Bayou Tales Entertain Seniors, Kids

Ron Bryant
Bayou Tales Entertain Seniors, Kids
Fourth-graders stomp, boogie at The Haven on Friday
By CHANTE DIONNE WARREN for 2TheAdvocate
 
A 1930s high school football star, Bobby Hebert, 89, created a “buzz” in his  retirement community’s dining hall Friday when he joined a cast of singing and dancing insects, animals and plants.

Wearing red plastic lips, black antenna and a striped honey bee costume, Hebert played the role in true fashion.

“I’m buzzing around and willing to make a fool of myself. Anything for a laugh,” said Hebert, who took part in a traveling author’s storytelling performance Friday at The Haven at Windemere independent/assisted living facility on YMCA Plaza Street.

But most attention was directed toward the stage where 48 Dunham School fourth-graders performed the swamp rabbit stomp and the lightning bug boogie, all the while dancing and singing as alligators, bunnies, turtles, insects and plants.

The characters are all part of Monroe author and educator Dee Scallan’s books.

“Way down south in bayou land, all the alligators form the band,” sang Scallan, 64, and a half dozen alligator-headed students who played imaginary guitars and saxophones.

Scallan’s tours at schools and other venues throughout the state, provide an opportunity for her characters to educate children about events, animals, insects and other things native to Louisiana, she said.

The visit is also a part of Dunham students’ regular trips to meet with Haven residents, Dunham teacher Pam Fletcher said.

“The residents light up when they see a little child who is eager to speak to and listen to them and just show them some attention.” said Jill McConathy, activity director at the Haven.

The star of the show, Moby Pincher, “the largest most kindhearted crawfish in the South,” said Scallan, appeared in a bright, orange crawfish costume, played by Scallan’s husband, Beep Scallan.

Dee Scallan’s 12-year-old illustrator, Daniel Myers, a Dutchtown Middle student, sketched drawings for students following the performance.

Following the stage performance, students asked residents questions about their childhood.

Hebert told Hannah Papizan, 9, about his position playing halfback on the Catholic High football team in the 1930s. “I made a 95-yard touchdown in 1938, the year I graduated,” he said.

Hebert is recorded in Catholic High School football history as having made the longest touchdown punt return.

Papizan talked with about a dozen more residents. “I learned a lot of stuff. When they were little they didn’t have TVs. They had to make their own toys. They didn’t have computers,” Papizan said. “I think that’s cool. I think they had a good imagination.”

Resident Blanche Dykes, 85, told Maggie Boudreaux, 9, about her life growing up on a Mississippi farm.

“I milked cows and picked cotton,” Dykes said.

Eighty-two-year-old resident Jerri McCoy, who portrayed a dragon fly, told several children what it was like growing up with a father who worked on railroads.

“I went to 13 different schools in different cities throughout Louisiana,” McCoy said.

Scallan told students a bit about her work. She recently returned from Disney’s Epcot Center in Florida where she performed for children. She also visits schools throughout the state for about a week at a time to help students produce, edit, illustrate and write a book on their own.

“This work makes me happy. It’s rewarding because I love children and Louisiana. With arts programs being cut out … it’s a joy putting arts back into the schools,” she said.