Six reasons not to drink and drive
Special to The Record
The 1950s was a memorable time. It was an era that can never be matched. Our generation loved music, dancing and listening to artist that are now legends. “We would rather dance that eat.” We really enjoyed ourselves and had great times, drinking coke and not booze.
Mixing drinking and driving can be tragic, like the night six young people died when I was in high school.
I can remember the evening of Nov. 9, 1954 like it was yesterday. Joyce Scott, came by my house. Joyce was a good friend. Her family was poor, but Joyce studied hard to make good grades and do something with her life. She really wanted to make a difference.
I can still remember how thrilled she was to show off her engagement ring to my mom (Matilda Webb) and myself. Joyce told us Sidney was 23. His being older didn’t seem to bother her. Joyce was 16 and a junior in high school. She was a twirler in the Bengal Guards and in love.
Mom felt like Joyce was family and asked where Sidney worked. He was employed by Sears. Joyce told us proudly that he had graduated from Bishop Byrne High School, had served three years in the Marine Corps, and was stationed in Japan for 15 months. He was also a member of St. Mary Catholic Church, where Joyce also attended. They were planning a Catholic wedding.
Joyce, told me they were all going to Carl’s Night Club which was located on State Highway 69 in Nederland. Joyce wanted me to go with them, but my mom said, “It’s Tuesday and a school night, and besides that, it is really foggy.” She would not let me go. Joyce then asked me, if she could borrow my leather jacket. She often borrowed my clothes and spent many a night at our house. Like I said, she was family.
I gave her the jacket and walked outside to the car with her.
She introduced me to Sidney and of course I knew everyone else, Janelle Tucker and Norma Jackson were in the Bengal Guards with me. I remember seeing Mickey Dionne around, but really did not know him that well.
Norma, a senior in school, was a very special friend of mind, we ran around together a lot. She was sitting in the back of the car.
The automobile, a white 1950 sedan, belonged to Mickey but Sidney was driving.
Around 1-1:30 a.m. the phone rang. My mother answered. The officer at the other end told mom they were very sorry to tell her that her daughter had been killed in a tragic car accident. He said my body was thrown from the vehicle. Part of my body was on one side of the road according to the officer; the remaining parts of my body were on the other side, badly mangled. Mom told him that I was at home, safe and sound. She checked to confirm that I was in bed asleep. Mom was so upset she told the officer he was lucky if she didn’t sue; but, she was so upset she couldn’t remember the officer’s name.
The next morning when I arrived at school and walked into my classroom Joy Beth McGee, Tina Hennigan, Nancey Black and a few others screamed. I think Joy Beth fainted. I didn’t understand what was going on, then Tina told me KOGT announced I had been killed in a car accident. My ID was in the pocket of the jacket I loaned to Joyce. That’s where the mix up came from.
The performance of the Bengal Guards the Friday after Joyce and Janelle were killed was one of the most touching performances in the history of the Bengal Guards. In memory of Joyce Scott and Janell Tucker, Mrs. and Mr. J.P. Cerminaro,the directors, spotlighted the positions where the girls were missing. Every member of the Bengal Guards had tears in their eyes; as did most of the people in the stadium.
Researching the incident led me to call Charles Brevell, one of the survivors. He owns Brevell Barber Shop in Groves. Brevell wants every one to know they were not playing chicken, as rumored. According to Charles “I brought, my brother Douglas Brevell to Carl’s Night Club with the understanding that I would pick him up before midnight.”
Charles said when he arrived back to the club later that night, there appeared to be some trouble with two Beaumont men who where messing with Mickey’s car.
Mickey was unconscious and must have been knocked out in a fight, with the men. Sidney must have had words with these two guys. The rest of the gang ran out of Carl’s and put Mickey in the car. Charles said, “Me and Douglas and another man, Allen Peltier, also jumped in the car.” Charles said that Sidney got very close to the back of the car. They could see the back lights of the other vehicle. All of a sudden, Sidney pulled out to the other lane, thinking that he could pull these guys over.
As he pulled out Mickey woke up and could see the headlight of the other car, causing a head-on collision killing the four occupants in the front seat of the 1950 sedan and both occupants of the 1947 sedan. The accident took place on Broussard’s Curve, on 69- between Beaumont and Port Arthur. Two wreckers were required to pry open the twisted and battered automobiles so rescue workers could get the bodies out of the cars. The bodies of two men in the ‘47 sedan were still in their car when the ambulance from the Walden Davis Funeral Home arrived. They were the first to reach the scene.
Crowds of people started gathering. One witness said she got there right after the collision. The bodies were so mangled; the only way you could tell whether the body was male or female was by the shoes. Identifications had to be delayed. The survivors were all thrown from the car, some landing as far away as 200 feet from the point of impact.
Justice of the Peace E.B. Moye of Nederland conducted the official inquest into the deaths.
The casualties of the 50’s sedan:
Douglas J. Brevell, 19, of Port Arthur was an employee for the Henke Pilot store in Port Arthur. He graduated from Bishop Byrne and attended St. Mary Catholic Church and was a member of the National Guard.
Sidney Langlinais, 23 of Port Arthur, also graduated from Bishop Byrne. A veteran who served in Japan. At the time of his death he worked for Sears.
Joyce Scott, 16, was a native of Orange. She was a junior at Stark High School and a member of the Bengal Guards.
Janelle Tucker, 16, was a sophomore at Stark High School and a member of the Bengal Guards. She was a native of Orange and attended St. Mary Catholic Church.
In the other car, casualties were:
Daniel Perolez Jr., 22. He was a member of American Methodist Church and a native of Port Arthur. Perolez worked for Todd Shipyard of Galveston. He was married and had one daughter.
Johnny Gutierre, 23, of Beaumont was a member of Church of the King Catholic Church and was a three year member of the Marine Corps.
Surviving the incident:
Charles Brevell was in the hospital for a week and was at home in bed for a month. He is married and the owner of Brevell’s Barber Ship in Port Arthur.
Norma Jackson, 17, was a senior at Stark High School and a native of Orange. According to her brother, Bill Jackson, she was in the hospital for months suffering serious injuries to one of her legs. Her mother took care of her at home. Norma was always in the living room and her leg was in traction for a long period of time. Her husband, Roy Yeaman, said Norma was always suffering and in pain. Though Norma had a good attitude, she always had a limp when she walked till the day she died. Norma worked for Billy Galbreath Insurance in Orangefield.
Allen Peltier, 17, was a native of Port Arthur at the time of the accident. According to Brevell, he is still living somewhere in Louisiana.
Mickey Dionne, 21, lived in Port Arthur. He suffered head and jaw injuries and lost several teeth. His current status is unknown.
Thanks to Charles Brevell for making available the photos and part of this story.