Downtown Hammond News

Homegrown Hammond: Jay Seale

Homegrown Hammond: Jay Seale

In an old town like Hammond, Louisiana, families have been brought up into their local area and representing this community for many years. They have continued the deep roots and twining culture of Hammond by serving us with a smile at each of their welcoming businesses. The Hammond DDD would like to introduce the business owners that were born, raised and grew up to own a business in our beautiful, historic Downtown through a special segment called Homegrown Hammond. Sit back and enjoy a stroll through Hammond’s history lane.

 

  1. How long has your family lived in Hammond?  My Seale grandparents lived here in the 1930s when my father was a boy.  He went to Hammond High School and to Southeastern Louisiana College (as it was then called) until World War II commenced.  He like others of “the Greatest Generation” joined the Navy and fought in the war.  My mother’s father ran the Natalbany Lumber Company for Fred Reimers in the 1930s.  So both of my parents had roots in Hammond. 

  2. What high school did you go to and when did you graduate?  I was fortunate to attend a high school that no longer exists--Southeastern High School, then a part of the “lab school” that was a teacher training facility for Southeastern student training to be teachers.  In fact, that school was sometimes derisively called the “training” school.  Our class of 29 students had 22 sons and daughters of college professors. 

  3. Where did you go to college? I am proud to be an alumnus of Southeastern Louisiana University and of the Paul M. Hebert Law School at LSU.

  4. How did you start your business? After graduating from law school and passing the Bar Exam and being licensed to practice law, I wanted to return to Hammond to start my own law practice. I had no resources except my law license, and no clients, but I had a certain amount of Baby Boomer audacity and believed I could succeed. I rented a 1-room office in the old Citizens National Bank building on West Church Street, and hired my 19 year old sister Ann to be my temporary “legal secretary.”  She and I still work together every day, after 44 years; she is my legal assistant and my best advisor.  Once our little practice opened, we were the recipients of so much assistance and support from business people and private individuals that we’ve never once been short of work.  In fact, my first client became the man who was sent to install my telephones.   Hammond was thoroughly welcoming to a young lawyer in 1973.

 

  1. What is your favorite memory of Hammond? I remember the Hammond of my boyhood where my friends and I were free to roam all over town on our bikes, riding from home to the park, to someone else’s home, to play or just hangout.  It felt safe to be a kid in Hammond in those days.  But I guess my favorite memory occurred in the early 1980’s when those of us who had chosen to locate our businesses in Downtown Hammond celebrated Hammond Heritage Day for several years.  Each one of the buildings that had been renovated under Historic District standards would hold an open house, and residents and out-of-towners who were interested in historic re-development would come through our offices, share a glass of wine, and learn of the history of Hammond.  Our own law office at 200 N. Cate was the just the 3rd renovation completed.  Now, more than 3 decades later, the vast majority of square footage in Downtown Hammond has been revitalized.  Hammond has the most vibrant Downtown in Louisiana for a city of its size.  The young women and men who were responsible for creating, sustaining, and developing the Historic District are now senior citizens who have justifiable pride in what has been accomplished.

 

  1. What is your favorite thing to do in Downtown Hammond / What are some of your favorite spots? The pure act of bringing up my business and professional life in Downtown Hammond is a hoot. My barber, my CPA, my surgeon, the Post Office, a dozen good places to eat from fine dining to pub fare, to specialty restaurants--all just blocks away.  My florist, my church, my colleagues and competitors, are here. Some think the geographical and cultural epicenter of Downtown Hammond is the Crescent Bar which is two blocks from my office.  I love the nostalgia and the convenience of doing business with Johnny’s Conoco, with whose owners I have a multi-generational relationship. If you widen the circle just a bit beyond Downtown, there is an abundance of merchants, bankers, professionals, fast food, and service businesses who thrive on the business climate spawned by Downtown commerce.

 

  1. What are you looking forward to in Hammond in 2018? I believe Hammond is about to be discovered by the business world beyond the City Limits, and that we are going to benefit from growth from out-of-town (which we won’t let alter Who We Are). 

 

  1. Why have you stayed in Hammond all this time? I think some people are born with a stronger “sense of place” that others.  For those people, there is meaning in the call to “bloom where you are planted.”  Since I’m one of those, I was predisposed to return to Hammond after completing my legal education.  I’ve been rewarded for that choice by having the place I love, love me back in so many ways.    

 

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