New Oral History: Middendorf’s and Manchac

Middendorfs

Today we release an oral history project documenting Middendorf’s and Manchac, Louisiana.

When Josie and Louis Middendorf opened Middendorf’s Restaurant in 1934, Manchac was a small but thriving fishing village. A canal served as a main thoroughfare, until the interstate system came through, moving homes and waters with it. Manchac was always too small to have a school. Kids were bussed instead to Ponchatoula and LaPlace—and then they would return to their pirogues, their palmetto shacks or houses built on pylons, their bathing-suit summers, their lives on the water.

It’s not entirely accurate to say that Middendorf’s and Manchac are one and the same today. But Middendorf’s is indeed the town’s calling call, a community anchor, and by all accounts it was from the beginning. For proof, you need only to ask longtime waitresses Wanda Cortez and Lois Sykes how long it takes to wear down a pair of SAS shoes. Or listen to retired hostess Deloris Reno laugh about showing up for her first shift in high heels. Or talk to fish-frying maven Elaine Carter about keeping up with the kitchen’s thirteen deep fryers.

Head here to visit the full oral history project, documented by Sara Roahen and photographer Dorka Hegedus.