Sunday, April 2, 2017

Cook diary tells of plantation life in Tensas Parish

At age 12, after the death of her mother, Elizabeth Lucille Cook came to live in Tensas Parish at the home of her aunt and uncle. She married Will Watson in 1920 and remained at Cross Keys Plantation until her death in 1985.      For many years, Lucille kept a diary, detailing life at Cross Keys from her love of animals and playing tennis on the property’s courts to struggling through the Depression and losing loved ones.

“This was no ordinary diary, but virtually a non-fiction novel covering the events and happenings from 1927-1932,” writes Lucille’s nephew William Wade Watson, who published the diary titled “High Water, High Cotton and High Times.”

The book is divided into topics, rather than chronological events, and accented by photos. They include the outdoors, levee works, automobiles, the Cosmopolitan Club, animals, farming and parties. A frequent visitor to Cross Keys was Gen. Claire Chennault and several of his letters to Lucille are included in the book, providing a rare glimpse into life leading up to World War II.

Watson, a banker living on Lake Bruin and a graduate of Tulane University Law School, has given us a gift in publishing Lucille’s diary. Her vibrant personality shines through the words and I can’t help thinking she’s grateful her stories have been shared.

Deep South luncheon
The Deep South in the Global South presents an author luncheon and reading with John McNally, UL-Lafayette’s Writer-in-Residence, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Cecil J. Picard Center on the UL-Lafayette campus. McNally is the author of the novels: “After the Workshop,” “The Book of Ralph” and “America’s Report Card” and two story collections, “Troublemakers” (winner of the John Simmons Short Fiction Award and the Nebraska Book Award) and “Ghosts of Chicago” (a Chicagoland Indie Bestseller). McNally’s work has appeared in more than 100 publications, and his fiction and nonfiction have been anthologized in numerous publications. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award and the recipient of fellowships from Paramount Pictures, the University of Iowa (James Michener Award), George Washington University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Tickets are available to the free event through eventbrite.com. For more information, visit http://dsgsconference.weebly.com/author-luncheon.html.


Flood of 1927
Charles Ray Brassieur, cultural anthropologist at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, will discuss the “Flood of 1927” at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Jeanerette Museum, 500 E. Main St. in Jeanerette. The program marks the 90th anniversary of the flood and addresses how it affected life in Louisiana. Brassieur will discuss what caused the flood and how it affected Louisiana residents. Charles Caillouet will serve as co-presenter. Audience members will be allowed to briefly share family stories following the talk. Brassieur is co-author with Greg Guirard of “Inherit the Atchafalaya.” Caillouet is a founding member of the Friends of Atchafalaya and is the Ascension Parish member of the Atchafalaya Trace Commission, the managing entity of the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area. This free program is suitable for an adult audience. For more information visit JeaneretteMuseum.com, email JeaneretteMuseum@yahoo.com, follow them on Facebook, or call (337) 276-4408.

Book events for the week of April 2-8
The Acadiana Writing Project hosts a free writing workshop with acclaimed author Margaret Wrinkle from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 2, at the Cecil Picard Center on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus. Wrinkle is the author of “Wash,” winner of the 2013 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from NYC’s Center for Fiction and was named one of Wall Street Journal’s 10 Best Novels of 2013, among other awards. For information, visit

Pictures with the Easter Bunny, hosted by Holley’s Hopping Habitat rabbit rescue, will be from noon to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Mooringsport Library.

Guest art curator and author Christopher Bennet, assistant professor of art history at UL-Lafayette, will offer a guided gallery tour and discussion of the art exhibit and soon-to-be book by UL Press, “Sandra Eula Lee: Make of / Make do and Yun-Fei Ji: Looking for Lehman Brothers,” at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum of Lafayette.

Beyond Black History Month lecture series features UL-Lafayette History Professor Ian Beamish, who will speak on Louisiana’s black history at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Main Lafayette Library.

Blackout Poetry Contest for teens will be from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday at the Hamilton-South Caddo Branch Library in Shreveport. All poems must be turned in to the branch by Wednesday and the pieces will be on display Thursday, when there will be voting, awards and a tribute to Maya Angelou.

Lyrically Inclined 2.0: Latin Poetry Night, featuring bilingual performances and an open mic, will begin at 8 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.) Friday at Cite des Arts.

C.S. Harris signs “Where the Dead Lie” at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Garden District Book Shop of New Orleans. Also at the store, editor Susan Cushman signs “A Second Blooming: Becoming the Women We are Meant to Be” with contributors Emma Connolly of New Orleans, Nancy Kay Wessman and Susan Marquez at 6 p.m. Wednesday and James Nolan signs “Flight Risk: Memoirs of a New Orleans Bad Boy” at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country.” She writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.