Ghost Of Dubie Past

By Henri Loridans
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small town usa


In the early 1960s I began my law practice in Northwest Louisiana in a town of approximately fifty thousand. We were in a much larger metropolitan area but our municipality retained much of its small town atmosphere. I won a couple of difficult cases and was invited by the primary real estate lawyer in town to join him. His real estate practice consumed all his time and he needed someone to take care of the miscellaneous legal problems of his clients and friends. My new partner was a lifetime native of the town, and was approximately twenty years older than I was.

His secretary was Dubie. Dubie had a weathered complexion, a scar on her cheek and rusty red hair that seldom visited a salon. Her explosive temper and colorful language required that her office be located in the far back corner of the building. I quickly learned what would set Dubie off, and we got along fine.

The established routine was that regular clients, the District Attorney, the bank president and other town dignitaries would frequently stop by to say hello around closing time. Someone would produce a bottle of Jim Beam or similar beverage, and all would congregate in Dubie’s office. She would dominate the conversations. There was great risk in contradicting her opinions. She would continue to draft real estate documents and at the same time she would consume her share of the Jim Beam.

As an unworldly young lawyer I was at a complete loss to understand. That is, until Dubie’s birthday came around. The office was filled with well wishers, birthday cake and upgraded Bourbon. Then someone produced some big photos of an eighteen year old rodeo queen. My puzzlement over Dubie’s mystique was solved. There was a ghost in the room, and it wasn’t Casper.

It was the vision of an eighteen year old rodeo queen. After looking past the crusty veneer I found a gem. I had a valued friend; a beauty with an acerbic but erudite wit. I learned much from her. I am frequently rewarded in finding more jewels by looking past superficial exteriors

I now live in a community with many ladies beyond retirement age. Those of my acquaintance have been touched, but not marred, by the years. They are beautiful and their conversations engaging. They radiate these qualities from the outside as well as the inside. I say this because it is true, not just because I happen to be married to one, a Southern Belle at that.


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