It’s been three months since I’ve written. Not just on this blog. I haven’t written at all. I sit down with the intention to write, but nothing comes out. I sometimes have days that are clouded by what I term “major sadness”. I find it difficult to do anything on these days. Writing and cooking are the first things to go out the window. I can’t get out of my own head enough to find inspiration or do much of anything besides lay on the couch. After re-reading those last few sentences I feel they sound more dramatic than reality, but I’m not sure how to clarify. Suffice it to say I have been clouded lately and have struggled to find the way out.
Thankfully, I am not always in control of my own inspiration. I traveled to Biloxi, Mississippi for a family reunion and came home with a richer sense of who I am and where I come from. The family reunion occurs each year, and each year my dad asks me to come, but I always have a conflict. I did attempt to go in 2005, but was chased away by a hurricane who was followed by Katrina. After this trip in 2012 I am so glad that I made the time to go back there, and deeply saddened that I never got to see it before the terrors of Hurricane Katrina.
Biloxi, Mississippi is my history. My great-great-great-grandfather, Pedro Anglada left Spain and traveled to America with his young wife, Rosa Perillo in 18–. They made Biloxi their home and their legacy. The next three generations of Anglados were born and raised in Biloxi. Throughout the years Pedro’s name was changed to Pierre Anglade and then Peter Anglado.
I roamed the streets of Biloxi with my father and his parents learning all the stories of Grandpa’s youth. Watching my grandfather marvel at his youth was probably the best part of the entire trip. The draw bridge his father operated, and from which my grandfather fished as a boy, is currently being re-built. We drove the length of Anglada Street to what is now the giant IP building, but used to be the mansion of my wealthy ancestors.
I stood under the massive oak tree that marked the front yard of the little house where my grandfather was born and lived until he joined the United States Marine Corps. That little house was destroyed by Hurricane Camille in 1969. I could almost see the events playing like an old movie in front of me as we looked out at the bayou. My grandfather as a two-and-a-half year old boy carrying his newborn sister across the lawn as his mother yelled after him, “Where are you taking Mary?” “I’m gonna throw her in the bayou!” only to be pulled out of that bayou by the very same sister twelve years later when he was struck by lightning.
I got a true taste of the south and of my grandfather’s childhood when we ended our week with a shrimp po’ boy. I’ve been told about po’ boys my entire life. Every time Grandpa talks about Biloxi he talks about po’ boys and says he’ll take me there and we’ll eat one. We finally did just that. Gulf shrimp is different, better, than any other shrimp. When fried, dressed with lettuce and mayonnaise, and pressed inside a French loaf it is even better.
I met many cousins from the Anglada side who have now spread all across the country. We had a big shrimp boil one night with ten pounds of fresh-off-the-boat shrimp, red potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, and andouille sausage. I also met my great-grandmother’s side who largely remained in Mississippi. I’ve heard family stories all my life, and I am beyond pleased to have gotten the chance to see the physical places these stories occurred and learn more about my family history.
Biloxi, Mississippi is my history, and will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Where do you find your inspiration?
My great-great-great-grandfather’s crypt. The inscription reads:
A precious one from us has gone
A voice we loved is stilled
A place is vacant in our home
Which never can be filled
God in His wisdom has recalled
The boon His love had given
And though the body slumbers here
The soul is safe in Heaven