I got to a point, might have been bad weather, where I decided to go back through some rides and pick out some historical places that had made a deep impression on me. Here's how it went. Note, some of the junk writing has been deleted. Well, it just had to be. Here's the old write with updates and comments added.
I just got back from a ride with no mission but to get out. I had the camera, but it was for "just in case". Now, you see, I had inadvertently assumed the correct mental position for exploring. If I had been "focused", I would have missed it.
I can't tell you how many times I have been up La.182, above Washington, and not taken the time to investigate this little church which was way back behind a field down a gravel road. It was hot and gravel roads on hot days are like riding over coals. The rocks heat up and all is needed is rain and you have a sauna. I wasn't on any mission so I went down the hot gravel road and a gold mine awaited. So the moral is this. Just because something is old hat, like this very familiar road, don't turn your nose up and hurry along with blinders on. Keep looking and digging and discovering. The next 435 pictures (kidding) are of old stuff that still makes me smile and whose visions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what you can know about each.
Approaching the church, I could see it was in excellent shape. What caught my eye was the stained glass picture of a circuit rider and the reversed numbers (made to be seen correctly inside) "1870".
It was very hot. I don't like to trespass, but had seen "Welcome" on the road sign, so I opened the gate and walked in to snap a picture of the Historical Marker. On it, it said the land had been donated by an O'Quin, my wife's family name. Very interesting. So, a walk through the cemetery would follow.
If you have been keeping up with the site, you know how I feel about the Civil War cemeteries. In the Hazlehurst, MS article, I realized that the sight of a Confederate's grave with the little flags pushed emotional buttons. Here, south of Bunkie and north of Washington, it would happen again.
Sargent Leon J. Cambell, Company K., Third Louisiana Calvary, Confederate States of America
Now we're going to lighten up a little. Here are a couple of old stores. Of course you know that in merchandising, throughout the ages, the one thing that has spelled success or doom is location, location, location. The fact that these guys are away from the fodder of the Walmarts of the world has allowed them to continue for a very long time. Mr. Martin's Store dates to the 1890's. (maybe earlier) Octave's wasn't opened so I couldn't get the scoop. But, it is old.
Fontenot's is on La.104 northwest of Opelousas. Martin's is on Irish Bayou Rd., west of Franklin.
Visiting with Mr. Martin was really enjoyable. Carl and I just stayed and stayed, got the full tour and looked at all of his "old stuff". Down below the brake fluid and Windex is the picture of his graduation class. [I just figured that was what it was and later, on another visit, after asking, my statement was corrected as untrue. He had gotten it out of a trash can. I asked Henry, a New Orleans policeman/detective to identify it from his sources. That story is on Two Wheelin' La.] The place was a trip back. It is an authentic, working store. Opened on Sunday morning and all week. Merchandising, baby. It is around Jenerette [actually Franklin] on a lost back road. [I really didn't know where I'd been in those pre-GPS daze] Jacques, a resident of the area said that he'd visited the store often as a young fella.
Above are a couple of the survivors. Below is one that didn't make it, though it tried. Stolen from the Mamou article [one of them] this is Jay's Lounge. In the early 70's it was the local center for great national and local music. This was the ultimate "Roadhouse Honkytonk". Lightning Hopkins, Asleep at the Wheel, Doug Sahm and on and on played on its one foot high stage in Cankton, above Scott on the Scott-Sunset Road. Redbeans and Rice, Tommy Shreve, Rufus (our better one) were just a few of the quality local performers. Man, am I glad I was alive then and there and returned from then and there. Can you see the face in the clouds smiling down on Jay's?. [It catered to the college crowd from USL on the weekends while still maintaining its Cajun roots with cock fighting going on in the back room. Well, it wasn't a room, it was a mini-arena, the walls carpeted in red rug, if my memory serves me. How did I wander in there? I guess, I just needed to know.]
Alright, enough personal nostalgia. Let's talk real history. This is the Historical Marker on the road coming out of St. Fracisville going down to the New Roads Ferry. Can you read "1790". Can you imagine?
Oh, have mercy. He's going back to do another cemetery.
Just a minute, let me explain. I'm not going to do an article on St. Francisville. She doesn't need my help. She is famous. She is beautiful. She is perfect. She is taken care of. But, 2 shots, please, of the cemetery. This is the Grace Episcopal Church cemetery. The fence, the graves, the oaks. I felt "the oaks" again just like I had in Mississippi. You know, "the protecting oaks of Red Bluff" fame?
[That had been a moment]
The 1895 bridge at St. John's Plantation above St.Martinville has been replaced and is headed to retirement, hosting kids with fishing poles at a park. Her job is done, time to kick back and watch the waters pass by without having to turn and get out of everyone's way. It's a "turntable" bridge. [update: it is still standing where it was, turned with the bayou]
Unfortunately, this beauty to the east of Washington on La. 10 is just deteriorating. I had to use the little digital's "digital zoom", which is rinky dink, to shoot it. That is what gives the picture the foggy, ghostly appearance. Hey, that works. It's demise is a shame. A real shame. [update: It is gone. I heard it had been taken apart and moved. It was at the community of Macland and may be the Macland Plantation. It was on Thistlethwaite property, I believe]
I think this building and its twin behind it were large storehouses. They sit on the Arnaudville Grand Coteau highway. I think they are on the Singleton property. The area has grown soybeans, sugarcane and cotton.
You can't stop a Deere, except to show it off under its own fancy cover. Very proud, sir. This is rice country to the west of Opelousas. Just another attraction on Louisiana 104, the road to Mamou from Opelousas. Flats would not be a problem.
[update: I believe the tractor's owner has passed or moved, the grass was high around the Deere the last time through, not what I would have expected]
For a while this was my uncle's place of business. It is the courthouse at Clinton, La. on La.10. It is in a very "southern" part of Louisiana, which was not a part of the Louisiana Purchase. Clinton is in the "Florida Parishes", owned and populated by the British, previously.
I really want to know what this was. It is on the corner of La.103 and 743. It's old. I think what you are looking at is the basement of a plantation house. I can see the stairs reaching from the ground up to the living quarters on the second floor. Of course, I saw a face looking down on Jay's Lounge and a monkey's smile in a cypress knee at Tickfaw. [another of the lost Bayou Mommy rides, you will see later in Back Road Riding] I think this could have been an old pumping station taking water from the bayou to the fields? No, it's older than that.
I know, another cemetery. What were the columns for? The funeral home? [no, it was a home] Sometimes, I will admit, I don't do enough investigation when I am "there". This might have been another gold mine and I don't know how to get back. This is on a "back road" (remember that's code for "I don't know the number") off of US 71, below LeCompte [actually east or west of Cheneville, somewhere along there and I still don't know how to get back], found while following Bayou Beouf, not an easy task. This bayou snakes. [later I would get the full scoop on the Cheneyville area. This house was on their history tour and was numbered. I don't think the tour still exist. A pity. Check out the Bayou Boeuf rides in Two Wheelin'LA and go into one of the old stores where Jim Bowie bought supplies. I'm not kidding. It is boarded up now and you can not go in. I hit it right and felt the ghost]
If you haven't been to the Jim Bowie/Opelousas Welcome Center, you need to. The "Orphan Train" display is poignant Louisiana.
In comparison to the rest of Louisiana's history, the birth of the oil industry seems like yesterday's event. The marker below, found in Evangeline, La. sets the clock in 1901.
I could tell you that this rusted tank and shed were the originals, but that would be a stretch. The site on which they stand is the original, the historic marker being to the left of me. (I'm the one taking the picture). Jennings, which is down the road does have a commemorative park celebrating the first successful well. Jennings is a big town and is on Interstate 10, 40 miles west of Lafayette. Evangeline is a village at best. More like a crossroads, about 9 miles northeast of Jennings. But, it's site is authenic. Too bad Evangeline couldn't have reaped a few bucks from the notoriety.
"Visit Disney's Oil World"
"Dad, are we almost there?"
[from time to time I'm a bit sarcastic]
And here it is, the present. The dot at the intersection of water and sky is an offshore drilling complex of some sort. It is reality and the half-life (14on,14off) of many a Louisianian. It has paid for a lot. It is a shame that so much of the wealth has been wasted. The barrel will run dry some day.
Then there's Old Transportation
Below is the end of the long bridge across the Morganza Spillway. It starts on its west end just after you cross the Atchafalaya River at Krotz Springs. This is its Livonia end. If the flood relief gates are opened up at Morganza, on the Mississippi, the water comes here and goes down the chute to the Gulf taking what's in it way away... The roadway is US Highway 190. Huey Long necessitated this bridge, which was finished in 1944, because the sane route was to the north on dry land, but the folks in the Melville area had voted against him and their town would be forever off the beaten track.
This is a Louisiana Draw Bridge. Simply, the section of roadway over the water is hoisted up and whatever passes down the waterway. Call ahead. Not many of the backwater bridges, such as this one at Breaux Bridge [I was wrong, it's at Loreauville] is "manned" any more. This one may be up form time to time as Loreauville is a ship building center on the Teche.
There is pitiful and then there is PITIFUL. This is the ferry at Melville. A little tug is tied to the side of this 3 car barge and transports the traffic of Louisiana 10 to the other side where a gravel road welcomes the Trans Louisiana Traveler. Then you get lost. The picture is one of the few stolen from the Corp of Engineers. So, stop scratching your head going, "I seen that somewhere else, Dotty." [actually, the ferry is rarely used and its future is in doubt]
Let's move along.
This could be the beginning of one of my boring editorials. Nope. Just read it and see why I posted it. Old habits die hard, no matter what the consequence. If you don't get it, you are probably saying, "What's wrong with that?"
Back to the past in Opelousas
Did you think Jim Bowie was a Texan or "Texican"? You'd be right. But, he had two countries to call home. He was a Louisianian, also. Below is his Marriage License which can be seen at the Jim Bowie Visitor Center in Opelousas at the intersection of US 190 and I-49. Very nice place. If you pass it up, you've lost.
Oak and Pine Alley, east of St.Martinville. The owner of the plantation was getting married so he imported all these spiders to web the trees and then he sprinkled gold dust in them. A little something special for his bride. She was bitten and died the next day. Just kidding.
Appearing to be a doll house dwarfed by the oaks, this very fuctional German built country home northeast of Jennings, stands in rice country. The Germans brought the rice industry to Louisiana. The Cajuns bought it all and figured out how to use it in everything. English peas and rice was a staple of my school lunches at Terrebonne Elementary in Houma, LA. I cannot eat English peas anymore. I have to eat rice or starve.
Yes, Mardi Gras. Not a Louisiana original, but we have put our signiture on it. All kinds of approaches are used throughout the state. Now there is an Alexandria Mardi Gras. A polite Central La. version of the rough, no frills New Orleanean demand for beads, "Hey Mista, Through Me Sumtin!!", would go like this, "Please, sir, throw me something and I'd really appreciate it, and how's the family doin? Saw Aunt Loosy last night at bingo....". This one was in Bogalusa. I couldn't get through town because of the parade. I had to participate. Hey Bubba, throw me something.
And there's MY OLD STANDBY, my traveling staple, a peanut butter sandwich.(crunchy) Good until the bread becomes medicinal. And, a rear view mirror full of me and what I do. Some of these pictures are dated and goodness, that sandwich is 5 months stiff. It's amazing how stuff gets old so fast.
That closes the first replacement history oriented Bayou Mommy write. There's a bunch more that will be added. Stay tuned.