Coleman Broussard (1842-1910)

Coleman Broussard was a first cousin to Levi Motts and both fought for the Confederacy.  They also shared a love for Ruby Robison, fragile young whore in Shreveport.

Coleman was older than Levi by three years, and almost the complete opposite in character.  Levi was a rake and rambler whereas Cole was sober and straight-forward.  However, they both fell in love with the fragile young whore Ruby Robison, and the love was reciprocated by her to both, although Levi excited her imagination while Cole represented husband material.

Cole and Levi both joined up with the Rebels in Shreveport as soon as the war commenced. But while Levi saw the war as a great adventure, Cole was more clear-eyed about it and was not so eager to join the fighting.

Sadly, Levi died on the field at Mansfield, leaving Cole to return, alone, to Ruby, whom he married.  He knew she was pregnant with Levi’s baby, and took on the responsibility of raising this baby girl, Pearl.  He and Ruby had a long marriage, having four children of their own and celebrating their 56th anniversary shortly before Cole died in 1910.

“Levi, Ruby & Cole”

Levi Motts and Coleman Broussard were cousins, and each one loved Ruby Robison and she loved them both, as well.  Levi and Cole were Confederates, and fought at Mansfield.  But Levi died that afternoon, leaving Ruby and Cole to carry on together.

Levi, Ruby & Cole
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

Cole was strong and steady
Straight as a rail
Levi was born ready
Always raisin’ hell
Ruby loved Levi all the way
But Cole was who she chose
Levi might grow up some day
But, who knows

Ruby knew Cole loved her
But Levi charmed her heart
Cole was down to earth
Levi sparkled like a star

The War broke this trio up
Only one came back home
Ruby had two loves
Levi and Cole

Cole knew he and Ruby
Would never have
The kind of magic love
She and Levi had
Just taking care of her
For Cole, it was enough
He ain’ the apple of her youth
But theirs was also love

Ruby knew Cole loved her …

© 2018 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP)

Mike “Sarge” Broussard (1948-2014)

Mike “Sarge” Broussard  (1948-2014).  Great-great grandson of Coleman Broussard (1842-1910).  Born and lived entire life in Vivian, Louisiana except for the period when he was in the service (1968-1970). Served in the Vietnam War, honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant.  Owned filing station/auto repair shop in Vivian.  Has a daughter, Eva Broussard.

Mike comes from an old Louisianan Cajun family that first settled in Natchitoches, Louisiana in the late 18th century.  Later the family made its way north to Shreveport, then Vivian.  Coleman Broussard, MIke’s great-great-grandfather, was the cousin of Levi Motts who died during the Civil war, at the Battle of Mansfield, leaving behind his pregnant fiancée, Ruby Robison.  Coleman decides to ask Ruby to marry, a proposal she accepts, in order to legitimize his cousin’s child and they go on to have several more children.  These were Mike’s direct ancestors.

The Acadians, who descended from sturdy French peasant stock, originated during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in a colony known as Acadia in the present-day Canadian province of Nova Scotia. By the time Acadia fell to British control in 1713, the Acadians had become a close-knit, clannish, and culturally distinct group of French-speaking folk who had fashioned their own identity. But once the Acadians became British subjects, and for decades thereafter, they experienced continuing problems with their British overlords. In an effort to end these difficulties, Great Britain began a forced exportation program after the Acadians refused to take oaths of allegiance. The authorities relocated thousands of Acadians against their will in various colonies, including those of the Atlantic coast and the Caribbean. This mass movement, known in Acadian history as the dérangement, separated entire families.

cajun dispersion map

The migrating Acadians did not arrive in Louisiana as their initial destination, but some of them eventually found their way to the lower Mississippi from other New World colonies to which they had been exiled by the British. Thousands of Acadians arrived in Louisiana during the 1770s and 1780s. The Spanish government provided them with material assistance in establishing their farms. Most of the Acadians settled to the west of the Mississippi River in the bayou areas along the southwestern prairie. There they soon developed a unique rural lifestyle based on hunting and farming. The French inhabitants already in the colony shunned them, most likely because the Acadians appeared to them as unsophisticated and simple folk. These Acadians became the forebears of today’s Louisiana Cajuns.

Mike Broussard enlisted in the army during the Vietnam war and rose to the rank of sergeant.  He was good with cars and was assigned to the transport unit and served with distinction.  After the war he came back to Louisiana and opened a Texaco filling station and repair shop, which he ran for over forty years (see songs, “Sarge” and “D.W.“).

He had one daughter, Eva, with whom he became estranged but not because of anything he did.  However, he did have a loving relationship with her son, James.  Eva had James when she was sixteen and Mike and his wife Nina raised him.  When James was around ten, he and Mike would go in the back yard and play catch (see songs, “Jenny or James” and “Catch“).

Sarge lived a long and productive life, consistently honoring the service of military vets, dying in 2014.

“Sarge”

Sarge
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

Bought this here Texaco with a V.A. loan
Built this business all alone
Would hire any vet that come along who knew cars
Got his stripes in Vietnam
Where he learned to make a motor hum
You can ask most anyone ’bout Sarge

He hired me cause he knowed my dad
Was the closest to one I’ve had
Kept me from goin’ bad
Outta the bars
“Boy you better stay in school,
I sure can’t use no fool
Every job’s got one right tool”
That was Sarge

I can still see him with his sleeves rolled up
Under the hood he’s got a crew cut
Chewing on the butt of a ten cent cigar
Person’s gotta be made of wood
Not to feel a sense of botherhood
Once they stood next to Sarge

When we’d see a car with special plates
POWs and MIAs
Look’d come across his face
Something from the war
“son, just keep your seat
Best leave this one to me”
Then he’d fill the tank for free
That was Sarge

I can still see him with his sleeves rolled up …

I could talk all day and never get it right by Sarge

© 2017 Frank David Leone, Jr/Electric Mule Music/Warner Music (BMI)

D.W. Washington (1946-2007)

Dwight Wayne Washington was born and spent his early life in Detroit, Michigan. He was drafted into the Army in 1964 when he turned 18 and was sent to Vietnam.  Eventually he was assigned to the 515th Transportation Company in Cam Ranh Bay under Sergeant Mike Broussard.  Here he learned just about all there was to know about repairing cars and motors.

D.W. Washington2

 

Instead of going back to Detroit, D.W. decided to move to Vivian and continued to work for Mike in his filling station and auto repair shop for the next 40 years.  D.W. and Mike were best friends despite D.W.’s tendency to get drunk most weekends forcing Mike to drive by his house on Monday morning and get him up for another week of work (see song, “D.W.“).

D.W. died in 2007 shortly before his 61st birthday from congestive heart failure.

“D.W.”

D.W.
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

D.W. Washington works for Mike Broussard
Mike was his sergeant in the war
More than forty years they been friends
D.W.’s from Detroit, moved to Vivian

Vivian ain’ got four thousand people there
But it’s big compared to Ida or Belcher
Louisiana Redbud Vivian celebrates
Every March with a parade and pancakes

Big hearts in a small town
Big hearts beatin’ on and on
Town’s bigger when they are around
Smaller when they’re gone

Vivian’s called th’ “Heart of the ArkLaTex”
Just a little town without enough paychecks
Named for a KCS executive’s daughter
Like Mena, Arkansas or DeRidder

Big hearts in a small town …

Mike owns a filling station and auto shop
Mike works on th’ cars, D.W. works the pump
Friday D.W. goes to Bossier, gets drunk
Monday, Mike rolls by and picks him up

© 2017 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP)

Vivian, Louisiana

1024px-Vivian_water_tower_IMG_5196

Vivian is a town in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, United States and is home to the Red Bud Festival. The population was 3,671 at the 2010 census, down from 4,031 in 2000.

Vivian is fifty miles from Texarkana, and that was about as close as you could get and still be in Louisiana. Vivian [is] surrounded by the smaller towns of Rodessa, Ida, Oil City, Belcher, Gilliam, and Hosston. Vivian was the ‘urban center’ where citizens from the smaller towns came to shop, go to the movies, join in the excitement of city life as it was. For local residents, Vivian was the hub of the universe. At least it was the ‘Heart of the ArkLaTex,’ as folks down there liked to claim.

Eva Broussard (1969- )

Eva Broussard was a troubled girl from a very young age.  Her parents worried about her spending long periods secluded in her room and not hearing a sound from behind her door.

They never knew about her intense love of books.  Yes, they knew she liked to read, and would take her to the library as often as she asked.  But they had no clear grasp of the kind of books she liked to read.  For example, she read and re-read Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood.”  In fact, she kept the book hidden under her bed, never returning it to the library.  She claimed that a boy threw the book out of the bus window while they were on the Red River bridge.  She saved her baby-sitting money and paid the library what they said she owed.

You could say Eva was precocious, sexually mature for her age.  She got herself pregnant before she was sixteen and decided to have the baby, a boy, whom she chose to name Colt (b. 1985).

Eva ran away when Colt was barely one year old, leaving the child to be raised by his grandparents, Mike and Ellen Broussard.  But after Eva’s marriage to Tully Tate, she brought the boy to live with her in Mobile, Alabama.

Eva and Tully also had twin girls a few years later.  Throughout these early years of her marriage, Eva would run off from time to time, forcing Tully to find her and bring her back, only to run off again a few weeks later.

Finally, Tully just gave up on her and let Eva go.

“Jenny or James”

Jenny or James
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

She just turned sixteen ’bout a week ago
Her mind is on the little life and how quick it’ll grow
She hangs out at the mall with a few of her friends
They talk about their problems like chipped nails and split ends

She hasn’t told her parents it’s still easy to hide
But not a day goes by she doesn’t think about what’s inside
She won’t take his money like Robert says she must
And sweep away the little life just like a little dust

Underneath her pillow she’s got a list of names
For a girl she thought of Jenny for boy she likes James
It’ll be all hers like nothin’s ever been
And she loves that now she’ll never be alone again
Alone again

She heads for the Pizza Hut to meet Robert for a talk
She hopes he doesn’t start and say it’s all her fault
He should be headin’ off to Tech and doesn’t want to hang around
Baggin’ groceries at Walmart while his buddies all leave town

He says, “it’s either me or it, you’re gonna have to choose”
She says, “it’s not an ‘it'” and knows then what she’s bound to do
Her mama holds her tight her daddy hangs his head
Two AM she feels a kick and sits bolt upright in her bed

Underneath her pillow she’s got a list of names …

© 1998 Frank David Leone, Jr./Electric Mule Music/Warner Music (BMI)

“What Tully’s Done”

What Tully’s Done
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

Tully left the girls at his sister Ruth’s
Took off for Baton Rouge
Barked the tires in all four gears
Their mama’s gone and run off again
Third time Tully’s seen I-10
And each time it’s a little more weird

Oh no, don’t you know
When she leaves he’s bound to follow
Least that’s what Tully’s done
Oh no, don’t you know
One damn day when she goes
Tully’s just gonna let her run

But today’s that ain’t where he’s at
He’ll track her down and bring her back
Hope she ain’t a mess
She left eggs frying in the pan
Tully waitin’ for that call again
From a stranger with a question and an address

Oh no, don’t you know …

Tully says, “Doc, what makes her be like that?”
Doc just looks away and gives his head a scratch
Tully says,”if it was just me I wouldn’t care,
Those kids need their mama there”

Oh no, don’t you know …

© 2018 Frank David Leone, Jr./Electric Mule Music/Warner Music (BMI)