Saturday, January 06, 2007

Things Change

My time at University of Louisiana - Monroe in the early eighties was a fun time for the most part. I lived in Monroe and went to high school there, and didn't really consider going to another college with one right there in town. The campus was kinda pretty with the bayou running through it, and all the old trees and such, but many of the buildings were built in the 50s and 60s and were completely squared-off, with no adornments whatsoever. In short, many of the buildings were out and out ugly. I am so happy to report that many of the buildings from that period have been torn down and replaced with new ones that are simply beautiful. The older, original brick buildings still look great, because they were built with design flourishes that make them look pretty and stately at the same time. The campus is now a nice mix of beautiful new architecture and still-lovely old architecture. Prospective students coming to this campus will see a completely different school than the one I attended. That's a good thing.

This old train bridge over the Ouachita River in Monroe looked old and rickety twenty something years ago when I was in college the first time and took pics of it for one of my black and white photography courses. Look at the section I photographed years ago in black and white, and notice that there's a ram-shackle building built into the bridge. This old room or whatever fascinated me back then because of how derelict it looked. Now the wooden room is gone. When I was taking these photos, much to my surprise, a train came across the bridge. I thought the bridge was pathetic in 1983; I half expected the train and bridge to collapse into the river. I thought the same thing about a bridge I photographed here in Melbourne this past summer, and I've since seen many trains on it. You'd think they would have to sand blast and repaint train bridges just like they do bridges for cars and trucks.

Indian Mound
I've talked a bit on this blog about how I'm a very laid back person; definitely not the extreme sport kinda guy. But since I was a child, whenever I get on a bicycle, something happens inside me. I am pretty much fearless on a bicycle. When I was a teen, we used to ride our bikes to the levee beside one of the bayous in a nearby neighborhood. Between the levee and the bayou was woods and a horse pen. There was a trail there that would allow us to straight down the side of the levee and on into a huge natural ditch and up the far side of the ditch and get seriously airborne. As soon as you rode across the levee, you felt like you were in a different world back there in the trees by the water. When we were driving around Monroe last week, I freaked out when I saw that there was a paved road across the levee. There is a small neighborhood of very nice homes back there now. This photo is of an old Indian mound that the builders weren't allowed to touch. It was a shock to see that people had built these incredibly expensive homes on the bayou side of the levee (seems rather dumb to me) and also that, as many times as my friends and I rode our bikes in those woods, I never knew this mound was there. This was the first time I laid eyes on it.

This area, between the levee and the Ouachita River near Forsyth Park, was mainly dirt roads when I was in high school. They had a boat ramp and paved parking areas, but the nicely paved road and parking area I'm standing beside to take this photo didn't exist. It's now a nice set of paved roads, pavilions, and picnic tables. Very park-like. This was where the rich kids I went to school with used to bring their nice four wheel drive trucks to go mud hoggin'. It's really nice back here now, though I know it will flood when the river gets high.

But thankfully, some things don't change.

Johnny's Pizza House, McKeen Place
This is Big Sis, Sainted Mother, and Lovely Wife, just moments before the gnashing of teeth began. These, friends, are Johnny's Pizza House's Sweep The Kitchen pizzas. This is this the one thing you want to buy and eat when you go home. Everyone has a favorite hometown food. This was a little bit of heaven on earth.

Burger Barn, Olla, Louisiana
Big Brother and I loved the hamburgers at the Burger Barn in Olla, Louisiana. Any time we were in LaSalle Parish for any reason meant taking time to get a couple of burgers from the Burger Barn. They taste like home made burgers. Since Big Brother died, and we went to his and other's graves to put new flowers on them, we bought one Jumbo Burger and shared it in Big Brother's honor. I know he would appreciate it. The few times I got down there and had a couple of burgers while he was in Utah, I'd call him and tell him about it, just to hear him moan. All in fun though. The burger was awesome as always. Nice to know they're still putting out great burgers; this place has been there as long as I can remember.


Allan Goodall said...

Love the pictures!

I need to post the picture or two of the railway bridge that I took last year.

Yes, the railroad bridge is used... heavily used. I work at 235 Desiard; on the northwest corner of Desiard and 3rd. I pretty much don't hear the trains now, unless it's very quiet, or I'm about to go home. There are something like 25 trains through Monroe each day, most of them moving along that bridge. About four or five times a month I get stuck as a train blocks 3rd and 4th streets...

If I have the name right, the new bridge beside the railway bridge is the Lee Joiner Bridge. Near the southwest corner of the bridge is a historical plaque dealing with someone important in the area who fought to "liberate" the Florida parishes for the U.S.

Where is that Indian mound??? I didn't even know it was there!

Which Johnny's pizza place is that? Alana, my wife, worked at a Johnny's when she was in college.

I've only been to the Burger Barn in Olla twice (we drive by it on the way to Pineville/Deville, where Alana's family live). The last time we were not too impressed. The service was very slow, and the burger was only so-so. I didn't care for people smoking in the restaurant either, as they didn't have any really useful no smoking section. The new Louisiana law, though, should fix that problem. Anyway, I'll have to go back to see if the problems we had were because it was just a "bad day".

JAM said...

There is a bridge there named after Lea Joiner. She was the first female Methodist minister in the area, I think in the late seventies or early eighties. Her ordination and getting a church in Monroe caused quite a stir. You can imagine. Monroe is way behind the rest of the world on such things and fight them tooth and nail. She was murdered, but I remember nothing of the situation. That's when they named the bridge after her.

The indian mound is in north Monroe, off of Pargoud Blvd., I think the actual road it's on River Landing, which is one of the new roads across this levee I talked about here. It's right smack in the middle of a small, ritzy neighborhood. Though I still question the sanity of someone building a home on the "wrong" side of a levee. It's just there; they built all around it. Pargoud is off Loop Road. I just Google Mapped it; if you Google Map Pargoud Blvd. in Monroe, and follow it around, you'll see a small loop made of two roads off of it, Pargoud and River Landing. The mound is there, over the levee.

The Johnny's in the photo is on McKeen Place, near the intersection of Forsyth and North 18th. If Alana worked at Johnny's in college, and assuming ULM, it was probably the original one that used to be on Desiard, it's now moved along Desiard almost to the intersection with US 165.

Burger Barn might not really be that great to anyone else, it's just a taste of my childhood. When I was a kid, a bought hamburger was a treat, I'm a bit like Wimpy in Popeye in that regard, and make no claim that others will like their stuff as much as me. When I buy a hamburger from there, it's probably heavily seasoned with nostalgia.

My Mom and Sister like Burger Barn's fried catfish too. I've never had it. Your mileage may vary.

I've really been screwing up my streets and spellings too, it's a shame how memories fade. I keep wanting to spell Desiard, DeSiard. I think it might have been that way, once upon a time. Also, I remember Pargoud Blvd., as Paragoud, with another "a" in it. I'd probably trust Google Map over my memory at any rate.

mojoflowerchick said...

You can take a trip back to memory lane some more if you like... some of us are still here.. like it or not..

PineyWoodsPrims~Dena said...

So glad I came across your blog. There is no place like Olla or Monore in my book. I was born in Monroe. My family lived in Olla and my parents sibling and grandparents, great grandparents and on are buried in Olla Cem. I was just delighted to see the burger barn. I gained many pounds in that place. lol. It is nice to see these beautiful towns noticed and their stories told. Thank you. I will be back to read more!
God bless!