topic 1929 October 29

bus ride Great Depression Onezime Olympe Janice


   The Bus Ride to and from School

   I remember the last week of school. Mark, our bus driver, would slow down as we got closer to the Royal Castle -- and if we had a nickel we could get ice cream! If I didn't have a nickel I'd borrow one from Marie Deslatte (a very good friend). She always had a few nickels -- maybe 4.

   There was a man named Onezime. He worked all week in the fields to support his family. But on Sundays he was free to roam on his white horse. He'd spend most of the day at the country store and liquor store. After he had imbibed enough, his friends would put him on the horse's back. He took his ride stretched out on the horse. The horse knew where to go -- He didn't need any guidance. He went slow for home at a very slow gait. I think Onezime slept most of the way home. His wife, a very large woman, had the name Olympe. They were two of the best people on earth.

   On Thursday, Oct. 28, 1929, while we were at school, a message came and we were told there would be no school tomorrow. We never knew the reason why. We were only too happy to have a day off.

   While we were on the way home, a car came in hot pursuit and stopped the bus to tell the driver and us, and the "day off" was called off--

   We found out later by the newspapers (there were no telephones in Vacherie and few radios). I suppose someone at the school board office had a radio that worked or a telephone and heard the news about the Stock Market crash -- Friday, Oct. 29, 1929 -- and the school board got panicky. The people were jumping out of windows in New York; the whole country will be in a mess and the bank would have no money to pay the teachers.

   Friday, Oct. 29, 1929 is Janice's birthday!

topic 1920's

Oven Papa kindling wood


   Outdoor Oven Where we lived in the front lane (Mr. Jimmie Torres' house) there was an oven in the backyard -- for baking. That was a good place to bake bread. It had been in good use many years before -- I believe Mama cooked on an oil stove. A few houses had the outdoor oven. By this time (1920) most people used their wood stoves in their big kitchens.

   Moments of Reflective Thoughts

   Kindling wood to light the fire in the wood stove early -- such as 5 a.m. (and make 7 lunches too) to cook breakfast and heat up the kitchen was quite a chore.

   Sometimes someone had got the kindling in the stove ready to start the fire -- what a kind person!

   I remember one time I made the kindling the afternoon before and I had a hard time splitting some sticks of wood on the log block out the back door. In very cold weather we had to light a fire in the fireplace.

   Papa told me it was his job to get the kindling ready for the next morning. He was 7 years old at the time. One morning he was awakened by his father because he had forgotten to get the kindling ready in the stove. As he was telling me that, he stopped talking. And being silent and reflective, I wondered what he was thinking about -- It made me sad all these years when I recall this little private moment with him telling me that and then just thinking, remembering silently -- I couldn't say, "What happened, papa?"

topic cemetery

cemetery decorations Tante Manette Felix Poirier Eugenie Breaud Poirere


   Cemetery Decorations

   Beaded ornaments for the cemetery for All Saints' Day --

   My grandmother and great aunts had a collection of black beaded crowns to bring to the cemetery for All Saints Day -- to place on the memorials of their dead relatives. The crowns were left there only one day and taken up again and put up in the top shelves of the armoire to bring back for another year -- Black shining beads strung all around on tiny wires -- like lace or flowers. Black ribbons. TTo see that made me feel so sad!

   St. Louis Cemetery No. 3 on Esplanade Ave., right across from Holy Rosary Catholic Church. St. Raymond's Mausoleum.

   Felix Poirier, my grandfather

   Eugenie Breaud Poirier, my grandmother

   Tante Manette Breaud Perrier, my great aunt -- all 3 are buried there, also her husband Eugene Perrier buried in the wall portion of the cemetery with the back fence against Esplanade Ave.

topic 1910-1930

Tante Manette Harvey


   Tante Manette was a typical Creole French lady who lived in the French Quarter and book my mother to the Old French Opera House. Tante Manette was always dressed in black as was customary for elderly French ladies. She spoke impeccable French and also English. She was eccentric. She was highly critical and we were so silent when she was visiting. She was always busy and in a hurry, it seems.

   When Mademoiselle Estelle was coming to visit Memere's in Harvey. She came from St. James. Aunt Olga would tease us all afternoon telling us to get ready to kneel down and pray for hours. She was right. When Miss Estelle came in and after supper we all had to gather in the living room on our knees and she led prayers on and on and on. We must have recited a few rosaries because it was a long time before we could get up to go to bed. In fact I never remember finishing the prayers. I was probably fast asleep on the sofa by then.

topic 1920's

cleaning women


   The Back Door

   All cleaning women or workers who came to the house, knocked on the back door. The colored women never came by the front door--that was just a habit that went on through the years of long ago.

   I remember if Mama served the woman some dinner she'd go eat it on the back porch. But I did see sometimes it came to pass that they ate in the kitchen after we had finished. Isn't it unusual that even as a child I would notice the difference between employer and employee. Mama was always very kind to the help-- and to know Papa was too. If he had someone working in the yard or working on his beloved car --

   Cleaning the Floor

   A hard job. You hauled a bucket of water plus a large bar of Octagon soap, plus a large scrub brush and some old rag to help wash and some to sop up the water. Sometimes you'd sprinkle the floor while wet with crushed and powered bricks to lighten the floor color. It was yellow pine floors (unpainted -- maybe it was cypress). After a good cleaning (on your knees) it was passible for a few weeks. Meanwhile, you swept it and swept it every day or so...