by Jude Southerland Kessler

Two years ago, on the very day before the CoVid Shutdown commenced, my husband and I moved to Shreveport, LA. And because I have serious auto-immune problems, we’ve been locked in the house ever since! We do take occasional car rides and go for runs and bike rides, but other than that, we know very little of this lovely city. However, it’s hard not to notice one gorgeous home located on Ockley Drive. It’s a breathtaking mansion … you know, the kind with a sweeping staircase a la Gone With the Wind.

A few days ago, I stumbled upon the history of that elegant home in an article that had been printed several years ago in The Shreveport Times. And a couple of lines in that story made me stop in my tracks.

The home, it seems, was built by A. C. Steere, “a revolutionary who changed the face of Shreveport, Louisiana, by being a developer of high repute.” Steere, the article reported, “began to grow the city in many directions, making the face of the town completely different than it had ever been before.” Indeed, in the 1920s, Steere created five of Shreveport’s major subdivisions … subdivisions that are still viable today, gracing our town with amazing beauty: neighborhoods full of one-of-a-kind brick bungalows and Tudor two-stories … neighborhoods with diamond-paned cottages that make one curb-crawl in utter delight.

Steere also built parks. When it isn’t crowded and full of people, my husband and I run in the “Central Park look-alike,” Betty Virginia Park, created by Mr. Steere and named for his two daughters. Arched bridges, winding paths, crepe myrtle and magnolia trees, spacious fields, and paths of daffodils … this retreat in the midst of a busy city is magnificent. And each day, hundreds of men, women, and children in Shreveport flock to what is now dubbed A. C. Steere Park to run, picnic, stroll, play guitar, gambol, workout, ride bikes, and just be.

But A.C. Steere never knew all of this. Because on 1 July 1930, he went to the pool behind his mansion and shot himself in the chest.

Why? Because he thought that the oncoming Great Depression (whose severe effects he could read so clearly … or so he thought) was going to destroy him and his employees. And he couldn’t face firing people, cutting salaries, and watching the world he had built so lovingly fall apart.

But get this … here is the line in The Shreveport Times article that rocked my world. It read:

Steere committed suicide “thinking the spreading of financial panic called the Great Depression had financially ruined him. As it turned out, his company only had a temporary setback not requiring filing for bankruptcy.”

Things would have been fine, had he waited. Had he waited, things would have been okay.

Whatever is haunting you today, whatever is making you sad, whatever is breaking your heart … wait. Whatever is dragging at your hem and pulling you down … wait. Whatever is pushing and pulling you in a thousand different directions … wait. You don’t know the end of the story. And it is never what you think it will be. WAIT. DON’T GIVE UP.

John Lennon said, “I’m going into an unknown future, but I’m still here. And still, while there’s life, there’s hope.” I wish A.C. Steere had heard those words. But at least you and I have heard them, right?

And so, we wait … till the sun shines.


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