Once when Dad was making the long trip from Abbeville to Bayou du Large to visit some relatives back there, he stopped overnight at the Blanchard Hotel in Patterson.  He found Mom working as the desk clerk there.  She was about 14 at the time, and he was 17.  On the spot, he decided that this was the woman he wanted to marry.

Mom and her brothers had been living with the Blanchard family since her mother died.  The Blanchards took care of the Park children while their father was out in the marshes trapping or fishing.  Mom became quite fond of some of the Blanchard children, especially the little girl named Ola.

When Mom was 15, arrangements were made for her to move into the home of Dad's parents, supposedly to help take care of the numerous children.  She celebrated her 16th birthday there in November, and the following February, she and Dad were married.

Several years later, when Ola was a teen-ager, she moved from Jeanerette to Abbeville and stayed with Mom and Dad.  I don't know if her parents were deceased, or if she just came to live with her friends.
She stayed with them until she married a good old Cajun boy named Emic Broussard. 

The Broussards had two boys named James and Norvin, and a little girl named Lou Ella (nicknamed "Pip") and lived on a rice farm at Rice Cove.  I did not really know them well until we moved to Perry, where they visited us often, and sometimes took me home with them to "spend a few days." 

I remember how much fun the boys and I had fishing in the canal behind their house, and we sometimes "fell in" kind of on purpose if the weather was especially warm.  "Pip" was too little to go fishing, but I cut out a whole family of paper dolls for her from a Montgomery Ward catalog, and showed her how to make cardboard furniture for them.

Mom, Dad, Jerry and I were there once on my birthday, late in the month of May.  Mom cooked the custard for ice cream to go with my birthday cake that Ola had baked, and all of us kids took turns cranking the handle of the ice cream freezer.  But before it was done, an unexpected "norther" blew in, and we had to put on sweaters to eat our ice cream.  That was a birthday to remember.

When my own children were small, Emic was still farming rice, but was also driving a school bus.  He sometimes picked me and my little ones up in the morning after dropping the students off at school, and took us to visit with Ola until time for his afternoon run to pick the students up to bring them home again.

It was then that I really got to know Ola well.  She loved talking about my mother.  What a good friend she had been to her, how they used to talk about Ola's sister, Emma, who was the beautiful one in the Blanchard family and how sad it was that she pretended to be in ill health all the time, just so her devoted husband would wait upon her hand and foot. 

And I can still almost hear Ola exclaim, "Mais, Pug, you sho' look like yo' mama!" 

6 August 2001

Copyright © 2001 Aline T. Meaux, Abbeville, LA

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