Albert and Marjorie Balius' home in D'Iberville, Four Oaks, was landscaped with lush greenery and shaded by four large oaks set against the view of Back Bay. |
They bought the 3,100-square-foot house in 1974 and in the following years created a lot of fond memories.
"All of our grandkids talk about how they learned to ride their tricycles up and down the long hallway in the house, and the large living room we used for holiday gatherings," said Albert Balius. "We also had some weddings there - two sons and a daughter. It was just a house full of memories."
The 100-year-old home, described as "homey and Southern colonial," had been built on the site of a yard that made bricks to pave the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans and downtown Biloxi in the early 1900s, Balius said.
The big draw of the house was that it was on the water; it was a 24/7 lifestyle for the family.
In 1976, the family ventured into the shrimping business and in 1991 they converted the vessel to operate as a charter boat, specializing in trips to Chandeleur Island.
It was The Mary that got the Baliuses out of the Back Bay and into safer waters during Katrina, but their beloved home was an unfortunate victim.
"My son lives next door, and we were able to keep in touch through a VHF radio. He told us there wasn't much of the house left, so we were prepared for what we were going to see," Balius said.
After the city bulldozed the remains, the couple bought a deluxe RV with a porch so they could still savor their daily cup of coffee while admiring the view of the sun-kissed bay.
Although Four Oaks may be gone, a blessing has come from tragedy.
Before Katrina, condominium developers had offered to buy the nine acres shared by the couple and their son, but it was hard to let go of a place filled with so many memories.
Now that the storm has forced a reconsideration, negotiations have begun and Balius said he is hopeful the contract will include a condo and boat slip for them.
"We miss the house, because you think of some memory every day... but we appreciate we're able to stay here and enjoy it for a while. We love the area."
- DANA SLEGER