On Wednesday, February 5, a large group of local seniors filled the Town of Addis Museum, delving through photos and memorabilia collected around the Addis area, and reminiscing about “the good ol’ days.”
West Baton Rouge Senior Spirit toured the local museum – a welcomed short travel distance for the group that has taken numerous out-of-state tours in its short existence.
“People don’t know about (the Addis musem) enough, and so when they saw an opportunity to come all at one time, that’s what they did,” said Babs Babin, 69, Senior Spirit Co-coordinator. “They loved it. It’s in their backyard – yet they haven’t ever been here.”
Babin said that groups of people involved in Senior Spirit get together often to play cards and participate in other small activities, but tours only happen every so-often – and a local tour was a treat for many.
Lucy Landry, 68, Senior Spirit Co-coordinator, agreed.
“We schedule events that are educational and cultural, and we may travel to do that - to other spots like Mississippi or Texas or even Alabama. However today we wanted to focus on something very local,” Landry said Wednesday afternoon. “We wanted to discover a little more of what was in the Addis museum and open it up to people who may not have experienced it before.”
Rodney Lousteau, 78, Addis native who lives in Hartford, Conn., was one who had never been to the Addis museum. He said that he remembered the building that now houses the museum, but he always remembered it being empty.
“This museum is terrific,” he said. “It helps old people like us hang on to the old memories.”
Lousteau, who graduated from Brusly High School in 1953 and whose father was a principal at BHS, said that the items, as well as the friendly faces he saw in the museum reminded him of his childhood growing up in Addis.
“Just to see the people I knew in my childhood and I graduated with,” he reminisced. “It brings back so many memories. I think this was a very good idea.”
David Fontenot, 72, of Brusly, said that he, too, thought visiting Addis was a great idea. Fontenot retired from Union-Pacific Railroads after nearly 40 years with the company.
“When this depot opened up here, I was one of the first ones that worked here,” Fontenot said as he pointed in a faint direction showing where the old depot was. “Seeing all the old pictures, seeing all the railroad memorabilia and things like that – it brought back a lot of memories. Seeing pictures of people you used to worked with; It meant a lot. Old memories, friends and stuff – you know a lot of these people we travel with now and stuff like that, with the Senior Spirit, it’s nice.”
Babin said that Senior Spirit began about five years ago as a grassroots organization that simply discussed the idea of getting seniors together and doing something.
“It kinda formulated through Lucy Landry and a group that plays Bridge in Brusly. We brought it to the (Brusly) mayor and talked about the idea of doing some things with seniors,” Babin said. “It’s to find new and different things, and old things that people haven’t done in a long time, to get together and do.”
Jim Charleville, 84, of Port Allen, said that he is grateful for the group, as it gives him and others his age something to do outside of home.
“It’s great. It’s like going to Disneyworld for us. It’s entertainment, and they’ve got so many different activities,” Charleville said. “TV gets old; sitting around the house… it’s good to get out.”
Which, according to Babin and Landry, is exactly the reason the organization exists today.
“Sometimes (senior citizens) don’t always have a lot to do on winter days. Some can’t get out and enjoy outdoors, but we can enjoy something inside,” Landry said, adding that she believes the Senior Spirit group is of great importance to the people it serves, as well as to the entire community of West Baton Rouge. “Memories are who we are… It always is inspirational to remember and to appreciate the foundation, and to appreciate the shoulders of those on whom that foundation stands.”