A New Direction
Lee turned over to Roy Usey Jr. the responsibility of writing the contracts for the rentals. It was expected that Auggie Mura would assist him, however, Auggie had a serious neck injury. Roy is my uncle, so he approached me (Michael Haskins) about joining the American Legion and helping him with the rentals. I joined and my second meeting saw me elected as post adjutant.
For the next twenty months, post 350’s hall was turned into a fine rental hall. With few exceptions, Roy and myself worked the events until Roy was diagnosed with lung cancer. After surgery, Roy has had a full recovery. Nick England assisted with the cleaning of the hall after the events. The last six months of our rentals found only me to write the contracts and work the events. We had to hire outside help to do the cleaning. It was obvious that we could not go on much longer because we did not have the help to work the events. Sometimes we would have three major events a weekend. Business was booming.
Post 350’s hall was a popular place for weddings. Other events were birthday parties, school graduation parties, baby showers, retirement parties, office holiday parties, social club dances, and civil service testing. The Greater New Orleans Tea Party began meeting monthly there after they were formed. One party to remember was one that had me far out of my comfort zone. lt was a lesbian wedding and party. Ninety percent of the attendees were cross dressers. (often I could not tell what sex they really were). The highlight of the evening was a female impersonator contest followed by a half a dozen drag queens dancing wildly to close out the party.
The election of the veterans club in 2009 brought together a new group that would accomplish much. The new president Russell Totora, John Peppo as vice president, Roy Usey Jr. as secretary/treasurer, and board members Rene Juneau, Jay Werner and Lee Cox began working with a commercial real estate agent in finding a tenant to rent the hall. The next veterans club election added Eddie Davis, Michael Haskins, and Robert (Bob) Chatelain to the board. Bob is a retired attorney and he has helped the post greatly with lease negotiations and is still helping us get our paperwork in order. A special thanks to Bob.
After each month’s meeting, a work party met the day after to mow the grass and remove the overgrown foliage growing at the back of the property. They were Russell Totora, Rene Juneau, Roy Usey, Michael Haskins and sometimes Jay Werner. Roy and Rene began to construct the first part of the fence that was at the property’s edge. The neighbors were delighted. A fence company completed it. The fence now stood forty years after the fence holes were made into the parking lot.
The hiring of a commercial agent was a smart move. After several unsuccessful attempts, a tenant was found and the back building was rented. The rentals were now becoming overbearing. How long would it take to find a tenant for post 350’s hall?
One day Russell received a telephone call from Bob Stevens (the real estate agent). Their executive board wanted to meet with our executive board to discuss the possibility of leasing our hall. Our fingers were crossed.