New Inspiration

Last week I finally got to see Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne’s presentation called Why Louisiana Ain’t  Mississippi; it was very inspiring.  Don’t miss it if you ever get a chance. It made me want to get out and see more of Louisiana right now.  It reminded me of the mid 1980s when I was accused of spending too much time in the swamps and marshes of South Louisiana and leaving out the beauties of the rest of our wonderful state.  So I embarked on a two year journey to do a book called Discovering Louisiana. On this sojourn I found much to like and have seen so much more since…but there is still more.

So yesterday I decided to go fishing on the Ouachita River with Jimmy Newsom.  His son Rob, a musician, mountain climber, proprietor of Boudreaux Cellars, and friend of mine, had been telling me for years that Jimmy was one of the best white perch, (sac-a-lait to Cajuns) fishermen in North Louisiana.  Rob has been suggesting that I go fishing with his dad for years. I met Jimmy in his driveway in Dubach at 5:30 AM. On our drive to Alabama Landing I find out he turned 91 years old last week.  He looked like he was 80, acted like he was 70 and moved like he was 60 when he jumped into the boat on its trailer and asked me to back him into the river.

Jimmy Newsom

It wasn’t long before he jerked in the first of 24 fish we caught that day.  I think it was 19 for Jimmy and 5 for me. The morning was cool and he told me war stories. One was about how important it was to have good pitch to be a sonar operator on a US Navel Destroyer to tell if a submarine was coming or going, which is how he served our country in World War II. But mainly we talked about fishing. We also saw a few water snakes and lots of egrets and herons. When we headed back to the boat ramp, I told Jimmy that I was inspired to see more of the Ouachita River.  Soon I will put my boat in at the Arkansas border and float down to Jonesville, Louisiana.


Bicentennial Day and Stamp Release

Monday was a wonderful start to Louisiana's 200th year as a state.  The event was put together by the Bicentennial Commission, the Lieutenant Governor's Office, and the USPS. The party was chock full of celebrities and talented people with Louisiana roots.

The luncheon at the Governor's Mansion was a tasty start.  Chef Don Bergeron used local ingredients.  Then our group bused to the State Capitol and entered the packed House Chamber.  Most all of our state's elected officials were there.  Jay Dardene was the MC and gave an interesting short history of the state. Michael Wynne of the commission spoke in place of General Honore. Monique Gagnon-Tremblay spoke in French.   The pace picked up when Zachary Richard sang a wonderful song about the oldest tribe in Louisiana.

Interesting remarks were spoken by Political Strategist James Carville, Actress Faith Ford, Filmmaker William Joyce, Chef Paul Prudhomme and finally Jay Dardene read a letter from Journalist Cokie Roberts, who broke a bone the day before and could not come.

Finally, after three years of knowing that my favorite photo would be the bicentennial stamp, Anthony J. Vegliante, Executive Vice President of the USPS, unveiled a five foot facsimile of the Forever Stamp.

Deacon John sang, Donna Douglas (alla Elly May Clampet) belted out her signature shrill whistle, then Irma Thomas and Jay Chevlier led the crowd in You Are My Sunshine.

Afterwards stamps and first day of issue envelopes were sold as a giant Louisiana themed cake was cut. I'll be attending a few bicentennial events throughout the rest of the year, but mostly I can get back in my boat and look for another Flat Lake Sunset in the Atchafalaya Basin.  Happy Birthday Louisiana!