Porch Talk

a Southern Momma speaks



Mother died on Sunday August 30, 2020 at 5:05 pm CDT.

A Memorial Mass was held on Tuesday, September 8th and streamed via Zoom.  To read the tributes and homily given at the service, click on Memorial Service along the top of the website.

Those who knew and loved Beth will recognize her in her own words. 
 EJ Michel

I grew up in a family whose ancestors were as much a part of daily life as morning coffee, where stories were told to instruct, inspire, educate and entertain, in the kind of small town that needs no police force–though it had one–because of the cadre of little old ladies whose sharp ears and eyes and sharper tongues made them as formidable as the F.B.I.

That small town was a microcosm of civilization, an extension of French New Orleans, with ballroom dancing classes, afternoon teas where young girls learned manners, and debuts at a ball on Mardi Gras night, a rite of passage that signaled that a girl was ready to be a well-mannered, civilized adult guest at any event.

My family were all great readers–my father, sent to Vanderbilt at age 14, had Ransom Crowe and Allen Tate as English teachers. My maternal grandfather’s private library served the town until the founding of New Iberia Library in 1947.

Taught by Catholic nuns whose independent minds encouraged us to become individuals, not just members of a group, and blessed with a father who loved intelligent women, I grew up without knowing that women weren’t equal to men. (The fact that, in a French culture, women have a great deal of power didn’t hurt, either.) The three Dubus aunts were women of energy, great courage, and the ability to laugh in all but the most tragic circumstances. My Aunt Roberta, a true grande dame, wrote for local newspapers and was furious that her byline read “Robert” because no respectable woman’s name appeared in the newspaper except at her birth, marriage, and death.

Looking back, I see that in many ways I grew up in a sort of Camelot, an especially kind Camelot where generosity of spirit and a belief in the dignity of every human being prevailed. Racism had no place in my family, and anyone guilty of a racist remark learned very quickly just how wrong that was.

The one bad thing about growing up like this was learning, when I left Lafayette, how rare a place it truly is. While in many ways, Thomas Wolfe’s book title–YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN–is true; for me, it is only by going home, at least in my mind and heart, that I see the world in a way that helps me write about it.


Momma dancing with Lucien and Sebastian at Walter’s Bar Mitzvah Party the last time all the family was together


13 thoughts on “R.I.P.

  1. Thanks so much, Elizabeth. I just read Beth’s lovely obituary about an hour ago.

    I’ll try to join y’all for the services with Zoom.



  2. To Elizabeth, Pam, Maggi, Aimee, and DeLaune…
    This is a lovely synopsis of your mother and her life…and it’s sounds very much like her. I regret I hadn’t seen her in over a year but I look forward to seeing those of you who will be in town for the service.
    And, if it’s okay with you all, I’d like to make a donation in her honor, instead of your suggested recipients, to the Baton Rouge Arts Council for a personal reason. I don’t know if you know this but she swooped me up to be on the founding committee of the Arts Council not long after I’d married and moved here—maybe three years or so. I don’t remember where we’d met but we’d chatted and she thought well enough of me to have me included in the group which was Junior League representatives and women from the community who wanted to enhance the arts in Baton Rouge. I remember she once said to me that she knew we’d get along; I’d apparently told her I liked Thomas Hardy and she said there were not many people she knew in town who would say that.
    My bond with your mom goes all the way back to that—1971 or ’72…so I’d like to honor her memory this way.
    Mary Ann


    • Mary Ann, thanks for the lovely comment. Of course that donation would be wonderful. All the memories our families have over those years (and mine include your husband from when i worked at the store) — sending much love, Elizabeth


    • Mary Ann, what a fitting memorial! Momma loved art and literature, and loved lively conversations about both: I know you two “passed a good time” over the years both talking about and being involved in both areas, and more. Thank you for joining us at the service, so wonderful to be back in touch!!!! Please tell Joanna, Katie and Jay we said hi. Love, Pam


  3. Thank you!

    Claire D. Advokat, PhD

    Professor Emerita (Retired) LSU

    6111 Stratford Ave.

    Baton Rouge, LA 70808

    Email: jecda@cox.net

    From: Porch Talk Reply-To: Porch Talk Date: Monday, September 7, 2020 at 1:01 PM To: Subject: [New post] R.I.P.

    sogalitno posted: ” Mother died on Sunday August 30, 2020 at 5:05 pm. A Memorial Mass is to be held on Tuesday, September 8th at 1030 am CDT at Christ the King Chapel (LSU Campus) It will be live streamed via Zoom. (There will be a page on this website with the Zoom inf”


  4. Judy and I are saddened to hear of Beth’s passing.
    She was always so kind to us.
    I especially enjoyed the time we spent together during our personal training sessions.
    We will miss her and her Porch Talk columns.
    Hesh Bolno and Judy Gale


  5. Beth was such a force of nature that it is hard to believe she is no longer with us. I will always remember her as a beautiful woman, talented, strong and so very gracious. As a friend of Pamela, I had several chances to spend One I one time with Beth; we formed a lovely friendship that had as its basis our ages, our love of the written and spoken word, and our shared sense of humor where children and husbands are concerned. I feel as if I have known all the Michel daughters, through my long friendship with Pam, and I send my personal condolences to each of you. Your mother was in every sense, A Lady. I will miss her.


  6. I met Beth through Hash Bolno. We both have such fond memories of her. She was always extremely kind and generous to the both of us, even allowing us to stay at her beach house. Of course her dinners and parties were always interesting and fun. We were able to continue our connection with her through Porch Talk even after we moved away from New Orleans. Hesh and I both feel fortunate to have known her.


  7. Oh the memories we all share! Beth had such a positive and profound effect on so many aspects of our family’s growth. And Pamela, what would we have done without YOU!!!!!! Know that I am thinking of all of you and sending so much love.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s