Former Good Hope residents plan reunion

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 25, 2002


GOOD HOPE – People who ever lived in the town of Good Hope remember it well and a reunion is now being planned this fall to exchange and preserve many of those memories.

A flier is going out this week, urging attendance by anyone who lived in the tiny company town and nearby Wesco Subdivision, to contact either Cathy Vaughn Montz of Destrehan, Dickie Duhe of Norco or Clarisse “Sis” Webb of Norco.

Montz was born at home in Good Hope in 1942, remaining there until its waning days in 1979. “I never met anybody yet who grew up in Good Hope who didn’t love it,” she commented. “People just did things for one another.”

A contemporary was Dickie Duhe, who lived in Good Hope from 1945 until his marriage in 1963. The former parish councilman remembers he was a young scamp, always into mischief.

“One time, I was getting an ice cream cone and they asked me if I was starting school. I said, yeah, and I feel sorry for that teacher!”

That teacher turned out to be Margaret Mestovich at the old Good Hope School, a redhaired disciplinarian who helped point the young Duhe into the right direction.

“We’d play football till it got dark, and then people would turn on their porch lights till we finished our game,” Duhe recalled. He lived at 1802 Park Place, across the square from Montz, who grew up at 1807 Park Place.

Prospect Street is the site of Prospect Plantation, built in 1815, and taken down in the 1920s. The Good Hope Baptist Church was established in 1869. The church replaced its building in 1881 after a levee setback and built its present church in 1930.

The Island Refinery opened in the Good Hope area in the late 1910s and, by Sept. 1920, W.F. Besselman, general manager for the refinery, asked for a schools for white and “colored” children as soon as possible. The school board promised to act as soon as possible and a five-acre site was selected by Supt. J.B. Martin in back of the old Leon Sarpy homestead.

The area continued to grow to such a point that the Good Hope Post Office was opened Dec. 28, 1922.

In June 1925, the General American Tank Terminal located on a 77-acre site, almost overnight transforming the area with the world’s largest petroleum tank terminal. By March 1931, newspapers trumpeted “The Wonder Town of Good Hope.”

“Sis” Webb, who lived in Good Hope from 1929 until 1949 at the corner of Prospect and Elinor, retains her own vivid memories, helped by old photographs. Now heading up the River Road Museum at Motiva, she is assisting in the reunion effort.

Back in her day were the Little Hope Cafe, Anthony Migliore’s grocery, Henry Saizan’s grocery, Felix Bourgeois’ meat market, Marie Naquin’s Restaurant, Borrus Clothing, Ray Hebert’s butcher shop. What had survived to the early 1990s as Frenchy and Delores’s Restaurant once housed the Good Hope State Bank (which merged with the St. Charles Bank and Trust in June 1932), then Hall’s Pharmacy.

On Feb. 4, 1930, Hugo Epstein and Robert L. Crager, representing Good Hope Realty Inc., and Jessie Crews of GATX, requested location of a school at Good Hope. Epstein offered to donate half of the required property and contributed $250 toward the effort.

By March 5, 1930, a bank loan was obtained for the grades 1-4 school, to serve the 100 families located there. The school was built on a budget of $13,373 and though it closed in 1979, serves nowadays as the Center for the Performing Arts.

GATX, as General American was known, built 24 four-room cypress cottages with screened porches along Prospect Avenue. Not far away was parallel General American Street, connected by several cross-streets.

During World War II, the war industry effort contributed to Good Hope’s growth with the Coastwise Petroleum Company and the Wesco paint company. More houses came in, with a central park lined with oak trees. Cement sidewalks drew roller-skating children, and everyone knew everyone.

Webb, Duhe and Montz are gathering names and addresses of former residents and for the loan of photographs of the area to reproduce and share with others at the planned reunion.

To contact Cathy Vaughn Montz, write 114 Ormond Oak, Destrehan, 70047, call (985) 764-6661, or email to To contact Dickie Duhe, write 401 Oak St., Norco, or call (985) 764-6829. To contact “Sis” Webb, write 575 Clayton St., Norco, 70079, or call (985) 764-7755 at home or (504) 465-6333 on Monday and Wednesday afternoons.