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Michele Picot
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Leonce Picot Funeral Flowers

Michele Picot, daughter of Leonce Picot

fka Michele Picot raises another mug of coffee to Leonce Picot aka Daddy and thanks him for teaching her to never let an alcoholic beverage cross her lips.

Leonce Picot, Kay Picot, Michele Picot

Everbody was so happy on Michele's first birthday!

Leonce and Kay Picot Wedding China

Michele has kept Kay and Leonce's wedding crystal and china for 50 years, since Kay's death in 1972, from move to move, state to state. It is stored preciously in special cases. Each move she has personally carried the boxes to the car, for transport in the car she drives to the next location. It is mid-century collectible now, Lenox Wheat with gold dinner service, and stemmed cut crystal for various settings. If she lives long enough, she may be able to sell it to cover a month's rent or so once she is too feeble to pick strawberries anymore.
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Louis M. Picot, Leonce Picot Grandfather

The judge expressed a wish to die soon- he was only 51, and died within hours of his wish, of apoplexy while dining.

The year was 1911 and my father, Leonce Louis Picot, Louis M. Picot's grandson, was not born until 1932. This dispels Leonce's lifelong belief that his grandfather refused to acknowledge him. Something else was going on over his head and he was under the spell of confused family lies. Leonce's father, Leonce Picot Jr, was named after Leonce Picot b. 1832 in France. He married Wilhemina ? and from there record is still obscure, though Leonce Picot did immigrate to the United States.

Born in New Jersey, Louis M. Picot, his son, married Lillian Fleet, daughter of an engineer from Illinois. They had two sons. Gilbert Fleet Picot was born in 1885.

Gilbert got the jump on his brother and produced a son born May 30, 1911, just four months before Louis the Judge died. He named him Leonce Louis Picot III who became a veterinarian in Livingston, NJ.

Leonce Picot, Jr. was born 1886. But Leonce's father married in his mid-forties and Leonce Louis Picot was born the following year in 1932, 21 years after Leonce Louis Picot III.

Leonce lived believing his father had been the judge, but it was the grandfather he thought disowned him who was a judge.

It would seem the rift originated between the brothers, Gilbert Fleet Picot and Leonce Picot, Jr., and their mother, Lillian.

Leonce grew up believing his grandfather lived two blocks away from him when in fact his grandfather had died in 1911.

It was his grandmother Lillian Picot and Gilbert Fleet Picot, his uncle who refused to recognize the marriage and children of Leonce Louis Picot, Jr. and Nellie Avelia Henderson Maloy.

However, Grandmother Lillian and Uncle Gilbert were still alive when Leonce's father tragically died, and he had never met them, and they didn't come around to help little Leonce clean up the ashes. It is true, they were right there in the neighborhood. Perhaps they decided to just raise another glass.

Leonce's mother, Nellie, never re-married. She worked an honest living patching calls at the Florida Department of Transportation where she became president of the Florida's PBX Operator's Union.

And that's the truth.

Leonce Picot, Jr.

There was no actual obituary for Leonce Picot, Jr. and where he was buried is still unknown, though Gilbert Fleet Picot, Lillian Fleet Picot, and Louis M. Picot are all interred together .

Leonce Louis Picot, Jr.

Leonce Picot Funeral Flowers

Leonce Louis Picot, Jr. Born 11/14/1886 in Essex, NJ.
d. 1/26/1940
Essex Court Crier
17th Exalted Ruler of South Orange Elks 1927-1928
Law Offices at 17 Academy Street
South Orange, Essex County, NJ.

Father of Leonce Louis Picot 1932-2018
Husband of Nell Avelia Henderson

Grandfather Picot was a snazzy dresser which later clicked in the son who did not know him long.

He was indeed a sad and lonely man in 1927, having lost his father to a Death Wish in 1911, and never fnding the right woman. Just look into the windows to his soul. He never married until he met Nellie, my grandmother, Mama Nell.

His brother Gilbert had already taken his name for Gilbert's son.

Little Leonce must have been the apple of his father's eye. Whenever aka Daddy was not around, Mama Nell loved to tell the story of the day Mr. Picot took her little boy to the barber shop for his first haircut.

"Oh, he had the most beautiful golden curls, Michele," as Mama Nell loved to tell the story.

"I just cried as he took Leonce by the hand, walking him along the sidewalk, to get them all cut off. His father was firm that he was getting to be too old for golden curls."

Who can say which is worse, a parent losing a young child or a young child losing a parent?

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Many thanks to 11th cousin J.L. Bryant for filling in an obscure portion of the Picot family tree in the course of doing an Elks Lodge Memorial project for past Exalted Rulers.

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Leonce and Kay Picot with their Daughters Michele and Laura

Easter of 1963 in Bunny's (Kay's mother) backyard on the Intracoastal Waterway in Pompano Beach, FL. The Jamaican Tall Coconuts were thriving then, and there were dozens in Bunny's yard. This is a typical Easter where Kay has taken the children to church without her husband while Leonce slept off his Saturday night at the Molokai. After we did church and egg-hunting, he took us around to see our grandmothers, Bunny and Mama Nell while we were in our Easter dresses.

Kay just wanted a church family, Mother, Father, children, enjoying life with other church families for companions. This year, Kay and her girls had decided upon variations of red, white, and blue outfits for Easter.

We had but only a few months left before the President whose handsome face hung on my bedroom wall was assassinated. My mother went into shock- however she had been putting her best foot forward failed, and she was a river of tears for weeks on end.

It was the worst Thanksgiving ever, and fortunately I don't care for Turkey, so after what I saw my mother go through that Thanksgiving, it was over for me. No more Pilgrims, no more dinners, no more family celebration. A slice of homemade pumpkin pie is all I can choke down.

And the other "Family Days" went by the way after Kay died in 1972, along with every Jamaican Tall Coconut in Florida, though it was several years before they were all wiped out .

What was Easter without Kay and her hats, without Daddy hiding eggs and leaving notes signed, "B. Rabbit?"

And there is no continuance of Christmas tradition in a household rent asunder.

Without the Daddy I once knew, without a Mother, there is nothing to replace that love which was our Holy Days.

The Last of Home with aka Daddy

Laura Picot and Michele Picot

It is another Christmas morn as Laura and Michele test out their new trikes on the sidewalk. Santa's swing set is still out front where he left it, probably having just finished setting it up before we called our parents out of bed.

This house is at 1001 N.E. 33rd Street, Oakland Park where we lived and grew 1958-1966. It was a corner double lot, so the back was huge and full of adventures.

It was built in 1940, by the Maxon family who had drilled most of the early wells and excavated the septic fields for pioneer Oakland Park.

It was a small but interesting house, with hardwood floors, cedar closets, rafters, a fireplace, and 4' high windows which cranked outward. There were baseboards and cornice wood for every window. The four of us lived there, with two bedrooms and one bath. The bath was small, but the bedrooms were large and their walls weren't shared.

The house was about a six minute drive from the Mai-Kai.

It is the last house where I lived with Kay and Leonce Picot as a loved daughter. Almost overnight it all ended.

 

Leonce Picot Funeral Flowers

 

 

Last Christmas with Daddy

 

 

Leonce Picot Eulogy

Meet Me in Provence

by fka Michele Picot aka Leigh Michele Picot b.1953

Leonce Louis Picot 1932-2018

Leonce Picot 1953 University of Miami

Left The Way We Were: Daddy-O at University of Miami in 1953, about to graduate already with a bun in the oven. aka Daddy looked so happy in those days.

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As Leonce's firstborn, I am the last of the living who had known him the longest by the time he died. It is right that I should write his Eulogy as no one else alive is capable, or has felt it necessary to bother. Few people alive at the time of his death knew much about him at all.

The word Eulogy has been re-translated for funeral purposes, far off its literal meaning which is "true story," or, eu, true, and logos, word.

What is true is that I knew things about Leonce he never knew about himself, along with things he never wanted revealed. I kept his secrets without threat or bargain, because my mother had truly loved him to the end of her life and had prepared his way forward, regardless of his choices.

Every so many births within a family tree generates a branch family historian, like a branch bank, and in my branch, I am IT. It is a lonesome commission.

Leonce Picot did not understand his heritage, and as many of us do, lived his life with bits of impressions of from whence he came, on stories, fragments and revisions created by those around him. Leonce's childhood was traumatic and fatherless. Had his father lived and not been burned alive when Leonce was only 8, he would surely have had a different career guidance.

In 1940, loss of their fathers had caused both my parents to be to be transported to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, one from New Jersey, the other from Indiana. Leonce met my mother Kay in Fort Lauderdale around 1944 after she had been kidnapped by her mother from her father, her home, her school, her grandparents, her whole world in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Though she had a very kind and generous stepfather, she never got over not seeing her own father and the family she knew as hers again, though her father lived until 1966, the year of Leonce and Kay's divorce. Thus a star-crossed pair became high school sweethearts, playing on the still wild beaches of Fort Lauderdale, and enjoying high school days together as Fort Lauderdale High athletic stars. In college they were at University of Miami together most of the time, but there was once a spat which sent Kay to University of Georgia, Athens.

Leonce Picot Happy Days

aka Daddy looked so happy as The Jazzman, with the woman by his side who was always described as "lovely Kay Picot." He was never heard by Michele distinguishing any sort of musicians by color.

As a duo, Kay and Leonce were headed for careers in radio and in musical concert promotion.

Kay Daniel Picot

Of the Love of her Life, Kay told Michele, "The first time I kissed your father I saw stars..."

Kay became pregnant as Leonce was graduating college. He was just 21. There he was without a penny in pocket, a wife, a baby, and a world of ambitions. He was employed by Roy C. Jones of Jones for Loans which incorporated three months before I was born.

Leonce Picot and Michele Picot

Baby Michele must have felt the same about Leonce as her mother, pure rapture when aka Daddy held her and touched her cheek. And aka Daddy looked so happy, even with an extra mouth to feed.

His mother, Nell Avelia H Picot, had raised him well, on her own, with a solid Presbyterian background and impeccable honesty. Her houses were always spotless, not a speck of dust anywhere. Nell was an excellent 1940's era Americana cook of only the most wholesome foods.

Therefore, as a young man, Leonce was a very clean-living man. He was so clean, he once shaved his armpits, during his squash days. Kay said all the men at the athletic club made fun of him for it so he reverted.

Until a few years working at the Mai-Kai changed his habits, he was quite thin at 6'2" and this is where the trouble began. At about age 17, Leonce was prescribed beer daily by a medical doctor, for weight gain. That was the story. Though he claimed his mother had to serve him the beer at home where he drank it, we all know now that three ounces of any alcohol daily is medically considered alcoholism. So either his mother or his doctor or both made him a teenage alcoholic before he was out of high school.

Over his life, Leonce became a completely different man than the one I once knew, than the man of our house, the man who was my father.

Though things started out fine with me even if he was gone more than the usual hours daily or weekly. I must have been less than three when he took me to a marionette performance of Pinocchio. Leonce selected my first music LP.s: Peter and the Wolf, Bambi, Fantasia. The hours Kay and I were alone in the house together, she played them at regular intervals.

Leonce Picot, Michele Picot, Kay Picot

We were exquisitely happy. Leonce is laughing at me in this photo because I was being told to smile, which seemed to me like, show your teeth. My sister was not yet born. Laura was an EMKO baby, and how I wish that stuff had worked. She wasted love as aka Daddy did, and was never a sister, but a stand-offish someone who began saying, "Get away from me," by the time she was in grade school.

I remember one enchanted evening in old Florida, when the skies were midnight blue and stars still sparkled brighter than the street lights over the canopy of rustling Jamaica Tall Coconut Palms. The Jamaica Tall Coconuts we once knew, all succumbed or were doomed to lethal yellowing beginning in 1971, just before Kay died. They all died.

We had been out late, I think at Mama Nell's place. I was tucked away in bed, because what I remember is coming out into the night cradled so tenderly in my father's strong arms as he carried me to our car beneath that diamond-studded sky. I remember the colors in the palm fronds overhead and their curving trunks, I can smell the jasmine and feel the edges of my dress floating as he carried me.

If only we could have gone on that way.

Kay Picot, Leonce Picot, Michele Picot

above: Kay Picot and Michele Picot hold their beloved Leonce and aka Daddy at Mama Nell's duplex. Things were seeming a little strange by this year, and though smiling her best, Kay was suffering greatly from the effects of being a Mai-Kai wife and in this picture she was fighting back her tears. Michele was still clueless, and quite happy.

Regardless of what start we get in life, there are always forks in the path.

This is my consolation:

Though Leonce abandoned his family in 1966, he was changing and we already had had the best of him. As a wife gives her youth to her first husband, Kay and her children had received all Leonce's youth age 12 to 34, all his real joy, all his tenderness, all his games, all his zest for even the simplest things, his holidays, his birthday parties, his music, his activities, his traditions.

He was absentee in many ways, but we got all anyone was ever going to get of the man who began as Leonce, and he left the best of Leonce behind when he left his family.

I see it in his photo history in my scrapbooks: he never looked as happy when he smiled, he never looked as relaxed or comfortable after 1966. He made his unilateral choices and did what he wanted as if the other three lives of those who loved him most and still had every right to depend upon and trust him did not exist.

He was never the same person once he left us. Nor was I. I started out with two parents who loved each other and who loved me so much that I could feel it! Something crept its way into our little house and by the time I was sixteen I was doomed, soon to become an orphan. There are no amount of doctors or fun things in the world to cure me. Like great-grandfather Louis M. Picot, I openly and frankly say, I have no wish to live a minute longer, but I have been waiting a long time for that apoplexy.

I childishly hoped time would smooth things over, but I was pitted against a sly woman who had nothing but bad will for me and who had no reservations about letting me know it.

Carolyn Picot took possession of the Kay Picot purported Suicide Note and she kept it as her personal prize.

I had only been back from college, unfinished, a few days when she flashed it in my face, saying,

"By the way, here's something your father and I found in your mother's house."

I never held the page or actually saw anything but the Header. She held the page folded so I could see only that at the top it said the two people Kay loved most were, "1. Michele and 2. Leonce."

"Isn't that nice?" she said. Then she took it away and left the room.

Kay and I loved Leonce heart and soul and he threw us away.

A man drifted from a wholesome, promising, idealistic youth and the adoring family he created, into a current of toxic strangers with values antithetical to ours.

That is Eulogy. The man traded in one life for another, and by the time he died, he was someone else altogether.

Though he only half-knew, then forgot who he was, my father did make me a better Methodist.

Leonce Picot

#17

Leonce Picot 1948 Flying L's

Leonce Picot

Leonce Picot Funeral Flowers

His achilles tendon was amazingly long, which accounts for his talent in basketball, and his shoes were size 13. Leonce once flew into the air light as a gazelle with his extraordinary Achilles, but his absolutely flat feet kept him out of both American Ballet Theatre and the Military.

My father was a Letterman. He always said his lucky number was 17 because that was his basketball number and I, his daughter, Michele, was born on 12/17.

Little did he know his father was 17th Exalted Ruler of South Orange Elks 1927-1928 or that his law offices had been at 17 Academy Street.

Added to that, ironically Leonce's father was born 11/14, the birthdate of Michele's son, Leonce's grandson.

Leonce excelled in certain atheletics 1944-1970, never smoked a cigarette, feared drugs, and fainted during an injection.

He moved from basketball to tennis, squash, and jai-alai.

He picked up a love of the pool hall where he began spending his off- time when he wasn't at the Mai-Kai.

 

Leonce Picot Funeral Flowers

The End of Happiness

Kay Picot, Michele Picot, Leonce Picot

Christmas with Kay and Leonce. We were so beautiful.

Michele Picot, Laura Picot, Leonce Picot

Here Leonce helps Baby Laura Picot unwrap a present as Laura decides whether Michele's present is something she wants.

Michele and Laura Picot

Michele and Laura Picot enjoy a special fruit punch in front of Mama Nell's amazing Dieffenbachia. Michele places an affectionate arm on her sister's shoulder, but she never remembers even a hug from her sister ever. Known for her childhood pinches and biting, likely inthis photo Laura is pinching her sister under her dress.

Laura and Michele Picot

At their Oakland Park home, Laura as Felix the Cat, and Michele, as a Mai-Kai Dancer are ready for Trick-or-Treating.

Leonce always carved the pumpkins because the knives were too sharp. In those days, the kids went out in little groups all by themselves through the neighborhhood.

 

Mama Nell almost rid the family of Laura when she was less than two. We went to her duplex often so Leonce could savor his favorite old time cooking. Laura on this occasion was put to bed down the hall in Nell's bedroom after dinner.

Most parents check on their sleeping babies when visiting, at frequent regular intervals if the baby is in another room, especially Kay who patrolled everywhere we went.

At one point, either Kay or Leonce went to check on her. Somehow, an empty bottle of Mama Nell's sleeping pills had materialized on the nightstand. It had not been there when Laura was put to bed.

If Laura had managed to eat every last one, Nell could not say how many that might have been.

Much shorter then, I had a half-room perspective of dramatic events, since most of the action happened above my head. I remember Mama Nell's stucco ceilings sudddenly becoming brighter as every light in the house went on. My father had Laura in his arms, rushing out of the house with Kay who was white as a sheet. Suddenly they were all gone and there I was on the couch with Mama Nell who said they would all be back soon. She prattled about a stomach pump which I did not understand.

Broward General Hospital was very close, so I suppose that is why Leonce and Kay wasted not even a second for an ambulance and rushed her to emergency the second they knew what had happened.

When I was older Kay filled in the details for me. She tried to not instill negativity about anyone in the family, but she did feel Mama Nell was responsible for putting sleeping pills within her baby's reach, even if they had been in the drawer of the nightstand and Laura had searched them out. It was not something she could share with Leonce.

Nellie Picot to her death was intensely protective of her son and his well-being after what they had experienced in New Jersey. She was not a sophisticated person. She was not tactful. Her jokes were off-color. She supported her two children on her own by working for the State.

She was the first woman influence in Leonce's early life until Kay, who molded his career and success.

Maybe Nell saw Laura coming, like she saw Dave Edgerton coming.

On the other hand, maybe she was just playing a joke with an empty bottle all along.

The Last Christmas with Daddy
1966

I spent other Christmases later in time with Daddy, where he preferred celebrating in the Wine Room of the Down Under at midnight. These were not happy occasions. I just couldn't catch the Spirit in the same room with a Jeroboam of Perrier Jouet flower bottle staring me in the face. I let Leonce drink my wine the waiters poured. I didn't like late night dining. Mostly, I felt my husband and I were unwanted in the re-organized Picot family Christmas dinner.

1966 was the Last Christmas with Daddy.

Though Kay and Leonce divorced in 1966, things like divorce did not stop Kay from staying by Leonce's beachpad bedside when he had the flu, and it did not stop Daddy from wanting to spend the night on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day back at the house, like usual. This year he even extracted himself from the Mai-Kai on two of the biggest days of the year, and puttered around the house playing records, sampling Kay's almond crescents and making ham salad and hot chocolate.

Looking back, I think it was childhood anxiety which made me obssessed with giving presents to my mother and father. Though it is better to give than to receive. I get more joy from it anyway. And I always had some sort of little income going, selling woven potholders, lemonade, washing cars. Other than the occasional $1.00 bill slipped into a birthday card, we kids did not have income, per se, unless we earned it.

But in the summer of 1966 I had decided I needed a larger amount for the year's Christmas presents. Though the Beatles had made their landing on U.S. soil, I was still too young to know what "Can't Buy Me Love" meant.

I told Daddy I wanted to make more money for Christmas. Now I realize he obtained the stunning Sample Catalog of Personalized Christmas Cards by the Chilton Company of Chicago as himself, and perhaps re-wrote my orders if they appeared juvenile, for I was turning just 13 that December.

These were the classiest Christmas cards made. I spent hours leafing through the catalog notebook which had a sample unique and stunning card on each page. They were stationery masterpieces including personal and business design. In another age, personalizing Christmas cards for business or otherwise was an advance custom order, and these cards were the best in America.

Daddy naturally knew a number of professional people and businesses who sent at least 50-100 Christmas Cards. He gave me the leads, but I had to make the contacts and appointments and sales on my own. A parent had to drive me around for this and wait in the car, but I made a sale everywhere, on the merit of the cards, and assorted individuals who heard that I had the catalogs gave me orders as well.

I heaped up a Christmas budget beyond my dreams. And, I began spending it two months ahead all the way up to that last week where we just do things like visiting, caroling, and wrapping presents.

For Laura I overspent as usual, getting her a game she badly wanted, "Mystic Skull."

I bought a beautiful outfit for Kay at Jordan Marsh, and her favorite small luxuries like Maja Soap, scarves, and little white pillow sachets.

Daddy liked ties and tie bars, but this year I asked Kay to help me to also get his favorite new records. There was a pile of them. All in all I had seven presents for each parent.

Our big glorious tree which was always in the front room with the higher rafter ceilings was spilling packages well into the whole room, before Santa! Likely because of the divorce, Bunny, Kay's mother, had delivered more than the usual amount of packages for her grand-daughters, our nice clothes for the year.

When Daddy came over in the daytime on Christmas Eve he ogled all those presents and said,

"What's all this?"

I couldn't have been more pleased with myself, and it was so hard to keep mum.

Our parents never put presents under the tree until we were sound asleep. Sometimes I would hear them rustling about. Kay always set the stage for our first look at Christmas morning as though it were a fairy tale. This year was exhilarating. Mom and Dad were back in their room together and all our Christmas things were in place. At the crack of dawn Daddy would relent to our pleas to get up and first get a fire going in the fireplace, framed by our stockings. He would light up the tree. I was awake thinking of giving my parents seven presents.

Finally, it was time, and when the fire was ready, we were always allowed a peek into the front room to see what magic had transpired overnight, but then were re-directed to the fireplace for the beautiful stockings Ma knitted, not without a struggle, and cocoa. This gave her a chance to get her coffee down and for the parents in general to rouse themselves.

Then came the Tree. Carols and choirs rang through the house on Daddy's Hi-Fi. Somehow, our Mother came up with the most extraordinary and beautiful wrapping paper and tags, such as never seen in the store. She must have bought it in New York and kept it hidden. She was an expert giftwrapper, having done much gift wrapping work professionally during holidays when she was younger.

The room was stunning, with those beautiful wappings, displays, since there was no room "under the tree." The abundance was overwhelming, and there was scarcely room left for the four of us to be seated.

Laura and I were stationed closest to the tree on the east side of the room. We preferred sitting on the floor.

Mother and Father each had a chair opposite us, with some spacing between. I couldn't stand it anymore! Though Daddy traditionally read gift tags and gradually distributed packages, there just wasn't room to navigate, and being close to the Tree I decided to give Laura and my parents my presents first.

I will never forget that scene. Daddy held one of my packages in his lap as I proceeded to line up six more north of his chair in a semi-circle. Then there was Mother in her chair with her first package in her lap and six more lined up north from her chair, in a semi-circle.

"They're all from me," I announced, my heart bursting with joy.

Daddy was weeping, wanting to give us a few Santa presents to open, but I wouldn't open anything until I had seen my parents' happiness over so many presents, watching them open each and every one.

Mother was a tremendous actress- her heart must have been breaking as she came up with a special response to each carefully chosen gift.

Daddy was not so well-controlled, saying, "What's all this?" with each oncoming present, tears in his eyes.

Didn't Daddy know how much we really loved him?

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