jeudi, novembre 20, 2003

Today is a beautiful day here in SW Louisiana. The sky is clear and the temperature outside is still below 70 deg. Lisa and I went for a nice stroll around the neighbourhood. She has watched me closely, not allowing me to do to much, or anything that I am not supposed to do.

As I write this I am listening to the new CD by the Lost Bayou Ramblers titled Pilette Breakdown. It's a very fine work that is true to an older traditional Cajun Sound. I remember as a child listening to my (now 83 year old) Pawpaw and the band he was in playing this same sound in the mid-sixties. I have always loved this music and my Cajun culture.

It saddens me to think that I am living at the end of it all. If I live a normal life, I will see the death of the Cajun language and culture that I love so much. As I child the old people on both mom and dad's side of the family spoke only French. English for those like my grandfather was a second language with which they were not very comfortable. My own parents grew up knowing French, but were sent to public schools where the use of their native French was outlawed and they were humiliated and punished for using, what for many, like my mom, was the only language they knew.

As a kid it seemed all the adults around us spoke French, but they did this with one another and not with the children. They did not want us children suffer the humiliation that they had endured. We did have some French influence; for example, when I was a child I had no uncles or aunts. Instead we grew up calling our uncles by the French "nunc" and our aunts were called "taunt." There were lots of french nicknames and french terms and phrases that we grewup with. For example my dad always told us to close the door in French. "Fermez la porte" he would say, but we were not taught our native language.

Today I can understand a fair amount of Cajun French, but the old Cajun accent, like that of my grandfather, is rapidly shrinking and passing from the seen. My great grandfather Willis LaFleur differentiated between "les Cadiens" and les Américains. Today the Americans (les Américains) have engulfed the Cajun culture and brought it to the point of extinction.

Tommy Michot wrote a song (La valse de la mèche perdue) about the destruction of the marshes in South Louisiana. After singing about the rapidly disappearing marshes he asks "Combien des années avant (que) notre culture suivra les mèches"In English "How many years before our culture will follow the marsh?" I fear and am saddened to think that it will not be long.

Coram Deo,

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