A Travellerspoint blog

Ta Bass Co and Remembrance of Things Past

Avery Island, Jeanerette and the New Iberia airport

sunny 10 °C
View Summer, 9-11-2001 - and then the 2nd time down the ICW & Bermuda & 2004 Migrating by Mercedes on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

Friday 17 December continued
We got back on the road, and went on the New Iberia, and checked into the motel - the BW Inn & Suites. Best Westerns tend to be somewhat uneven in quality because they are individual motels and not really a chain. This one is a cheap motel - it was the least expensive thing I could find in the AAA book. After taxes etc, the $59 a night room was $66.39/night. It also has a pool which I think it's a bit cold for that right now. There is a restaurant on site but we didn't go to it. There is parking for the big rigs and it is right off the highway with a number of fast food places around it. There is no frig. no elevator (2 story hotel) and our room smelled of stale smoke each time we entered. I think maybe the cleaning people smoke. In its favor, I didn't hear a lot of noise from other people through the walls. it has free local calls and an expanded continental breakfast (although not VERY expanded).
BW Inn office

BW Inn office


We didn't check with the visitor's center which was across the street, and it didn't appear to be open the next day - Saturday.

We had dinner at Duffy's Diner.
Duffys

Duffys


Table 'furniture

Table 'furniture

Ceiling Decorations

Ceiling Decorations


This is something like Bert's in Mechanicsville except with Tabasco sauce and red beans and rice. Very cheap and good. They said that they had a new soup - a corn shrimp chowder. So I ordered that. Unfortunately, it only came as a bowl - I could not get it as a cup.
Corn shrimp chowder

Corn shrimp chowder


And because it was good, I ate almost all of it, so then I had no room for the two piece chicken dinner and red beans and rice I ordered, and could not eat it all. I also had a brown cow (a float).
Brown Cow

Brown Cow


I specified root beer, but they also make it with coke. Bob had a shrimp basket and a hot fudge sundae. The whole meal was $22.73.

Then we went a filled up with gas at the Raceway station near the motel. Gas was $1.689/gal
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We first came to New Iberia in June of 1960 because Bob was stationed here to do the last part of his pilot training with the US Navy for the S2F anti-submarine airplane. When Bob finished pilot training in Pensacola, he had such a high rating that he was allowed to chose whatever aircraft type he wanted. His instructor there was devastated that he did not choose jets (because that's what he -the instructor- had wanted, and he ended up as a flight instructor instead. That was not nearly as cool.). The base was closed soon after we left. We wanted to see whether the airport (such as it is) in New Iberia was the old NAS field. Apparently it was a pork-barrel project for New Iberia. Neither the Navy, nor the sugarcane farmers who were displaced really wanted to have a base there.

Saturday 18 December 2004

We ate our breakfast at the hotel. They have toaster waffles and french toast, microwave sausage biscuits, two types of juice (apple and orange), milk, coffee, cold cereal, plain bagels and some pastries. Not as good as the Hampton Inn or the Sleep Inn or even the Super 8. Then we started off for Avery Island. On the agenda for today (after we visit the Tabasco factory and Jungle Gardens) is to go to Jeanerette and try to find the house we lived in, and then visit Shadows on the Teche.

Getting to Avery Island was easy - the road was paved and well signed. The road has deep ditches filled with water on each side.
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They are harvesting cane this time of year, and we see bits of it on the highway, and the plumes of steam from the factories stand out on the skyline. They are also burning over the cane fields.
Cane harvesting

Cane harvesting


There is a body of water near Avery Island (which isn't really an island) with boats in it and a boat ramp, and there is a toll booth to the island,
Looking back at the toll booth

Looking back at the toll booth


Bob remembers going halfway there and then turning around and coming home. We have been unable to figure out why. Maybe we just didn't want to pay the toll. Bob was surprised to have to pay 50 cents toll although I had told him about that. It's called an environmental fee.
Toll explanation

Toll explanation


When we lived here before, only the US highways were paved. We had at least 3 flat tires because the oyster shells that were mixed in with the mud on the roads cut our tires up. But the toll taker said the road has always been paved as long as he's been there so that wasn't the reason we didn't go before.
On Avery Island - Tanks

On Avery Island - Tanks


There were a lot of green tanks and piping all around the island. They no longer give tours of the salt mine. It is now leased to Cargill. Apparently the salt dome also has natural gas and oil, and Bob said that's probably what the tanks were for.
Green Natural Gas tanks

Green Natural Gas tanks

large_100_4349.jpgOil well sign

Oil well sign

Historic marker about the salt mine

Historic marker about the salt mine

Salt mine sign

Salt mine sign

Sign pointing to the store

Sign pointing to the store

Sign about the Pepper fields

Sign about the Pepper fields


Tabasco Factory

Tabasco Factory

Sign about the factory

Sign about the factory


Photo of old lab

Photo of old lab


We went to the factory first, which was free. They have a tour every 20 minutes, and show a video tape about the McIllheny family
large_4175414-Learn_about_Tabasco_Avery_Island.jpglarge_4175415-Learn_about_Tabasco_Avery_Island.jpglarge_4175416-Learn_about_Tabasco_Avery_Island.jpg
and the production of Tabasco sauce.
Diorama of harvest of chili peppers

Diorama of harvest of chili peppers

Bob "Feeling the Heat"

Bob "Feeling the Heat"


Model of the grounds in the museum

Model of the grounds in the museum


Then we get to go through the factory (which wasn't in operation because it was Saturday). .Beginning of the production line

Beginning of the production line

Factory production line

Factory production line

End of the production line

End of the production line

Exhibit at the factory

Exhibit at the factory


At the end they gave each of us a tiny bottle of Tabasco

Factory

Factory


Then we walked up to the store. I picked up a catalog so I could order stuff and not have to carry it. They had a fish sculpture outside painted in flames swallowing a hot pepper bait. His name was Ta Bass Co. Apparently the local sculpture here is a fish (like the pandas in DC and cows in London).
Ta-BASS-co

Ta-BASS-co

Ta BASS Co information sign

Ta BASS Co information sign


Inside the store

Inside the store


They had some old photos of the old factory.
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Old trees and Spanish moss

Old trees and Spanish moss

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Then we drove over to the "Jungle Gardens"
Jungle Gardens information sign

Jungle Gardens information sign


and Bird Island part.
Bird City information sign

Bird City information sign


Shop and ticket sales

Shop and ticket sales


This is supposed to be a fantastic garden with all kinds of wildlife and an very old Buddha. When we asked the girls in the store/visitor's center what it would cost, they said, "It's $6.50 per person, and there are no birds or alligators" in a very dismissive tone. They obviously thought it was not worth the money, although it is given a "Must See" kind of recommendation in the AAA book.
In the Jungle Garden ticket building

In the Jungle Garden ticket building


So we took their word for it (I knew it had been too cold for the alligators to be out, and I figured I'd see them in the Everglades), and left without going. I took a picture of a white egret that was standing by the road on the way out.
Egret

Egret


It was only 10:45, so we drove back to the New Iberia crossroads. I thought we might start where the old NAS was and from there try to find our old house in Jeanerette. So we drove out Admiral Doyle Drive in the direction of the airport.
We find the old airfield

We find the old airfield


NAS New Iberia 44 Years Later

NAS New Iberia 44 Years Later


Bob did not remember anything of what was around, but we eventually found the hangers,
Hanger

Hanger

Tower

Tower


and then the tower which looked to him like the original tower building.
large_209b6180-c0f3-11e8-92fb-839aca827ef6.jpg
He said that on the map, the runways of the current airport were crossways to the ones he remembered. He said they put down parallel runways, but three out of the four of them sank out of sight into the swamp. We also found the operations building (#92) next to the tower,
Old Operations Building

Old Operations Building


and the building that he remembered as the instructional building, which is still a school of some kind,
Classroom Building

Classroom Building


and a building labeled "Administration #23".
Administration Building

Administration Building


From there, we drove back through New Iberia on Admiral Doyle Drive (it was now about 11:15) towards Jeanerette.

There was a lack of rental housing in New Iberia particularly for student pilots whose training was only for six months. We also found out that we had to buy a stove and refrigerator because in Louisiana at that time an unfurnished rental house didn't have appliances included. We stopped looking for a house to rent and went to buy a stove and refrigerator. While we were talking to the appliance salesman, he mentioned that the local grocer (Joe Grisieffi - an Italian in a French Cajan town) had decided that rental houses would be a good investment so he had built two identical ones, one of which was available. This house was in Jeanerette about 12 miles from the base on an unpaved un-named road, and I got my mail General Delivery at the Post Office. It was $50 a month and had two bedrooms. It was in an old sugar cane field. The road was slippery mud after rains and there was a problem with fire ants. Since the "lawn" was an old cane field (full of fire ants) it took Bob a half day of really hard work in the hot Louisiana sun to mow it with a push mower
Bob painting a trunk lid - the power mower that we had to buy behind him on the left

Bob painting a trunk lid - the power mower that we had to buy behind him on the left


There has been so much change in 44 years since we lived there, that we did not really expect to be able to find the place we lived.

In those days, my directions to people wanting to get to our house (which I DID remember - mostly) were to drive out of the base and take that road all the way past where it was paved to where it ended in a cane field. Then to turn left, and go about a quarter mile until they saw a yellow brick school on the left.
Yellow brick school

Yellow brick school


Just before they got to the school to turn right and go until they passed a sheet metal welding shop on the left. Turn right and we were the first house on that road, but not on the corner.

These are the photos from 1960 after we moved into the house
Dining room table

Dining room table


Our new stove in the kitchen

Our new stove in the kitchen

The refrigerator

The refrigerator

Our driveway after a rain

Our driveway after a rain


Of course the road is now paved and does not end in a cane field, but keeps going. We did find the yellow brick school which is now the Jeanerette Middle School about 11:40, but I did not remember that we were to turn before we got there, so we drove around in circles for about 10 minutes
Historic black church

Historic black church

PostOffice where I got my mail

PostOffice where I got my mail

Catholic church

Catholic church

Jeanerette Middle School

Jeanerette Middle School


Welding shop 2004

Welding shop 2004


until I recognized the sheet metal building, and then - eureka - we found the two little houses right where they should be.
The house we rented in 1960 as it was in 2004

The house we rented in 1960 as it was in 2004


It had been remodeled somewhat - Shutters had been added and it had a metal roof instead of a shingle roof. The utility shed had been removed.
Rainbow over our house in 1960

Rainbow over our house in 1960


But the house next door
House next door

House next door


was exactly the same configuration as ours had been, so I figured that the owner had repaired or remodeled. The streets also have names. Our old house is on Wattigny,
Street sign

Street sign


and the road the sheet metal shop is on is Martin Luther King Drive. We tried to find the grocery store of the guy we rented from, but could not.
large_100_4416a.jpgCity Pharmacy and Iberia Bank

City Pharmacy and Iberia Bank

City Pharmacy

City Pharmacy

Old building

Old building


Abandoned building

Abandoned building


We did find
Robie's Grocery

Robie's Grocery


which I thought was where I remembered that I had done my shopping, as the base didn't have a commissary yet.
House

House


We decided to have lunch, and after passing up small local seafood chain place, and Sonic (Bob doesn't like drive-in places), we went to Lil's Kitchen
Lil's Kitchen <br />Open 7 days a week <br />Plate lunches daily <br />Best homemade hamburgers in town

Lil's Kitchen
Open 7 days a week
Plate lunches daily
Best homemade hamburgers in town


opposite Moresi's Foundry. Neither of us remembered this foundry, and Bob cannot understand why, as it was certainly there as it was established in 1865. The 19th century building is a National Historic Landmark.
Moresi's Foundery

Moresi's Foundery


They make items such as cast-iron kettles and custom castings for machinery, and repair the huge grinders that crush sugar cane into juice.

Lil's Kitchen had a limited menu (hamburgers, cheeseburgers, a couple of po'boys, chicken nuggets and 5 or 6 lunch plates) but it was extremely inexpensive.
Menu board

Menu board


While you could carry the food out, there were also four tables. The food was cooked fresh. There were bottled drinks, and our lunch was served in a cardboard "basket". The Saturday Dinners included Smothered Pork Chop, Smothered Meatballs, Spaghetti and Meatballs, BBQ Chicken, BBQ Pork Chop, Fried Shrimp and Fried Crawfish (in season). Choices of sides are rice with gravy, red beans, sweet potatoes, rice dressing and baked spaghetti. And you get a roll with each dinner. I had a
Shrimp po'boy $4.95

Shrimp po'boy $4.95


and Bob had a hamburger, and lunch was less than $10.
Bob's burger $2.75

Bob's burger $2.75


I talked to Lil, and she remembered the name of our landlord. Bob thought it began with a W and that's why the street was named Wattigny, but I remembered a G sound, like Joe or Giovanni. But my memory for names is definitely quirky, so I wasn't really sure. The actual guy's name was Grisieffi. His son is still in town she said.

After lunch we saw the Jeanerette Bicentennial Park and Museum and Chamber of Commerce was right across the street, so we drove over there.
According to Baldwin's "Guide to the Museums of Louisiana" 'Le Beau Petit Musee'
Tracing 200 years of the sugarcane industry...also features a Swamp Room, cypress industry displays, and a Victorian bedroom. There are works by local artists and crafters, and an annex includes black history and Mardi Gras Rooms... (every place in Louisiana seems to have a Mardi Gras section) Pictures and artifacts from cypress boom days include the 19th century cypress patterns used in the manufacture of gears for sugar mills, sawmills, salt mines, rice mills, and steamboats..In the Victorian bedroom, examples of turn-of-the-century lace, tatting, crochet and French embroidery, all handmade, vie for your attention.
Entrance to Museum

Entrance to Museum


Side of the museum yard

Side of the museum yard

Museum grounds

Museum grounds


Museum yard

Museum yard

Sign on the museum grounds

Sign on the museum grounds

Front door of the main museum building

Front door of the main museum building


There was a little old lady there (probably about our age) and she let us in (admission $3 each) and we talked a long time. I remembered the names of the children that lived in the other identical house were Kevin, Margot and the baby Reed, but I didn't remember the first names of the parents other than that they were both Herberts (pronounced A bear) but were unrelated. It turned out that Kevin (who was about 5 when we lived there) was her son's best friend, and she knew them well. They were Ann and RL (Roy). She said they had both died of cancer (they both smoked).

I asked if there had been a Presbyterian church in town, because that was the church we had gone to and we hadn't been able to find it. When I went to the ladies circle meetings, at which I was the youngest person there by at least 40 years, it was pretty common for them to be talking about someone, and when I inquired, they would think a minute and then tell me that the person they were talking about had been dead for some number of years. But there was no longer a Presbyterian church. She confirmed that there had indeed been such a church, but it had also been torn down and those who attended had to go to a neighboring town. She had a picture of it.
Photo of the Presbyterian Church at the museum

Photo of the Presbyterian Church at the museum


She also knew that the grocery store of our landlord had been torn down, which was why we couldn't find it.
7.5 foot Canebrake rattler in the Swamp Exhibit

7.5 foot Canebrake rattler in the Swamp Exhibit


Bobbin holder

Bobbin holder


Tools

Tools

Exhibit

Exhibit

Mardi Gras Exhibit

Mardi Gras Exhibit

Jeanerette Sugar Company diorama

Jeanerette Sugar Company diorama

Models of buildings of Jeanerette

Models of buildings of Jeanerette


She took us back into a little building which was a former bridge tender's house
Bridge tender's house

Bridge tender's house


Sign on the side of the museum

Sign on the side of the museum


and showed us a video on the sugar cane industry which actually answered a lot of the questions we didn't know we had.
Sugar exhibit in the museum

Sugar exhibit in the museum


She gave us a package of raw sugar and two Louisiana oranges.
Machinery in the back of the museum grounds

Machinery in the back of the museum grounds

Machinery in the museum yard

Machinery in the museum yard


On the way out of town we passed on of Jeanereatte's sugar mills
One of the sugar mills that Moresi serviced

One of the sugar mills that Moresi serviced

Another part of a sugar mill

Another part of a sugar mill

Sugar factory

Sugar factory


Jeanerette Sugar

Jeanerette Sugar


Houses

Houses


And we headed for the last thing on our list for today - Shadows on the Teche

Posted by greatgrandmaR 18:49 Archived in USA

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