Lou Ella Menard *
Inducted on May 08, 1999
By Bernard Chaillot Vermilion Bureau editor
ERATH — Louella Menard, a remarkable woman who has managed to cope with the fame of her husband, singer-songwriter D.L. Menard, was in the spotlight herself last week at a continuing series of folklife programs at the Acadian Heritage & Culture Museum here.
Menard demonstrated the traditional craft of "caning," or weaving seats and backs on chairs.
She said she's had plenty of opportunity to practice over the years, because when her husband isn't on the road playing and singing his repertoire of Cajun standards, he operates a chair factory next to their rural home just north of here.
The presentation was conducted in French at the request of series coordinator Patricia
Sawin, a folklorist and assistant English professor at USL.
Menard demonstrated her method of taking a lasso of twine and passing it over and under the frame of a seatless, straight-backed chair, stopping to tighten and nail it in place while the lasso hung waiting on the back of the cypress chair.
She said she has taught one of her daughters the craft, but as time goes on, it seems that fewer and fewer people are practicing it.
Sawin said that's the problem with a lot of traditional folk practices, hence the series of programs to document and promote French Acadian traditions such as trapping, accordion-making and folk healing through prayer.
The series continues from 1-2 p.m. Friday with a presentation called "School Days in the Old Days," featuring Inez Vincent, Evelyn Boudreaux and Ethel Kendrick, a trio of retired teachers in their 70s, and one of their former high school teachers, 82year-old Minnie Berry.
On May 17, Allen Simon is scheduled to lead a discussion of what it was like when children were forbidden to speak their native tongue at school.
The segment has been dubbed, "I Will Not Speak French on the School Grounds."
Musician Menard. who wrote the popular Cajun song, Dans la porte l'arriere, is slated to appear May 24 to explain how he tried to sneak in that back door over the years without waking Louella, along with other aspects of his long and storied career; including a Grammy nomination and trips to the far corners of the globe as a musical ambassador.
The series will be stitched up May 31 when seamstresses Laura Mae Romero, Florine Hebert and Roxie Moss demonstrate traditional hand-sewing skills.