"Dreams of A Veteran"

"Legacy of the Boudreaux and Gary Hardware Store"

Spirit of Erath Centennial Series

         As World War II came to a close in 1945, many families mourned the loss of veterans. While some were laid to rest, many soldiers returned home to face uncertain futures. The majority of them returned home, different men. For some, surviving the war brought a new sense of hope and renewal, which helped them face his future head on. Erath soldier, Dewey Boudreaux Sr. returned with a dream in his heart and hopes of a bright future.
 

       Just before the turn of the century, Arthur Derouen, a brother to Dr. Joe Kibbe's wife Pauline, opened a dry goods store. Later, Adolph Derouen, (Pauline Derouen Kibbe's younger brother) and his son Conrad Derouen Sr., purchased land from Patrick O'Toole. (0' Toole was one of Erath's original land owners). In 1912, the Derouen's built a general merchandise store on West Lastie Street.

       When Derwey Boudreaux Sr. left to serve in World War II, a verbal agreement for the sale of the Derouen Merchandise Store was formed between the proprietor and the young soldier. It was decided that upon return of the war, Boudreaux would purchase Derouen's business. As an aging businessman, Derouen was ready to sell. That, coupled with the grief of losing his only son Conrad "Snookie" Derouen, during World War II, made Derouen more than willing to sell.

      Following the war, Boudreaux then asked his brother in law, B. J. "Boy" Gary to be his partner in this new business venture and Gary agreed. Dewey Boudreaux Sr. and his brother in law, B. J. "Boy" Gary, two returning WW II veterans, bought the store from Derouen.

       The purchase took place in April of 1946. The building then took the shape of a hardware store. A grand opening was held with the "Happy Fats" French band performing in April 1946. The brother in law duo remained partner s of the store from 1946 until Boudreaux's death in 1974.

      "Boy" Gary was a brother to Boudreaux's wife, Evelyn. Their parents were Mr. and Mrs. Fils Gary of Erath. B. J. "Boy" Gary and his wife the former Mae Lois Oube, had two children, Baron and Greta. Dewey Boudreaux Sr. and his wife, the former Evelyn Gary, also had two children, Dewey Boudreaux Jr. and Juanita Boudreaux (Guerin). Evelyn Gary Boudreaux was an Erath elementary school teacher for thirty four years. After Dewey Boudreaux Sr. passed away on February 2, 1974. "Boy" Gary continued to run the business until December 31, 1989. "Boy" Gary died on November 30, 1995.

      At almost ninety years old, the building constructed by the Derouen's in 1912, remains in use at 114 West Lastie today. As one of Erath's oldest buildings, this particular structure has seen different businesses and faces through the past eighty nine years of it's life. This unique building has withstood floods, hurricanes, and a great many struggles. If in reality these historic walls could talk, one can only imagine the stories that could be passed on to the next generation of residents. As a returning veteran of a horrendous war, Dewey Boudreaux Sr. returned home from WW II, with a sense of renewal and hope. Hope that generated the evolution of the "Boudreaux and Gary Hardware Store." It was a dream that was able to transcend obstacles and struggles through the years. It was a dream that found a path that led to the reality of a successful business. It was dream that began in the heart of a determined veteran.

Spirit of Erath Articles (Keys to the Past Series)

Written by Stacy Bodin, Erath's 100th Anniversary Erath Centennial Historian (1999)

A Special Thank You goes out to Attorney Warren Perrin;
 the Acadian Museum in Erath;
Kermit Bouillion;
Curney Dronet, (Erath Author);
the Abbeville Meridional (Local Newspaper);
(The late) Clement Bourgeois Jr., (Erath Historian);
John LeBlanc (Town Official);
The 1999 Centennial President Jackie Vincent;
Robert Vincent (Acadiana Museum Director);
and my parents Larson "Cap" and Gertie Hebert Bodin
who assisted me in my research in this project.

The articles presented in memory of
Relie LeBlanc III
whose enthusiasm and love of Erath
inspires me still today in my quest of
researching and writing about our community. 
His "Unity in the Community" motto
will forever remain in my heart.

Photo of LeBlanc is
Courtesy of Dickie Durr's Thrifty Way of Abbeville

Questions or comments?
Email Stacy Bodin

Erath Map (MapQuest)

Erath July 4th Celebration
The Acadian Museum in Erath, Louisiana

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