topic 1929 October 29
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
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
Friday, Oct. 29, 1929 is Janice's birthday!
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?"
||Eugenie Breaud Poirere
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
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.
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.
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...