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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Baton Rouge - Rural Life Museum

Metal Mule - representing the Rural Life Museum of Baton Rouge Louisana
I arrived in Louisiana yesterday, did a tiny bit of wildlife refuge loitering near New Orleans, then drove north to Baton Rouge. After a tiny bit of research - I am an abysmal planner - I managed (just barely) to find the Rural life Museum. Am sooo happy I found it, as who doesn't appreciate a trip through a time portal?

Before arriving at the 'portal' there were fields of decorated hay bales I passed, no surprises, today being Halloween.

Massive campus

Spider Hay!

Sheepziz Hay!
No bull, just hay!
The hay bales really got themselves done up for Halloween.

I stopped briefly at a botanical gardens, then drove on to the museum, thoroughly enjoying the views from every acre. 

The porch of the Rural Life Museum's main building
A look just one section of the museum
Spinning wheels, great and small
Being Louisiana, I had to gird the old loins, in prep for facing the state's history of slavery. Some of it as strangely touching, such as this teeny, weeny doll, one can imagine some much loved enslaved child carrying about. Perhaps the doll's size - no more than 3 inches tall - was too keep the doll hidden from anyone who might take it, or because the limited amount of material to clothe the mite, kept it restricted in size?
The sad, tiny dolly that no doubt brightened
life for a tiny, enslaved child
Carpenter's kit? Nope, a Doctors' field operation kit 
It took like an hour to see just some of the stuff inside. So I rambled out back. I fell in love with this 'Dog Trot' house, straight out of The Yearling. The Dog Trot, built in the late 1860s, was in use by a family until the 1970s. All the houses at the RLM were moved there from other areas of Louisiana.
The Dog Trot has porches on its front and on its back
The Dog Trot has a central breezeway - the 'dog trot' separates two halves of the house
Dog Trot's kitchen
There's a small, not-actually-real cemetary which I entered to chase a few birds around. Then I headed through the cemetery gate towards a tiny white church.
View of College Grove Baptist Church
Inside are neat white pews and stained glass 'win-ders'
 The coolest bits of this little church are the arches over the alter - one on left is devil's webbed wing, vs the one on the right hand (of God no doubt) with white, feathered angel wings. Too cute!
Wilt thou sit to the dastardly left or the heavenly right? 
Super rare, Louisiana barn, made of hand split cypress 
Look inside the southern Louisiana barn
Cajun house circa 1805
Okra Plants, with several ripening pods 

This interesting old house has a garden in its front area, including - okra, which as brought by enslaved peoples to North America
'Single pen' Slave quarters circa 1840 
Fireplace w/boots, high chair, adults chair & a rickity bed

There are at least a dozen examples of buildings that housed enslaved peoples at the museum. Most were one room, i.e., single pen. Some were two roomed, and shockingly many housed poor people right into the 1970s.

The slave quarters below is from the 1830s. It was called a 'Saddlebag' type building as it had 2 single rooms, straddled on either side of a single chimney.
Double-pen - two room -Slave Quarters
In overcrowded quarters, the enslaved folks bedded down on the floor 

Inside the 'Sick House' where ailing enslaved people were nursed. Note the bed ropes,
pulled to hold the mattress rigid, so people could 'sleep tight', & wake without a sore back
Below is a Sugar House circa 1700s, that housed a row of kettles for boiling down sugar cane juice. Boiled, the juice was gradually moved along from giant kettle to a slightly smaller kettle, to another smaller kettle until the final & smallest metal pot held the nearly finished product. Gradually the last step was reached wherein crystallizing brown sugar was separated from the molasses.
The Sugar House
The first kettle

The sugar house techniques used were imported from the West Indies. 
After the 1830s, the sugar shacks were mostly replaced by factories.

A house of many uses - circa 1835
The building pictured just above, started off as slave quarters. It was then converted to a cook house for a plantation overseer. Later, in the late 1800s, post Civil War, it was used as a school house, right up into the 1930s. This well used building was brought to the museum in 1971. The poor thing deserves a break, don't you think?

You know what this is. 'Nuff said.

Totally enjoyed the Rural Life Museum. Seeing the old wood buildings makes one ponder about life when transportation meant your feet or a mule, and if you were lucky enough to have some 'learnin' you attended a one room school house. Yeah. I'd have hated it too. Nevertheless, today's Halloween, so on to tonight's adventure.

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