Mardi Gras, Gumbo, and Zydeco: Readings in Louisiana Culture

By Marcia Gaudet; James C. McDonald | Go to book overview

4
Mardi Gras Chase
GLEN PITRE

“There's one! Get him!”

A dozen teenage boys pour from the back of a pick-up truck to dash across a field of sugar cane stubble. Their faces masked, each carries a switch of bamboo or willow or even a cut-down fishing pole, weapons they wave above their heads like sabers as they run.

Their quarry flushes like a rabbit from the brush beside a drainage ditch, a frightened boy who runs with all his heart for the trees that mark the edge of the swamp. The odds are long against him.

A couple of three-wheelers leave the road beside the pickup. As they roar across the field, their masked riders bounce in their seats as they hit each furrow, closing in on the boy.

But the boy splashes into the swamp before the three-wheelers can flank him. Stumbling on cypress knees as the water grows deeper, he turns to check on his pursuers. He sees them as flashes of gaudy color through the trees, frenzied by the chase and not at all far behind. The boy steps in a hole. Down he goes. He comes up soaked by cold, brown water—and surrounded.

The leader, or “captain, ” returns order to his masked troop as they escort their captive back to dry ground. There they circle him and make him kneel.

“Say your prayers, ” instructs the captain. It sounds like a cliché from some late show western, but the prisoner takes it literally.

“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name …”

From Louisiana Life 12:1 (1992): 54–60. Reprinted by permission of Louisiana Life.

-42-

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Mardi Gras, Gumbo, and Zydeco: Readings in Louisiana Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Mardi Gras, Gumbo, and Zydeco - An Introduction to Louisiana Culture vii
  • Mardi Gras, Gumbo, and Zydeco 1
  • 1 - Who's Fooling Whom? 3
  • References 14
  • 2 - Buffalo Bill and the Mardi Gras Indians 16
  • 3 - Worldview, Social Tension, and Carnival in New Orleans 26
  • Notes 40
  • 4 - Mardi Gras Chase 42
  • 5 - The New Orleans King Cake in Southwest Louisiana 48
  • Notes 57
  • 6 - Tradition and Innovation 59
  • References 69
  • 7 - The Creole Tradition 71
  • 8 - The Houmas Speak 80
  • 9 - Some Accounts of Witch Riding 89
  • Notes 101
  • 10 - Folk Veneration Among the Cajuns 103
  • Reference 120
  • 11 - Anti-Clerical Humor in French Louisiana 123
  • Notes 132
  • 12 - Cajuns and Crawfish in South Louisiana 134
  • Notes 148
  • 13 - Is It Cajun, or is It Creole? 150
  • Suggestions for Further Reading on Louisiana Culture 154
  • Notes on Contributors 156
  • Questions and Topics for Classroom Discussion and Writing Assignments 158
  • Index 171
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