It was 1953 one of the hottest, wettest and most hurrican-ed summers yet. People on the South Louisiana Cajun Prairie were pounded with the craziest of weather. Louisiana is known for its interesting, to say the least, meteorological feats! One of the reasons this Barefoot Cajun lives here. Gonna take more than a spot of poor weather to move this old man from his beloved prairie!
Jeannette and her family lived right smack dab in the middle of an old sweet potato field. During the day Louisiana grew lots of those beauties, sweet potatoes. Jeannette had been named the sweet potato queen that year.
The festival was held in a small village known as L’anse Mauvais Chus—area bad ass. Interesting name, right. It got its name from wild donkeys that roamed the area. They caused all kinds of ruckus from digging up the sweet potatoes, eating them and causing a stink in the area from stomach gas. You know sweet potatoes will do that to you, give you gas. I mean during the morning people could hardly stand it. It smelled like a barnyard of farts. And the fart noises were a nuisance as well.
The leader of those Mauvais Chus, bad asses, was Monsieur les Grands Pieds, Mr. Big Feet. That bad ass had the biggest feet ever, maybe a size twelve and he was huge. The children, afraid of him, referred to him as vilain, pronounced vee-lan, ugly. But really, those donkeys weren’t so bad, no one had bothered to try to understand them, be their friend and love them. See, my readers, it all comes down to love.
Jeannette, the unlikeliest of all people to show the bad asses love, did just that. She just loved dem bad asses to death. Jeannette took her reign seriously as all Southern Queens should. Her reign had changed her life! That girl had been taken from the sweet potato fields to the stages all across Louisiana with a scepter and a crown.
Now those two accouterments can change a girl’s life. The crown had faux sweet potato-like jewels that glittered when the sunlight and camera flashes cast light upon her. And the ‘piece de resistance’ was the ornate sweet potato on her scepter. Jeannette was a big girl and she could handle those accoutrements well as reigning Sweet Potato Queen.
Jeannette took her work to the fields. Adorned with her scepter and crown she seemed to glow in the dark as she roamed the sweet potato fields of L’anse Mauvais Chus at night. Some thought the poor girl had truly lost her mind, but Jeannette had a vision for the bad asses. You know, it’s people with a vision who do crazy stuff that change the world. And Jeannette, so moved by her sweet potato Queen reign, had become one of those people, changing her little corner of the world in L’anse Mauvais Chus.
When Monsieur les Grands Pieds saw that amazing, beautiful queen all he could do was kneel in honor of her right there in her presence. Jeannette was angelic in her evening gown, and scepter, glittering in the full moon. No one noticed the bad ass shit at the bottom of her dress, but hey what’s a little bad ass donkey shit to a Queen. She must keep her head held high, and that’s what Jeannette did, she never saw the donkey shit on the hem of her lovely evening gown, and she was the better for it.
Thank goodness Jeannette had chosen to wear her white Delcambre Reeboks, shrimp boots, on this very humid night. Her white satin stiletto heels would have been ruined in this sweet potato field and they would have dug into the ground with those very pointed heels. Those stilettos were mainly for competition and walking the stage. Jeannette wore a size eleven and a half, as aforementioned, the girl was big, mostly tall. And her stilettos had to be specially made to hold her very large frame. What a shame that women clothes designers catered to mostly petite women. But that is a story all of its own.
Jeanette and Monsieur Grands Pieds mostly communicated through their eyes. Jeannette’s beautiful big brown eyes lovingly trying to communicate that there was room for Mauvais Chus, bad asses, donkeys. And with that communication nothing more was communicated. Jeannette, not being a night person, was exhausted. Night pageants were difficult for her. A farm girl, she was usually in bed at dusk.
Jeannie sloshed home in her pageant attire and Delcambre Reebox shrimp boots. Weary, she shed her clothes under an old oak tree and showered under a hose hung from a tree. Soaped her weary body down with some of her Grand-Mere’s, grandma’s, lavender soap. She moved into the house and put on a large cotton floor length nightgown with beautiful embossed sweet potato designs from high collar to floor length hem.
Jeannette slept well and dreamed of a plan for Les Mauvais Chus. In the morning she set that plan into action. With some help from her dad, they moved an old horse trough out into a pasture closer to the bayou remote from anyone’s house. There they dumped the best sweet potatoes they could find. The trough was in a picturesque spot next to the clean water in the bayou. Les Mauvaus Chus could eat and fart til the cows came home and no one would be bothered.
Everyone was happy with this set up, but quite frankly, the humans and Les Mauvais Chus missed each other. The residents of L’anse Mauvais Chus started going back to the remote location of the remote bayou for picnics and such.
Sometimes you just don’t know what you’ll miss till it’s removed.