Since moving to New Orleans in 2009, I’ve been meaning to visit Houma. My mother’s childhood home, we used to go every summer until my Paw Paw passed in the 80’s. Maw Maw moved to Baton Rouge and I never returned to the home I had so many fond memories of – so I was thrilled to find I had an audition in Houma. Driving into town, I was excited to see everything but I’d already looked up the old house and knew many changes had been made. The meeting was at a spectacular new library. The Terrebonne Parrish Library had a super-cool wall of water flowing between glass, incredible displays and a giant room just for genealogy.
Afterward, we headed to the old family home. Nothing looked very familiar until we hit the few blocks I remembered best. Children ran around alone all the time back then and I wondered if they still did. We stopped at the park my brother and I used to walk to and splash in the wading pool or play on the swing set and jungle gym. The wading pool was gone and the jungle gym stuff was all newer but the park was still a park and the live oaks still shaded it.
Paw Paw used to slip us a dollar to spend on penny candy at the Liberty Store. The building is still there and now hosts the 531 Liberty, a very reasonably priced lunch shop with selections including Italian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Thai and other influences. They were closed. I peeked in the window and, though it’d been gutted and redone, I could still picture the aisles and just where the candy section was.
The house was indeed very different. Additions and subtractions. I was sad to see Maw Maw’s prized pink azaleas replaced with a tiny wrought iron fence. The new brick wall in the back of the house was well made and I was able to accept the changes to the entry of the house and the garage, but it was all kind of… it was just very clear our family didn’t live there and life had gone on.
One of the best things about Houma is the abundant river-to-table seafood so we were excited to eat at 1921 Seafood but we were too early and it was closed. I’ll admit I was bummed to be going down the street to Big Mike’s BBQ Smokehouse instead, but we lucked out. Family owned and operated, Big Mike’s just won a BBQ contest in Tennessee last month and one visit was enough to see why.
Smoky and flavorful, the brisket and turkey were great but the spare rib was just – wow. The fresh-snapped-that-day green beans were spicy and savory and the onion rings were battered deliciousness. Even the walls were spicy and flavorful featuring a relief of Jimi Hendrix, old posters and decades of “I was here” type signatures. My 3-meats with 2-sides meal was only $14 and the staff couldn’t have been more personable and helpful. It was the perfect end to a pretty great day. So, maybe you can’t go home again, but you can visit your memories and make new ones and that’s pretty great.