Sunday, November 15, 2015

a family like a fricassee

HE DOESN’T SEEM to talk much, but then he doesn’t have to. When you’ve fathered almost an entire town, words are unnecessary. “Pop” Joe Courville celebrates his 87th birthday today on the banks of Catahoula Lake. According to his oldest daughter, Mrs. J. B. (Yola) Laviolette, almost everyone in the town will attend. 
     Pop Joe has 191 descendants, his daughter and niece have concluded. Both Pop Joe and his wife, Mom Joe (Adolphine Courville), had been married before they met and married to each other. Together they brought five children to their second marriage, then had eight themselves.
     Pop Joe, born and raised in Catahoula, was one of nine children himself, so in addition to his kids, he had plenty of nieces and nephews.
     Relationships in the Courville home were already complicated, and the fact that two children each from Pop Joe and Mom Joe’s former marriages had the same name didn’t make things easier. Mrs. Laviolette said that was solved by referring to her as “Yola a Pop Joe” and her step-sister as “Yola a Mom Joe.” The two other Yolandes got the same treatment.
     There was also a marriage within the Courville household between a step-sister and step-brother. “Mom Joe’s daughter married Pop Joe’s son,” Mrs. Laviolette said.
     “We figured that there were four kinds of children in the house,” she said, “her children, his children, their children and our children.”
     “It took a long time for me to figure out how the relations go,” Mrs. Laviolette said. “They stirred it up like a fricassee in a pot.” 
     All the Courville children are now grandparents and, as close as Mrs. Laviolette and Pop Joe’s niece, Mrs. Joseph Borel, can figure it, he is related in some way or another to everyone in Catahoula.
     Pop Joe’s birthday will be celebrated with a 10 a.m. mass on the banks of Catahoula Lake today. The children have pitched in to buy Pop Joe a reclining chair and his children and grandchildren will present him with a piece of wood with all their names carved in it as a tribute to the father of Catahoula.

by Jane Oliver
Daily Advertiser