Category Archives: School
Jerk (not Caribbean)
I wish there were a way to selective eradicate one’s memory. If that were possible, I would gladly erase last night from my memory forever. It made me seriously question my worth as a living organism, much less a human being.
If I wonder why hundreds of people who’ve I met through the years have totally forgotten me, they would have been reminded if they had saw me in action last night. To say I was a complete and total asshole would be too kind. I acted so badly I probably deserved to be sent straight to the Missouri State Penetentiary in Bonne Terre. I was that bad.
It began before I got to Buffalo Wild Wings. I set up the computer in my room at the Overland Park Marriott–yes, it was a different room; I checked out of 1123 Wednesday morning after sleeping in that room for 18 of the previous 20 nights–and got on Facebook really quick.
What I saw sent me over the edge.
I saw Liz had posted pictures of her, Sean and Cori Gardner out the previous night.
It wasn’t they were out–yes, it kind of reminded me I’m lonely away from Kansas City, but I’m so old and I was in Russell the previous night–but it was seeing Cori which brought out my anger and sadness.
I met Cori before I met anyone else at Buffalo Wild Wings, Liz included. She waited on me at lunch quite a few times during the summer of 2013, and we really bonded. I asked her about a tattoo she had, and she told me she had type 1 diabetes. The bad kind.
I have type 2 diabetes, but at least I can keep my blood sugar under reasonable control with medication. I wish I could stay away from the sugar and exercise more, but I’m just so bone lazy.
Cori and Liz were two of the few I knew at Buffalo Wild Wings at that time. I would get to know Sean, Ronnie, Dana, Casey, Morgan Tomac and others over time, but my eyes lit up any time I saw Cori and/or Liz.
The last time I saw Cori working at Buffalo Wild Wings was September 15, 2013, which also happened to be the same day Alex served me for the very first time. I didn’t go back there until October, and by then, Cori was gone, and I did not see Liz at all for quite a few visits. I thought I would not see them again.
Until November 19, 2013. Cori came in a little after 4 that Tuesday to see some people there, and she was so excited to see me. About an hour later, Liz came on for her shift. She was surpirsed to see me, too.
This is where it diverges. I would see Liz regularly. Cori disappeared from my radar.
It seems like I lose ladies in my life at regular intervals.
- Stacie Dauterive Seube and everyone else at Arabi Park Middle basically wrote me off once I went to Brother Martin in the fall of 1989, and disappeared from view until I finally reconnected with them on Facebook.
- Not talking to Stacie for so long really hurt. Really did. When I found out her son, Colin, has autism, I really felt awful. I felt like I could have helped her had I gotten in touch earlier, considering I’ve been through the same thing.
- I met Tiffany Peperone, then a sophomore at Dominican and a Brother Martin cheerleader, in May 1990. Became really close to her. Once she graduated, I saw her only sporadically at LSU, and then after a couple of chance encounters at Ivar’s in 1997, nothing. That hurts a lot. Still.
- Two teachers at Brother Martin whom I became very close to, Janine Koening (8th grade science) and Rebecca Hale (junior English), have faded from view, as has another, Eileen Depreo (senior Civics), the lady who helped me so much during the St. Patrick’s Day folly at the Louisiana Supreme Court (see an earlier post).
- The ladies I worked with in LSU’s sports information office have wiped me from memory. Other than Laurie Cannon Moll, whom I reconnected with on Facebook, they’re all gone.
- Wendy Wall, whom I met in 1997 when she was in graduate school at LSU, hurt a lot to lose. I haven’t talked to her since she and her husband, Sid, went to dinner with my dad and I in Houston following LSU”s 2002 baseball super regional vs. Rice. I’ve tried time and again to get in touch, but to no avail.
- Rebecca Borne could be a chapter in a book, or maybe a book, period. The daughter of LSU football and men’s basketball public address announcer Dan Borne, Rebecca was a super smart young lady (34 ACT) whom I met through the LSU sports information office. We slowly drifted apart until her graduation in May 1998, and then it was she didn’t want to have anything to do with me again. I cried almost every day for years over it. It didn’t stop until I moved to Kansas.
- Rebecca McCann Campbell and I bonded when I first met her as an LSU Batgirl during the 1999 season. We stayed in touch for over a year, but once she graduated, she quickly got marreid to her high school sweetheart. I was so ecstatic to be watching an LSU-South Carolina baseball game in Columbia on the night of her wedding. She’s still married and has two lovely boys, so that’s worked out. At least she hasn’t totally forgotten me.
- Renetta Rogers. I’ll skip her for right now.
- Brenda LeBlanc, the winningiest high school volleyball coach in Louisiana history, occupied the perch Liz, Brittany and Lisa do now. I trusted her completely. I felt I could count on her whenever and wherever I needed her. And I would be there for her if she needed me.
- In Kansas, the list is endless. I could probably name 250-300 people.
- I thought Amanda Schelp wanted nothing to with me again for a time. Fortunately, that’s not hte case, but there are several at the hotel where she used to work who probably want me gone.
- Now I worry to death it’s going to happen with Crista, with Dr. Custer, with Dr. Jones. If that happens, my health will suffer greatly.
- I also worry about the crew at Buffalo Wild Wings. I know LIz is moving soon, Lisa will have a new job, and I’m sure Brittany will move on following her wedding in July. There still might be Alex, Tori, Raymie and a few others, but I don’t know.
Back to last night.
I came into Buffalo Wild Wings at 6:30 and sighted LIz. I yelled at hear about Cori. She took me outside and chewed me out. I deserved it. I was totally wrong.
First, I had NO RIGHT to go into her place of employement and make a scene. She should have slapped me, or kicked me in the nuts.
Second, it isn’t her fault. Things happen with people and their lives.
Third, she told me she hadn’t seen Cori much, either. So I wasn’t alone.
When I went back in, I broke down and cried hard, the first time I had cried in public in a very long time. I started playing some of my favorite sad songs, “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins, “Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word” by Elton John, and “All By Myself”, first the original by Eric Carmen, then the remake by Celine Dion. Chad McCart, the manager on duty, told me I had to stop playing those songs. I did.
I stayed until 9 and then left. I didn’t eat, and I hardly said goobdye to anyone. I did not say goodbye to Alex or Lisa.
I was feeling awful by time I pulled back in to the hotel. Jackie wondered what was wrong. She had never seen me that down.
At least something good happened last night.
I called Outback at Oak Park Mall to get a steak to eat in my room. I wanted prime rib at first, but I got a call five minutes later that there was no more prime rib. Therefore, I was offered the 22-ounce bone in ribeye at the same price as the prime rib. I jumped at the offer. That steak was so awesome.
I got ready early this morning. My car is being serviced at Morse-McCarthy Chevrolet right now. The oil life meter was down to ZERO.
It’s raining and cold this morning. Fits my mood.
Okay, I’m going to tell the St. Patrick’s Day story which remains one of my favorite memories, not only of St. Patrick’s Day, but of middle school and my chilidhood in general.
By St. Patrick’s Day 1989, my future was ahead of me. I had only two months and a couple of weeks left attending Arabi Park Middle School. I had been accepted to Brother Martin High School to attend the eighth grade at the Gentilly campus starting that August.
I was definitely the first from Arabi Park to attend Brother Martin–boys didn’t attend Arabi Park until August 1987–and I was probably one of the very few to migrate from the St. Bernard Parish public school system to Brother Martin. Holy Cross was the prime destination for St. Bernard boys if they didn’t end up at Chalmette or St. Bernard High Schools, or Andrew Jackson Magnet, where Stacie and many of my classmates from Arabi Park ended up.
St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Friday. It was the last day before school closed for a week prior to Easter, which was March 26. Teachers were in no mood to teach; in fact, almost all of them had fun activities or just rolled out the TV and let us watch.
A school dance was scheduled that night. From November through May, there was a monthly dance one Friday night for the seventh and eighth grade students. I always went alone, and I always was too damn scared to ask someone to dance with me. And then I started to cry. The only ones who were nice enough to dance with me were Rosemarie Renz and Stacie, although once in a while I would dance with someone else.
For the March dance, the Arabi Park Student Council was raffling off a limosuine ride to the dance for the winner and five others.
I decided to go all out for it. I bought as many chances as I could, and by time lunch rolled around, I began to field questions about people wanting to ride if I won.
First, I had to win. Second, who would I take? Would I just take five guys, or would I ask the ladies?
Part of me really wanted to take five girls. Stacie, however, said no way. She had a date with Glen Weaver, her on-again, off-again boyfriend at Arabi Park. Allison Richardson, Stacie’s best friend, was interested. She wanted to go in the limo if I won. But who else would I take?
After the abbreviated class schedule ended, there was a mini-fair in the gym. Someone came up to me and told me I had won the raffle.
By then, the choice was easy. I picked five boys to ride: Jason Malasovich, Jared Couture, Brandon Miller, Jack Bastoe and Joe Monaghan. I wanted Shawn O’Neil to come, but he didn’t go to the dances.
We decided to meet at Jack’s house, since he lived farthest from Arabi Park. That was Jason’s idea. Good work. Jason lived closest to the school, so it would have done us no good.
We rode in the limo for about half an hour before arriving at school. I got some cheers as I emerged. My mother was there to take a picture. She chaperoned the dance that time because she was afraid trouble would ensue. Stacie’s mother, Kathy, was also a chaperone that evening. I danced with her, as I did with Rosemarie, Allison and Stacie.
If I had to do it over again, I would have taken the girls. Stacie may not have gone, but Allison would. I probably would have included Toni LaRocca. Rosemarie probably.
I still regret I didn’t stay close to the gang at Arabi Park after leaving for Brother Martin. It really ate at me for a long time, all the way until the day I pulled into 1224 North Brooks Street in Russell to begin my new life.
I miss those guys. I wish I had the money to bring them all up to Kansas City for a reunion, or I had the time to go to the Big Easy.
Thursday was mostly a very bad day, especially the shouting match between myself and Jack Krier.
It wasn’t all bad. I had the wonderful conversation on Facebook messenger with Andree Dauterive Addison, one which jogged my memory and led to that post late last night. There also was another Facebook reconnection, one with a lady who was very special to me during my college days and shortly thereafter.
I first met Rebecca McCann during the 1999 LSU baseball season. She was selected as one of the Batgirls, the organization which not only retrieves bats and delivers balls to umpires during LSU baseball home games, but they also sell programs at the stadium and help out the program in many other ways behind the scenes, especially helping out around the office during the week. I knew a few of the Batgirls casually, but Becky was the first I really got to know well.
Becky was Baton Rouge born and bred. She grew up in the southeastern portion of East Baton Rouge Parish outside the Baton Rouge city limits, not too far where I lived following my graduation from LSU. She attended Bishop Sullivan, a Catholic co-educational high school in that part of EBR Parish. Sullivan opened in 1983 to serve the fast-growing population of that part of EBR and nearby Livingston Parish, as well as give students a co-educational alternative to Catholic High (boys) and St. Joseph’s Academy (girls), both of which were in Mid-City, not too far from LSU.
It was later discovered Bishop Joseph Sullivan, the school’s namesake, was part of a large sexual molestation scandal during his tenure as the Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, and in 2005, Baton Rouge Bishop Robert Muench ordered Sullivan’s name off the school. The school was renamed St. Michael the Archangel.
If you’re wondering, no Catholic diocese or archdiocese can cross state lines, so the Kansas Cities are under separate leadership. The Kansas portion of the Kansas City metro is anchor for the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas,, which includes Topeka and the rest of northeast Kansas, stopping just before Manhattan.
Becky and I became good friends throughout the 1999 baseball season. She even teased me about an argument between myself and her best friend in an LSU political science class. It got so heated the distinguished professor of the class, Dr. James Bolner, had to stop it and move us to neutral corners so to speak.
Once I graduated from LSU in July 1999, Becky and I still kept in touch. I stayed in Baton Rouge and took a job with an dot-com company. Becky and I exchanged e-mails and communicated via AOL Instant Messenger, the first person I had serious chats with.
It got really serious the night of November 22, 1999.
I had a terrible day at work. After that it was just as bad, as I went to see Jimmy Ott doing his show at Pocorello’s, which was not too far from my workplace and apartment, but Jimmy was not very friendly that day. Little would I know Jimmy and I would be doing Monday shows together from Pocorello’s for three years in the not too distant future.
When I got home, I e-mailed Becky. I was desperate. I told her I wanted to end my life. She got back to me and told me she was extremely worried. She told me she called a hotline on my behalf.
Later that evening, two deputies from the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office showed up on my doorstep. They said they had a call that I was gong to take my life. I tried to tell them I wasn’t truly suicidal, but they took me in a squad car to Earl K. Long hospital clear across Baton Rouge on the wrong side of town–at least for a scared white man like myself.
As luck would have it, my dad was on working on a project for Air Products and Chemicals in Geismar, about 25 miles southeast of Baton Rouge, and he was able to drive to the hospital and pick me up. Had he not been there, I don’t know who the heck would have come to get me. Bill Franques would have been the first choice, but he was away that week on his honeymoon in San Francisco. I’m guessing the call might have gone to either Jim Schwanke or Dan Borne.
I told Becky what happened. I did not hold it against her. I’ll never forget we had a nice chat one morning at 1 a.m. after I spent a very late night at a Geismar gentleman’s club where Jimmy and I did a radio show that afternoon.
In late 2000, Becky told me she was engaged to her longtime boyfriend, Matthew Campbell. I was stunned. Looking back on it, I’m glad she found true love. She’s a very special lady.
She and Matt were married at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Baton Rouge on April 19, 2002. Meanwhile,, I was in Columbia with the LSU baseball team as they opened a series at South Carolina.
I thought about Becky more than a few times through the years, but never dreamed we would reconnect, especially after I moved to Kansas. I am overjoyed we have.
Becky, thank you for coming back into my life. You were special to me then and are just as special now. I am elated you have enjoyed the success at Microsoft you have earned. I’m so glad you’re still married, because you deserve nothing but total bliss in your life. I will always hold you near and dear to my heart.
Tammy Gilbert brought back a hilarious memory from Arabi Park Middle tonight on Facebook. One which I had totally forgotten until she jogged my memory, and it came right back.
In September 1988, Hurricane Gilbert ravaged Jamaica with winds of 125 miles per hour, two and a half feet of rain, and a 19-foot storm surge. There were a lot of deaths, 45, but it could have been a heck of a lot worse.
When the storm emerged into the Caribbean Sea off the west coast of Jamaica, the storm underwent a rapid intensification, growing into a Category 5 monster with winds of 185 miles per hour. Gilbert also made history when its minimum central pressure dropped to 888 millibars, or 26.23 inches of mercury, shattering the record of 892 millibars (26.34 inches) which was set during the Labor Day hurricane of 1935. By comparison, Camille’s lowest pressure in 1969 was 900 millibars (26.58 inches), but the winds were more intense, 190 miles per hour, when it slammed into the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
The Friday before Gilbert slammed into Jamaica, Hurricane Florence, a Category 1 storm with winds of 80 miles per hour, crossed the Mississippi River delta in lower Plaquemines Parish–not too far from where Camille crossed in 1969–but this time, the storm began to weaken as it neared the city of New Orleans. My house in Arabi lost power for an hour or so, but other than that, there were really no effects. There were a few leaves and twigs down from the tree in our backyard, but the sun came out that Saturday and I was watching college football as normal.
School was not called off for Florence, and I was in a panicky mode all day long at school. My classmates got a big kick out of it, and as I was leaving, I picked up my trumpet from the band room. I told Ms. Crow that I was worried about the storm, and she told me jokingly to go home and play Taps.
Gilbert was no joke. This storm was the 1988 version of Camille, and if a storm of that magnitude hit the United States, it would be beyond catastrophic. There was no doubt Gilbert
Wednesday, September 14, 1988, was all about Gilbert in the halls of Arabi Park Middle. I wasn’t interested in talking about the Saints, I wasn’t interested in the baseball pennant races, I wasn’t interested with LSU’s game that weekend at Tennessee. I was all worried about Gilbert, and I told anyone who would listen this storm was scary.
I found a way to get under the skin of our class valedictorian. I began calling Tammy “Hurricane” Gilbert, and every time, she told me to shut up. I would not let it go for quite some time; in fact, I think it wasn’t until January or February when it finally died down. Rosemarie, Tammy’s neighbor and best friend, was unhappy with me for one of the few times.
I thought with Gilbert coming into the Gulf of Mexico the St. Bernard Parish School Board would call off classes for Thursday and Friday, and we would get a four-day weekend.
Didn’t get a four-day weekend. Didn’t get a three-day weekend. Gilbert passed well south of Louisiana and Texas and came ashore in Mexico, where it killed 200.
I recall three hurricane vacations during my school years.
The first was in fourth grade at St. Robert Bellarmine, when we had the Friday before Labor Day due to the threat of Hurricane Elena, which at first was making a beeline towards New Orleans. That storm turned sharply east, and then back to the west before coming ashore in Pascagoula, Mississippi, east of where Camille and Katrina roared ashore.
The second was in August 1992. On the first day of my junior year at Brother Martin, Hurricane Andrew came ashore south of Miami with Category 5 winds of 165 miles per hour. The storm entered the Gulf of Mexico shortly after noon that day, and it appeared New Orleans was the bullseye. We had the next two days off, and it appeared we may not have a school to come back to, but that was the least of my worries. I was REALLY scared I was going to die.
Luckily, Andrew veered west and made landfall in Louisiana near Morgan City, at the mouth of the Atchafalya River.
In September 1998, i had a day off from LSU due to Hurricane Georges. The storm passed well east of Baton Rouge, but it was very windy that Monday at LSU football practice. I had to go out to practice to police the media as part of my duties with LSU’s sports information office.
In landlocked Kansas, there are snow days, but I’ve never seen school called off, at least in Russell, due to the threat of tornadoes. Now if the National Severe Storms Center issued a high risk severe outlook, I”m sure superintendents would seriously consider keeping students home in order to keep them off of buses and off the streets traveling to and from school.
My time in Kansas City is running short, as is my free time for the summer. I’ll be covering volleyball in just under 52 hours, and by this time next week, the season will be in full swing.
Save for the problem with the two guys at Buffalo Wild Wings last night and my indecision Saturday, this has been a very good trip. I really had a blast getting doused with ice water by my friends at B-Dubs, and I’ve had a ton of fun going down memory lane with some of my chums from Arabi Park Middle School.
Two more reconnections this morning, bringing the total to seven.
One was with Toni LaRocca, one of only a few from Arabi Park I saw in person since exiting the school for the final time on June 2, 1989. I ran into Toni at Hooters in Metairie a few times during my internship with the New Orleans Zephyrs in 2000. She may have been the shortest girl in our class, but she had one of the biggest hearts, not to mention a smile which could melt away the tightest frown. I absolutely loved her in that Hooters uniform. And i love her still.
The other new Facebook friend is Tammy Gilbert, whom I’m proud to say is far, far smarter than I. She was shy, but very studious and very friendly when you got to know her. She also played the flute in the band, and she joined with Toni and Nicole Meyer–the tallest of our class–three great ones. Ms. Crow never had to worry about the flutes. Never.
Tammy lived next door to Rosemarie’s grandparents, so it was natural they were best friends. Two great ladies.
Now I’m starting to remember another band member who wasn’t in the honors classes, Vicki Tabora. Vicki lived across the street from Carolyn Park on the other side of St. Robert Bellarmine church, not too far from the Datuerive residence. Vicki was a gifted drummer, and she accepted the burden of playing one of the big bass drums. Try carrying that for 8-10 miles in a parade. Most boys would cry, but Vicki handled it like a champ.
Strange but true story. I was so clumsy in the sixth grade that I couldn’t play the clarinet and march, so Ms. Crow had me carry the Louisiana state flag at the front of the parade formation. However, I was good enough playing when sitting down to make the Louisiana Music Educators Association elementary honor band for the second consecutive year. Nicole, Rosemarie and Jason Malasovich also made it in 1988. Maybe it was a good thing I wasn’t playing the clarinet in parades in 1988, because the Arabi Park band won the band competition in the Shangri-La parade, and we got to march at the very beginning of that parade in 1989.
Now that I’ve friended Stacie, Rosemarie, Shandy, Shawn, Lara, Toni and Tammy, I’m starting to see more and more and more from St. Bernard pop up when I’m searching for friends. I have to admit it’s making me smile.
As nice as it is to sit around the computer, it’s no good here in the hotel. Time to get ready and get over to Buffalo Wild Wings. Brittany Davidson is working tonight. She reminds me a lot of Toni not in terms of being short, but in being a warm and caring person. Her finacee is one lucky guy.
Back to the middle
Now I’m on a middle school memories kick here. I’ve reconnected with one of the two young ladies I called a “stunner” from Arabi Park Middle, Lara Doyle (Meyers). She was as impressed with my memory recall as Stacie, Shandy, Shawn and Rosemarie have been.
In the summer of 1988, between my sixth and seventh grade years at Arabi Park, my parents, my brother and I went to Russell to visit my father’s parents. It was one of the last times we visited where my grandmother, Sophie, who was my dad’s stepmother–he never knew his birth mother–was lucid. She still had her 1970 Buick LeSabre, and we would ride around Russell in it, even though I wasn’t too keen on the fact it wasn’t as safe, or at least I didn’t consider it as safe, as my mother’s 1986 Oldsmobile EIghty-Eight which we drove up. We went to the Dairy Queen on US 40 in Russell every day. Sadly, that Dairy Queen closed in 1992, and it’s now a bad Mexican restaurant.
When I started the seventh grade at Arabi Park, I tried convincing my classmates, especially Shawn, that I was born in Kansas. Slight problem: Mrs. Gattuso and my mom were friends long before I was born, and she knew better. She made me confess I was born at Baptist Hospital on Napoleon Avenue, the same hospital where Peyton Manning was born seven months prior. Of course, while Olivia Manning gave birth in a palatial private room and got to stay for as long as she wanted, I went home the next day. Oh well.
I tried to rub Kansas in my classmates’ faces, especially with the annoying “Tweety Bird” shirt which featured a giant Jayhawk. Kansas won the 1988 NCAA men’s basketball national championship, and I would not let Shawn, Jared or anyone else forget it. They grew tired of it, as they should have. Good thing I didn’t wear the K-State shirt with the Tom Cat in front of Mrs. Gattuso, or she would have found a derisive name for that, too.
I told everyone who would listen I was going to KU or K-State for college. I had no interest at that time in LSU or any school in Louisiana. Nebraska was also on my radar, which was even more irritating to LSU fans, since the Cornhuskers defeated the Bayou Bengals three times in bowl games in the 1980s. And even Wichita State was having athletic success, going to the 1988 College World Series and winning it all in 1989, only eight days after I left Arabi Park for good.
Once I was admitted to Brother Martin for eighth grade in February 1989, I started wearing a crimson shirt with Martin’s mascot, Crusaders, on it. Another bad idea. I wore it on my last day ever at Arabi Park, and Mrs. Rando bragged on me. Stacie saw it and was not impressed. Shawn forgave me enough to come to my house the next night.
This was what I needed after what happened earlier. Very therapeutic.
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.
More from the middle
Thanks to a Facebook conversation with four great people from my distant past, a flood of memories has been opened. Might as well get to them while they’re still fresh on the brain.
The drive from one end of Kansas City to the other gave me the chance to remember a heck of a lot from my days in New Orleans, and especially my friends from Arabi Park Middle.
Stacie Dauterive Seube and I had e-mailed each other twice before Katrina, and then we were in touch a couple of times after I moved to Kansas, but the last e-mail was in February 2006. Tonight, I recalled the last times I saw her in person.
One was November 1993 when the St. Bernard Parish chapter of the LSU Alumni Association held a meeting about its scholarships. Stacie’s dad, Rene, who owns Dauterive Heating and Plumbing, was also there, as he was active with the LSU Alumni Association. Two others from the Arabi Park days were there, Jason Malasovich and Christi Rehage. Christi’s brother, Steve, played football for LSU under Jerry Stovall and Bill Arnsparger in the 1980s, so it was not surprising at all Christi wanted to continue the family tradition.
I also saw Stacie on the LSU campus on our VERY FIRST DAY of college classes, August 29, 1994. Like me, Stacie didn’t stay at LSU; she eventually transferred to Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, 45 minutes east on Interstate 12. After the 1995 spring semester, I went home to the University of New Orleans, but I would return to LSU in January 1997.
Speaking of LSU, I saw Rosemarie Renz (Huguet) on campus one day in September 1997. It was in front of the LSU union when I had a break in Wednesday morning classes. At that time, I was back working in LSU’s sports information office, and I had just begun covering high school football for The Advocate, Baton Rouge’s daily paper.
Of course, having gone to five years of school with me before Arabi Park, Rosemarie’s memories are far deeper than most. Last night, I recalled she came to my seventh birthday party in October 1983 at Showbiz Pizza in Chalmette. I returned the favor for Rosemarie at her grandparents’ house in May 1985. Of all the people in my classes at Arabi Park, Rosemarie was the by far the nicest. I think she got me because we had been together at St. Robert Bellarmine, and I don’t recall her teasing me like some of the others. Then again, I forgive everyone who ever teased me in middle school, because I don’t expect 12 or 13 year olds to understand Asperger’s, especially when it had not been diagnosed yet in the United States, as was the case in the late 1980s.
Actually, Rosemarie was not the only person from Arabi Park who attended school with me at St. Robert Bellarmine. I almost forgot about Aimee Roniger, who came to St. Robert’s in the fifth grade, the year Rosemarie left to to go to Arabi Park, the last year it was an all-girls school. Aimee stayed at St. Robert’s in the sixth grade before coming to Arabi Park in the seventh. She and another of the honors girls, Nicole Lowery, were best friends. Nicole, like Shandy, Vanessa Condra, Dayna Siebenkittel and Erin Billingsley, were not in honors until seventh grade, with Michelle Woodland transferring in to Arabi Park for seventh grade.
Showbiz was the rival to Chuck E. Cheese and was popular in the south in the 1980s. In fact, I went to another Showbiz location, this one in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, for Shawn O’Neil’s birthday party in December 1988.
I’ll never forget Shawn’s party. His dad insisted on taking the ferry across the Mississippi River from Chalmette to Algiers, even though the new Crescent City Connection had opened and there were four lanes of traffic in both directions. I remember riding over with Shawn, Jason, Jared Couture, Jack Bastoe and Brandon Miller. The girls from our class were not invited.
Shawn also happened to be a damn fine basketball player. He lived across the street from Vista playground, so he and his brothers, Danny and Chad, went there often to hone their basketball and baseball skills. Shawn had a fine left-handed mid-range jumper, and he was hell on the boards. I remember going up against him three times during the 1988-89 Biddy Basketball season. His Vista teams went 3-0 against the Carolyn Park team Jason and I played on. Jason, Shawn and I had to play with the 11-year olds because we turned 12 after October 1. Jared’s birthday was before the limit, so he was with the 12-year olds. Another fine player in the 11-year old Biddy league that year was Michael Marques, who played for Versailles. He went on to become a two-year varsity starter at Brother Martin and was in my graduating class. Michael’s dad and my dad worked together at Air Products and Chemicals.
I didn’t see Shandy de St. Germain (Arguelles) after leaving Arabi Park, but tonight I remembered one of her best friends from middle school, Kim Carmouche. Kim and I were in the gifted and talented program at Arabi Park. We didn’t have the highest grade point averages, but we both tested so well that the school saw potential in us. We got to skip P.E. on Wednesdays.
The family of one of the boys who was in gifted and talented with us in the sixth grade, Lateef Khan, owned the Shell service station at the corner of Perrin and Judge Perez Drive. There was an Exxon across the street from the Shell, and on the other side of Judge Perez from the Exxon was the Little Fisherman, where my mom often picked up crawfish, corn and potatoes during the late winter and early spring for Friday meals.
During my final quarter, the boys and girls were separated for science class for four weeks so that sex education could be presented. The boys were taught by Susan Buras, while the girls went with Shelly Shumaker, who was the honors science teacher for seventh grade.
I’ll never forget my naivete. Shoulder pads for ladies’ blouses were big in the late 1980s, and I asked Ms. Buras if that’s where women kept their pads for their periods folded up. It cracked everyone up, especially Shawn, who always got a kick out of my antics. Looking back, I know much better, but I’m glad I could make the boys and Ms. Buras laugh, even if it was at me.
I’m also starting to fondly remember two girls who were a year ahead of us, Chastity Manzella and Jennifer Newell. Jennifer was the band’s drum major her eighth grade year. They were both very beautiful and very popular. Chastity flirted with me one day at an Arabi Park softball/baseball doubleheader at Trist Middle in Meraux; of course, I was too young and too uninformed to know what to do.
As much as I’m loving this, it’s obscenely late. I’ll be back later today.
Gone too soon
The last Monday night of August has put me in a very reflective mood. One where I realize how much I miss so many people from my native state.
Buzztime’s The Pulse was awesome, save for two questions, one about swimming and one about tennis. Those were the only two on which I did not score a perfect 1,000, and I ended the game with 28,499. That’s a hare above where I was last week. I think it will be enough to be #1 this week, but we’ll see. I was #2 last week, missing out on #1 nationally by less than 700 points. I was #1 July 28, Aug. 4 and Aug. 11.
I got a sobering dose of news tonight from my dear friend Stacie Dauterive Seube. I learned one of our classmates from Arabi Park Middle, Allison Richardson, passed away from cancer in 2008. I’m having to fight the urge to break down right now.
I could tell even at that tender age Allison was going to be special. She was very intelligent, and I would say she was right up there with Tammy Gilbert for smartest in our classes. She also was very gifted at saxophone, and she and Jack Bastoe were both outstanding, as was Jenny Cancienne. Probably the best section of the Arabi Park band, although Tammy, Toni LaRocca and Nicole Meyer were all great on the flute, and Stacie and Rosemarie Renz were honor band members on clarinet. Ms. Crow didn’t have to worry about the woodwinds; she usually reserved her ire for the trumpets, at first Jason Malasovich, and then me when I switched from clarinet.
I have been fortunate in that I have not lost many people whom I was close to outside my family. The one which comes to mind was Bobby Conlin, Brother Martin’s football coach, who passed away n July 1997 at 59. I was closer to him than any other adult at Brother Martin, and the only one who comes close was Janine Koening, my eighth grade science teacher. There have been a few from my days in college baseball, notably LSU third baseman Wally Pontiff, who tragically died in his sleep in 2002, and Tom Price, the longtime South Carolina publicist, who sadly passed away before his beloved Gamecocks won back-to-back national championships in 2010 and 2011. Some of the members of my high school class have died, but I wasn’t close to many, if any. In fact, the only classmate who is a Facebook friend is Steve Caparotta, who is now a meteorologist at WaFB, the CBS affiliate in Baton Rouge.
Back to Allison. It pains me to see someone so young, so vibrant cut down in the prime of her life, but cancer doesn’t discriminate. Not by race, not by gender, not by economic status, political persuasion, geographic location…nothing. Cancer kills. And sadly, more of us will be stricken in our lives than not.
I’m still at Buffalo Wild Wings because my dear friend Brittany Davidson is working. I brought her a fourth six-pack of Abita beer–strawberry–and of course she was ecstatic. Liz usually works Monday nights, but tonight she had to ask off because her back is hurting. Braidey Howe took her spot.
Lisa and her boyfriend, Jeff, won $500 with a lottery scratch-off. Wish I were that lucky, but I’m glad for them.
I’ve got to pick the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 tomorrow for my Russell column. I know I’m pegging Michigan State, Florida State and Oregon as the winners, but after that, not sure.
I still have the 35-minute drive to make back to Overland Park. But I’m not feeling too guilty about not spending more time at the hotel because (a) I’ve stayed there so much this summer and (b) the nights are free.
Besides, right now, I’m going down memory lane at Arabi Park with two of my favorite people, Rosemarie and Shawn O’Neil. I’m having too much fun to stop it now. And I’m also playing several songs from 1988 and 1989 when I was at Arabi Park. Ah to be 12 again.
Lazy Mondays almost done
The last Monday before Labor Day. The second to last Monday where it will be quiet for a couple of months. The high school sports season kicks off in earnest the day after Labor Day, and that means Mondays will be spent writing up accounts of volleyball, football and cross country during the fall.
I’m going to enjoy every minute left of this Monday at Buffalo Wild Wings. I’m counting on the free Wi-Fi working here, because I’m using up my Verizon data allowance at an alarming rate. It won’t be so bad starting in September, simply because I’ll be home more often and won’t have time to hang out at B-Dubs at much; then again, I’ll be using my phone to tweet from games.
I discovered last night two more classmates from Arabi Park Middle remember me. One, Rosemarie Renz, wasn’t all that surprising, given we went to St. Robert Bellarmine together from kindergarten through fourth grade before reuniting at Arabi Park in the sixth and seventh grades. The other, Shandy de St. Germain, was a bit surprising, given we weren’t in the same classes in the sixth grade. But it is nice to know I haven’t faded away.
I stopped at QuikTrip on State Line Road and I-435 last night for pretzels and pizza. Had to splurge, since I didn’t eat much at Buffalo Wild Wings. I had an excuse to go to QuikTrip, since I was nearly out of gas. The QT on State Line sells gas without ethanol, which I like because I’ve discovered my car gets better gas mileage with ethanol-free gas. If I’m only driving on highways, I sometimes can squeeze 420 miles out of a tank, compared to about 390 with gas with ethanol. My car can run on E-85, but at best I can only get 290-300 miles per tank.
There are no NFL exhibition games tonight thanks to the Emmy Awards. Most teams play their final exhibition Thursday. In an odd scheduling quirk, the Cardinals and Chargers not only play their final exhibition against one another in San Diego, they open the regular season against one another in Arizona on Monday Night Football Sept. 8. Wonder why that wasn’t changed?
Made my college football picks today. I’ll reveal I’ve got Florida State, Alabama, Oklahoma and Oregon in the playoff, with the Crimson Tide to win it all. Again. Shoot me.