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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region.


Frances Chauvin, pie-maker

Laura Westbrook: Here we go—it’s November 3rd and this is an interview with Mrs. Francis Chauvin at her home outside of Hammond, Louisiana. The interviewer is Laura Westbrook, and Frances is making pies this morning with help from Faustina Cook. I’m going to just sit this here until we need to move it.

Francis Chauvin: Okay.

The first thing I noticed when I come to visit your house, other than how wonderful it smells, is that this house seems to have been created just for you and the things you do. How did this place come to be?

Well, I drew up the floor plans the night before we started it.


We lived in Hammond and we had this land, and the sewage backed up, and we had to move in with seven kids to the Holiday Inn after being on a two-week vacation, and a fellow came and said, “Well, when are y’all going to start your house?” I said, “Tomorrow!” I drew up the floor plan that night. And we didn’t know what the rest would look like; it took us a while to get that. But we had a place for all of our furniture, and all that we had in the other house, so that’s how—and no architect, so—and here’s a picture of me putting a roof on and all our children helping us—helping. We had carpeting and family and friends did a lot of the work. It was fun.

Had you had an idea in your mind already of the ideal house—?

Well, we knew we wanted some kind of a barn-looking thing because it was on the farm. We got these beams out of the barn across the street and this big piece of cypress came from a friend out on Blood River; he gave it to us and we left it in its natural shape and that—that became the bar.

Now you say you grew up in—in Welsh, Louisiana?

Uh-hm; and went to school in Welsh and Fenton, F-e-n-t-o-n, and my husband was from the Napoleonville.

And so your—your husband, what did he teach when you met him?

He taught English and History and Algebra; he taught me that.

So you had—you had him as your teacher for three classes?

Yes, over a period of a year and a half. And he was 10 years older than I, but we had—he got into the radio business after teaching school and that was the most interesting place to raise children.

( Read the full interview by following the PDF link above )

Date of interview:
2005-01-03 00:00

Laura Westbrook, University of New Orleans


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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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