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Leonard Earl Johnson (photo credit Frank Parsley) covered Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005), and the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico for Consumer Affairs.com. He is a contributor to Gambit Weekly, New Orleans Magazine, SCAT, Baton Rouge Advocate, Advocate Magazine, The Times-Picayune, Country Roads Magazine, Palm Springs Newswire and the books FRENCH QUARTER FICTION (Light of New Orleans Publishing), LOUISIANA IN WORDS (Pelican Publishing), LIFE IN THE WAKE (NOLAfuges.com), and more. Johnson is a former Merchant Seaman, and columnist at Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans; and African-American Village. Attended Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship at Piney Point, Maryland. Winner of the Press Club of New Orleans Award for Excellence, 1991, and given the Key to The City and a Certificate of Appreciation from the New Orleans City Council for a Gambit Weekly story on murder in the French Quarter.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Butter's Obit / May 2015

Yours Truly in a Swamp, LEJ's Louisiana
Monthly e-column by
Leonard Earl Johnson, 
of Lafayette and New Orleans

Music, Weddings, Funerals and Big Swamp City
May 2015

by Leonard Earl Johnson
*
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.  

Last Monday, 
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.

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Copyright, 2015, Leonard Earl Johnson
All Rights Reserved

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FYI
Your monthly e-mail notice may not come. New Yahoo's mail system is too cumbersome for me to continue using. Our mailings can not be done one-at-a-time. We have many thousands of e-readers. Too many, it seems, to keep getting easy use free-mail from Yahoo, and we are not able to pay for the pay-mail system.  So there. 

You may not receive a monthly notice for YOURS TRULY IN A SWAMP, LEJ's Louisiana 
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(Don't hold your breath.  I am a storyteller, not a computer-pinball gamer). Contact me if you want on the list - that may get e-mailed. If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.org. They are posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few weeks. 
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.
Comments are welcome,  post your comments