Crawfish deliver a sense of normalcy to medical workers; a veteran gets a surprise, and other acts of kindness
BY ANNETTE SISCO | STAFF WRITER PUBLISHED MAY 11,2020
From left, Claire, Glynn Jr., Glynn Sr., Cassandra and Gannon Hyer.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF CASSANDRA HYER
Glynn Hyer, center, is surrounded by family members showing off their gloves as they prepare to pack crawfish for delivery to the homes of local ER and ICU doctors and nurses.
After 35 years of boiling crawfish, Glynn Hyer knows the drill.
He hoses off the mudbugs, seasons the water and lets the crawfish soak in the pot that came from his late uncle’s camp in Little Woods.
And then there’s the feast with family, buddies and neighbors.
It’s a ritual on spring Fridays. But six weeks ago, as the glistening red crustaceans emerged steaming from their salty bath, Glynn couldn’t stop thinking about a couple of doctors he knew who were working overtime battling the coronavirus epidemic.
So he packed up some crawfish and sent them over to the homes of Drs. Peter DeBlieux and Fred Lopez.
“I just thought it was a really nice idea, for them to come home and get that sense of normalcy,” Hyer said.
Hyer, 60, is the second-generation owner of Irish Channel Iron Works, which builds and installs decorative iron in homes and businesses all over town. For more than a decade, he coached youth baseball with Carrollton Boosters. He was a New Orleans firefighter for seven years. He comes from an Irish Channel family of six siblings and has five kids of his own.
In other words, he’s probably 2 degrees of separation from a large fraction of New Orleans residents, including, as it turns out, plenty of doctors and nurses.
Within a couple weeks, Hyer and his family had added a second pot and were boiling 500 to 600 pounds of crawfish on Friday afternoons. They pack them assembly line-style in their Lakewood South carport with corn and potatoes and even a couple of beers, and deliver them to the homes of 50 to 60 doctors and nurses who work at emergency rooms and intensive care units.
Hygiene rules are strictly enforced. “We have a line in the sand; anyone who goes under the carport has to have a mask on,” Hyer said.
Hyer picks up sacks of live crawfish in Marrero on Fridays about 11:30 a.m. and boils all afternoon. Deliveries are mostly handled by wife Cassandra and children Glynn Jr., 24; Claire, 22, and Gannon, 18. Other helpers are David Cahn, Jeremy Mancheski and Billy Schoen.
Friends and family chip in to a fund dubbed “Irish Channel Cares.” Any money left over will go to St. Michael’s Special School and local food banks, Hyer said.
Terri Whitcomb’s husband, Darren, is an emergency room doctor at West Jefferson Medical Center. She said the night the crawfish showed up on their doorstep was one of the most enjoyable evenings the family has had since the pandemic began.
“We haven’t seen my husband so relaxed and full of laughter,” she said. “Life has been so stressful for him, and tonight was a definite reprieve from that.”
“That’s exactly what we set out to accomplish,” Hyer said.