In the summer of 1959 I was as happy and carefree as a 10 year old boy should be.
Along with my parents and 4 male siblings,we lived in paradise. It's positioning as the last house on a dead end street, while providing the freedom of traffic-free kickball on a flat surface, was not the best part.
Our home at 1607 Griffith abutted the coulee which flowed directly into the lake, which provided endless entertainment for the Lobdell brood of boys.
The yard between house and water seemed endless, providing ample space for touch football and rounds of Red Rover, mostly with the Shearman clan who lived one block over at 109 Pithon. I vividly recall yellingâ¦red rover red rover, let Nancy come over. I thought she was the cutest thing I'd ever seen, and she was. Our families dove-tailed in ages, leading to the recognition of suspiciously familiar articles of clothing worn by the next in line kid. John and I spent countless hours exploring the coulee banks, ignoring yard boundaries, climbing the rocks, watching multi-legged water bugs and fishing for gar. We shared not only clothing but also a warm, safe neighborhood, which in typical kid fashion, I took totally for granted.
At some point, Dad bought us a V-hulled aluminum boat which came equipped with an 18 horse powered Evinrude motor. We christened her the Miss Dodo after Dodo Shepard, wife of Shep Shepard and good friends of Mom and Dad. They lived on Pithon, next door to the Shearman's. In retrospect, they were remarkably patient with our rowdy crew and my recollections conjure a calm, generous, loving couple, who were probably a great deal of help to our family. I knew nothing of such things at the time. All I knew was this boat was the transport to untold adventure. We road an aquaplane, towed at breakneck speed by the 18 horse motor. The board would get stuck in the mud of shallow, pre-Civic Center Lake Charles, when we fell off, which was fairly frequently. We planed past the ruins of Red River Barge Line, knowing nothing of what this section of the lake would eventually become.
Layered memories unfold as I fill limited space but one such recollection is of the Rhabany family who lived next door. Known to most adults as the proprietors of Rhabany Brothers Liquor Store on Ryan St., they were, to me, the source of Lebanese bread. I would wait in their garage, just outside their kitchen screen door, and Mrs. Rhabany would bake a small individual loaf for meâ¦warm, lightly crusted, round succulent bread straight from the oven. Now, over 50 years later, I can smell and taste this magnificent memory. If only I could hug her soft neck and thank her. I can thank her children, Badiha, Nora and Mike, for being our friends and playing hours of kickball in the traffic-free dead end street known as Griffith.
We eventually moved two blocks south to 109 Grove Ave., that would become our family home for decades. A literal lifetime of memories is stored there, and fodder for future tomes. Suffice it to say, I have a great deal of appreciation for the neighborhood known as Margaret Place, a safe, warm place that allowed kids to be kids.