Sunday, November 27, 2011

Oak Alley Plantation

Today, we've gotten a good taste of the historical south, with a two hour visit to a plantation - Oak Alley Plantation to be specific. Astrid had e-mailed them in advance and managed to weasel us in for free today ($19 saved, woo hoo!). Being a journalist has its advantages, that's all I'm gonna say about it. I did donate ten bucks later though, outta sheer guilt.

The plantation area itself is well maintained and the tour is definitely worth it. You'll get some good ole' southern history and some interesting stories about how life was at this point at a certain time. The focus of the storytelling is much more on the building and family history and stuff concerning the various owners of the plantation than on larger issues like the Civil War, slavery, etc, but hey, all kinds of history have their time and place.

For example, they showed us a circular candleholder, which could be turned so that the candle itself either burned at the top, with no ornamentation to obscure it, or turned low so that there was just a little stub showing. This, we were told, was a common way for parents to keep control of the conversation between youngsters - if the father approved of the suitor, he would give him the whole stick to burn, meaning a long conversation. But if he didn't... well, the guy would get "the short end of the stick" - an expression still in use. They also had a concave mirror in the room, so that they could sit outside and still keep an eye on what was going on.

After the tour, we stuffed face on gumbo, in the plantation's restaurant. We then drove up I-55 along the very purdy Lake Pontchartrain where I saw some houseboats. Later on we drove through several areas where the heavens just opened up on us, and we were both very happy to be inside a warm car. We also saw some graveyeards, with the graves above ground; I expect to see more and maybe take some pics when we get to New Orleans on Sunday.

I still haven't seen or eaten (or indeed got eaten by) any alligators, but if all else fails I'm going to seek out a hatchery. I know there are some in the state, where you can pet the lil' ones before walking away with their parents as a handbag. It's cruel & unusual and I like it.

All pics here.

All that's missing is a bonnet & a mint julep and you have a southern belle.

The back of the house.

The oak alley itself and the front of the house. The trees were planted by an unknown Frenchie in the early 1700s. They have an expected life span of 600 years, so we caught them roughly middle aged.

We could take pictures FROM the house, but not inside it. People keep ruining my photos by their simple existence. Someday soon imma snap and then there will no longer be any people in my photographs, just sweet, sweet architecture & nature.

All mansions at this time had the kitchen in a separate building, due to the fire hazard. The kitchen at Oak Alley burned twice in the 1800s.

When someone died, state law compelled the family to make an inventory of the deceased's property. I'm guessing for tax purposes. Vultures.

1 comment:

Versailles Rose said...

A friend and I were visiting Oak Alley in October of 1997. We were standing beside the house, facing the kitchen garden. We heard the sound of a gate opening, and then clanking shut. When we walked back to the gate, it was chained shut and well rusted. Ghosts! =)