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THE DEPORTATION CROSS -- This cross was erected at Grand-Pre', Nova Scotia in
memory of the Acadians who were victims of the Deportation of 1755.

     Being a Cajun is a commitment
                                                    By Fr. Mike Bergeron 

      In France, in the 1600s a large community of peasants and laborers were alarmed by the Protestant domination of their province. Bound together by an intricate network of extended families, they fled France and settled in New France, what we call today Nova Scotia. Profoundly religious, devoted to the Blessed Mother, they trusted in the power of prayer. They named their colony Acadia. In isolation, the already existent sense of community became stronger. 

      In 1710, the colony was permanently handed over to Britain by the French. The British demanded the Acadians take an oath of allegiance to the King of England. This was a shocking request to the Acadians. "Better for us to obey God than men!" They refused to take an oath to any government, any man, much less one in which the monarch had rejected the Catholic Church. So the British replied by demanding the deportation of the entire huge Acadian population. This began an exile of Biblical proportions. 

      In 1755, the mass exile began. Men and boys were arrested. Their crops and homes were burned. Then their families were loaded on ships. The government was quoted as saying that they must "rid the province of the Acadian problem," words hauntingly similar to the Hitler solution. For it was genocide and an attempt to completely destroy a population. 

      Loaded on ships, displaced and penniless, the exile began. During the voyages, almost 1/3 of the Acadians succumbed to small pox and dysentery. The British disbursed them in small groups throughout the 13 colonies; many were sold into slavery. Families were separated and decimated. Many were literally dumped on the icy shores of the colonies in the middle of winter. The Protestant population rejected these Catholics and so they huddled together in abandoned buildings and barns, the women begging in the streets. 

      Eventually, many found their way to Southern Louisiana, arriving utterly destitute and with barely the clothes still hanging on their backs. 

      You know what the first thing they did when they arrived? They asked for their marriages to be blessed and for their children to be baptized. Then, the next thing they did was to dance and to sing on the docks. This was the beginning of a culture that we have come to know of today as Cajun. It's a culture that is more than just boudoin, zydaco music and cayenne pepper. I wish I had the time here to explain what Cajun culture really is. If any of us are going to minister to Cajun people, we have a responsibility to learn about and to understand the culture--a culture bound by the French language, the Catholic Church, devotion to family and intense devotion to the Blessed Mother. In every aspect of Cajun life, there is a profound sense of God's presence. 

      The family circle for Cajuns widens until it embraces the entire community. Sharing what they have is an important part of Cajun culture. Gumbo is an example of something which has a value behind it. Everyone shared whatever they had in the pot so everyone could eat. And Cajuns have shared their culture and it's now fashionable to be Cajun. But it wasn't always that way. From the 1920's through the 1970's Cajuns began to question the legitimacy of their own culture. When my mother and father, aunts and uncles went to school, they were beaten and punished by American teachers for speaking French. It was a disgrace. So they began to lose confidence in their culture. When I was a teenager, I was embarrassed to be a Cajun. I'm now embarrassed to say that I was embarrassed, because when I really discovered what it really means to be Cajun, I'm proud of those values. 

      Unfortunately, elements of our culture are being popularized in an adulterated form so that as Cajuns ourselves, we are in danger of becoming an imitation of our own culture. Cajun is more than cayenne pepper. It's not enough to eat crawfish and cush cush and to say you can dance the Cajun jig. That's just not enough of a commitment! Being Cajun is a commitment to certain values. And I challenge my own Cajun brothers and sisters to take the time to rediscover what those values are and who we are as Cajun people. 

      Personally, I cannot understand how you can use the term Protestant Cajun. Catholicism is the reason that we are a Cajun people. If someone has abandoned the Catholic faith, they have also abandoned their Cajun heritage and culture. If they have abandoned devotion to the Blessed Mother, they have also abandoned their Cajun heritage and culture. 

      If they have sold out to capitalism and a society who believes you can make it on your own, they have also abandoned their Cajun heritage and culture. 

      One of the essential traditions which is a reality for us Cajuns is the faith life and our link to the Catholic faith. Being Catholic with community values is the main reason we are a culture. We have a saying: “Un jour a la frou” which means “one day at a time.” Cajuns have been saying that long before the 12-step program. You see, word “frou” in French doesn't only mean “time.” It has a second meaning. It also means faith. The survival of the Cajun culture is dependant on the survival of a strong Catholic faith.




      The Cajun flag was designed by the late Dr. Thomas J. Arceneaux, Dean of the College of Agriculture at the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette, 1941-1973.  The flag's offical name is "The Louisiana Acadian Flag" but it is commonly referred to as the "Cajun Flag."  

      Its colors resemble the Acadian Flag and the French Flag which are the origins of the Cajun people.

Acadian Flag:   French flag: 

      To further symbolize the French origin of the Cajuns, a portion of the arms of their mother country -- three fleurs de lis, are in silver on a blue field.  Most flags omit the silver color and the fleurs de lis are in white.

      The gold star is the official symbol of the Virgin Mary, under the title of "Our Lady of the Assumption."  This symbol has special religious significance for the Acadians, since they left France for the New World during a period of great devotion to Mary.  It was at that time that the King of France, Louis XIII, declared Mary the "Patroness of the Kingdom," and so on August 15, 1638, France and her colonies were consecrated to Mary under the title of "Our Lady of the Assumption."

      Then in 1938, Pope Pius XI solemnly proclaimed "Our Lady of the Assumption" as the patroness of all Acadians -- those in Canada as well as those in Louisiana and elsewhere.

      Shortly after the arrival of the displaced Acadians in Louisiana, the American colonies started their struggle for independence.  At that time, Louisiana was a Spanish colony.  It is significant to recall the fact that Spain decided to champion the cause of the 13 American colonies in their revolution against the same nation that had so cruelly exiled the Acadians.  Thus the gold castle reminds of us our Spanish friends.  Many Acadians of Louisiana, serving under Galvez, the Governor of Spanish Louisiana, actively participated in the battles of Manchac, Baton Rouge, Mobile and Pensacola -- all very important and decisive victories which contributed to the successful conclusion of the American Revolution.

     Since the Acadians were citizens of Spain at the time of the American Revolution, their star could not appear on the first American flag.  Thus, the gold star on the Louisiana Acadian Flag also serves as a reminder of Louisiana's participation in the American Revolution and of the significant contributions of Louisiana Acadians during the struggle for the establishment of our nation.


                                 By Fr. Mike Bergeron

      Of all the ethnic groups, the strongest influence on the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux has been the Cajuns. Being a Cajun means being a Catholic. You cannot separate the two. As a culture, Catholicism is the reason Acadians settled in South Louisiana. In 1710, when Britain took over their colony of Acadia from the French and demanded allegiance to the Protestant King of England, their shout was, “Better for us to obey God than men!” Exiled and settled in bayous of South Louisiana, the Cajun culture grew. Intermarrying with other cultures including people coming directly from France, until 1916, the Cajun culture maintained its traditions and customs. 

      Those customs and traditions gave the church the best that Cajuns had to offer. The sense of family found in churches that dot Bayou Lafourche and Bayou Terrebonne is still present today. Before mass you can see families greeting each other with a real sense of warmth. For the Cajun, family extends to the greater community. Its tradition of gumbo, which is served at practically every church function, comes from a time when Cajuns shared what they had with each other into one pot so everyone could have a good meal. 

      Over the years, church fairs and gatherings have had a distinctly Cajun character – the food, the music and the dancing. This continues today in most of the smaller parishes. The pirogues with iced soft drinks, the tarte-a-la-bouille for dessert, and the sprinkling of Cajun French words or phrases in conversation, keep the culture ever present. 

      The richness of the Cajun French mass has been lost in recent times. Masses are not said in French because most Cajuns no longer understand French. Society and the Church were not always as “culturally sensitive” as they are today. We make great efforts to respect the culture and language of other groups, but this is a recent phenomenon. 

      In 1916 the Department of Education made school attendance mandatory. Until that time, most Cajuns taught their own children. When the Cajun children arrived at school, they were told they could not speak French but must speak English. The penalty was a beating or knuckle rapping. The other students thought the French students were ignorant because they just stared back at them when they were spoken to. They could not understand English. Because of the terrible treatment these children received from both American teachers and English students, most never taught their own children to speak French. Their childhood had taught them shame. It took only a couple of generations to almost wipe out one of the richest aspects of the Cajun culture – the language. Today, while you can find masses in several languages, French is not one of them. 

      Another contribution to the church from the Cajun culture has been its sense of tradition. Cajuns love their traditions, especially rosaries, novenas, statues, beautiful churches, and most of all, their intense devotion to the Blessed Mother. All of these things are much stronger in South Louisiana than in other areas of the country. In many ways, although they might not want to admit it, Cajun society was largely matriarchal – not patriarchal. It was the mother who was the center of family life. This might explain why devotion to the Blessed Mother is so strong among Cajuns. 

      The church thrived because of the Cajun culture. But today, that table has turned. If the Cajun culture is to survive, it must depend on a strong Catholic faith. The culture as been largely adulterated by non-Cajuns such as Justin Wilson for financial gain. People are interested in Cajun culture, but what they find is only an imitation of the superficial aspects of being a Cajun. Upon closer inspection, what needs to be discovered is the values and the reasons for the culture itself – the Catholic Church. Until we, as Cajuns, take our faith seriously, we will continue to be a parody of ourselves. 

      In the early days of Louisiana, in many ways the Catholic Church depended upon the Cajun culture. Today, the Cajun culture depends upon the Catholic Church.


The Patron Saint of Cajuns is "Our Lady of the Assumption."  On her feast day of August 15th, Cajuns celebrate their culture.  She is symbolized by the yellow "Ste. Stella Maris" or "Star of the Sea" on the international Cajun Flag as well as the Canadian Acadian Flag.  The international Acadian anthem is "Ave Stella Maris."  The mother of Jesus is associated with Polaris or the North Star, most important to the navigation of the Cajuns' seafaring ancestors.

    “Saint” Charlene Richard

                           Birth: Jan. 13, 1947 
                          Death: Aug. 11, 1959

      Not really a Saint, Charlene Richard is a Saint in every way to the Cajun people of South Louisiana. 

      Charlene Marie Richard was born January 13, 1947. She was oldest daughter of Mary Alice and Joseph Elvin Richard -- the second of ten children. Charlene was a child of simple faith – not unlike St. Theresa of Lisieux (of the Child Jesus). In fact, she once saw some comic books kept at the back of the church. She picked up one on St. Theresa. She asked her mother what she needed to do to become a saint like St. Theresa. As in the story of St. Theresa and her “golden pennies,” she asked how she could received the golden pennies to become a saint. Her mother said that the world was full of sinners and she could pray for them all. 

      Charlene was full of life. She loved horseback riding and dancing. But she was always willing to work hard scrubbing floors and waxing them – washing the dishes and ironing. Life was an adventure. 

      Then, in the summer of 1959, at the age of 12, Charlene became very ill and was admitted to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Lafayette, Louisiana. Diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia, she remained in the hospital where Father Joseph Brennan, a Roman Catholic Priest, was serving as hospital chaplain. He visited Charlene on a regular basis. Her parents asked Fr. Brennan to tell Charlene she was dying. 

      During the conversation, he said to Charlene, “You won’t leave the hospital alive.” She responded, “I know that, Father.” Father Brennan suggested that Charlene offer her sufferings up for other people and she eagerly accepted that suggestion. The priest checked up on her regularly – even when he was off – and he would suggest each day who Charlene should pray for. Eventually, she would greet him on his arrival with “Who do I offer my sufferings for today, Father?” Charlene would then offer her sufferings in the name of that person. 

      Charlene remained in the hospital for sixteen days. She died on August 11, 1959 at the age of twelve. 

      “She was a faith-filled little girl,” said Father Joseph Brennan. “I see Charlene as a witness for people of all ages to the power of resignation and acceptance of God’s will. She wasn’t different in any way, except that when the crisis came in her life – and it came very early – she accepted it with faith and trust and love.” 

      Charlene Marie Richard is buried in St. Edward Catholic Church cemetery in Richard, Louisiana. On any given day, you will find folks at Charlene’s white marble tomb, standing quietly at the foot of the grave with their hands clasped in front of them, or kneeling in the grass, or standing in clusters talking quietly. Flowers cover the tomb – plastic ones, silk ones and real ones. At the foot of the tomb is a black bowl filled with stones and pieces of marble, which believers use as paperweights to hold the prayer requests they place on Charlene’s grave. 

      Charlene’s intercession saved the life of little Nicole Price of Morgan City who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, according to Nicole’s grandmother. But some of Charlene’s greatest miracles have not been physical, but moral. According to Fr.. Brennan, “A lot of people were cured and healed in grace. They got jobs, their marriages were saved, they had things put back together in their lives. Those are the kind that don’t show up on x-rays.” 

      Every year more than 10,000 people visit Charlene's grave, seeking her intercession. To get to Richard, La. from I-10 west or east take Exit 87 (also marked as Rayne, Church Point Exit) and turn north onto LA Hwy 35. Travel for 10 miles to LA Hwy 370. Turn left onto Hwy 370 and travel for six miles to stop sign. Turn left and travel for about one-quarter mile. St. Edward Church and cemetery will be on your right. 

      For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not, no explanation is possible. 


      Charlene, when you were only twelve, you showed heroic faith, hope and love; dying of leukemia, you joined yourself to Jesus and His Cross and offered your intense pain for others. You thereby echoed St. Paul’s words to his people in Colossians 1:24:”Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His Body, the Church.” 

      Charlene, thank you for helping me. 

      May Jesus Christ always be praised! May Mary, Jesus’ Ever-Virgin Mother, always be called blessed!

Our Father ...
Hail Mary ...
Glory Be ... 

                     PRAYER FOR BEATIFICATION 

      Our Father in heaven, moved by the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, your Son and our Savior, we lift up our hearts to you and ask that, if it be your will, you grant our request: May your servant and native of Louisiana’s bayous, Charlene Marie Richard, be raised to sainthood by the Holy Father, successor of the Apostle St. Peter and visible head of Jesus’ Church on earth. 

      We entrust this prayer to you though the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus, under her title by which she is known as the Patroness of Louisiana: Our Lady of the Assumption.  Amen

Our Father ...
Hail Mary ...
Glory Be ...

           Cajun Christmas
                        by Fr. Mike Bergeron

        Cajuns celebrate Christmas like many other Americans. Families gather for large dinners, gifts are exchanged, and children anticipate the arrival of Santa Claus. Some Cajun children await the coming of Père Noël ("Father Christmas") who like Santa Claus, leaves gifts (usually homemade), but among true Cajuns, the stress is on family and church, not on gift-giving. Among Cajuns, gift-giving is modest. Older Cajuns remember when their stocking just contained a trinket, some fruit or a hand-made item. Adults rarely exchanged gifts.

        The Cajun pronunciation of Christmas is "Kress-muss." It means Noël, the day, but is was also used to mean a gift. And the presents that Memere (Grandma) would bring were always of her own making – something knitted, sewed or baked. When youngsters couldn’t get their parents to tell them what Père Noël would bring, they’d pester Memere (Grandma) who would just tease them with "Un tit rien tout neuf, dans une boite sans fond, aux manches a dents de poule", (a little nothing new, in a box without a bottom, with handles of chicken teeth).

        Cajun families love to stay up on Christmas eve for midnight mass. Everyone gathers for a big pot of gumbo on the stove. Sometimes there were "breakfast dances" which were held in some of the clubs after midnight mass until sunrise. But those stopped when laws made the bars close at 2:00 a.m.

        In St. James and St. John the Baptist parishes, bonfires have been lit on the levee since the mid-1800s. These bonfires originated with the Marist priests at Jefferson College in Convent. The French priests began building and lighting bonfires on the batture on New Years Eve, a tradition they had known in France. A few years later, the tradition was moved to Christmas Eve and the fires were built on the levee. The fires were constructed as a tall four-sided pyre with timbers laid log-cabin style and fueled by any kind of trash which was stacked in the middle. Today it is a competitive sport with teams building the structures. The fires are to light the way for Père Noël -- "Father Christmas."

    French Cajuns borrowed from their German friends the idea of Kris Kringle. You leave your shoes on the doorstep or by the fireplace and it is filled with candy and gifts. While some do this on Christmas Eve, it is more traditional to do this on the feast day of St. Nicholas which is December 6th.

        Sometimes Père Noël stops by to leave the presents after Christmas. These are the ones he had left over from his Christmas ride and brings them for good Cajun boys and girls. This happened after Christmas. One can speculate that sometimes poorer families needed a little extra time to get their gifts done.

        The family may read "A Cajun Night Before Christmas." This poem was conceived and written by retired Baton Rouge police officer J. B. Kling, Jr. and edited by New Orleans Times-Picayune journalist Howard Jacobs, and illustrated by James Rice. It originally appeared as a Christmas advertisement sponsored by Bergeron Plymouth Company of New Orleans in 1967 so it is not really an old tradition.

        They also may read "The Legend of Papa Noël" written by Terri Hoover Dunham and illustrated by Laura Knorr. But in older times, most Cajuns could not read so it would be a night of story telling. Cajuns love to tell stories.

        On Christmas Day the traditional Cajun meal is chicken gumbo. And since the families are usually large, not everyone eats at the same table. There is usually a table for adults, sometimes a table for teenagers, and always a table for the children. They just don’t make tables large enough for most Cajun families. And that is what Christmas is about for Cajuns – families. That is what gumbo is about. Everyone brings something for the pot and every shares.

        Church is also important at Christmas. And not just church, but the Catholic Church. For being a Cajun means being a Catholic. You cannot separate the two. That is why they are a culture.


 Family Values
  by Fr. Mike Bergeron

        There are three principal factors which combine to shape the traditional Cajun family. They are cultural history, religion, and the environment. The Cajun family is not unique in its basic organization, being like families of many other ethnic groups. However, it is distinctive in its quality of life and is psychological flavor. At the same time, one must keep in mind that Cajun families may be as diverse as those of any other ethnic group.

        There are some basic elements in Cajun families, although individual families vary greatly in values and organization. Most elements of Cajun families are subtle, but one that is not so subtle is the Matriarchal (mother) rather than Patriarchal (father) nature of the family. While the Cajun culture was pulled on by many other factors, it continued to flourish solely because of the female population and the roles that were played by the mother in preserving age-old traditions and customs. The Cajun father worked, while it is the Cajun woman who would bring up her children to respect and appreciate their heritage and traditions.

        The assault of the Cajun families began with American teachers in the 20s and 30s when forced education forbid French from being spoken in school. That was perhaps the biggest blow to Cajun heritage and ethnicity as the French language began to fade. Added to that were the young men who served in the armed forces. They were exposed to Anglo-American values, and upon returning home, started to believe in the inferiority of their clan. They often forced their opinions on their families who began to be ashamed of their cultural heritage. It was not until the 1980s that it became fashionable to be Cajun – due largely to the embrace of Cajun cuisine (which rarely has cayenne pepper by the way) and the influence of non-Cajun comedian Justin Wilson on television’s educational channel. Most of what is marketed around the country are an adulterated version and misrepresentation of "Cajun." The greatest threat to the Cajun family is the incompatibility of traditional Cajun values with the realities of modern American life. The explosion of information, knowledge, high technology, mass communications, mobility, and competition are an anathema to simplicity, closeness and laissez le bon temps roullez of the Cajun family.

        The cultural history of Cajuns is well known to most people. Their religion is Catholic. While many Cajuns have abandoned their Catholic religion, an argument can be made that they have also abandoned their Cajun heritage since the two are inextricably linked. To say Cajun Protestant is almost an oxymoron.

        Cajun families are closely knit. When left alone, Cajun life can be calm, gentle and tolerant. At the same time, because of their history, Cajuns can be stubborn, determined to question and resist authority. Observers of Cajun families remark upon two distinct Cajun ethnic qualities: hospitality and family ties. It is common for Cajun families to welcome strangers into their home and be willing to share what they have with others in need. Food and drink would always be offered to any visitor and it would almost be an insult to decline. They might even pack fresh vegetables or goodies to take with you. This is not necessarily motivated by a conscious sense of charity as much as an inherited trait of hospitality. Cajuns open their homes to anyone who graces their doorsteps.

        There are strong family ties among Cajun communities. This has survived through marriage and enlarging the family unit. Cajun youth often marry those in their own community. Even when they marry outside their community, with other ethnic groups, the family ties remain quite strong although slightly altered. While the Cajun culture has lost much of its rural flavor, the family ties remain strong. Unlike many other ethnic groups, Cajun family members tend to remain in the same area for generation after generation. This helps them to draw on the strength of the family in dealing with the problems of everyday life. By staying together, it gives them a sense of belonging which is missing in mainstream American life.

        Most Americans have scattered themselves all over the country. But generally, Cajuns have lived in the same historical and environmental context. That helps them to relate and appreciate each other and the environment. Even with the oil bust of the 1980s when jobs dried up, the level of income dropped and the standard of living was lowered, young people were saying that they did not want to leave their home.

        Until recent times, Cajun families were less materialistic and more spiritual in their approach to life than the general population of the United States. But in recent years, perhaps an argument can be made that it is beginning to change. However, it is not uncommon to still see Cajun millionaires driving an old pickup and wearing old clothes.

        It is fairly common for Cajun children to marry and build a house or park a mobile home in their parents’ yard. As a result, some areas such as on lower Bayou Lafourche, houses are clustered together with tiny lanes which were created down the middle of the family property. Everyone on the street is related.

        Because of this closeness and the Cajun trait of respecting the elderly, it is not as common for a Cajun family to place their parents in a nursing home. Often, the elderly parent will live in their own home with children rotating duty staying with them. The parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent or other family member might also be invited to live in the homes of the next generation. Thus, you might even see several relatives living together.

        Because Cajun culture is tied to the Catholic Church, church fairs were always an important part of Cajun family life. It still plays an important role in other areas that still have fairs. The reason is that often the food booths or other attractions were staffed by families. The families took pride in working together. It was hard work, but Cajuns are used to hard work. With each family from the community working together, the family unit (at least for a short time) was expanded beyond their biological borders. And since they loved to party, the label Joie de vivre was used. But it is a common misconception to think it just means having a good time or partying. Joie de vivre is a disposition, a way of looking at things. It is an attitude – a happy attitude. It is the ability to enjoy life, relish in the good things it has to offer and interpret things in a positive manner. Most of all, it is a gift from God.

        As Trent Angers, in his book The Truth About Cajuns states: "A person who has joie de vivre does more than just exist, but rejoiced over his lot in life, no matter how modest. Joie de vivre is a subtle thing. It is a condition of mind and of the heart. It is not always easily perceived in a person, but it is there as surely as the heartbeat."

        The greatest wish a Cajun family could have for you is Joie de vivre.

        What is a Cajun?
                                   By Bob Hamm

      According to the history books, a Cajun is a descendant of a hardy group of Nova Scotian exiles who settled over 200 years ago along the bayous and marshes of South Louisiana.  The name Cajun (they tell us) is a contraction of "Acadienne .. Acadian."  So much for the textbook!

      Little Cajun children are made of gumbo, boudin and sauce piquante ... crawfish stew and oreilles de cochon.  The Cajun child is given bayous to fish in, marshes to trap in, room to grow in, and Catholic churches to worship in.  (In other parts of the world, little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice; while little boys are made of snips and snails and puppydog tails.)

A Cajun likes fiddles and accordions in his music, plenty of pepper in his courtboullon, shrimp in his nets, speed in his horses, neighborliness in his neighbors, and love in his home.  He dislikes people who don't laugh enough, fish enough, or enjoy enough of all the good things God has given to the Cajun country.  Also, he dislikes being hurried when he's resting and distracted when he's working; seeing people unhappy, and he'll do all he can or give all he has to bring a smile to a face stricken with sadness.

      A Cajun likes to dance and laugh and sing when his week of hard work has ended.  And just as Saturday night at the fais-do-do replenishes his store of energy, Sunday at church refreshes his spiritual and moral values and keeps strong his always sustaining faith.

      A Cajun is a link with a proud past.  His is a glorious heritage!  He is a man of tolerance who will let the world go its way if the world will let him go his.  He is a man of great friendliness who will give you the crawfish off his table, the sac-a-lait off his hook, or the shirt off his back.

      A Cajun is a complex person, with as many ingredients in his makeup as the gumbo Mama makes for special company.  He has tolerance for those who earn it, charity for those who need it, a smile for those who will return it, and love for all who will share it.

      If a Cajun likes you, he'll give you this whole wide, wonderful world; and if he doesn't, he'll give you a wide berth.  When you cross a Cajun, he gives you the back of his hand and the toe of his boot, for he can be stubborn as a mule and ornery as an alligator.  If he sets his head on something, he'll fight a circlesaw before he'll yield to your opinions -- you'd as well argue with a fence post as to try to convince a Cajun.

      And, as fun-loving as he is, a Cajun can work as hard and as long as any living man.  He carved out "Acadiana" by hand, from the swamp and marshes and uncultivated prairies.  But when the work is done and argument is ended, a Cajun can sweep you right into a wonderful world of joie de vivre with an accordion chorus of "Jole Blone" and a handful of happy little words ... five little words to be exact: "Lessez le bon ton roulle!" -- Translated: "Let the good times roll!"



                    A Cajun Ghost Story


This horrifying story happened just a few months ago, just outside a little town in the bayou country of Louisiana, and while it sounds like something from an Alfred Hitchcock tale, it's real.  A stranded man was on the side of the road hoping to catch a ride on a terribly dark night while in the middle of a raging thunderstorm.

Time passed slowly as he realized no cars were going to go by.  It was raining so hard he could scarcely see his hand in front of his face, when suddenly he saw a car moving slowly, approaching him, and appearing so very ghostlike in the rain.  The car slowly crept toward him and lurched to a stop.  Wanting a ride so very badly, the fellow quickly jumped in the car and closed the door. It was only then that he realized there was no driver behind the wheel.

The car slowly started moving and the stranded man became terrified, too terrified to even think of jumping out and running.  In stark terror, he saw that the car was slowly approaching a sharp curve, with brackish waters of the bayou just below and no guardrail to protect him.

Still too scared to jump out, he started to pray and begged God to spare his life.  He was sure the ghost car would go off the road and in the bayou where he would surely drown.  Then, just before the curve, a hand appeared through the driver's window and gently turned the steering wheel, guiding the car safely around the bend.

Paralyzed with fear, the frightened man watched the hand reappear every time the ghost car reached a curve.  Finally, scared near to death and with all any man could take, he jumped out of the car and ran the rest of the way into town.  Wet and in shock, he eventually made his way into a bar and with quavering voice, ordered two shots of whiskey and began to relate his story to all about his supernatural experience.

A silence enveloped the bar; patrons and every body got goose bumps when they realized that this guy was telling the truth and not just some drunk.  About a half an hour later, two guys walked into the bar and one said to the other, "Look Boudreaux, that's the idiot who rode in our car when we was pushin' it in the rain!"