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My Mentor!

Updated on January 12, 2010

My mentor was a simple Cajun Man that could not read or write for he taught me so many lessons of life. He did it in a way that no text book could achieve. He did it in the only way he knew how? He was the true meaning of the word "RACONTEUR."

Emile Navarre was born in Chacahoula Louisiana in 1862 and he and his family had a very hard life there on the bayous. He only knew how to work the land but the devastating hurricanes of 1909 convinced the family to leave and try and find a better life elsewhere. They kept some of the old ways that were still useful and those that were not, they abandoned in favor of new ways of working and living. Tempe Arizona area was as far as their meager savings would take them. My father was the youngest child of six.

I have written about this man before (Memories of My Cajun Man). I will attempt to pass on some of the lessons in the words that only he knew for if he did not know the English word he would simply use his Cajun word. I was not taught the Cajun language that they spoke among themselves but when they found they did not have a Cajun word for something new, they simply used the new English word, so one could get the jest of the conversation if you listened carefully. I spent most of my early childhood there as I detailed in the above HUB.

I will attempt to tell here a story of how this Cajun Man taught me in a very unique way. I just called him "PAPA".


"Papa, everyone has a "bicycle" or why can't I have "new shoes" and why do we have to eat "couche-couche," (Corn meal-grains) every day for supper? Of course these issues were very important to an eight- year old.

He never said at any time that it was because we were very poor and could not afford many everyday things or did he ever scold me in any manner. He would simply start telling me about his "Le Cousin Leon," (Cousin).

"Now as I recall that happened to, "mon cousin Leon" (my cousin Leon) dat man lived in a fine house near the bayou Lafourche and he had many a fine "chevaux" (horses). Dat man wore new "Botte"(boots) and dat man sat at mon table every day and ate his fill of "couche-couche." Then he would be silent not saying a word, just waiting for what he knew would be next.

Well, that didn't sound so bad to me for he lived in a fine house and had new shoes and he rode a fine horse instead of a bicycle and yet he still wanted to eat couche-couche? Of course I wanted to know what happened to cousin Leon after that?

Papa just sat there and shook his head sadly. Finally when he spoke it went something like this.

"Dat very next year a L'orogan (hurricane) came and took cousin Leon's fine house and all his fine things and put it into the bayou Lafourche."

Now the silence was mine to hold and think on. I still think of all those lessons that I leaned from Papa's-- Cousin Leon. It was many years later that i learned that there was NO ACTUAL COUSIN LEON. Cousin Leon was manufactured especially for me by my Cajun raconteur Papa in the only way he knew how!



Couche-couche is a simple corn bread that is cooked in a iron-skillet with oil until it is crispy brown and then eaten with milk sometimes on it or with it and I add a little fig jam to top it off. Yes it is now my favorite evening meal.

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    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 7 years ago

      Thanks Darnell yes, that generation had a wisdom that we sometimes forget in todays world.

    • Missi Darnell profile image

      Missi Darnell 7 years ago from Southern California

      Wonderful story. That generation sure had a way with morals and ethics. One of the most influential people in my life my Great Gran born in 1903.

    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 7 years ago

      Nancy thanks, yes this man only gave lessons with the only way he knew how---storytelling, that generation and many before them used that tool---our HISTORY proved that.

    • profile image

      Nancy's Niche 7 years ago

      Ginn, A beautiful story about your mentor...Ahhhh, the wisdom of our parents and grandparents---if only! We were certainly blessed.

    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 7 years ago

      Jerilee, it's worth a try!

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States

      Wonder if it would work on a certain little drama queen and her mom when I get caught in the middle of their little squabbles. ha ha Guess will have to dust off Cousine Leoninetta.

    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 7 years ago

      Money Glitch, yes many of those stories didn't register then but now as you said--what a treasure! thanks.

    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 7 years ago

      shalini thank you. I found out a long-long time ago ---each day is what ever we make-it.

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 7 years ago from Texas

      Beautiful story Ginn, Isn't it wonderful to grow older and finally figure out the meaning of those stories that our parents told us when we were young. That to me is a part of life's treasures. Thanks for sharing. :)

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

      Golden memories - what a wonderful hub! Read on HP that it is your birthday - so here's wishing you a wonderful day and year ahead!

    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 7 years ago

      Hey young-un!yes that is cool and Jerilee is a blabber-mouth. I hope you celebrated your day in grand style---maybe have a little head-ache this morning?

      I wore my ole RED pull-over and had a glass of red wine to you know,wash that chocolate cake down. From now on I will have an extra glass --just for you.

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      such sweet and inspiring memories ginn. and i must say, your mentor did well in 'teaching' you. thanks for sharing.

      And oh by the way, I didn't know we share the same birthday. Like how cool is that?!

    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 7 years ago

      Frieda, without cousin Leon's we would not have history. It was written on cave walls and in a new way---some HUBBER'S here could maybe be COUSIN LEON?

      A child will listen and remember a story, that is why I refuse to grow-up!

      invictus thanks, memories are made to share.

    • I*n*v*i*c*t*u*s profile image

      I*n*v*i*c*t*u*s 7 years ago

      Lovely story....Thanks so much for sharing.. :)

    • Frieda Babbley profile image

      Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      Beautiful story, Gin. I wonder if it's too late to invent a cousin Leon of my own.