Cajun people have very colorful culture

Published 4:34 pm Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I worry at times that my columns become a little too personal and repetitious. After all, nine years seems like a long time to spin out these yarns and tales. But I do enjoy going back and peeking at some of them in our vast stack of archives.

Many of my 30 years working flood claims for FEMA were spent in the state of Louisiana. And, over that period of time I made friends with several of those fine Cajun residents.

One particular Cajun family has asked me several times to come back over there at Christmas time. They want me to see the traditional Cajun Christmas Parade. Now, their parades are not like those we have here. They decorate their small boats, which they call pireaux, with beautiful multi-colored lights and they join in with dozens of others floating up and down the narrow bayous and canals in their community.

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People from all over come to these unique parades. I keep saying I am going back one more time, but I find myself not traveling like I did in my younger years.
My friends have sent me pictures of their parades and I must say they, indeed, celebrate a most unique Christmas.

I remember working there in the early 1980s and meeting an elderly grandmother of a Cajun family who had a repertoire of unique “remedies for whatever ailed you.” One remedy thwarted sinus problems. It was basically spicy water with a dab of Louisiana peppers and you simply sniffed it up your nose to induce sneezing. She said the constant sneezing and warm water opens up the sinus passages, bringing instant relief. Of course you certainly don’t want to do this because of what I write, but always consult your doctor before trying remedies or new medications.

She also gave me a remedy for sore throat. She said take honey and a dab of that salty mix with water and sip lightly until the throat feels better.

She also had a remedy for “fish hook snags.” Many of those folks made their living from fishing and it was not uncommon to hook yourself while angling. She would take a leaf from a plant growing in her yard and soak it in warm salty water. She would take the leaf and wrap and tape it around the area where the fishhook tore into the skin. After a couple of days she said the skin tear would be completely healed. I don’t know the name of that plant but if I ever do go back I’m going to find out what it is.

I also remember working flood losses in south Louisiana near the Texas state line. Friends of Luther Nallie, lead member of The Sons of The Pioneers, experienced flood damaged losses near their Beaumont, Texas, homes. I always enjoyed hearing them talk about the Nallie brothers and their long time association with this treasured singing group.

In 2008, I wrote about some people and events from 1961 and 1962. In 1961 Southland Telephone Company changed over to the dial system. For years, operators would “punch in” the number you wanted to call. I bet you remember that changeover because we had to refer to our new telephone books to find all those new numbers. It was a contrast to our picking up the phone and hearing those pleasant sounding lady operators say “number please.” Do you suppose those ladies ever listened in on those conversations? I don’t think so because my wife, who was one of the operators back then, never gave me any indication of “knowing any secrets.” You must understand I am only jesting. Those were fine upstanding ladies. And a few of them are still living. What a wonderful era of all those “number please” operators.

In some news from 1962, Atmore residents pitched in to help tornado victims in Milton following a deadly disaster in that Santa Rosa town. A.R. Holmes resigned his head coaching position at ECHS and took a similar position in Georgia.

The nation’s number one steam locomotive, “The General,” made an overnight stop here. The train, consisting of an engine, fire car and one coach was said to have been stolen from the South by “Yankees” during the Civil War and used in an attempt to destroy Southern tracks.

In some current happenings, fireworks watchers were treated to excellent “marching band music” Saturday night. The Escambia County Community Band was featured at the gala display and they sounded wonderful. The perfect blend of brass and reeds was recognized from beginning to end. For all those band members, we say, “job well done.” Keep up your good work.

Hundreds and hundreds of cars made their way to the fireworks event and, we commend those directing traffic and getting us out and onto the road home with the greatest of ease.

When the stock market opened Monday, you could see the slide had already begun. And, the main reason of course, is the financial turmoil in Greece. Can you imagine what you would do if our government told you no money is available at your bank or ATM machines. Well, that’s what happening over there right now. And, our leading financial advisers are telling us turmoil from this country could have a definite effect in our markets. Take oil, for example. It has been on low ebbs for almost a year and the trouble in Europe is dragging it down even lower.

The question is must we be a part of their bailout, or do we leave it up to the Europeans to solve the problem?

I apologize if these “old columns” are too repetitious. Perhaps in the future we will have to train a younger writer to step in, someone who can write in a more contemporary vein than I do. What’s that saying … you can’t go on forever?

More next week.

“Yes, it always whispers to me … those days of long ago …”

You can email Lowell McGill at