Real People

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 25, 1999

By ANNA MONICA / L’Observateur / January 25, 1999

It doesn’t seem to take much effort for Mary Cotton to take off one hat and put on another, all in the same day.

Mary, married to Benjamin Cotton and mother of four, has worked days for six years as a special education aide at East St. John High School. She then reportsto work at Wal-Mart, a full-time second job she has had for two years, where she is customer service manager.

From Tylertown, Miss., Mary and family first moved to New Orleans and havebeen in LaPlace since 1979. The move to LaPlace was prompted so Benjamincould be closer to his job as a federal grain inspector. Their children areTrinese, 21, who attends Southern University in Baton Rouge, Trinaee, 16, and Benjamin Jr., 17, who attends East St. John High, and Jessica, 14, an LeonGodchaux Junior High student.

Mary feels blessed to have two good jobs. She says there is no reason forsomeone not to have a job because they were always there when she was looking for one. These jobs also give her additional “families” at East St. John, Wal-Martand even at the real estate company where she previously worked.

The desire to watch Benjamin Jr., an offensive lineman for East St. John, playfootball and to spend more time with her children led Mary to giving up her job as a real estate agent. Formerly a full-time housewife, Mary’s life hasundergone several job changes, but nothing comes between or before her family.

She and Benjamin Sr. go to dinner and to movies with the family. Benjaminbelongs to a bowling league, and Mary says “so far he is a good bowler.” He’s alsovery much into computers, but the family spends as much time as possible together. Mary also acknowledges that if her family did not work together, shewouldn’t be able to hold two jobs.

The enjoyment of being around people is a big motivation for Mary to continue at the pace she faces each day, making it all look easy.

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