A nice call from Bernadette in Vacherie

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 29, 2008

By Kevin Chiri

You had to admire all the people who braved the horrible weather on Friday night and drove to Luling for the annual River Region Chamber of Commerce banquet, to honor top performers, thank so many who have helped in the past year, and get set for a new year of providing great business support for the area.

Chairman Blaise Gravois passed his gavel on to new 2008 Chairwoman Chesley Cashio, who took over the top spot with the Chamber.

Congratulations are in order to Valero, which was named “Large Business of the Year,” and to Love Bugs as “Small Business of the Year.”

My good buddy Frank Fontana, manager of Office Depot in LaPlace, was given the prestigious “Shining Star” award for a Chamber member who goes above and beyond the call of duty. Frank is still relatively new to the area, but people in the business world have seen the guy out there hustling all over to try and pitch in. Congratulations Frank.

The Community Leadership Award was given to Greg Mollere of St. Charles Parish for a non-profit organization which does outstanding civic and charitable work.

Enjoyed my evening sitting far in the back, my usual spot so I can jump up and down to take pictures, since I was hanging out with some people I would like to call my friends.

New St. John Parish President Bill Hubbard was there with his wife Sherry, St. John Public Information Officer Buddy Boe was there with his wife Courtney, and Julia Remondet, director of economic development with the parish, brought along her husband Tim.

The conversation at a table like that was interesting to say the least. There was all kinds of great stuff they said, much that doesn’t usually get in print. But of course since I was sitting there, I got to take it all in.

So here is just a sampling of what I heard………………………………………………………

Oh yea, I forgot to tell you I promised them the entire evening at that table would be “off the record.” Sorry! You missed some great stuff.

Got a very nice phone call last week from Bernadette Roussel in Vacherie, where she lives with husband Johnny.

Bernadette, age 73, called to tell me how much she loves L’Observateur, and reads it faithfully every day, especially my column. How can you not like someone who starts the phone call off like that?

Anyway, Bernadette has been reading my little updates about my new grandson, Jerry Scott III, and said she wanted to call and tell me a similar story of her own. Little Jerry was born 12 weeks premature and weighed in at just a little over 2 pounds.

It seems Bernadette was one of 10 children born to Eloise Waguespack Abadie. But she was also born premature, and told me she didn’t even weigh 2 pounds.

“Nobody thought I would live,” she said.

When I asked her about being brought home from the hospital, she just had a good laugh.

“What hospital? My mother had the children all at her house,” she said.

Bernadette’s mom lived to be 100, and had 10 children, but Bernadette was the one they didn’t think would make it.

“I was told that my dad took his wedding ring off, and put it over my hand, all the way up to my shoulder, I was so tiny when I was born,” she said.

She said they kept her warm by putting hot water bottles under the blankets where she was at the house, since there obviously were no incubators where she was being taken care of.

“My mom told me she just cried and cried when I was born, since she was sure I would die. They had to feed me with an eye dropper,” she added.

But now all these years later, there Bernadette is, still going strong.

Thanks for the story Bernadette.

Did one of my favorite things this weekend. Went shopping with the wife.

OK, that is a joke of sorts. No, shopping is definitely not really my thing, but I really don’t mind going along with the wife once in a while just to provide a little company.

So there we headed to the Esplanade Mall, since she had still never been there since coming to this area. Normally we head up to Baton Rouge for the big mall there, but considering all the trips we make to Ochsner Hospital these days to see our little Jerry Scott, the Esplanade seemed like a good thing.

So what does a guy do as the wife is shopping for clothes, trying things on and seeking opinions?

The answer is, “just about anything we can figure out to pass the time.”

You have to get in the right frame of mind to do the shopping thing, and like I said, I really don’t mind once in a while since it just lets the wife and I head off for an afternoon by ourselves.

So once she heads into a store, I people watch outside, or wander in and out of the store waiting to give my two cents on whatever she is trying on, and at the end, always saying “yea, just get it,” when she might want to double check on something here or there since the price might seem high to her.

What’s funny is to see the other husband/boyfriends hanging around just like me, all doing much of the same thing. Naturally we always try to find a chair to sit in, but I find most clothes stores don’t seem to offer that. I’m thinking it has to be for a reason since you’d think the women would stay longer if they knew the husbands were more content.

I just find a small table somewhere and make a seat however I have to, and there I wait.

I can see the other men with that same look on their face, just trying to find a comfortable spot as the ladies do their thing, and we wait for them to give us the magic words, “OK, I’m done!”

Of course that usually just means the one store you are in, meaning it’s a long way to find yourself back to the outside world, where I’m sure the wife is soon to offer to come play golf, or watch my next game on TV with me. Right?

Kevin Chiri is Publisher of L’Observateur and can be reached at (985) 652-9545 or at kchiri@bellsouth.net