Laissez les bon temps rouler, a greeting you hear all over Cajun country. It means let the good times roll, and they do at Fred's Lounge in Mamou, 10 miles out of Eunice. We arrived by 7:30 in order to get a seat when the bar opened at 8 A.M. Fred's is only open Saturdays with live music, drinking and dancing. The two couples below were the early birds along with Jim and I. Calvin Daigle, standing closest, brought breakfast from Charlies Place around the corner, a heaping pile of boudin, (boydan) in a piece of butcher paper along with a paper bag of cracklins. The still warm sausage, slightly spicy with a soft texture more like stuffing than meat was wonderful. I believe it had rice in it. The cracklins were inch thick pieces of bacon fried crisp, unlike any cracklins I ever tasted. Calvin and his wife Nonie, (next to the wall,) are regulars at Fred's. Sally and Mike Wenckus are from Golf, Ill.
Before the musicians had set up to play, a crew of guys out back iced down beer to keep the refrigerators inside full. A couple of guys set up a pot to make jambalaya. Some one asked what time it would be ready? "Oh, somewhere between 9 and 2, he claimed." No charge for the jambalaya. Its part of the "experience."
Getting the meat started for the jambalaya.
Nonie & Cal started the dancing before it got crowded. The Cajun musicians were Scotty on Accordion, Jason on Violin, Ray on drums, who also sang, and Smiley on guitar. No fanfare or introductions, Nonie told me their names because she knows them all. They just play, with no breaks from 9 until 2. Sometimes longer. The music is broadcast live from Freds and a different group plays each Saturday.
After a couple hours the crowd looked like this. Then, later, you couldn't get back far enough to take a picture. It was necessary to slide between people. I slid by this one guy with a clothes pin and money attached to his beads. He told me it was too crowded to get his money out of his pocket so he carries it "up-front." Everyone is friendly and polite. No cross words spoken or drunken behavior evident, although the rules are, no standing on the jukebox, bar, or tables. And no kissing on the lips. Leon, in the striped shirt above, told me he kissed his girlfriend and owner Tante Sue wapped him on the head with her "no kissing" stick.
These two out-of-town women have been friends for 55 years. The Justice Of The Peace, on the left, offered to marry us, and rescind it for no extra charge. We declined.
Tante Sue, the owner, keeps the whole shebang running. Between slapping beers on the counter, counting change, cleaning up a cans, bottles and glasses, she is known to break into dance with the music while playing the accordion on her shirt, reach in her holster for some "Hot Damn", take a slug and yell "Quinta!" (Which means Who Dat?) In fact, she sometimes tastes a new pint of Hot Damn before handing it over to the customer.
This couple pilgrimage to Fred's twice a year. She once lived in Santa Barbara, CA for four years but couldn't stay away from Louisiana. They have Targil's Spices, you can order on line. Everyone is rooting for love-him-or-hate-him Shockey and the Saints, and gearing up for Mardi Gras.
I met Mikell above in line for the bathroom. She is almost ready for Mardi Gras and we coined some folksy wisdom, no matter where you are, be it fancy or folksy, women have to wait in line for the bathroom.