Creoles ‘n Cajuns – Laura Plantation, New Orleans 5/9/16

On to River Rd.,where numerous former plantations host tourists. We stopped by Oak Alley for a few photos, but not the tour. Reviews of Oak Alley point out how obliviously their tour touts the riches of the owners, while ignoring the slavery that created the wealth. Pretty, but…      [double-click to enlarge any photo]

Laura Plantation, down the road, was run by 4 generations of Creole women, the last being Laura Locoul, the great granddaughter of the founder, and the woman for whom the plantation is now named. Fascinating history, excellent, informative tour which included information about the home and plantation owners, and the enslaved workers. We think the opening of Whitney Plantation has made them  give a more comprehensive tour.

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Learned a lot at Laura. The doors to the men’s parlors and guest rooms had single doors; the women in hoop skirts could fit through only rooms with double French-doors, so the single doors protected the ladies’ virtue. The owners stayed at Laura only during planting and harvesting seasons. Their social scene revolved around their home in the French Quarter – Laura Plantation was just the farmhouse.

We also learned , maybe at Whitney, about the economic slavery of share-cropping that followed emancipation. Many of the enslaved people stayed on at the plantations to work as free people, paid to do the work they had been doing as slaves. But as share-croppers, they had to buy on credit the equipment, tools, and food, housing, furnishings, everything. And after the harvest, when they sold their crops, they were paid in scrip which was accepted only in the Plantation store on that plantation. And then they were presented with the store’s bill for all their tools, food, etc. Mainly, they found that every year, their crops earned them less than they owed at the plantation store. And the debt kept building, year after year, and became the debt of their children. Just like the coal miners in the song “16 tons and what do get? another day older and deeper in dept. St. Peter, don’t You call me ‘cuz I can’t go. I owe my soul to the company store.” Sharecropping wasn’t outlawed until the 1970s.

From Laura, we headed down to Thibodaux in ‘Cajun country, for a visit to the Jean Lafitte National Park’s Wetlands Acadian Culture Center. Cajuns are the Arcadian French Canadians expelled from Nova Scotia by the British in 1755.

Took a self-guided walking/driving tour of historic Thibodaux – lots of Victorian-style homes, neo-classical public buildings.

Back to the Acadian Cultural Center for the Monday night Cajun Music Jam – just 3 musicians trying to keep the traditions alive.

Parked along the bayou to watch the sunset and see egrets swoops for their bedtime dinner.




2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Debra Mayhew said,

    Sorry you chose not to visit Oak Alley as we do have an entire exhibit dedicated to the slaves that built and worked at Oak Alley. It’s 6 slave cabins that describes the lives, pain and suffering that happened at Oak Alley. Oak Alley is not just about a house tour, it’s about the entire plantation life. Hopefully the next time you visit this area I hope you will decide to visit Oak Alley and experience our exhibits and tour.

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