I was born of working-class, French-and-English-speaking, Catholic parents on 14 December 1941 at French Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana. When they were youngsters in the late twenties at the onset of the rural economic depression, my parents, Pearl Roy and Burnett Kimball, had separately fled rural Avoyelles Parish (north of Baton Rouge) in search of a better life in the Crescent City. They later met during at a dance party of fellow and sister economic refugees in the city’s Ninth Ward. At the time, both worked at the Chase Bag Co. factory on the west bank of the Industrial Canal, which links Lake Pontchartrain with the Mississippi River. After they married, they ran a small start-up grocery in the Mid-City district but could not make a success of it. My father then went to a welding school just before U.S. entry into the Second World War and subsequently worked constructing Liberty and Victory Ships at the Poland Ave. dock on the Mississippi riverfront. He later became a union foreman for Dixie Machine Welding and Metal Works, repairing and upgrading cargo ships berthed on the river. My mother worked outside the home at varying intervals at Chase Bag Co. and Morrison Cafeteria. My grandmother, Lydia, stayed at home doing house chores, cooking, and caring for the three young children.

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