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Sunday, March 30, 2014


I've decided to be kind to your eyes.

A short post.
Hibbs, the cub with no clue, just gave his 'that'll be the day' snicker.

That's enough out of you, fur face.

But on to the topic of today's post:

How time gilds the guilty.

It is the season of our city's second Mardi Gras:

Contraband Days. It is based upon a bit of our city's colorful history --

Almost three centuries ago, a notorious and ruthless pirate, Jean Lafitte,

 fled to this region with his band of buccaneers as enemy ships pursued him on his way west to Galveston, Texas.

Legend has it that Lafitte would hide out along the waterways here in Lake Charles.

Whispers around the campfires have it that his favorite hideout was Contraband Bayou in Lake Charles.

If you set out on your boat upon its silver glass surface at night, it is said you may see his ghost, looking in vain for his lost treasure.

In fact, the bayou got its name from the rumored gold and silver hidden somewhere along its winding length.

Hence the name of our festival: Contraband Days.

There was other contraband in Lafitte's ships:


It is rumored that he often sold slaves to Jim Bowie in the waterways of Lake Charles.

As you can imagine, many of our black citizens take an underwhelmed view towards a festival where the contraband might well have been some of their ancestors.

But the Cajun spirit to party hardy is not easily put aside.

So Contraband Days stays as the city's largest festival. The money it adds to the city's pockets is nothing to sneeze at either.

The ghost of Jean Lafitte is probably laughing somewhere tonight in the bayou's billowing mist.

And thanks to David Walston:
We have a lighter moment from ...


  1. I suspect that Lafitte is mourning that money was not so easily come by in 'his days' and that he 'had to work' for his (ill gotten) gains - though he would certainly enjoy the party.
    At least pirates were given their true titles then. Now they are known by much more respectable honorifics, though the deeds are very similar.

  2. Both of my sister in laws are from Southern Louisiana, Crowley and lafayette. So I have heard all the Jean Lafitte stories. I even went to school with a John Lafitte. It is funny how a lot of people have revisionist history when it comes to slavery.

  3. Jean Lafitte was a sort a sort of larger than life character, wasn't he? I first learned of him from a Jamaican film director who wanted to make a movie about Lafitte. He must have known about the slaves, but I don't think I heard that part of the story. History makes heroes of so many who may not deserve it. I will check with my New Orleans born husband to see what he thinks of him.

  4. We celebrate our outlaws, perhaps it's the outlaw bad-boy syndrome. It makes for good movies, big parties, and the original purposes are forgotten.

    That said, was the original purpose to celebrate that the 'British kept a-running down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico'? Or to celebrate Lafitte's help?

  5. Elephant's Child:
    Yes, now the pirates are politicians!

    The treasure Lafitte tore from the bloody hands of slain sailors was hard-won by merchants and courageous seamen who braved storms and uncertain business transactions in foreign ports ... only to have their reward stolen from them.

    Not unlike banditos in Mexico who stole the crops the peasant farmers had slaved all year to grow.

    Perhaps the soul of Lafitte is in a place where his life's choices brought him.

    Thanks for visiting. :-)

    If slavery or broken treaties did not effect a person's past relatives, it might be easier to forget those crimes ever existed.

    Yes, revisionist history is much with us. Take the common-core math being taught in elementary schools:

    In February, a group of Common Core-aligned math — MATH — lessons oozed out of the woodwork

    which require teachers to ask students if the 2000 presidential election was fair and which refer to Lincoln’s religion as either “liberal” or nothing.

    The Common Core State Standards Initiative is currently being implemented by 45 states and the District of Columbia.

    Lafitte was a product of his times and environment. But murdering and stealing have been seen as wrong for most of recorded history -- unless you were in political power. :-)

    In UNDER A VOODOO MOON, I have Jean Lafitte's ghost having learned compassion over the centuries -- and still very much a fighter ... and a romantic.

    The name of the festival says it all: CONTRABAND.

    Lake Charles celebrates buried and hidden treasure. The Battle of New Orleans does not enter into the thinking of the City Fathers -- just profits. :-)

    Man loves the romance of past bandits but howls when his pockets are picked in the here and now! LOL.