Cliff “Chachie” LeGrange
Editor, Co-author, Researcher, Underwriter
Cliff “Chachie” LeGrange retired from the Dow Chemical Company in 2008, after 35 years of service, holding the certified position of a Six Sigma Master Black Belt (i.e., Quality Improvement Leader) for Dow’s Global Purchasing function. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Education from Louisiana State University (LSU) where he also completed the LSU Quality Management Program. He is a senior member of the American Society of Quality where he holds three professional certifications, Certified Quality Engineer, Certified Quality Auditor, and Certified Reliability Engineer.
He currently helps his son Benjamin, who is the General Manager at Atchafalaya Crawfish Processing, LLC. in Henderson, La. Cliff works on a part-time basis as the Quality Assurance Manager for their crawfish tail meat processing operation and as manager of the ACP, LLC Bayou Pigeon Dock.
Cliff is a husband, father, and grandfather. He married his cajun bride from Bayou Pigeon, Diane Solar, in 1968. They have three sons; Brent, Brandon and Benjamin LeGrange, three grandsons; Micah, Colin and Brady LeGrange, and a beautiful granddaughter; Lola Rose LeGrange, all who spend lots of time with him.
He remains active in the American Society of Quality Section 1521 in Baton Rouge, where he facilitates workshops and seminars on the Quality Management body of knowledge. He served as a member of the parochial school board for St. John the Evangelist Catholic School when his children attended St. John’s in Plaquemine. He is a current member and past president of the St. John Fathers Club, which supports the athletic program at St. John Inter-Parochial School System.
He is an avid outdoorsman/sportsman. He is a charter member and the current Chairman of the Board of the Catfish Hunting Club, Inc. of Bayou Pigeon, La., a member of the National Rifle Association and the Boone and Crockett Club of America. He has been hunting and fishing in the Central Atchafalaya Basin since the 1963. He has been involved with the Atchafalaya Basin Landowners and the LW&F in improving the quality of the hunting and fishing in the basin since the early 1970’s.
He is known by many of his Bayou Pigeon life-long friends as the go-to guy about the history of the Atchafalaya Basin. By his professional/work friends he is to referred as “Chachie of the Atchafalaya.” He is a licensed alligator hunter in the State of Louisiana and, he says, a seriously addicted deer hunter.
“My personal story relative to Bayou Pigeon, began when my parents moved our family from Baton Rouge (6 kids at the time) to Bayou Pigeon in early 1959. 10 years before that, my dad, with his siblings had established camps for hunting, fishing and boating in Bayou Pigeon and got to know some of the local people at Bayou Pigeon, particularly those around the Indigo Bayou area.
In 1958, my dad had been involved in a major layoff at the Ethyl Corporation, a petro chemical plant in Baton Rouge and was looking for a new start. I don’t have a good explanation of why, he chose to buy the “Indigo Inn”, aka., The “End of the World” from Mr. Aurelian Berthelot, other than he loved going to Bayou Pigeon on the weekends. The Indigo Inn was a grocery store, bar room and dance hall. My dad, with me tagging along, remodeled it himself and opened for business in 1959.
At 9, I was the oldest child, and living in Bayou Pigeon was very different from my life in Baton Rouge, it was a significant cultural shock, more so for me than my younger siblings, because I was old enough to understand the differences in the culture, that I left behind and the new culture at Bayou Pigeon.
Obviously, the most significant cultural shock was that the people spoke a different language and I could not understand any of it. When my new friends wanted to say something and did not want me to know, they would just begin speaking in Cajun French.
We lived at the end of Hwy. 75, the “End of the World" as it was called. The school bus route started there every morning; we were the first kids on the school bus in the morning and last off every afternoon. Having the choice of seats, I would always go the last seat and sit next to the window, where I could have a good view of everything. Highway 75 was built on an old levee so the houses were always lower than the road, plus the bus made it higher as well. It was like you were always looking at a big picture from the school bus. It was not long before I knew every house and family on Bayou Pigeon.
At that time, life for the people of Bayou Pigeon still revolved around the Atchafalaya Swamp’s yearly cycle of natural events to make a living. Primarily, commercial fishing, craw fishing, frogging, crabbing, alligator hunting, fur trapping, and moss picking and turtles. A lot of the old folks / families did not have cars, but everyone had a boat and most of them more than one boat.
I would see houseboats, occasional putt putt boats, row boats with oars, bateaus & skiffs with outboard motors, pirogues, hoop nets, net poles, crawfish traps, crab traps, moss curing, fur traps, frog nets, cypress logs, fish docks, etc. It was totally new to me and I was absorbing every bit of it. I grew up immersed in this culture and came to love the Atchafalaya Swamp. As a result, I became an avid hunter and fisherman of the Atchafalaya.
In the early 1970’s at L.S.U.; I came across a new book at the time, ‘Atchafalaya Swamp Life: Settlement and Folk Occupations. Geoscience and Man 2. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge' by Malcolm Comeaux. My copy of that book shows that I purchased it in 1973. At the time I did not recognize it for what it would become, ie., ground breaking research documenting on the folk life of the Atchafalaya Basin. All I knew was that it explained and put in writing everything I saw in Bayou Pigeon. With my personal experiences , living in Bayou Pigeon, hunting and being outdoors in the Atchafalaya most every weekend during my early adult life and using Malcolm Comeaux’s book as the academic explanation of the folk life ways, I grew up with, I made myself more knowledgeable and conversant in the history and folk life ways of the Atchafalaya Basin . This made me more knowledgeable about the physical landscape , environmental and economical changes that were occurring in the Atchafalaya Basin.
In 1985, le Comite’ des Archives de la Louisiane’, a state sponsored history book program, published a history of Iberville Parish, Authors: Riffel, Judy Author: Perkins, Arthur PUBLISHER: Comit� des archives de la Louisiane (Baton Rouge, La. and Dallas, Tex.) SERIES TITLE: YEAR: 1985 PUB TYPE: Book (ISBN 0881070343) VOLUME/EDITION: PAGES (INTRO/BODY): 373 p. SUBJECT(S): Iberville Parish (La.); History; Biography; Genealogy.
I was interested in that book, because it included an excerpt from a Social Sciences essay on the “Abandonment of the Atchafalaya Swamp”, by my son Brandon and his friend Ben Hebert. My son, 10 years old at the time, needed some guidance, so I helped him a quite a bit on the paper. The research came entirely from Dr. Comeaux’s book. There was something funny about that work on the History of Iberville Parish. Though almost 400 pages long and mentioning something about every town, village and or hamlet in Iberville Parish. The term, Bayou Pigeon, was mentioned only once and only and as a short sentence about the Baptist Church in Plaquemine and that they had a new Mission Church at Bayou Pigeon.
That slight has always bothered me, because while growing up there, we always felt that the kids from town looked downed on the kids from “down the bayou” and on the surface this looked liked another manifestation of that. Although, I do not believe that. More than likely it was an inadvertent oversight.
In, 2001, the spouse of my wife's uncle and parrain, Ms. Vivian Hebert Landry Solar dictated her autobiography to her son that was published in 2001. Vivian gave Diane and I a signed copy. Her story was unique, as it was also a synopsis of early Cajun folk life at Bayou Pigeon. It was so interesting, I read it straight through without putting it down. It presented on a personal level, a snapshot of Bayou Pigeon folk life from the 1930’s to 1960’s, a part of Bayou Pigeon, I did not know.
Vivian’s book motivated me to want to document my experiences in Bayou Pigeon and in the Atchafalaya Basin. I told my wife that upon my retirement from working at the Dow Chemical Company that I was going to write a book about the History of Bayou Pigeon. This book is a result of that thought.
In this effort, I formed a team to provide the most accurate history of Bayou Pigeon possible. On this journey our team found a Bayou Pigeon that many people do not know about and without this work would never know. I believe most who read this book are going to say, “ Wow, I did not know that!”
There are so many people to thank for helping on this endeavor, please read the list of names of all the people who played a part in this research.
Special thanks to my co-authors, Adam Landry, Cherry Settoon, Jimmy Landry, Patricia L. Settoon for editing and Mr. Stan Routh who can take a conversation and turn it into a picture providing so much more impact than a paragraph. He can truly make a picture worth a thousand words!
A very special thanks to my “Cajun” bride, Diane Solar LeGrange, who put up with thousands of long hours of research (years) and hundreds of questions about Bayou Pigeon and finally to the people of Bayou Pigeon, Thanks for the Memories and enjoy!”