Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lena Mae Wood Deamer of Roseland, Louisiana

Lena Mae at the age of two
Lena Mae was the second child born to Alma Irving Wood and Walter Wood, Sr., She was born  in Roseland, Louisiana  on September 26, 1926 in Roseland, Louisiana on the homestead of Lemuel (Lem) Irving, Sr.  and Susie McKnight Irving. Lena was delivered by her Aunt Lucy Irving Collier, a midwife.  Alma and Walter, Sr. had lived in Chicago, but separated before she was born. Lena never saw her father until she was around 50 years old.

Alma later married leaving Lena Mae and her brother Walter to be raised at the homestead by Lem, Susie, and Aunt Ethel Irving. Lem grew lots of vegetables on the farm and raised livestock. Lena helped in the fields and with product sales by figuring out his bills and receipts. Lem could not read or write and signed deeds with an "X" for the many acres of land he purchased. Although he was not formally educated, he would always say, "There's nothing like common sense."

Lena Mae Wood Deamer
At an early age, Lena became a member of Big Zion A.M.E. Zion Church in Roseland where family members attended. She was an active member in the church and sang in the choir. She graduated from O. W. Dillon High School in Kentwood, Louisiana and later attended one semester at Southern University.

Lena Mae married Leroy Deamer, an auto mechanic. To their union was born two children, Ethel Lorraine and Alvin Gilbert Deamer. She enjoyed being a homemaker, attended the children's church and school functions, and assisted with their homework. Lena and Leroy moved from the homestead around 1961 and built their family an all-brick house in Arcola and was among the first African-American families in the area to accomplish that achievement.

Leroy was killed in 1987 at his auto mechanic shop in Amite, Louisiana. Lena never remarried. She enjoyed helping with the grandchildren and loved watching sports. Her favorites was watching Tiger Woods play golf and Michael Jordan play basketball. And of course her favorite football team was the New Orleans Saints. When she moved to the Belle Maison Nursing Home, her favorite pass time was playing bingo and attending religious services as well as the many parties and social hours at the facility.

During her lifetime, Lena was able to witness transportation going from horse and buggy to automobiles, and to man landing on the moon. Most importantly she was able to see the election of the first African American President, Barack Obama, which she said she thought she would never see in her lifetime.

Lena Mae Wood Deamer
Lena Mae's daughter Lorraine is the author of "Authentic Southern Cooking with Chuck and Miss Lorraine," Her presentation of Southern style cooking is based on the New Orleans flavors of Cajun, Creole and African American cuisine. Lorraine included some of the recipes her mother had sent her over a 40 year period. Some were on the back of envelopes, while others were on tattered paper. Lena was famous for her potato salad, and the recipe is included in the cookbook. 

Her brother Walter Wood, Jr., married a woman named Leah Mae. Leah had a half brother by the name of Thomas Alvin Perry. Grandchildren -Lisa and Charles Lizana, Jr.; Alvin Roderick, Brian Christopher, and Brandi Nicole Deamer. Great grandchildren - Skylar and Mya Deamer; Daelyn and Alexander Short. Lena's sunset was July 15, 2012 at the age of 85.