Tag Archives: History

Northern Louisiana: Meat Pies, Catfish and Where Bonnie and Clyde Met Their Maker

Where Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed. There’s a marker by the side of the road now.

1)    Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum reports on the last chapter of one of the most documented criminal love stories in America. Gibsland, where Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed has a funky little museum funded by private donor in Dallas and run by “Boots” Hinton, son of one of the law men who shot the famous couple to death on a nearby back road. A video from 1934 shows a re-enactment of the event. There is some question if Bonnie actually ever killed anyone herself. The museum has replicas of their tombstones (they were buried in separate cemeteries in Dallas) and Bonnie’s epithet is what she wrote for her mother’s tombstone 6 months earlier. “All the women like to hear that story,” Boots confided. There’s a replica car that was used in one of bio pics shot in the area, but the real death car is on loan to a museum in Washington D.C. Although you wouldn’t know it now, the museum is housed in the little café where Bonnie and Clyde bought their last sandwiches. “They only had two before they were shot,” said Boots. Gazing around at the photos, I can see Bonnie was very pretty. “Clyde met her at a restaurant where she was waitressing,” said Boots. In a glass case I spy her red velvet beret and the brooch from her dress. The wonky black and white newsreel style movie I watched when I came in said her belongings included a cosmetic case, just like any normal girl.

2)    Second Hand Rose. The best reason to go to this jam-packed emporium is to meet Millie Rose, a dynamo with a frizz of red hair and two Boston Terriers that follow her everywhere. Poke around and you might find a treasure amongst all the knick-knacks.

Luigi’s has the best bread pudding in the region!

3)    Luigi’s Restaurant serves up a mean deep fried catfish that melts in your mouth. For dessert, bread pudding with buttery, sticky rum sauce is a must. The restaurant is located in a small strip of shops next to the site, which once housed the funeral parlor where the bodies of Bonnie and Clyde were taken after they were killed. It’s a parkette now, but across the street is the town’s little museum, which is filled with pictures of the criminal duo.

Melrose Plantation.

4)    Melrose Plantation. If you go during the Fall Tour in October, you’ll see lots of docents and their daughters in period dress. Three families have owned the plantation over the years. The first was a freed slave who prospered, but then lost it all. Mrs Cammie Henry was last owner and she was famous for hosting an artists’ retreat. Author William Faulkner stayed for a short time, but Mrs. Cammie being a teetotaler was not a fan of his. People had to review what they had done each evening at dinner. The retreat was inspirational for a staff member, Clementine, who cleaned the rooms. One of the guests left their paints so she tried her hand at painting and did some fascinating scenes of everyday life. Some people are bigger than others. The more important people are bigger, and those she didn’t like are smaller. My favorite was the black angles with their hair flying straight up because of all the wind. You can view her cabin and an excellent gallery of her work. Her grandson is now selling pieces for $70 in the gift shop.

The Steel Magnolia house – once a B&B, now up for sale.

5)    Natchitoches: See the house where Steel Magnolias was filmed, check out the uber modern Louisiana State Sports museum, shop the oldest retailer in the city, the Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile hardware store (lots of cool kitchen gadgets and Christmas gee gaws), and visit Northwestern State University and the Bead Town mural, a concept by artist Stephan Wagner to recycle discarded Mardi Gras beads.

Laysone’s delicious meat pies.

6)    Laysone’s Meat Pie: Lunch here is a must. Angela Laysone is the daughter of the original owner. A big gal with B&W striped chef pants and a black bandana, she is now rolling out a plan to sell the crayfish and beef meat pies in sports stadiums in LA and Texas. They are deep fried and delicious. Even the green beans are deep-fried! The décor is decidedly old school. In-window A/C units, brownish/greenish walls. But who cares, you are there for the pies!

Looking for chicken.

7)    Natchitoches Alligator park: We head over to Castaway Island where a crowd has assembled and is gazing out over a pond at what looked to be the tail of a crashed airplane. It was show time. A voice over the loud speaker told us two stranded pilots had to fend off hungry meat eaters. From a wooden, Cajun-style houseboat the pilots-cum-staff members hung a bloody parcel on a stick over the edge. Suddenly the water was boiling as 100 alligators swarmed towards the vessel. A huge daddy, at least 15 feet long, leapt out of the water and snapped up the meat. “What are they feeding them?” I asked a tour guide. “Chicken, mostly necks,” she replied. At lunch in the snack bar, I braved a plate of fried alligator. The chewy nuggets tasted just like….chicken.

What I Love About Shreveport

Elvis plays the Louisiana Hayride at the Memorial Auditorium, 1955. Photo © courtesy of Louisiana Hayride Archives – J. Kent

1)    Memorial Auditorium, where Elvis got his start on Louisiana Hayride in 1954. In 1969, guitarist James Burton signed on with Elvis and stayed with his band until Elvis’ death in 1977. Burton is a Shreveport boy and has a recording studio across the street from Memorial Auditorium.

James Burton, Shreveport’s guitar legend.

If you are lucky, he might come out and chat with you.

Geauxsicles are like luscious frozen smoothies on a stick.

2)    Geauxsicles Gourmet Ice Pops opened two years ago and offers fabulous flavours like Mojito, Lemondrop, Sister Hazelnut, and my favorite, Sublime. These little treasures are frozen smoothies on a stick and are chock full of fresh fruit. There’s even a diabetic-friendly option made with Truvia.

3)    Strawn’s Eat Shop, one of the city’s most iconic restaurants, features mile-high strawberry pie to die for. The owner is a professional poker player and family members have opened a couple of additional locations to the original at 125 Kings Hwy.

4)    Marilynn’s Place – opened by Bozz Baucom and named for his mother, this former gas station is comfy casual, largely self-serve and is known for jambalaya, crawfish etoufée and beignets, which are served with coffee all day long.

An institution!

5)    Herby-K’s, home of the Shrimp Buster since 1936. What the heck is a shrimp buster? Pounded shrimp piled high on buttered French bread and laced with spicy red sauce. South Living magazine loves this place.

6)    Red River Revel, a fantastic, affordable arts and crafts fair in early October with 125 artisan booths (jewelry, paintings, woodwork) lots of excellent concerts (Blind Boys of Alabama were there this year), fantastic food (charities set up booths and sell catfish, candied nuts, chocolate covered cheescake on a stick, crawfish and other delights).

Cooking up a storm at Blue Southern Comfort! Guest chefs try their hand in the kitchen with the lovely owner Carolyn Manning (Top row, second from R).

7)    Blue Southern Comfort was just opened by Carolyn Manning, a former real estate agent. This superb little spot has around 5 tables and tons of charm. Her gumbo and cheezy grits are magical. Secrets include her home smoked tasso pork shoulder, and the grits contain a mélange of cheeses including cheddar, parm and jack. BYOB right now, but she is waiting on a liquor license.

Shreveport’s people and history on the side of the AT&T building. A mega mural!

8)    “Once in a Millennium Moon,” one of the largest murals in the country spans around 30,000 sq ft. on the AT&T building downtown. It is filled with local celebrities, family heirlooms like garters, a christening top, a wedding veil, war tags, the Torah, and a portrait of Native American Mary Whitesnake Rambin wearing three sets of black beads passed down by her grandmother that were brought from Europe to trade in exchange for beaver, deer and other hides.

9)    Papa Fertitta’s is the last historic Mom and Pop grocery store in town and it’s on the National Registry of Historic Places. Known for it’s fantastic sandwich, the “Muffy” (heavier than an anvil, made with cold cuts and olive paste), it’s a great place to stop for a beer and a bite

10)The Robinson Film Center is a two-screen cinema that shows great art house fare and is supported by actors such as Val Kilmer and Matthew Broderick. Abby Singer’s Bistro, upstairs, offers tasty pre- or après movie dining with a twist. Try the duck nachos.

10 Best Atlantic City Destinations Off the Boardwalk

Atlantic City, the Jersey Shore’s gambling Mecca, is chock-a-block with casinos, but there is plenty to do for non-gamblers as well. Next time you’re in the Boardwalk Empire, check out these hidden gems.

Joe Di Maggio’s favourite hang out in Atlantic City.

1)     The Irish Pub – The walls of this cozy pub are jammed with boxing posters from the days of Jack Dempsey, and just about any other Irish memorabilia including JFK for President posters. Joe DiMaggio’s favourite AC haunt has an expansive menu of pub grub including St. James Potatoes (an Irish version of poutine), Jersey crab cakes and liverwurst and onion sandwiches. Plus there are reasonable rooms to let for people who don’t mind being just up the street from the boardwalk. St. James Place. www.theirishpub.com

2)     Dante Hall Theater For The Arts – where locals go for concerts and local dramatic productions. 12 N. Mississippi Ave. 609 347-2162

3)     White House Sub Shop – Best two-foot-long sandwiches on the Shore. Fillings range from white tuna to meatballs and sauce and the fresh loaves come from nearby bakery Formica Bros. Try the White House Special, a belly-filling winner of Genoa salami, ham, capicola and provolone cheese. 2301 Arctic Ave.

A multitude of multi-grains at Formica Bros. Bakery.

4)     Formica Bros. Bakery – A Ducktown staple since 1919, Formica Bros. uses grandfather Francesco’s methods to create some of the best bread in the city. The bakery café serves coffee, biscotti and slices of grandmother Rosa’s famous Italian Tomato pie. 2310 Arctic Ave.

The original 1910 design for James’ salt water taffy.

5)     James Factory Tour – See how salt water taffy is made at this AC candy institution on the boardwalk, founded in 1880. Admission is $4.50, tours are on the hour from 10 am-3 pm, Mon.-Fri, June-August.

6)     Waterfront Sculpture Walk – Need a break from chiming slots? Behind Harrah’s and linked to Borgata and the Golden Nugget resorts is a landscaped mile of three-dimensional art that looks out over Atlantic City’s back bay. Dancing dragonflies, steam punk-style clocks and golden-framed fence installations will captivate your imagination while local fishermen provide the backdrop, casting their lines into the bay for blue fish.

The lighthouse is a popular spot for weddings.

7)     Absecon Lighthouse – opened in 1857, this historic beacon is 171 feet high and it takes 228 steps upward to get to the panoramic views of Atlantic City, ocean and surrounding areas. Check out the Keeper’s House Museum. Near Showboat Casino at Pacific and Rhode Island Avenues.

8)     Flyers Skate Zone – Ice skating throughout the year. 501 North Albany Ave. www.flyersskatezone.com

A Caribbean Cownose Ray delights visitors at the Atlantic City Aquarium.

9)     Atlantic City Aquarium – Intimate aquarium with shark and ray touch tanks, diver feeding show, and 100 varieties of sea life. www.acaquarium.com

10)  Atlantic City Fishing & Dive Center — If you are a diver, or want to catch a big one, this charter operation can take you to nearby wrecks for underwater exploration or line casting to snag seabass, blackfish, ling, cod, progy and triggerfish. 455 N. Maryland Ave.

Ethiopia Today!

Just a quick note to let everyone know my CUSO-VSO posting begins today! I head to Ethiopia tonight and will get there on the 16th. Long flights and longer wait at Heathrow. Oh well. My itinerary includes visiting the Bisrat Development and Aid Organization, Hiwot Ethiopia, WeSMECO and Dawn of Hope in Addis Ababa. Later in the month we go to Dessie (400 km from Addis) to the College of Teachers Education, to Woldia (120 km from Dessie), and to Alamata (130 km from Woldia. We’ll also go to the Maychew Technical College in the Tigray Region. Below is a shot we took at CUSO-VSO headquarters in Ottawa after our training session. At the time I didn’t know where I was going to be posted, hence the ? in my hands. Now I know and I’m pretty excited. Will post once I get there!