed by the store, Moe hollered, “Hey, throw me that.”  Blue thumped the cigarette about thirty feet towards Moe and it landed in his mouth.  They later told how Blue and Moe acted like it was nothing out of the ordinary when it happened. 
Blue got down the road and had to pull over because he was laughing so hard.  Moe almost fell off the porch from laughing.  They both swore that it happened.
The Bourke boys lived up there close to the railroad depot on land where Carey Fairbanks’ house sits today. 

Ford-Bourke House
Carey Fairbanks House
The Bourke boys were Louis, Johnnie, and Charles.  They had a sister named Rosemary.  For years and years, the Bourke boys delivered the newspapers.  Buck Smith used to tell the story about Charles “Moe” Bourke and how he loved the orange drink, Sunspot.  Buck said Moe would go down the street and sell a paper then run back with a nickel and buy a Sunspot in his store.  He’d go sell another paper and come back for another Sunspot.  Buck nicknamed him Sunspot. 
Charles “Moe” Bourke married Ouida Seal.  They visit here from time to time.  I don’t know where the nickname Moe came from.  I’ll have to ask him the next time I see him. 
Charles Cloy got his nickname from giving the same book report over and over in Miss Lillie Mae Seal’s class.  Every time he had to do a book report, he would report on the book, ‘Bears from Blue River’.   The boys started calling him “Blue”. 
I never knew Mr. [Elijah] Bourke.  He died when I was just a couple of years old.  I knew Mrs. Bourke and her children.  
If I’m remembering correctly, Mrs. Ida Bourke was the postmaster at one time.  The post office was in a little building in the corner of her yard. 
Right next door to where the Bourkes lived were the Garners.  The Garner house was later bought by Aubrey Brooks.  Mrs. [Ida Mae Ford] Bourke was a sister to Mrs. [Lula Grace Ford] Garner.   Mr. and Mrs. [Booker] Garner had two sons, Hubert “Bud” and Edgar “Ed”. 
Ed married Thelma Stubbs who was a sister to Perry Stubbs.  They lived in Baton Rouge for years.  I remember when Ed was a clerk in the post office here in the village back in the 1930s.  Another of Perry’s sisters, Anna, married Dorsey Smith’s son, Edward. 
Bud [married Kathryn Virginia Bruce] made his home down around Foules near Lee Bayou.  He farmed down there and was a School Board member in Ward 1 for a good many years.  
The first post office I remember was in the back of the old Coan store.  The post office sat on the corner of the street that led to the railroad depot.  If you turned right off the main drag [Newman Avenue], it was on the right. 
Site of old Coan store
I don’t remember this post office when it was in operation but I do remember when they were transferring the mail boxes to the new location.  John Fairbanks and I would go over to the old location at Coan’s store and play with the boxes that remained there in the back. 
The new location of the post office was on the main drag near where the library sits today.  I remember when they built this post office because the carpenters built my parents’ house in February and March of 1931.  Once the carpenters finished our house, they went straight over and began building the post office.  So this post office was built in April and May of 1931. 
Library - former site of second Post Office
The current post office is on the road to the railroad depot.  Carey Fairbanks was the postmaster and he got the lease or contract to build a new brick post office.  This post office sits beside the old Fred Chambless house and has been there for at least twenty-five years.
Current Post Office
My mother bought the old building on the main drag that housed the earlier post office.  She moved it over here behind my house and rented it out.  When it came into my possession after my mother’s death, I sold the old building to Rose Council and they moved it out on the old Cane Road. 
The original Sicily Island State Bank building had a sign on the front of it that said 1918.  I don’t know when it was organized but the original building was built in 1918.  It has been renovated and added onto several times through the years but it remains in the same location. 
Sicily Island State Bank
The Sicily Island business area has had a couple of fires in the past.  The one I remember hearing my mother and my aunt tell about took place in 1912 or 1913.  The fire started in Mr. John Knight’s store and sparks came out of the top through the smoke stack and set the wood shingled roof on fire.  Starting from that store, the fire sprang over to Owen’s store which sat where the bank is today.  The fire burned several more businesses. 

Some of the old colored folks who were there in town that day have told me that what really happened was a whirlwind came over the top of the Knight store and sucked that fire up through that smoke stack and sprinkled those hot coals of fire down on top of the roof. 
I remember some of the older folks saying the town had burned once before the 1912-1913 fire. 
A lot of things I mention on these tapes go back to Mr. Buck Smith and the things that happened around his old store.  A lot of men hung out on the streets and they would go up in Mr. Buck’s store.
Tom Watson was Buck Smith’s first cousin.  One day Tom was in the store and got to drinking and passed out.  While he was passed out, Buck and some other men got some black shoe polish and painted his glasses.  When he got up, he couldn’t see.  He thought it was night time and borrowed Buck’s flashlight so he could walk home.  He left the store staggering around and bumping into everything.
Another time when Tom was in Buck’s store he went to sleep after drinking a few beers.  Buck and some others took some mecuricome and put red dots all over his face.  I imagine when he got home and his wife saw him he looked like he had the measles.
This was just a town of pranksters.  Apparently it always has been.  

Note:  Parts 1-33 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.

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