“A store with live fish for sale.” Vicinity of Natchitoches, Louisiana (July 1940) 

Photographer: Marion Post Wolcott (June 7, 1910 - November 24, 1990). (Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress) 

This is but one of a small number of color photographs taken by the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information photographers (as, at the time color film was very expensive and took too long in turning out prints). The color photographs were taken to better show the effects of the Depression on America’s rural and small town populations.

These and other Depression/WWII era photographs were included in a 2006 Library of Congress exhibit “Bound for Glory: America in Color.”

St. Martin de Porres Chapel     Yucca House (Melrose Plantation)     Natchitoches Parish, LA     July 2014

Since moving to central Louisiana in late winter, I’ve made several visits to Melrose Plantation in Natchitoches Parish. While the interpretive tours at this site leave much to be desired and often take on the romanticized sentiments of life in the good ole’ Gone With the Wind, smiling, sleepy, south (with blood on its mouth), I have an appreciation for the real history of the site and some of the individuals related to it (i.e. folk artist Clementine Hunter – who, unfortunately some of the tour guides refer to as a primitive artist).

My most recent visit to the plantation was during one of the sites’ off days for a meeting. I got an opportunity to walk around with its facility manager and a few preservation colleagues. I was able to view, for the first time, a small chapel attached to the rear of Yucca House, one of the housing structures on the plantation complex. For some reason the small, modest chapel with its stark white-washed walls and pews, and statue of a humble St. Martin de Porres has captured my heart. I find it kind of like a “safe mental place” within the complex. I don’t know if my fondness is because it’s a sacred space or perhaps because it’s one of the few areas within the complex that cannot fall victim to misinterpretation. But, I love this little chapel - it is what it is…clearly and frankly. You cannot misconstrue its history or deny its purpose.

Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights

In the state of Louisiana, a city called Natchitoches celebrates Christmas in bright and colorfol lights, as a festival lasting for weeks. This is a major tourist attraction in the area and every year approximately 100.000 tourists visit Natchitoches Festival of Lights. The festival has been held the first Saturday in December since 1927. This year, the festival celebrates its 88th year of existence.

Each November, the area is transformed into a winter wonderland, with hundreds of decorations and thousands of lights glowing along the scenic Cane River Lake.  People from far quarters flock to the town for the annual Christmas Festival of Lights – a beautiful reason to visit this National Historic Landmark District.  This year, the festival lasts up to 6th of January 2015, many free events, musical entertainments and kids fests are included in the parade program, as well as charged ones. 

Front street, Jefferson, and Second Street constitute the main route of the Christmas Parade of Natchitoches. Events include an early afternoon parade, an arts & crafts show, food booths along the river front selling Louisiana cuisine, including the famous Natchitoches meat pie, live entertainment, and a spectacular evening fireworks show accompanied with music and a laser show. At the end of the fireworks display (best in the State of Louisiana), the lights along Cane River are switched on - an incredible display of 300,000+ lights and 100+ riverbank set pieces. The lights continue to brighten the Cane River until after New Year’s Day.

About Natchitoches:

That quaint and perky town in the movie Steel Magnolias is real! Experience the charm of the original French colony in Louisiana, established 1714 and well known as the film site of "Steel Magnolias". Explore its Landmark Historic District with shopping, dining, and attractions plus historic fort sites, museums, and year around cultural events and festivals.