“Demopolis, Alabama”

James Matt Broussard (1985) is the grandson of Michael James “Sarge” Broussard (1948-2014), whose daughter Rosalie Broussard (1969) gave birth to James when she was sixteen (see songs “Jenny or James,” “Sarge” and “James“).

Even though Rosalie Broussard was from Vivian, Louisiana, she had James in Shreveport, where she lived initially after giving birth. Eventually she left James with her parents and left for Alabama with a guy she ended up marrying, Tully Tate (see song “What Tully’s Done“).

Once James turned 18 he also moved to Shreveport.  This song describes a two-year period, from 2016 to 2018, when James lived in Demopolis, Alabama.  He was interested in Alabama since that was where he thought his mother was.  He had taken up with a woman in Shreveport who was from Demopolis and she convinced him to move to Alabama with her.

That relationship didn’t last, but James didn’t immediately leave Demopolis. Maybe, he had in the back of his mind that he might get back together with the woman. But once James realized that he didn’t even want to get back together, he finally decides to leave Alabama and return to Shreveport.

James liked guns, and enjoyed shooting guns; something about shooting lifted his spirits. So, on his way out of town he stops at a pawn shop to see what kind of guns they had, but unbeknownst to James there was a robbery in progress. James instinctively tries to stop the holdup but the robber panics, takes a shot at James, missing by a wide margin.

That was enough for James, who runs to his truck and tears off on 80-W to Shreveport. The robber also exits the pawn shop, ignorant of the fact that his getaway car has a bad fuel pump. He doesn’t get very far before it breaks down and he is apprehended without much trouble by a Marengo County Sheriff’s Deputy.

Demopolis, Alabama
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

I was born in Shreveport, Louisiana
But for about the last two years now
Been living in Demopolis, Alabama
It ain’t never felt like home somehow

I came here on account of a woman
But we didn’t last too long
Stuck around, I guess, looking for something
Months ago I should’ve been gone

Gonna get my gun, get my gun
Wanna shoot some, shoot some
Buy some more, at the range
A pump shotgun, a thirty eight

There’s a market with a wooden Indian out front
An old man we called Shakespeare was the owner
It’s been there since the fifties, untouched
I put some pork rinds and a beer on the counter

Handed Shakespeare the cash for my provisions
I remarked that the Indian was a little weird
He said, “ain’t you ever heard of Hank Williams,
‘ Kaw-Liga’ was a pretty big hit ‘round here”

Gonna get my gun, get my gun
Wanna shoot some, shoot some
Gonna get my gun, change my mood
Wanna shoot some, improve my attitude

I’m sitting in my truck outside her house
She’s got a new boyfriend, from Alabama
I watch him take all her garbage out
Guess I’ll head on back to Louisiana

But before I do I stop at a pawn shop
A guy had a gun, “gimme all the cash,” he said
Without thinking I yell, “hey fella, stop”
He whirled around, threw a shot at at my head

Gonna get my gun, get my gun
Wanna shoot some, shoot some
Gonna get my gun, that’s what I’ll do
Put Demopolis, Alabama in my rear view

© 2020 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP). 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.

“Mike was a Soldier”

Michael James “Sarge” Broussard (1948-2014) was born and raised in Vivian, Louisiana.  He served in Vietnam (1966-1967) in a transport unit, keeping the vehicles running in the jungle, but on occasion, as necessary, he would go out on patrol.

D.W. Washington was from Detroit, African-American, and he and Mike became friends.  If not for D.W., Mike most likely would have died over there, as had his brother Luke (see songs, “Vivian, Louisiana” and “Shreveport, 1963“).

But they both made it back, and Mike returned to Vivian where he owned and operated a filling station and repair shop (see song, “Sarge“).  D.W. joined him and worked there with him (see song, “Mike and D.W.“).

Mike and his high school sweetheart, Marie, got married and had one child, a daughter Rosalie.

Mike was a Soldier
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

Mike was a soldier
He’d just joined up
Off to Vietnam
To work on trucks
Nineteen sixty-six
Just turned eighteen,
Doing his duty
Like his brother done

Just a teenager
Nineteen sixty-five
Mike and Marie
Said their goodbyes
Made some promises
Like getting married
That is, if Mike made it
Back alive

Not like his brother
No, all too often
Families just have the flag
That draped the coffin
And some memories
Of him on a bus
Thumbs up, and laughin’
Just laughin’

Mike was a soldier
Barely breathin’
It was D.W. got him home
To Vivian
After forty years
They ‘re still friends
Down on Main
At the filling station

Mike was a soldier
And a husband
Was a good friend
To dozens
They called him Sarge
And said he was
A pretty good guy
Yeah, Mike, he sure was one

Mike was a soldier
He’d just joined up
Off to Vietnam
To work on trucks

© 2019 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP). 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.

“James”

Rosalie Broussard found her self pregnant a week after turning sixteen (see song “Jenny or James“).  Though her boyfriend wanted her to have an abortion, and even offered her the money, she refused, because Rosalie had a naive understanding about what having a baby really meant, and also because she just didn’t like the idea.  However, she eventually realized she couldn’t handle the responsibility and when James was three she handed him over to her father and his second wife, MaeAnn.

When Rosalie was twenty she left Vivian, Louisiana and married Tully Tate, a man she met while waitressing at a truck stop.  They had twin girls and lived in Mobile, Alabama.  But Rosalie never could make peace with domestic life and would run off from time to time, ech time Tully would find and bring her back home (see song “What Tully’s Done“).  But eventually he grew tired of chasing after his runaway wife and Rosalie finally left that family as well (see song “Rosalie“).

Mike and MaeAnn dearly loved James since they saw that his mother had not shown him the natural love of a mother.  But James still felt an emptiness which was only relieved when he played catch with his grandpa.

James
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

James was Wednesday’s child, full of woe
His mama left when he was just three years old
Rosalie was only sixteen when she had him
Left him with her parents; he was raised by them

James grew up wondering if he’d done something wrong
That made his mama leave him at his grandpa’s home
His father was a shadow, a name that wasn’t said
But Mike and MaeAnn did their best

When James played catch with Mike
For a little while everything seemed alright
A peaceful feeling settled in with the dimming light
On those summer days when James played catch with Mike

He overheard bits and pieces about his mama’s life
She was living in Mobile, a truck driver’s wife
At Christmas she might visit but wouldn’t stay too long
Gave James some toy he’d long ago outgrown

MaeAnn said he had twin sisters in Mobile
James really hoped that they had a better deal
But soon Rosalie would run off from them too
It seemed that’s all his mama was cut out to do

When James played catch with Mike
For a little while everything seemed alright
A peaceful feeling settled in with the dimming light
On those summer days when James played catch with Mike

© 2019 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP). 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.

“Water Fountains”

During Mike Broussard’s early childhood, his family lived in Shreveport, Louisiana, but later he moved to Vivian where he owned a business and lived out the remainder of his life.  The experience described in this song, when Mike was twelve years old, affected his attitude towards race relations from then on.

One of the oldest movie theaters in Shreveport was The Strand.  It had different entrances for blacks and whites and water fountains marked for the different races, as well.

During the ’60s, most southern cities had two simultaneous phenomena: demographically a significant percentage of the population was African-American (Shreveport was about 60% black) and as a consequence whites and blacks unofficially interacted a lot.  The other aspect was a policy of official segregation. This manifested itself in a myriad of ways beyond the obvious, e.g. separate drinking fountains and different entrances to movie theaters.  However, relationships between whites and blacks could be warm and friendly despite official segregation.

Into the demographic mix were other ingredients.  Louisiana had a relatively large number of Italian Americans, mostly Sicilians.  These immigrants also experienced some discrimination, and in general did not share the otherwise pervasive white attitudes about African-Americans.

When Mike Broussard served in Vietnam he met an African-American from Detroit, D.W. Washington, and they became life-long friends.  Mike and D.W. talked about their plans when their tours were over, and D.W. went back to Vivian with Mike and they operated a filling station and auto repair shop for more than forty years.  D.W. was Mike’s closest friend (see songs “Sarge“, “Mike & D.W.” and “Out on Cross Lake“).

Water Fountains
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

It was 1960, I was twelve years old
My brother and me went to the picture show
My mother dropped us off gave us each a dollar
To see John Wayne in “The Alamo”
Outside The Strand were two water fountains side by side
One was marked “Colored” the other one, “White”

I didn’t know Bobby Ghio all that well
He’d just moved to Shreveport that year
He was Sicilian, from New Orleans
And was different from the kids ‘round here
He went to the wrong fountain, he didn’t want to wait in line
My mouth was wide open, it kind of blew my mind

It was exceptional
Incredible
To question what we thought was unquestionable
Exceptional
Like climbing a mountain
Or just drinking from a water fountain

Big Mama raised three generations of Broussards
She seemed to me as old as Moses
Taught me right from wrong, and a lot of other stuff
She was black but I didn’t seem to notice
It was an age old line that Bobby Ghio crossed
But when he did it a light bulb went off

It was exceptional …

It was 1960, I was twelve years old
My brother and me went to the picture show

© 2019 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP). 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.

“Vivian, Louisiana”

Home to Mike “Sarge” Broussard and D.W. Washington, Vivian is a moderately small town in Northwest Louisiana.  As is true for many small towns the people live basic lives, centered on family, work and church.

Vivian, Louisiana
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

Named for a KCS executive’s daughter
Like Mena, Arkansas or DeRidder
Vivian ain’t got four thousand people there
But it’s big compared to Ida or Belcher

Down on Pine St. folks will stop and say hello
To Sarge and D.W. at the Texaco
When Sarge lost Marie they all came by
With their fried chicken and strawberry pie

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

Vivian’s called the “Heart of the ArkLaTex”
Just a little town without enough paychecks
Louisiana Redbud Vivian celebrates
Every March with a parade and pancakes

Big hearts in a small town …

© 2019 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP). 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.

“I’m Still in Love with You”

Mike Broussard has never come to grips with his wife Marie’s suicide. Part of it is because she chose to confide in his friend D.W. and not him. Part of it is the fact that she most likely would have lived some months longer, giving him more time to accept her passing. But the suddenness of her death left him with feelings he can’t quite get a hold of.

At first he blamed his friend for helping her, but then he got mad at her. They had never gone to bed angry and were always able to talk out their differences.  But left alone like this, he feels betrayed and can’t accept her loss.

I’m Still in Love with You
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

I want to forgive you
But I cain’t
I want to forget you
But I ain’t
I’m still in love with you

I want to hate you
But I don’t
Move on and replace you
But I won’t
I’m still in love with you

If you were still around
We would talk it out
And set it right as the sun came up
But I’m here all alone
Staring at a cold headstone
And then I’ll climb back in my truck

Someday I’ll forgive you
But I ain’t ready yet
I’ll never forget you
Long as I draw breath
I’m still in love with you

© 2019 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP). 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.

“Mike & D.W.”

Mike Broussard and D.W. Washington met and became lifelong friends during the Vietnam War. Actually, it was more than that, if not or Mike, D.W. would not have come home from Vietnam. D.W. never forgot the debt he owned Mike, but their relationship took a tragic turn after more than twenty years of friendship.

After the war, Mike returned to Vivian, Louisiana, where he owned and operated a filling station and repair shop. D.W. followed when he was discharged and worked there with Mike for decades. The only thing that came between them was how Mike’s wife, Marie, handled her late stage cancer, and the role D.W. played.

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

D.W. Washington worked for Mike Broussard
Mike was his sergeant back in the war
They been best friends since 1965
But ain’t spoke a word since Marie died

Mike owned a filling station and repair shop
Mike worked on the cars, D.W. worked the pump
D.’d go to Bossier Fridays and get a little drunk
Monday mornin’ Mike’d roll by and pick him up

Marie was the only love of Mike’s life
D.W. was her friend, but she was Mike’s wife
They weren’t romantic but she and D were close
She’d tell things to him she’d never want Mike to know

As the cancer took its toll Marie made up her mind
She had D.W. swear to help her if it came time
Marie hid from Mike what was in her heart
But made sure that D.W. would do his part

Mike never forgave him for his role at the end
He didn’t blame Marie, no, he blamed his friend
Mike wanted every minute there was with Marie
D.W. robbed him just like that disease

Thirty years went by without a single word
Then D.W. got “old-timers”, was what Mike heard
Mike set aside his pride, set aside the past
Two old friends shared a bottle and a few laughs

Marie was the only love of Mike’s life
D.W. was her friend, but she was Mike’s wife
They weren’t romantic but she and D were close
She’d tell things to him she’d never want Mike to know

D.W. Washington worked for Mike Broussard
Mike was his sergeant back in the war

© 2019 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP). 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.

“Rosalie”

Rosalie Broussard Tate has a history of running away from any relationship she is in.  This time she has run from her marriage leaving her husband Tully Tate and their twin girls at home.

Rosalie
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

In a cocktail lounge in Mobile
Just about closing time
Empty shot glass on her table
Rosalie shuts her eyes

Tully would always find her
Bring her home in the past
Rosalie looks around her
Guess he gave up at last

Anytime anyone loves her
Soon she’ll be gone
To the dim lights of a barroom
Where she feels she belongs
Mistrusting human kindness
She’d rather be alone
Telling herself she’s free
Rosalie, ah, Rosalie

She’d like to kick the habit
Always choosing to run
Since she was sixteen
It’s what she’s relied upon

There’s a devil lying to her
Whispering in her ear
She wants to ignore it, but
It’s the strongest voice she hears

Anytime anyone loves her …

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

“Out on Cross Lake”

Mike Broussard and Jake McLemore were friends with D.W. Washington.  Today they are out at Cross Lake, just outside Shreveport, drinking, fishing, and remembering D.W. after burying their friend earlier that same day.

Out on Cross Lake
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

Out on Cross Lake rain is fallin’ down
Out on Cross Lake rain is fallin’ down
Today we laid D.W. in the ground
Out on Cross Lake rain is fallin’ down

Ol’ D.W. was a pretty good guy
Ol’ D.W. was a pretty good guy
No one can tell me why he had to die
Ol’ D.W. was a pretty good guy

Out on Cross Lake passin’ a bottle around
Out on Cross Lake passin’ a bottle around
Today we laid D.W. in the ground
Out on Cross Lake passin’ a bottle around

D.W. worked for Mike forty year
D.W. worked for Mike forty year
Mike’s lookin’ in the tub for another beer
D.W. worked for Mike forty year

Out on Cross Lake th’ sun is goin’ down
Out on Cross Lake th’ sun is goin’ down
Today we laid D.W. in the ground
Out on Cross Lake th’ sun is goin’ down

Now D.W. was a good ol’ boy
Yeah D.W. was a good ol’ boy
Even if he was born in Detroit
D.W. was a good ol’ boy

Out on Cross Lake rain is startin’ to pour
Out on Cross Lake rain is startin’ to pour
Might as well go in, they ain’ bitin’ no more
Out on Cross Lake rain is startin’ to pour

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

Cole Lucas Broussard (1946-1965)

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.

Studebaker

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.