Imagine passing Octave Fontenot’s grocery store at the intersection of Hwys. 103 and 104 in rural St. Landry Parish, Prairie Ronde community, Louisiana, in 1964. I bet the place looked the same then as it does now, minus the rust on the Coca Cola signs.
Anybody want a Nehi grape soda? A vanilla or chocolate moon pie? A pound of Mello Joy coffee and a link of boudin and a bag of salty gratons (i. e., “cracklin’s)? This would have the place to purchase those commodities.
I’ve passed Octave Fontenot’s grocery off and on for about ten years now when I have business in that remote part of the Parish, and in all those years I’ve never sensed that the place is open for business any more. (A sign on the door says “Closed.”) Perhaps someone lives in the back of the store?
I’m always struck, nonetheless, how the place is preserved as a treasure of bygone days. Situated at this lonely Cajun country crossroads, the store poses a picturesque remembrance of the past.
I grew up in another part of rural Louisiana, where we had country stores like Barker’s and Allison’s and Galloway’s. I suppose Octave Fontenot’s reminds me of those wayside groceries from childhood. Those places saved Mom from a trip to town if she ran out of milk or washing powder or sugar during the week.
I took these pictures today. Vive les memoires d’Octave Fontenot!