At age 69, I am amazed at how quickly time now seems to move for me. The passing seconds used to sound like the drumbeat of slow drops of rain on a tin roof that now, as the years roll by, is threatening to become a rainstorm. Yet the length of a day is the same, only my consciousness now views it as shorter. My awareness has changed also. No longer can I turn away from hurt and cruelty or push out of my mind the thoughts of those that preceded me. For now the ghosts of my past always walk by my side. The passage of time has been a road to walk until death. I can look back on where I have come from, but the vision forward is not clear. My steps on this road have slowed with age and for me, time will stop with death. My story follows my footsteps. This journey was forged as my link in the chains of consciousness stretching back 4 billion years to the beginning of Life on Earth.
I was born in New Orleans on February 2nd, 1947, in the old St. Touro Infirmary. This was Ground Hogs Day, that quirky holiday celebrating a ground hog climbing out of a hole in the ground. From the weather records, the day was cold, dry, and blustery, and according to my mother's doctor I was 6 weeks late. I take the latter to be due to someone not being able to count months but it could also be a genetic explanation for my habitual tendency to be late. My mother was Marcella Genevieve Prieto (Cellie, 1909-1991) from Mandeville, Louisiana, and my father was Alfred Leopold Stoessell Jr (Al, 1907-1971) from Hammond, Louisiana. I have two older siblings, a brother Alfred Lloyd Stoessell (Lloyd, b. 1941) and a sister Marilyn Maria Stoessell (Marilyn, b. 1945). Lloyd was born on April 13, Easter Sunday, when Christ supposedly rose from the dead, coming out of a cave, an interesting contrast, don't you think, to my birthday on Ground Hogs Day. These two siblings were excessive overachievers when I was growing up. Thankfully, they have slowed down.
By 1949, the family left New Orleans and moved to Crowley in Southwest Louisiana. Crowley was and is the center of the Louisiana rice-growing country and those rice fields are as green as Ireland in the late summer. Al started the Moore-Stoessell Motor Co, a Studebaker Dealership, with his brother-in-law James (Jimmy) Moore in this town in 1948. They also sold Kaiser-Frazer and Nash cars at the dealership. They were young with grand ambitions and were good friends throughout their lives, but this joint venture went the way of Studebakers. They had assumed Crowley, not Lafayette, would grow to become the oil center of the area. Regretfully, Crowley decreased in population over the next 60 years, while Lafayette increased by an order of magnitude. When the car dealership closed in the late 1950s, Al had already moved on to other pursuits, discussed later. Below are chronological links beginning with a general overview of family history.