“It’s my life and I love it,” Alfred “Bucket” Carter once proclaimed of being a member of and second lining with the Young Men Olympian Jr. Benevolent Association, Inc. Everyone called Carter “Bucket” or “Mr. Bucket,” which he explained— in his usual good humor—was due to the shape of his head. Alfred “Bucket” Carter, who joined the YMO when he was five, died on Monday, March 9, 2015, at the age of 80.
“He was a legend of the culture and an example for young men coming up,” says Norman Dixon Jr., the president of the 130-year-old organization. According to Dixon, during his 75-year membership, Carter never missed a parade or a meeting and handled other aspects of the association’s events like raffles and dances.
Carter, who was a YMO parade chairman, paraded with the YMO’s First Division, a unit known for its preference for traditional brass band music and old style ways. “If you want to jump and flip flop and all of that, go to one of the other divisions,” Carter once kindly suggested.
“He was the reason I joined the organization,” says trumpeter Gregg Stafford, who has been a member of the YMO since 1995. Stafford also second lines with the First Division at the club’s annual September anniversary parades.
“Bucket was just as serious about preserving the history of the Young Men Olympian as musicians are about preserving the music,” observes Stafford, a proud traditionalist.
In the early ’90s, Carter began working as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival’s parade coordinator assistant, and continued in that position until his death. He retired from his decades-long job at the K&B Drug Store’s warehouse at the age of 62.
If there was a second line, or if the Black Indians were on the street, Bucket could be found standing on a corner.
“That was a ritual with him,” says Stafford. “Everybody knew him and everybody loved him. If there was a new club, he was going to find out and meet who was in charge. He had to make his presence known.”
“He felt an obligation to this culture,” Dixon observes.
“Bucket was the eye of the storm,” says Stafford of his position in the second line culture. “He really taught all the younger members about the by-laws and rules of the organization, so he passed the torch.”
Throughout his seven amazing decades with the YMO, Bucket’s enthusiasm never ebbed. Just four days before his death, he bought the material that will be used to make the First Division’s outfits for next September’s parade. Bucket said it all when he proclaimed, “I had a good life in second lines. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”