James J. “Jimmy” Landry
Jim “Jimmy” Landry was born in 1943 in Bayou Pigeon, La. the son of Odom and Edith Landry. His father was KIA in the Little Battle of the Bulge ‘ in 1945, when he was one and half years old.
He lived on the bayou in a camp boat with his Mother until he was 11 years old.
In 1954, his Mother remarried another Bayou Pigeon resident, Dalton Hebert. Dalton built a house for his new family ending Jim’s period of living on a houseboat. Jim has two half brothers Randy and Keith Hebert and their extended families still live in Bayou Pigeon.
Jim enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduating from Plaquemine High School. After boot camp he was sent to Camp Pendleton California for Infantry Training which included training in interrogation techniques and language interpretation thanks in part to his Cajun French language skills. He then served thirteen months in the Far East as a Squad Leader in an infantry platoon with the Second Battalion, Ninth Marine Regiment as part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Some of his tour highlights were climbing to the top of and spending the night in the crater of Japan’s twelve thousand foot Mount Juji, spending a lot of time in the jungles of Okinawa and the Philippines. Upon returning to the States he spent two years as a Military Police Offi cer at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.
He completed an Associate’s degree at Spencer-Draughn Business College. He completed additional college level courses at Oceanside Junior College while in the Marines. He continued his desire for life-long learning by completing Continuing Education Information Technology course work offered by LSU during his working career.
Jim Landry retired from the State of Louisiana, Division of Administration after thirty-four years of state service. He worked for the Louisiana State University Computer Center, State Police Computer Center, Louisiana Data Processing Authority (Louisiana State Legislature) and the Division of Administration Offi ce of Information Services. All thirtyfour years of state service were in the Information Technology fi eld. He is currently a Member of Cajun Clicker Computer Club.
Jim has been living in Baton Rouge since 1967. His hobbies are researching history, reading, computers and traveling.
“Bayou Pigeon, LA. Spirit of the Atchafalaya is a story of the unique culture and history of the small Cajun community of Bayou Pigeon, Louisiana from the early 1800’s to 1968. Bayou Pigeon is located on the east side of the great Atchafalaya Basin Swamp only about forty-five miles south of Baton Rouge. This book will take you on a journey through first the establishment of plantations in the area, the migration of the first Cajun families to Bayou Pigeon, the early timber industry, moss picking, trapping, fishing, and Cajun Saturday nights. Its isolation from the outside world created a unique people and their way of living. You will be introduced to the early Cajun people who settled in the area made their living form the swamp and how Bayou Pigeon became a settlement. Because it was located in a remote area it was able to retain its unique way of life and its French language and customs until the late sixties.
I consider my contribution to this book an honor and a privilege that in some small way allows me to pay a tribute to my ancestors and the older generations of Bayou Pigeon. They forged a community and a way of life out of a harsh swamp environment. They made their living off the rivers and swamp and raised their families in the old Cajun traditions. They were a proud, hard working, independent fun loving people who may have been poor but every yard was neat, homes clean and well maintained and there was no need to lock any doors.
My mother was born Edith Sauce at Lake Verrett in Pierre Part, Louisiana. She was the daughter of Ignace Augustin Sauce and Angela Ella Berthelot Sauce. Grand father Sauce owned and operated a grocery store in Bayou Pigeon.
She married my father Odom Joseph Landry on August 14th, 1940. My father was born in Pierre Part, La. and moved to Bayou Pigeon when he was three years old. His parents were Claiborne Joseph Landry and Una Marie Verret Landry both born and raised in Pierre Part and moved to Bayou Pigeon in 1923. Grand father Landry was a timber contractor and ran logging operations in and around the Atchafalaya Basin. He hired many people from Bayou Pigeon, Pierre Part, and Bayou Sorrel to work in the logging industry. He also owned and operated an eighty acre farm for many years that was located at the junction of Highway 75 and Highway 404.
I was born July 16, 1943, during the middle of World War II. My father, mother and I lived in a houseboat in the Borrow Canal on the east side of Bayou Pigeon next to the grocery store owned by my Grandfather Ignace Sauce. The houseboat had been purchased by my grandfather for eight hundred dollars and was home to my grandparents Claiborne and Una Landry. When my father and mother married the house boat was sold or given to them by my grandfather Landry.
While the war affected everyone in Bayou Pigeon to some degree, it affected my mother and I much more than most people in Pigeon. My father, like many of the young men from Bayou Pigeon was called to serve his country in World War II. He left for the Army on March 24, 1944. He was killed in action on January 18th, 1945 in the province of Alsace, France. My mother was twenty-three and I was eighteen months old. In that place and time it was hard for a woman to find a job, so my mother did the best she could with what little we had. Life was a challenge but I cannot think of a place I would rather have grown up.
Doing research for the Bayou Pigeon, La. Spirit Of the Atchafalaya brought back many old memories of growing up in Pigeon. I recall spending much of the day playing on the porch of our camp boat which was not fenced in and playing along the Borrow Canal trying to catch fish with my bare hands. I know my mother was always worried that I would fall into the river, but somehow I never did. It was a wonder the way we grew up that no one I’m aware of ever drowned. When the tugboats passed by, I would yell to them “Throw me something Mister” and they would usually throw an apple or an orange, sometimes even a toy. We Cajun kids had our own version of Mardi Gras.
When I was six I started school at Crescent Elementary near Plaquemine, La. Having grown up speaking French my English was very limited, but most of the teachers were very patient with the kids from Bayou Pigeon. Still, the use of French was not allowed in the classroom and in some cases if you were caught speaking French you were punished.
Of course, being a Cajun was not a cool thing like it is today. Being a Cajun caused some conflict with the kids and people from other areas. It is safe to say that until the sixties Cajun people were looked down on by many.
My mother married Dalton Hebert when I was thirteen years old and for the first time I lived in a house on dry land that my stepfather built. “Chook” as he was called, was a typical Cajun. He made his living fishing and trapping and on Saturday nights he loved to go to dancing, have a few beers, and pass a good time. He would often bring me with him to pick moss, raise fish nets, crawfish and run traps. My mother and stepfather had two boys Randy and Keith Hebert who still live in Bayou Pigeon today. Randy, at one time co-owned and operated Bayou Pigeon Seafood. Randy works in the construction industry and his wife, Natalie, works for the Iberville Parish Clerk of Court’s Office. My brother Keith also works in the construction industry and is a crawfisherman. He and his wife Bonnie are avid hunters. Randy and Keith, along with my friends keep me connected to Bayou Pigeon.
When I was seventeen I left Bayou Pigeon and to serve in the Marine Corps for four and half years. I then moved to Baton Rouge and worked for the state of Louisiana’s Division of Administration, in the information and technology area for thirty four years. Like Adam I have been to Grand Pre, Nova Scotia and read the names of the families who were rounded up and deported in the grand derangement. It was a moving moment for me and I highly recommend that everyone visit this site.
My brother Keith jokingly calls me a “city boy” because I haven’t lived in Pigeon since I left home for the Marine Corps. That may be true but I’m a regular visitor and my heart and soul never left Bayou Pigeon no matter how far away I was.
I want to thank Cliff “Chachie” LeGrange for having the motivation to write Bayou Pigeon, LA.. Spirit of the Atchafalaya, and for all of the time and hard work he, Adam, Cherry and Patricia put into the book and giving me the opportunity to contribute to in a small way.
Thanks also to all of the great people of Pigeon for sharing their memories and information with us. I loved every minute listening to your stories.
I also want to mention Gilbert Hebert, a dear family friend, who is no longer with us, but was a true Cajun gentleman in every sense of the word. I will always remember the great stories he would tell about the old days and his wonderful sense of humor.”