Friday, April 1, 2011
HAROLD FERGUSON BAYONNE
Harold Ferguson Bayonne, Sr., the only son of Carrie Taylor and Theodore Ferguson Bayonne, was born at home in New Orleans at 2000 Delechaise St. on July 29, 1920. He also lived on Amelia St and at 3212 Dixie Court during his teen years.
"Happy," a nickname given to him by his mother, attended Thomy Lafon and J.W. Hoffman Elementary Schools and McDonough 35 High School. As a teenager, he shined shoes and delivered medicine for K& B Drug Store. Harold attended Xavier University but dropped out in his sophomore year due to financial difficulties.
Harold F. Bayonne married Augusta "Gussie" Hicks on November 19, 1940 and together they had five children: Patricia, Jacqueline, Annette, Carol and Harold, Jr. Harold worked as a deliveryman and enrolled in classes at night to become a welder. When WWII began, he was a certified welder and was offered and accepted a job at the Norfolk Shipyard in Virginia. Harold rented a duplex in Portsmouth, Virginia and Gussie and children joined him when Jackie was five weeks old. Gladys, Gussie's sister, came along to help with the children. They returned to New Orleans in 1945 and Harold joined them when the war ended. He began working with Gussie's father, Nace, as an apprentice carpenter.
The Bayonnes lived with Harold's mother in the early 1950's until Dixie Court was demolished to make room for a school. The family stayed briefly with the Hicks at 3305 Third Street and in one large room on Prieur Street which was owned by one of Harold's friends. With financial assistance from his mother, Harold purchased a lot in Jefferson Parish in an undeveloped area with no electricity or water. Trees had to be cut before Harold and friends could began building the house. As soon as it was framed and the weather stripping was put on, the Bayonnes moved in. It was years before the house was completely finished and even longer before water, gas and electricity were installed. Although living like pioneers, the family was very happy.
Dad enjoyed crabbing and crawfishing. He is known for his spicy seafood boils which was so hot that lips would swell. The seafood boils contained a lot of cayenne, so much that the house would reek for hours after cooking. We cried and sneezed but it did not stop us from eating! Eventually we got relief when the seafood boils were cooked outside. Harold loved to hunt and he had a great sense of humor. One time in order to get Mom to cook a muskrat in her pot, he told her it was a prarie squirrel. When he wasn't fishing or hunting, he read Western novels. Harold loved to watch Mardi Gras Indians and party with his favorite sister-in-law, Wilma, who he called Bill. He was a master gardner who planted jalapeno and green peppers, corn, okra, tomatoes and chayote squash.
After the family moved to Jefferson Parish, Harold developed asthma which is believed to be the results of working around asbestos during the WWII. He suffered upper respiratory problem due to collapsed lungs caused by an auto accident. In the early 1980s he developed diabetes. Harold was chronically ill about 10 years before he passed on August 4, 1994 from congested heart failure.