I am from lower Louisiana, and I grew up in the sole of the boot, just southwest and across the Mississippi River from New Orleans. The place was called Bridge City, though it wasn’t a city at all. We had no mayor, sheriff, or city limits. What we did have was the ”foot” of the Huey P. Long (Okay Allen) Bridge, and fifteen white shell roads. Early in the 1950’s these roads were like bleached ribs in the bright southern sunshine, curved slightly to the sternum of the Old Spanish Trail. They were attached to the backbone of the Old River Road, which laid snug against the base of the levee.
The houses in Bridge City did not spring into being ”full grown” from floor plans. They struggled up over the years, from one room shacks wrapped in tar paper. They were perched high on cement blocks, to avoid the gentle ebb and flow of below sea level flooding. As children were born, new rooms were grudgingly added. Because I was the fourth and last “live birth” in my family, our house stopped at five rooms. As I grew and acquired ”hand me down” clothes and shoes from older girl cousins, so our house got weather-board siding, white paint, and eventually, a slate roof.
My brothers and I arrived at least a decade apart. The oldest was seventeen in the winter of 1953, when I was born. My ”middle brother” was fifteen, and my youngest brother was ten. They were always coming and going in the background of my life. Eventually, they kept going. I was twelve when the last one moved out, yet I had somehow always been an ”only child.” As the youngest of the lot, and the only girl, I was ”daddy’s little princess.” I was allowed freedoms my brothers never dreamed of. A favorite saying of my daddy’s was ”What the baby wants, the baby gets.” It was good, being the baby.