The Patureau Sisters of Plaquemine Revisited
I wrote a post about the my paternal grandmother and her sisters over five years ago. That other post featured a photo of my Mee Maw (Germaine Erie Patureau Landry) with five of her sisters. This photo only has three of her sisters and it was taken a few years before that other photo.
This photo was taken around 1958 or so. I have no idea where it was taken. I don’t recognize any background feature that would give me a clue. Maybe someone else knows. I do know who the four Patureau sisters are. From left to right we have Zita, Erie, Sylvie, and Lydwin. Two of these sisters gave birth to eight children each – with four boys and four girls for each. The other two sisters did not birth any children. That was your choice back then. Either you had eight children or you had none.
That’s not true. It just happens to be the situation for those sisters in this photo. Lydwin or Aunt Win was the oldest one in this photo. She was never married and had no children. On the other side of the couch is Aunt Zita who never gave birth to any children. However, when their sister Marie Therese died as a young mother of two daughters, Zita married her widower (Clarence Schafer) and helped raise the two daughters. While we love our Sis and Syl, I mainly wanted to talk about the two large families of the other two Patureau sisters.
Erie (later to be known as Mee Maw) married Rob Landry in 1921. Their first child was born in 1923 and they had the rest of their eight children over the next 13 years in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Sylvie married Son Marionneaux in 1929. Their first child was born in 1930 and they had their eighth 12 years later. These girls didn’t waste much time! There were a few of them that were born close to the same time. I remember how exciting it was when my sisters were pregnant at the same time. Things change so quickly during those times.
In 1932 both Erie and Sylvie gave birth to little girls. Erie gave birth to Wana on June 30th and just four months later Sylvie gave birth to Winona on Halloween. (my birthday!) Aunt Wana passed away in 2014 and we just lost Winona this week. She was my inspiration for this week’s post. It made me think of those two large families that were so similar. I really don’t remember Winona from when I was young. Shortly after I moved to Baton Rouge, I befriended her daughter. We didn’t realize we were second cousins for two years. Then one day she started talking about a strange cousin she had that would show up uninvited and start telling people what to do. The more she talked, the more familiar the cousin sounded. When I asked her if her cousin’s name was Tez, she was astounded. It didn’t take long to figure out our relation. The Uninvited Guest strikes again!
In 1936 Erie and Sylvie thought they could do a little better, and they did. This time their children were only a month and a half apart. Sylvie had Maxine in June, while Erie gave birth to Johnny in August. These cousins are still with us. That completed Erie’s eight kids, while Sylvie had three more to go. In those first few years (until 1935) Erie and Sylvie’s dad Max Patureau was still alive and he loved to go stay where all of the kids were. So he would take turns going to Plaquemine and Lake Charles to visit his grandkids.
My dad used to talk about how he liked to go visit his cousins in Plaquemine. The thing that was talked about the most was sleeping on the porch of the house. There was something about jumping out of the window to claim the bed that was on the porch. Whenever his cousins would show up at family reunions or get togethers, you could see that he had a fondness for them. It seems like that was a mutual feeling between all of those cousins. I feel the same way toward my cousins.
So this weekend we’ll be saying goodbye to one of Grampa Max’s grandchildren. There are still a few of them left. I’m hoping to see some of them and the next generation so we can maintain those family connections.