January 2, 2020
I hope all the membership had a wonderful Christmas – New Year’s Holiday. We will remain in communication with all of you as we plan to move forward on many fronts in 2020. This is your society and we cannot succeed in our mission of preserving the heritage and cultural traditions of St. Bernard Parish Isleños without your generous support. Thank you all and God bless you!
BEN CROWE, President
2020 MEMBERSHIP DUES
Membership dues for the 2020 calendar year are payable now! Annual dues are $10.00 per person. Your dues sustain the activities of Los Isleños Society – for example, more than $60,000 was spent in 2019 repairing and enhancing the pavilions, rebuilding the Trapper’s Cabin, repairing and maintaining our grounds, historic buildings and nature trail. Please mail checks for dues payments to:
Los Isleños Heritage and Cultural Society Los Isleños Museum Complex
1345 – 1357 Bayou Road
St. Bernard, LA 70085
A dues statement will also be attached to the hard copy of this newsletter which will be mailed out to our membership. The Membership Planet on-line payment option will remain in effect until the Society’s membership functions are transferred to our website which is under reconstruction. As always, we thank you for your continued very generous support!
MAXORATA TO PERFORM IN LOS ISLEÑOS FIESTA 2020
Former president Lloyd “Wimpy” Serigne has successfully concluded arrangements to bring twenty-six members belonging to the Agrupacion Folclorico Maxorata to perform during both days of Los Isleños Fiesta 2020, March 7th – 9th, 2020. Maxorata will arrive at Armstrong International Airport Monday, March 2nd, 2020 and will depart from Armstrong International Tuesday, March 10th, 2020. The group is headquartered in Fueteventura Island – this will be the first folkloric group to perform in St. Bernard from Fuerteventura. Domingo Rodriguez, El Colorao, a virtuoso timple player and native of Fuerteventura, had performed during Fiesta 2003 and Fiesta 2013. He is the only other artist from Fuerteventura to have travelled to St. Bernard to support our annual fiesta.
Maxorata was founded in 1967, but experienced a period of inactivity until its reorganization in 1982. The group is highly respected in Fuerteventura and throughout the Canaries. They will wear the traje tipico or traditional clothing of Fueteventura. The name Maxorata was given to Fuerteventura by the original pre-European inhabitants. Their music/dance repertoire is traditional among all folkloric groups in the Canaries, though Fueteventura has a distinct interpretation of the folkloric music and dance as do all other islands in the archipelago. Folias, Isas, Seguidillas, Masurcas, Polcas and other dances and music promise to be performed to perfection by Maxorata!
Historically, Fuerteventura was the first island to be conquered by Jean de Betancourt, other French crusaders and Iberians commissioned by King Henry III of Castille in 1402. The conquest was initially undertaken to provide a source of crimson red dye for use in textiles. It took almost a century to complete the conquest of the Canaries which concluded with the fall of Tenerife in 1496. Juan de Acosta, a native of Fuerteventura Island and the progenitor of the Acosta family in St. Bernard Parish arrived in Louisiana with his wife, Luisa and two children from Havana aboard the Frigate La Margarita in 1783. Juan and Luisa had departed from Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1780 aboard the Bergantin Español San Carlos and were forced to take refuge in Cuba until the end of the American Revolution. His son Roque Acosta, born in St. Bernard Parish in 1792, emerged as one of the wealthiest Isleños in the parish prior to the American Civil War. He was a veteran of the Battle of New Orleans, having fought in the Third Regiment of Louisiana Militia. He married Maria Antonia Marrero, became a successful sugar planter and was buried in St. Bernard Cemetery in 1857 opposite St. Bernard Catholic Church. Roque Acosta’s tomb is maintained by his descendants.
Let us all extend a very warm St. Bernard welcome to Maxorata!! The Fiesta Committee will meet in January and February 2020 to plan for a successful Fiesta 2020 – dates and times will be announced shortly!!!
TRAPPER’S CABIN PROGRESS
Don Melerine and Louis Pomes successfully coordinated efforts between Parish Government work crews and Society volunteers to complete the third trapper’s cabin reconstruction. A severe thunder-storm Sunday, April 7th, 2019 toppled a rotting, termite infested 60-year-old pin oak which destroyed the FEMA funded replacement of the original Trapper’s Cabin constructed by Calvin Melerine before Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Parish Government employees Ryan Carbo, a master carpenter, and Steve Castillion, worked for weeks under the close supervision of Don Melerine to erect the cabin. Parish Government electrician Craig Smith completed most of the electrical service installation prior to Isleno Christmas December 7th, 2019. Of course, Don Melerine constructed a new door and overhang over the door. Presently, lighting fixtures need to be installed in the cabin and Don is custom making four double-hung wooden windows to install in the cabin. Chalmette High School carpentry department is repairing the rope bed replica made by Mike Martin. Otherwise, all other furniture originally made by Calvin Melerine for the first cabin which survived Katrina miraculously was unscathed by the April 7th catastrophe and will be returned to the structure when completed. Former president Rhonda Rodriguez Hannan was diligent in finding building resources and remaining present throughout the recovery/demolition and rebuilding process and former board member “Cisco” Gonzales, Jr. organized a GO FUND ME page to accept donations for the rebuilding. While labor provided by Parish Government and Isleno Society volunteers was free of charge, the Society has spent to date thousands of dollars purchasing necessary building materials such as rough-cut cypress, tin roofing, nails, electrical conduit and other supplies. Parish Government provided work crews to remove vegetative debris from the April 7th storm, other trees infested with Formosan termites and rot, and selectively demolish the ruined parts of the cabin allowing to stand those parts of the cabin which could be reused – the foundation, floor and rear wall.
Here is another sterling example of how the public – private partnership between Los Islenos Society and St. Bernard Parish Government remains functional. It cost more than $60,000 to construct the Trapper’s Cabin using FEMA funding following Katrina in 2009.
Andrew Miloshoff, a student studying Spanish at Purdue University, has remained active throughout 2019 in our community. Andrew is fluent in Spanish and is mastering the St. Bernard dialect of Isleño Spanish. He has interviewed almost two dozen informants to date who grew to maturity speaking Isleño Spanish as their first language. Most informants are Delacroix Island natives, though the Yscloskey Isleño descendants of Turiano Alfonso and Adele Campo have also demonstrated fluency as well and consented to recorded interviews. As always, “Wimpy” Serigne and Society member Stephen Schwarz have worked with Andrew to document the phenomenon of the Isleño dialect in its current decline. The work was funded by a grant from Purdue University, with significant support from Parish president Guy McInnis and Anthony A. Fernandez, Jr. The Frank Fernandez Collection at Nunez Community College has been made available by Nuñez Community Chancellor Tina Molero Tinney, Ph.D. and Head Librarian Richard de Foe. Communication with the Society began in December 2018 when Society Secretary Bill Hyland initiated dialogue with Mr. Miloshoff by email. Mr. Hyland has also helped to steward the Miloshoff study as well. The last documentation efforts occurred in the 1990s.
Andrew plans to translate the narrative in the Isleño Society website into Spanish so that there will exist for the first time a bi-lingual website in English and Spanish. An ultimate objective of the Miloshoff study will be to develop a glossary and later a dictionary of St. Bernard Parish Isleño Spanish. Andrew currently serves as president of the Purdue University student body and just completed a research trip to St. Bernard between December 12th and 23rd, 2019. We will keep the membership informed of the progress of this important work.