By Wes Rhodes
People who grew up living in Grand Bayou say it will always have a special place in their hearts. While the small community is no longer habitable for residents, the people of Grand Bayou left behind traditions that still keep the spirit of Grand Bayou alive today.
An early Grand Bayou tradition was promoting the love and appreciation between family and friends. Grand Bayou was a small, close-knit community, and the vast majority of the people that lived there were related, says former Grand Bayou resident David Rousseau.
Rousseau now lives in Plattenville, La., which is seven miles away from Grand Bayou. He says he recalls a time where everyone in Grand Bayou felt like family.
“I remember being able to walk a short distance and being able to be at one my aunt’s or uncle’s houses or someone who was related to me in some type of way,” Rousseau says. “I feel like small, family-orientated communities aren’t very common anymore.”
He says those strong family ties that were instilled in him as a child is something he still carries with him.
“Family is important to me. I live on the same street as two of my sisters, so we are always getting our families together for things like crawfish boils and LSU football games.”
Rousseau says this tradition of family gatherings reminds him of Grand Bayou, and he believes it is something that will get passed down to the next generation.
Another tradition that remains with some people who lived in Grand Bayou is food. Nicki Boudreaux, whose family is from Grand Bayou, says the tradition of cooking her late grandmother Mabel Hebert Rousseau’s special dishes is something that not only keeps the memory of Grand Bayou alive, but the memory of her grandmother alive as well.
“To me, my grandmother is Grand Bayou. We still talk about the things that MawMaw cooked,” Boudreaux says. So cooking the things she cooked or trying to cook the things she cooked is how Grand Bayou still lives on for me.”
Boudreaux says she has her grandmother’s spaghetti and vegetable soup recipes down packed, but she stays away from trying to bake her grandmother’s famous pineapple upside-down cake.
“Baking is not my thing, I never tried the upside-down pineapple cake because no one that has tried has been successful.”
Boudreaux says like any real Cajun, the tradition that will always live on is food.
Some traditions are started by families, while other traditions are created by circumstances. There was no sign of the internet in the 1960s when former Grand Bayou resident Clarence “Bud” Rousseau was growing up; however, he says back in those days he did not need it. Rousseau says there was enough to do outside to preoccupy his time almost every day.
“I liked being outside as a kid growing up in Grand Bayou. My cousin and I would go catch crawfish or just go to the bayou and fish for hours at a time when school was out,” Bud says.
Bud now lives in Thibodaux, La., and owns a camper and a boat. He says he still tries to get out as much as he can.
“I’m much older now so I can’t take the boat out as much as I want, but when I do get the chance to put it in the water it always reminds me of fishing in Grand Bayou.”
For Greg Leblanc, Grand Bayou native, the best tradition is picking turtle eggs. He says he used to go down to the bayou side to pick turtle eggs and still continues this fun activity with his grandkids.
“Ever since they were two or three years old, I would still pick turtle eggs with them and hatch them,” LeBlanc says. “Had to show them how we did things in the olden days.”