Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day Nine; Louisiana

Today was a day for sightseeing. We managed two sights and lunch.

We drove down Front Street in Natchitoches with the iron pillars holding up balconies with iron railings. Iron gas lamps were lit on the fronts of the commercial buildings. Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Park was our first stop. We watched the movie and looked at the displays inside before we walked out to the replica of the fort. The fort was quite amazing and the docents were wonderful. When we arrived one was caulking some chinks in the walls with a mixture of mud and dead Spanish moss and another was getting ready to light a fire in the bread oven. Since we were the only tourists, we were given a private tour of all the aspects of the fort.

The docent even fired off a flintlock for us and regaled us with many of the common slang expressions that come from the flintlock such as; “Don't go off half-cocked,” “lock, stock and barrel,” and “flash in the pan.” The French had good relations with the Indians as they were ordered to make friends with the natives by their king in the interest of trading with them. The original fort was built in 1716 to prevent the Spanish forces in the province of Texas from coming across the border of French Louisiane.

By the time we left the fort it was time for lunch so we headed to Mama's Oyster house. William had a fried catfish Po-boy. I wanted to have something unusual so I chose stuffed soft shell crabs. Very good, but a huge plate of food. I ate ½ and we will have the rest for dinner.

After lunch we took the historic Cane River Highway to the Oakland Plantation. We had a guided tour of the plantation house with just one other couple. The plantation was occupied by the Prud'homme family continuously from 1785 to 1990. The park was established in 1994 and furnished with furnishings from the Prud'hommes in the style of the 50/60's. The house was added on and enlarged starting soon after it was originally built when Mrs. Prud'homme brought home furniture from France that was too large for the house. The last add on was an indoor kitchen and kitchen eating area in the 50's complete with the ubiquitous chrome/formica table and chrome/plastic upholstered chairs of the type everyone had in the late 50's. Mrs. Prud'homme chose yellow. My mom chose red and passed the set on to us in the 70's. I would not leave the grounds until we had found the privy. It was worth walking to the other side of the house to find a communal 3 holer for adults and a small low hole for little ones. I could not help but think of Axel. He knows why.

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