I just told someone I am from Louisiana “about halfway between Dallas and New Orleans” and I realized that
1. That would be a great song title
2. It’s a good descriptive for the small historic town I live in.
I live in Natchitoches, the home of Steel Magnolias. It is the oldest town in the Louisiana Purchase, founded in 1714, and it’s kind of like Brigadoon. Oprah’s been here. They like to film movies here. For a while in the mid-80s, you could run into Darryl Hannah or Shirley McLaine at the grocery. But it’s the kind of place where that is taken with nonchalance. So, you’re famous. Can you make a good roux?
There are churches on every street corner, and unlike our flashier sister to the south, our parades and festivals are aimed as family friendly; some even ban alcohol. We have a state university here that takes up about half the populated west side of town. They built the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame right smack in the middle of what we consider downtown, and some people think it’s butt ugly.
We have greenscapers that put up seasonal flowers along the main street, and flags are hung all over that change with seasons, festivals, holidays and school events. The town hugs a long lake that used to be a river but forgot about it, another good analogy for us; we get from west to east and back by crossing small, crowded bridges with rod iron railings.
I am the office manager at the Episcopal Church, which formally means I’m the rector’s secretary, but since we are between rectors, it means I run the office with our admin. I like my job. I like Episcopalians. We also have a preschool, rent the hall for events, and we have a bell tower with a columbarium in it.
Our past rector moved to Dallas, and a bigger church. She was excellent. She also gave me permission to do healing work in the choir room, so my massage table is tucked in the corner by the piano. I use it sometimes in the afternoons when there aren’t piano lessons to trade with a local hypnotherapist, who is also a sports announcer.
I could say a lot more, about the Historical Society (or as they are fondly referred to locally, The Hysterical Society), about meat pies, Christmas lights, historic homes and plantation tours, how it feels to drive on a brick street. You should come here, and visit. There are Cokes at the hardware store in glass bottles, and we’re littered with B&Bs. The iron grillework alone attracts photographers.
Mostly you should come because it is like Brigadoon. I don’t know how they’ve managed to stay, if not unchanged, then relatively unfazed, over the years, but three generations of my family have lived here, and I don’t think the essence of the place has altered significantly for the ladies who lunch.