Pictured here is the current set of the Three Little Pig signs that are outside the Mamou gas department office at the intersection of La. Highway 13 and La. Highway 104. These signs were done by Savoy Medical Center pharmacist, Kasey Duos after previous signs have been stolen on three occasions. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)
Once upon a time in Mamou
From the statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox and statues of dinosaurs to the biggest ball of yarn, motorists across the country, who travel off the beaten path, pass by roadside attractions that have become cultural icons.
One such attraction located at the intersection of La. Highway 13 and La. Highway 104 in Mamou keeps drawing the attention of parents with young children and is the subject of strange disappearances. This attraction is the gas department office for the Town of Mamou and is called, by the town’s residents, the Three Little Pigs’ house.
“Everybody for years and years has said it’s the Three Little Pigs’ house because it looks like the Three Little Pigs’ house,” said Mamou native and long time secretary of the Mamou Rotary Club Elvin Reed.
Reed’s wife Nary said, “We had two children who went to school in Eunice. I would read to my children about the Three Little Pigs, and, every morning when I’d drive my kids to Eunice, they would say that looks like the Three Little Pigs’ house. So, that’s how the idea came up.”
That idea was to place signs of the Three Little Pigs in front of the gas department office and place the Big Bad Wolf and a chimney on top of the roof. Elvin took that idea and ran it by the Mamou Rotary Club.
“I was the pusher in there,” he commented. “I said let’s put the Three Little Pigs here and the sign and everything. They weren’t very committed to it, but I kept pumping at them about it until they decided to do it.”
The Three Little Pigs, the Big Bad Wolf on the chimney, and a sign that read “A big Cajun Welcome from 1169 children, 3 Little Pigs, and 1 Big Bad Wolf” were first placed on the grounds of the gas department office between 20 and 25 years ago because of Elvin’s efforts. The efforts; however, were not without obstacles.
“The town was very favorable of us,” said Elvin, “but we had a lot of trouble from the state. We had to get a permit and everything to dig because of the gas pipes around there. It took quite a while for us to get approved by the state.”
Another set of obstacles came from within the Mamou Rotary Club on how to finance the project. As Elvin explained, “the Rotary Club was kind of hesitant about using money to make the three little pigs, so I made an LSU football pool. For the second set of signs, we made two pools and got $1,000.00. I said that money was going to reinstall the Three Little Pigs. They kind of grumbled, but they let me do it.”
The signs had to be replaced because a couple of years after the signs were first installed is when the strange disappearances started occurring.
“The signs remained on the grounds there for about two years,” said Elvin, “and then people stole them. “The signs were found by the police department, or so they told us. Nobody ever wanted to talk about it. The signs were kind of broken, so Gervis Bihm, Jr., repaired them for us. We put them back up, and they lasted another two years before they were stolen again on graduation night. It always happens during graduation.”
After the signs were stolen for the second time, Bourque’s Signs made one sign with all the Three Little Pigs and another welcome sign. “We figured if we do it this way then people wouldn’t be able to steal them because Bourque’s put these posts in cement and used bolts that you could not unscrew,” said Elvin. “But, people found a way to steal the posts.”
He continued, “We found them about five years later in the canal. Somebody was fishing for turtles in the mud and found the signs in the mud, but the signs were all rusty and broken. Rotary just let it go and said we won’t do it again.”
The newest twist to the story is when Kasey Duos, who is a pharmacist at Savoy Medical Center, heard Elvin and Nary’s grandson Chris Reed talking about the Three Little Pigs on 107.9 radio in Lafayette.
“He was talking about it on the radio and how sad it was how you can’t have anything without it being stolen,” Elvin said. “So, Kasey felt very bad about it and made the ones that are there now.”
Plans are in the works to also replace the chimney and the Big Bad Wolf. Elvin quipped, “I think people like the wolf more than the little pigs.”
Now that the signs have been replaced two years ago, the site is again a tourist attraction. “I see people park on the side of the road, and I’ve watched them walk down and take pictures,” said Elvin. “And, we have a big light shining that Cleco furnished on a post, so at night it’s very visible.”
Nary added, “I’ve seen cars park and kids get out of the cars to go play and touch the signs.”
Also, since the signs have been replaced, a sense of pride is back in the Mamou Rotary Club. “Our Rotary Club used to have 40 members,” Elvin said, “We were one of the top Rotary Clubs in the state, but it had dwindled down like everything else. We have about six members, and we’re trying to keep it active. If we would drop it off and if somebody would try to form another Rotary Club in Mamou, then they’d have to have 20 members. That would be hard to do.”
Aside from returning pride to the Rotary Club, Nary expressed that the return of the three little pigs restores a similar feeling in the town itself. She concluded, “There’s a lot of apathy in Mamou. The Three Little Pigs, hopefully, will give the people a little pride in their town.”