Past and present meet on South Border Drive

Published 10:31 am Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Many of the events planned for Bogalusa’s Centennial celebration have truly been a labor of love, and on Sunday Bogalusa once again showed what dedication, planning, and hard work could accomplish. The South Border Drive Stroll Through the Past was the culmination of many hours of meticulous planning, and many braved the heat to enjoy this special event.

Opening comments and welcome were given by Debbie Bateman and Holly King, co-chairs of the day’s festivities. Next, Pastor Greg Whaley of First Baptist Bogalusa led the group in prayer followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Bogalusa Vocal Band, a barbershop quartet comprised of members of First Baptist Bogalusa, delighted the crowd with their rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.” The group’s members, Micah Collins, James Goff, Pat McGehee and the Rev. Greg Whaley looked the part in their white shirts and red bow ties and sang several other period songs during the course of the afternoon.

Mayor Charles Mizell spoke briefly of the dream of prosperity and promise of a bright future, which has been a guiding force from the earliest days of Bogalusa’s rich history. He spoke of the vision of Magic City’s early fathers and the tenacity and resiliency of her people. Mizell conveyed the city’s gratitude and appreciation to the homeowners by presenting each of them with a centennial flag. Bobby and Catherine Gerald, Billy Joe and Charlene Branch, and Leon and Phyllis Sampere all worked diligently to have their properties beautifully manicured for the afternoon’s festivities.

The young people of Anunciation Catholic School stole the show with their coronation presentation led by Tabitha Ezell. Dressed in period attire and on their best behavior in spite of the heat, these young people made their parents and community proud.

Grason Spurlock, son of Kim Spurlock, portrayed Charles Goodyear. According to his grandmother, Elaine Spur, Grayson came home from practice one day and exclaimed, “Nana, I got a wife!”, much to his granmother’s amusement.

Olivia Palmer, Bogalusa Paper Queen and daughter of Michelle and Wayne Palmer, represented her family and city well. Kate Pounds was beautiful Queen Lusa in a gown designed and created by Charlotte Hughes. All the young participants and their families helped to make this a memorable day.

Debbie Bateman shared closing remarks and encouraged the crowd to enjoy an afternoon of fun and fellowship.

The Geralds, current owners of the Sullivan home, hosted John Gallaspy showcasing his new book, “The City That Refused to Die,” along with other interesting speakers and topics.

Gayle McCants brought the skills she used for 37 years as a teacher to her outdoor classroom. McCants said she was dressed as an average housewife in the early years of Bogalusa’s history. She churned butter as they did years ago and drew her audience in to participate.

According to Charlene Branch, she and her husband are in their third renovation of the property that she lovingly calls home. The Branches have lived in the former home of Dr. Slaughter for 40 years. Slaughter was the first company doctor for the Great Southern Lumber Co. and saw patients in this home.

Branch said, “Dr. Slaughter’s wife was an invalid, and he installed an elevator so she could navigate the house. I wish it was still here, but unfortunately it was removed before we purchased the house.”

Visitors enjoyed antique cars parked along the side of the Branch’s home as they passed by.

Leon and Phyllis Sampere, owners of the Belton home, said the renovation of their property is a work in progress. They live at another location but love their historic old home. Delicious refreshments of lemonade and cookies were served from the expansive lawn while squeals of children’s laughter playing old-fashioned games rang out on this hot, summer afternoon in the Magic City.