Bayou La Batre and Coden

This is the first time I’ve posted anything of my hometown on this blog since I restarted it on WordPress.

On a recent visit “home”, I went around Instagramming not the usual sights of the town (that is, boats and the water) but other aspects.


“S” logo on the sidewalk in front of the old Schambeau’s store. Schambeau’s, or Crum’s as the old folks called it (the propreitor was A. C. “Crum” Schambeau) was one of the most important businesses in town. They sold groceries, hardware, lumber, paint, you name it.

Schambeau’s was one of the two main sources in town (along with Modern Drug, not pictured but believe me it was not very modern at all) for comic books, an essential ingredient of late childhood and early adolescence in the 1980s as now.

If you had to go to the bathroom in Schambeau’s, you had to go back behind the meat department and up a set of stairs, past the office where Mr. Crum did his accounting on some kind of electromechanical monstrosity of a 1960s calculator, to a single unisex toilet with an oddly religious painting decorating the wall.

That isn’t remotely all there is to say about that place.

The Yellow House

This next picture was a house around the Coden Belt road that, back in the 80s and early 90s, was (per my mother) a boarding house where all the known homosexuals in town lived. The landlord was another one of the Schambeau family. I assume the house reached this state of disrepair from Hurricane Katrina. According to my mother, this photo is of the wrong house, the correct one is the other (also yellow) house next door.


This is what the dirt lane beside that house looks like:


The Shell Fence

Just down the road a piece is the place with the oyster shell fence. This was, I am told, once a common local building material – there was once a “shell house” in town made entirely of it.




Coden Drive-In

The “Coden Drive-In”. You need to understand that “Coden” is pronounced something like “Code-Inn”, so the name of this place rhymed. The building got like this from Katrina but I don’t remember if it was in business right up until then or not.

There wasn’t much to do in Bayou La Batre and Coden back in the late 70s and early 80s, so my family’s idea of a fun evening when I was about 5 years old was to come to this place and get ice cream cones, and then go driving around watching the sun set on the bay while we ate them.

The Catalina

The ruins of the old location of the Catalina seafood restaurant, which everybody called “Ory’s”. The restaurant was closed for years after the hurricane but now is open in the old Schambeau’s building:


Royal Oaks

“Royal Oaks” is one of the few remaining homes from Coden’s days as a seaside resort in the l890s. This period of prosperity was ended by disastrous hurricanes in 1906 and 1916. They had no names then, just “the 1906 storm”.


Peter F. Alba School

And now, Alba. The school where I spent the blerst of my childhood. Now only a middle school, in my days Alba served  kindergarten through 12th grade.

This caboose was installed when I was in high school. No predecessor of CSX ever ran to Bayou La Batre. (The only railroad in town, long since gone, was the Mobile and Bay Shore, a Mobile and Ohio subsidiary. If it had not been abandoned or sold, it would be part of Canadian National now.)


All of Alba’s “portables” – that was what they called a classroom trailer back then, a “portable” classroom – are gone. I don’t know if the hurricane got them, or if the school wasn’t crowded enough to need them anymore after the new schools opened and took most of the students. Now this was once a covered walkway that kept students out of the rain on our way to class, now it is just sitting in the middle of nowhere.


This was the satellite dish that we used to receive “Channel One” broadcoasts in the 90s:


And now, the Walk of Fame of 1991. That year, the school put in a new sidewalk and allowed students to sign it. I looked and looked for my own name, but could not find it. I know almost all of the names as people I went to school with though.







12 thoughts on “Bayou La Batre and Coden”

    1. Hi, your comment got lost in a major spam problem I had on this blog, so I am just now seeing it.

      This is, I think, the only picture I have of Schambeau’s.

  1. I remember Schambeau’s and when it closed. My lil brothers mom is from Bayou La Batre. My pawpaw(her dad) was the scrap man down there when he retired from GE & BLB city council.

    1. I remember a scrap yard in Coden owned by a man named Henry Royal. My dad, uncles, and grandfather were frequent customers. Was that your pawpaw?

  2. Do you remember the “ mountain” that was at the park? The airplane docked in front of it? And the animals… couldve swore was flamingos and an alligator. There was also a spring artesian well there. Our beach house was there since the 40s until Katrina. I soft shelled , fished and giged those waters for flounder as a kid in the 70s and 80s.

    1. I remember the plane and the raft that was out there where you could swim out to it and lay out there and get a cancer inducing tan, or just fry under the sun, like me. I remember Schambeau’s too, we would buy groceries for the weekend there and there was an appliance store just up the street. my great grand father bought the land and built a house on it , then my grand father built an even bigger one it both destroyed by Fredric and my dad built another house that was eventually sold. on the way down there we would stop by this stand and get a few pounds of the most amazing tomatoes from a road side stand, the smell of toast,coffee,eggs,sausage,grits,and the tomatoes were such an amazing combination to wake up to in the morning.

      the pier we had was destroyed by a hurricane, but the neighbors in front of us let us use theirs and we would just lie out there and catch blue and red crabs, we would take the boat down to the end of coden belt road and launch it there, you drop a dollar in this plastic tub park there and spend the day fishing and frying in the sun.

      at night when there were neep, or low tides you would go soft shell crabbing, never caught any though. I remember watching the thunder storms roll in across the bay and the lightning would put on an amazing display.the oyster construction was a common thing, the house that stood there at the boat launch area has a foundation made like that.yes, those were the days of our youth.

  3. My Granddad was Pastor of Heron Bay Baptist Church and He, My Grandmother, My Mom, and Aunt all used to go to The Catalina after church service. Mr. Ory and His family are like our family. Our family have been going since the early sixties. It broke my heart when I saw what Katrina did to the restaurant, but I’m so thrilled that they reopened. Best Seafood on the Gulf Coast. Hands Down! 🙂

  4. My family lived in Coden back in the early 70s possibly late 60s. I was four or five we lived in a house, i believe it was round on stilts with a wrap around porch. I think it was red. A dirt road ran beside the house and we faced the bay. On either side of the dirt road directly across from the bay were two identical 2 or 3 story homes built most likely in the mid to late 1800s. The one directly in front of the house we lived in had a horse in the back yard i use to feed. If anyone happens to know these two old homes and can link me to pictures or a history of them i would be ever so grateful.
    I’d love to see them again if only in pictures. Assuming Hurricane Katrina wasn’t kind to them if they were still standing. Thanks in advance!

  5. Back in the late 40’s through the 50’s, our family would vacation sometimes at Coden. We stayed in a tourist court of concrete block cabins, usually renting several of them for extended family. We even took our maid, and she didn’t work; just vacationed like the rest of us.
    They had a pier and a boat launch at which my grandfather launched his Stauter boat and we’d pull a shrimp net. It fascinated us kids to see the amazing variety of sea creatures we’d catch, including Horse Shoe crabs and Sea Horses.
    The tourist court was just a little South of the Catholic Boys Home summer lodge.
    Yes, lots of sun burned, fond memories of beautiful Coden.

  6. Does anyone have a picture of the old white church that sat on the corner by coden bridge?

    1. I can take a picture of it for you, about 2 houses to the left of the first picture (another very old house, white with a green roof) is my family’s house and its probably about a 30 second walk to the extact church your talking about

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