Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Learning | Natchitoches

Did you ever see the movie, Steel Magnolias? If you saw the original 1989 version, starring Julia Roberts, you saw a cameo of my niece, playing a newborn baby in the hospital--because she had just been born in the building they were using as a movie location.

I'm in northern Louisiana visiting family this week, in a city called Natchitoches; that's where Steel Magnolias playwright Robert Harling was born and raised.  Julia Roberts' character is based on the tragic story of Harling's sister, Susan. 

I've been thinking about that movie, because I always seem to be passing the house that was featured in the film. I hear it is a bed and breakfast now. It's just a few blocks from the Natchitoches Parish Library.

The city of Natchitoches is the setting for the motion picture, but its name has been disguised as the city of Chinquapin. For many years, it was believed that the word Natchitoches meant the same thing as chinquapin (chestnut tree,) or perhaps eaters of chinquapins.  

Just like the fictional Chinquapin, Natchitoches has a Christmas festival that draws visitors from great distances.  If you have a taste for Christmas light displays, you might consider putting a visit on your bucket list.

Facts about Natchitoches:

It is the oldest continuous settlement in the Louisiana Purchase. It's 300th birthday will be celebrated throughout the year 2014.

Its name is hard to pronounce, because it's a French transliteration of a Native American word.  Residents pronounce it either NACK-a-tish or NACK-a-dish.

The city was established on the banks of the Red River, but the river changed course, leaving behind a long, skinny lake that is now known as the Cane River Lake.

Natchitoches is famous for its meat pies.

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