Music, Weddings, Funerals and Big Swamp City
Music, Weddings, Funerals and
Big Swamp City
by Leonard Earl Johnson
Dedicated to Butter,
who missed all the festivals this year. First time that ever happened, everybody at the bar agreed. He had died a few months earlier ~ "First time for that, too," L. A. Norma said. From causes he didn't much care for, he told me before it happened.
"He was in here the day he left Town," the bartender said, "had a few, and teared up when he left. His drink was a punch I called, 'Butter', made with vodka, cranberry and orange juice." He was hospitalised in Baton Rouge that evening. They had told him to quit smoking, drinking, and eating so much salt. "But why?" he said. They operated the next day then put what was left of him in a box and sent him home for his funeral.
Our last conversation was in the lobby of the Chase Bank downtown. He told me he was going to Baton Rouge and he was still smoking. Life was a trip that ought to be easier, we agreed, but nonetheless was full of good times. This was not one of them. Or maybe in some Cosmic way it was.
At Don's Downtown a plaque has been installed atop the long shiny new bar where Butter used to sit. "Don's is 'Louisiana's first Cajun Restaurant,' " he and the other regulars liked pointing out. L. A. Norma headed towards the front door for a smoke on the sidewalk ~ something Butter did often during day long lunches.
Butter was one of those wise/unwise souls who died early, 50, and may have contributed to it by habits like smoking, drinking and breathing Louisiana's oily air. "Don't forget all that salt," Norma added.
He and longtime friend and companion, Gail, lived in a long slender neighborhood of well kept homes separating the heavily trafficked downtown lanes of the Evangeline Expressway and wouldbe future site of I-49. "When we pull out we're ready to head in either direction," Butter loved telling folks. Also he said I should order rice on the side on Mondays so as to get the kitchen to put more beans in my bowl.
after the crowds at Festival International de Louisiane, Lafayette had dissipated, we ate red beans and rice sitting at Butter's place at the bar. My plate rested next to his commemorative plaque. We lifted Wild Turkey in snifters, with ice-water backs, and went outside to light a cigar. May you rest in peace my friend. You lived till the end. Yes sir, didn't you ramble.
* * *
More be coming ~ the Music, Weddings, and Louisiana of it in the title, oui!
For the moment, Leonard Earl Johnson is old, tired and Swamped.
Thanks for understanding.
Copyright, 2015, Leonard Earl Johnson
All Rights Reserved
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Hope you do, I love talking with you,
Leonard Earl Johnson,
Columnist to the elderly and early weary.
© 2015, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved.