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Anthony "Tuba Fats" Lacen, Bass Horn BORN: New Orleans, September 15,1949 Played with Doc Paulin, Nat Dowe, the Hurricane Brass Band, the E. Gibson Brass Band, and Dejan's Olympia Brass Band; founder and leader of the Chosen Few Brass Band Interviewed at his home on Dumaine Street, October 2002 The neighborhood I came up in was a family neighborhood, on Simon Bolivar . Everybody on the block stayed at my momma's house. All the kids were raised right there. We allplayed together on the porch. It wasjust a bigfamily house. My father used to hunt. We had hunting dogs and chickens and goats. Everybody on that block wasfrom either Mississippi or Alabama. They had come to New Orleans to work the riverfronts, which was a blooming thing then. My mother would cook bigpots of stuff; everybody ate greens and cornbread, fatback, ham hocks, all that stuff. My mother was from Georgia. Shepicked in thefields when she was a kid, so it was country cooking. Soul food. Everybody in the street would bring aplate, and she wouldfeed everybody. When I was a kid,before integration, there was thisplace called the White Castle, had these little small hamburgers with onions and cheese on them. They were only a nickel apiece. We couldn't go to thefront of the White Castle becausewe were black—we had togo to the back window. My sisters would give me their nickels, and I'd go to the back and get them. We'd go in the backyard and eat them. My mother caught us with a whole box. She took them from us and threw them in the garbage can and threw some to the dogs. She said, "I don't care how madyou get. You shouldn't have gone there and bought them, becauseyou can'tgo and sit in there and eat them. Goand buyyour hamburgers from the blackpeople." I said, "We don't want to. Wewant the White Castle burgers." My mother slapped me. She told me, as long as I live, don't answer her back, 3° and don't evergo there and buy another hamburger. She was trying to make apoint. It took me a long time to realize what she meant. There were nofences betweenthe houses,we alljust shared. In lateryears, the fences came. As the olderpeople died off and otherpeople bought theproperties, that's when the fences came. If somebody went out to the country, they'd come back with a hog and slaughter it. They'd cook it up in theyard and share it with everybody in the neighborhood . They'd have suppers in the backyard with ajukeboxplaying—yard parties. My father would hunt in theparishes, butyou didn't have togo thatfar. You could just go to New OrleansEast and hunt—all that was woods and swampland back then. Now they builtJazzland, housing developments, shopping centers—you can't hunt down there no more. He would go to St. Bernard Parish,Jefferson Parish over the river. There were a lot of places to hunt. My daddy must have had aboutfifty dogs at one time. They hadpens in theyard for them. He had beagles,rabbit dogs, black and tick, bluetick hounds, all kinds of hunting dogs. My daddy worked on the riverfront. He'd bring homegrits, mix up with some mash, feed the dogs. You could go to the Chinese restaurant—they didn't use the livers and the gizzards; theyput out big boxes of that stuff. What we didn't usefor the house, we'dput in a bigpot in theyard, boil it upfor the dogs. And go round the restaurants hustling scrap food. Youfed dogs likeyoufed hogs—on anything. I was running wild, falling off the houses and stuff. I used to throw the TimesPicayunepaper . There was a mortuary I had to deliver to. I used to throw the paper from my bike, but they told me I had toput the mortuary paper at the door—somebody had been taking their paper or something. I got off the bike and walked up to the door. I wasjustputting thepaper down, when there was this knocking from the inside of the door. BOOM1 . BOOM1 . BOOM! I ran like hell andpissed all over myself! And there was an embalming studio right acrossfrom my house, on Simon Bolivar andJackson, an old wooden building. Reb, the mortician, used to embalm the bodies in the back room there. Weused togoget on the back fence and watch him working with the bodies in the...


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