With the decline in religious organizational membership, 73% in 1950 vs 52% in 2018, in the last several decades, an equal decline in the proud ownership of Godparent title may also have occurred. If so, this lost golden nugget in the Cajun Culture, and other close religious family units across our global nation, may result in second chance hope to many needy children in our two parent work-acholic, soccer mon and football dad, busy schedules.
Many remember how proud they were when the newly selected Parrain and/or Nanny or Nanan of a recent newborn was announced! Or perhaps telling everyone that they, your Godparents were joining your family for Sunday dinner. If your parents had a Living Will, and most people did not, back in the 1940s, 50s and into the 1980s, your Godparents would be those chosen to care for you should your parents die unexpectedly. I wonder if we have lost these two people so very important to the family, and especially the children’s success.
Cleveland Duplechain (1912-1995) is the son of Francois Duplechain and Corise Rozas. Corise Rozas’ great grandmother is M. Victorie Miller, the granddaughter of Jacob Miller and Anne M. Thaison. Since Jacob Miller is my 3rd great grandfather, my Godfather Cleveland Duplechain are 2nd cousins twice removed. Our common ancestry however if Solastie Rozas (1812-1874) and Adelaide Reed (1817- ?) Our relationship was not known until the 21st Century.
While I do not recall visiting with my Godparents prior to living in Basile, I am sure they visited me in Duralde where I was born. My father was left with the responsibility of raising my two sisters and me after the 1948 divorce. He married several times, probably to find someone to care for his children while he earned a living as a carpenter.
In was in those years between 1948 and 1955 that my Godparents Cleveland and Pauline became the persons I looked to for love, warmth, and comfort that only great Godparents provide. On many Sunday afternoons they went visiting, or “visite” in Cajun. They frequently came to my Me'me're' Miller Basile home in their Studebaker truck. While the visits were relatively short, they were adequate to fulfil my need for the comfort they provided. They never left without leaving me a gift or a “Cadeau”. It was generally money, probably $0.25. A gift of this type was incredibly special and made a great impression on me. After all, I never recalled a visit from my sister’s Godparents apart from our first Cousin Lou Fontenot McCauley. Lou was my younger sister’s Godmother and we periodically saw her at her mother’s, my Aunt Myrza’s home for Sunday dinner.
Life on the Duplechain Duralde, LA farm was different from my Basile surroundings. Pauline or “Do” made fresh bread every night. We ate bread with our supper. Generally, we drank fresh milk from the cow milked early that morning. We never drank from glasses and always used cups. I think of them as cornbread cups used to eat cornbread and milk. Electricity was available in rural Louisiana in the early 1950’s. Electric power resulted from President Roosevelt’s Rural Electrification Program implemented in 1935. With electricity, milk moved from a gallon jar in the cistern cool water below ground to keep it cool to the electric refrigerator. When stored in the cistern, the milk jar was tied with a string at the top around the jar rim. When needed it was pulled up to serve cool after milking the cow in the morning or the previous day. With electric power and a new refrigerator, milk could be kept longer than a day.
Living on the farm was not a vacation, however. Sometimes when I arrived shortly after the bus ride from the Basile Elementary School, my Paran plowed his field with a mule and the plow pulled behind. It was a special treat for me when he allowed me to ride on mule’s back while he plowed the ground that would provide food for the table and sales at the farmer’s market. While this was fun, the next day was less fun. We worked in the fields picking cucumbers, peppers, and other vegetables for sale in the local market. I tired of that choir very quickly. I am not sure if I was much help. It seems odd today to remember how unpleasant the hard work seemed since my sisters and I were required each summer to pick cotton in the summer heat so we could afford to purchase the necessary school clothes to return to September fall semester later in the year. Our cotton-picking earned income also allowed us several seating's at the Basile movie theater, “the show” at $0.09 per ticket.
My Godparents, Cleveland Duplechain and Pauline Manual had four children:
Herbert J. “Black” Duplechain (1932-2019) married to Madine Berzas (1933-1995)
Vernon C. Duplechain (1936-2018) married Debra Duplechain
Barbara H. Duplechain (1942) married Willius G. Reed in 1959
Andrus F. Duplechain (1949-1970). Killed in action in Viet Nam.
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