Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bay St. Louis, MS

This morning we woke up to an absolutely glorious sunrise over the Gulf, right outside our window!  It was truly spectacular and quite a sight.  We walked for an hour along the beach path, passing lots of folks out fishing and crabbing, including families--a dad teaching his little boy how to cast--old men who looked like they've probably been coming to the same spot for years--and all in between.  We stopped to talk to one man who had just propped his two poles against the low seawall.  We asked what he was trying to catch and he said "Oh I don't know, just trying to catch some bait, I guess, just killin' time."

We went down to Old Town Bay St. Louis, to the old train depot, which, like in many small towns, now houses the tourist bureau/visitors center.  This one had a wonderful display of Mardi Gras costumes, which I don't think we'd ever seen up close before.  They were really bright, showy, big, and incredibly intricate in design and crafting.  The hostess told us how Mardi Gras is celebrated all along the coast from Mobile to New Orleans, and they have their own crewe in Bay St. Louis--an all women's crewe, she explained; crewes are always either all men or all women.  They do have men holding some selected ceremonial titles for each Mardi Gras, but she explained how every costume is handmade, costs several thousand dollars, and is never worn in but one Mardi Gras.  Each individual pays quite a bit of money just to belong to the crewe, and also pays for their own costumes.  While we were there a former Mardi Gras queen from this crewe came in, but her actual costume was not on display.  Some pics below.

There are also some railroad artifacts from the depot's heyday but the main attraction there is the Alice Moseley folk art museum on the second floor.  We knew nothing of this artist, but just came across the reference in one of the "what to do and see in Bay St. Louis" sites, and were we ever glad we found her!  She died in 2004 at the age of 94; she had been an 8th grade teacher in Memphis for her first career, and never touch a brush until age 65.  Her mother had come to live with her and her husband, and "Miss Alice" as she became known, took up painting on her own as therapy for the stresses of caring for her mother who suffered from Alzheimer's for the last  five years of her life.  Initially she never thought of her work as salable but her son convinced her to take 20 paintings to a show, and the first person who saw them bought them all.  She never had any instruction, and her work is described as idyllic folk art.  We got a wonderful DVD that has segments of interviews she did over several years, and it is just delightful.  Her work is beautiful folk art, each piece titled and telling a story.  She said she always tried to infuse each piece with something of her sense of humor, and it's hilarious listening to her  telling stories about how she came up with ideas for paintings, how she dickered with some particular buyers of her work.  In one interview when she was about to turn 93, she said one of the good things about being that old was that she could tell any story she wanted because there was no one left living who could contradict her version of events!  Trisha and I just watched it again in the RV and it's alternatively poignant, funny, inspiring and just plain entertaining.  Her philosophy of teaching, her attitudes about life, her self deprecating humor, all are just bits and pieces, yet very integral parts, of the whole of her work and her legacy.  If you're ever in this area, it's definitely worth a trip to see the museum.  One of our favorites was "Until today I thought I was folks," a tribute to her husband's dog, Joe, who, when her husband got so sick with his final illness, quit eating or drinking--the painting depicts heaven as a place with separate sections for people and animals, and Joe making this exclamation when he realized he was going to be in doggie heaven and not people heaven!  Miss Alice's dog, Herman, is still alive at 22, and tomorrow the friends of the museum are having a birthday party in Herman's honor as a fundraiser!

We walked along the beachfront, and saw several very interesting carvings that have been done in trees that were done in by the storm--artists have come along and turned the trunks into a host of angels and birds, all seemingly watching over the waterfront and the town.  Reminded us of one of Miss Alice's paintings: "In Bay St. Louis angels work around the clock."

After lunch on the waterfront, we came back to the campground and went over to the beach for a nap and some wave watching--the wind has been picking up as the afternoon wore on and it's gotten a bit cooler, but at least the wind has been keeping the noseeums at bay--quite annoying when we arrived yesterday.  Tomorrow we'll go to Baton Rouge--we've been looking for an Apple computer store to take some training classes to help us learn more about the new Macbook, and this is the first one we've been close to--all the slots at the New Orleans area store were taken, so we'll do this class tomorrow afternoon and then stop at a campground about an hour and a half past Baton Rouge, and the next day head on toward the Lone Star State.

Well, having some problems here trying to post pics from today, so I'll sign off and try again in the morning before we head out.


  1. Jack wonderful to read about "Miss Alice". You guys heading to Baton Rouge, I have many memories of my days at LSU...........

    Hope you learn a lot in computer class so we can enjoy more pictures. Do not be surprised if a 6th grader is teaching the class.......Wow our grandchildren can run circles around us with all the new stuff. My granddaughter taught me how to use my smart phone...........

    Have a great day and be safe.


  2. Rod, you're right--I'm just hoping the teacher doesn't tell us we're just too old to be owning one of these new fangled contraptions! Shortly after I got a smart phone, and before I figured out how to turn it off so it wouldn't make butt calls when I put it back in my pocket, it dialed our son in Seattle, and when I told him what had happened he said, "Dad, even smart phones need intelligent users!" Geez, where's the respect??!!