was a red-hot brand, gone now but not forgotten.
W.C. ABBOTT, Jr.
I want five pounds of plain flour, a can of baking powder, a dozen eggs, and do you have any more of that Leroy sausage? That's what the lady said when she entered Webb's store. She was talking about Leroy Babin's fresh smoked pork sausage. That was about seventy years ago.
Recently a friend, Mrs. Tommy Lou Barr of Jonesboro, Louisiana, told me she had eaten some of Mr. Babin's pork sausage when she was a teenager, and to her it tasted like manna from heaven.
Paul Babin of Shreveport, Louisiana, Leroy's brother, who was married to Dixie Jones, Tommy Lou's aunt, brought them sausage every time he went to Leroy's place when the sausage was ready. Tommy Lou said she also ate Babin's sausage occasionally while she was going to Meadows Draughn Business College in Shreveport. She lived at the time with her aunt and uncle. One of Leroy Babin's nieces, Thelma, lived there at the same time and went to the same business college.
There were other Babin brothers, two that I knew about. Tom owned a farm about five miles down Bayou Manchac near Hope Villa, and another, Clarence, died when he was a young man and left a wife and about seven children, two daughters, Thelma and Estelle, and five sons. I knew four of the boys, Arthur, Lloyd, Clarence, Jr., who was about my age, and Francis.
Mr. Leroy Babin brought Clarence's family to live on his farm and helped the mother to raise them. They grew up helping Leroy with his farming and his sausage making business, along with Leroy's two sons, J. L. and Raymond. Raymond now lives on the old homeplace and supplied me with some of this information.
Leroy's farm was located on the Bullion Road, later named Perkins Road. It fronted on Bayou Manchac. His crops were mostly corn and beans to feed the cattle and hogs he owned. He planted some of his corn and beans together and put a hog proof fence around it. When the crop was mature he'd turn his growing pigs into the field. "Hogging off" corn and beans was a common practice at the time.
He always made pork sausage for home use and he sometimes gave his friends some to eat. It because very popular and soon was sought after by many people. That's when he started to specialize in pork sausage for sale. None made it that could compare to his in taste. It was so good it became known as "Leroy Sausage." Houston Lacobee, my sister Jennie's husband, who lived at Hope Villa, made some that I thought had a resemblance to Leroy's. Houston made it using a mixture of seasoning concocted by Dr. J.B. Francioni, a professor of livestock production at LSU. I remember having a course under Dr. Francioni as a freshman at LSU, and there was a recipe for pork sausage in his teaching. Evidently brother-in-law Lacobee kept his notes from that class and used them when he made his sausage. I suspect that Leroy Babin got that recipe, made some subtle changes, and came up with a winner.
Babin slaughtered abut ten hogs every year, usually about 200 pounds each, and all of the meat went into sausage - hams, shoulders, and loins included. He said the hams, shoulders, and loins gve his sausage a much leaner texture. He also said he never used anything but hickory chips in his smoking process. "It just tastes better when its hickory smoked," he said.
Mr. Babin butchered at intervals during the winter months, several hogs at a time. In that way he had sausage fresh from the smokehouse for most of the winter. People were waiting for his product as it became available.
The seasoning mixture he used when he made his sausage was never revealed to anyone, so when Leroy Babin died, Leroy Sausage died with him.
This story is from "Bayou Manchac in the 1920s" by W.C. Abbott, Jr. of Jonesboro. Copies of the book, and another by the same author, "Tales About People and Places in Louisiana" are available from Mr. Abbott at 122 Dale Drive, Jonesboro, LA 71251, telephone 318-259-2589, for $10.00 each plus $3.00 for shipping and handling.