Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Isleño Life On L'Isle, Delacroix Island, Louisiana, 1915 - Part 5

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:

(Above) B&W Photo: A Spanish (Note: "Spanish" in this context probably means Louisiana Isleño) trapper's wife on Delacroix Island was photographed between 1939 and 1941 holding dried muskrat skins in front of their camp in the marshes.

"As originally they live by fishing in summer, and by hunting and trapping in winter.  It would seem as if they never have a dull season, and that crops never fail with them.  The waters fairly teem with fine oysters, large shrimps (sic), crabs of monstrous size, and fish of all kinds - Spanish mackerel, red fish, speckled, green and white trout; flounders, croakers, and drums (sic).

Practically all of the fishing is done with nets.  They make their own nets, and almost all the villagers know how to use the boffin which is made of ash brought from Reggio.  These nets stretch at intervals all along the banks of the bayou; and together with the palmetto-thatched boathouses before most of the doorways, betoken at a glance the occupation of the people.  Some of the seines are 800 feet long, are parcelled (sic) out in lengths to different net markers, and require a month or more in weaving.  A rather uncommon, but very picturesque use of discarded nets is for the making of fences.

Imagine the unstudied artistic effort of a rude hut, thatched with palmetto, and a garden of zinnias and other humble hardy plants surrounded by a fence made of netting, stretched on bamboo poles.  It seems all-sufficient to the inhabitants as a simple home, and quite satisfying to the beholder as an unusually pretty picture."   Photos courtesy of the State Library of Louisiana. 

Continue Article: | Isleño Life - Part 1 | Isleño Life - Part 2 | Isleño Life - Part 3 | Isleño Life - Part 4 |