Five generations of family

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 1, 1999

DEBORAH CORRAO / L’Observateur / September 1, 1999

Walk into the tiny living room of Trezema Vicknair’s Reserve home and you will see the evidence of a life devoted to his family. Rows and rows offramed pictures on walls and shelves, pictures of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even great-great grandchildren.

Vicknair has spent most of his 93 years in Reserve. He still lives there inthe shadow of huge grain elevators not far from the Port of South Louisiana’s Globalplex Terminal.

He met young Eva Landry, who lived in Belle Pointe where the Dupont plant stands today, at the Godchaux Grammar School.

At the age of 17, Eva Landry and Trezema Vicknair got married, and together they raised six children, five girls and a boy.

They were married 68 years when Eva died five years ago. She never got tosee her four great-great grandchildren, but the legacy of the family goes on. The Vicknair children had 26 children between them. Those childrenproduced 52 children. And now Trezema Vicknair is great-great-grandfather to four little ones – five generations.

Vicknair says it wasn’t easy for the couple to raise their brood during the Great Depression.

Agnes, the oldest, was born in 1926, a year after the young Vicknairs started their life together.

“What I remember most about my childhood,” says Agnes Vicknair Remondet, “is Mama rocking the newest baby.”Trezema Vicknair took a job at the nearby Godchaux Sugar Refinery, starting off at 70 cents a day, to support his growing family. Through thechildbearing years his wages went up – but not much.

“During the Depression times were rough,” says Vicknair. “We weregetting a dollar and a quarter a day. Sometimes the refinery would closefor a couple of weeks at a time.”Remondet says, though times were tough, the family survived.

“We used to have a garden,” says Remondet. “And Daddy would hunt.””I hunted rabbit and deer and turtles,” says Vicknair. “We used to catchplenty of turtles in those days.”Eva Vicknair sewed some of the children’s clothes, washing them on a washboard until the time the family could afford its first washer. Othernecessary clothing was bought on credit at the company store, the Reserve Star and Store.

For part of the time, the family lived in a three-room house in an area behind the refinery known as New Town.

“I paid 10 dollars a month for rent and that included free lights and water,” says Vicknair. “Gas was extra.”Trezema Vicknair’s first car was a Model T Ford he rebuilt and converted into a little flatbed truck. Trezema and Eva enjoyed taking rides toPonchatoula to visit her parents on Sunday afternoons. The five youngchildren they had then would ride on the back of the truck, unless it rained.

“I remember one time we got about 10 or 12 flat tires on the way to Ponchatoula,” he says. “When we got there, I bought one good tire.”No matter how hard times were, the Vicknairs always brought a box of groceries, paid for on credit at Alltmont’s company store, to Eva’s parents.

When the United States entered World War II, trips became a little more difficult.

“I had to jack up my car during the war,” says Vicknair. “I couldn’t gettires or gas.”Eva and Trezema Vicknair shared a passion for fishing, often camping on the beach in Grand Isle with their children.

“We’d fish all day,” says Vicknair. “We ate good there.”Despite the hardships of the Depression and the war years, Vicknair and his wife managed to put all six of them through high school, all of them eventually leaving home, getting married and starting families of their own.

He retired as a foreman from Godchaux after 44 years.

Two of his six children, Marion Vicknair Kliebert and Eva Allen, are deceased.

Agnes Remondet and her sister Julia Bourg each have two great- grandchildren. The latest addition is 3-month-old Crysta Paige Remondet,daughter of Carla and Cleven “C.J.” Remondet III. Great-great-GrandpaTrezema Vicknair holds all the babies for the pictures but admits he’s had trouble keeping up with names of the great- and great-great- grandchildren.

But they all live in the St. John Parish area, and most of them manage tostop by and visit on Christmas Day.

Three years ago Trezema Vicknair celebrate his 90th birthday with a big party at the Reserve firehouse. It was the last time his whole family wasable to gather together at one time.

Vicknair has a little trouble getting around these days due to aches and pains that come with a long life filled with hard work, and he’s a little hard of hearing. But he goes to the Senior Citizen Center two or threetimes a week to eat and play bingo.

Asked what in his life has given him the most pride, Vicknair doesn’t hesitate with his answer.

“I’m proud of my children,” he says.

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