When we were kids, we believed everything we saw on TV; today, our grandchildren believe everything they see on the internet.
Mid-year in 2015, I had occasion to visit with Tamara’s family and really enjoyed a conversation with nine-year-old Presley. We were talking about an upcoming trip to Slidell, Louisiana. In my effort to give him food for thought and build his anticipation of the upcoming trip, I shared several items of local lore with him.
First, I told him about Eugene Bunch, the Bogalusa train robber. I’m sad to tell you he didn’t even know the meaning of the word “outlaw”; he was not familiar with the term. What has happened to all those wonderful old westerns, anyway? So I had my work cut out for me as I explained how Eugene Bunch went from school teacher at Lee’s Creek School to notorious train robber, wanted by the New Orleans FBI office and hunted by the Pinkerton Detective Agency until his death; how our distant ancestor, Joseph Leon Pounds, was one of his best friends and was arrested for harboring a criminal (first in Lee’s Creek and then in Honey Island Swamp). He was held in the Orleans Parish Prison while being interrogated but was finally allowed to make bond and was later acquitted of all charges. Presley listened with great interest. He was being emerged in a whole new world.
Then, remembering that his great Unca Johnny Welborn was taking him on the Honey Island Swamp Tour during our visit, I told Presley about the Honey Island Swamp Monster. Little boys are so funny. He looked me right in the eye and told me that what I was saying wasn’t true….and then he asked, “is it, Granny?” I told him to google it.
Shortly, he excitedly drug me to the computer so I could watch the footage he had found, including the film of the monster running through the tree line. He was amazed!
With all the attention a nine-year-old boy could muster, Presley must have spent his swamp tour flashing back to the tales I had shared. I feel sure he was ever-vigilant, as he searched the swamp for any appearance of outlaws hiding in the muck or the Honey Island Swamp Monster dashing through the tree line.
As tales from our family history suddenly became real for Presley, I believe that swamp tour made some indelible memories for a precious nine-year-old boy who had never before visited the past.