25 Aug A new cartoonist in Oldham County
Editorial cartoonist Maurice LaRochelle has recently chosen Westport, KY as his new home in Oldham County. Take a daytrip to Westport and the nearby towns of Goshen and Prospect to fully explore all that Oldham County has to offer! From shopping to dining at the eclectic Knock on Wood Cafe to the Pickin’ on the Porch Concert Series to taking a leisurely stroll along edge of the Ohio River, the tiny town of Westport packs a punch with a variety of things to do. Hop back on nearby US Highway 42, once known as the Derby Highway, and follow this scenic stretch of highway to Hermitage Farm, Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve, the TRF Sanctuary Farm at Chestnut Hall, and Woodland Bison Farm. Schedule your tour at one of Oldham County’s 13 Farm Tour sites or travel the Oldham County Lewis & Clark Trail to explore Oldham County’s link to the famous expedition!
By Bobbie Curd, Reporter
The Oldham Era
Aug 19, 2022
Photo caption: Dot Erhart and her brother Maurice LaRochelle made a promise that they would eventually live near each other in their “golden years,” LaRochelle says.
With a hardcore Bostonian accent, Maurice LaRochelle answers his cell, “How YOU doin’?”
And he’s doing just fine, now that he and wife Tina have relocated to Kentucky in order to be closer to his “kid sister” Dot Erhart, fulfilling a promise they made about living out their golden years together.
The new Westport resident is an editorial cartoonist who wants to keep his artful humor flowing, now focused on making observations about the Bluegrass State. He will be featured in The Oldham Era and Henry County Local newspapers.
Originally from Pawtucket, Rhode Island — about 45 minutes from Boston, LaRochelle says Kentucky hasn’t culture-shocked them at all.
“Now, Louisiana? That was a culture shock …” he says.
LaRochelle used his sense of humor combined with artistry to create “state-oriented cartoons” about the Gulf State. He worked for the Gannett Company Inc., a mass-media giant owning more than 1,000 weekly and daily newspapers across the country.
“Whether they were political or cultural, they always referred to Louisiana. So now I’m attempting to give my impression of Kentucky,” he says, and that hopefully people will get a chuckle. It’s hard not to chuckle when talking to LaRochelle, who goes by “Moe.”
He shares a picture of himself and Tina in front of a huge, mounted alligator.
“We’ve decided to trade our gator in for a horse,” he jokes.
But down to his core, LaRochelle is really an artist. He graduated from Maine College of Art in ’76.
He’s also an illustrator who worked on large campaigns as a freelancer for ad agencies years ago, and paints. He shares some Mardi Gras-themed pieces, as well as colorful landscapes that have almost a fantasy feel to them. He also does portraits.
“I had always been doing cartoons, but eventually got into nursing and retired from that. But I’d always been doing artwork on the side.”
LaRochelle went back to school for nursing at age 54, and wasn’t just the oldest in the class, but “three-times older than the youngest,” he says.
Erhart, his sister, ended up in Kentucky about three decades ago, and retired from Pillar, formerly Apple Patch. He says, “I ended up in Maine and then Louisiana, but we always said when we got older, we’d live next to each other.”
Erhart called him to say that the house behind her was for sale. “I said buy it,” LaRochelle says. “Then she came down and got me, threw me in the car and drove me back.” He says he may be the oldest, “but she’s the meanest,” and laughs.
But in all seriousness, LaRochelle says being next to his sister is what’s important.
“And I love it here. It’s going to work out good — the winters aren’t severe like Maine, and it’s not as hot as Louisiana.” He says Kentucky reminds him of New England quite a bit, with all the rolling, green hills.
“We grew up poor, but near the ocean. We went to Newport Beach a lot when we were kids … Just a lot of fond memories, being there early in the morning until late at night. Now I’m near the Ohio River, and it’s great.”
With his obvious talent as an artist, LaRochelle is asked what draws him to editorial cartoons.
“I always thought the local news is still so important and so vita … I always thought local humor would be received well, rather than just generic, national topics.”
LaRochelle says he really just goes for the laugh in his cartoons, too.
“I’m not trying to make any deep statements, not trying to move the needle in any direction. I just hope when you read the cartoon — the biggest pat on my back is if you read them and laugh out loud when you’re alone, then I’m really happy.”
The he adds, “And, I’m on some of the best refrigerators in the country.”