[Where Y'at Magazine/Provided Photos] 

Louisiana Story Hour: "Weird Louisiana"

17:51 April 10, 2020
By: Kim Ranjbar
Image: whereyatcom_295878756.JPG

Roger Manley's Weird Louisiana isn't quite as detailed as one might hope, but quite a few of the strange things Manley uncovered might incite a desire do a little investigating on your own.

Weird Louisiana takes the form of a fun yet informative coffee table book with more than 250 pages of brightly colored photographs which serve as background for each article. Sometimes the contrast between the photos and font colors made for difficult reading, but a true aficionado off all things "weird" would not be deterred.

The first story in Weird Louisiana and was on the Rougarou, a local version of a werewolf or boogeyman. Many families of Cajun heritage tell their children that if they don't behave, the Rougarou will get them! Rest assured, all you have to do is sing psalms (or keep a frog in your pocket) and it will repel the Rougarou if ever you find yourself wandering too near the swamps.

Though they do occupy a fair share of the book, not all of the stories in Weird Louisiana are about mysterious creatures or haunted houses. There's also a lot of fascinating oddities that only humans could create. For example, when the Sellers' brothers of Lafayette were bequeathed their father's house after his death in the late 1850's, they chose to split the house right down the middle rather than live in it together! Apparently, one half of the house still stands to this day, although it's been reconstructed to be a whole house again.

In another more recent tale from 1999, the Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church in LaPlace beheld a religious mystery where a communion wafer dissolving in a jar of holy water transformed into what appeared to be a piece of flesh! Was it truly the body of Christ being consumed by the local congregation? After this phenomenon, a few members of the community believe it's true.

From astounding historical facts to outlandish local gossip, the amazingly weird tales never seem to end. Who wouldn't be intrigued by the serial killer known as the Axeman who terrorized New Orleans from 1911 to 1919? Or what about John James Audubon who fabricated much of his own life story, including the fact that he was originally from Louisiana? Or what about the world's smallest church located in Iberville Parish or Raceland's mysterious Muffler Man?

A particular highlight in this long list of offbeat and perplexing tales is regarding the story of Judge Perez Drive in St. Bernard Parish. The road was originally named for Judge Leander Perez, but since his mineral rights schemes have come to light where he managed to bilk citizens out of more than $80 million, his reputation has soured. Instead of spending a lot of time and money replacing all the road signs, the officials of St. Bernard Parish decided to rename the road after Melvyn Perez, another local judge with a much more favorable standing in the community.

Weird Louisiana is a conversation-starter certainly worth perusing, if not owning. What discoveries could you make on your own road trip through Louisiana.?

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