Papa Dré sets the record straight

It was the Year of COVID-19 and Papa Dré wanted things to be clear before he passed in a New Orleans hospital room last August at age 86. He wanted to be sure he knew the world and that it needed some serious fixin’ as they say in Southeast Texas and ‘round ‘dare in da Bayou.
Talking with Papa Dré (short for his middle name André), was always a trill somewhat akin to a roller coaster ride mixed in with bumper cars, cotton candy,   Dixie longnecks and whatever fried food lagniappe was to be ett.
He sometimes didn’t hear well and couldn’t read lips of Anglaise (Englishmen) so he would often just smile when he saw your lips move or heard a sound like someone was trying to talk in a foreign language while eating peanut butter and crackers.
Papa D still had a bucket list, even at his young age.
One of his dreams was to start a frog farm and harvest the legs for sale to restaurants around the country, but Dré also wanted to make sure the “little guys” running dem food trucks and showin’ up at all the neighborhood fetes and garage sales and tailgatin’ parties were also in on what he predicted would be a frenzy for these sauteed morsels of garlic & butter mouth candy.
He was tinkin’ this could be as big as the Rubik’s Cube or Frisbees or Pet Rock or any number of useless things consumers flocked to. His claim to fame was taste, uniqueness, nutritious, simple and fun.
Dré was a meat eater and that meant pretty well everything. No! He would shout at any fool willing to say such a dumb thing. No! It don’t taste like chicken.
‘Dis here beats chicken any day, but ya gotta kill a swampfull of frogs to get a decent meal for 20 friends at a Super Bowl party or LSU tailgatin’ party. Because frog farming ain’t cheap and it sometimes be labor intensive when harvest time  come ‘round, every “munt” on a weekly basis and then every day of that week. Dré figured the only way to get the cost down for the average blue collar swampdog as he himself be, was to grow dem critters on a vast scale. Maybe create the whirlds largest frog farm. Then by sheer force of scale (he dun learned dat on an epilepticode of Shark Tank) Dré would conquer the price point and vastly appreciate the margins and maybe even do franchising or sell the whole ting to Popeyes Louisiana Chicken or dis or dat and on he went.
After about tree hour of barbecue fried catfish, 20-pound of spicy crawdad boiled with salt podata and ¼ cobbs of sweetcorn and a keg of Dixie, wid sum dirty rice on da side, we knew we had dun fixed all de problem of da planet.
We all had quite a talk that crazy Sunday afternoon in old Chalmette. When Dré was in his 20’s back in the day of hippies & Vietnam, he had always heard the phrase “STD is the Razor Edge.” He was playin’ back his memories of yoot.
I almost hamstrung a tonsil after ‘splainin’ forever that he was tinkin of “STP was the racer’s edge” as promoted by Andy Granatelli. “Granatelli,” Dré said. “Wasn’t he one of dem Dons in de Gawdfada.”
Old Pape Dré, we gonna miss him fa sure.
I lived in the city of New Orleans in old Algiers from 1981-1984. I will always miss the food, Mardi Gras and the music. The people and that culture is perhaps, no, without a doubt, the most unique large community of its kind in America bar none. The Amish are cool and so too the Native Tribal cultures extant nationwide. The Mennonites are cool too and so are the Chinatowns and Little Italys, etc. Now go visit Nawlins and see for you self. 
Dat remin’s me, what is the loneliest bayou in the whirld? Bayou Self, son, yep dat be da place, Bayou Self.
Managing Editor Gary Bégin can be emailed at Comments may be used as Letters to the Editor in future NCW Media publications.


User menu

NCW Media Newspapers