Cole Lucas “Luke” Broussard was the older brother of Mike Broussard, and both were born in Vivian, Louisiana; Luke two years older than Mike. Luke and Mike were descendants of Confederate soldier Coleman Broussard (1842-1910).
Although they were born in Vivian their father moved the family moved to the “big city” of Shreveport in 1953, and one of the first things their father did was buy a new car, a Studebaker Champion.
As soon as he could, Luke learned to drive that car and he would drive around Shreveport, often taking his younger brother Mike along. Coming from Vivian, Shreveport offered what seemed to them a world of exciting things to do, and Luke introduced most of them to Mike (see song “Shreveport, 1963“).
Things like going to the Cub drive-through liquor store and buying some whiskey which they’d put in a Coke. I guess the Cub’s management figured if you were old enough to drive, then you were old enough to drink. However, in Shreveport in 1963, a sixteen year old was old enough to drive.
Luke and Mike would also cross the Red River and go to the Bossier strip because of all the bars and clubs. Places like the Orbit Lounge, the Kickapoo, the Shindig, Sak’s Whisk-A-Go-Go, and many offered exotic dancers. During the ’50s and ’60s it was a little Las Vegas.
One of the milder things they’d do was play pool, their favorite game was “cutthroat”. Cutthroat involves three players who each divide up the balls 1-5, 6-10, 11-15 and the first to sink the other two player’s balls, while keeping his on the table, wins. They got pretty good at hustling guys from Barksdale Air Force base, who never seemed to catch on to the fact that Mike and Luke were brothers, playing two against one.
They also loved eating the local foods, onion rings at the Kokomo, Strawn’s strawberry icebox pie and Southern Maid donuts.
If they had nothing else to do they would park out at the airport and watch the planes take off and land, and if they were really bored they’d drive to Longview, Texas, late at night. Mike loved it when out of nowhere they’d see the Eastman chemical refinery all lit up like a magical city, reflected in the reservoir water.
Both Luke and Mike served in Vietnam, Luke received his induction notice shortly after turning eighteen. He had been dating a girl, Cherie Shnexnaidre, but they had not married yet. Just before reporting Luke and Cherie visited a justice of the peace and tied the knot. Cherie had gotten pregnant and they wanted to be married when she gave birth. A son, Cody Cole, was born in 1965 just before Cherie got the telegram informing her of Luke’s death.
Mike was also drafted two years later, but he came back unharmed and lived a long life back in Vivian where he operated a Texaco gas station and repair shop. Mike took up the role of surrogate father to Cody Cole and later, when Cody was around sixteen, hired him to work at the filling station (see the song “Sarge“).
Mike never forgot those Shreveport summers and that was how he chose to remember his big brother Luke.
© 2018 Frank David Leone. The songs and stories on the Highway 80 Stories website are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.