BYE-U, BYE-O, OR BYE?
by: Eddie Trapp
Each year we make two or three trips to the Galveston area to fish in the surf but have wondered if there was somewhere we would like better. The Charleston Homecoming was Sunday, August 5 and after we visited, headed toward Mobile, Alabama about 2:00 thinking we would find several places to try along the way. For the last few days August has been relentless with highs around 105 each day. Near Nachitoches south of Shreveport rain came and brought the temperature down to 72. What a welcome sight!
At Alexandria we needed a break from riding and planned to stop for gasoline. Usually just before an exit on interstates you find little signs put up by the highway department telling what motels, gas stations, and restaurants are available nearby. Alexandria is the only place I ever saw that had none of the signs nor could you see any tall signs on gas stations from the interstate. We just drove on to Opelousas and hit Highway 190 east toward Baton Rouge where we spent the night.
Monday, August 6, 2012. Just east of Baton Rouge is the historic Laura Creole Plantation with twelve buildings on the National Register surrounded by fields of sugarcane, vegetable, and fruit gardens. Cabins are 160 years old and the site of where the west African folk tales of Compare Lapin, we know as “Brer Rabbit”, were recorded. One travel magazine has called the two hour tour the best history tour in the USA.
On toward Mobile. Years ago, Jean, her mom, and classmate Sue Conley made a trip to Pensacola, Florida stopping on the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain at Fontainebleu State Park. Monday we stopped at the park to see the historic area on 2800 acres of the Marigny Plantation. Originally it contained 500 acres of sugarcane, 450 head of cattle, and 180 slaves. Two huge chimneys, each the size of a large school bus standing on its end are still there and had something to do with a sugar mill or brick kiln. While walking out to the end of a long fishing pier on Lake Ponchartrain in the park we saw lots of gar that eagerly bit hooks of several fishermen.
Having been to Alabama several times I was familiar with the Pearl River but always crossed it further north along Interstate 10. This time we were hugging the coast line where we could look for surf fishing places. The beautiful river is 444 miles long and its last 115 miles form the boundary between Louisiana and Mississippi with the headwaters in east central Mississippi. A few of the Mississippi towns the Pearl passes through are Philadelphia, Jackson, Picayune then Bogalusa, Louisiana. While traveling Highway 90 I became mystified by seeing a West Pearl River then later an East Pearl River. What is going on? As rivers flow along, it is common for smaller rivers to run together in their crusade to the Gulf. Here, however, a large river is splitting into two smaller ones. This is the only place of which I know of that happening. Around home we have the North Sulphur between here and Paris then South Sulphur between here and Sulphur Springs. Finally they join to form Sulphur River, never splitting again all the way to the mouth at Red River.
A few miles from Slidell you find the Cajun Encounters Swamp Tours. Seven boats carrying up to twenty two passengers each provide up close contact with many kinds of plants and animals on two hour tours. Busloads of people arrive daily from New Orleans and other points. Woods come right up to the side of the office where wild hogs feed at a deer feeder.
Moving on east we crossed the Father of Waters into Mississippi and had breathtaking gumbo at Clawzilla’s Restaurant in Bay St. Louis. This is some of the country that was heavily damaged by the hurricane a few years ago. Johnny Hurley and I drove there pulling my boat to help with evacuations and passed out several gallons of drinking water. Now it is almost “like new” and progress continues. On east to Pass Christian with the highway just off the beach on the south and plantation type houses and large oak trees on the north. Nobody fishing. No cars on the beach. No dogs on the beach. This is not what we are searching for. Highway 90 continued to be a beach road and for miles we did not see anyone fishing in the surf. Crossing into Alabama we went through the small town of Bayou La Batrey. The marquee in front of a Baptist church announced an upcoming, men’s 7:00 breakfast and its unusual, but customary there, menu of fried fish and grits. That ort to get you going for the day.
I probably first heard the word “bayou” in one of Hank Williams’ songs and he pronounced it bye-o. Later I found that wasn’t kosher with the locals who said he pronounced it that way so it would rhyme with Thibodeaux, Joe, and “go” in some of the verses. Most locals say “bye-u.” Somewhere years ago I heard people saying simply “bye” and that’s what I preferred. For years I only heard the bye-u and was about to be converted. For hours as we drove we had not seen any bait and/or fishing tackle shops. Finally there was one in Bayou La Batrey. I stopped to shop and visit. A woman that had lived all her life (so far) there said the locals called it Bye-luh-battree. There was the “bye” again that I about given up on. Maybe it is an Alabama thing. This town is very close to Mobile Bay and large amounts of artillery were stored here during the Civil War. Batrey comes from our word, battery, which is an ammunition storage facility. To be continued.
It is hard to think of Abraham Lincoln without the Civil War popping into your brain. People forget sometimes that for years before the war Lincoln was a lawyer. He was also the local champion story and joke teller, not being laden with the burden of the presidency for years to come. The jokes and stories he told, mostly during his lawyering days have been called “Lincolnisms.” From time to time I will give you a dose of Lincolnisms. Abe was a tall man about 6-4 with unproportionally long legs. When sitting he was no taller than the average guy. His wife Mary was very short. Soon after their first baby was born Abe told a friend he sure was relieved to see the normal, healthy baby. He had been afraid it would have one short leg and one long one.