For 107-year-old Myrle Rivoult Hebert Ostergren, life in the mid-1930s was full of changes, including one encounter that changed the course of her life.
After dropping out of LSU because of his father’s unemployment, Marley commuted to Port Allen every day to work for the State Department of Human Services. At the time, she was also dating many young men.
One of those men was Roy Anthony Hebert, who lived in Plaquemine. They dated, but she then met Eldred Sterry from Opelousas, who had money and a big car.
“He fixed teeth for my whole family,” Merle said. “After a while we got engaged and he gave me a ring.
“But one day my sister Nell said I don’t love Eldred, she loves Roy,” she said. She said, “She realized she was right and had to give her ring back.”
Merle said Roy is the love of her life.
After she and Sterry broke up, dating resumed, and on June 16, 1938, they were led to the altar when she married Roy at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Brasserie.
The wedding was nothing fancy, but I remember the $25 check I received from the Poydras Foundation. The Poydras Fund is a dowry fund that Julian Delaland Her Poydras started in 1824 for her West Baton bride of her Rouge parish.
“I used that money to buy a sofa,” she said.
Roy majored in civil engineering at LSU, but retired in 1934 during his senior year. He became a registered land surveyor in Kansas City where he found his job at the Bridge Corporation manufacturing plant.
They rented a small house in Bruceley owned by Cecil Peavy, the head of the Department of Human Services.
Merle and Roy had not lived in Brasserie very long when they purchased a shotgun house on Merriam Street, Plaquemine. Her two-bedroom home, with electricity and a phone, was a step forward for Myrle.
She gave birth to her daughter Diane in January 1942 and added a second bedroom in 1946 for her son Ronnie.
“Roy was a very devoted father,” Merle said. “He never denied his children.”
During World War II, her older brother Harry served in the Marine Corps and fought in Trinidad, while her younger sister joined the Women’s Auxiliary Corps.
She often helped her mother when she was away, but other than that, Mare’s life didn’t change much during World War II.
Roy continued working for the Kansas City Bridge Company, building military boats and drawbridges. He was classified as “essential support” because his employer supported the war effort.
Life wasn’t easy during the war, Merr said.
“Throughout the war, we had to be thrifty…Food and supplies were limited and rationed, and we were only allowed one pound of coffee a month,” she said. said. “On the bright side, America is truly united and its people did everything to support the war effort.”
Frugal years brought great prosperity to many Americans after the war. Roy and Marle were no exception.
In early 1946, he founded Hebert Brothers Engineering & General Contractors with his brother Hiram, an electrical engineer.
Engineering firms were busy building sewers and sewage schemes, along with drainage lines and pumping stations for cities and towns.
The following year, Solvay, where Roy’s brother Omar was working, moved saltwater from the Choctaw Salt Dome from Iberville Parish to Port Allen and built a pipeline to produce chlorine across the Mississippi River to the Solvay plant in Baton Rouge. asked for cooperation.
An LSU graduate and civil engineer, Omar joined Hebert Brothers in 1956 when Dow Chemical’s Louisiana division built the Plachemin facility.
Merle and Roy moved into a house on Elm Street in 1948. They were devout members of the St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, and Mar joined the Plaquemine Garden Club at its 1955 inauguration.
“I’ve won ‘Best Yards’ five times over the years,” she said.
They also participated in two Plaquemine Mardi Gras crews, Le Krewe du Roi (1965) and Krewe of Okeanos (1979). Besides the Plaquemine Carnival Ball, they attended the Mardi Gras celebrations in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Merle said she loved her social life and always enjoyed throwing parties for her married friends and children.
She also liked playing bridge and poker. Their poker club consisted of Church and Gloria Pendleton, Yves and Vera Ramirez, Joe and Naomi Marix, Jake and Marie Dupuy, Edwin and Dot Dupuy, Thomas and Polly Tilkitt.
One of her closest friends was Mavis Ocmand.
“We were known as the best bridge players in Iberville Parish,” says Myrle. “We played almost every day and were always social…we were enjoying life.”
They won the statewide double bridge tournament in New Orleans in 1956.
When the Plaquemine Bowling Alley opened on La. 1 South in 1960, Myrle also got into bowling.
“During the day we were bowling as part of the women’s league, and at night Roy and I were in the couples league,” she recalls.
We also enjoyed dining at City Café Plaquemine. Her favorite Baton Rouge venues include The Village, Mike & Tony’s, Jack Sabin’s Steaks, Hopper’s Drive-In, the original Piccadilly on Third Street, Landry’s Seafood on Airline Highway, and Giamanico’s on Government.
Roy and Marle were also avid sports fans. They have been to the World Series many times and Mickey Mantle was a favorite player.
Another favorite moment was in 1957 when Warner Bros. was filming “Band of Angels” in the Plachemin/Baton Rouge area.
“One Sunday, Roy, Ronnie, Diane and I saw Clark Gable eating at the Village,” she said. Diane and Ronnie got his autograph on a small piece of paper…they thought it was the best thing ever.
They also enjoyed a trip to the East Coast to visit their sister Nell in New Jersey.
Myrle’s favorite trip was to the Hebert family’s camp on the Grand Isle. Her favorite events included the Tarpon Her Rodeo, America’s oldest fishing her rodeo.
She was also active in scouting both Diane and Ronnie.A trip to the National Boy Scout Jamboree held at Colorado Springs and Philmont Ranch included an opportunity to meet President Dwight Eisenhower.
Merle and Roy remained active until Roy’s sudden death on August 12, 1978.
“I was shocked,” she said. “Just the week before, his doctor told him he was fine.”
It took her a while to get over her husband’s death, but traveling and staying busy helped the healing process.
Married Clancy Ostergren in 1989. He lived from her in a few houses down her street. He was awarded the Purple Heart Medal in World War II.
“Clancy was so kind to my family and to me that the whole family immediately became attached to Clancy,” she said.
They played cards, went to the movies, and traveled. Their favorite destinations included Biloxi, Ocean Springs and Las Vegas.
Her favorite entertainers include Wayne Newton and Frank Sinatra, the latter of whom gave her autographs.
“I love Las Vegas, though it’s a lot different now,” she said. “If you don’t go out to play, there’s no point.
Clancy developed emphysema in 2002 and died on January 25 of that year.
Her caretaker, Thomas Sunil, has been her bodyguard and guardian for over fifty years.
“He’s a great guy with a lot of patience who makes my life easier,” she said.
Myrle is still an avid sports fan. She loves her NASCAR and her favorite racer is Jeff Gordon.
She is also a soccer fan. She doesn’t particularly like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but she loves Tom Brady.
“I heard he just got divorced…I’m glad to know that,” she quipped.
Marley continued to drive until he was 100 and still enjoys life. She thinks that’s the secret to her longevity. “If you don’t have fun, there’s no point in being on Earth,” she said. “Besides that, I didn’t do anything to live this long… It just so happened that the Lord chose me to live so long.”