New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Margie Vicknair-Pray's Memories of Bucktown

I have fond memories of the lake, having grown up in the "East End" of Jefferson. My mother (Margie Lapuyade Vicknair) refused to let us say that we lived in Bucktown since we were one of the first houses just outside its semi-official boundaries. I attended East End School which is now the site of endless apartment houses off Lake Avenue, and was baptized at St. Louis King of France - the old white wooden church. My mother attended school at the Bucktown schoolhouse, which later became "Ralph Schultz's Fresh Hardware". She lived on a dairy farm up on Bonnabel (which was still a shell road alongside a canal when I was a kid). Her father (Sidney Lapuyade) owned the Western Star Dairy and also rented skiffs to the city folk (his brother "Uncle Pat", had the Eastern Star Dairy). Their house was right on the lake in the area of the Bonnabel Boat Launch - but of course, the area of their home has been covered with fill for the boat launch and park area. Her older brother saved the lives of people on several occasions when they were caught in the lake in a sudden storm. He was a tough fisherman and was named the first "King of Bucktown" when that tradition was started. He lived all his adult life in his home on Bonnabel (on part of my grandfather's old dairy farm) but kept a Lafitte Skiff down in the 17th Street Canal for most of his life. And I remember Veterans Highway pre highway! Vets was also a two-lane shell road on the lakeside of a canal and Causeway was a levee. My grandfather bemoaned the building of Lakeside shopping center complaining that his best deer hunting territory was being ruined. In fact, his younger brother was struck by lightning and killed while they were deer hunting. He told me that the spot where my great uncle had died was right about where Vets and Bonnabel come together now! There were Indian mounds all over the area. One huge one was right about where Clifford Drive comes into West Esplanade. There were skulls and pottery and arrow heads to be found there. There was also a point, now covered by the big levee and bikepath fill, that we called Indian Point. It jutted out into the lake a few blocks east of Bonnabel and was a treasure trove of arrow heads and pottery pieces. I have so many great memories of the lake - summer nights ...pre air-conditioning... packing up the whole family and deserting the oven-like house. We would go out to the lakefront seawall and handline fish and put out crab nets. When we kids tired, Mom would have blankets to lie on and pillows for our heads and we fell asleep to the seagulls cries and the wash of the waves. They bundled us back into the car and home at some wee hour of the morning when the house had cooled to 80 degrees! It was a great life.
Margie Vicknair-Pray
Covington, LA