AT CHENIERE AU TIGRE...
Before Dad built the beautiful sleek boat he named the 'Osprey', he had another one. I don't think he built this one himself (at least, I hope he didn't, because it looked like a tug!) She was not a glamour girl, this boat, but was a very dependable craft. This was the boat Dad used to take hunting parties out to the marshes and fishing parties out to the Gulf, and although I was very little at the time, I remember when he took her out to rescue some folks whose homes were flooded in an area east of Kaplan. He was gone four days that time. This also was the boat that family and friends traveled in when we went to a place on the coast for a week-long camping trip.
I know it was on the Gulf, because the water was very salty. I think it was probably at Cheniere au Tigre, because there was an old hotel there, no longer in operation, that we used for shelter at night. Mom and the other women hung mosquito bars (netting) around where we had our pallets on the floor. You think Louisiana mosquitoes are bad now? You should have seen the monsters we had then!
Swimming in that salty Gulf water was great! My little one-piece swim suit was red, and Dee's and Mom's were black with bands of white around the hips. The men and boys wore cutoffs. I could wade out yards and yards from the shore before the water got deep. I was out there with Dad one day, and surprised him when I dunked him. I believe that is the only time he ever got mad at me, and I had to sit and listen while he lectured me about safety in the water.
Dee and I walked along the beach and gathered seashells. The flat, bowl-shaped ones I kept to replenish my set of play dishes at home, and the conques, Dee kept to make into door stops and to decorate flower beds. One day she found the skeletal head of a huge sea turtle. She brought it home and cleaned and varnished it and polished it so that it had a lovely sheen. She kept it for a long time, until after she was married, and finally donated it to the museum at Hermann Park in Houston. The last I heard it was still on display there.
We also gathered brown kidney-shaped "sea beans" which we polished and painted designs on. They were quite decorative. We soaked them in toilet water or sprinkled them with talcumn and put them in the drawers to make our clothes smell good. We picked up "sea gum" on the beach. I am not quite sure what this consisted of, but it looked like tar. Mom encouraged us to chew all we wanted because it was good for our teeth. You'd bite off a chunk, put it in our mouth, and after you had "worked" it for about an hour, you had a soft, pleasant-tasting ball of chewing gum.
I loved those camping trips. It was such fun searching for those treasures and I loved swimming in the salty Gulf water. Nowadays I much prefer a heated pool, but I will always cherish the memories of those camping trips at Cheniere au Tigre.
Copyright © 2001 Aline T. Meaux, Abbeville, LA
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