The late Dr. Donald A. Pavy did not set out to change history, except to clear the family names. Before he died this summer, the completion of the award-winning short documentary was a first step to continuing his quest. With a full house and limited seating at the premiere Aug. 1, many who knew Pavy have asked, “When will it be shown again.” With support from the community, two screenings will be held in December.
Touring with PAVY begins
Teche Theater of the Performing Arts will show “PAVY” at 7 p.m. Dec. 13 at 501 Main St. in Franklin. A discussion between the audience and members of the family and producers will follow.
“Being in our 19th season at the Teche Theatre and being that venue in Acadiana that puts a focus on the full spectrum of the local arts scene, ‘PAVY’ fits our mission and vision to spotlight the talent we find in and around Acadiana. Not only is the documentary a conversation starter but it was masterfully done,” said Ed “Tiger” Verdin, board member, director and award-winning playwright.
The screening is free to the public.Copies of the DVD, signed book posters and Pavy’s books will be available for purchase.
As the Best Documentary and Best Local Film at the 2019 Iberia Film Festival, the second showing of “PAVY” will be the opening clip at the inaugural Acadiana Community Film Series presented by Iberia Film Festival at 2 p.m. Dec. 31. Submissions from the first two Iberia Film Festivals will be shown. Plus, the audience viewing all the films will vote for the “People’s Choice Award.” A presentation will immediately follow the voting and showing of a longer 2012 film by New Iberia filmmaker James Edmunds. Tickets are $10 at the door with discounts available at IberiaFilmFestival.com or its Facebook page. The New Year’s Eve screening is a fundraiser for the Iberia Performing Arts League’s annual Iberia Film Festival.
Pavy History is Louisiana History
In Pavy’s book, “Accident and Deception: The Huey Long Shooting,” the reason Carl Weiss went to call on Huey Long that fatal night was to speak on his father-in-law’s behalf. Long intended to remove the adversarial Judge Pavy from the bench by changing the voting district the next day during a legislative session. That much is known, but what happened at the State Capitol and the circumstances surrounding Long’s death — and Weiss’ assassination — would be written about in books and movies for decades. But not the story the doctor came to believe. Just as Carl Weiss wanted to defend Judge Pavy, Pavy fought to redeem the Weiss family name — and in his opinion, in agreement with many — of Weiss’ innocence.
“This is the most fascinating story I’ve ever read,” said Judy Broussard, retired teacher and former Newspapers In Education instructor hired recently to write a critical thinking curriculum for Iberia Parish Schools. “I love working on this story. It’s so motivational. They didn’t have the technology we have now and I don’t think that would have mattered. I don’t think they wanted to solve Long’s death any other way.”
Funded by the PAVY Project, Broussard has been doing her own research into the subject as part of the curriculum standards and reference materials to be provided with the teacher’s instructions. Broussard is coordinating with Alice Viator, supervisor of instruction for English, social studies, world languages and art for grades six through 12 at the Iberia Parish Educational Center. Viator took a critical look at the PAVY documentary before it was premiered and believed it would be an asset to the 8th-grade Louisiana History students study of Long. The goal is to begin using both the video and the critical thinking exercises in the classroom by spring 2020.
“It would have been interesting to see how today’s forensic investi-gations might have turned out back then,” Broussard said. “If they’d had the technology we have now, history might have been different for the Pavy/Weiss families.”
History Seeks Future Now
The Long/Pavy/Weiss story is not new to friends and family in the Teche Area. In fact, most strangers across the state who met Pavy following publication of his book in 1999, were cornered by the doctor turned author, as he explained the testimonies of eye witnesses. He was still telling the stories through the long illness that took Pavy’s life July 15. His effort and legacy continues to inspire others to pick up the gauntlet. Only public opinion will be the judge that no jury trial will ever be able to reach. The tragic assassination and injustice of Carl Weiss will continue to unfold. Yet there are many who do not know the story compiled by Pavy.
As a child of 4 years old, Pavy witnessed the grief and confusion of the Weiss and Pavy families following his first cousin’s husband’s horrible death. Carl A. Weiss was believed at the time to have shot former governor and U.S. Congressman Huey P. Long and was himself assassinated Sept. 8, 1935. Intrigued by the accomplishments of his father’s family, the Pavy name was something he grew to be proud of including his own years of playing football, attending medical school and practicing as a family physician for 64 years.
Most people in Iberia Parish have heard the story, particularly in Lydia where Pavy’s office was located after moving from Weeks Island. Still in practice at 86, there was only one subject on his mind — clearing the family name.
When anyone believes injustice has caused a negative reaction to a family, the members believing justice should be served, persevere to correct any misinformation that has been detrimental. That’s what Pavy did throughout his life and especially the last 20 years. Pavy was not the name of the accused assassin, rather, the maiden name of his wife, a mother of an infant son who by choice left her home and family in Louisiana to seek a life without the convictions of Long followers.
What is Next for Pavy?
Thanks to the generosity of many in New Iberia, before his death the 17-minute documentary was produced. It was Pavy’s hope to see a full-length dramatic portrayal of the story, but only after his death have additional personal family stories emerged that will contribute to the intrigue of the story and accomplishments of a man named PAVY.
The long-established history of the 1935 incident, and how to unravel the political tapestry still in place at the capital where both Long and Weiss were shot, has been interesting for the producers determined to tell the Weiss/Pavy saga. The Bayou Teche Museum board adopted the project and assisted the producers by managing the funds for the documentary. They continue to be involved awaiting the completion of the new wing where other politically historic pieces will be on display. The documentary will be available to patrons for viewing sometime in the future. Pavy’s original research materials also are being reviewed and compiled for a loaned exhibition before they are taken on tour throughout the state by the project’s producers or placed permanently as archives by the family.
Donations to continue the progress of the “PAVY Project” can be given care of the Bayou Teche Museum and are tax deductible.