“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.

“Butterfly of Tyler”

In the early decades of the twentieth century, upper class Southern families, in many ways, still lived by a code of behavior that reflected antebellum values.  Young men and women socialized at the frequent balls and dinners held at the large homes among the wealthy Southern families. Lillian Cobb was often the prettiest girl there and enjoyed the attention of most of the eligible young men, who would crowd around her, filling her dance card. She was described by some as a butterfly, flitting from partner to partner.

A vestige of what was a 19th century value system, fathers controlled whom their daughters saw socially and ultimately married.  It was unusual for a daughter in her early twenties, or more likely eighteen or nineteen, to defy her father in her choice for a husband.  Lillian Cobb’s father was no different, and she was a product of a culture which strictly prohibited her from choosing a romantic partner from outside her family’s social strata or someone whose reputation had been seriously tarnished.

In the 1910s and 1920s, prior to the Great Depression, this society was peopled by men who did not inherit their wealth but had grown rich in industry or one of the professions, doctor or lawyer.  This was especially true for East Texas towns such as Tyler, where much of the new wealth came from oil and gas production. But there were still the old money families, and these two classes, the newly rich and the old guard, made up one upper social class.

In the case of Lillian Cobb, she fell in love with the irresponsible but dashing son of a Texas family whose roots went deep, back before statehood.

William MacLachlan was the second oldest son of Andrew MacLachlan, patriarch of an old family whose money derived from huge land holdings and cattle.  Andrew had never allowed drilling on any of his land, considering it a blight on the landscape.  Cattle were living things, warm bodies which you raised from birth and fed and took care of for several years.

Andrew’s son William, Willy his friends called him, was a Romantic youth, whose mind was filled with the poetry of John Keats and Robert Browning, and ideas about manhood coming out of novels of Walter Scott.  He had aspirations to write, himself, and filled composition books with his poetry.  A couple of times Willy bound these poems into folios, adding some ink and watercolor drawings, which he then gave to Lillian as his form of courtship.

Willy had dropped out the University of Texas, living off his family without any clear direction for earning his own way, or plans for the future other than bumming around Europe.  Willy was known to drink copious amounts of whiskey, something else which would not endear him to any of the Tyler aristocracy.

William MacLachlan was just the kind of boy Randolph Cobb, Lillian’s father, would never approve of for his daughter. And he did every thing in his power to thwart any ideas of marriage between his daughter and Willy MacLachlan.

By contrast Walter Murphy was in his final year at University of Texas law school, with a promising future assured.  Lillian might have been in love with the dreamy Willy, but her father knew to whom he was going place his daughter’s hand in marriage.

Lillian Cobb (1894-1986) married Walter Murphy (1889-1966) in 1916, gave birth to Peter Cobb Murphy (1917-1999). Peter C. Murphy was father to Helen Haynes Murphy (1947), Louann Bowden’s mother.

Butterfly of Tyler
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

There had been a round of parties
For Lillian Cobb’s upcoming wedding day
She spent the night before crying in her room
That 1916 Saturday in May

A great-aunt on her daddy’s side
Sat with her, they talked the night away
“I’ll tell your father to call this wedding off”
“You mustn’t do that; it’s too late.”

The butterfly of Tyler
Flitting on her careless wings
Young men would crowd beside her
A vision fading into a dream
A vision fading into a dream

Any other girl would have been thrilled
Walter Murphy was the catch of the year
But he was not who Lillian had set her eye
Her father refused the one she held dear

So she cried for the good times that would be no more
For the names that had filled her dance card
For all the twilight parties and the one
Who lives still in her heart

The butterfly of Tyler
Flitting on her careless wings
Young men would crowd beside her
A vision fading into a dream
A vision fading into a dream

© 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.