Merry Christmas, Lou
This past year came with some sad news. My cousin, Lou, passed away from covid.
This post is for him.
When I was growing up, my dad was out of pocket. My sister was older and had her own friends. The closest thing that I had to a big brother was Lou.
I learned about sports from Lou. He was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and Minnesota Vikings fan and so was I.
During football season, I would go over to Lou’s in the evening to watch Inside the NFL while lying on his huge waterbed.
I remember being a small kid when Uncle Jack built that house. In the evenings, my mom would walk over and sit with Jack in the frame of the house and drink Schlitz’s beer with salt on the cans.
Lou and I grew up together and hung out a lot.
One time, Lou built a treehouse in his backyard. I wanted one also, but my over-protective grandmother wouldn’t have any of that. So Lou came over and helped me build a kid’s camp on the ground.
Another time, Lou built a small little box of a room behind their hedges in the back yard. You couldn’t see it and had to crawl through the hedges to get in. He had a can with a pipe leading outside and we kept warm with a small fire.
We would sit in there on cold days and play board games. It was in this little camp that Lou started the tradition of flipping the board when he got bored or was losing. I’d be winning and gloating… then Lou would slip his fingers under the edge of the board.
When I was least expecting it, he would yell “Spondelay!” and flip everything up in the air!
I would get SO pissed off at him. He would sit there and laugh his ass off, which made me even more mad.
Lou and I played a lot of sports together. Football, basketball, baseball, softball, golf, flag football, volleyball, whiffle ball and even Putt-Putt.
Many nights, it would be 2am and we’d drive to Lake Charles to play Putt-Putt at this 24 hour course. On the last hole, your ball wouldn’t come out, so you were through playing. We never played the last hole and kept our balls to play all night long.
There was a back road near the Putt-Putt course. After playing for hours, we’d hit our balls down the street to see who could hit them farther. Picard Town kids always looking for the fun in life.
Lou worked hard for everything he had. I remember when he got his first Camaro. It was a white Berlinetta with maroon interior.
His dad and I smoked. The first time I got in his car, I saw a sign he had put up that said, “No Smoking.” Lou took care of his stuff.
Right after Lou got that Camaro, we were in Beaumont to visit his dealership. Afterwards, we were driving down this main street. Lou mentioned that we should get some ice cream.
As we are going along, I see an ice cream shop on the left, so I point it out to Lou. He merges over into the left turn lane and suddenly a car hits us in the left rear. There was a car already in that lane.
It caused some damage on Lou’s beautiful, new car. I was sick. I always felt responsible because I had pointed out that ice cream shop.
I’ve mentioned this in an earlier post, but it bears repeating. Lou was the best athlete out of all of us. He was bigger, faster, more coordinated, and more knowledgeable about sports.
I always knew that Lou would have been an unbelievably talented college wide receiver and after that who knows… He might have been the first person from Picard Town to play in the NFL. I really believe that.
One time, we were playing a flag football game in Carlyss. Lou broke free and was running wide open. He was a long way down the field and open, but the pass wasn’t there.
Lou was pissed and kept running through the end zone. He was going full steam when he ran into a Porta-Potty. He put his hands up and hit it full force and pushed it over. It almost flipped.
When the Porta-Potty landed back on the ground, the door opened and some guy poked his head out and said, “What the fuck?” That was funny. I’m sure that Lou scared the shit out of him, literally.
Speaking of scaring people, Lou caused me to be a very nervous kid, lol.
He would love scaring the shit out of me. This sometimes ended up starting a wrestling match. I never won. There was one time that we were wrestling, and we ended up flipping and landing upside down inside of his closet. I was on top and had him in a stuck position. He had to say, “Uncle.” That was the only time I ever beat him out of many, many matches.
Lou had many friends and no enemies. I can’t say that about all of my relatives, haha.
He was well-liked by all who knew him and loved dearly by his close friends and family. There’s an old saying, “He didn’t have a bad bone in his body.”
Having said all of that, Lou was not a man to piss off. He had that O’Quain blood and many know what that means. In the history of our family, there are many stories of our Uncles getting into fights around town and kicking someone’s ass for stepping wrong.
There was a story where Uncle Jack beat up 4 Marines for disrespecting Aunt Thelma. Out of all of my Uncles, I would least like to scrap with Jackie.
Lou took after his dad in that he didn’t put up with shit. We were cruising in Sulphur one night in Lou’s mom’s car. We were parked at a red light when a guy in a nearby parking lot threw something at the car.
When the light turned green, Lou pulled into that parking lot. I thought, “Oh shit! Here it comes!”
When Lou got out of the car, the guy in the parking lot looked over and saw that Lou was much bigger than him.
Lou asked him what the fuck he was doing. He stuttered and finally said he was throwing a hotdog at the red light.
That hotdog almost got his ass kicked that night.
Lou was not afraid to speak his mind.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts about running jokes that Lou and I had like trying to beat each other back into Louisiana. I’ll tell that story again later on, but here’s another…
One time, I was looking for a job. I made a comment to Lou that I might go get a job with my mom at Brookshire Brothers Market. I never did.
One day, we were about to go to Lake Charles for something. As Lou and I are driving through Sulphur, I told Lou to pull into Brookshire’s. He did.
Then he asked me what I was getting. I told him I needed to pick up my check from Brookshire’s. Lou got pissed, then started laughing. I didn’t work at Brookshire’s and there was no check for me there.
Many times, we would be going somewhere, and Lou would ask, “Do you need to go by Brookshire’s to get your check?” Then we would bust out laughing. That was probably our funniest running joke. I still laugh at how pissed he got that first time when I made him pull into Brookshire’s parking lot for nothing.
Another time, Lou and I were over at Mark John’s house about to go out. Mark had a nice, new leather jacket that he was proud of. He said something about how nice it was, and I said, “Yeah but Mark, that’s Portugal Vinyl.” Lou and I again busted out laughing.
And that Portugal Vinyl line was used many more times in the future and always got a laugh.
I’ve had many good friends throughout my life, but Lou was my best friend. We didn’t talk much over the years when I moved to Houston, but whenever we got back together, it was like old times.
One thing that I’ll miss the most about Lou is his memories. He would bring up stories about things we did or how I did something stupid, and we would laugh all over again. A big part of my life died when Lou passed away.
One funny memory is of my screwing up song lyrics. One day, we were at my grandmother’s house and the Go-Go’s were playing on the radio. When the chorus came, I sang along, “Alex, I see you.”
Lou said, “What did you say?” I said, “Alex, I see you.” He busted out laughing. Then he told me what they were singing… “Our lips are sealed.”
One night, we were camping out. It was Lou, Tommy Lee and myself. We were rambling about something like how cool we were. Tommy Lee said, “I’m steel.” Lou said, “Yeah, we know you steal.” Boy did we laugh at that!!
I had to stop writing to laugh all over again about that “steal” line. That’s some funny shit!!
Lou and I spent many hours at Frasch Park. In the Spring, we’d sneak onto the High School baseball field and play a game with the neighborhood kids. The basketball courts were nearby, and we spent a lot of time there also.
One day, we were playing basketball with the neighborhood kids, and I was wearing my glasses. I had the ball and was dribbling around Harold Miller for a lay-up. Harold went to block me, and his arm came across my face, shattering my glasses in my eyes. I had glass particles in my eye and could feel the pieces.
I kept my eyes shut so as not to move the glass around and ruin my eyesight. I yelled out that I couldn’t see. Lou came up and I grabbed his arm. He led me to his car and brought me to the Emergency room, where they removed the glass and saved my eyesight.
Lou saved me from going blind in one eye.
I never blamed Harold. If you’re in Picard Town and you drive to the hoop, you better be ready for a hard foul, lol.
About my glasses… My dad was pissed that I was wearing my glasses while playing basketball, and he was a dick when he was pissed. Okay, to be fair, he was a dick all of the time, lol.
One day, Lou and I are in the Frasch Park Gym. We are about to play basketball, so I took my new glasses off and placed them on the bleachers.
We go on to play B-ball. There were some smaller kids on the sidelines goofing off with a basketball. You know what’s coming…
They started bouncing their ball really high.
I’m playing the game when I hear a shattering of glass. Those little Mother Fuckers!!!
They had crushed my glasses!
This occurred right after my eye incident and right after I had received new glasses from that.
That was a very long walk home that day… knowing the ass chewing I was in for.
During the Summer, Lou and I had a lot of fun. On hot days, we’d be at the park pool or at some back roads rope pond.
A rope pond was usually a big pond located near the interstate. They had dug out dirt to build the highway and created a big pond. Someone with balls bigger than mine had climbed a big oak tree and hung a rope.
Whoever did this created fun for the ones that knew about it.
We would spend hours swinging from this rope, cutting flips and hitting the water. One game we played was where a person would swing out and come back to the land. When their feet would hit the ground, they’d pop the rope and make it jump.
The next guy in line had to run and grab the rope, which was bouncing everywhere, to complete his swing out over the water and then his pop of the rope.
The ground would get wet and muddy, leading to some serious bust ass. One time, Jim Franks came swinging in and when he tried to pop the rope, he slipped and went head over heels into the bushes and got all fucked up. Everybody laughed their asses off.
No one wanted to follow Lou in that game.
Another place we used to go swimming was at Shepherd’s Rest. This was a nice area in the country that Cam Flag’s dad had set up for people to enjoy his land. There were trails, a trampoline, and a swimming area, with a diving board and rope swing.
One day, Lou and I are at the swimming area and going off of the diving board. I tried to do a gainer, which is an inside flip off of the diving board.
I fucked it up royally and ended up landing on my side. It was a fall from a good height. I didn’t know it then, but I had busted my eardrum. I had to have surgery to fix it.
Lou, his friends like Jimmy Abshire, and myself would go to the hotels in Sulphur and swim in their pools on hot summer nights. When it was just Lou and I, we’d sneak onto the golf course and go up the back way to the pool.
Then we’d climb the fence and go for a night dip. We had to be quiet because they had a pick-up that patrolled the park at night. A few times we had to hold our breaths and go under water.
We even took a few chances and dove off of the diving boards. Diving at night sucks because you can’t see the water and would hit it with your eyes open. We didn’t do that too often because of the noise from the splash.
About the golf course. I mentioned that Lou took care of his stuff. Well, Lou had this nice bike. It was red and I think it was called a Western Flyer. He loved that bike.
On rainy days, the Picard Town kids would take their bikes onto the back 9 of the golf course and ride on the fairways. How was this fun?
We’d start way back and build up speed down the fairway. When we got to a certain spot, we’d hit the brakes and slide through this now mud for a long ways. We trenched up that golf course.
That was one of many reasons why the Golf Course hated the Picard Town kids.
I think Lou’s first job was working at the Golf Course. He was always responsible.
Oh, about Lou’s bike… one time, I used Lou’s red bike to go trenching on the Golf Course. It got all muddy and Lou was pissed at me. If you ask him today, he’s still pissed about how I ruined his bike, haha!!
In the Fall, they lined out a football field in the outfield of the High School baseball field. We had some good games with the neighborhood kids.
One day, we are playing a game. There were a few kids there that didn’t usually play with us. On one play, I have the ball and I’m running around the outside. I fake this kid out and run past him.
The next kid I encounter, tackles me out of bounds. As I’m lying there, sprawled out, defenseless, the kid that I faked out came up and landed on my back with both of his knees. It hurt like hell, but I got up and kept playing.
After a day, the pain in my back was getting intense. The only relief I could get was to run a very hot tub of water and lie in it. The hot water burned my skin and took my mind off of the pain in my back.
After 2 days, I couldn’t take it any longer and asked my mom to take me to the Emergency Room.
I had suffered a renal contusion of my kidneys and almost lost my kidneys. I was in the hospital for a long time and spent most of it in a haze and vomiting my guts up. It was a horrible experience and all because I made this kid look like a fool on the football field.
I was in the hospital so long that I also lost out on my job as a Resident Advisor at U.S.L. and caused my parents to have to pay for my room and food again while away at college.
I remember that kid’s name, but I’ll keep it to myself and hope that the karma train never forgets an address.
Another time, I had to go to Houston to have an operation on my nose for a deviated septum. I stayed in the hospital for that surgery.
After the operation, the doctor stuffed my nose with moist gauze. Both nostrils were packed with this gauze, and I couldn’t breathe through my nose.
After being back in Louisiana several days, I began to pick at this gauze because it was drying out and making the inside of my nose itch. I was finally able to pull it all out. The gauze had dried to the inside of my nose, and it felt like I was pulling out my brains through my nose. God, was it a lot of gauze.
Soon after, Lou and I were in the Frasch Park gym playing basketball. The kid I was covering, popped his head back and hit me square in the nose. He did this to be a dick.
After the game, I realize that I can’t breathe through my nose any longer. After a day of this, I tell my mom that something is wrong, and we headed back to Houston.
The doctor looks up my nose and tells me that I have a Septal Hematoma, which is a big blood clot inside of my nose, blocking air flow.
He then tries to put a needle up my nose to poke the hematoma and drain the blood. The pain from that needle was so intense that I couldn’t take it. They had to bring me back into surgery and put me out in order to get the blood out of my nose. All because of a dick kid. Can you see a theme? Haha!
I never told my dad that I was playing basketball when I got hurt again. I think you know why.
Busted eardrum, blinded in one eye, a renal contusion of my kidneys, a septal hematoma… just another day for a Picard Town kid, lol.
And speaking of injuries, one day, I was at Punkin Ancelet’s house. We set up an obstacle course. We used some of Calvin Ancelet’s saw horses to jump over.
As I’m running the course, I jump over a saw horse and my leg hits it. A big sliver of wood goes into my leg. The piece of wood in my leg was as big as about 3 pencils together. This piece of wood ran parallel to my leg and was making the skin bulge out from where it was going into my shin.
I ran into Punkin’s house and begged Calvin to pull it out. It left a big hole in my shin when he pulled it out. Another day in Picard Town.
I think part of growing up in Picard Town was that you went golf ball hunting. There was a canal that went through the golf course that had trees on each side. Golfers regularly lost their balls down in this canal area.
The canal was deeper than the course and the golfers didn’t want to walk down to the little trail we had made along the water.
On Saturdays, you’d wake up and grab a sock to hold all of your found balls. You’d enter the canal trail by Punkin Ancelet’s house and walk the entire way to Highway 90. Along the way, you came across many lost balls and a lot were brand new.
After coming back with your loot, you’d go up on the course and sell some or all of your balls to the golfers. The course didn’t like this because they sold new balls at the Pro Shop. You were always on the look-out for the security guard on his golf cart.
After making a few bucks from the morning’s work, you’d head over to Tiny’s store to buy a Dr. Pepper and some peanuts. You’d pour the peanuts in the top of the glass bottle and have peanuts with every swig of your drink.
There was a movie called Caddy Shack about the wild and crazy caddies at this posh golf course. If I ever wrote a screenplay about the Picard Town Golf Ball Hunters and their adventures running from the course security, it would be a hit.
One time, Lou and I ended up with a lot of balls, all new. Too many to try and sell a few at a time to a golfer here and there.
Somehow, I got a phone number to a golfer. Lou and I were over at my grandmother’s house when I called him.
As I’m talking to him, I say, “$30 for all of our balls… or $25.”
After I got off of the phone, Lou scolded me for dropping the price. I learned that day to never lowball yourself in a business deal because they’ll always take the lower number.
About scaring people, one night, Lou and I called Elliott Ogea and someone at his house told us that he was going to the Post Office. When Lou hung up, he said, “Let’s go scare Elliott.” I was in immediately.
Lou and I drove over to the Post Office and waited for Elliott. Soon, he pulled up in his truck and went into the Post Office. Lou and I ran over to his truck. I jumped in on the passenger floor-board, and Lou hid in the bed of the truck.
When Elliott opened his truck door, I screamed and jumped at Elliott. He squealed like a scared little girl and jumped back. Just then, Lou jumped up and scared the shit out of him all over again. Boy did we laugh!!!
Speaking of Elliott, he was one of the gang that always hung out together. He played football with us and was always around. One time I owed Elliott $5.
One day, Elliott was over at Uncle Jack’s and his truck was parked in the driveway. I came walking up the driveway and noticed his passenger window was down. As I strolled by, I happen to glance inside of his truck. There on the seat was his wallet.
I reached in and took $5 out.
I then walked into Lou’s room and said, “Hey Elliott, here’s that $5 I owe you.” He said, “Great, thanks man.”
Do you know how hard it is to keep a straight face when you are busting out on the inside? It’s hard! Lmao!
I finally told Elliott about the $5 later on and had a good laugh again. By the way, I still owe Elliott that $5, hahaha!
And since I brought up some Elliott stories, here’s another flag football story. We had a lot of good friends on our team. One of those guys was Dan Sylvest. Dan was a good athlete and made our team better.
One time, Dan caught a ball and was running down the field. An opponent dove for his flags and ended up ripping off Dan’s shorts. He still had his flags, so he kept running… in only his jock.
There was Dan, sprinting for a touchdown with his ass cheeks just a bouncing in the wind. It was the funniest thing I ever saw while playing flag with those guys.
Later on, most of the guys on our team had football pants from the McNeese State Cowboys. I didn’t.
One day, I see Dan at McNeese. He told me to go look in my locker. He had placed a pair of McNeese football pants in my locker that fit me to a tee. Dan made me a very happy camper that day and I’ll always thank him for that. I wish I still had those football pants just to remember how nice Dan was to me.
When I was in high school, Randy Peveto gave me a job working with Lou. One day, Lou called and asked me if I would ride with him to Houston to pick up refrigeration parts. Randy paid me to go along to keep Lou company. I think I was making $4 an hour and damned glad to get it.
We took a pickup truck and hit the road. We made it to Houston, got the parts and headed back to Cajun Country.
There is a bridge that you cross when approaching Louisiana. At the top of the bridge is a sign that says, “Welcome to Louisiana.”
When Lou and I are getting on that bridge, he tells me, “I bet I beat you back to Louisiana.”
I laughed because we were in the same truck. How was that possible?
When the truck got near the top of the bridge, Lou grabbed the steering wheel tightly and pulled himself forward, over it. Then he stuck his head and neck out as far as he could.
When I realized what he was doing, and that sign approaching, I dove into the front windshield, trying to beat him to that sign.
He won and did indeed beat me back to Louisiana.
We had a good laugh about that and every time after that, we would struggle to see who could be home first. We never discussed it, but kept quiet, hoping the other would forget about that sign.
But as soon as that sign grew near, there would be two knuckleheads smashing their faces into the front windshield to beat the other back to the Sportsman’s Paradise.
I imagine God had to laugh at some of our antics over the years.
Lou used to fuck with me all of the time. He enjoyed it. He told me one time, “You’re too busy trying to be smart to know what’s going on.”
One of his running jokes with me was the refrigerator. I’d come into his room, and he’d say, “You want some watermelon?” I’d say yes and he’d tell me to look in the fridge.
I’d go happily look in the refrigerator for some chilled watermelon on a hot day. When I couldn’t find it, I’d yell out, “Where’s the watermelon?”
Then I would hear him bust out laughing from his room. There was never any melon. I would get so pissed at him for that. And I fell for this trick often. He would lose it every time.
One day, he tells me there is coke in the refrigerator. I go into the kitchen and open the fridge. There is no coke. As I’m looking in the refrigerator and realize I’ve been fucked with yet again, I can hear Lou laughing, and I said, “Shit!” really loudly.
Uncle Jackie was sitting on the couch in the living room and saw me look in the fridge and say, “Shit!” He got so pissed at me that he kicked me out of his house, hahaha!! Don’t fuck with Jackie.
Another time, I helped Uncle Jack build an addition to his house. Well, I started out on his crew. We poured the concrete and I helped with that. As we are working, I’m asking Uncle Jack questions.
Finally, he turns to me and says, “Paul, why do you ask so many Goddamn questions?” Then he ran me off the job, lol.
Can you see a trend between me and good ole Uncle Jack? Hahaha!
Writing this has been very therapeutic, in that I have been laughing out loud at some of these stories.
Another thing we did on the golf course was play mud football. On rainy days, the course was closed. The Picard Town kids would meet up at the Burnworth’s and jump the fence in front of their house to play mud football on the course.
We had some good games. Again, we trenched up the course. Can you see a running theme with why the golf course hated the Picard Town kids?
When we would play mud football, I preferred being on Lou’s team because no one wanted to try and tackle him in the open field. You usually ended up hurt in some way.
During the summer, we did something else fun on the golf course. Some nights, my school friend, Tim Moss, would sleep over at my house. Around midnight, we’d sneak out and take our fishing rods with us.
Behind the golf course were some levees that had fresh water running down the middle. There was even a little Dam.
We’d sneak across the golf course to this Dam and sit near the water ‘til all hours of the night, catching big catfish, and talking shit about friends, girls or coming-of-age things. That was some fun times.
I feel like I’m narrating an episode of The Wonder Years.
Tim and I were good friends as kids. I spent nights at his house also. Tim rode motorcycles as a kid. My mom didn’t know this when she would drop me off at Tim’s house on WPA road.
Tim lived in the country, and we’d hop on his motorcycle and ride the back roads. One night, Tim, his little brother Scotty and I were camping out. Somehow, we ended up with a squirrel. I guess Tim shot it because I know I didn’t.
So here we were, camping out and cooking our squirrel. Scotty was trying to get the fire going while the squirrel was already over it. I think he was using diesel fuel. The fumes from the diesel got all over the squirrel but we didn’t know it and ate dinner with no problems.
The next morning, I had diarrhea like Mount Vesuvius. I had to call my mom to come get me. I think I shit myself on the way home. I never ate squirrel again, lol.
One day, the Picard Town kids are riding our bikes on Sara street. That street ran by the golf course. Down by the levees and the Dam, there was a dumpster by the side of the road.
As we are riding by, we see 2 very big cardboard boxes. We stop to investigate.
To our surprise, when we opened those boxes, they were full to the top with Dirty Magazines. There was well over 500 of them. The boxes were too heavy for us to move, so we just grabbed some mags and headed to the Dam.
We spent that whole day in Sex Ed class as we sat at the Dam and looked at naked women. That was a fun day in Picard Town, haha!
Back to Lou, I saw him mad a few times but only a few. I never saw Lou fight anyone. I think people were scared of messing with him. There is an old saying, “Still waters run deep.” And no one wanted to know just how deep Lou’s water was.
Now I’m crying. I miss my big brother now more than ever.
I have to focus on the fact that Lou is with his parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins and friends like Ronnie Venable. I’m sure he is as happy as could be at the reunion with loved ones and also sad at leaving us so early. I know he will enjoy reading this and having some laughs, but it still hurts me badly.
I never told Lou that I loved him. It’s just not what guys do. I wish I had, at least once. Many people post about telling your loved ones how you feel before it’s too late. I wish I had done that with Lou.
I don’t hasten death, but when, and if, I get into Heaven, Lou is one of the first people I want to see.
This is our first Christmas without Big Lou and we are all that much sadder for the loss. But remember Lou as he would have wanted… fun-loving and full of life. We’ll see him again and he’ll be as happy as ever.
This Christmas, I’m giving Lou this story in hopes that it brightens his day up there knowing we all love him and miss him more than ever.
My shirt is wet with tears, and it hurts. Love can be beautiful and also painful. If I had to speak for Lou, he’d say, “Quit your crying, Bitch!” haha!
My hopes are that on this Christmas morning you remember Lou as he was, a great man and loved by all who knew him.
Thank you for reading of my love for my big brother. And although I cried while writing this, I laughed more.
Merry Christmas, Lou. I hear Jesus has some watermelon in the fridge. Why don’t you go look? Hahaha!
P.S. Do yourself a favor and read this 2 or 3 times. It gets better each time.
Would anyone want to see that movie about our adventures growing up in Picard Town? I think I’ll call it ‘Picard Town, USA’. It would be funnier than ‘Sandlot’ or any other movie about kids’ adventures.