MAMOU - Taunte Sue will miss her “nephews and nieces” at Fred’s Lounge but after 55 years she’s put the swinging doors behind her.
Carina Alice Fontenot Vasseur, nearly 80, has become as iconic as Fred’s Lounge itself for the Town of Mamou.
Patrons of the lounge will always remember her strict rules, such as no kissing and no vulgar language, her friendly personality and her trusty holster in which she always kept a bottle of Cinnamon Schnapps.
Taunte Sue said her late husband, Fred Vasseur, acquired full ownership of the lounge in 1946. The two were married in 1948. She said her family owned a diner at the time, so she has literally been serving people since she was six years old.
The couple had two daughters, Sharon Berzas of Mamou and Sandy McClelland of Franklin. Taunte Sue said she also practically raised her nephew Jim Dugas of Fort Worth, Texas.
Aside from the lounge, Taunte Sue has worked many jobs over the years, serving as town clerks for six years, a legal secretary for 23 years and at numerous retail establishments.
“If there’s a business in Mamou with a register, I’ve probably touched it,” she said.
Taunte Sue also volunteered much of her time working at Savoy Medical Center as a Pink Lady and assisting Hospice, the Savoy Cancer Center and visiting residents at the nursing homes.
In an unlikely role, she served Fred’s Lounge for many years as bouncer. However, she did not have to kick out many patrons.
“They usually respected me enough to calm down,” she said. “We never used to let people drink too much. You wouldn’t see people staggering in our bar.”
Fred’s Lounge became more and more famous as the years went on. Taunte Sue credits this rise in fame to a mention of the lounge by Charles Kuralt, who visited many years ago.
National Geographic then did a piece on the lounge in its magazine, and Taunte Sue said the bar’s fame took off from there.
After Fred died in 1992, Taunte Sue said she knew she couldn’t open the bar every night. It was then she began the Saturday morning tradition which has earned its fair share of regulars.
Taunte Sue said groups of bikers from Opelousas and Lafayette were there almost every Saturday morning. People would come from all over to visit the lounge.
Over the years, Taunte Sue has had the opportunity to meet many people from all over the world. She said there was one occasion when 22 states were represented in the bar at the same time.
After working at the lounge for so long, Taunte Sue said she is glad she’s retired from the bar. She will continue to help with the ordering and “back room” work, but she will no longer serve patrons or frequent the establishment.
“I don’t think I’ll be visiting there unless someone calls me and wants to say hi,” she said.
“When someone first told me I was an icon, I thought they said pecan,” Taunte Sue recalled during her retirement party. “I went home and looked up the meaning of icon and I was touched.”