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Borden’s and Ella Meaux: Get the scoop on Borden’s lady’s retirement

Kris Wartelle, The Advertiser, April 25, 2017



An old photo displayed at Borden’s Ice Cream Shoppe in Lafayette shows Ella Meaux, far right. Meaux is retiring after working 56 years at the shoppe. (Photo: LEE CELANO/THE ADVERTISER) 

When 86-year-old Ella Meaux first started at Borden’s Ice Cream Shoppe, a scoop of ice cream cost a nickel, a banana split cost 39 cents and a soda was only 20 cents. There were no computers and no traffic on Johnston Street.
“Today it’s almost $7. If you get all the walnut and stuff, more than that,” Meaux said. “It’s overwhelming how different it is.”
Meaux started work scooping ice cream at the now infamous shop in 1961. According to Meaux, it was popular weekend gathering place.
Now, after 56 years working in the same place, Meaux said she is retiring. She said she wants to quit while she is healthy enough to keep gardening and enjoy being with her family.
“It was just getting harder to be with my family,” Meaux said. “And I love to garden, and I just couldn’t do (much of) that. It’s getting ready to be the time for day lilies and I love that.”
Owner Kackie Lerille bought the shop in 2012. Lerille said Meaux’s retirement is bittersweet because she will miss her spirit and the way she greeted customers when they came into the store, which is her job has been for the last several years.
“It’s sad to see someone who is so passionate about what they do leave,” Lerille said. “She taught me everything I know about the business. I learned so much from her."
What many say they will miss most is how Meaux seemed to be more of a friend to them than a store employee. Longtime customers said Meaux could remember who liked what and how to make malts and shakes exactly how each wanted it. For those customers, that was as much of a treat as the items she served up in the shop.
Lerille said the local icon’s favorite thing to make was the banana split.
“I’ll miss her being here when we came in,” said her niece Darla Leger. “Every time they had their shots, I brought my children in. I have five kids and we brought them here for a banana split after they got their immunizations.”
On Tuesday, Lerille and the Borden’s team hosted a retirement party for Meaux to coincide with her 56th anniversary at the store. More than 100 people stopped by, including family, friends, and former coworkers, to wish Meaux well and see her in the shop one last time.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Meaux said. “I expected some people to come, but this is more than I thought. I haven’t seen some of these people in years.”
Want to know how Meaux lasted so long at one job and what things were like when she started? Here a few of the surprising things we found out
Ella Meaux gets a hug from owner Kackie Lerille at
Ella Meaux gets a hug from owner Kackie Lerille at her retirement party after working 56 years at Borden’s Ice Cream Shoppe in Lafayette Tuesday. (Photo: LEE CELANO/THE ADVERTISER) 
7 things you didn’t know about the Borden’s lady and the Lafayette landmark
•Meaux ate ice cream every day up until about five years ago (she is now 86) when she was told to watch her cholesterol. 
•When Meaux started at Borden’s, Johnston Street was a two-lane road 
•The bank across the street was once a gas station.
•Customers used to gather at Borden’s because, at the time, what was known as the "Blue Laws" prevented groceries and other businesses from being open on Sundays.
•There were no cash registers. Employees added up purchases by hand on a piece of paper
•A banana split cost 39 cents. Today it can cost $7 or more. 
•The Borden’s on Johnston is the last standing retail Borden’s in existence