Sunday, April 23, 2017

I Lost Another Uncle

I learned yesterday that my Uncle Charles Raymond 'Charlie' McMillin died. I have no details of his actual age, birth and death dates but I think he may have been born in 1922 or 1923.  And he died recently.  So he lived a full life for pretty close to 95 years.

I know that he was in the Navy during WWII, and drove a landing craft to carry soldiers from the ships to the shore. But he never talked to me about it in spite of my inquisitive nature about anything military.   But I know he always had an easy smile and relaxed way about him, and stayed skinny all his life.  He dearly loved his family.

After the war, he became the other brother in McMillin Brothers, a very successful mercantile type store in Harrisonburg, Louisiana that my father, Leroy, the oldest sibling, started with a $300 loan from a family friend, and an empty newspaper printing building my mother inherited when her father died.  Her father was the publisher of the Catahoula News, a weekly newspaper that could trace its roots back to 1852.

But Charlie had a good mind and lots of ambition, which greatly added to my dad's 'hard work' ethic. Between the two of them, the store prospered and expanded into other products and services the small village of Harrisonburg had never experienced.

Then one day, Uncle Charlie got the chance of a lifetime to go to work for a national business that specialized in farm products.  He was first sent to New Orleans, but later transferred to Memphis.

He and his wife, the former Faye Huff of Harrisonburg, and a distant relative of my mom's Sargent family, both loved it in Memphis.  I actually visited them one time when I was there on business.

They eventually moved back to Louisiana after he retired.  But instead of returning to Catahoula Parish, they decided to live in Pineville.  He continued to live there after Faye and two sons died.

And then it was his turn.

He is survived by a son, Miles, and a daughter, Barbara.

My Aunt Margie called to notify me of his death.  We talked for two hours. It was a good talk that brought back a lot of memories.

After we hung up, I remembered the photos I took of the McMillin Family Reunion back in 2000.  I brought up the old digital photos that were actually stored on old floppy computer disks.  They were still in great shape, so I decided to make a slide video of them.  I made Aunt Margie a CD Disk that will be in the mail tomorrow so she can easily watch it anytime she wants.  I also posted it on YouTube so anyone can watch it or share it with others.  I'll wait until she watches it before I post it on Facebook where I know there will be people who will enjoy seeing those old photos.

Here's the link to the video:  McMillin's of Catahoula Parish Family Reunion

Rest in Peace, Uncle Charlie.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Covington, Louisiana

Covington, Louisiana, a 200+ year old town on the 'other side' of Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, suddenly became a popular place to visit when the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway was built in 1956.  Just the trip over to Covington was an adventure in itself because the Causeway was now, and still is, the longest bridge over water in the world.

A growing number of New Orleans citizens found it pleasant enough to visit often and even move to Covington.

But when Hurricane Katrina made a mockery of most flood control efforts in New Orleans, Covington became VERY popular.   So popular that it became The Place to move to.  As always happens, that inspired a lot of growth that continues to this day, and probably well beyond the next two or three decades.

The current population is shown as 8,765.  But that number is quickly changing upward and outward. New homes are being built all around the fast growing city and its suburbs.  Equally impressive is the number of new business, hospitals, and shopping centers.  It is clearly a community alive with excitement.

That was what attracted Judy's sister, Joyce, and hubby, Allen,  to build a beautiful new home and retire here.  And they moved in last week.  We drove over to help them move.   We will be returning to our home in Spring Texas  in a couple of days.  It has been an adventure for us too.

Meanwhile, we've also come to like this place and its people and its beautiful old and new home communities, especially a subdivision just a few miles out of the downtown area.  It's a small, very friendly, close-knit community for those 55 years old and older.  It exhibits a strong French flair in the home designs, and devotes a great deal of the land to 'Green Space' which looks more like a manicured golf course.

Another important element of the location is that its elevation is 60' above sea level.  Most of the surrounding area, including downtown Covington, is 30' or less, making some of them subject to potential flooding.

It didn't take long for the residents to know that we are in town and looking to move.  We've made multiple trips to the area over the past four days.  A number of the residents saw us coming and eagerly came out to greet us.  They freely answered our asked and unasked questions, and offered to show us their homes.  Two are hoping we buy the very generous size lots next to theirs because our side wall will serve to wall off their courtyard thereby making it even more private for them.

Here's one of the existing homes that got our attention.  The lady who owns it wants to move up north to live with her daughter.  She took very good care of it, as we would do ourselves.

Most of the homes in the community are similar, with private courtyards.  All of the area outside our own property is maintained by the homeowner's association.  We need only take care of our courtyard area.  I could cut the grass with a pair of scissors there's so little of it.  Or just plant flowers.

This one is ready and requires nothing but the owner moving out and us moving in.

Or, we can buy a very generous size lot and build a similar model home with any adjustments we would like.  Both have their advantages.

Lots to think about.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Athens Eggfest

Once again Judy and I attended and cooked ar the Athens Eggfest in Athens, Texas, also dubbed the 'Fellowship of the Fire Ring.'

As in years before, it was held at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center.  It was wonderful, of course, made possible by the dedicated folks at the fish hatchery, and the crew at Morrison Supply Company, with the generous support of  Brookshire's Market folks and First State Bank, along with the always welcome participation by Big Green Egg distributor, Paragon Distributing out of Dallas.

But when it comes to individual effort, Allen and Darlene Forshage, the founders of the Athens Eggfest event four years ago, returned to ply their magic.  Although both are now retired, they continue to step forward to help make this one of the premier Eggfests in the country.

Like all of the Cooks, I was too busy to take pictures, but I was assured that photos would be forth coming.  But I did make some tokens.

It was fun...