Sunday, January 15, 2017

My Return Visit to Poste des Opelousas

Back in April of last year, I promised to make a return trip to the little village of Washington, Louisiana, the 3rd oldest settlement in Louisiana.  It is said that now 80% of the village is on the National Historic Registry.
The following information came from this link (pictures are mine): Washington, Louisiana 

Founded in 1720 and incorporated in 1835, the community was first established as Poste des Opelousas, a French trading post. Early records indicate that the community was later called Church Landing because the settlement included the first church in the Opelousas district, La Iglesia Paroquial de la Immaculada Conception del Puesto de Opelousas, built in 1774.
 
Of course the original church building is long gone, but when the replacement was burned to the ground a few years ago, the new church was designed to replicate the original as close as possible.  It is a beautiful little Catholic church occupying a full village block.
In the 1800′s, Washington was an important steamboat port with cotton, cattle, sugar, and molasses being the major products shipped from the region. It became the largest steamboat port between New Orleans and St. Louis, Missouri. Bayou Courtableau is the western border of the village and now only a small, muddy tributary that eventually feeds into larger bayous and lakes further southwest.
Seen from across the bayou, the building on the right above is now said to be owned by a "couple movie stars" and was once a hotel.
 It does not appear that the "movie stars" are doing much with this historic building today.
 
With the arrival of the railroad in 1883, Washington’s importance as a center of commerce declined. The last steamboat departed in 1900, leaving the town with a wealth of antebellum plantation homes and Victorian houses that have today formed the basis for a significant and growing tourism industry.
Along side this beautifully maintained Plantation home, is what I think must have been at one time a "paved" path for wagon wheels.
The town of Washington is to Louisiana what Williamsburg is to Virginia.  Unlike Williamsburg, however, with its many reconstructed replicas, the historic homes and businesses of Washington are graceful, original buildings from Louisiana’s nineteenth century past.
  For example, the old Steamboat Warehouse Restaurant located on Bayou Courtableau just upstream from the steamboat turnaround, is a fascinating reminder of the bustling steamboat era which drew to a close only after the coming of the railroad in the late 1800′s.
  This is now the Steamboat Warehouse Restaurant.
 
Washington contains many examples of various Architecture, ranging from board and batten cottages to towering plantation houses with full galleries.
Front and back of a stately old house.
 Characteristic of the old Louisiana Plantation homes is the detached kitchen.  It was here the slaves would have cooked for safety purposes.  This house is a perfect example of what it looked like.  I'm sure this long-ago cooking place is now used for a more practical purpose.
This lovely old home on the bayou embankment, can also be seen in a picture above from across the bayou.
Washington has many wonderful old live oaks, many of which are recorded in the register of the Louisiana Live Oak Society.  They are definitely one of my favorite things about this historic place.

This is the only house of this particular style in the village.  It is more of a New Orleans architecture than the other homes.  Notice the rear open balcony and ornate iron smaller balcony on front.
 Another feature found on many of the homes here is the outdoor staircase.  Originally, the staircase would have led to the attic area.  Today, many of them are just simply there.

The brick commercial buildings on Main Street are also of major interest, since a number of them still maintain their 19th century ornamental store fronts.
 The old high school is now an amazing antique mall.
I found the old cemetery to be very interesting.  Many tombstones dated back to the Civil War.
Also, found in the cemetery are some ancient cypress trees.  The gnarls and bark patterns are unlike any other tree.
Speaking of the old oaks, I was photographing a tree when I noticed a white ball on one of the tree trunks.  I switched to my zoom lens to see what it was.  Imagine my surprise when I found this beauty.
Once the site of Plonsky’s Opera House, the Museum contains memorabilia from Washington Steamboat Days and also houses many interesting artifacts of Washington’s past and maps of the area.
 So, when traveling down I-49 in central Louisiana you just might want to look for the exit to Washington and explore this historic little village as I did. 

Linking to

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Our Family at the Cotton Bowl 2016

Because of the following reasons, our family was able to experience the renowned Cotton Bowl on January 2 up close and personal:

1.  Western Michigan University football team was one of two undefeated teams in the nation along with Alabama, with a record-breaking and history-making 13-0 record and a national ranking in the top 25.
2.  WMU won the Mid-America Conference (MAC) title.
3.  Grandson, Jackson #65 played left guard for the WMU Broncos.

Wow, what a year for these boys many of whom were on the team four years earlier when their record was 1-11 with a new 34 year old coach with off-the-wall ideas of how to build a winning team.

The next two years they were 8-4 with an emerging culture for winning ballgames and a mantra that the boys bought into 100% - "ROW THE BOAT!"

In January of 2016, in a meeting with his coaching staff, Coach Fleck held up a cotton ball.  It was his vision that they would work toward the goal of playing in the Cotton Bowl on News Years Day 2017.  Unbelievable!  However, the coaches bought in but agreed it should be presented to the team.

It was, and the team leaders wanted the team to have time to discuss it.  After meeting, the report to the coaching staff was this:
"Ok, this will be our goal, but we never want to hear it mentioned or referred to ever again during the season."

On Sunday, December 4, 2016 when it was announced that indeed, WMU had been selected to play in the Cotton Bowl, Coach Fleck pulled from his pocket a very worn and frayed ball of cotton.  It was the first time the boys had seen it since January.  He had kept it on his desk all year, but had carried it in his pocket for the first time during the MAC championship game.

It was now time to talk about going to Dallas to play in the
Cotton Bowl!
On Friday, Dec. 29, Hubby and I met our son and his family for four exciting nights at the
Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas, the headquarters for the WMU football team for the week.
It was all bedecked for Christmas with decorations of over-sized proportions.
Here are just a few pictures.
Everything is truly bigger in Texas, right?

On Friday night, our daughter and her family, who live in Dallas, joined us for dinner and then back to the Gaylord to see our Big Boy for the first time.
These long-distance cousins had a wonderful time of reunion.  It was so much fun to watch them enjoy each other.
For the first time in five years all of us were together in one place.  It sure made us parents happy, happy folks.

One of the really neat things the Cotton Bowl does for the players is give them their very own tile in the huge mezzanine to their restricted area.
My daughter and I discussed having the three oldest grands recapture one of our favorite pictures of them.  They loved it!  And we all realized, they really haven't changed - except in size.
And then, it was Monday and time to play some football!

Jackson had about 47 adoring fans who made the trip to watch him play.
There were grandparents, aunts, uncles, even a great-aunt, and Indiana friends, everyone proudly wearing the WMU Bronco shirt of their choosing.
It was an exciting moment to see our Big Boy on the Big Jumbotron screen, the 2nd largest in the world.
And this made for a very emotional time for the proud parents who were seeing their son play his last college football game in such a amazing venue.
There was also a very special moment caught on national television.
Before every game since his first high school game, Jackson and Dad have made eye contact and pointed to each other as a sign of recognition and love for each other.  How special that Jackson found his dad in this huge mass of humanity and that it was captured for posterity.

We didn't win the game on the scoreboard but every one of those boys came away a winner.  They had achieved amazing feats against amazing odds and they played their hearts out.  As someone wrote in an AP article, "With a different 1st quarter or a little more time on the clock, they could have won this game."

The important thing for us was to hear Jackson say, "I feel really good about the way I played."  That's what we wanted for him.

Our son hosted the family and friends for a Jackson Celebration at a Texas Bar-be-Que restaurant afterward.  Again, it was a time of being together and loving on each other.
 We could be serious just so long.  But look at these beautiful granddaughters.

 Jackson and his long-time best friends from Indiana.
 We will forever treasure this time with our only grandson because of what it meant to him.  But also, because it was a time to celebrate all that is good; the results of working hard to achieve goals, spending time with family and friends and remembering and being grateful together for the one from Whom all blessings flow.