T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History
Shoats Prairie, Garrett's Grocery, Prudy's Drugstore
LaSalle Williams, by Chelsea Arseneault, 2016.
CHELSEA ARSENEAULT: So your family had a garden?

LASALLE WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah. That was every year. Chickens . . . We didn't buy chickens. We raised chickens. I done killed so many chicken by wringing their neck. And see what they would do is, when they get ready . . . The chicken was all over the yard, but when they get ready to eat one they put them in the coop. I guess that's what they called, clean them out for so many days. Then our job was to go out there and kill them and wring the neck of them. They showed me how to pick them. The same thing with the ducks. Of course them guineas, I never could catch them. I don't remember dealing with guineas. But I tell you something else that always stick in my mind, I guess there's about nature. They had plum trees, fruit trees. You ain't never heard of . . . You heard of Muscadine [grapes]?

ARSENEAULT: Muscadine wine, yeah.

WILLIAMS: Well we used to go in . . . these muscadines, would go in the woods and collect them. Well, we had fig trees, peach trees, and oh . . . I guess eight or nine plum trees and they were, I mean, big old healthy plums. And all of a sudden this stuff just disappeared, and I think I know why. That's when industry started coming in. But just about everything that we . . . except for sugar and stuff like that you’d go to the store and get . . . and it might be interesting to know, you might want this in your . . . the big interview. They had one grocery store in Mossville. Only one. There was Garrett’s on that right there by the railroad track. Garrett's Grocery Store.

ARSENEAULT: Garrett's Grocery Store?

WILLIAMS: Ira Garrett. And you could go there and get sausage . . . Anything in the house. And what he used to do to get by on credit. You’d go there and they’d write it on the book and they pay it. Now, many times I had to go to the store with that bill to collect. And that was the only store that served the whole Mossville. And by that same area, they had a post office one time in Mossville. Across the street from it. And right by the grocery store were the railroad tracks. They had a passenger train, and some people caught the train right there off of the . . . Get on the train and ride to Texas, or wherever they had to go. Baton Rouge.

There were some other businesses, too, they have in Mossville besides that. They had a drugstore in Mossville one time. Purdy’s Drugstore. Now it was a sub . . . I’d say a sub-drugstore from the one she had in Lake Charles [Louisiana] on Mill Street. Then she opened one over here right down the street from where the school is now, where Sasol [energy and chemical company] is.

Now talk about clubs . . . they had a bunch of clubs like bars and all that over in Mossville. Had a hotel in Mossville one time right down by Evergreen [Road], see. So I remember a lot of things about Mossville. You ever heard of Shoat’s Prairie? Well, somebody going to have it somewhere. It’s up in . . . He got his name from all of the wild hogs, and that’s right up there where Sasol is building some of their . . .

ARSENEAULT: What is it?

WILLIAMS: Shoat’s Prairie.

ARSENEAULT: Is a shoat a kind of a pig?

WILLIAMS: Wild hog. Wild pigs. And they'd run all over the place. People would kill them and eat them. Some people wouldn't because they was wild. A lot of people had a real regular hogs that they would raise. But these were hogs that they would run in the woods. And that’s where it got its name, Shoat’s Prairie.

ARSENEAULT: Just for my own curiosity, were the hogs dangerous? Did they have those tusks?

WILLIAMS: Well yeah! Yeah they was dangerous. They'll cut you. Don't get too close to them, see. Most people were the ones that had guns but they'd trap them, see. And then they would shoot them. But today I think that's what they do today, don't they trap them? They still got them in this area and they got them all around this area. In Carlyss [Louisiana], Moss Bluff [Louisiana], but they’re real dangerous.
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