Country Roads, Acadiana: The “Hoosegow” in Elton, Louisiana Friday, Jan 27 2012 

Don't get caught speeding through Elton!

Traveling east/west across southwest Louisiana Cajun country on US Highway 190, a sojourner will drive through the laid back village of Elton.  And the sojourner should slow down, because E.P.D. is known to lay  cunning speed traps through the 35 mph stretch in the heart of town.

What might the penalty be for being caught speeding?  How about an overnight stay in the “Elton Hoosegow?”

That curious looking facility has intrigued me all the years I’ve passed it driving through the Elton on the way to and from Lake Charles.   Yesterday, I finally pulled over and took the picture, something I’ve been meaning to do for years.

The building looks like a relic from the 1890’s, some bygone era when an open-air, public lockup fronted by the sidewalks of the main thorouoghfare, in full view of society and without electricity or sanitary facilities, would provide a scary deterrent to wrongdoing among the populace.

Padlocks still hang on each of the gates, but more likely to keep curiosity seekers out of the cells than for locking wrongdoers in.  Why the city fathers preserve the building, I don’t know, but I’m truly glad it does.  I only wish they’d place a historical marker of some sort to explain when and how this facility was used.   This is truly a museum piece, a memorial of an intriguing past, and another site worth seeing along the fascinating country roads of Acadiana, Cajun country, way down yonder in South Louisiana.

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The Joys of Grandparenting: The Gene Pool Wednesday, Jan 25 2012 

As a youngster, I thought the old folks’ prattling about babies was so much phoo-phoo.

“Oh, she’s got ___’s eyes!” or “That looks just like Aunt so-and so!”

But I’m a grandparent now, and I seize the right to my own phoo-phoo!  This photo of Sarah Ann (Honey, the grandmother) and Payton shows striking familial resemblance.

The genes are indeed persistent!

Gratefully, the child resembles more closely her adorable grandmother than her grandfather. (No disrespect to me–Just the truth!)

 

Country Roads, Acadiana: Arnaudville and the St. Landry Parish Bayou Country Friday, Jan 20 2012 

The outskirts of Arnaudville, on the verge of entering the quaint past of Louisiana bayou culture.

I was in a hurry today as I ran my work-related errands, driving from Breaux Bridge to Cecilia and back home across the Cajun Prairie from Opelousas to Eunice.  But hurry or not, I had to pull over at this point of the return to take a remembrance on the outskirts of the quaint Cajun village of Arnaudville, situated at the confluence of Bayous Fuselier and Teche in the heart of St. Landry Parish.

The  roads through Arnaudville gracefully trace the winding curves of  meandering bayou currents.  None of the roads through town are truly main roads, because no business comes through out-of-the-way Arnaudville on the way to anywhere else.  Perhaps that’s the charm of the community–a place lost in time, preserving the bayou culture of bygone days with the Rexall drug store right across Bayou Fuselier on the way into the heart of town where the spire of the local Catholic church presides over the downtown scene.

I hope I’ll always have time to pause on the way through small-town, out-of-the-way places like Arnaudville.  Life is too short to do otherwise.

Sing a Summer Song: A Childhood Memoir Wednesday, Jan 18 2012 

I dashed out this piece two and a half years ago in a workshop led by Louisiana Poet Laureate Dr. Daryl Bourque.  The verse recalls a childhood memory of me and my sister sneaking out the back door with a bag of “forbidden fruit”–forbidden in that the pieces of fruit were meant for the entire family.  For us, the consumption of the fruit was meant to be administered by strict parental control.  As adventurous preschool aged toddlers, though, we  exceeded our bounds, evidenced by Mama’s swift and punitive reaction to the discovery of our wanton waste.

 

Memoir from the Parsonage (Where I Grew Up)

Recalled from New Zion Church, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, Cerca 1956

By David Pulling

July 2009

 

From childhood, a wilderness of memories, 50 years old:

Sing a summer song.

On the kitchen counter

Beside the ice box

A brown paper bag.

Fruit!

Red apples.  Yellow bananas.  Orange oranges.

Temptation gleams in preschoolers’ eyes.

Snatch the bag,

Out the screen door, down the steps,

Crouch beneath the window:

Big brother and little sis,

Like little Adam and Eve

One by one, test the taste,

A test of this, a taste of that,

Bite by bite,

A bag of semi-eaten fruit.

“Which one do you like?”

“I like this one.”

“I like that one.”

“Here. Try this.”

“That’s good!”

“Shhhhhhh! Listen”

The screen door creaks.  Around the corner,

“Mama!”

“Uh-oh.”

Break a switch from the Bridal Wreath.

Teach little ones

To taste not, want not.

Sing a summer song.

Bon Appetit for Frog Legs? (No, thanks) Thursday, Jan 12 2012 

Yuk!

The fresh seafood case at our local South Louisiana Winn Dixie displays rows of delectable  delights: fresh shrimp, crabs, filet of different species of fish, lobster tails, and etc.  But when I spotted this frog leg display among the delicacies of the sea there arrayed, my stomach turned.

This display looks more like lab specimens for Zoology 1011 than it does something I would drop in the deep-fat frier.  In fact, I can’t imagine that anyone would pay $7.99 a pound for these skinless  legs stemming from muscular posteriors, the sinewy layers of muscle evident as from an anatomy drawing .  In my imagination, they must taste like formaldehyde.  Ugh.

I think I’ll save my $7.99 a pound for more conventional fare.  I can’t stomach the thought of consuming lab specimens.

A Tribute to Raynold Loewer Sunday, Jan 8 2012 

Farewell, Ray! We'll see you on the other side.

I received news of Ray Loewer’s passing last week with mixed emotions: Selfishly, I regretted parting with a gentleman farmer whose acquaintance I treasured for more than 30 years; happily, on the other hand, I know Ray’s release from his earthly travail freed him from the infirmity of illness in exchange for the eternal reward that his faith had sealed.  As a result of the latter, his memorial service Saturday morning provided a time of celebration for a life well-lived.

As a student of letters and the discipline of linguistics, one of Ray’s traits that always fascinated me was his acumen for language.  The son of German immigrants, his family’s first language was German.  He learned enough English to begin first grade in the English-speaking public schools, and then picked up conversational skills in Cajun French from the Creole/Cajun farm hands’ kids who helped out on his father’s farm.  A truly fascinating case study, he picked up  language skills without formal training in any of them.

In the respect of Ray’s language skills, then, I recall a French aphorism that Le Conseil Pour le Development de Francais en Louisiane (CODOFIL) used to circulate in the 1970’s: “Un homme qui parle deux langes vaut deux hommes.”  (A man who speaks two languages is worth two men.”)  Applied to Ray, then, the trilingualist, “A man who speaks three languages is worth three men.”

What a fitting way to regard Ray!  Beginning with imposing stature, Ray’s physical presence was striking–There was enough of “him” to make several!  But greater than the  largesse of physical stature, what truly distinguished Ray  from ordinary men was the largesse of his heart.  The enormity of the crowd gathered for his service, in fact, bore witness to this man’s remarkable gift for living and loving with homespun sincerity.  Never flashy, never patronizing, but ever earnest and compelling, Ray practiced a gregarious gift for making others feel accepted, loved, and appreciated. He was a jewel of a man, one whose character will not be easily replaced, and one whom I, along with hundreds of others, will sorely miss.

God bless the memory of Ray Loewer!  Our earthly society is diminished by his passing, as heaven is increased by his going.  We long to see him again in the realm to come.