Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22916 – 1003
Here’s the haps:
Many of us, especially in the United States, who are of a certain age, know, of course, about the famous pirate, John LaFoote, ze barefooted pirate who constantly tried to steal the treasured secret of Cap’n Crunch cereal which was (and is) so goldenly, crunchily delicious:
When I was a little boy (I was 6 when this commercial came out) I did not know anything about the real pirate turned patriot, Jean LaFitte. The famous pirate had an army of over a thousand men and he had cannons, cannonballs, gunpowder, and other arms. The treacherous British (I hope for no hard feelings with my friends across the pond. this was all over 208 years ago and ya’ll lost. Sorry.) wanted to recoup their losses and invaded America. Part of their plan was to take over the city of New Orleans, reclaim Louisiana and get a stranglehold on the Mississippi River. Not only would this have given them a powerful base to negate the treaty but it also would give them control over the lands west of the Mississippi that were part of the Louisiana Purchase, which the British didn’t recognize as a legal transaction. You can look up the whole story on The Google but the British tried to get LaFitte to join with them, promising him a pardon and a captaincy in the British Navy. He didn’t trust them and offered his services to Andrew Jackson and the governor of Louisiana, for which he received a pardon. He and his men fought bravely alongside Andrew Jackson and his men. Jackson despised him but also recognized the value of a thousand seasoned fighters. Many of us, of a certain age, are familiar with Johnny Horton’s telling of it in song:
And there’s an original version with more verses by Jimmy Driftwood based on an earlier folk tune. (Note to sensitive ears: Mr. Driftwood’s version does use the language the song was written in.)
Now, I don’t generally glamorize pirates, they were crooks and evil men who were criminals of the worst sort, but Jean LaFitte is the only pirate to have a national park named after him.
Tessie knew all of this about her native state and the heroic Lafitte. She also knew that after that famous battle the pirate went back to doing pirate-y things. Even though there was a forged journal “found” by one of his alleged great-grandchildren who claimed he changed his name and lived in New Orleans, the fact was that nobody really knew what happened to him after 1820. It was said that he had buried caches of gold and silver on his island base of Galveston, which he called Campeche, and in various spots along the Sabine river where it was said that one of his ships sank. She took these stories with a grain of salt because in 208 years nobody had ever come up with anything. Or if they had, they were smart enough not to say anything.
But the fabulously wealthy Tessie Boudreaux had a problem. To say she was obsessed with vessels with handles was a ridiculous understatement. No, Tessie loved and cherished pitchers. She had a vast warehouse/museum to house her collection of beautiful pitchers, vases, and jugs from all over the world and many eras of time. Nobody loved or cared about them more than she did. So, when her maid’s servant (yes, she was so wealthy that her maid had a servant) told her a story passed down in their family for several generations about a beautiful golden pitcher inlaid with jewels she perked up. Apparently, the great captain Lafitte had owed this woman’s ancestor’s friend money and had given her the pitcher for collateral. The friend passed away and her great-great-great-great grandmother passed the story on as a fable.
Tess paid the woman handsomely for all the information she could possibly provide and packed her bags. She would travel light and by herself in order to keep a low profile. The directions she was given were good and soon she stood at the edge of the barely two-foot wide path in the swamp, wondering what she would do. She could actually see the glimmer of the pitcher on a small island at the end of a narrow footpath about a hundred yards away, just as twilight was beginning to settle. Poor Tess had long ago been formally diagnosed with Ranidaphobia, an irrational, all-encompassing fear of frogs and toads, and here the path was completely covered with them. Actually, it was something else. Her real fear was warts. No matter how many people tried to tell her differently she knew in her heart of hearts that you would get warts from frogs and toads. She stood at the edge of the path shaking with violent tremors and suffering waves of nausea. Weeping and angry she knew she had to do something while fearing the possibility of getting hundreds if not a thousand warts. She could go back and send a servant for it, but then she would have to share it and who knew if someone could be trusted with an object so precious? She could enlist the aid of one of the locals but that presented the same problem. She could just give up but the idea of leaving such a unique carafe behind revulsed her as much as the frogs. She couldn’t just kick them out of the way because the path was so narrow and if she slipped off, well, who knew what lived in the murky waters?
Finally, her desire overcame her fear and she swallowed the stomach acid in her throat. She decided to get down on her hands and knees and crawl along, flinging the beasts out of her way as she went. She had access to the finest medical minds in the country who could cure any warts she contracted. Her courage increased as she went along, because, after all, isn’t a pitcher worth a thousand warts?