Patterson Family
College and New Orleans
The time spent in the Marines matured me and gave me some goals. Being rather astute I figured out that the life in Officers County was much better than living below decks with the galley slaves better known as ships crew. I tried several ways to get a commission but was rejected for all of them. The Marines for some reason thought that I was not something that they wanted in the officer corps.  I am not sure one way or the other whether they were right. The one thing that I really have to look at is that I was one dumb shit. Whether they wanted me as an officer is water under the bridge. What really matters is the fact that I took away from the Marines something that I am rather proud of; the ability to develop people. They taught me that you can take any dumb shit off the street and make a man that can stand up to the best that the world can offer. Through out my career with Chevron I applied the concept that the Marines gave me that you can train any normal person to do anything with enough time. I could have stayed in the Marines, but I started getting the  idea that running the railroad was better than laying track. While aboard the USS Toledo, Lt. Little, the re-enlistment officer convinced me to take advantage of the GI Bill and go to college. I sometimes wonder whether he ever got anyone to re-enlist. He is one of the officers that the Marines should have been proud off as people would follow him. Do not remember his first name as all officers first name was his rank. I do remember that he was from Ft. Worth, Texas. Great Marine.

When I started to Texas Technological College I told myself that I could become an officer upon graduation. I don’t really think I was serious since I did not join ROTC or transfer to Active Reserves. Also majoring in Petroleum Engineering wasn’t exactly a useful military degree. I made a decision to try college, because I did not want to wonder in my old age if I could have made it. I was not qualified to enter college and definitely not in Engineering, as I had never taken Physics, Chemistry, Trigonometry, Geometry or Algebra. As a result I spent some extra time taking idiot courses for no credit. My brother-in-law was a Petroleum Engineer with Amoco and seemed to like the oil industry as a career. I had no idea what an engineer did, but figured it was a lot easier on his back than shoveling shit in Texas. As it turned out, it was the greatest decision that I made in my life.

College is something that I highly recommend. I have to admit the curiosity that it developed in me sometime created a bone of contention with my wife. I had a burning need to know how things worked. I could not just accept anything until I understood just how it worked. My wife was just the opposite, and would really get pissed with me when I kept concentrating on why.  Her way of looking at things was who cares how it works, just use it.

In 1963 a Cajun by the name of Harry DuPree came to the campus of Texas Tech and offered me a job working offshore Louisiana and living in New Orleans. Having seen half of the world, I really didn't thing working in Monahan, Texas or Hobbs, New Mexico was something that I really wanted to commit to for the rest of my life . The day after seeing the last grade posted, I put everything I owned in the trunk of new 1963 Ford Galaxy and headed for the Big Easy. Four days after leaving the campus of Texas Tech I was on a helicopter headed for the Drill Barge Mr. Arthur in Main Pass 41 on the east side of the Mississippi. I worked in drilling, production, and Engineering in Louisiana from 1963-1973.

New Orleans was very enjoyable place for a single engineer. I would work offshore for 7 days and then have 7 days off. This gave me time to enjoy the Big Easy. I had an apartment at 1401 St. Andrews just off St Charles Avenue. I spent a lot of time in the French Quarter.  When I moved to New Orleans I had never had a steak that wasn't cooked in a frying pan. I discovered two places that convinced me that Texans didn't know shit about eating.  I took a date to a local restaurant Commanders Palace where I order a stake well done. Both my date and the waiter convinced me that I was as one dumb shit. I gave in and got a steak medium. From that point on my whole culinary life changed. Why Texans burned steaks is beyond my comprehension.  Another great place to eat steaks was Tuckers in Jefferson Parish. I took Yvonne there the night I met her. I was introduced to boiled shrimp in Lubbock by the father of a friend, Clinton Cleveland who was born in Algiers, Louisiana.
He was a chef at the Lubbock Hotel. There were so many great eating places in New Orleans that it would be very hard to say what was best. I must admit that I favored the steak houses. Steaks in New Orleans were so good that I didn't venture far a field. 

Calco Engineers in Venice, Louisiana 1964

 Left to right front row -- Lewis (USL), Francis R. Daigle, Allen W. Fontenot, Gene Spencer, Bob Grapes, Erwin Boudoin
Left to right back row --- Charles L Patterson, Harold Joe Read, Espy Price, Scott Riley, Denny L. Smail, I.P. "Buddy" Thomas, Ira Bahruth.

The people in this picture above were Production and Drilling Engineers refreshing their knowledge. Lewis was an instructor from USL in Lafayette that was teaching us engineering courses.

Working out of Venice, Louisiana was something that was rather enjoyable. We would change crews on Thursday and head up the Highway 23 to New Orleans, but there were several stops along the way. Bars would offer boiled shrimp that would be spread across the bar. Needless to say they were very salty which encouraged you to drink more beer. The bars along Highway 23 could only be described as dives.  Salesmen would swarm around these bars on crew change trying to peddle their wares. I understood that they had a job and did not take advantage of it. I developed friends with salesmen that did not have anything to do with what they could give me.  My philosophy was that they were humans trying to make a living just like me. To this date I have a friend, John Hebert, that worked for Otis Engineering. Bob Darlington and I took him out to dinner when he retired.

While attending a party held by one of the other tenants of the apartment at 1401 St Andrews,  I met Yvonne Marie Nadeau. We talked briefly, but she had prior commitments with her date. There was something about the meeting that made an impression on both parties. I can not explain what happened the night. Why did I want to hang around the party hoping that she would return? There is no doubt that my generation was driven by what occurred on the silver screen. All young girls were looking for a knight in shinning armor to whisk them away to a cottage with a white picket fence. The men were less influenced by thing of this nature.  Maybe somewhere in forest primeval there is something that drive the male to grab a woman and move into a cave. Maybe my primeval needs for a cave was driving me to seek out this young lass to whisk away to my cave. My long range plans did not include a wife, but for some reason that I never understood, I remained at the party thinking that maybe she would return. As it turned out she asked her date to take her home early and did return to the party. After the party broke up I took Yvonne and Marie Staley to Tucker's Steak House in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana for a late dinner. Later at her apartment we spent more time getting to know each other. There was no sex at this time, not because I didn't want it. This was the beginning of a romance that would last forever. Granted we had a rocky courtship and on several occasion it did not look good. During Hurricane Betsy, Yvonne would not let me go back to my apartment, we spent the night together, which probably cemented our relationship.

Hurricane Betsy hit the mouth of the Mississippi River 9 Septermber 1965 as a Catagory 4 and finally made second landfall at Grande Isle. The winds were 155 miles per hour, just one mile short of a Catagory 5. New Orleans got 110 mile per hour winds with the most damage being done in Gentilly and the Ninth Ward by storm surge and the levee breaches. The surge caused the river to rise 10 feet in New Orleans.

Hurricane Betsy really did a lot of damage down in Plaquemines Parish where I worked. I was drilling the final wells on C Structure in Main Pass Block 41. We had moved the LST S-24 into New Orleans to ride out the storm. The area where it was berthed was impassable for several days. As a result I was manning a battery powered radio in our new office in Westwego at night. As there was major power outages, there was no lights. I never knew how dark and spooky things looked after a hurricane. The hurricane had pushed a wall of water over the Mississippi completely flooding the entire area from Buris to Venice. Our office in Venice was ok as it was up on a levee. The water could not drain out because the Mississippi levee and the Gulf levee created a neat bowl. The Corp of Engineer had to blow the back levee so the water could drain into the Gulf. This took awhile to accomplish. Chevron was flying essential personell to Venice by helicopter. I went down on one of the first helicopters and was shocked by the utter destruction. Our company doctor told us to refuse to take the shots being given by authorities when we got to Venice. I was with the Superintendent Tom Riggs who told the National Guard that he was not going to take the shots. The doctor didn't even look up, but said that he would stick us with the needle or the National Guard Soldier would stick us with his bayonet. Guess what we did.

A few months after the hurricane I was transferred to Westwego Production Office, which was still in the Greater New Orleans area. I was now working in the office with regular hours. Yvonne talked me into spending Christmas in Grenada, Mississippi where her parents lived. I was setting on a milk can in their den after some drunken affair when I asked her to marry me. She was not too sure that I would remember it the next day or just want to back out of the commitment. Early the next morning she showed up with a cup of coffee and a funny look on her face. It took her a while to get around to asking if I remembered what I had said the night before. Not knowing how to get out or whether I wanted out, I acknowledged the commitment and she was off to relate the news to the family. As soon as we got back to New Orleans, she quit work and moved to Grenada to prepare for the occasion that was scheduled for 4 June 1966.

See More Pictures About the Time Before the Wedding

At the completion of festivities Yvonne and I spent our honeymoon at The Edgewater Beach Hotel in Biloxi, Mississippi. We then returned to our new apartment at 6201 Ackel in Metairie, Louisiana.

The next big event was the birth of Cassandra on 4 August 1967 in Metairie, Louisiana. I always tell people that she was born behind Sciffonies Meat Market. That was where the Women and Children Hospital was located.

See Cassandra's Home Coming
Cassandra's First Pictures

This creation was the greatest thing that ever happen to me. She started pulling on my heart string as soon as she progressed past the infant. Initially, she only ate, slept, cried and expelled something that had the consistency and look of mustard, but smelled like something from the bowls of hell. Around about one year of age we commenced a ritual of going out for breakfast on the weekends. She would come stand by my bed until I woke, then say “Get Biscuts”. We would spend the weekend and holidays together, which gave her mother a break. After eating we would go to the grocery store and do the shopping. She and her mother did not mix well in stores. As she grew older we would go to the office. She had a real knack for wrapping me around her little finger, a skill she honed to a fine point
Chapter 1 My Way of Thinking
Chapter 2 My Father and Mother Became Sharecroppers
Chapter 3 Conception to Awareness
Chapter 4 Now I Know That I Remember -- I Think
Chapter 5 Things That We Did on The Farm
Chapter 6 Life on Jackson's Place
Chapter 7 My Education Begins
Chapter 8 Life on the Farm

Chapter 9 Move to the Metropolis of Lubbock, Texas
Chapter 10 Marines

Chapter 11 College and New Orleans

Chapter 12 Indonesia

Chapter 13 Bahrain
Chapter 14 Scotland