"Fill Up With Billups"
The slogan “Fill up with Billups
”, and the every present “Your Friend” handshake roadside sign were a common sight on the roads throughout the southern states in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s.
Founded by W. L. “Buddy” Billups in the mid-1950’s, the Billups Oil Company originally started as a one station gas and early convenience store in Mississippi. This was a new concept for car travelers at this time and caught on. The Billups Oil Company grew to include many such type stations throughout the east coast and southern states, from Florida to Texas. Eventually moving and making Hammond his home, the Billups Oil Company Office Building, located at 620 North Morrison Blvd., was the Hammond corporate headquarters for the Billups Oil Company. Built in the early 1960’s, the current office building was one, if not the first, true corporate HQ’s buildings located in southern Louisiana and certainly in the Hammond area.
“Mr. B” or “Uncle Buddy” as he was commonly known as around Hammond, came to the Hammond area in the mid-50’s and guided the Billups Oil Company to great success. So successful, that in 1966, the Signal Oil Company purchased Billups Oil and began to merge it in with their gas stores.
In the late 1970’s, another rapidly growing gas and convenience store group, Charter Marketing, headquartered in Jacksonville, Fl., bought out the former Billups Oil stations from the Signal Oil Company and began to merge them into their operation.
The Circle K store located just north of the office building is one of the original “Fillup with Billups” gas stores and since it was located next to the HQ’s, was often used to test market ideas and new products.
An untimely aircraft accident took the lives of the top management team for Charter Marketing and the gas/convenience store operation was sold to the Southland Corporation, which operates under the Circle K business logo.
The Billups/Charter Marketing office building was eventually sold and purchased by Leon S. Poirier in the mid-1980’s. Since that time, the Charter Office Building has been in the Poirier Family and continues to be used as office space.
In addition to the offices, the Billups property also included acreage and a 60,000 sq.ft warehouse; that acreage is now where the Morrison Blvd. Self-Storage is located and the warehouse is still being used for large storage warehousing operations.
The road on which the current office building is located was originally known as Hwy 51-North, but is now named for former Congressman James “Jimmy” Morrison, a life-long friend of Mr. Billups. The road to the south and around the property is known as Billups Drive.
Uncle Buddy and His Generous Spirit
While long time area residents can remember these early Billups stores, newer area residents, who might not have had the opportunity to have known “Uncle Buddy”, are even today benefiting from his generosity and philanthropy.
The North Lake Supports and Services Center was created in 1960 by Louisiana Act 347. Initially named the South Louisiana Training School, it was conceived as a place offering treatment, training, and rehabilitation to people with developmental disabilities. The first buildings were constructed on 100 acres donated to the state by W. L. "Buddy" Billups.
In 1962, the name of the facility changed to Hammond State School (HSS), growing in importance in the surrounding community and offering a wide array of educational and health-related services through clinics, a school district located on its grounds, and day programs open to people in the community. Education and training received at HSS allowed people with developmental disabilities to enter into the work force and pursue personal goals.
In 1991, Hammond State School’s name changed to Hammond Developmental Center, and in 2007 again changed to North Lake Supports and Services Centers to reflect its mission to enable people to select services and supports they need to attain their personal goals.
W.L. Billups Memorial Chapel
The Parents & Friends of North Lake Supports and Services, along with support from the W.L. "Buddy" Billups Memorial Fund, constructed and continues to maintain the All Faiths Chapel where worship services are held weekly.
A long time supporter of what was then called Southeastern Louisiana College (SLC), Mr. Billups donated two refurbished Greyhound busses for use by the College, especially the athletic teams. When the “Fighting Lions” score a touchdown, the cheerleaders ring what is called the “Bell on Wheels”. This bell was brought down from a Mississippi plantation and donated to SLU by Mr. Billups.
Mr. Billups also endowed a scholarship at SLU, known as the “W.L. Billups Scholarship” and is available for students pursuing degree courses.
The Special Olympics was also a favorite cause for “Mr. B” and his support brought the national Special Olympics to Hammond in the 1980’s.
Hammond is a much better place because “Mr. B” called our town his home.