Plantation Stories

by Wilson J. Gaidry, III

The Connection

In the early 1940's the people of Terrebonne Parish were directly connected to nature. They were part of the natural world, tuned to the rhythms of life and seasons. It was a constant struggle to provide the basic necessities for life, clothing, food and shelter, things that we take for granted today. Finding food for every meal was a priority that consumed most of a person's life and almost all food had to be grown, caught or killed. Everyone had a garden, livestock, hunted and fished as a necessaty to sustain life.

Over generations these survival traits were so embedded in the DNA of the Cajun people that today hunting and fishing is a tradition that is important to their lives. I still grow, catch and kill most of the food for my family. Farm families hold a closeness to the land, they worship the land in a spiritual bond that governs their lives and consumed their souls. They are inseparable from nature and the natural rhythm of the seasons. The primary allegiance is to the farm; governments, countries, political divisions, laws all are secondary. A farmer gives his life to the farm and would give his life for its preservation.

In the early 1940's the plantations of South Louisiana went through a transformation into the mechanical age. Horses and mules were being replaced by trucks and tractors, farms were getting electricity for the first time. The wrath of the Great Depression was still being felt; most of the farms were in debt and the people struggled to make ends meet. Life was hard physical labor six days a week just to have the basic necessities to sustain life.