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From about May of 1965 until May of 1968 my family lived in Alexandria, Louisiana. My dad worked for Armour Meatpacking Company and we had been transferred from Houston, Texas to Alexandria for a few years. While living there I experienced a whole different culture in Louisiana that was totally different from anything I had seen in Arkansas or Texas. I loved Louisiana even though when we first moved there I thought that there would be alligators all over the place. As it turns out, there have been more alligators in the area where I live in Arkansas than there were in the area where I lived in Louisiana, of course, I have spent the last 46 years back in Arkansas so there have been a lot more opportunities for alligator sightings than there were in a mere 3 years of life in Alexandria.

While living in "Alex" as mom calls it, we met many people who worked with my dad and socialized with them. I don't remember all of the families that we met and some I am not sure if I can spell their names correctly any longer but one family I remember the best is the St. Clergy family. Shirley and Joe were the parents and then the children I knew were Jeanne, Ralph(Rooster) and Judy. Jeanne and Rooster were older than I am although Judy was about my age. She may have been a year older or a year younger but Rooster, Judy, my sister Barb and I were close enough in age to do things together and not try to kill each other in the process. Jeanne was in high school when I met the family so she got stuck with babysitting for us sometimes. I am sure that she was thrilled beyond words at that prospect. Most of the time when we'd get together we'd have fish fries, but Mr. St. Clergy taught my parents to make gumbo which continues to be one of my favorite foods of all time and during the summertime we'd have cookouts. Daddy and Mr. St. Clergy went to deer camp together some and I got to go deer hunting with them on occasion as well. Deer camp in Louisiana was a lot different than going to the cabin is in Little Rock. We were in tents and out in the elements. The elements involved being chased by bears and wild hogs with no adults around to save your a**, you had to run fast and climb a tree. Now, I know that the adults were never far away but we were allowed to walk around certain areas of the bayou not far from where camp was set up. That would be where and when we met "the elements." Until you have been chased by a wild pig, which was scarier than being chased by a bear, then you just don't fully understand "the elements." Let us hope you never find out just how interesting "the elements" can be. Ahem!

One time when we were at the St. Clergy house with Jeanne caring for us she made hamburgers for us to have for dinner. She took her hamburger meat, put fresh bread crumbs in it, a few eggs, some onion and seasoning then mixed it up before frying up the burgers. Now, I was savvy to fried burgers. I had seen that on television even though my mother did NOT fry burgers, it was easier to cook them in the oven, but I had never in my life seen anyone make hamburgers like Jeanne did. I asked her about the way she made the burgers and she said that they were "Louisiana hamburgers." I filed this piece of information and the next time my mom was making hamburgers I asked her to make "Louisiana hamburgers." First, she told me there was no such thing and then I explained to her that there was and told her about how Jeanne made the hamburgers we had at their house. My mom dismissed this idea saying that we only ate hamburgers made out of real meat and that was the end of that discussion. I think my mom didn't see any reason to take those extra steps to make hamburgers but then she could feed all of us with one pound of burger. The St. Clergy's had more and bigger children than we did so they probably needed to stretch the hamburger a little more than mom did. Now, to be totally fair on this point most of the time our meals were casseroles with hamburger that was stretched enough to make two meals and since my dad did NOT like casseroles my mom probably figured she was stretching her luck as it was by feeding us casseroles as often as she did so she figured that if we had hamburgers, which were not eaten as burgers on buns most of the time but just as a baked serving of meat, that they best not be adulterated. My dad had been brought up as a strictly "meat and potatoes" kind of a guy and he just had a hard time with casseroles. He did pretty good most of the time with casseroles as long as they didn't involve tuna in the name. Tuna was NOT something he was willing to eat.

Anyway, the only time, as a kid that I had "Louisiana hamburgers" was that one night when Jeanne cooked them for us. I made them some when my son was growing up but usually used toast crumbs or oatmeal in my burgers. Fresh bread seemed too good to use in hamburgers.

I was reading something earlier today that made me think about "Louisiana hamburgers" so I tried my hand at Google to see if I could find any of the St. Clergy kids. I found an obituary from an older brother of theirs from 2009 that led me to know Judy's last name at that time and that Jeanne's last name was still St. Clergy. I need to add here that I didn't remember them having an older brother but he was 10 years older than I am so I guess he wasn't around much when I was at their house. He would have been a high school graduate by the time we moved to Alexandria. Anyway, I found Jeanne and Judy on Facebook. They don't seem to be active on Facebook at all but I sent a friend request to Jeanne. Judy had only been on Facebook the day she set up her account in 2012 but I did find her on Goodreads(or at least someone with her name on Goodreads)and sent a friend request through that website as well as a private message to her. Ralph/Rooster is not on Facebook and it does not seem that any of the St. Clergys still live in Alexandria. I found that to be interesting.

I don't know if the St. Clergy kids will even remember me. It has been 46 years since I have seen them even though our parents exchanged Christmas cards for years. My sister and I didn't have many friends when we lived in Alexandria so I think we remember people more than they would remember us because they were in "their" place and we were just outsiders who were there a little while. I don't know if I will hear from any of these folks or not but I can tell you that I remember a lot of good times with them. It makes me smile to think about them and maybe, just maybe I will make the turkey burger version of "Louisiana hamburgers" someday because it sure will be easier than making a "correct" roux for a some gumbo or frying fish in memory of our times together.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 24th, 2014 10:50 am (UTC)
Ardee, that was a good story! I'm *so glad* I've never faced the actual elements in the form of a wild pig or an alligator that wasn't on a plate in front of me.

I share your interest in Louisiana hamburgers, too. If I ever have cause to make burgers, which is never very often, those are the kind I would make because adding all the extras tends to stretch the servings and I like doing that. Usually with oatmeal, as I'm not a huge fan of bread crumbs. I learned to *fry* hamburgers from a boyfriend my parents didn't like. He had worked at Wendy's before I met him, and he was a hamburger connoisseur. If we weren't eating faux Mexican food when we went out, we were going to greasy spoons to try all the best burgers known to humankind. Mostly, we went to greasy spoons. Anyhow, I started making Louisiana hamburgers after it occurred to me that if people used oatmeal/ bread crumbs and egg to make meatloaf, I could most certainly do the same thing with a burger! And they were a hit with the kids, who probably don't remember them.

Thanks for reminding me. :)
May. 24th, 2014 06:41 pm (UTC)
Mer, I am glad you enjoyed my story about life in Louisiana. I have remembered a bunch more great stories that I hope I can keep in mind long enough to write them down.

Regarding your boyfriend...I can't tell you how many greasy spoons I have been in trying out the "best of burgers" and "plate lunches." I love a good "dive." I have a friend on Facebook who used to write for the Arkansas Times column "Eat Arkansas" and for a while she was doing "the burger of the day" for around the state. She and her partner still visit restaurants and diners in Arkansas to write books about them. They have written one about pie and one about diners in NW Arkansas/River Valley area. They are working on one about the Delta. Her partner Grav Weldon is an awesome photographer and got THE photo of the first gay/lesbian couple to be married in Arkansas a few weeks ago. It was used all over the country. If you want to see some interesting Arkansas color follow Kat Robinson and Grav Weldon. I think you will like Grav's photography. It is different than the work you did(I still hate that you lost your camera)but it is really good. I need to find his photo of George Takei(did I spell that correctly)at the internment camp. It is gorgeous. It was used all over the country too.

Anyway going back to Louisiana Hamburgers, that was my same thought. Sean liked them just fine and it made the money go farther. I am glad my story reminded you of those days with the kids.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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