Yvonne Fletcher Rodrigue, Kaplan’s beloved “Miss Fletcher” who taught English and French at Kaplan High School, will celebrate her 90th birthday in Spring, Texas on Saturday, March 14, at the home of her daughter, Nancy.
Yvonne is the granddaughter of one of Kaplan’s early settlers, Eugene Eleazar and Leontine Plantier Eleazar of France.
The Eleazars migrated from France in 1888 and settled in Rayne, later moving to Kaplan in 1906.
Eugene was one of Kaplan’s early mayors who initiated many good things in Kaplan - he started the Bastille Day celebration in Kaplan, and opened the first theater in town.
Yvonne is the daughter of Pauline Eleazar Fletcher and John E. Fletcher of Kaplan who married in 1908.
Yvonne was born March 14, 1919, at home, delivered by Dr. Poche who was assisted by Yvonne’s aunt Maude Poche Fletcher, a nurse, who was nine months pregnant with Yvonne’s cousin Lorraine Fletcher.
Lorraine was born two weeks later and she and Yvonne were always close.
The Fletcher house where Yvonne grew up was located at 201 E. First Street, where the Iberia Bank is now. The trees growing beside the bank were planted by Pauline Fletcher and were in her garden on the side of the house.
The home was modernized with indoor plumbing and was wired for electricity in the early 1900’s.
Johnny Fletcher was police chief of Kaplan for 16 years, the same time period Franklin D. Roosevelt was President of the United States.
Yvonne was ten years old in 1929 and grew up during the Great Depression.
Since her mother grew vegetables and her father had dairy cows they were never hungry, but there was no money. Her mother sold butter and milk and sewed their clothes.
One of Yvonne’s many chores was to churn the butter by hand. For entertainment they would go to her grandfather’s drug store and movie theater on Main Street.
After the movie her grandfather would let her make her own soda at the soda fountain, where she would mix the syrup flavors into some crazy concoctions.
Yvonne graduated from high school, which only had eleven grades then, in 1935 at the age of sixteen.
Sadly, the April before leaving for college, her ten year old little brother John Albert, or “T-Son” as he was called, was killed in an accident while riding his Shetland pony.
In September she went away to college in Natchitoches at Louisiana State Normal College, a college only for teachers.
She and her brother, Dr. George Fletcher of Kaplan, were the first two people in their family to graduate from college.
At college Yvonne slept on a cot on an outside screened porch on the dormitory, even in winter.
When she was a senior, her roommate was Grace Montgomery of Kaplan. Grace later married Frank Hardee, and, interestingly enough, their daughter, Polly Hardee, taught Yvonne’s granddaughter, Yvonne Cook at University of Houston over sixty years later.
After graduating from college, Yvonne came home to Kaplan and began teaching at Kaplan High School in 1939.
Her first principal was Mr. Bordelon, and her first day of teaching, he thought she was one of the students.
She began teaching at age 19, and thus some of her students were older than she was. She grew her hair long and put it in a bun to make herself look older.
She taught English and French mainly, but during the war she taught other subjects as well, since so many men had gone into the military.
Her classroom was in the old Kaplan High School, which is Rene Rost Middle School now.
Miss Fletcher was senior sponsor many times.
Every summer she went to French Week living in the French House on the LSU campus where only French was spoken. She gave a speech on the teaching of French at one of these sessions.
She taught with Grace Montgomery, Ethel Douglas and Therese Labry, all who would remain lifelong friends.
In New Orleans when the end of the war was announced, Yvonne was dancing in the streets to celebrate the war’s end.
In 1950, she met her future husband, Henry Rodrigue, on a visit to Port Arthur with her Aunt Maude, her aunt who had helped deliver her.
She and Henry corresponded for two years while Henry fought in Korea in the Army, and they married in December 1952 after he came home.
Yvonne retired from teaching at Kaplan High School when they married and moved to Houston.
After honeymooning in Florida, they arrived at their new home on Henry’s birthday, January 5.
Henry was an aircraft mechanic, crew chief of the mechanics for Trans Texas Airways, which is now Continental Airlines.
They had four children, Kay, born in 1953, Kyle, stillborn in 1955, Nancy, born in 1956, and Ellen, born in 1959, three months after Henry was electrocuted in an accident at home while working on the house.
Yvonne did not know how to drive when her husband died, and so she had to learn to drive in order to get Kay to school. And learn she did. She was taught by her wonderful neighbors to drive their 1950 Chevy named, Betsy.
Yvonne devoted her life to raising her three daughters in Houston.
All three girls attended Mt. Carmel Elementary School in southeast Houston, where Yvonne and Henry were charter members of the parish.
Yvonne, a very talented seamstress, sewed the girls’ clothes plus her own clothes. She and the girls did all the work around the house, including the yardwork of their half-acre lawn.
They visited Kaplan during the summer for long visits to the family home to see Grandma Fletcher.
There they would pick figs and pears from the garden and help can them and do whatever housework Grandma needed done.
Everyone looked forward to seeing Uncle George (he always came with a five-pound package of boudin from Mr. Breaux’s meat market tucked under his arm for them because he knew they loved it).
All three girls graduated from high school and college, something of which Yvonne is very proud.
Kay Rodrigue is a medical transcriptionist at the hospital in Brenham, TX, Nancy Rodrigue Cook works for Workforce Solutions living in Spring, TX, and Ellen Rodrigue LaBauve is a Senior Financial Analyst for Chevron in Houston.
Yvonne has six grandchildren Christine, Joanne, Yvonne, Grant, Nancy, and August Cook, and one great-grandchild, Anthony Cook, age 9.
After her daughters were graduated from college, Yvonne started traveling in a travel club and went many places with her brother Dr. George Fletcher and his wife Willa, her daughter Kay or her friend Therese Labry.
She traveled to Florida, up the east coast to New York, to California up the west coast into Canada where she stood on a glacier, and to the Dakotas. She really enjoyed these trips and the reunions every year with the travel club.
Yvonne has lived in the same house for 56 years in Houston, which was built in 1939, before the days of air conditioning, so it has 38 windows. The house sits on a half acre lawn which Yvonne has mowed herself up until last summer.
Miss Fletcher was invited to many 50 year reunions of the classes she taught.
Two of her former students live near Houston and are friends of the family. They are Winnie Guilbeaux Trahan of Conroe, and Lloyd Dartez of Spring.
Yvonne’s family would like to invite all former students, friends and family to send Yvonne a birthday card to her home in Houston at 6903 Fauna St., Houston, TX 77061. She would love hearing from all of you and it would really make her 90th birthday special!!