THIBODAUX, La - If you need a bite to eat while you’re in Thibodaux, you can head on over to an unlikely place - the local American Legion Hall.
“We were in the same situation here years ago that many of the legion post are now, like I said we were dying,” Gene Richard with Amercian Legion Post 11 said. “The hall was closed. We were open three hours a day, maybe, for somebody to come get a drink or two and a meeting once a month, and that's all we did.”
On a fateful trip to St. Louis, Richard's grandson took him to a legion hall that also shared space with a restaurant, and he thought he could could do the same back in Thibodaux.
Now, Post 11 is also home to Gina's at the Legion, a popular eatery.
“This was an opportunity to give it new life,” Gina Blanchard said. “A lot of the guys come around and they like the changes that we've done. We came in and we kind of renovated a little, but to keep the same feel for the American Legion. Everybody's welcomed, obviously it's kid-friendly and a home cooked meal.”
Across town at the historic Raymond Stafford Post 513, Since 1947 they served as a home for the predominantly African American veterans of the area and a community center.
The number 513 was issued at time when numbers over 500 were used to denote black posts from others.
It's a stamp these members are not willing to part with.
“We were given the opportunity to drop our 500 number and get a new number, which means we would have to give up our charter and lose our history,” Gerald Theriot of American Legion Post 513 said. “However, we chose not to do that as a group. As a matter of record that we were still united as veterans, and this was a thing of the past.”