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.

“Shreveport, 1963”

Mike Broussard recalls how he and his brother Luke spent summers in Shreveport during the 1960s.  Mike was 15 and Luke was 17, a few years before each would go off to fight in Vietnam.

Shreveport, 1963
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

Twenty-five cent a gallon gasoline
’53 Studebaker, three on the tree
The Kokomo drive-in onion rings
Shreveport, 1963

Strawberry icebox pie at Strawn’s
My big brother Luke and me
Southern Maid donuts at dawn
Shreveport, 1963

The radio dial was set to KEEL or KOKA
Windows down, crusin’ the streets
“Louie, Louie” and “Surfin’ USA”
Shreveport, 1963

The Cub drive-through liquor store
A couple of Coke’s and a pint of Jim Beam
Watchin’ the planes at the airport
Shreveport, 1963

My brother Luke died in ‘Nam
Time seemed to stop for me
No matter where I am
It’s Shreveport, 1963

The radio dial was set to KEEL or KOKA
Windows down, crusin’ the streets
“Louie, Louie” and “Surfin’ USA”
Shreveport, 1963

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

“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 (1949-2011)

Dwight Wayne Washington was born and spent his early life in Detroit, Michigan. He was drafted into the Army in 1967 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 2011 shortly before his sixty-fifth birthday from congestive heart failure (see song “Out on Cross Lake“).

“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)