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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region.

< Back to Oral History project: Middendorf’s and Manchac

ORAL HISTORY

Lerline "Beauty" Rottman Gueldner


Rottman's Seafood Market

Lerline Rottman Gueldner says that the “town drunk” named her Beauty when she was small. It stuck—that’s the name she went by until she passed away in January 2015 at the age of eighty-three, just eight months after sitting down for this interview. Beauty moved to Manchac with her parents, Dennis and Jessie Belle, when she was six months old. First they lived in a palmetto shack, and then a railcar, and then a house on pylons, and finally in living quarters behind Rottman’s Seafood Market, which the family ran for about thirty-seven years (Beauty and her husband, David, took over when Dennis died in 1964). Work and play comingle in Beauty’s childhood memories. A “daddy’s girl,” she loved to follow Dennis through his workday, whether that meant calling on customers, meeting fishermen at the dock, butchering turtles, trapping otters, or eating lunch with Rottman’s staff of thirty employees. She recalls long summers spent in bathing suits and pirogues with little adult supervision, all-ages parties at Bill Williams’ dancehall with the Saltzman family band, and countless dinners of fried shrimp and gumbo at Middendorf’s Restaurant. In Manchac’s heyday as a fishing village, which Beauty said lasted from about 1945 to 1953, her family sourced seafood from roughly 120 local fishermen and had a standing contract with Campbell’s Soup Company to supply 1,000 pounds of meat per month for turtle soup.

Ms. Gueldner passed away January 11, 2015.

Date of interview:
2014-05-19

Interviewer:
Sara Roahen

Photographer:
Sara Roahen

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