Saturday, September 29, 2012

September 29, 1906

Today marks the day that my grandfather William Victor "Vic" Ladner was born. It was a different era. One where times were less complicated. Horse and buggies were the main mode of transportation. The people still spoke the language of their parents; French. Women worked hard churning butter, hand washing clothes, making bread and soap, all while raising a large brood of children. Men were men, they hunted, fished, raised cattle, worked the land. They did what they could to eek out a living and support their families needs. Children were taught respect, they worked right along side their parents where they learned the values that made them the Greatest Generation.

 My Grandfather often said he wanted to live to be one hundred years old. It was his greatest wish. He loved life. He loved his family. He loved his faith. He especially loved the little great grand children who sat upon his lap and giggled and laughed with him. He would often say, "I wish I could see them grown." He would be so proud of them all if he were still here. Although I know somehow he sees them still. He lived to be 91 years of age.

He was a prime example of what I wish my sons to be. I am often told by those who knew him that, he was a good man, and he was.

My mother often said that he felt he was doomed to die at a young age, since his grandfather and his father both did. He made every moment of his life count I think because if this. His grandmother had died after giving birth to her 12th child and three years later his grandfather followed her after striking his head in a fall. The eldest daughters raised the brood of children left behind. Then his own father was killed walking down the road, being struck by a car. He left his wife and 10 children, the eldest my grandfather at 19, the youngest only 3months old. My grandfather then raised his siblings and supported his mother for the rest of her life.

I miss him everyday, today most of all. His birthday always meant so much to him. I still have a picture that my eldest son made at age two. It was little pumpkins he drew with silly little faces. When he finished he gave it to his PaPaw L. for his birthday. My grandfather was so proud and this meant more to him than any store bought gift. After he passed my Aunt found it among his things. He had kept it all those years.

He instilled in me the love of family. Who we are and where we came from. He often said, "All we have in life is our good name."

In memory of his birthday today I would like to post a story told by him many years ago about another birthday he had in a time so long ago.....

"The Hurricane and Navigational Charts"

   But anyway. So, Papa was hauling shells for the county, or the city. He hauled these clam shells for the roads and stuff. And he'd get them out of the Louisiana marshes. So, I'll never forget that when they left, the weather was kinda squally; like this see, and rough out there. But they left. There was five men on the boat and they had the load of shells. They were coming home when the hurricane hit. So, they stayed at St. Joe's lighthouse. Which is past Lakeshore at the end of the road on the beach. You've been that way haven't ya'll?
(Robyn, Mmm, probably many years ago) Never have huh? So they, uh, it was Papa and Uncle Semore Necaise, his name was Simon, but they called him Semore in french (He laughs). But anyway, uh, That evening it got so bad Papa said, "We better make it to the lighthouse" So they were coming, see to the lighthouse and the Kahler's, you know the Kahler's that have the grocery store? His grandpa, Eddie Kahler's grandpa, was a boat Captain, and they were going into New Orleans and Papa and them was coming outta there and they passed one another. And papa hollered at them, they passed real close to one another. He hollered at them that they better come back, they weren't going to make it. They said, "Oh, yeah we'll make it." But they didn't, they made the first bridge, the Rigolets; the next bridge, see back then they didn't have no traffic bridges, or nothing you see. And the second one, they didn't make it. They hit the bridge and the boat went into pieces, and drowned everyone of them, the men. So anyway, that day that the storm hit I watched that water come over the beach road, and you see there's a marsh on the side of our house. A wide marsh. And on the other side of that marsh there was the Catholic church on the beach. Well that marsh; you know the marsh grass is that high, so I watched that water come over the road and into the marsh. And the marsh got pretty soon where you couldn't see that grass. It looked like a bayou in there instead of a marsh. See, and I kept saying, "Mama let's get out!". In the evening when the water started coming in that marsh, I said, "Mama let's get out!" She said,"We will later, we will." So it was getting dark, well it wasn't no sun, it rained all day like it did here. Like it was this morning, that's the way it rained all day, and I said, "Mama let's get out it's getting late!" I was nine years old, that day, 29 of September 1913, on my birthday. So I begged mama all day. I was scared really, and look when it got so nearly dusk, and our family cemetery was on my great grandpa's property, joining ours right there. We had a barb wire fence with these steps you go up over you know. And just then, she said, "Well go on over to Tante Ledi's and get Robert then." Edward Necaise and them's daddy. Uh, he must've been about twenty years old. She said, "Go get him to come help us with the other two kids." And let me tell you when I went down our back steps the water was up to my knees. Already! Boy, when I got to that cemetery;  and I was frightened, I was only nine years old and that wind was blowing me! Ohh, and I know mama must've been excited. I couldn't hardly stand up. It would take me. Just when I got to those steps, Here comes Robert Necaise, with some coats under his arms, to get us. Taunte Ledi said, "Go get mother at the house." y'see. And good thing! Boy, we got to Taunte La Di's and all them kin, Henrietta Dubuisson, her mama and them they all came, they lived right close, half a block, and all the kinfolks, came to Tante Ledi's. ( Robyn, was she higher up?) Oh, they were back from the beach about two blocks. So, uh, we went. And honey, it blew that night! Taunte La Di's house felt like it was about to come off the blocks a couple of times! Everybody was scared, you know, And so the next morning, it blew on out; the next morning bout toward daylight, like Camille did, it started calming down the next morning. The sun came out and it was just as smooth. So we went to see the damage. We went by the house first. My grandpa's house; boy, it was (laugh) one of them old time houses. Look you know it was old when it had one of those dirt chimneys on the outside. They had, the roof was big homemade shingles, cypress shingles. And uh, an old time house. The blocks were cypress blocks. The house stood about that high off the ground. It was off the foundation, but it didn't go to pieces. It was kinda like this (Robyn Laughs) And the flooring was this wide cypress boards about 15 to 18 inch boards. Plain straight boards, ya know. Well they was bowed up, clothes wrapped around like, picture that. Clothes and furniture under the house. Everything, the only thing we had left was the clothes on our backs. Let me tell you all this, those old time houses had high ceilings and you know it was about a foot from the ceiling, the water mark was around. We'd of drowned like rats in that house, everyone of us. We'd of drowned in there, y'see.
So my daddy and them were worried about us, my daddy said. Papa said, "Oh, I hope they got out of that house!" And we were worried about them. We didn't think we'd ever see 'em. But, I got a book on hurricanes, Kenneth gave it to me, from the 1700's. I've got a book on all of them. I read in it about Captain Kahler and them. So I was telling Mr. Guice about this way back, and he wanted me to come to his office. He wanted to get that on tape. I never did go tell him you see. So in this book Kenneth gave me it's got all this about Captain Kahler, and Mr. Guice and his wife when they were young. And I was telling him one day about it and I said, "Doggone, if I'd of come and gave you that my daddy would have been in a book." He said, "I would of gotten it in there." You see. They had about Captain Kahler and they all drowned and his son, Eddie Kahler's daddy, they went over there to Louisiana, and found his daddy where they buried him, and they brought the body back . Okay, so back to Papa now.
The next morning we're all out there after we left the house you see, it was destroyed. We went to the beach, y'see and we kept scanning the water. So after awhile I saw a speck and said, "Ohh, I believe that's them! Look at that boat, it's a skiff coming." And boy, when they got from here, I guess, about to the other end of the street down there. One of them stood up and was shaking his shirt or something in the air. I said "That's Them! That's Them!" and we all got excited. Y' see. Sure enough it was them. But the boat,,, let me tell you what happened. So, when they made it to the lighthouse they didn't get all the way up to it. The schooner sank, it was loaded, it sank. It's still there. And they swam. They had to swim, in all that rough, high waves, the people all could swim. They swam to that light house, see. Okay, that boat that sank in 1915, is on the Navigational Charts today. So I was telling Mr. Ford, F. Ford, the lawyer. I went.., he had a yacht, he had a nice one. He said, "Vic, if you get off a week." That's when I worked for Joe Whittman. He said, "We're going to the rodeo in Grand Isle." That was before we had them here. So I went to Joe and he said, "Sure man, don't miss that opportunity. Go." So I went five days with them on that yacht. I was telling them about Papa's schooner and he said, "We're going to pass right by it." He got his chart out and put it.., he had a big yacht, he put it on the table and I pointed it out. There it is right there. So when we got there he said, "Right here is where it's at."
 Taken from my website: A Lagniappe of Family Stories

Note: The Hurricane of September 29, 1915 was a category 4 Hurricane that hit Grand Isle, Louisiana. It devastated the Louisiana and the Mississippi Coast. Killing 275 people.

Happy 106th Birthday Poppy!

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