Clinic Stories


One of my stops when working in the poultry industry was Louisiana and it was never dull. Crayfish farms and alligator ponds were not something I was used to. Culturally it is like no other state in the union.

One summer our group hired a veterinary intern and her first week involved traveling with me to Louisiana. We met at the Atlanta Airport and connected to Shreveport, LA where we were met by our local sales rep, Ken Jones. She was understandably nervous to be traveling with two unknown men but interested and curious as well. We worked in the field with a poultry complex in Arcadia, LA, then Ken decided to give us a local tour. We drove to Natchitoches, LA where we were spending the night. Natchitoches, a former French Colony, is the oldest town in Louisiana. Legend is that an Indian Chief had twin sons. When they came of age he instructed each to walk a day's journey and establish a new settlement. The first son, Nachidoches, went West founding what is now Nachidoches, TX. The second son was Natchitoches who traveled East to found what is now Natchitoches, LA. The first stop was a drive thru bar - think Starbucks with hard liquor. A menu display listed the choices and sizes of a variety of drinks, up to the 64 oz Big Gulp. We all had Margaritas with the option of salt on the Styrofoam rim. In compliance with state law, a straw was placed in the cup with the paper left on the tip, qualifying as a closed container.

Next we drove past the Cane River where each year fireworks are lit on forms, shown in a scene from the movie Steel Magnolias. Following dinner in the French Quarter, we went to a bar – Bodacious Country. We pulled up at 8 PM on a Monday night and the intern could barely contain her excitement. “My father will never believe this. I wish I had a camera.” There were two horses tied to the hitching post. Now there's a real Western bar.

Each year The Louisiana Broiler Conference is held on the State Fair Grounds in Shreveport. I attended several times as a speaker and the highlight is a Crawfish Boil on the last night. The meal consists of crawfish boiled in large kettles, baked potatoes covered in pepper, corn on the cob covered in pepper, all served on trays fashioned from the bottoms of cardboard boxes and eaten by hand, with kegs of beer standing by to wash it all down. Many a young poultry serviceman has overindulged at the conference.

I wasn't the only one who didn't eat at these events. For years, one serviceman attended with his wife who was allergic to shellfish. It had been many years since she tried to eat shellfish and she wondered if she was still allergic. She sampled a small amount and waited 30 minutes, seemingly unaffected. She tried a bigger portion, again waited and again seemed fine. She then enjoyed herself and made a meal. Afterward, she felt off and told her husband she was going to the truck to lay down. He came out ten minutes later to check her and she met him on the way announcing “You have to get me to the hospital now!” The hospital is in sight of the parking lot, about a three minutes drive. She did not arrive in time. Pat, her husband, was left to raise his 15 year old stepson alone.

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