Friday, June 4, 2010

Take a Trip to Coushatta

We've returned from our day trip to Coushatta.  Honestly, sometimes people look at us like we've just been released from the asylum, but we enjoy puttering around, stopping here and there, taking pictures and looking to see what's off the beaten path.  But this is what you see all the way from Shreveport to Coushatta - gas wells.  Haynesville Shale.  Drilling.

And when we get to Ed Lester's Farm, we're like two kids in a candy store.

Is that a sign that we're" old" that we look forward to going to a vegetable stand?  *Sighs.*  Oh well.

We took Highway 1 south; why would anybody go I-49?  On the way there is an old, abandoned store that always catches my eye.  We look at it all the time when we drive by, imagining days gone by; the old folks sitting on the porch in rocking chairs, drinking Nehis, watching the traffic go up and down the highway...maybe an old dog or two under the porch.  There's a gin across the highway.   To get to the store we have to park on the shoulder and walk across the railroad tracks; there's no crossing there anymore.

The sign on front says C. M. Hutchinson & Son; C.M. was the son of William Hutchinson who has a fascinating history here.

William Hutchinson also had a store which looks very much like the one that we photographed.  I don't think it's the same building, but it's very similar. 

It's been a long time since we've seen gas prices like this:

I went up on the porch and peeked inside:

Awesome. I'd love to restore this place and open a little store there; with all the Haynesville Shale activity going on down there, I could stay busy.  Put some benches on this porch against the wall, some ceiling fans and rockers, get an old hound dog and I'm ready to go!

About this time a woman living next door to the property seemed to get nervous and walked outside to check us out.  We waved an moved on.

Not much further down the road is a little church that always catches Steve's eye so just  for fun we stopped and looked at it.  We had to park on the shoulder again and walk over the tracks.  There's an old door on the ground as a sort of bridge in case the ditch holds water.  That wasn't a problem today - no rain.

I couldn't get any pictures of the inside because there was an angry nest of hornets by the door.  By looking in the window it's obvious to see that the church is still in use.  There's a center aisle, pews on each side with threadbare cushions, a piano, hymn books.  and paneled walls.

In the back is a cemetery; the graves are completely overgrown and most have only paper or temporary markers.  There were two actual headstones but I couldn't explore too much because of the mosquitoes and overgrowth of poison ivy.

And so, back into the car an on to Ed Lester's farm.  By the way, there's like ZERO cell phone service from this point all the way to Coushatta.

When you pull up  to Lester's you're greeted with huge live oak trees, a large tented area, planked floors, bright flags and jazz or classical music playing softly from the speakers in the trees.

And there were peaches:

And potatoes:

And most anything else you could want from a produce stand:

The Lesters have lived here for generations; the house faces the Red River and they've farmed there for years.:

After loading up with our treasures, we loaded back into the car and headed into Coushatta to find something to eat and poke around a bit.  There's not much to poke at in Coushatta but we went anyway.  Steve likes to go to Nichols store there which is one of those places that has everything from galvanized tubs to clothing, guns, ammo, stained glass, toys, a candy aisle, and decorative items for your house.  Steve bought me a metal sink stopper with a fleur-de-lis on it.  Trust me, it's cute.  Cuter than I looked in this hat:

Coushatta is having a little boon these days because of the Haynesville Shale activity.  There's more commerce and activity there than there used to be, but it's still a sleepy little town.  Me and my love for old buildings...we had to stop and take a picture of this one.  What kind of business was it back in the day?  It's right there on the river.  Looks like it might have been attached to some other buildings but I don't know.

We were hungry so we found THE best place to eat in town:

You know a place is good when the locals are lined up outside.  When we walked up there were two guys eating at the table outside and one lady waiting but by the time we left there were at least 10 people in line.  It's a hamburger joint and they have chili dogs too.  We got two cheeseburgersand split some fries.  I could feel my arteries clogging up as I ate:

Properly stuffed, we headed for home.

Steve has been shelling peas for the past three hours and he has purple thumbs now.  But we have enough fresh veggies to last for a while!

And now that it's taken longer for me to write this than the entire trip took, I'll go get busy putting some of this stuff up.

More pictures at Flickr.


Sandy said...

Enjoyed this post immensely! I haven't been to Lester's in a couple of years at least. I used to pass it every time on my way to and from my home in Texas. Looks like a day trip in my future very soon. Nice change from politics and oil spills!

Andy said...

Fabulous vignette, Pat! Truly fabulous!

But, NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! Nobody shells purple-hulls by hand any more. They only charge about a buck at the pea-sheller.

My thumbs are STILL purple from shelling 'em back in the 60's & 70's. Momma always said, "The sheller tears them up, and you lose too many!"

I spent thousands of wasted hours trying to save a few peas.

The "shellers" are advanced now. You only lose just a tiny number of peas...and they just get smashed, and help out in the juice.

Just sayin'...

That was a lot of fun to read, Pat. Seriously. Brought back good memories...

Heh! When Steve gets finished, he will have proof that he voted in the last Iraqi election! Twice!


Thanks for sharing your afternoon with us.

steve said...


Damn, once again the Southern girl got one over on this Yankee boy!

I asked her why don't we buy the peas that have already been shelled, she told me, "That would take all the fun out of it. You can have a relaxing afternoon sitting on the couch shelling peas while watching a baseball game on TV.

I now see she just didn't want to pop for the extra buck.

Andy said...

Steve: Sigh...

Gals will sure do you that way. Just sayin'...

Actually, looking back on those thousands of hours of shelling purplehulls as a kid, I can say that they were probably the most FUN hours of my young life!

Okay, Steve...I'm a miserable liar.

But, it wasn't really ALL THAT BAD. I made my Momma happy, and enjoyed the fruit of my labor at supper time.

Fortunately for me, my wife also grew up shelling purplehulls for her Momma.

We buy them already bagged up...

Tina said...

Oh this is so great. What a wonderful trip! You are linked for sure:

Some of my best childhood memories were of shelling peas with my grandmother. I even wrote a poem about it once. It's the best occupation for 12 year old boys, too, when they get a little crazy and need to be calmed down. No one can shell peas and stay hyper...or angry... for long. :-)

TNelson said...

Great story. It makes me think my husband and I should do this more often. we may live in the "big" city of Omaha but there are so many small, sleep towns in Nebraska and in Iowa just across this river waiting to be discovered. Looks like you and Steve may have planned a Saturday outing for us.

Anonymous said...

That building used to be a bank. It was one of the few buildings to survive a massive fire back a long time ago that took out most of the town along the river. Also, the river changed its course and took away most of Old Coushatta with it.

Charlotte Sowels said...

Thanks for Sharing, I recognize those building on Hwy1. That tall building standing by the river.It was a Fish Market when I was a child.

Charlotte Sowels said...

Thanks for Sharing, I recognize those building on Hwy1. That tall building standing by the river.It was a Fish Market when I was a child.

Charlotte Sowels said...

Thanks for Sharing, I recognize all those building on Hwy1.I visited old Galilee B.C.when I was a child. In the Coushatta The old building by the river was a Fish Market when I was a kid. I ate so many of Bailey's Hamburgers.Thanks again for the photos.