Photograph by Todd Webb; 1947
What is this young man doing, why is he doing it, and where, most likely, would this rig be that he is doing it, on?
Take some guesses and we'll get caught up later in the week.
Well, my friend Robert answered this question pretty quickly; he is obviously familiar with the filmaker, Robert Flaherty and the movie,
The Louisiana Story. Goodonya, Robert!
The young man's name in the photograph, above, is a real-life coon ass boy named Joseph Boudreaux and he, and his pet coon, are the stars of the 1948 movie about cajun swamp life. His character's name in the movie is Alex Latour. Its a very simple movie, with little dialogue, but beautiful scenery that actually won acclaim for Robert Flaherty.
Alex lives in the marsh in southern Louisiana. His father leases their family land to Standard New Jersey (Humble, then Exxon), and the first well on the place blows out and is evenutally capped and abandoned.
Before spudding the 2nd well drilled on his fathers's land, young Alex puts salt down the hole, thru the rotatry table. Salt is powerful medicine in Creole lore and can be used for a number of superstitous reasons...in this case to ward off bad ju-ju and keep the new well from blowing out again.
There are things to do to with salt to protect yourself from the cajun "loup garou" (werewolf) and to make sure it will stop raining at a picnic. Throw salt at a bad person and he won't come back. And by the way, never, I repeat never, eat both ends of a loaf of bread in Louisiana south of Interstate 10. You'll be guaranteed to never make ends meet again.
Ju-ju is a big deal in parts of Louisiana.
Here is some good, very high quality film of a bit trip on a Louisiana drilling barge in 1947, part of the movie, The Louisiana Story. Young Alex is entralled by the drilling rig and poles his pirgue thru the marsh out to the barge to watch. Around the 8:30 minute mark in this clip young Alex shows the driller his little bag of salt and says what its for. "Them," I believe, must mean the loup garous. Alex's pet coon is inside his shirt, by the way.
In real life Joseph Boudreaux actually grew up to work on drilling rigs in the Louisiana marsh.
Standard actually funded the making of this movie. What was thought to originally be an effort at public relations in Louisiana, turned out to be a well regarded movie in 1948. The famous, Virgil Thomson actually won a Nobel prize for the music score of this film.
The downhole loup garous are the real deal; I know this, me. They've gotten my ass a bunch of times.