Eleven years ago, Will and Jackie Charbonnet celebrated the 100th birthday of their home at 513 Front Beach Drive in Ocean Springs. |
To commemorate the event, their son recorded a revised version of the classic, "This Ole House" by Rosemary Clooney, as a gift for his parents.
After song sheets were passed out, friends and family laughed as they sang the personal rendition to honor the historic home.
What the Charbonnets didn't realize is how one line of the original version would become a reality - "This ole house was home and comfort as they fought the storms of life."
After 63 years of marriage, the couple is having to start over, but the support of their children keeps them going, as well as their love for the area.
"I just liked being there," said Charbonnet. "I did a lot of alterations with my own hands. I put a lot of work in the house."
When they bought the waterfront property in 1970, little repairs were needed from Camille, but when Katrina paid a visit last year, the damage was overwhelming.
"We were going to stay at the house for the hurricane but we sat and listened to the radio and heard about the winds and the surge. Our boys called and said to get out," he said. "... After the storm, we went over there and it was pretty terrible. The house collapsed backward like an accordion."
The Charbonnets' four sons and five of their grandchildren immediately began rummaging for anything worth saving.
One "miracle" find in the matchstick pile was a collection of 55 unharmed photo albums of family memories and Charbonnet's Navy career; all thanks to his wife's Ziploc bag packing done 3 years ago.
As of now, the couple is living in a motor home on their son's property, near the now-empty lot.
Architectural plans have been drawn for an "old Southern home" and after details are finalized with the Ocean Springs historic commission, construction should begin next month (Sept. 2006).
One piece of history Katrina did leave behind on the Charbonnet property was a 400-year-old Live oak.
"My wife used to say she'd almost rather lose the house than the big tree because we don't have 400 years to grow another one," he said. "Now she says the Lord heard her too well.
" - DANA SLEGER