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.
10 responses to “You Can’t Go Houma Again…”
Your grandparents moved into their house after my grandfather died and we moved in to care for my grandmother. Your grandmother became one of my mothers good friends. I went to Nicholls State college with your uncle and we were great friends. I followed his designs in Southern Accents (Nov./Dec. 2000 issues) and Architectural Digest (May, 1966) issues, and still have one dress he designed in his early years up north. Your mother was a beauty.
Wow! I’m amazed at how many of you have found this posting and I look forward to relaying all of this to my family. I treasure the dresses my mother has passed down to me. She’s still a beauty!
I remember your grandparents very fondly. They were so kind and generous. I lived across the street. You can see our house in the background of your mother’s picture in her beautiful dress. My Mom lived in that house until she died in 2002 then we sold it. Your post brought back many fond memories. Thanks.
We met the “new” owner of your old home and he couldn’t have been nicer. Yes, my grandparents were wonderful and we all miss them very much. Maw Maw lived to be 94 and was self-reliant to the end. All these comments from old neighbors warm my heart!
Just spoke to my mother and she remembers your family and said they were very nice folks!
I saw your article about returning to Houma to visit your grandparents’ house. I grew up 2 houses away from your grandparents house. My aunt lived in the house across Liberty St from your grandparents house. I grew up frequenting Shady Oak Park and Liberty Cash Grocery too.
Hope you don’t mind me editing some of the more private details from your comment. Now I have to wonder if your aunt is the mother of one of the other commenters!
My mother grew up on the corner of Liberty and High streets, and I spent many wonderful (particularly summer) days in the neighborhood you describe. And many trips to the little corner grocery at 531 Liberty to buy candy. Back then (1950’s) it had bare wooden floors and a screen door with a Merita Bread advertisement. What is your mother’s maiden name, and what was the address? My mother was the daughter of Sheriff Peter Bourgeois.
I hope you don’t mind me withholding my mother’s maiden name. Thanks for the comment – now I’m trying to remember if they had a screen door when I was a kid.
Just spoke to my mother and she doesn’t recall Sheriff Bourgeois’ family but certainly paths must have been crossed.