floods, hurricanes, and economic hardshiprnon a grand scale. In the late 1940’s,rnthe arrival of the offshore oil industryrnbrought them and South Louisiana genuinernprosperity. For the first time, Cajunsrnfound themselves in the driver’srnseat. The proud people of 18th-centuryrnexile became the proprietors of a newrnLouisiana legacy. At that point, however,rnleaders in the Cajun community realizedrnthat prosperity, “modernism,” andrnthe growth of paternalistic governmentrncould lead to the destruction of the veryrnculture which had sustained their ancestorsrnduring years of sorrow and wandering.rnSuccessful efforts were made to preservernand promote the French language;rnconnections to France and Belgium andrnto Acadian communities in Canadarnwere strengthened; and emphasis on selfsufficiencyrnwas renewed. The Cajun ofrnSouth Louisiana today is well aware thatrnhis children are in danger of entrapmentrnby the current culture-without-culturernthat prevails in American society; he isrnaware of the danger inherent in the lossrnof tradition and heritage; and he knowsrnthat he must actively defend his own histOH’.rnWe have now reached the pointrnwhere reality meets myth. No, modernrnLouisiana Cajuns do not paddle piroguesrndown the bayou on a daily basis. No, Cajunsrndo not spend all of their spare timerndancing GalHcized polkas to authenticrnfolk music. No, Cajuns do not live exclusivelyrnon a diet of rice, seafood, andrnTabasco sauce. No, not all Cajuns speakrnFrench. The Cajun is as sophisticated,rnwell educated, and economically viablernas any other Southerner, as any otherrnAmerican, in these years of the PaxrnAmericana. Yet, the Cajun is different.rnCajuns still take pride in their past. Theyrnwant to maintain a sense of “uniqueness,”rnand they believe their Europeanrnheritage is a living, vital part of their existence.rnCajun French is said to be closernto pure 16th-century French, Cajun musicrnis a lingering evocation of the reelsrnand ballads of Brittany and Normandy,rnand Cajun food epitomizes that zest forrnflavor which characterizes the Francophonernworld. The Cajun is also differentrnbecause he still feels the centuries-oldrnbond to the Old World and revels in thatrnhistoric connection. Traveling throughrnSouth Louisiana, one will see towns andrnvillages resembling communities inrnFrance and in Quebec. Parishes, notrncounties, divide Louisiana into local governmentalrnunits. Cathedrals and roadsidernshrines are easily found. Festivalsrncall attention to the French heritage, andrnthe Acadian flag—bearing the fleur de lisrnof France and the castie of Spain—fliesrnover schools, museums, and businesses.rnWhen speaking French, Cajuns frequentlyrndo not refer to themselves asrn”Cajuns” or as “Acadians” but simply asrn”French.” Most importantly, Cajun culturernsurvives and endures because of thernfamily-based tradition of historical memor)’.rnThe Cajuns know who they are andrnwhence they came. The provincial mottornof Quebec, ancient neighbor of Acadia,rnexplains it all: je me souvfens—”I remember.”rnRoger L. Busbice is the president of thernIjouisiana Archives Foundation. Hernwrites from Morgan City, Louisiana.rnCreole Culturernby Ben C. ToledanornThough more reminiscent of thernMiddle Ages than of recent times,rnthe marriage ceremony of GeneralrnP.C.T. Beauregard’s niece. Bertha Hall,rnthe daughter of Angele Beauregard andrnFrederick Hall, took place in St. LouisrnCathedral in New Orleans only 100rnyears ago. According to a contemporaryrnnewspaper account, the “evening was arnscene of much social splendour and religiousrndignitv,” andrnunited in the ties of marriage twornof the most distinguished Creolernfamilies in Louisiana, whosernnames have been honored forrnmany generations in family dignity,rnwealth and deeds of valor.. ..rnThe most prominent people ofrnAmerican and Creole society werernseated within the Cathedral to witnessrnthe marriage ceremony… .rnWithin the sanctuary was a densernfoliage of palms and ferns. Thernbridal pews were barriered with arnrope of smilax entwined with whiternroses. Miss Escobal, the talentedrnorganist of the St. Louis Cathedral,rnplayed Goronden March as thernbridal procession walked up thernaisle, with the Suisse in gold-braidedrnred uniform leading the way,rnswinging to and fro his baton ofrngold.rnAs the 12 ushers reached the altar,rn”They separated and formed a companyrnof honor, through which the bridernpassed.” At the altar steps, the groomrntook the bride’s hand, placed itrnwithin his arm, advanced towardsrnthe altar where Very Rev. FatherrnMignot, Father Scotti, FatherrnCireand and a circle of acolytesrnawaited to perform the religiousrnservice of marriage. Father Mignotrndelivered a nuptial sermon of tenderrnthought and graceful words.rnHe spoke of the honored names ofrnthe bride and groom, of their families’rnloyalty and efforts in propagatingrnthe Catholic faith in Louisiana,rnbut above all the glor)’ of virtuernand honor that had ever haloed thernfamily heritage of bride andrngroom. In terminating his sermonrnFather Mignot said: “My children,rnGod bless you both in being wellrnborn. Let this blessing be your incentivernto humility of heart. Christianrncharity and loyal allegiance tornthe Catholic church.”rnDoesn’t it seem odd to read of the unionrnof two “Creole families,” witnessed byrn”prominent people of American and Creolernsocieties”? It seems so to me when Irnread those phrases now, though therernwas a time when it seemed perfectiy natural.rnOn my father’s side, I am descendedrnfrom the original French and Spanishrnsettlers in New Orleans. The groom inrnthe ceremony described above wasrnEdouard Alphonse Toledano, my grandfather.rnMost of the information I have ofrnthe old city, prior to World War I, camernfrom listening to stories, however embellished,rntold by people of my parents’ andrngrandparents’ generation. By the time Irnbegan to hear them, my father’s familyrnhad sought and found, at least psychologically,rnsome comfort in remembrancesrnof things past.rnThe topics of conversation seemedrnnormal at the time, though not now. Everythingrnwas highly personal in a ratherrnformal and proper way. Madame Soand-rnSo’s “secret” nips of brandy, thern”friendship” her husband the judge hadrntowards a younger woman of questionablernstation, the cotton broker’s gamblingrndebts, the card games, the operas,rnthe ancient family portiaits, the furniturernand silver which had not yet been delicatelyrn”transferred” into other hands.rnAPRIL 1998/41rnrnrn