The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, July 1972 - April, 1973 Page: 441
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when I fed him. Mama was a good teacher. She had only a few months of
education but she was a good reader. She read the French prayerbook to
us and taught us our prayers in French. The only times we heard her
speak English was when the wagon store came by with piece goods, pat-
terns and other sewing needs, pots and pans, and other household items.
He picked up eggs and other things from Mama.
When I was six or a little older, Mama's favorite cousin from Lake
Charles came for a short visit. She took me back with her and enrolled
me in St. Peter Claver School. Some children came only for the day, but
some of us lived with Miss Elnora Figaro, the teacher. I can never forget
those first days when everything was so strange. The greatest agony came
on the days I got my hair combed by a bigger girl. I was very tender
headed and my hair was long, thick, and very curly. Ever so often Aunt
Emma-Mama's cousin-took me to her house to wash my hair. That
was torture. Miss Figaro was so very strict. I loved to talk and Mama
loved us to talk to each other at home, but Miss Figaro wanted us to be
quiet. She placed a high premium on silence.
Fortunately I knew most of the prayers, but now I had to learn to say
them in English. I had to learn to read quickly so that I could say them
in English. It was a matter of heaven or hell, because I would not be able
to make my first holy communion until I could read my prayers in
English. Through repetition I learned my prayers by memory. My old-
er cousin Edmonia, a day student, was a good reading teacher and she
helped me. Before long I was on my way. Learning to read in English
has been the greatest gift since life, for all I was to do in the future de-
pended on it.
Before school got very far along I had caught head lice, and my hair
had to be cut off. It was too thick and too long, and no one had time to
take care of it. One good thing in my favor was the absence of mirrors
for little girls, so I never knew how awful I looked. Several other girls
had the same problem so I did not feel selected.
At Christmastime Cousin Emma took me home to spend the holidays.
Before time to return I "took" with a strange illness. I recall Mama and
Papa asking me many questions. Papa saw a doctor in town and brought
back medicine that made me so much sicker. Papa had to get a neighbor
to stay with the small children so he and Mama could take me into New
Iberia to a doctor. The outcome was a great comfort to me. I would not
be able to go back to school. I would have to eat fruit and vegetables,
lots and lots, especially vegetable soup and crackers. Crackers were a
rarity-you had to be really sick to get crackers, and fruit you only got
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, July 1972 - April, 1973, periodical, 1973; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101202/m1/497/: accessed December 11, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.