Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Isleño Life On L'Isle, Delacroix Island, Louisiana, 1915 - Part 2

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:

"They serve to reflect the Italian-blue sky, the cumulus white clouds like submerged icebergs, and the bordering trees and rushes quite as well as the lakes farther north, which we spend much time and money to see, and which we rave over in raptinous (sic) terms.

The old adage 'Extremes meet' could not be more strikingly verified than in the close geographical relation and wide sociological divergence between New Orleans and De La Croix Island - New Orleans with its 385,000 inhabitants, its miles of asphalt, its immense sewarage and water system, its great railway terminals, its splendid schools, its varied business interests, its complex social life, and - L'Isle with its 300 - 350 souls; its streets of water like Venice; its single church where service is held only once a month; its one room school, barely three years old; its dependence on a doctor, at least twenty miles away; its houses thatched with palmeto (sic); and its two only occupations, plying the nets and hunting and trapping.

This unique, primitive little spot may be reached by one or two ways - by bayou, or by roadway.  One leaves the entirely modern gas-electric motor car of the Louisiana Southern Railroad at a small station called Reggio, and starts off by gasoline launch, or by wagon to the Island.

Once started, if one travels at night by wagon, Reggio seems a veritable outpost of civilization.  Beyond it is swamp and bayou; lone dwellings, miles apart; solitary, century-old trees hanging over the roadway and waiving, warning as it were, with their long, mossy fingers; darkness and dreariness; utter loneliness and remoteness of all which give one a feeling as of traveling to the uttermost ends of the earth.  Momentarily one half expects to fall over something into nothingness.  Only the stars, brilliant, multitudinous, and benignant, gave one the assurance of the same over-reaching, all-encompassing beneficient (sic) power which surrounds His children wherever they may be.

'I know not where His islands
Lift their fronded palms in air.
I only know we cannot go
Beyond His love and care.'

Should one select to go to the Island, it is quite imperative to make necessary arrangements well beforehand."

Aeriel view of "De la Croix" (Delacroix) Island as it looks today.  Photos courtesy of the State Library of Louisiana. 

Continue Article: | Isleño Life - Part 1 | Isleño Life - Part 3 | Isleño Life - Part 4 | Isleño Life - Part 5 |