KENTWOOD, La. — The native museum that homes a digital shrine to the city’s most well-known resident, mega popstar Britney Spears, was a funeral dwelling. It’s one of the few locations nonetheless open among the many deserted and ruined buildings within the tiny city heart.
The vibe continues to be funereal regardless of the perfect efforts of Fay Gehringer, curator of the Kentwood Historic and Cultural Museum, a buddy of each Britney’s mother and father. She mentioned she used to make the hair bows Britney wore “when she performed in everything she could when she was a little girl.”
Gehringer, who appears youthful than her 80 years, gamely exhibits off artifacts just like the angel wings Britney wore throughout the Femme Fatale tour of 2011 and the glassed-in reproduction of Britney’s total teenage bed room, made well-known when the then 17-year-old posed seductively subsequent to her dolls and teddy bears in a well-known 1999 Rolling Stone cover story.
But it’s as if she’s describing a lifeless icon, not the one-time golden woman from this tough slice of northern Louisiana, simply a few miles from the Mississippi border, who continues to be solely 39 and really a lot alive.
Gehringer likes to level out the facial resemblance between Britney’s grandmother, Emma Jean Spears, who killed herself at age 31 with a shotgun on the grave of her toddler son in May 1966, by gesturing first at a framed photograph of a fresh-faced younger “Jean,” as they known as her, and a blown-up poster of Britney on the alternative wall.
“That death had a big impact in that family,” Gehringer mentioned of Emma Jean’s suicide and Britney’s father, Jamie. “It took a big toll on Jamie.”
Gehringer, like many on this tiny, rural city (pop. 2,120), is shell-shocked by the latest revelations and fast-moving developments within the tortuous saga of Britney’s 13-year conservatorship.
But locals hate speaking about it, particularly to outsiders. Over the previous 20 years, guests have reported being threatened with weapons or by the native sheriff. The writer of a 2009 biography of Britney advised The Post that he had been warned not to enter the native VFW bar, the “Dub,” or he would discover himself “eating gravel” within the car parking zone. This Post reporter was advised to depart by the supervisor who got here out as quickly as I pulled into the driveway.
“I know what they’re saying about Jamie, but he’s not a bad man,” Gehringer advised The Post. “[Britney’s mom and Jamie’s ex-wife,] Lynne is a good person, too. They aren’t monsters. This is a small town. We’re good, honest country people. They got swallowed up by the Hollywood machine, by people who aren’t like us. None of them were equipped to deal with it, not Jamie, Lynne or Britney.”
Two weeks in the past Britney received a large victory in court docket when a choose declared that her dad’s control over her life was “toxic” and granted her request to oust him as conservator of her property.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny agreed that it was in Britney’s “best interest” to droop Jamie from the authorized association that has managed the singer’s life and cash for the final 13 years.
The ruling got here after Britney’s lawyer Mathew Rosengart petitioned the court to “immediately” suspend Jamie Spears from the position, arguing his continued involvement has finished nothing however extend “the Kafkaesque nightmare” that has been Britney’s life because the conservatorship was established in 2008, after her very public meltdown. Jamie principally lives in Kentwood, though he offered Britney’s childhood dwelling, behind Greenlaw Baptist Church, for $275,000 in February.
The Spears’ next-door-neighbor of a few years nonetheless lives in the identical dwelling and advised The Post that she used to babysit for a “sweet and energetic Britney.” The lady, who didn’t need her title used, was fast to defend Jamie, as many listed below are.
Several native women in Kentwood and Osyka, Miss., which lies on the state border simply 5 miles north, keep in mind Jamie Spears again when he was the recent basketball and soccer star at Kentwood High School.
“Every woman wanted Jamie,” a Kentwood High classmate three years his junior advised The Post. The 64-year-old lady requested that her title be withheld as a result of she’s afraid of repercussions, even when what she says concerning the Spears family is constructive. “He could really have gone places. He was so handsome and so talented.”
The lady’s buddy, 63, mentioned the criticism of Jamie is unfair.
“That man worked so hard for years,” she mentioned. “He had a business building metal sheds out in the hot sun and he did that for years. He’s not some bloodsucker. I think Britney is spoiled, if you ask me.”
Some members of Jamie’s speedy family say it’s typical for folks within the city to defend Jamie.
John Mark Spears, 52, who’s Jamie’s half-brother, mentioned that their father, June Austin Spears, who died in 2012, was a horrible man who was abusive to most of the ten youngsters he had along with his three wives.
Some of the ten are lifeless, like 62-year-old Austin who died earlier this yr of cirrhosis and liver most cancers after years of ingesting and homelessness.
“These Spears men are something awful,” John Mark, Britney’s uncle, mentioned. “They’ve gotten away with so much, especially to their women, for years.”
John Mark mentioned all of the family’s toxicity could be traced to his and Jamie’s dad.
“He was a monster but nobody would say a bad word about him outside the family,” John Mark mentioned. “Just like no one will say a bad word about Jamie around here.”
John Mark, who talked to The Post at his dwelling in Osyka, the place he has been a boilermaker, like his father, for 22 years, mentioned June Austin beat his youngsters violently and induced each of his first two wives to go off the rails.
“He ruined Emma Jean and he ruined my mama [Jo Ann, deceased,” John Mark mentioned. “He shipped them both off to Mandeville [the state’s former notorious mental hospital] from time to time. So I’m not too surprised about what Jamie’s done to Britney. It’s all about control with the Spears men.”
Jamie’s half-sister and Britney’s aunt, Leigh Ann Spears Wrather, 54, who now lives in Springfield, Tenn., mentioned she left dwelling at 16 after being sexually abused by their father from the age of 11. After he raped her in the future, she requested a buddy to assist her escape. The buddy’s mom organized to satisfy Leigh Ann at a native mall.
“I never went back except to visit a few times,” Wrather, who retired after 26 years within the Navy, advised The Post. “I’ve been dealing with it my whole life. He used to line us kids up and whip us. We’d go to church where my daddy was the deacon and on the way home he’d make me beat him off. I hope he’s burning in hell.”
Wrather, who began a blog in August about her childhood, mentioned her father pressured her mom, Jamie’s stepmother, on the drug lithium for a whereas.
“My mom was like a debutante, she came from a good family and was considered a catch,” Leigh Ann mentioned. “But Daddy — I hate even calling him that — drove her crazy. He institutionalized her at Mandeville a few times and put her on lithium. When I heard that Britney was put on lithium for a while I almost couldn’t believe it but it made sense. Typical for this family and how they treat their women.”
Both John Mark and Leigh Ann mentioned they’ve some doubts about whether or not or not Emma Jean Spears’ dying was actually a suicide. The dying received an uncommon quantity of consideration, even operating on the front page of the Kentwood local paper. It was additionally fairly detailed for a suicide.
“The shotgun had been pressed against the woman’s chest and she apparently pulled the trigger with a toe of the right foot from which a shoe had been removed,” the newspaper mentioned on the time. The account additionally mentioned that Emma Jean “ splayed out her left leg across the grave” earlier than checking that the 12-bore shotgun was prepared and loaded with a single shell.
A Kentwood High classmate of Jamie’s recalled to The Post how, in May 1966, she was 8 years outdated in and “pushing cows” throughout the pastures close to Osyka, Ms. when she and her mother and father observed a “vehicle” at Roberts cemetery and nobody round.
“Then we found out who it was and how it happened,” mentioned the classmate, who didn’t need to give her title however took a reporter out to Emma Jean’s grave, proper subsequent to her child son Austin Wayne, which lies in a cemetery surrounded by bucolic fields and pastures.
But John Mark and Leigh Ann query how anybody actually is aware of the way it occurred. The native newspaper reported that Emma Jean’s husband, June Austin, advised the coroner his spouse had tried to commit suicide a number of occasions earlier than and was nonetheless depressed over the dying of her son, who died when he was three days outdated.
“No one knows what happened because no one was there,” Leigh Ann mentioned. “But you can bet my daddy pulled the trigger one way or the other even if he wasn’t there.”
Leigh Ann mentioned she was stationed in San Diego for the Navy and after a few years of remedy, known as her brothers and sisters and their spouses to inform them their father had raped her.
“You know who believed me?” she mentioned. “Only Lynne Spears. I got nothing bad to say about Lynne.”
“The Spears men need to be held accountable,” Leigh Ann mentioned. “Thank goodness Britney got a good lawyer. Jamie did to her what my daddy did to my mom and Emma Jean. They are mean and they will destroy you if they can’t control you. But I think Britney will survive. She’s a beautiful person with a beautiful soul.”
Jamie Spears didn’t reply to voice and textual content messages so this reporter went out to a gate, resulting in a small concrete storage unit, on a huge unfold on the sting of Kentwood.
He’s been dwelling in an RV behind the unit on and off for about two years. Some locals say he has finished it to indicate he isn’t dwelling massive on Britney’s cash.
After this reporter known as Jamie to see if he needed to come back out and provides his aspect of the story, a man sporting a baseball cap and driving a golf cart — accompanied by a furiously barking canine — pulled out from behind the storage unit and drove to the gate.
He recognized himself because the “head of security” however regarded very very like Jamie Spears, who has misplaced a lot weight lately that John Mark mentioned he didn’t even acknowledge him when he bumped into him downtown lately.
“I called the law and they’s coming!” he yelled. “You got one warning. Where is your vehicle? Go get in your vehicle and get out of here now. Bye! Go! Now. BYE!”
“That sounds like Jamie,” mentioned John Mark. “He doesn’t care about what the outside world thinks. He doesn’t care about his reputation. He’s a stubborn son of a bitch and I’ll probably get a visit from him after this story.”