Sunday, June 15, 2014

Librarians examine Evangeline Parish in new book

             Jane Vidrine and Jean Kiesel are librarian colleagues at UL-Lafayette’s Edith Garland Dupré Library. Vidrine hails from Belaire Cove in Evangeline Parish and Kiesel focuses on the history and culture of south Louisiana.
            They made the perfect pair to pen the history of Evangeline Parish for Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series. “Evangeline Parish” offers a compilation of historic photographs of the parish’s people, places and events, accompanied by parish history.
            Both authors have worked for more than 25 years in the Special Collections Department of Dupré Library.
            The authors will be signing copies of “Evangeline Parish” at the Smoked Meat Festival June 27-28 in Ville Platte and at the Bastille Day celebration from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 12 at the Northside Grand Pavilion in Ville Platte.
            Two other new books out by Arcadia are Edward J. Branley’s “New Orleans Jazz,” which includes more than 200 vintage images documenting the birth and development of jazz in New Orleans, and Alan G. Gautreaux’s “Italian Louisiana: History, Heritage and Tradition,” focusing on one of the largest immigrant groups to enter Louisiana, the trials they faced upon arrival and the culture they left behind.
            And it was quite a surprise to receive a copy of “Henri Bendel: From Louisiana Obscurity to Fame as Fashion Authority and Bon-vivant Icon” by Sally Robbins, part of the UL-Lafayette Flora Levy Lecture Series. I had just given my mother a tour of Bendel Gardens (she had never been before) and related what little I knew of Henri Bendel, a fascinating Lafayette native who made it big in the fashion world and who owned a small lodge on the Vermilion where the subdivision now exists.
            Robbins’ little book explains how Bendel “was one of the very few individuals who were instrumental in developing a market in America for fashionable finery.” He was a renaissance man, Robbins writes, who owned “a keen sense of the beautiful; a deep religious faith; and the importance of a loving and close-knit family….”
            To order a copy, which includes historic photographs, send $10 to Editor Dr. Maurice W. duQuesnay, P.O 44691, Lafayette, LA 70504.

Travel guide
            New Orleans writer and photographer Kerri McCaffety, author of “Obituary Cocktail” and “Napoleon House,” provides a visual tour of the Vieux Carré in “Let’s Walk the French Quarter,” published by Pelican Publishing of New Orleans. The book offers a self-guided tour of the Quarter with spotlights on attractions such as the Cabildo, historic homes and restaurants, plus St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 and great examples of New Orleans architecture.
            Sophia Dembling is an award-winning travel writer who loves the United States and it’s obvious in her new book, “100 Places in the USA Every Woman Should Go.” The book is divided into themes, such as “Essential Cities” (New Orleans included), “All-American Kitsch,” “The Great Outdoors” and “Tough Cookies You Should Know,” featuring great American women, from Annie Oakley and pioneering women to “Kick-Ass Texas Chicks.” She offers advice on spiritual retreats, great bookstores, Alaska’s Iditarod and national historic sites and parks dedicated to women, to name a few.
            I took Dembling’s advice on a recent trip to the Grand Canyon and checked out the architectural designs of Mary Jane Colter, who was chief architect and designer at the Fred Harvey Company, who built Harvey Hotels with the westward railroads. She designed the Canyon’s Bright Angel Lodge, Hermit’s Rest and the Hopi House, among so many wonderful buildings.

Book events
            Patrice Melnick, J. Bruce Fuller and Elizabeth Burk will read from their work, answer questions and sign copies of their work from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at Café Joie de Vivre in Breaux Bridge. Melnick is the author of “Po-Boy Contraband: From Diagnosis Back to Life,” Fuller the author of poetry chapbooks including “Notes to a Husband” and Burk the author of the chapbook, “Learning to Love Louisiana.” The event is free, open to the public and food and beverages will be available for purchase. For more information, call (337) 442-6354.
            Lyrically Inclined Poetry Slam and Open Mic will be 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Black Café, 518 S. Pierce St. in downtown Lafayette. Doors open at 6 p.m. For information, contact PoeticSoul337@gmail.com.
            Author Sam Irwin will be reading from his new book “Louisiana Crawfish: A Succulent History of the Cajun Crustacean” and showing his video “Je Suis Fou Pour des’Ecrevisse” at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 22, at the Baton Rouge Gallery, 1515 Dalrymple Drive in Baton Rouge.


Cheré Coen is the author of “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana,” both from The History Press, and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.