Thursday, March 27, 2014
Who knows the name of Antoine Dominic Domino? Ahh, Father of Blues and Jazz, Fats Domino. And you probably are familiar with Joel Chandler Harris’ cleaned-up version of the slave-creole folktale of Brer’ Rabbit and the tarbaby. We visited the slave duplex on the Creole plantation “Laura” where Fats’ parents and siblings were born and lived before moving to “Nawlens” where he was born. It was in those same slave-creole cabins that the Brer’ Rabbit tales were first told and heard by Joel Chandler Harris…a much rougher version than his retelling. I was told to rethink giving my grands a copy of the original tales. We also went to the famous Oak Alley Plantation, to glitzy San Francisco, and to “the crown jewel of River Road plantations, Houmas House, all wealthy on sugar cane. All were wonderful, a little different; the gardens in spring flower, but when you’re used to Middleton, Magnolia, and Boone Hall only “Laura” really interested us with something unique.
We’re rolling out of New Orleans on a wave of sax and trumpet jazz from our newest CD over the most incredible road system. Our tires haven’t touched land-based asphalt in the last 15 – 20 miles. We are amazed at the feat of engineering bridges and highways above such extensive cypress swamps and expanses of water. I-310 and I-10 and all their spurs carry traffic on giant concrete stilts above acres and acres of bayou, scattered on the swamp edges with little white and blue shanties which are no more than haphazardly thrown-together woodpiles. I am infatuated with the ability to sit at my little desk-office in the passenger seat and write on my computer while Jim drives and “Tom,” our GPS voices traveling directions, safely skirting us around detours, tunnels, and big cities.
We really liked this Creole/Cajun country and the fun, laid-back personality of its people; we could embrace it and be proud of it, but we could never be part of it, never really fit in without the French ancestry even if we owned the vast fortunes. After the worst stretch of road we’ve bounced over between Grosse Tete and Lafayette, we lunched on our last taste of delicious Cajun delicacies: frog legs, gator bites, and boudin balls, a tasty fried ball of pureed pig liver, rice, and ???
The sugar cane fields, rice paddies, and catfish ponds are giving way intermittently to small horse and cattle ranches with a few little oil pumps rhythmically pumping. A “Cajun cowboy” in his soft, worn ostrich leather boots chatted us up at lunch and advised Jim to get his boots at Calvera’s in Beaumont.
Today, crisscrossing the Mississippi, we saw first-hand two of America’s arteries clotted with our nation’s commercial life blood. Barges clogged every waterway and trucks, both tankers and freighters, clogged the east-west artery I-10. For the past few nights in Louisiana and tonight in Texas, we hear railroad whistles in the distance, reminding us of another artery carrying life throughout the US. How amazing to ponder the logistics it takes every day for us so casually to shop at Whole Foods, Publix, Stuckey’s, Fins, Red Fish, or Water’s Edge.
Passing through the town of Evangeline brought back delightful memories of our trek through New England and eastern Canada along the Evangeline Trail where Longfellow’s epic poem started in Acadia. It ends tragically right here. We always read to each other on our journeys, or listen to talking books on the CD player. This trip we are reading Davey Crockett and Jim Bowie; after the Alamo, we will start on John Steinbeck so we will be familiar with Monterey and Salinas, California’s literary heritage. Later, after picking up our 12 year old grandson, we will read William Cody, Buffalo Bill, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn before visiting Cody, Wyoming and Hannibal, Missouri.
Gayle Carson, author of Wynds Over Wylusing, retired from CCSD teaching at Wando. She has developed curriculum and taught for Florida University, USC, and City Schools of Chicago as a contractor for the Naval Submarine Base in Charleston. A past owner/operator of a decorator showcase, she has also bred and shown dogs and Holland Lops. Gayle grew up in Mt. Pleasant, married Jim Carson, and raised three children and six grandchildren here. They are avid outdoor people and love boating and water activities. Her hobbies include backyard hobby farming, water gardening, playing the organ and piano, and travel. Jim and Gayle are members of East Cooper Baptist Church, the Senior Center, and various charity acitivities. They are presently on a four month “See America” odyssey in their motor coach with their two pups.
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