I decided that since I wanted to learn more about what made us so Cajun, I should explore the towns of our parish. I hope to visit one town per week, and share my experiences with all of you.
This week I selected Gueydan, and since I prefer co-pilots on road trips, I told my mother, “Get dressed and grab your purse. I’m taking you on a trip to the Duck Capital of the World.”
“You’re not going to charge me for that?” she asked.
“No,” I told her. “But put on some lipstick, because I might need you to flirt with some men so they can tell me what makes us so Cajun.”
Our first stop in Gueydan was Patti’s Book Nook (410 Second Street), where we were greeted by the Gayle family. Sean, the father, gave us each a cup of coffee (my mother loves FREE so she was very happy) and sat down and told us all about his shop.
“Patti’s Book Nook, which is named after my wife, is the only full service book store between Lafayette and Lake Charles,” said Sean. “We’re also an internet café, computer service and retail store, and outlet for the Rosary House in New Iberia.”
I learned from James Gayle (son) that there are three murals painted on buildings in Gueydan. Located all on Main Street, the first is on T’s Crawfish Trap (by Robert Baxter), the second is on The Gift Box (by Robert Dafford) and the third is on Thibodaux’s Pharmacy (by Theresa de Perrodil Trahan).
The next stop on our adventure was the Gueydan Museum (Main Street), where we were given big smiles and offered another cup of coffee, (my mother was elated). The curator, Jane Hair, showed us French antiques, art from local artists, a leather German officer uniform, paintings by a Polish prisoner held in a World War II POW camp located in Gueydan, and one of the only two albino nutrias in Louisiana.
“Right now we’re featuring art by local artist, Kathleen Simone Little,” said Ms. Hair. “But starting next month we’re going to have the Butterflies Galore exhibit, which will consists of paintings, glass sculptures and much more.”
My mother and I crossed the street to Cormier’s Creole Kitchen (current owner John Bertrand) where rumor has it, former owner Eugene Cormier serves up homemade biscuits for breakfast.
My mother and I were fortunate enough to visit while locals who call themselves the Knights of the Round Table were having their daily cup of coffee at a round shaped table.
“Some of us have been coming here for years since it was called The Pool Hall,” said one of its members. “We meet at 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. to discuss politics and solve the world’s problems.”
When I told them my name, one of them joked, “Couvillon. That sounds French. Mais, we don’t have any Cajuns here, us, no.”
Then they all laughed and started speaking French. I asked if I could take a picture and one of them said I would need to ask the leader of their group, King Arthritis, who smiled and nodded his head up and down.
I asked my mother if she wanted to sit on the king’s lap for the photo, but she shook her head and looked at the men and said, “I did the best I could.”
One of the knights laughed and replied, “C’est pas ta faute.” (It’s not your fault)
My mother and I took a detour on our way out of Gueydan to see the spectacular grounds of the Florence Club.
Although I’ve been surrounded by marsh and water for a good part of my life, I was still stunned by its beauty.
“It’s kind of weird,” I said to my mother. “I used to come to Gueydan for track meets when I was in high school. But I never realized that it was a such a wonderful treasure.”
“I know,” she said. “People are so friendly. And we got two free cups of coffee.”
For more information about the town, check out www.Gueydan.org or call 536-9415. For information about the upcoming Duck Festival (Events throughout August), go to www.duckfestival.org or call 536-9415. Additional info can be found at the Vermilion Parish Tourist Commission website, www.vermilion.org, or by calling 898-6600.