Shady Pond-The Past
Shady Pond is located near the Town of Pearl River in St. Tammany Parish, the Pine
Southeast Louisiana. St. Tammany is one of Louisiana's Florida Parishes, originally part of
Florida and settled by the Spanish.
The Pine Belt is noted for its stands of slash and loblolly pine as well as for nurseries
plants and shrubs for landscaping use. Pine timber is harvested at regular intervals to
for our wood product needs. The area is also well known for its ability to grow Azaleas,
Camellias, Magnolias and Live Oaks among other evergreen plants and shrubs.
Shady Pond Farm was homesteaded in the late 1800's. And in 1925, forty acres of
the original homestead was sold to Miss Norma Badon (aka Norma Wallace); New Orleans' infamous "Madam" in the French Quarter. She purchased the property to be used as a retreat and summer home from the City for "her and the girls".
In late 1999, many of the details of Norma's time at Shady Pond came to light in the Last Madam, A life in the New Orleans Underworld a biography by Christine Wiltz. Christine based the book on tape recordings Norma made before her death. Local tales about Norma's aggressive behavior pale when compared to the story of an attempt to murder the Madam in the main house at the Farm. The aggressor in that incident was 'Golf Bag' Sam Hunt so named because he carried his weapons in a golf bag. With deep ties to Al Capone's mob in Chicago, 'Golf Bag' Sam was to always be taken seriously according to Christine's recap of the audio tapes. Norma and Sam were very much in love but he had become jealous of her friendship with other men. And he knew of only one way to deal with such a situation. Norma foiled the murder attempt herself, quite a gal. This was the first time that Sam tried to kill her, but it would not be the last.
To learn more about Norma and the oldest profession, pickup a copy of The Last Madam, A Life in the New Orleans Underworld. Published by Faber and Faber, Inc. New York, it is available online or at your favorite bookstore. Or, visit The Last Madam on the Web.
In 1945, Miss Badon sold the farm to Dr. and Mrs. Eugene Woodward. "Doc" Woodward used the present Christmas tree fields as an air strip to land his plane when commuting to and from New Orleans. In 1955 the farm was sold by the Woodwards to Mr. and Mrs. E. J. Gernon, Sr., Clarke's mother and father.
The present site of Shady Pond Farm has been used as a dairy, for raising Hereford
cattle and horses, as a seed plantation for Bahia grass, and now as a Christmas Tree Plantation.
Shady Pond Farm (also known as Shady Pond Tree Farm) presently consists of 45
acres. Part of the additional 5 acres over and above the original 40 acres purchased by Miss Badon, was
bought by her from the old Favre Lumber Co. Today many of the original trees still stand
in that small section and are considered old growth timber.
Shady Pond counts as its assets century old Live Oaks. The Oaks and Magnolias lining the drive were planted by the Gernons in the 1950's.
There are over two hundred varieties of Camellias cultivated in and among the Oaks
many different varieties of Azaleas. Mr. E. J. Gernon, Sr. was an amateur horticulturist and
transplanted his original stock of Camellias from their previous homes in Old Metairie, and
New Orleans Lakefront. These Camellias now exceed 50 years of age. From those original
Camellias and other Camellia stock, he grafted many of the Camellias that stand today and
bloom profusely every January and February.
The barn is in its original state with few minor repairs having been necessary and is
approximately 85 years old.
The foundation of the original separate kitchen is still in existence and is used by the
an outdoor sitting area. In that area is a large kettle used as a goldfish pond. That kettle was
originally used for making Louisiana Cane Syrup the old way in the outdoors. The sugar
was grown locally and crushed to liquid state by a process of a mule driven grinding mill.
kettle was given to the Gernons by Mr. Sam Boss, who owned the nearby 240 acre
Mr. Boss' family came to this area from Switzerland. He is now deceased.
Much of the history known about Shady Pond Farm was received from Mr. Sam Boss
who was a
long time resident of the Pearl River community as was his family.
On the far side of the pond is a statue of St. Joseph. The statue is quite old and was
housed at the convent of the "Little Sisters of the Poor" in New Orleans. It was donated to
Edward Gernon, Sr., a benefactor of the "Little Sisters..." when the convent was closed
the late 1950's.