Tuesday, April 26, 2011

TRAVEL NOW, TRAVEL THEN…

Over a week ago, I flew down to Florida and, three days later, flew to Pennsylvania with my friend, Vickie, her mother, and her mother’s caretaker.   Before I departed I went through many trepidations about flying again, since the last trip I made five years ago resulted in my being stranded in the “basement” of the airport in Houston at 11 p.m. when all the airlines had closed up shop.  We rode through a rain storm in a rented car, driven by a kind doctor and his wife who took us to Lafayette, Louisiana and arrived at 3 a.m., early enough for the doctor to perform surgery at 7 a.m.!  When we reached New Iberia that morning, I set down my bags with a loud thump, declaring that my flying days were over.  However, after making three or four 14-16 hour trips by car, I was encouraged to attempt flying again and scheduled the Florida/Pennsylvania trip.
The flying was smooth, but handling baggage, trams, rental car, required a little more juggling than I liked.  What a weenie I was, I told myself.  During the 40’s, I traveled across the deserts of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California with my family in an old blue Ford coupe carrying two adults, three children and a cocker spaniel dog, waterbags on the hood, the windows cranked open to let in the smothering desert air, and I can’t remember complaining about our mode of travel.  Also, in the 40’s, I  remember my father driving through flood waters following one of Louisiana’s many deluges, the flood waters creeping over the running boards of the same blue Ford and my father swearing when my mother wanted to rescue a dog from the swirling waters.  We felt that it was an adventure to motor through the flood, and I never thought about the danger of the engine failing or anyone drowning.   Peripatetic by nature, travel was exciting to me, beginning with the adventures of the 40’s and culminating in the air trip five years ago.   I made the Florida/Pennsylvania excursion but I’m not sure that I’ll muster up enough moxie to book another flight any time soon.

I never lived in an area of Louisiana that used buggies for transportation, but I came across an article the other day about the use of buggies for travel in south Louisiana, in particular, Church Point, Louisiana.  Church Point was the last town in south Louisiana to give up buggy travel and earned the title of the “Buggy Capitol of the World” during its heyday.  Until 1941, buggies in this south Louisiana town were the only mode of transportation, excepting feet and horses, and the Acadians came in second as travelers in these vehicles – the Mennonites and Amish took first place as buggy users.   Theo Daigle and Bros., Inc. sold the last buggy in the town of Church Point, Louisiana in 1948!
Buggies were lightweight and easy to repair and were drawn by horses ranging from gentle mares to handsome steeds that carried young men on courting ventures.  According to Pierre Daigle, writing in “Acadiana Profile” magazine, buggies were used during the early days by oil explorers in marshlands and swampy places of south Louisiana where trucks and cars couldn’t navigate.  Doctors, mail carriers, traveling priests, and salesmen used the buggies to carry out their jobs.  Daigle included an amusing note about the measurements of a buggy cushion: it was only 31 inches long and 17 ½ inches wide, and when two adults shared the cushion, there was little room for derrieres.  Daigle recalled that he often saw men as small as Jack Sprat riding with their large wives and keeping one foot outside the buggy’s chassis as if they were about to leap out of the buggy.  If you think that there isn’t much leg room in a modern airplane, consider the size of those buggy cushions!

My great-grandmother used a buggy extensively for going into the countryside, seeking rural churches where she established women’s missionary societies, and often paid tribute in her autobiography to “faithful Nell” who pulled her small black buggy over many rough country roads so she could do her missionizing.  Her experiences will be included in a new novel which I’m presently writing that includes reminiscences about her and my great-grandfather, who fought in the Civil War.  It’s called REDEMPTION, and I hope to have completed it by the time I return to Louisiana in the Fall. 

Actually, I’m really grateful for the advances in travel and experienced smooth flights to and from Florida and Pennsylvania, but the truth is that I’m a provincial soul and prefer traveling in my Honda Hybrid on the back roads of Louisiana, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee.

 




Post a Comment