50th Caddo Conference
Friedman's Student Union
Northwestern State University
March 7-8, 2008
Natchitoches, LA


by Paul Ridenour

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FRIDAY March 7

My second trip to Natchitoches was for the 50th Caddo Conference at Northwestern State University.

This time I would be going with East Texas historian Charles A. Steger of Atlanta, TX.  We will miss the first day of the conference.

Before you read further, you may want to become familiar with my first trip and Cammie Henry, Clementine Hunter, and the Melrose Plantation - www.paulridenour.com/la.htm

It had snowed in Dallas the day before including 9 inches in Sherman. I left my house at around 7 AM and I caught up with the snow east of Greenville. From Mt. Pleasant to Atlanta on 77 was covered in snow and there were times when I could not drive over 30 mph. A couple of cars were in the ditches. I arrived at Charles' house at 9:30 AM. It was snowing hard. We drove south through Shreveport and it was snowing until we got there. On the way, there is an area where three states connect - Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. The area is called ArkLaTex. We drove over the Black Bayou with bald cypress trees and it was snowing very hard.

We arrived in downtown Shreveport and went to the Municipal Auditorium, the place where Elvis was first heard. Frank Page, of Clear Channel KWKH, was the announcer of a radio show called Louisiana Hayride. They would have live concerts in the auditorium that were played on the radio. Numerous singers have performed there - Roger Miller, Dolly Parton, Gene Autry, Porter Wagoner (discovered Parton], Hank Williams, Johnnie Cash and June Carter/family, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Jerry Lee Lewis, Conway Twitty, Charlie Pride, Roy Clark, Willie Nelson, Minnie Pearl [Ophelia Colley Canon], etc.  Charles has seen all of them in concert and Hank Williams was always drunk on stage.

In front of the building is Elvis Presley Avenue and statues of Elvis Presley and his guitarist James Burton, who also played for Ricky Nelson and several other famous singers. It was Frank Page who said "Elvis has left the building." The building he was talking about was the Municipal Auditorium. Of course, Elvis had not left the building but he said it so that the people would clear out.

We arrived in Natchitoches about 12:30 PM and went straight to Lasyone's, where we had gumbo, meat pies, and creamed potatoes. Afterwards, we visited the American Cemetery where the following are buried: Revolutionary Patriot General John Sibley, John Hampton Henry and Cammie Garrett Henry [owners of the Melrose Plantation, where Clementine Hunter lived, worked, and painted], Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer and wife Francis, Anne Brittain [owner of Beau Fort and numerous paintings by Clementine Hunter]. Metroyer's attention was drawn to slave Marie Thereze Coincoin [pronounced qwan qwan] and they had 10 children. She may buried near him and his white wife Francis.

The azaleas and redbuds were already blooming.

We went up to the Watson Memorial Library on the university campus to see their gallery of Clementine's painting. There is no gallery. They did bring out one painting of "picking cotton" that was about 2 feet by 3 feet. It was very nice. They would not let me take a picture of it. We met a nice lady and the archivist named Mary Linn Wernet. She works on the 3rd floor at the Cammie G. Henry Research Center.

Heading back to downtown Natchitoches, we drove by the Wells House that was built before the American Revolution in 1776. We also drove by the Steel Magnolia house. We shopped a little bit and I went in the Paper Magnolia store where I had met the owners on my first trip. They are from Plano, TX. She was the one I wrote about who graduated Denton High School in 1980 and we know some of the same people.

We checked into our "motel" and then had dinner at Mama's. We had friend shrimp and fried oysters. We went over to The Landing where Charles had coffee and bread pudding. At this point, I had taken 165 photographs.


The conference started at 9 AM and we heard six speakers before noon.  The guest speakers talked about vessels (Caddo pottery, bowls, bottles), the different colored beads and their percentages found at Caddo mounds, and some Caddo archeological sites in Texas, Okalahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.  I did not know that there were eight archeological sites in downtown Nacogdoches, TX.  The attendance, including the speakers and the Caddo Indians, looked to be between 80 and 100 people.  I learned a lot about archaeology including the meaning of "midden," which is an area where people stood all of the time and the ground was packed down hard.  In the ground would be vessels.  A perfect area for a midden would be the kitchen and living room. 

Two guest speakers were working on their thesis.

One speaker mentioned "pot hunters" and a great archeological site called "eBay."

At noon, Charles and I went to Merci Beaucoup and had The Cajun Potato for lunch.  Charles thought that Merci Beaucoup was FAR better than Mama's and just ahead of Lasyone's.

The annual "Bricks and Blooms" was going on in downtown Natchitoches.  Basically, an arts and craft fair surrounded by the downtown brick road and lots of potted tulips and other flowers.  Charles and I got some coffee and then went back to the Caddo Conference.

We heard two more speakers.

Mark Armstrong, a Vann descendant and friend of Charles, showed up from Bossier City. 

The Caddoans performed their Turkey Dance and then we left afterwards.

On the way home, we visited downtown Shreveport before it got dark.

We stopped at one last place before we arrived in Atlanta, TX.  Three states come together at one point in the Three States Community - Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas.  You can touch it.

I got back to Dallas about 11:30 PM and then changed the clocks to "fall forward."

Snow all of the way from Atlanta, TX, to Shreveport, LA

Black Bayou, LA - Bald Cypress trees freezing to death

Huey Ledbetter - downtown Shreveport

Elvis Presley at the Municipal Auditorium, Shreveport

Guitarist James Burton

Inside the Municipal Auditorium where Elvis was first heard

"Elvis has left the building"

They were filming the new movie "Soul Man" featuring Samuel L. Jackson

Louisiana Hayride

"You ain't nothing but a statue"

A chipper Charles A. Steger at Lasyone's eating a meat pie - notice the Clementine Hunter prints on the wall

Photo at Lazyone's of Mr. Lazyone, Daryl Hanna, and Robert Harling [Bobby Harling], writer of "Steel Magnolias"

Cane River Crème - Lasyone's

The "Steel Magnolias" house - now the Steel Magnolia Bed and Breakfast

Denise Martin Thomas of Rick and Denise Thomas, owners of the shop Paper Magnolias, and the prettiest woman at this counter

The bridge without Christmas lights is rather boring

Wells House built before the American Revolution (1776)

Street where Daryl Hannah walked down at the beginning of "Steel Magnolias"

White Camellia - American Cemetery - Natchitoches

Ann Brittain - owner of numerous Clementine Hunter's paintings (American Cemetery)

Location of funeral scene from "Steel Magnolias" (American Cemetery)

American Cemetery

Cammie Henry (middle top) and husband John Henry/family - The Henry's were the owners of the Melrose Plantation, where Clementine Hunter worked
(American Cemetery)

Pink Camellia (American Cemetery)

Downtown Natchitoches from the other side of Cane River


A serial killer and Democrat among the unsuspecting Mama's patrons

Cane River behind our Riverview Inn and Apartments [a "motel"]

Caddo Conference

Caddo Indians and their books/crafts

Charles Steger talking with guest speaker Elsbeth Dowd [Defining Variation: Caddo Ceramics from Southeastern Oklahoma] and in the red is guest speaker and author Dr. Ann M. Early [Pioneer Era Caddo Archeology in the Northern Ouachita Mountains: Aikman Site].

"Trail of Tears" book of maps/routes of all five Civilized Tribes - I'd like to have this [$115.00]

The Cajun Potato at Merci Beaucoup - crawfish etouffee stuffed baked potato with two fried shrimp

"Bricks and Blooms"

A Franciscan monk harpist?  No!  A Jehovah's Witness

Don't forget to stop by and say hello to Samantha with Australian earrings and have some coffee at Mr. Johnny's Coffee Shop and Bistro [corner of Church and Front St.]

Nine drummers drumming

Caddo conference guest speaker Rachel Fauchier (red hair) [A Survey of Ceramics from the Wister Area, Leflore County, Okalahoma]

Caddoan Turkey Dance

Horseshoe Casino - where my friend Ed Brown likes to lose all of his money

River roses

Three States Community - Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas