In 1965 Jerry Leggio designed the motion picture casting system for the Louisiana State Employment Service (today's Louisiana Workforce Commission). In 1969 he was awarded a State Science Foundation contract to Develop the Motion Picture Industry in Louisiana and In 1975 he led a multi-state committee to form the National Cineposium .
Jerry is the recipient of the 2014 ANNE PRICE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD in recognition of his pioneering efforts to grow the film industry in Louisiana.
About 20 years ago I noticed that my neighbor, Marty, was no longer doing his daily early morning jogging. At the time Marty was in his late 80s and kept in pretty good shape. When I saw him one day picking up his morning paper I asked “Marty, I can’t help but notice that you’re not jogging anymore.” He said “No, not anymore.” I said “Well, you still look fit. Is everything OK?” He said “Back in May maybe you’ll remember there was a 5K marathon down by the river. So I signed up for it. I poured my heart into that race, ran my tail off. After about 1k suddenly I was overtaken by 2 young gals and that really embarrassed me. So I decided to hang it up.” I said “Well Marty surely they were a lot younger. Why would it embarrass you with them passing you?” He said “They were walking.”
Many decades ago (around the mid 40s) my late uncle George was a routeman for Cresent Laundry in Baton Rouge. His route included the North St. Girls' Orphanage which was located across from a Jewish Cemetery. Back in the 1930s and 1940s the orphanage management permitted the practice of initiating new residents.
On one early morning Cresent Laundry run, George found himself amidst police units with their alarm lights on at the orphanage. What was going on? He made his usual delivery to the orphanage and asked the house mother what was happening. She said that their newest resident had been found dead across the street in the middle of the cemetery. He asked how that happened and was told that the new resident had been subjected to the initiation practice and was found dead at the base of the cemetery's central monument. George had found out that the initiation involved requiring the new resident to visit that monument alone at midnight. To prove that she had indeed visited the monument, she was to stab a predesignated knife into the ground at the monument, then return to the orphanage. At sunrise the monument would be visited to determine whether or not the knife had been stabbed into the sod at the base of the monument. Sadly though this new resident had not returned after her midnight visitation.
At 2 AM, which was 2 hours after her trek into the cemetery, a group with flashlights went into the cemetery to the monument and found the new resident lying dead on the ground. The group raced back in a panic and reported this to the housemother who then called the authorities. When the police and coroner arrived they visited the site of the dead girl and discovered that she had indeed driven the knife into the ground, but regrettably, unbeknownst to the resident, the knife had also gone through the hem of her skirt into the ground. The medical examiner deduced that when she attempted to stand, she felt the tug of the driven knife and, as speculated by the medical examiner, her heart, already racing from fear, went into a coronary thrombosis (heart attack). She died of heart failure ..... or so the story goes.
In 1995 my wife, Gloria, after 7 arduous years of part-time undergraduate studies at LSU, donned her cap and gown and, along with myself, Gloria’s mother and our 10 year old nephew, Charles, would be proudly accompanied to LSU’s Pete Maravich Center. She would be awarded her Bachelor’s diploma in Education. At age 55 she was among very few elder graduates.
This was a Saturday morning and the ceremonies were due to start at 11 o’clock. The arena floor was filling up with this year’s graduates with Gloria “somewhere” among them. Charles kept saying “Where’s Mimi?” Soon we did see her among the other 3000 + graduates.
Among the last graduates to take their seats were the honor grads. In addition to their caps and gowns the honor grads all wore gold sashes. There were 12 honor graduates. Their seats were reserved on the front row.
The floor of the P-Mac was completely carpeted with new graduates as the LSU dignitaries now took their seats on the stage. The ceremonies were now underway as the LSU president positioned himself at the dais and began introducing the honor graduates one by one. Each one, upon introduction, would make his/her way to the microphone to accept their certificate after the president said a few words complimentary to their achievements. This process took about 2 minutes per honor grad.
As the 4th or 5th honor grad received his certificate I became aware that my nephew was going through some mental gymnastics. He then turned to me and said “Paw Paw, are ALL these people” (meaning ALL the graduates) “going to go up there to get their papers?” Knowing what Charles’ concern was I decided to have a little fun with him.
I said “Yes, Charles, that’s why we’re here.” To which he responded “Holy crap, we’ll be here all day.” I said “Actually, Charles, with this many graduates, we’ll probably be leaving here about mid-day on Monday.” “Are you kidding?” “Well, Charles, see for yourself. Look how many graduates there are.” “But what about food, going to bed, what will we do?” I said “We can get stuff from the concessions. And it’s OK to sleep in your seat.” “HOLY CRAP! Paw Paw, this is already boring and you’re saying we won’t be leaving until Monday?”
At this point the last of the honors graduates had taken his/her seat and now the remaining 3000+ were beginning their trek up to the stage. This process was very orderly as they simply streamed by the president and was handed their certificates. This took about 1 second per graduate…..about another hour. Charles, now greatly relieved, said “Paw Paw, you were joshing me, weren’t you?” Of course I had to admit it.
TRILOGY plus ONE
My Uncle Rodney was a genuine deep south Cajun ... Rodney Bourgeois, the father of my cousin Rodney ("Smokey") Bourgeois, Jr., Restaurateur and former city parish councilman. Rodney senior, until his retirement in the early 70s, had been an engineer with the Union Pacific Railroad.
And it was pure entertainment hearing his rail-run adventures.
His most memorable story involves a banana truck.
Rodney was north bound along the river in Iberville parish pulling about a mile of loaded box cars and tank cars when suddenly in the northern distance he sees a dust cloud heading for his tracks. "What duh hal is dat 'bout to run over my track?" he asked. He starts bearing down on the whistle, but to no avail. "He ain't gonna stop, dat fool!" As he drew closer to the crossing Rodney could now see that the dust cloud was being kicked up by a loaded banana truck that was obviously trying to beat the train to that crossing. Rodney, still pulling the whistle cord, begins to slow the engine, but he knows that the train will not stop until it is past that crossing. "Dat man is tryin' to kill hissef!"
Still bearing down on the whistle while slowing his engine, Rodney cautions his crew "Hang on. We 'bout to be t-boned by dat banana truck."
BAM! The truck slams into his engine, de-railing it and causing several of his loads to de-rail also.
"Everybody OK?" No one was hurt in his engine compartment and he would discover that no one else aboard was hurt either, but Union Pacific would be summoned to deal with a hellufa mess.
Rodney de-boarded to survey the scene only to discover a state trooper's patrol car pulling up behind the badly smashed banana truck.
In red-faced anger the officer pulls out his citation pad. Rodney says to the officer "Hey Cap'm, what you doin'? Cain't you see 'dat man is bad hurt?" The Officer replies "I was trying to stop him to
cite him for a violation and he makes me chase him. I'm writing him up."
Rodney, while attending to the badly injured truck driver, chastizes the officer: "What you NEED do is call a amb'lance." The officer says "Already did. I figured he would be either badly hurt or dead. So now I'm writing him up."
While Rodney and a couple of his crew members are attending to the unconscious and bleeding truck driver an ambulance soon arrives along with a fire department rig. Rodney, now feeling a little less sympathy for the truck driver, brings them up to speed: "You guys help 'dis man while 'dis friendly officer writes him up. He was making a bee-line for 'dis crossin' while I was hangin' on my whisle to stop him. Look what he did."
A few weeks later Rodney finds out that the driver was still hospitalized with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries. Rodney said "Man, what a fool I was. All 'dem bananas and didn't bring nary a one home."