Veterans Home residents join painted rock craze
Published 12:10 am Saturday, October 15, 2016
RESERVE — Growing up as a boy in Thibodaux, C.D. Clement and his friends enjoyed playing with sticks, cans and rocks.
“It was all we had,” he said. “We’d push the rocks with the sticks all around.”
Now, some 80 years later, Clement is a resident of the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home and is rediscovering the joy of rocks — painting them.
Clement is among several local veterans who have gotten caught up in the latest craze sweeping St. John the Baptist Parish and surrounding areas — the painted rock game.
All across the area children and adults are buying rocks, painting and decorating them and then hiding them in plain sight throughout the parish.
Found rocks may be brought home and added to a personal collection or re-hidden for someone else to find.
Some well-meaning citizen and participant decided the ladies and gentlemen at the Veterans Home should be included.
“Somebody brought some rocks here and put them around for the residents to find,” said Tracie Pertuit, an occupational therapist at the home.
“A couple of our residents found them. Well, Mr. Clement found most of them. I think he found, like, six.”
As photos of the rocks were posted on the St. John Parish Rocks Facebook page, more showed up, some of them very elaborately painted especially for the veterans.
Inspired and wanting to let the residents participate in the craze, Pertuit set up a table in the therapy room for the residents to paint their own rocks.
“We’re always looking for things for them to do,” Pertuit said. “Any way we can keep them active and keep them moving is great.”
Clement jumped right in, painting his own rocks.
He likes to bring them with him on his twice-weekly trips to a local dermatologist, leaving them for others to find.
“It’s something to do,” he said. “It’s a great thing because families are doing it together and that doesn’t happen much anymore.”
Clement, 88, who moved to the home 18 months ago, could fill a rock garden with the stories of his life and his exploits as an Army vet during World War II.
Cleveland Daniel Clement Jr., the son of “Scratch” Clement (he had been scratched by a cat as a kid), grew up in Thibodaux and attended Thibodaux College, which later was consolidated with E.D. White Catholic School.
He later became one of the first 76 students to attend Nicholls State University, founded in 1948 as a two-year college.
He was a catcher on the baseball team and went on to play one year at LSU.
He taught French for several years, with stints at E.D. White, Nicholls State and LSU.
Later he went to work for the City of Thibodaux, serving as Athletic Director, Public Works Director and City Administrator.
These days he enjoys any activity he can find, including painting and dancing with the nurses and other residents.
“He just loves to dance,” Pertuit said. “We have bands come in and they’re waiting in line to dance with him. His dance card is completely full.”