Tag Archives: Louisiana

Memory Lane Road Trip~Part 15

10 Oct

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites



Day 15 – Tuesday 5/1/2018

I headed south on I-40 this morning to visit the Flying Tigers Heritage Park located just outside Alexandria, LA.  This is a park situated just outside the entrance to, what was until 1992, the England Air Force Base.  Now known as England Airpark & Community, it is a thriving residential neighborhood and the air base has been transformed to serve as the Alexandria International Airport.  I was only interested in getting photos of their static displayed airplanes, and then I was on my way.

I continued south on I-40, and then took a short side trip down U.S.-167/SR-13 to visit the Cajun Music Hall of Fame located in Eunice, LA.  All along U.S.-167 and SR-13 I kept seeing these large, flooded fields with some kind of a device evenly spaced over the entire field.  I had no idea what I was seeing until I arrived at the museum, and asked the curator.  

She said they were crawfish traps, and showed me one she had there in the museum.  I asked her what they used for bait, and she said, “Any kind of meat scraps will do, but most farmers use processed crawfish bait which is made up of concentrated fish parts.” When I mentioned how shallow the water looked, she informed me that they plant rice in those fields, and then after the rice crop is harvested, they flood the fields, seed the crawfish, and put out their crawfish traps.  Check YouTube for “Crawfish Trap Videos” to see how they do it.

I learn some of the most interesting things on these trips!  The museum is located in a small building and displays some Cajun Music memorabilia, but is filled mostly with early 1800s Louisiana artifacts from the surrounding area. 

Next door was the equally small Eunice Depot Museum, which was closed, so I headed east on U.S.-190 to pick up I-40 and head south again towards Layfette, LA.  Friends had told me that if I was ever in the Layfette area, I needed to stop at “Prejeans Cajun Restaurant” located on I-40 just north of Layfette for a meal.  Well, it was lunch time wasn’t it?  So of course I stopped in to give them a try.  

Everything on the menu looked great, but I settled on a bowl of Seafood Gumbo to start.  Then it was their “Blackened Shrimp Skillet Creole” with red beans and rice.  Yummm! It was all pretty spicy, to my taste, and I needed two glasses of ice tea to keep my mouth cooled down!

After that delicious meal, I was ready to head south on I-40 again to visit the Acadian Village located a few miles southwest of Lafayette.  This is a 1800s living Cajun village, with relocated and restored authentic buildings, including houses, a church, a meeting house, and a blacksmith shop. The village is set around a small bayou and the dwellings are easily accessible from a paved walkway.

A few miles east of the Acadian Village I visited the Vermillionville Historic Village located on 23 acres adjacent to the Bayou Vermillion.  This living history museum and folk-life park is another frontier village type attraction, with some of their buildings dating from the late 1700s.  The seven relocated buildings have been restored, filled with period furnishings, and hosted by tour guides dressed in period costumes who will answer all your questions.

Now it was time to head for the motel and get settled in, so I could relax and enjoy my leftover Blackened Shrimp with red beans and rice from Prejeans.  Yummm again!  Of course I didn’t have the ice tea to cool down my mouth this time, so I had to be satisfied with a can of Mountain Dew from the motel’s drink machine.

                                           —–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing. He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville. Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

Bill

Memory Lane Trip~Part 2

20 Jun

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 2 – Wednesday 4/18/2018

 

I headed west on U.S.- 61 this morning for my first stop to check out the South Louisiana Executive Airport located in Reserve, LA.  This turned out to be a very small local FBO with no activity and only a few hangered airplanes. However, they had a beautifully restored F-11 Tiger jet that was painted in Blue Angels colors as their gate guard.

 

 

Next I continued west on U.S.- 61 until I picked up I-10 west, to check out the USS Kidd (DD-661) located in Baton Rouge, LA.    The whole area around the ship, which was part of the Veteran’s Memorial Museum, was blocked off to visitors.  I discovered the ship was being used in the making of a new movie named “Greyhound” starring Tom Hanks.  The ship was surrounded with barge-cranes and boats to handle all the movie sound and lighting equipment.  I didn’t see any filming activity on the upper decks, and it will be interesting to see how they use that stationary ship in the finished movie.

 

 

Next I tried to find the Old Arsenal Museum also located there in Baton Rouge.  Access to the museum (which was hidden from sight from the only road where parking was available), was difficult to find and when I finally did get to the museum it was closed. A sign on the front of the museum indicated that it was the original powder storage magazine for the Baton Rouge Arsenal & Ordnance Depot. Wikipedia informed me that the Baton Rouge Arsenal was one of several arsenals established by an act of Congress in 1816 to protect Louisiana borders after the War of 1812.  In early1861, even before Louisiana had seceded from the union, the Louisiana State Militia captured the arsenal and held it until mid-1862 when Union forces recaptured it, during the Battle of Baton Rouge.

 

 

Just around the corner and down a couple blocks from the Old Arsenal, I checked out the Louisiana Old State Capital Building Museum situated on a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi River.  Designed and built in 1847-1852, the “Castellated Gothic” turreted edifice served the Louisiana Legislature from 1852 until 1862.  During the Civil War, when Union forces captured Baton Rouge, it was used as a prison and later as a military garrison.  I didn’t go inside because it was full and overflowing with junior high school age students on a field trip.

 

 

Now I headed west on I-10, across the Mississippi River, to visit the USS Orleck (DD-886) which is tied up on the Calcasieu River, located on the northwest side of Lake Charles, LA.  This turned out to be another real challenge for Greta, in that she directed me to the wrong side of the road.  The ship was tied up in an area which was almost completely obscured by trees and shrubbery, which made it very difficult to see from the road and also hard to photograph.  The ship was in a state of dis-repair and didn’t look like visitors were welcome. I googled the USS Orleck when I got home from my trip, and Wikipedia informed me that the ship was damaged during the 2005 Hurricane Rita and is now being prepared for the scrap yard.

 

 

While I still had some time before supper, I went looking for the Lake Area Radio Kontrol Society flying field located in Sulphur, LA just a few miles from Baton Rouge. This actually turned out to be the highlight of the day as far as I was concerned.  Greta found the field with no problem, and there was one club member with his Grumman F-7F Tigercat, getting ready to fly.  The club had one of the greatest flying field setups I’ve ever seen.  They have a 600’ paved runway, with several run-up stations and paved taxi-ways to the runway.  There is a large metal covered prep area with tables and chairs.  They also have a nice-sized attached clubhouse with full kitchen and bathroom.  We had a great time talking model airplanes before and after he flew his beautiful Tigercat.

 

 

The light was fading fast by the time I left the LARKS Model R/C field, so I headed for the motel there in Lake Charles.  Greta did a good job of finding the motel this time.  After I got checked in and settled in my room, it was time to relax, and  warmup my leftover Saltgrass Baby Back Ribs.  Who could ask for more to finish a long day on the road?

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

 

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 58 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, writing blogs for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing. He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum in Titusville. Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

Bill’s favorite Scripture is: Philippians 1:6

 

Visiting Grandmother’s House Part~2

17 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Bill

My cousins and I thought it was great fun playing on the hay bales stacked in the barn and shucking corn for the cows and horses.  Sometimes we were allowed to let1 the cows out to pasture in the mornings and round them up back to the barn for milking in the evenings.  I even tried my hand at milking, but never really got the hang of the technique.

I remember an occasion when one of my uncles found a four-foot corn snake in the chicken coop eating the eggs out of the nests.  The custom was to put white glass eggs in the nests to encourage the hens to lay, and you could see 2where the snake had swallowed a couple of the glass eggs, making bulges along its length.  My uncle grabbed the snake by the tail, swinging it around over his head like a bullwhip, and then snapping its head off in a motion like cracking a whip.  Yuk, what a mess!  Egg yolk went everywhere. Then, after the snake finally stopped squirming, he retrieved the glass eggs and washed them off to use again.

Back then, many of my uncles and some of my cousins chewed tobacco, and of course I was “encouraged” by some of the kids my age to try it.  I didn’t have too much trouble with it until one day when I tried chewing and swimming at the same3 time.  We were having a ball in my uncle’s pond when I swallowed a mouthful of water and my chaw of tobacco.  Later that evening, my mother kept wondering why I felt sick to my stomach.

Another sport we engaged in was the building and shooting of “Firecracker Rifles”.  We would notch a short piece of 2”x 4” for our rifle stock (it really didn’t look anything like a rifle stock), and then attach a 2’ or 3’ length of ½“ pipe to the notch by bending nails over the pipe.   Red M-80 firecrackers fit nicely into the pipe, and had strong fuses that wouldn’t go out inside the pipe.  We would use marbles that would just fit the “barrel” of our homemade rifle.  And, there you have it.

5Amazingly, if everything was fit together tightly, and your aim was any good, this homemade rifle could put a marble through both sides of a 1-gallon can at short range!  Pretty scary when you think about 7-10 year olds doing something like that.  Of course, our parents had no idea we were playing with anything this dangerous, or we would have been in BIG trouble.

We also used those same M-80 firecrackers in contests to see who could blow a tin can the highest, and because they were waterproof, we would use them to blast crayfish out of their holes.  As you read this, I can just hear you saying, “Oh, boys will be boys!”  Yea, but it would surely have given my mother a heart attack if she had known what we were up to.

Well, those are just a few wonderful things I remember my cousins and me doing  during those family trips to my grandmother’s house in Louisiana when I was a kid.  Of course, some of those experiences may have had a profound influence on me as I grew up; because I ended up working with explosives for most of the 35 years I spent as part of  the U.S. Manned Space Program community.  But, then that’s another story for another time.

Grandmother Lites at age 90

Grandmother Lites at age 90

—–The End—–

                                  

Visiting Grandmother’s House Part 1

10 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

When I was about eight years old, our family went to Louisiana for a summer visit with my dad’s family.  Grandmother Lites lived in the same house where she and 1my grandfather had raised 13 children in the late 1800s.  The original acre homestead was located in the central part of the state, near the little town of Many, about 80 miles south of Shreveport.

Grandmother’s house was typical of farm houses during that period; single story, square white clapboard, with a breezeway down the middle, living room and kitchen on one side and two bedrooms on the other.  There was a small front porch with room for several slat rocking chairs, and a narrow screened 2back porch that ran the width of the house and was just wide enough for a couple double beds,

Running water in the kitchen for washing and cleaning was gravity fed from an overhead cistern behind the house.  Drinking water had to be hand drawn with a bucket from the well.  The only heat in the house came from the fire place in the living room or the old  wood burning stove in the kitchen.

3At some point electricity had been added to the house which was the source for the single bare 60-watt light bulb and pull chain in the center of each room.  The old wall mounted crank telephone was a novelty for us kids when the operator would come on the line and ask what number we wanted.

Slop jars were used at night and the two-hole outhouse during the 5day.  Baths for us kids were taken in a round galvanized tub in the middle of the kitchen floor.  The girls got to go first, since they usually didn’t dirty the water as bad as us boys did.

One of our main toys was an old tire that we rolled along 6most everywhere we went.  We had races with them, tied them to tree limbs for swings, and stacked them high to climb on to get at things out of reach over our heads.

The one most memorial visit for me was the year when the U.S. Army was holding one of their war maneuvers in the woods around my cousin’s and grandmother’s property.  My cousins and I would sneak off to the camp when nothing was going 7on, and wonder around checking out all the neat equipment and asking the soldiers questions.  The men were really nice to us, even letting us eat with them when the officers weren’t around.

Sometimes they would drive us out of the “restricted area” in one of their jeeps when they 8were getting ready to fire their howitzers (with blanks of course).  Even after they dropped us off, we were still close enough to get goose bumps every time one of those big guns was fired.   Wow! What a thrill that was.  We even got to play on them sometimes when the soldiers weren’t around, pretending we were helping win the war.  We didn’t know it at the time, but many of our country’s top generals attended those Louisiana maneuvers over the years.

I got a big kick out of helping my mother and grandmother make butter in the handcranked butter churn.  It always amazed me how the milk magically turned into butter and left that yummy buttermilk.  I loved buttermilk and drank it every time I got a chance.  Then there was the time the cows got into the bitter weed, and it made the milk so bitter I couldn’t drink it.

 

9

 

—–To Be Continued—–

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