The small village of Bayou La Batre on the Gulf of Mexico offered me several insights a mountain boy never knew. My company had a man working here that had other interests, so they fired him and sent me to this area to recoup our business. Bayou La Batre is located south of Mobile, AL. It is built on an inlet up from the gulf. The French founded this unique old world fishing village and was named by them. It is a safe haven for big shrimp boats during the hurricane season.

The road to Bayou La Batre is like driving through a tunnel, covered with Spanish moss hanging from the live oaks. It hangs from anything that is not moving. The village is a haven for misfits, sailors and wanderers. Some came, some stayed. The shrimp industry is the main source of income for the locals. Bayou La Batre is a sister to the sea. Canning, shrimp, vegetables, an ice plant and numerous businesses related to the fishing business line the narrow streets.

My first experience here was my effort to get a doctor to be involved in a drug study. This doctor was interested only in medicine and politics. His arrival in this village was due to marrying a lady who grew up there. She was similar to the old daughters of sea captains who had remained there. They knew no other place existed.

One of my favorite places was an old drug store. You could buy a glass jar of raw oysters for 25 cents. The owner furnished salty crackers and this was a gourmet meal to me. Another activity I enjoyed was driving to the net factory and listening to the stories being told by the men weaving the nets. Most of these old sailors had fought hurricanes, pirates, and raging seas their entire lives. They had experienced it all.

One activity I never missed was the blessing of the shrimp boats. The locals would decorate their boats and invite onlookers to ride in the parade. The local Catholic priest would bless each boat as it passed his boat. None of these fishermen would leave the port without the boat being blessed for rough seas and a huge haul of shrimp. It was and is a magnificent feast and occasion for the town people.

I have written about the Episcopal Church there several times, and the six old sea captain's daughters who made up the total congregation. Their ages were from 86 to 93. The church was an old wooden shrimp boat turned upside down and made into this beautiful church. I served as a lay reader from our home church.

The old boats, no longer sea worthy, are still tied up until they are sunk for artificial reefs. You could almost hear the old captains saying, "Let's get under way." You can still see the Spanish moss wind blown much as it had been in olden times. A quaint little village with a great deal of history, lying among the live oak trees. Many people come here and stay. I felt closeness to the locals after learning their beautiful history.

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