Inside Cajun Country - First Impressions

Inside Cajun Country - First Impressions

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(lively accordion music) (gentle acoustic guitar music) - [Peter] Here we are, Southern Louisiana, the heart of Cajun country. About to meet up with an old school Cajun man who grew up out here, has been out on these lands for 75 years. Said he can bring us in, show us around. This is a very unique part of the country.

I can already feel it. - [Gerald] You know much about live oaks? - No. - Well, let me tell ya. - [Peter] Other than they're live.

- Let me tell you what the Lord did with live oaks is to me, it's the prettiest tree on the planet, in my opinion. Look on the ground. See what you see? - Yeah. - See how we're in the shade? The leaves are dropping now, but they come back as fast as they drop. - Just right away.

- See those trees? See those over there is pecan trees. - [Peter] Oh yeah. - There's not a leave on 'em for the whole winter. - [Peter] At the edge of the lawn there. - Yeah, you see 'em? - Yeah. So Gerald, you're 100% Cajun, correct? - Oh yeah. You know, the Cajuns have been looked down upon

for a long time. - [Peter] By the rest of the country or by who? - Well, everyone, yes. - So the history, for those that don't know, and I just learned recently, your people came from what part of Canada? - Nova Scotia. - Nova Scotia. They came down. - They were exiled. - They were exiled?

- They were thrown out of Nova Scotia. - How many thousands? Do you know the number? Like how many came here? - Oh, I don't know. I'd say four or 5,000, yeah, something like that. - And it was because your people refused to swear allegiance to the British Crown. They were of French descent. - Mm-hmm. They left and they came down the coast

and ended up in Louisiana because this was kind of a desolate place. - [Peter] Right. - You know, nobody else would've lived here. They ate armadillos, cranes, crawfish. My dad would not eat crawfish 'cause when he was a kid, he had to eat 'em.

Like this here, I love old things. Anyway, I'm not through with my doggone shop yet. I'm trying to, but see, my old bellows, those are really old now. - [Peter] Oh yeah.

- I got a Cajun buddy in Auburn that would be good to see. He makes knives. When he comes, he says mean, "Eh, la bas." Eh, la bas means, "Hey, over there." Just a Cajun, just a term.

He's good, he's from St. Martinville. He's got some Cajans over there, man. - [Peter] Cajans? - Cajans, yeah, he call 'em, yeah.

- [Peter] That's what you guys call each other. - Yeah, Cajans, yeah. (phone ringing) If he'll answer, I think he will, he usually does. (phone ringing) - [Tim] Eh, la bas! (Peter and Gerald laughing) - Eh, la bas! - Come and say. Eh, la bas, come and say! - Oh. (speaking in Cajun French language)

- [Tim] I made some spikes like they nailed Jesus to the cross. - Oh. (Peter laughing) Hey, what you doing now? (speaking in Cajun French language) - [Tim] Wei. - Uh-huh, that's what I thought, for Easter he's making. - Wei. - Hey, you gonna be home? - [Tim] Yep.

- I got a man wants to meet you. He's over here at my house. He's perdu. - [Tim] Oh, no (speaking in Cajun French language) - Wei, come on. (speaking in Cajun French language) - [Tim] Oh my goodness, oh my goodness. (Gerald, Peter laughing) (Gerald speaking indistinctly) - [Tim] Jim-eh, Jim-eh.

- Okay, we gonna go. - Okay, bye. - Okay, bye. (Gerald, Tim speaking in Cajun French language) - What's perdu? - Perdu, lost. - I said he's lost. - He's lost. - I said he's lost like a goose in a snowstorm.

(Gerald, Peter laughing) - [Peter] So you're farming full time now. - [Gerald] Yeah, that's what I do. I just fool with my hay mainly. And I, you know, manage the farm, but I got a little garden over there, some mustard greens and turnips.

- [Peter] Are you selling those greens or that's all for you? - No, I just give 'em. Ah, darn, I planted some broccoli, look. One of 'em, that's one of 'em right there. I didn't see it. (laughing)

- [Peter] How much land do you have out here? - I have a little over 300 acres over here. - [Peter] Oh, wow. - And then I have 27 right here where I am. - [Peter] 300, is that where you're growing all your hay? - Mm-hmm, and we do some craw fishing and rice. We have rice, crawfish, and hay.

- [Peter] Okay. - Get in there, Peter, we'll ride up there. - [Peter] All right.

(engine rumbling) This is all the crawfish, right? - Yep. Oh wait, he just picked him up. Boy, we lucky, man, we caught him just. Hey, amigo. - Yeah.

Como estas. - How'd y'all do today? - Yesterday he's catching like 1 1/2. I think today, he catching two. They go up. - [Gerald] Can we look at 'em real quick? - Yep.

- [Gerald] We're gonna look at 'em real quick. - [Peter] Oh, great, so these just came right outta here? - Yep. Grande, no? - That looks pretty good. - These here are good? - Yep. - Yeah. - [Peter] Oh wow.

It just started, right? - [Gerald] Yeah. Boy, these are full too. - [Peter] So they're good sizes here, yeah? - Yeah, these are nice. For this time, that's about normal, what we're catching. The price is real high, but because of the drought we had, the acres are reduced. (engine rumbling) - [Peter] So walk us through this process.

The water's only what, a foot, two feet deep? - [Gerald] Yeah, about two feet, yes. - [Peter] Do you bring the crawfish out and then they multiply and then... - [Gerald] You seed 'em. - [Peter] You seed them.

- We usually quit crawfish in about July. We'll take crawfish from this field, and where we harvest rice, it's a rotation. See, the rice stubble? See the stubble? - Oh, the stubble of rice? - [Gerald] This will be rice next year.

- [Peter] The workforce is mostly Mexican around here? - Yes. - [Peter] And you were saying those guys are legal. - They're all legal. They get over here on a visa that the farmer pays for. - [Peter] It's a work visa and they have to go back every year, right? Something like that? - After 10 months, yes. It's very expensive labor, by the way.

- [Peter] These guys. - Very expensive labor. - [Peter] What are you paying them an hour? - About $14 an hour. - Okay. - To pick up some crawfish traps. I mean, that's not a- - Right, in Louisiana, which I couldn't believe, but I heard yesterday, minimum wage is like $7.50 or something.

- Mm-hmm, we've gotta pay them double that, according to US, that's government rules. - Yeah, $7.50 is pretty crazy these days. No one can live off that, that's for sure.

- No, but wait a minute, we gotta provide, wait, that don't end right there. We gotta provide approved housing. - [Peter] You're paying 14 and taking care of housing? - And the visa. - Okay. - You gotta give an attorney $5,000 up front to get the visa. - Oh. - You gotta pay for their bus ride over here. You gotta pay for their bus ride back.

- [Peter] Okay. - When they get on the bus, you pay for everything they eat and drink till they get here. - [Peter] Okay, good workers? - They're very good, their work ethic is really good. The thing is, when they first get here, most, you know, when they first get here, they don't know anything, but these fellows been coming for several years. Once they learn the system, it's pretty nice.

- [Peter] Okay, and there's just a problem finding local workers? Is that the story? - Yep, the local workers are mostly all at drug rehab. That's where they are. All these young people, a bunch of 'em is at the cemetery too. - [Peter] Big issue out here? - Everywhere. - Yeah.

You wouldn't... To me, to me, it's unbelievable. - [Peter] What's going on with the drugs right now? - Yes, it's unbelievable. - [Peter] It's so crazy. It's like how is this happening, right now in the country? - The way I grew up is, I mean, there was no such thing as that, you know? - When did that start happening, the big drug, when did you start seeing the drugs really come into the countryside? - Probably in the '90s is what I would say.

- Okay. - Is when it started. - That was the opioids, right? Now it's the fentanyl? - Man, I don't know much about drugs, but... - Yeah. - I lost a son-in-law. Look, this was a sharp kid now. How had about, he had two or three degrees from LSU.

He was making about 50,000 a year. He had an IQ I think of around 150, 160. He was reading books when he was two years old, but when he got about 30, he started, he was a Cajan too, a Corier. His dad grew up right down the road over here.

Three miles down the road, that's where his dad grew up. But anyway, when he got about 30, he started fooling with drugs. When he was 37, he was deceased. Vodka and Xanax was his deal. - Ah, man, I'm sorry.

- Yeah, killed him. Unbelievable. They said it just stopped his heart from beating. But anyway, yeah, I don't know. - Yeah, it's all over the, you think you'd get far from the cities these days and you'd get away from it, but it's everywhere, to the far corners of Alaska. - Yes, yes, that's right. - Down to this. - [Gerald] Every week, I mean, you could pick up the paper any damn week.

You'll see some 27 year olds, you know, and you know that's what it is. They're not dying from Alzheimer's, you know? I mean, it's unbelievable. And you can't get 'em to work. I don't know, it's unbelievable. If somebody told me things would be the way they are today, I wouldn't have believed that. I would've thought things would've improved, things would do better.

That's always, that's the American deal to make everything better. That's what we do in this country, anyway. Watch, he's gonna cross, he's gonna cross this right here. (engine rumbling) (engine rumbling continues) You can cross here.

(engine rumbling continues) (Gerald laughing) - [Peter] Cómo te llamas? - Boy, these are nice, huh? - Jesse. - Jesse, okay, Pedro. These are nice ones? - Yeah, they are nice, huh? I mean, you got like this here, these are nice crawfish, man. Wait, these are, that's nuevo, huh? Oh yeah, look at, they're soft. They're not big and hard, huh? To me it's new. They full, too.

Full, huh? - [Peter] So this, the water's shallow enough? - No, no, that's just across this levee. - Okay, gotcha. - But look, this right here, the boat's floating. - [Peter] What's the blade doing here? - That's when the wind blows real hard, you put that out and it keeps you, the wind will take this thing and move it. (chuckling) You see the wind right now? Yeah, that's the bait. Right now we we fishing with bait with fish.

- Okay. - And then when it's cold, we'll fish with fish. When it gets warmer, we'll fish with some artificial bait, some little cubes.

- [Peter] And then this just sort of propels you along, right? - Yes, that's what's pushing the boat. Glad we got to, I'm glad you got to see that. - [Peter] Oh yeah, that's great.

That's so interesting. (engine rumbling) Who's building this here? - I am. Well, my granddaughter's supposed to move in there. I've been working on it. That's a, yeah, another project.

- [Peter] You're not just sort of easing into retired life, Gerald, are you? - Oh Lord, no. - [Peter] Take on another project? - You swear I was 17 years old, man. This is my syrup-making apparatus. - Syrup? - Yeah, cane syrup. - Oh, okay. - Look, this deal was made.

I don't know if you can see it. 1904/1905, you see it? - [Peter] Mm-hmm. So what'd you do your whole life? Just farming, right? - Well, no, I worked for USDA for 35 years and then I've been doing this ever since.

Things are really tough. I mean, wait, when I was a kid, we picked up hay. I cannot find anyone to pick up hay. - [Peter] The Mexicans won't do it either? - Nope. - [Peter] They only wanna fish? - Yes, they don't wanna pick up hay.

They don't. - And when you say picking up hay, you're talking about driving a tractor around. - No, you would, the square bales. - [Peter] Oh, picking up the bales. - Yes. - Okay.

- I move it with a grapple. See, when I grew up, we moved it all by hand. Picked it up by hand, stacked it in the barn by hand, and then stacked it on when somebody come and got it.

This is my hay right here. - [Peter] What's a pallet of hay go for retail? - These right here, I sell for $100 for 14 bales. - [Peter] Okay.

- That's right at $7 a bale. When I was a kid, my grandpa had a saying, he said, "Man, you gotta spend at least $40 to get a good car," he said. And today, the other day, I passed the parking lot and I looked in it and I saw it was all nice automobiles. - Right. - All of 'em.

There wasn't one junker in the lot and there was 300 of 'em. And when I looked at it, it hit me. I said, "Man, Cajuns call that pot ID, paradise." I have a saying I tell my grandkids, I said, "You know what y'all's problem is?" And they're really good kids, but I said, "Y'all don't know what could be." You ain't gotta have a new automobile, a fancy automobile. You ain't gotta have all that.

It's only because somebody's work ethic that that exists. That's where that comes from. That's where it comes from, I'm telling you. - [Peter] Yep. - I told 'em, I said, "You see these telephone poles with that electricity on it? See all these telephone poles bringing electricity to everyone's house? They put 'em in one at a time."

I remember when they brought us electricity. That was like, I don't know if it was heavenly. Have a light bulb, one light bulb in the middle of a room. - [Peter] What were you using before, kerosene? - And you went to bed at dark too, that's the other thing. - [Peter] What year did electricity come through here? - We got electricity, I think in about 1956. My dad was, he would say he was an orphelin, which is a orphan. (chuckling)

- Orphelin? - Orphelin, yeah, because he was, his dad died when he was 13 and my grandmother never drove, she never had a driver's license, never drove a car. So you can imagine where she went. Nowhere. You know, she stayed at home

and it was scratching too. - It was really poor here. - Oh yeah, yes. And there were no social programs either. You know what I mean? Like for my grandmother, she couldn't read or write either. - [Peter] Your people came here a long time ago, before it was America. - [Gerald] I think it was 1755, I believe.

- Okay, are the Cajuns a resilient bunch? Have you been pushed to the edge culturally? - Oh yeah. - By American culture. Are there any times where you had to really stand up? - Well, they've always had to stand up, really, because like my dad, he couldn't speak English when he went to school. If they caught him speaking French, they would spank him, you know, 'cause they were converting. - Control the language, control- - Yeah. - The population. - Yep. (phone tune jingling) Oh, that's my other buddy I was gonna, I don't know what happened to him.

Hey, (speaking in Cajun French language). (Bart speaking in Cajun French language) Where the Lauderdale road is? - [Bart] Yeah, can meet y'all at the Lauderdale Road, you say? - [Gerald] Yeah, meet us at Lauderdale, Bart. - [Peter] You grew up in that house out there and you're saying it's Acadian style, which means what? - The kitchen, there was another building that looks similar to that, but smaller, smaller scale building on the side. That was the kitchen because it was too hot to have it, to have a wood stove in the house, but it was located right here, we moved it over there. - [Peter] Oh, you moved it? Okay, and that's where you had the well and you got electricity in the '50s.

- Yes, that's correct. - [Peter] What was it like before AC? - Oh, Lord. - You'd sleep on the porch? - You know when we got air conditioning? - When? - When I left home, 1968. - So pre-'68, no AC. - No AC.

- [Peter] So that's the place, right? - That's it, that's the house. I remember trying to get to sleep. - [Peter] What would you do, just put water on yourself? - You sweated and you went to sleep whenever you went to sleep. That's when you, - So basically, June, July, August, you were constantly hot.

There's no cooling down. - I tell you what, it was so, that's what I'm saying. I have an appreciation for where we are now so much. It's unbelievable.

- For power lines and this technology. - Oh Lord, man, it's unbelievable. And wait, go turn the thermostat.

See, that's what these kids are used to. This road, see, they've improved the drainage and all, but when it would rain, all this was under water. All of it. We used to catch catfish this big in this ditch, right here, this ditch. (chuckling) - Was there any part of you, Gerald, that says, "Hey, I just wanna get out of this suppressive heat and go north or something?" - No, we couldn't go. There's no way to go.

Take off walking. I mean, there was so- - So New Orleans was like another world away. - Oh, no, I never went to New Orleans till I was an adult. Oh yeah, we never went anywhere, man. You see, the thing is, when I grew up, I'm just like my grandkids.

I didn't know what could be either. For myself, that was always the thing. It was always getting better, so man, we were always looking at the horizon 'cause things were constantly better, but today, things are getting worse, and the thing is, the reason I tell them that is we don't know how much worse it could get. They can't imagine how worse it could get. No air conditioning, no running water.

We didn't have running water. Man, that was unbelievable, you know, to me today to think that. - Right. You grew up in the United States without running water.

- There was no faucet, we didn't know what a faucet was. We got the water out of a well. It was a hand-dug well with some cement jars in the ground 20 feet deep. It's still there. The hole is still there, 20 feet deep.

- [Peter] So the kids all just playing around in these fields. - Squirrel hunting, I mean, that's what I did. Man, I used to walk, like there was no kind of transportation of any kind. We had horses we'd ride, but I mean, y'all wouldn't hunt on a horse, you know, but I'd take off- - No car.

- Oh, no. Well, one car in a family if you're lucky. - [Peter] So you're totally self-made. - Yes, I didn't inherit that farm. - You didn't inherit? - I didn't inherit anything. - [Peter] I thought everything would've just gotten passed down through the generations. - No, not for me, it didn't.

For a lot of people it does. I mean, I bought that farm on a whim, I guess you would say, but I did. - [Peter] So you could have a job working for the USDA- - And I'll finance it. - Save up money, financed it. - Yeah. That's Bart, I believe. (horn honking) - That's your buddy? - Yeah.

Wait, Bart, can you sit right there? - Gonna get in the back. - How about the other side? You can sit wherever you want, Bart. Well, no, I'm- - That's good? - I'm a passenger, so you tell me where I'm supposed to get.

I'll get in the back if I have to, like old days, you know. We used to ride everywhere that way. (Gerald laughing) - That was our entertainment. Where my home was right there, there was an old man and his wife. They lived back there in the woods, but he had 40 acres.

- Okay. - He spoke no English. He planted cotton, he raised cotton by himself with mules. He loved to make a fire outside. When we would go, you know, he'd make a fire.

I don't know where he would get 'em even 'cause it was, but he'd have him a pack of firecrackers. (laughing) He loved fire, pétard he called it. - Pétards. - He said, we were kids, you know, we'd be around the fire and doing all kind of stuff and we were too poor to buy firecrackers, but he would have a pack somewhere and he would walk by the fire and he'd throw one in it, you know, boom! (laughing) He loved to see us. Anyway, that was the extent of our recreation right there, that was it. There was a lot of good in those days, but there was a lot of bad as well.

The living conditions were bad, but the character of people, there was a lot more character, a lot more honor in those days than there is today, that's for sure. (gentle upbeat acoustic guitar music) Eh, la bas. - [Tim] You got me drinking beer now, man, that's bad. - Oh, no. - I was drinking yesterday.

- [Tim] (speaking in Cajun French language) I see your truck. (Tim and Gerald speaking in Cajun French language) (Tim laughing) (Tim speaking in Cajun French language) - [Gerald] Yeah, this is a pecon here, boy. He's a what? - A pecon, you call that. - What's a pecon? - A sticker.

You get a sticker in your hand, it's a pecon. (Bart speaking in Cajun French language) He's a good fella, man. - Ah, yeah. - I love him, yeah. (laughing) (Tim and Gerald speaking in Cajun French language) - I met you before. - When?

- [Bart] It's been a while, long time, yeah. (Tim speaking in Cajun French language) - Peter. - Hey, Peter. - Yeah, nice to meet ya. - Good. Hey, y'all want a beer? - [Peter] I'm good, I'm good, thank you. - You good? (Bart speaking in Cajun French language) - You wanna drink? - Merci. (Tim speaking in Cajun French language) - You know when beer tastes the best? - [Peter] When? - When you're not supposed to be drinking.

(Peter chuckling) That's when beer tastes the best. - What are you doing, some fabrica? - Oh, yeah. The clou. - The clou, yeah.

- The one that they crucified Jesus with. I did that through Lent, you know? - Yeah. - I'm trying to get it to the point where people remember his Crucifixion, you know? Now, they made theirs with bigger stock, but I didn't have any bigger stock, so I used what I had, I had 1/2". - Oh, yeah. - You see- - That's it, man.

- Normally they made it bigger stock. - Okay. - But- - Yeah. - This is what I had. - [Gerald] That's a square nail. That's what blacksmith used to make. I don't know if you know that.

- [Peter] Yeah. What are you making these for? - Just a play. - To remind people what went through Christ's hand. - Remind people of the Crucifixion. - [Peter] Okay, oh, for Easter.

- They drove through His hands and feet. - We're in Lent right now. I don't know, are are you a Catholic? - I'm not. - Okay.

- I grew up Protestant. - No problem. - [Peter] All right. - I'm Protestant and Catholic.

- [Peter] Really? Half and half? - Half and half. - Okay. - He paid the price. You and I can never do anything. He paid the price.

- I'm gonna quit paying my insurance then. What the hell do I have insurance for? - I don't have any insurance. (both laughing) - I canceled mine too, you know. - Wait, I didn't cancel mine, they canceled. - My wife says, "What of our house burns?" I said, "Me, I don't care."

But I said- - Guess what? - [Peter] They canceled the home insurance? - They canceled my, I had it with Farm Bureau. You know why they canceled it? - It's not Farm Bureau, because I pay Harm Bureau. - (chuckling) Listen, you see this? They found out I had a forge, they canceled me. - [Peter] Oh. - They said, "It might catch your house on fire." - Yeah.

- I said, "I'm closer to my neighbor than my house. Better cancel his too." "Ooh, we can't do that." - [Gerald] No, look, just they cancel- - No, man. - Tim, you grew up deep, hardcore Cajun, right? - Man wei. - Fair to say?

(Tim speaking in Cajun French language) (Tim speaking in Cajun French language) - Okay, I- - 110% - [Peter] You're 110, so, how is the Cajun culture these days? Is it holding strong? - Yes, the thing is my mama was very involved with Culderfil. - What is he using? - It was USL, it's no longer USL. - Okay. - They found out

that she was a French and English teacher in 1933. So the people that wanted to reinstate the French culture, they started Culderfil and they started exchanging students- - Okay. - From France and Louisiana would go to France, The French people would come here. And they ended up putting the French names on all the streets and stuff like that. I would say it's still strong, but I'm not that active in it.

I'm trying to maintain my French heritage. They invited me to teach in France and in Belgium in '09, 1909, 1909? - 2009. - Yeah, 20. I was gonna say 1909, that was a long- - [Peter] You're not that old, come on.

- Amount of drink here or (indistinct)? - I had too many beers. - When you get to this- - I'll pet a dog. Which one did they ask you to teach? - When you get to a part and ya- - We teach a lot of things. - Listen, when you get to a part in your life that you can't remember and you get- - They got it though.

- Call me, I'll tell ya what you were doing then. - Guess what? - What? - Biden's there now. (Gerald laughing) (Bart speaking in Cajun French language) - Look at that squirrel. You see him?

We're not gonna start. (Gerald laughing) - They're gonna excommunicate me. - [Peter] Okay, you just let it heat up in there for awhile? - No, I just put this in there.

I was waiting for y'all. - Oh, okay. You can blame that on me. We stopped at- - Well, you need to eat.

- Gerald's place. - [Gerald] You don't have a press? - Right there. - No, but... - That's a press there. - Did you need a staple? - That's a hydraulic press.

- Yeah, a 50 pound like you got and you got a 25 also. I'll show you how to use both of 'em. I'll do one and you'll do one, okay? I had 'em, I might have brought it inside. Let me get another pair. - [Gerald] They probably over there by your beer.

- [Tim] Your drinking my beer. (Bart speaking in Cajun French language) (Tim speaking indistinctly) - It came down the Mississippi when they were exiled. - [Peter] Well, I thought, didn't the Acadians come around the coast? - Both ways. - Okay. - Some of 'em came down the Mississippi. Now, they loved the lobsters. Well, when they saw them leaving, the lobsters started swimming, following them down to Mississippi.

When they got to Louisiana, they were crawfish shots. (Bart laughing) - Are you guys- - Peter, Peter. - I throw 50. - [Gerald] I told you how they like to entertain with lies.

- [Peter] Yeah. - [Gerald] You got a good dose of it right there. I said when I was growing up, that was a big form of entertainment. It's true. Tell some lies, man.

- The word Cajun comes from- - Do you know where it comes from? - No. - A lot of people tell ya a lot of bull. - Okay- - This is where it came from. If you notice, when he speaks French, everything's rolled, the R's, everything. In plural, the Acadians, they would always refer to each other. They wouldn't always say neg, they'd say Cajan. - Wei.

- And do you hear how that rolls into Cajan? And then they started shortening it up. They would say (speaking in Cajun French language). You know Nedrick, that Cajun over there? They'd say Cajan and it was like a compliment. It was a good man, you know? But it's really Acadian in plural, it's a Cajan.

- And then- - The Acadians. - [Peter] Then Americans in English said Cajun. - Well, they didn't know how to spell Cajan.

So they spelled it C-A-J-U-N like it sounded, but it's not a word and I used to write that for my students on there 'cause I'd give 'em a little class on. I said, "How many of y'all Cajun in here?" And they'd all raise their hand. I said, "Okay, where did the word Cajun come from? If you such a Cajun, tell me."

And they couldn't tell me, so I would write it on the board. The Cajun language you speaking, that we speak around here, is the same exact language that they spoke in Acadian. They still speak it. There's 20 some hundred people in that community in that- - In Nova Scotia. - Yes, sir.

- Oh, that's cool. - Can't tell ya the name of the town, but my friend went there and him, his dad goes there all the time. He builds accordions and all that and he's friends with all the people up there. They got family there. They still speak that same language.

They never broke off. I mean, it's the same Acadian language. - Oh, that's cool. - They didn't lose it. - After hundreds of years. - Yeah, when the king tried, when he exiled 'em and he pushed 'em out, it was because they were defending their faith, Catholicism.

That's what it was all about and that's why the Catholicism is so strong in our state. They didn't wanna swear allegiance to the king. They swear to the cross. That's where their allegiance is, to God. But it's about their heritage too 'cause they know that they left, they fought these, the British, because of their faith. They wanted to, that's why they came here because they wanted to keep their faith.

That's what this country was formed on, in God we trust, so, you know, everybody wants to worship their Lord. The Natives, they worship the Creator. They're very spiritual people.

You know when a Native, when they would go hunt, they considered it a blessing if they didn't kill and get something to eat that day. They didn't eat three or four times a day. They ate when the Creator presented something with bounty, you know, 'cause they hunting off the land.

Look, I saw that squirrel a while ago, but you're not guaranteed to get that squirrel. You can't push a button on that tree and say, "Ma'am, I will have one fox squirrel fried today." It's not gonna happen. - So Tim has serious devotion towards his religion. making these spikes. - Oh, yeah, 'cause he's recognizing Lent right now.

Lent is the season, you know, it's the spring. It's the time of regrowing yourself and becoming something better. When you're beating iron, you're taking an old piece, a chunk of iron and you're heating it and you're beating it and you're forming it.

That's what the faith is about. You forge, we're supposed to forge ourself. You wanna forge yourself to get to a better place 'cause we're heading towards the cross. Hopefully we don't get nailed on it like He did. - We're heading towards the cross, what do you mean? - That's what life's about.

It's about following Jesus to the cross. - You know what? I just thought of this. You and the Amish have a lot in common. They left Switzerland because of religious persecution- - A lot of the people. - Came to the US. - Yep, and they're German. A lot of 'em are German or Germanic descent.

- Yeah, they speak Pennsylvania Dutch. Yeah, that's interesting, I just made that connection. They have their- - Catholicism is very, very widespread. - Oh yeah, but they kept their, some have kept their language.

They're very religious and they came here from Europe. Well, you guys came here from Nova Scotia. - Right, yeah, down through Canada and then some of 'em come around the Eastern Seaboard and up in New Orleans, the different ports, you know.

The Native Americans helped and mingled with these Cajuns because man, they come out in the middle of nowhere and they didn't know the land and stuff, so you gotta get help from somebody. - What was that relation- - Different diseases. - What was that relation like? Or hard to know? - What I've heard from the old people, a lot of the older people that did, they played ball with 'em and stuff like, you know, probably like in Gerald's day, and he'll tell ya, they were extreme athletes.

Their agility is through the roof, the Native Americans. They have extreme, they're like, they're almost like race horses. They have a lot of endurance.

I have family, I have a cousin. My wife's cousin is, she married a Navajo so her kids are Navajo and you cannot outrun 'em, you can't out, I mean, like their agility is through the roof. - Yeah, if they don't get big. They got a lot of diabetes out there. - Yeah, well, none of her kids 'cause they're active, so she keeps 'em active. She's half Mexican, half American, so she keeps 'em active 'cause she sees the tribe, she taught on the res, so she sees how, you see, the older ones don't want them to rise above and go out.

They want 'em to stay on the reservation, it's this fear. If you go out, you know, the government's gonna get ya. They don't trust nobody. They've been swindled by every white man they ever came in contact with. - Right. What about you guys?

Trust with the federal government, depends who you talk to, or is there a Cajun MO with that? - Well, I think people now, the federal government is like, I tell people, "The federal government is really nobody." I mean, we're the federal government. Who pays the bills? The working man. - Right.

- So we're the government. So what does that mean? When I get ready to dig a ditch, the people from Washington are not coming out and say, "Hey, Bart," with some shovels on their back and picks and they're gonna help you dig that ditch. They're not gonna do it, and if you try to get somebody to help you from the government, you gotta wait seven years with paperwork. Well, the ditch is already dug and covered up and everything's done.

So that's what it goes back to. People are starting to realize, I think, quit relying on everybody else. Just do things yourself.

Work, live a good life, follow Christ, and you're gonna be fine. - Y'all come watch. Okay, I'm gonna show him how to make a head. See, this is a 50 pound little giant. We wanna put it- - Yeah, we just got- - Too soft. - Yeah, just make the-

- Make the head, okay, watch. (metal pounding) Not too hard. Then you turn it like this. (metal pounding) See what I did? An indentation (metal pounding) comes out.

You see it? - Yep. - Okay, time for you to do yours. Grab that. Like that. Right there, perfect.

Just comes out. Put it in the middle. (Tim speaking in Cajun French language) (metal pounding) (Tim speaking in Cajun French language) Drop. (metal pounding) (Tim speaking in Cajun French language) Perfect! Perfect! In fact, better than mine. - Yeah, I was gonna say, he lucked out, he got it better than you. - Better than mine. - [Bart] Gerald's talented.

(Tim speaking in Cajun French language) (Tim and Bart speaking in Cajun French language) - Mid size don't fit. (metal pounding) - [Gerald] Do what you do, right? Okay. (metal pounding) - A lot of people come here and they say, "What's all that junk?" They see nothing but junk because they don't know what to do. They never worked with their hands, you know? But if you a blacksmith or a fabricator, man, look, that piece of casing right there, that's high, that's worth a lot of money there.

- [Peter] Right, he's gonna do something with that? - Can't go to Walmart and buy that. See them coil springs right there? - [Peter] Yeah. - You can make a lot of things out of that 'cause it's spring steel. Makes some really good knives.

That's probably why he's got 'em, he's making knives with 'em. - [Peter] Is that a Cajun thing to blacksmith or what is it? Or just you guys? - Blacksmithing was everywhere, it was a way of life. I mean, you live out here and you living off the land and you plowing and stuff, you break something, you didn't have Tractor Supply to go down there, so everybody had a little barn. They might not have a trip hammer or nothing, but they had a hammer and a anvil.

If they couldn't afford a anvil, they'd find a, you'll see 'em. See, like this is where they make the forges out of the forge pieces. They can't afford a forge, they make 'em out of them drums. That's a break drum off a 18-wheeler.

(metal pounding) - [Tim] There you go. (metal pounding) There you go. - [Peter] Final product.

- [Tim] Here, Gerald. (Tim speaking in Cajun French language) - Thank you, Tim. - Yeah, my pleasure. (Gerald and Tim speaking in Cajun French language) - So you guys, you start with French, you go to English. You drop some words back and forth, and then you leave with French, right? - Frengish.

- (laughing) Gerald's getting his mustache back. He's just black right now. - Yeah, he had it, I was heartbroken. I saw him the other day.

I almost got in my truck and left. (Gerald laughing) I mean, I never saw him without his mustache. - I'm making this knife for a cowboy in British Columbia. - What is that? - It's Damascus. - That's Damascus. - Yeah. - Yeah, it's pretty boy.

It's gonna be pretty whenever you- - What you making it, man, you know, you want me to get you some (indistinct) for the handle? - I'm gonna put a stag handle deer horn on it. - That's beautiful. - That's just a test knife. - Feel how sharp it is. It's not done yet. - Wow. - Y'all have a good time in Rayne, okay? - Okay, Tim.

I want some raw oysters too. - Woo! - Oh! - They got raw oysters. - So Gerald, we're going to the local, local Cajun joint? - Mm-hmm. - Okay. - What do they call it over there? - Mr. T's, I think, yeah. - Mr. T's, okay. - Mr. T's really good. (gentle upbeat acoustic guitar music) - [Peter] It's beautiful countryside.

- [Gerald] Oh, man. To me, this place is beautiful. - [Peter] It doesn't have the hills or anything, but it's its own beauty in a way. There's just something very peaceful out here.

- Oh, man. - A feeling. I can't explain it, but it's a feeling. - [Gerald] Like you said, it's got its beauty, but in a little different perspective. - [Peter] Bart, God bless, all the best.

- Keep up the good work, man. - Oh, thanks, Bart. - Okay, G. - Okay, Bart.

(Bart speaking in Cajun French language) - Who, you and your boys? - Yeah, man, we're going and run some rabbit dogs. You wanna go run some rabbit dogs with some coons? - Rabbit dog? - With rabbit dogs, chasing rabbit. - Oh, okay. - A beagle hound. - [Peter] I would love to, but I'm outta town. (Gerald laughing) (Bart speaking indistinctly) - We'll cook for you next time.

- [Peter] That would be great. - I'll cook you a rabbit sauce. - [Peter] Oh, thank you, thank you. - Alligator. - Oh yeah.

- Thank y'all. - Okay, bud, thank you. - Bye, Bart. - Bye. - Wait, I didn't tell you about the Accordions though.

The Germans made 'em. They made it to Louisiana some kind of way and when the Cajun heard it, they loved it. Well, they were just getting into it and World War II came along. Germany stopped making musical instruments and made war material. This fellow Dewey Bafhar, he wrote a, a song he wrote.

"N'arrête pas la Musique," don't stop the music. So they said, "Hey, we're not stopping the music, so we're gonna make our own." - [Peter] Okay, and you have some of those? - Yes. - Okay. - Yes, by several different, I guess you would call 'em artisans. That's what I would call 'em because it's a pretty complicated instrument.

On these, these are what's called diatonic. The push and the pull are two different sounds. - [Peter] Okay.

- Yes. This here's the accordion made by my buddy Junior Martin. - [Peter] And he's got a crawfish there. - Yeah. He's got a patent on it. - [Peter] Oh, that's so cool.

- Yeah. - Junior Martin. - Yes. That's a Martin accordion, yep. This is one made by one.

Well, this was a fella in Lafayette. - Hour from here. - Yep. - John Eber was his name. He's deceased now.

(accordion music) You see it. - Yep. (lively accordion music) (lively accordion music continues) (Peter chuckling) - [Peter] You grew up playing? - No, just a kind of a calling almost. You know what I mean? When I got about 40, I said, God.

Then I started appreciating the Cajun things, you know. It's funny, nobody encouraged me or pushed me or you know, just on my own. I drove my daughters crazy and my wife playing "Mary had a Little Lamb." (laughing)

That was my first song. (ducks quacking) ("The Star-Spangled Banner") (accordion music) (accordion music continues) (accordion music continues) (upbeat country music) - [Peter] So this is a well-known joint. - Oh yeah, the food's good too.

This is the real deal here. (people chattering) - [Peter] No one's doing better food than this in Lafayette? - Oh, Uncle T's is probably the best spot to go, for sure. The oysters are really good. When it's crawfish seasons, is why. - I wanted to get my camera on.

I wanted her to take a picture of us. - [Peter] I'll take a picture of us, I got my camera. - You'll send it to me? - Yeah. - I thought of it on the way over here. - [Peter] Don't worry about, Gerald, I got it. - All right.

- The oysters are really good. - We're gonna get some. - Char boiled. They have a whole bunch of different flavors on there. - You don't like raw oyster? - [Peter] You weren't kicked out of town for not liking raw oysters? - No, a lot of people don't like raw oysters. (Gerald laughing) But also the boiled shrimp.

We currently don't have crawfish right now, or the crabs, but we do have soft-shelled crab at the moment. The crawfish are just a little too tiny. They like the big ones. - [Peter] Yeah, I don't, the really smalls aren't so popular, you know what I mean? - They're hard to peel. - Yeah. - They break. - Yeah. - You asked me earlier on, he said, "Do Cajuns, they have a temper like?" I said, "Yes, they do.

They're known for that." - It definitely depends, but at the same time, you have to be careful what you say around here. You could say something wrong and they'll be like, "What you mean by" You know what I mean? - We had holes in our blue jeans, but not because we wanted 'em. - Yeah, I bought these like this.

- I know you did. That was a no-no, man. - Fashion has changed. - Oh. - He actually told me he really liked my pants, like the wear and he said back in the day they used to buy bluejeans, but like they were so stiff, you'd have to wash 'em like five times for to even break in.

Then you'd wear 'em down. - But no holes. Holes in jeans were out.

- [Peter] Well, they're in now, Gerald. - I know. - [Peter] We got some work to do with Gerald, right? - Grab the scissors. - [Peter] We'll get some scissors out here. (laughing) - Yes.

- I'm gonna let your server know that y'all are here. - All right. All right, thank you. Oh, yeah. - Yeah, just set that- - Thank you, yeah.

- Thank you so much. - Y'all enjoy, guys. - God, those are beautiful. Ooh. Man, I love oysters now. - [Peter] So these are fresh local? - Yes. When I was a kid, we used to go catch 'em ourselves.

We'd eat them on the boat. You like Tabasco? - Oh, yeah. - Man, I love it. In fact, look, what I like to do, this is my little concoction. I hope you like it, but. - You just put the hot sauce in the oyster sauce? - Yes, good luck with that.

- Mix it up. - Put the lemon juice, oh, man. (people chattering in background) You eat 'em on a cracker or not? - On the shell? - No, on a cracker. - I just eat 'em on the shell. Do you want the- - Oh yeah, man. - That's how you gotta do it? - Oh Lord, to me now, this is heavenly.

- I've never done it on the cracker. - Take you one. - Oh wow. (people chattering in background) Wow. (people chattering in background) - Man. - Wow, delicious.

- Son of a gun. - That is good. You can just taste how fresh they are. - Oh yeah, they are.

These are unbelievable, man. - It's like day of, right? - I haven't had any this season either. - Oh yeah, these are delish. Look at that. Could you ever imagine living anywhere else? - Nope.

- You've been in that area for your whole life, right? - Whole life. - You ever travel anywhere else in the US? - A little bit. - Where do you like or where'd you go? (server speaking indistinctly) - So good. - They're good? - Oh, yeah.

- They're worth all the money. You know, I've been to Colorado and all of that, wait, all of that's beautiful country. - Yeah. - But,

let me tell you what, I really like the people here, man. - Here. - And you know the- - Oh, yeah. - The culture, I guess would be the word.

- Yeah, you guys have something special. I can feel it in my limited time here. Like you got your old school friend network. You got your food, you got your music. Listening to that station, they're playing the harmonica.

- Have you heard it? - Yeah, French. I mean, it's America, obviously, but it feels like a little bit of a different US down here, I would say. - Yes, it is. - Yeah. In a good way too. - Yes, it is.

Listen, it's very, very difficult for me to believe that I'm a couple of months from 75. - [Peter] Life just went by in like two days? - A day and a half, how about that? - [Peter] How fast did it go from 45 to 75? How fast? - Almost like to exhale, almost. Listen, when I'm on my tractor working and stuff, I'm thinking, and I'm saying, "Can I remember a day?" You can think clear when you're on a tractor, you can think clear.

Can you remember a day when you were 50? No. How about 51, 52, you know, any, pick a time. (Gerald blows in hand) - Like that. - Unbelievable. The bottom line is we don't have much of a choice because the clock has not stopped.

(train horn blaring) When I was 40, I didn't see it. And my dad was still alive, my mother was still, you know what I mean? - Yeah. - When the people close, like you, you already lost your dad, huh? - [Peter] Yeah.

- That's kind of a awakening, you know? Not long before he died, I was taking him to the doctor. Me and him were a lot alike, you know, I mean just, we were full speed, he says, "I never thought about dying." When he told me that, you know, it hit home, you know. For him, you know. So I thought a minute.

- I said, "Well..." I said, "Daddy, there's one good thing about that. It tells me that you are busy living." - [Peter] Yeah. - I said, "That's a good thing."

But she's from Church Point. That's a little town, a little country town, a little farming community, it's all farming community, little farming town. Little bit darker there.

- [Peter] You guys claiming best sausage. - On the planet, yes. Oh, I'm telling you, you eat it for breakfast too? - Oh, yeah. - How you cook it? - Like fried on the pan, you know? - Well, no, but let me tell you the best way. (Peter laughing) You put you a little bit of water.

- Oh, like a little boil, kind of, you let it- - A little bit of water. - I see where he is going with this. - And you put a lid on it and that lid starts trembling. The lid does, yeah. And then you'll hear it (hissing) start frying.

(Peter laughing) When it starts frying, got fat in it. That's part of the deal. Put a potholer on it and you lean it and the grease comes down and you put the sausage on the north end and you let the grease go to the south end. That roba sausage.

It is good. That's like a- - Like a mayo. - Yeah. - Okay. - It don't need anything. - Hmm. Wow. - Robust.

- Wow. Smoky, little spice, not much. Robust, that's the right word. This thing almost hits you. - Unbelievable.

Put some eggs or in a gumbo. - Oh yeah. - In a gumbo. - I've never had sausage like this.

So what is it, they're just smoking it differently? - It's the whole, it's the package. - You have to be Cajun to make it? - Yep. - You do? - Well you must because there's no other place like it.

That's the deal. (laughing) - Do you think there's anything people misunderstand about Cajuns? Or what do you think they don't know? - I think you're a humble people, humble. - You're humble, yeah.

- Because they had humble beginnings. - Came from nothing. I mean, your story, right? Very humble beginnings, right? - Yes.

I can't believe where I am 'cause that was always in fear 'cause growing up we had nothing. - So it's just scarcity mindset. You're always worried about what's next. - Yep. - Or what's not gonna be there.

- That's why I worked so hard all my life. - There's the fear if you stop, you could go broke and- - Yep. - Yeah. - I think you gotta be a little paranoid. You never know what happens, right? - No, that's right.

I think, I mean, it's the good thing. - I am. - Huh? - I'm a bit paranoid. - No, I know. - That's what fuels me. - I think it's the good thing. - [Peter] Not many carbs in that dish.

This is all protein. Is that why you've stayed in such good shape? You eat pretty well or? - Always been kind of health conscious. Then my wife's a home ec teacher. She knows how to cook and her mama was Cajun too, so. But my grandmother, she was always at home.

Every time I'd go, first thing she'd ask me, "Are you hungry?" I was always hungry. You know what pain perdu is? - [Peter] No. - Well, French toast, but we call it pain perdu. Pain is bread. - Yeah.

- Perdu is lost. It was bread that was about to be stale, but they would make the french toast out of. - Oh. - Pain perdu. My grandmother would fix me some pain perdu. It would hurt you, man. Would absolutely hurt you.

(Gerald chuckling) - Well, that was fun today, Gerald. - Oh, man. - No, that was a great time.

- This was fun. I don't know how fun it was for you, but it was fun for me. - Oh, it was great. You're one of the coolest guys I've ever met. (Gerald laughing) I'm serious. I've met a lot of people.

Gerald, I'm gonna stop the video 'cause we gotta take a photo, thank you. - Oh, thank you. - That was awesome. - For me too. - Appreciate it.

- Hope we see each other again. - 100%. - Yeah. - That's the main thing. I hope we, I hope I'm really around. - I really wanna come back.

- Yeah. - Oh, you're doing great. All right guys, thanks for coming along. Until the next one.

(gentle acoustic music)

2024-03-23 16:26

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