My Daddy – Nolan Andrew Matherne
Anatole and Manilia Aydell Matherne had four sons named Nolan, Clifford, Albert, and Ray. Nolan, the oldest, was my daddy. He was born on March 4, 1912 during a time when hard work and natural resources were an important part of daily living. When Nolan was a teenager, he as sent to live with Grandpa D’Aquin to help him at his place. He learned from his parents and grandparents many skills necessary to provide for his family such as how to farm, hunt, fish, and trap.
Nolan married Donnis Jones on May 5, 1934. Then he went to work at Leo Cambre’s Sawmill and learned the lumber trade. In March 1941, he got a job as a machinist at Standard Oil Refinery (now known as Exxon) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Nolan, Donnis, my older sister Margaret, and I moved to the city. In 1950, we moved to Walker, Louisiana. With the help of friends and family, he built our home on five acres of land purchased from his cousin. The family now included my sister Karen and my brother Gary. A few years later my sister Frances was born. Since we were back in the country, Nolan could farm again while continuing to work a forty-hour week at the plant.
When I was about twelve years old, I loved to help my daddy in the garden. I would also help him feed the chickens and pick up eggs. I was glad when Daddy would allow me to go squirrel hunting with him. My job was to shake the vines so the squirrels would move around for a good shot. Then I would pick up the squirrels and put them in the hunting sack. After returning home, I would hold their hind feet so Daddy could skin them. Then Mom would cook them up to eat better than anyone else. I also went rabbit hunting with my Daddy. We would hunt rabbits at night in the cemetery by our house. I later learned that hunting rabbits at night was illegal but Daddy never got caught.
Nolan was a sports fan throughout his life. He played basketball at French Settlement High School and always claimed he could run faster than any boy in town. He liked to watch Major League Baseball on television and would read the sports page every morning for the latest scores.
Nolan liked to tell a story about a time in his early twenties. He said he would hobo on trains with a few other men. Being able to run fast was very important during this time. Not only did it help him catch the train but also to jump off the train. He explained that if you didn’t keep running when you jumped off, the men who jumped after you would land on your head. Nolan would laugh when he reminisced about his wild days as a hobo.
Nolan retired from Standard Oil Refinery in 1974 after thirty-two years and eleven months of service. In 1982, Nolan and Donnis moved to French Settlement, Louisiana. They celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary on May 5, 1984. Nolan died in June, 200 due to Alzheimer’s disease. He and Donnis had five children, nineteen grandchildren, and twenty-five great grandchildren at that time.
Although Daddy was always busy, he still found time to joke, tease, and make you laugh. He enjoyed every family get-together especially our annual Christmas party. After his retirement, he spent most of his time in his garden. He loved to be outdoors working the land. I’m glad to share these memories about my daddy with you. I hope you realize what a great person he was and that I’m very proud of him. I miss him greatly.
Joyce Matherne Forbes