Day 280: Dry Prong Song

It was just before 7:00 a.m. in the Shillelagh Heights neighborhood of City of Hibernia and, as usual, Laetitia was walking along Raglan Road on the way to the Emerald Victorian. When she walked into the kitchen, she was surprised to find, instead of the usual coffee beans, a packet of ground coffee with chicory from Café Du Monde in New Orleans. As the coffee brewed, she began to regret that she hadn’t taken one of her groups there for a beignet and coffee while they were touring Louisiana. That would have been fun, but she already planned to go to Dry Prong today, and tomorrow she would begin touring the United Kingdom.

Laetitia and her group stopped in Alexandria on Arkansas’ Red River on the way to Dry Prong. There they visited the Ama Botemps African-American Museum, the Louisiana History Museum, and the Alexandria Museum of Art.

Dry Prong is a village of about 400 residents in the middle of Kisatche National Forest. The family who settled the area originally built a mill with a water wheel on a creek that turned out to dry up in the summer. They had to move their mill from the “dry prong” to a creek that flowed all year, but the name stuck. While on their walkabout, Laetitia heard some gossip about a very popular local young lady that inspired the limerick of the day.

A young lady who lived in Dry Prong
Who was known to make love for a song
Or a well-spoken verse
Caused young boys to rehearse
To be part of her intimate throng.

Day 279: Horny Toads

New Roads, Louisiana, is on the banks of False River, an oxbow lake formed when the curvature of the meandering Mississippi River became so pronounced that the water broke through, forming a new straighter and shorter channel. Eventually the ends of the abandoned meander loop filled in, creating a lake that is no longer part of the river. It was the site of one of the first European settlements in the Mississippi valley. The French founded the town in 1720. Around 1822, le Chemin Neuf was built, a new road connecting False River with the Mississippi. Eventually the town became known by that name, translated into English and made plural. Laetitia and her group spent the day touring the considerable number of Antebellum homes that are in the area around New Roads.

Her group members weren’t interested in a walkabout, so Laetitia arranged to meet them for dinner at a local New Roads restaurant that featured southern fare and went for a walk on her own. She walked by a bookstore with a window display that featured children’s books on the frog prince theme. In the display was the original Brothers Grimm version, where the transformation from frog to prince occurs when the princess throws the frog against the wall, and a wide variety of modern versions where the princess kisses the frog. So well is the story embedded in modern folklore that it’s a frequent target of sardonic humor. Older women will warn their younger colleagues, “You’ll have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince.” Then there’s this winning entry from one year’s Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, an annual event run by the English Department of San Jose State for bad novel first lines:

The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness, crept along the greensward, and, with sickly fingers, pushed through the castle window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat, crown asunder, gaping in frenzied horror at the sated, sodden amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving the magnitude of the toad’s deception, screaming madly, “You lied!”

While she was looking at the display, two teenage girls walked up and began discussing a book in the display that Laetitia hadn’t noticed. It was a recent book by Jackie Mims Hopkins called The Horned Toad Prince. One of the girls had read the book. Laetitia listened to their discussion, introduced herself, and learned their names. Later, using a bit of license, she summarized their discussion and added a comment of her own for the multiple-verse limerick of the day.

Said Jill to young Sal from New Roads
“Your plan to go ‘round kissing toads
Is sadly amiss
For ‘tis frogs you must kiss
Those transmogrified princes’ abodes.”

Said Sal, “Those old books are passé
For I read a new book just today
And now ever since
I read The Horned Toad Prince
To kiss toads, I’ll go out of my way.”

Though both these tales may seem like blarney
They raise a dilemma quite thorny
Would a girl be remiss
If she happened to kiss
A toad that she found wasn’t horny?

Day 278: Car Seat Feat

Laetitia’s group visited the small community of Avery Island. There in the midst of bayou-country, the McIlhenny family has been making Tabasco sauce since 1868. The group then moved on to Lafayette, Louisiana, a city of 120,000. It is named after the French general Marquis de Lafayette, who aided the Americans in their revolution of 1775. Laetitia took her group to a recreated nineteenth-century Acadian (Cajun) village. Some of the buildings are authentic, often moved to the village from other locations, and some are replicas. That evening, following a crawfish dinner, Laetitia presented the limerick of the day. She hadn’t encountered any gossip during the day that inspired a limerick, so she just made one up using the city name.

A young man who lived in Lafayette
Did seduce a girl in his Corvette
Which was quite a feat
‘Cause it had no back seat
But ‘twas something he’d never forget.

Day 277: Bayou Debut

Not far from Cut Off is Bayou Cane, Louisiana, and near it is the Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge. Laetitia and her group went there to view wading birds, waterfowl, and Bald Eagles. They also saw an occasional alligator. Some gossip overheard during the walkabout in Bayou Cane later became the limerick of the day.

A Cajun lass surnamed Duquesne
Who made love to Pierre in the rain
In a drifting pirogue
Soon emerged from the fog
In plain view of the town Bayou Cane.