Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Isleño Life On L'Isle, Delacroix Island, Louisiana, 1915 - Part 3

Blogger's Note:  It doesn't take a Times Picayune journalist long to know he is in foreign territory on his trip from New Orleans to "De La Croix" (Delacroix) Island, Louisiana in 1915.  Despite; or in fact because of, the curt tone of his opening phrases, the overwhelming softening of his words into the familiar descriptions recorded in later passages makes for a fascinating read.   This collection of documents, written in 1915, offers a day-to-day account of the insular community of Canary-Islanders, Los Isleños, established in the 18th century.

From the Times Picayune October 10, 1915 article L'Isle, or De La Croix Island Is Peopled by a Strange Mixed Race with Spanish Dominant:

"The houses usually consist of a bed-room and a kitchen, and bost (sic) but a single bed.  So, however hospitably inclined the native might feel, it would be impossible to entertain a stranger.  If you should reach there at 10 o'clock at night, not knowing where you might lay your weary head, the sense of forlorness (sic) may be imagined, but cannot be described.  Whether from interest or curiosity, or both combined, to which is doubtless added a large share of genuine good feeling, the natives will open their doors, barred tight against mosquitoes, or often suspend a game of Spanish poker to see that the stranger is well bestowed.

To the initiated, there are one or two places where one may be sure of a cordial reception, adequate accomodation (sic), and good treatment.  Morning on De La Croix Island is delightful, even at 4 a.m.  At this time the mists are still floating down the bayou, like smoke from some invisible craft midstream; while, near the bank, the Morning Star, and tall gaunt overhanging trees, are alike clearly reflected.  A rim of haze also rests on the levee of the bayou; and off, near the horizon, some steel blue clouds loom up above it almost like distant mountains.

The moon, a bright crescent, with the old moon lying in the new moon's arms,  is like a great gray agate in a silver rim.  Here and there the glassy smoothness of the surface of the water is broken by a splash of a big fish.  The croak of multitudes of those noisy denizens of the bayou, and the shrill note of the cicadas are not really objectionable because they seem to fit in with the general scheme of things.

The birds are already awake and one may hear the familiar melody of the mocker, or the call of the black bird with its "chuck-chick" followed by a rich throaty, five-syllabled note, 'who-ra-who-ree-ye.' It is fascinating, especially as there comes a response from some nestlings in the same hackberry tree."   Photos courtesy of the State Library of Louisiana. 

Continue Article: | Isleño Life - Part 1 | Isleño Life - Part 2 | Isleño Life - Part 4 | Isleño Life - Part 5 |