I have pretty much forgotten about almost everyone who was in my graduating class at Brother Martin. That’s not to say there weren’t some wonderful people I met during my five years at the New Orleans Catholic high school.
One of those very special people, Tiffany Peperone, turns 40 today. Tiffany was a cheerleader for Brother Martin, which was very important to her, since her brother graduated from Brother Martin and her father graduated from one of Brother Martin’s predecessors, St. Aloysius.
Even though Brother Martin is an all-boys school, it still had cheerleaders, as did New Orleans Catholic League rivals De La Salle, Jesuit, Archbishop Rummel and Archbishop Shaw. When I went to Brother Martin, St. Augustine did not have cheerleaders, and Holy Cross had only male cheerleaders, much the way Texas A&M only has male “yell leaders”. Holy Cross and St. Aug now have cheerleaders, although unlike Brother Martin, Jesuit, Rummel and Shaw, there are no male cheerleaders.
The all-boys schools, which included De La Salle until it started admitting girls in 1992, selected girls from the all-girls Catholic high schools. St. Mary’s Dominican and Mount Carmel Academy mostly supplied cheerleaders for Brother Martin, Jesuit and now Holy Cross, although Jesuit also culled the ranks of Ursuline Academy. Archbishop Chapelle in west Metairie, was the source of Rummel’s cheerleaders, natural since Rummel is also in Metairie. Immaculata was largely the source for cheerleaders at Shaw since the schools were located very close to one another, although some came from Archbishop Blenk. Blenk and Immaculata merged after Hurricane Katrina to form the Academy of Our Lady.
Tiffany attended Dominican, in uptown New Orleans, which made for a very long commute for her, since her family lived in the northwest corner of Kenner near Lake Pontchartrain. If there was no traffic, it would take at least 25 minutes, probably closer to 35 during rush hour. Tiffany was very bright and very gregarious; I hardly remember her without a big smile. She also appeared in several Brother Martin drama productions which were directed by the wonderfully talented Rebecca Hale, who definitely was one of my favorite teachers at Brother Martin, ranking only behind Bob Conlin and Janine Koenig.
I first met Tiffany near the end of my eighth grade year. She was the steady girlfriend of Mike LeBlanc, the daughter of Brother Martin math teacher and later director of student services Claire LeBlanc, who taught me trigonometry as a junior. Mike’s twin brother, Mark, earned an appointment to West Point. Tiffany and I bonded that summer at Brother Martin’s American Legion baseball games, since Mike was the team’s catcher.
Tiffany was nominated for the Brother Martin homecoming court during her senior year at Dominican. I was a sophomore, and I took it upon myself to convince the other students Tiffany was the perfect homecoming queen candidate, since she was so dedicated to Brother Martin. I got caught red-handed by a male teacher, I don’t recall whom. The next day, just as the football team was leaving for a game at Central Lafourche, coach Conlin asked me about it and I admitted to it. He grinned and patted me on the back. When we got back that night from Raceland, Tiffany asked me about it. She was impressed.
Tiffany graduated from Dominican and went on to LSU, where she was a cheerleader during the 1992 and 1993 football seasons, and she was also very active in the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. I wanted to ask Tiffany to the 1993 Brother Martin homecoming dance, since LSU had an open date on its football schedule that weekend. It was the game vs. Utah State when Herb Vincent gave me a credential to sit in the press box, but I never made it down to the field. I ended up finding a date the Monday before the dance with Colleen Bandera, another cheerleader and the daughter of Brother Martin math teacher Jeanne Bandera.
I ran into Tiffany during my third week at LSU after an address by former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer to the College Republicans. A few months prior, my civics class at Brother Martin were guests on Angela Hill’s talk show on WWL-TV in New Orleans, and Roemer was Angela’s guest. Angela came to me to ask a question of Gov. Roemer. Tiffany drove me back to my dorm after the presentation. I saw Tiffany a couple more times at LSU during the second semester of my freshman year, but we lost contact again once I left for UNO.
By a fortunate chance, I ran into Tiffany, in of all places, Ivar’s Sports Bar, my favorite hangout in Baton Rouge. It was late on a Friday afternoon in July 1997. I walked in and she immediately recognized me. We didn’t talk long, because she was there with someone else, but we mentioned coach Conlin’s passing the previous day. I saw Tiffany again one day at lunch in October when I went with Bill Franques and Fred Demarest from the LSU athletic department.
And I have not seen or heard from Tiffany since. I followed her on Twitter and have sent a friend request on Facebook, but nothing.
I decided to take a shot in the dark and send Tiffany flowers for her 40th birthday. I didn’t know where she lives right now, so I sent them to her parents’ house in Kenner. Doubt it will get anywhere, but I figured it was worth a try.
Tiffany, if you’re out there, I miss you greatly. I would love for us to reconnect. God bless.