Sunday, March 10, 2013

VERMILLION VILLE OF LAFAYETTE, LA.

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There are two Cajun Villages nearby but the Vermillion Ville, a Cajun/Creole Heritage and Folklife Park has a Saturday afternoon jam, every Saturday. Greats like August Broussard, Ray Landrey and others I don’t know their names take time to help young students learn their great music. August is tutoring Darrien, above. We ran into them when we entered the park.
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The park has about 12 buildings along the river in a beautiful park setting that show the Cajun/Creole way of life on a self-guided tour. Cajun houses tend to be small. People spent most of their time outside.
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Most of them have stairs leading up to an attic.
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The wattle and twig built fireplace heated the house and provided a place to cook.
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In hot sweltering Louisiana, a family may have an outside kitchen, with their garden by the door.
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A docent demonstrated cooking in a fireplace with a black pot.
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The finished dish, grits and grenelles, I think is the name of the dish. It is beef and vegetables in a roux served with yellow corn grits. No tomatoes. She mentioned that most Cajun recipes do not use tomatoes except for a court bouillon.
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At the school-house, where a sign on the blackboard reads, “I will not speak French in the classroom or on school grounds.”  A fiddler entertained us and a big contingent of French speakers from Canada, some were unfamiliar with the punishment and edict that tried to force Acadians (Cajuns) to speak only English. He was a humorous old gent named Merlin Fontenot, two months away age 90. DSC04050 (Copy)
The Vermillion Ville Park is beautiful and we visited about 12 buildings. While Cajun families lived in small house right on the bayou, more affluent Creoles had fancier houses and furnishings.
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Regardless of whether they were Creole or Cajun, furnishings were most often home-made like this beautiful cradle.
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Trundle beds with mosquito netting for Louisiana summer nights.
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And this rather amazing home-made device. A fan you could operate from bed until your arm fell off, or you fell asleep.
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A piece of fancier furniture.
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It didin’t matter how fancy you lived, when it was cold, you wore a heavy long cloak.
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And you still had to light the candles everyday. (Above converted to electric lamps.)
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You still had to pull yourself across the bayou with a hand pulled ferry.
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There was church on Sunday, work, family and music. Fish in the bayou and herbs in the garden. The park tells its story and we enjoyed it very much.
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In the church, a docent was making rosaries from “natural beads.”  Joabs tears. The seeds are picked green, they already have a hole to string them. They need no coloring or preservative.
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The finished product.
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There is a good French restaurant on the grounds and before going to the jam, I enjoyed a last bowl of gumbo before heading for home.
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These two young boys and other older players were learning from the greats. It was fantastic, but we’ve had signal problems on and off all morning. We drive to Baton Rouge today, so I’ll finish blogging the jam tomorrow. I got some good video as well.

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