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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.


Pete and Clara Gerica, fisherman/seafood purveyors

Laura Westbrook: I’m with Pete and Clara Gerica in their FEMA trailer at the site of their former home on Bayou Sauvage in New Orleans East. Pete and Clara rode out the storm in their home with their daughter Chris, who was home from LSU, and Pete’s mother Mrs. Gerica. The interviewer is Laura Westbrook and it’s November second. Clara, you were talking about what this neighborhood was like before the hurricane. What was it like to live here before the storms happened? What are you going to miss?

Clara Gerica: Oh, before the storms, to me this was heaven; that’s what I tell everybody. I’d go home and lock my gate and shut the rest of the world out. Right now, you can see the pelicans are starting. We’re going to get about fourty to fifty pelicans on our back pylons. We have a pet egret that comes all year long. She’s been looking for us ’cause she’s hungry. Blue heron sit on the back pole; it’s just—it’s beautiful—it was beautiful out here and it still is. I’d say probably seventy to eighty percent of the people out here is going to rebuild, because it’s so beautiful here.

You think?

CG: Oh yeah; well Charlie and Mary is already back. They’ve got a trailer on their lot so they can clear their land and rebuild. The next lady is not; we own these two and then the gentleman over there owns those two and he’s definitely coming back, you know. He’s in the construction business and he loves it out here.

Pete Gerica: The guy on the other side is a policeman and he was going to sell, but now if he gets his insurance he’s going to build a little camper and keep it.

CG: And then Hutch—Hutch ain’t leaving; his is the one with the barge across the front of his house. [Laughs] You know, until he’s gone and in his grave, he’s going to stay out here. He’s got a house in town and he had a trailer out here. The Lombards are staying.

PG: Jay with Parkway Bakery is going to stay.

CG: Yeah; his is the only house standing. He’s got a house and it looks like it had very minimal damage.

( Read the full interview by following the PDF link above )

Date of interview:
2005-11-03 00:00

Laura Westbrook, University of New Orleans


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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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