At a very young age, I remember being different from other boys. I had a very sensitive demeanor and never understood why I didn’t fit in with boys but mostly related to the girls. The whole sports thing bored me to tears and I could never understand the winning and loosing thing. After all… wasn’t it just a stupid game? I never wanted to dress like girls, but I certainly wanted to play with what they were playing with. G.I. Joe Dolls, strollers, easy-bake oven and weave looms. You know, the one where you would criss-cross the strips of stretchy fabric to make “pot-holders.” No… not that kind of “pot” silly. like a cooking pot. I remember make tons of those. The were ugly, but I loved making them.
Early on in this blog I stated a desire or need to go back to my childhood and try to remember all that I could about who I am and where I came from. Not necessarily geographic, but more philosophical and behavioral. Though I do believe that your geographic location lends to your philosophical and behavioral journey. I grew up in the deep south of Louisiana where wealth, education and free-thinking was rare.
I don’t remember a lot about my childhood. I also don’t believe in repressed memories. I believe that if it didn’t happen, you won’t remember it and putting one under sedation or hypnosis to help them to “bring it forward” is modern-day snake oil. Just my personal belief. So here is my journey into what I do remember.
I have come to know that I was born in Franklin, Louisiana at Franklin Foundation Hospital in St. Mary Parish Louisiana. I was scheduled to be born on or near September 4th, 1969. September 4th is my parent’s wedding anniversary. I obviously came early on August 11th, 1969 which is about 4 weeks premature. In the year 2012, when a child is born premature, (especially boys) they are kept in the NICU until the lungs are fully developed and the child is healthy. In 1969, that child was sent home as soon as possible. That seems to be my case. In fact, my health has been fragile my entire life and I have the asthma, allergies and overall fatigue to prove it. Here is a little info about St. Mary Parish (known as counties as well)
As of the census of 2000, there were 8,354 people, 3,026 households, and 2,181 families residing in the city. The population density was 806.5 people per square mile (311.3/km²). There were 3,352 housing units at an average density of 323.6 per square mile (124.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 47.47% White, 50.00% African-American, 0.63% Native American, 0.31% Asian, 0.30% from other races, and 1.28% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.79% of the population.
There were 3,026 households out of which 36.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.5% were married couples living together, 22.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.9% were non-families. 25.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.72 and the average family size was 3.26.
In the city the population was spread out with 30.4% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 13.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years, more than a year older than the state-wide median age of 34.0 years. For every 100 females there were 81.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $24,844, and the median income for a family was $30,625. Males had a median income of $32,188 versus $16,935 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,943. About 24.5% of families and 27.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 41.6% of those under age 18 and 15.6% of those age 65 or over.
My earliest memory is living in the “red house” on Charenton Road. I’m not sure if this was actually in Charenton or Baldwin or somewhere in between. I tried to look for it on Google Maps, but I couldn’t find it. I know that it is no longer red but yellow and I firmly believe that it is still there just on the bank of the Bayou Teche. If anyone in that area knows of it, please send a photo? Thx.
My parents are Charles Lloyd Derouen, Sr from New Iberia, Louisiana (Iberia Parish) and my mother is Marie Antoinette Perez Derouen from Jeanerette, Louisiana (Iberia Parish). Here are some statistics of Iberia Parish:
As of the census of 2000, there were 73,266 people, 25,381 households, and 19,162 families residing in the parish. The population density was 127 people per square mile (49/km²). There were 27,844 housing units at an average density of 48 per square mile (19/km²). The racial makeup of the parish was 65.08% White, 30.81% Black or African-American, 0.31% Native American, 1.93% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.60% from other races, and 1.25% from two or more races. 1.50% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 11.99% reported speaking French or Cajun French at home, while 1.48% speak Lao and 1.29% Spanish.
There were 25,381 households out of which 39.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.20% were married couples living together, 17.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.50% were non-families. 21.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.82 and the average family size was 3.28.
In the parish the population was spread out with 30.00% under the age of 18, 9.60% from 18 to 24, 28.40% from 25 to 44, 20.60% from 45 to 64, and 11.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 92.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.80 males.
The median income for a household in the parish was $31,204, and the median income for a family was $36,017. Males had a median income of $32,399 versus $18,174 for females. The per capita income for the parish was $14,145. About 20.20% of families and 23.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.50% of those under age 18 and 20.20% of those age 65 or over.
My parents married very young, both under 20 and I was their third child. I think that my father was in Ft. Smith, Arkansas when I was born as he was in the National Guard at the time. I clearly don’t remember this. I do know that my mother is one of 12 children and was 16 when she married and 20 years old when she gave birth to me.
Getting back to my earliest memories as a child. I remember living in the “red-house.” It had a large front porch, and upstairs, which we never went up to. It had a huge yard that backed up to the Bayou Teche. We were never allowed past the barbed wire fence as there were cows back there and I was afraid of coming in contact with one of the multiple kinds of snakes that come with living along the Bayou. I remember that the Kitchen was at the far back of the house and that the living room was in the far front. I have no recollection of where the bedrooms were. I do know that it had a HUGE oak tree with a tire swing and another HUGE oak tree with a tree-house. I was rarely allowed up there because I couldn’t climb well and it seemed to be the property of my older brother. I was actually kinda scared of it. I had bad dreams about a mean old witch being up there with poison apples. I just stayed away. The tree swing scared me because I was always afraid that there was a snake inside the tire. I just didn’t take those kind of chances. We also had a cattle guard at the beginning of our drive and I remember being able to put my legs between the bars and letting my feet dangle until someone told me that a snake could get me. That fixed that. I also remember once or twice walking my brother and sister to the bus. It’s vague, but I do remember it.
I do remember the neighbor to the left of us about out 100 or 200 yards away in the “little white house.” Ya see, where I’m from in the swamps, we refer to houses by size and color and by location to the next nearest house, grocery store, bar, catholic church, cemetery or bridge. It’s just easier than learning direction and street addresses. Kinda funny ha? Now I live in the 5th largest U.S. city and I need a GPS to get to my daughters school just three streets over.
Well, in the little white house there lived a family with two girls, one boy named Adam and a mom and a dad. This is very early on in my life, so I can’t be specific about names or what they even looked like. I do however remember that Adam was cute, nice and he had G. I. Joe dolls with camo clothes.
I Loved playing with his G.I. Joe dolls and he was so nice too. His sisters were nice, but he was the only boy that I knew had dolls. In all reality, at this young of an age, he was probably the only boy other than my brother that I knew. I loved playing there and would often sneak playing with the Barbie dolls too. I was intrigued with the male physique. I know this is VERY early in my life. I don’t even know my age at this time, but I clearly remember the buff chest, abs and arms of the G.I. Joe doll.
I love the weave loom and Easy Bake oven. It allowed me to be creative and express what was going on in my little creative mind. I always felt like I had to sneak to play with those toys. I knew that those were girl toys and boy toys were guns, football, bikes and such.
I don’t remember living in that house very long. My parents purchased a home in Baldwin, Louisiana (St. Mary Parish) on 306 Cypremort Street. The street name was eventually changed to Martin Luther King, Jr. Street and the address was changed to 504 with then implementation of the 911 system. We still however only got mail at our post office box which was #215. I even remember our old phone number.
I’ll tell you more about the move from the “red house” to the “Big white house by the Forgey’s store” in my next post. I remember more about this stage of my life, so buckle down. This is gonna be a good ride.