Mary married Davis Soileau (1915-1995) on November 23, 1935. It was a double wedding with her first cousin Louis Thomas Martel, son of Theogene Martel and Rosennia (Pierrottie) Martel, to Mary Eva Landreneau. Mary and Davis have one daughter, Jessie Line Soileau. She married Curtis Joseph Lafleur in 1952. Jessie and Curtis have five children, all boys.
Mary’s Pierrottie family moved from Eunice soon after she was born. They moved in the country near Mamou where the Constant and Avie Pierrottie family farmed cotton, potatoes and corn. The family garden provided other vegetables for the family meals. When old enough, Mary worked on the farm as did all the children. There was no electricity in the rural areas, thus no electric lights, refrigeration, television, phone nor power for pumping water.
Mary awake early each morning to make fresh coffee for her parents. To make coffee, she started the wood stove to heat the water. The fireplace was used to heat the water during the winter time. The coffee was made in a pot with a container that fit on top of the coffee pot with a small sack to hold the ground coffee. The green coffee beans were purchase at the grocery/general store then parched in a cast iron skillet while moving the beans continuously to keep them from burning. Small hand turned coffee grinders were used to grind the parched coffee bean into coffee grinds and it was a required appliance in most homes.
Her mother, Avie, prepared breakfast. Most often they eat fresh baked cornbread, sometimes some leftover from the previous night’s meal, with milk. The cornbread was cooked in the wooden stove. Unlike many farm houses where the kitchen was built away from the home with an attached walkway, the Pierrottie kitchen was part of the main home. Sweet potatoes were also a common breakfast meal. Potato bread was served for breakfast too. Most families baked bread for supper. Any leftover baked bread from supper made a great meal in the morning with fresh milk or with cane syrup and a cup of milk. Glasses were not common and cups or bowls were multipurpose; used for eating and drinking.
The family had a cow for drinking milk. Milking was her father’s, Constant, chore. The milk was drunk at room temperature. What was not drunk was left in a large bowl which turned to clabber and often eaten with bread. Milk could also be lowered in the cistern in the cool water below the hot temperatures from the summer heat.
In the summer everyone worked in the fields after breakfast. During school session, it was not uncommon for the children to pick a sack of cotton before leaving to make the walk to school. Upon returning from school, all the children picked cotton until dark. During the summer after noon dinner was completed, Mary made a fresh pot of coffee for her parents.
Mary attended school and completed the 8th grade. She walked 2.5 miles to and from school except for the 8th grade where she rode. School ended about 3:30 pm. Since there was no school cafeteria, sweet potatoes were often taken to school for lunch. School lunches sometimes included boiled eggs and toasted bread. After the 2.5 mile walk back home, working in the fields and doing other chores were a way of life. Books were carried back home to complete teacher assignments at the kitchen table lit by the lantern fueled with coal oil.
Meat for the family meal came from two main sources, the boucherie and poultry from the farm. Her family participated in the boucherie held every several weeks in the community. The boucherie was on a “turn about” schedule. One week one family hosted the butchering and next time is was someone else’s turn, or what Mary referred to as the “turn about” schedule. Families shared the meat. Killed hogs produced fresh sausage. Everyone had a smoke house. Smoke sausage, while edible for a short time, it was stored in lord in gallon cans to preserve it longer than just smoking it. The bacon was preserved with salt. Vegetables were served fresh from the farm or they were canned. Dried beans were also a way of storing food for future use. The dried beans from the fields were first beaten with a broom to remove part of the outer covering. After they were completely peeled and dried they were stored in cans to be eaten later.
Chickens were used both for fresh eggs and for cooking. Since preserving chickens was not an option, they were killed and cooked on the same day. Most people rang the neck, dropped it in hot boiling water, plucked and cleaned outdoors and brought in the home for cooking. Ducks were also a food source. The feathers were kept for pillows.
Bricks were warmed in the one fireplace in the winter and wrapped in a cloth and tucked under the blanket to keep warm during the night. The mattress consisted of corn shucks in a sack placed on a spring about three inches long on a single bed that was tied to the bed frame, or slipped through a hole every four inches for a medal frame. The springs surrounded the bed and they were attached to span of tight wire much like fence wire with small 2 x 1 in. squares. Also popular was the spring mattress that lay in the bed frame or on boards within the bed frame. The springs in the spring mattress were also used in automobile seats. Another sack filled with moss laid on top of the corn shuck mattress. Once a year the corn shucks were added and/or replaced with new ones as was fresh moss gathered from the nearby trees. Moss was gathered and pulled apart in small pieces then dried in the sun for several days to dry it and remove any insects.
The “chamber pot” was near each bed. This chore was passed around to all the children. The “pee pot” was dumped in the outhouse then cleaned for the next evening’s use.
In 1935 Mary married Davis Soileau. They lived on the farm for a couple of years and then moved into the city of Mamou. Davis was a farmer, a carpenter and a Mamou policeman. He ran for Chief of Police in 1961.
Mary had a good married life. Her grandchildren are a source of inspiration and pride. They have always helped her in her need. Camping was always an integral part of the family entertainment. They fished and hunted together. They owned a camp near Mamou. They sold the camp and bought a pop-up camper so they could go to different places. Later they sold the pop-up and purchased a used travel trailer. Holly Beach was one of their favorite places to visit.
Mary is a proud housewife and homemaker. She was employed in the cafeteria at Mamou High School. She currently resides at a Savoy assisted living home.