Southdown Plantation, Cajun Country, Louisiana

My plan for a boat ride through the swamp was foiled by a merciless rainstorm.  I awoke to a thrilling barrage of thunder and lightning and the downpour began soon after.  I had never seen rain of this magnitude in my life, but the locals in Houma acted as if it was no big deal.  Every lawn was under water.  Streams several inches deep ran down the better drained roads, and in some sections it was deeper.

The day’s entertainment was thus an indoor tour of the Southdown Plantation manor house.  Beyond the expected opulence of the mansion were stories of people ranging from sugarcane tycoons to a prominent senator, all of whom had lived in the house. The sugarcane fields had long since disappeared with town development.  My guide, Ethel, volunteers at Southdown once every two weeks.  Luckily I came on her day.  Ethel grew up on a working plantation herself.  The childhood experiences she related put her age near 100, but she didn’t look it.  “I think I’m in pretty good shape,” she said, smiling, as she moved up and down the staircases like a champ.

When another tourist went to touch an old table, Ethel stopped her with the utmost of grace.  “We ask our visitors not to touch.  The oils can harm the furniture.”  Ethel carried herself with a rare level of enthusiasm, politeness and dignity, and presented a wealth of interesting history about the area.  During the talk on sugarcane processing, the term bagasse (raw material) was used frequently.  The spectacle of aristocratic Ethel speaking authoritatively about “bag ass” was too funny, and I could not suppress my laughter.  She would have been justified in correcting me, but she did not.  As one who is typically bored senseless by artsy activities, I felt my time was well spent here.

After the house tour Ethel and her friend invited me into their office and tried to help me find an afternoon swamp tour.  This was fruitless because of the rain, but in the process we all had a great conversation.


About Jerry
Working in Corporate America for many years, I wanted to break free of the office walls for a bit and explore the world. Having put the pieces in place, I am first exploring the USA by road. Colleagues and friends expressed interest in my travels, giving rise to Office Escape. It is my honor to share my adventures.

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