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Just a Good ‘Ol Boy

Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / April 20, 1998

He’s a pretty unique kind of man – quiet, hard-working, good sense of humor and well-liked. Sam Cascio is the kind of man who one considersthe backbone of any good, family-centered community.

He was a war hero and a truck driver, and he’s been in 28 states and four foreign countries. Yet he lives and works only a few blocks away from hisbirthplace.

“If it wasn’t for this, I’d be dead already,” Cascio, 77, said, smiling. Hesmiles a lot. It goes a long way to bringing repeat customers to Marie’sMajik Mart No. 2 at the corner of West First and River Road in Reserve.”They must be satisfied with the service,” he said.

The customers are quite nearly non-stop, even for a Monday morning, at the Texaco station. The almost constant flow of customers attests toCascio’s “service with a smile.””It seems like some things should never change in our society, such as hard work ethics and taking pride in doing a job well,” said his daughter, Donna.

She also noted his war record, during which he earned a Bronze Star for heroism, and his personal history. He was born in Reserve of an ItalianCatholic background, served proudly in World War II, worked 35 years as a Falstaff Beer truck driver then drove a gasoline truck for 15 more years, first for Exxon, then Texaco.

“I’ve been working since I was 14 years old,” Cascio said.

He entered the Army in 1940 despite an eyesight problem which kept him from the Marine Corps and the Navy. He memorized the eye chart, wassnapped up by the Army and shipped off to Camp Shelby, Miss., and FortBenning, Ga.

Before long he found himself in Oran, Morocco, fighting across his ancestral home of Sicily and into Italy.

There, not far from Palermo, his commanding officer asked for volunteers to row a boat and ferry soldiers across, under a withering strafing from enemy aircraft.

All night long he ferried soldiers to where they could reach the shelter of nearby mountains. He was later awarded a Bronze Star for the deed. Heended up the war as part of the 11th Mountain Division.

“I traveled on mountains for so long, I was walking sideways,” he joked.

Back home, he married his wife of 54 years, Corine, and they had three children, Donna, Karen and Sammy, and two grandchildren. Now, 15 yearsafter retirement, he’s the associate manager of the Texaco station.

As the morning passed customers appeared frequently, eager for the personal attention so rare at “service stations” nowadays.

“There’s always a smile on his face, and he never complains,” Eleanore LeBoeuf commented as he scrubbed the windshield of her pickup truck.

Most of his customers that day tended to be his age, and Cascio admitted he grew up with many of them.

A 23-year-old woman came in to buy a pack of cigarettes. She wasdelighted when he checked her identification, happy to be taken for an underage smoker.

“They’re nice people to work for,” Cascio said of Robert and Marie Crais, owners of the business.

However, the full-service nature of the station is only one of the draws for customers.

“He’s a good, old boy,” grinned Laydon Roussel of Reserve. “That’s why Icome.”

Photo: “If it wasn’t for this, I’d be dead already,” Sam Cascio.

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