I’m back. Time for that story.
St. Patrick’s Day 1989 was on a Friday. Everyone at Arabi Park Middle School was looking forward to the final bell that day, since it would mean the beginning of one week off, the unofficial spring break, even though it wasn’t called that.
That night would be another of Arabi Park’s dances for the 7th and 8th grade students. Want to talk about awkward? Your intrepid blogger was the poster child for awkwardness. I didn’t have the guts to ask any girl to dance, and I often started crying by the end of the first hour.
Many girls were turned off by that, but I don’t blame them. They were 12 or 13, what were they supposed to do? Fortunately, Rosemarie Renz (now Huguet), who is my longest-standing friend on earth (37 1/2 years), was always nice enough to dance with me once or twice, and eventually, Stacie Dauterive (Seube), the young lady whom I had a crush on at Arabi Park, also danced with me near the end of the night.
Stacie was beautiful then and is now. But she has a wonderful heart. That’s why I really had a crush on her. Her sister, Andree (Addison), has that heart of gold, too.
I can’t say enough great things about Rosemarie. I hurt sometimes that we lost touch after 7th grade when I went to Brother Martin. Part of me wishes I would have stayed at Arabi Park fo the eighth grade and gone to Archbishop Hannah, the Catholic high school in St. Bernard Parish (county) with her.
On St. Patrick’s Day 1989, the APM student council sponsored a raffle. The winner would win a ride to the dance in a limo and would be able to bring five other people with him or her.
Let’s just say I spent as much money on trying to win the raffle as I would buying music credits during a long day at Buffalo Wild Wings. And $20 in 1989 was a lot more than $20 in 2019.
My classmates noticed I was going after the limo ride hard. During an afternoon class, I kidded with Toni LaRocca and Allison Richardson about inviting them to ride if I had won.
My heart weighs very heavy thinking about that right now. Allison Richardson (White) passed away in 2008 from cancer. Toni was extremely close to Allison, as was Stacie and several other girls in my classes at APM, and they are still devastated over a decade later.
If I could press the rewind button, I would certainly have invited Allison and Toni to ride. Rosemarie too.
That last sentence tells you I won the raffle. Shawn O’Neil informed me in the gym during a mini-carnival going on after classes ended.
Shawn never went to dances at Arabi Park. I tried to entice him to come with a spot in the limo, but he wisely said no.
I knew I couldn’t invite Stacie. She was going with Glen Weaver, her boyfriend throughout APM. She met her husband, Jeff, at Andrew Jackson High.
Jason Malasovich was going to ride, of course. It was an all-male crew: Jason, Jared Couture, Brandon Miller, Jack Bastoe, Joe Monaghan, and myself. Jared, Brandon and Jack were in classes with Jason and I, and Joe lived near Jason in another part of Arabi.
We met at Jack’s house since it was the farthest from the school, not too far from the bowling alley in Chalmette. The ride was fun. The dance was a repeat of the past, save for two things.
First, my mother was a chaperone, and Joe danced with her.
Second, I danced with Stacie’s mother, Kathy, who was then a teacher at Carolyn Park Elementary School, about five blocks from my house. She said I should dance with my mother, but I declined.
Confession: if I ever got married, I would be quaking in my boots over dancing with my mother. She is quite aloof and afraid of physical contact. I can name at least 50 people I have hugged more than her in my lifetime. Let’s see: Peggy, Caitlyn, Brenda, Dorinda, Liz, Lisa, Dawn…I’ll stop there for now.
The Dauterive family resided on Badger Drive, only 200 feet from St. Robert Belarmine Catholic Church, whose school I attended from kindergarten through fifth grade. After Katrina, Stacie and Jeff moved in with their sons to 905 Badger Drive, while her parents, Rene and Kathy, moved to Baton Rouge.
Rene owned a very successful plumbing company in St. Bernard Parish while I lived there, and he took care of our house at 224 Jaguar Drive. I’ve joked with Stacie and Andree that I want to bring Rene to Russell so he can fix the American Legion post’s plumbing problems for my parents, as well as those at 1224 North Brooks. Fortunately, there is a fine plumber in Russell, Donnie Boxberger, so we’re covered.
Two schools of thought on my fellow limo riders 30 years later. First, the guys were the right choice, because it avoided any awkwardness I would have had with girls. The other is I should have invited at least Rosemarie, because she and I had been friends for so long and she was always so nice. But Jason and I had been friends before APM as well, so he was a great choice.
I attended one more APM dance in late April. My mother did not allow me to go to the one in May, and rightly so, because I failed to turn in an assignment on time. I was very fortunate I was not forced to go to summer school. I could have been failed for not turning it in on time, but I was allowed to turn it in the following Monday for a D. On June 2, 1989, I was jeered out of Arabi Park twice, first at school, then by a passing school bus as I walked back to 224 Jaguar.
I don’t blame any kids who were unhappy that I was going to Brother Martin. I rubbed it in their faces for the last 3 1/2 months of the 1988-89 school year. I thought I was on another plane because I was going to a school in the New Orleans Catholic League and they weren’t. I was not welcome back on campus during 1989-90.
Sadly, Arabi Park closed in the late 1990s when St. Bernard Parish’s school system consolidated some schools. The shell of the old school stood until Katrina wiped it away.
I lost touch with so many until discovering them on Facebook in 2014, 25 years after I left for the school at 4401 Elysian Fields in New Orleans. I saw Jason last August when he was in town with his lovely family. I hope I will see more Epton (before it’s too late in Foots lingo).
After the dance ended, I got home in time to watch the second half of LSU’s NCAA tournament game vs. UTEP. The Bayou Bengals enjoyed a fine season with All-America freshman Chris Jackson (now Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf), but the Miners had future NBA standouts Tim Hardaway and Antonio Davis, plus the coaching acumen of the legendary Don Haskins, the same Don Haskins who led an all-black Miner team to victory over Adolph Rupp’s all-white Kentucky team in the 1966 championship game.
Many in Louisiana were salivating at the possibility of LSU playing Indiana and the hated Bobby Knight in the second round, but UTEP won 85-74.
If you’re wondering why LSU was playing so close to midnight Central time, here’s the dish.
Prior to 1991, CBS did not televise every tournament game prior to the Elite Eight. In the first and second rounds, CBS would select the games it wanted to show nationally, then the NCAA would put the other games up for bids. The NCAA produced the games and provided the announcers, and games were either televised by ESPN or a local network. In the Sweet 16, CBS selected two games a night, and the other two that night would be on locally in the areas of the participating teams.
In 1991, CBS took over all games, and contests before the Elite Eight were regionally broadcast. It stayed that way through 2010.
In 2011, CBS split the broadcast rights with TBS, TNT and TruTV, meaning every game would be televised nationally.
I’ve got a sinking feeling LSU will be one-and-done 30 years later, thanks to all the scandal surrounding coach Will Wade, who is suspended and may be fired. The field will be revealed at 1700. Not that I’m going to fill out a bracket.
Enjoy what’s left of your St. Patrick’s Day and weekend.