My youngest Theriot aunt was named Marguerite Elvina when she was born in Vermilion Parish in 1896.  In a family portrait taken about 1900, she appears to be a very pretty little girl with loosely curled blonde hair.  I know she was always "Daddy's little girl," because she told me so herself.  Nicknames are tradition with the Cajuns, and Marguerite Elvina was called "Loul" so to me she was "Tante Loul."  Her children, grandchildren and their children always referred to her as "Mama Lou."

A great grandaughter interviewed Mama Lou to fulfill a school assignment.  She got the highest score in the class for writing that paper. And she was kind enough to bring a copy of it to me to insert in a book I was preparing for a Theriot family reunion in 1993.  I think you will enjoy reading it, too.

"At the age of five, I remember being taught at home by a teacher.  Not much school at this time. I'd sit in my little red rocking chair right next to the teacher, and she would help me with my numbers and ABCs.  Didn't have many schoolbooks. Every Saturday Dad would hook up the buggy to a mule, and we would head out to town to buy groceries (green coffee).  He would buy me some gumdrops and I'd give him a big kiss.

We lived along the Vermilion Bayou.  Our house had a dirt floor and the walls were made of clay and moss.  No screens on the windows.  Most of our furniture (chairs, table and beds) Dad made. Didn't have much money.  He raised sheep and some were killed by coyote.

When I was about 8, we moved to a place just outside of town.  There Dad farmed corn, cane, Irish potatoes, and such.  Times were hard, but everything worked out and everyone made it.

When I was about 6 years old, we had to walk about 2 miles to go to school at Rice Cove.  Everyone went barefooted, but I had patent leather shoes (75-cents) to wear to church.  And everyone attended church on Sunday."

      Elvina Theriot,
      Age 93

"Tante Loul" grew into a very beautiful young woman, and she married three times.  Her first husband was Edias Saurez.  After he died she married Serge Chauvin, a widower whose first wife was Clothilde Theriot, a distant relative of his new wife.  Serge brought with him a daughter named Edith and, interestingly enough, she grew up to marry one of my husband's Gisclar uncles and became my husband's "Tante 'Dit."  Her third husband, whom she married when he was elderly, was a man named Alvin Smith.

I don't recall ever meeting Edias Saurez, but I knew Tante Loul's Saurez children.  I don't really remember Nonc Serge, either, but I think he and his brother Seraphin were shrimpers who supplied our winter's supply of dried shrimp.  Some of the Chauvin children I knew quite well, and I am still in contact with Jimmy and Harry.  

And I definitely remember Mr. Smith!  Before he married Tante Loul, they were living together, and my Dad, being the head of the family since his father was deceased, went to visit them one day, read the riot act to them, and that resulted in their joining the United Methodist Church, where a few weeks later Mr. Smith made an "honest woman" of Tante Loul.  I was not invited to the wedding, nor was my Dad. 

The house that Mr. Smith built for his new wife was small, but very neat and attractive.  It was located near the north city limits of Abbeville, just a few acres away from the farm that Grandpa Meaux had purchased while his sons were in the Navy.   My little boy David was not yet two and I was expecting my second child, when he and I went to pick dewberries along the fence line on the farm.  I could see Tante Loul and Mr. Smith sitting on their back porch, thought I'd cross over and go to visit them for a while.  Being big and clumsy, I had a little trouble getting through the barbed wire fence, and when I got to their house, I found Mr. Smith had been sitting there laughing at me!  He remarked that if I weren't so fat, I would have had less trouble getting through that fence.  Now, the man was pretty hefty himself!  So as I was sipping the glass of cool lemonade that Tante Loul had given me, I calmly asked him, "Now tell me, Mr. Smith, when are you expecting YOUR baby?"

Marguerite Elvina Theriot Saurez Chauvin Smith died in May of 1991, leaving six generations of survivors.  She is buried in Graceland Cemetery, right across the highway from where I live.  

25 October 2001

Copyright © 2001 Aline T. Meaux, Abbeville, LA

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