Along Highway 18 upstream along the Mississippi river there are several plantations open to the public. After a visit to San Francisco, we were passing a vividly colored one that was haunting intriguing called Laura.
The main building squatted like a toadstool behind four towering oak trees. It was held high off the ground by thick columns of brick to protect it from flooding. It was mustard yellow, bright green shutters with gray, rust and mauve trim. Behind and all about the grounds were delapidated and crumbling wood buildings.
Entering through the huge front doors, the main floor in the center of this U-shaped building was a long dining table with tiers of candles ablaze. The wallpaper was peeling and it all created a sinister feeling, just as if it were a Halloween haunted house.
Two men, the new owners, soon joined had me in tow for a tour. They were Norman Marmillion, descendent of the nearby San Francisco planatation, and his cousin, Anthony Tassin, descendent of Whitney Plantation, both presidents of country historical societies. They were detectives, too, in the process of buying back its priceless objects.
For example, they’d been able to locate the owner of Laura’s portrait, by viewing 5000 documents in Paris.
The house was painted brightly to let you know that the descendents were of Creole, or French, ancestry. So it were pint, peach, green or blue it was Creole.
On the upper floor in a bedroom, Norman urged, “You must feel these 1840 slippers so see the softness of the leather. Do stroke these tiny embroidered flowers on the toes. Aren’t they enchanting? Also notice that there are no left or right shoes at that time.”
In another room, he pointed out a spindle crib where 40 babies had been born, twenty-five making it to over l00 years old. “If you want a little luck,go over and touch the crib,” he encouraged.
The original manuscript for the story written about Laura and the life lived there after the Civil War by the women when ran it can be found on Amazon. One reviewer says, “She knew her way of life was wrong but her comforts outweighed the horrors she witnessed.”
Laura sat down .to write the stories when her nieces came running to her to excitedly tell her about the new movie, Gone With The Wind, “If you want to know about plantation life, I’ll tell you all about it.” She wrote the story years later many years after she left that world with a new husband.
This is where the Uncle Remus 50 stories of Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox were written in one of the slave quarters.
One priceless item is a gold and silver inland fan given to Laura when she was engaged. At that time a fan was given, not a ring.
The plantation was a key distribution point as a premier wine center, and all run by the women of the plantation. The wine came there from France and put into bottles of every size and shape.
Shadows of the former residents remain today.