Rolling out the red carpet in Reserve: 150 years of history in 50 minutes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 13, 2010

By David Vitrano


RESERVE – The red carpet leading up to the entrance of St. John Theatre earned a bit of wear Thursday night as crowds flocked to the theater to catch the premiere of the documentary film “Reserve.”

At many points, the line to get into the theater for the free screening stretched down the block.

Said the film’s principal creator, Reserve native Jeff Duhe, “I am astonished that this place is completely packed.”

Upon further reflection, though, he amended his evaluation.

“But not surprised because this is a town that loves its history,” he added.

The award-winning filmmaker spent four months culling through interviews and photographs to produce the film, which at 50 minutes is jam-packed with over 900 separate elements.

It was an effort the evening’s emcee, Cogan Fulton, described as “a labor of love.”

“Four months is a very short time to put together this kind of story,” said Duhe. “It could only have come together because everyone pitched in.”

As for the film itself, it is interesting in and of itself to anyone with historical leanings; however, the images and interviews clearly held a special place for those assembled at St. John Theatre Thursday evening.

The setting imbued each emotional high and low point with that much more power, and exclamations of “oh, look at so-and-so” permeated the darkened space.

Following the film, Fulton summed up what everyone was feeling with the words, “We have a lot to be proud of in this community.”

Some community members in attendance even got a chance to share their own memories after the show.

Rita Henderson related a story about Leon Godchaux purchasing a wedding dress for a family member while Jewell Aucoin, who is featured prominently in the film, offered, “I think this committee has taken this community very far.”

Even one of Reserve’s newest residents, Father Martin Smullen, the pastor of St. Peter Church, got in on the act, saying, “Learning the history of Reserve tonight has been fascinating. We have a great past and hopefully we have a great future.”

The date of the event also had a special significance for parishioners of St. Peter as Nov. 11 is the birthday of the Monsignor Jean Eyraud, who founded the Catholic school 80 years ago.

Those who were unable to make the premiere can catch the film tonight at 9 p.m. on WLAE.

Also, the next major event of the Reserve150 celebration will be held tomorrow at Regala Park. A family fun day with music, games, pony rides, free food and jambalaya and candy cook offs is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.