The Spirit of Erath

I was born before the turn of the twentieth century, as a vision in a pioneer's heart.  Although I have traveled difficult paths, my life has been one filled with pride.  Through great times and tragic moments, I emerged steadfast and proud.  Ironically rather than hindering me, stumbling blocks and stepping stones actually helped in the formation of who I am.  While age seems to weaken people, I somehow grew stronger with each decade that passed.

Although my infant years began with a struggle, pride emerged in my existence right from the beginning.  During that time, my personality evolved through the faces, hearts and actions of the people that were around me.

As with toddlers, I sometimes stumbled and fell. But I never gave up.  With each year, I began to gain confidence in my new found life and with my surroundings.  Eventually the pride within me solidified and it grew tremendously.  As I watched everyone bond for a common cause, I grew at an unbelievable rate. But with growth spurts, also came unforeseen obstacles.  There were times when we traveled through areas of uncharted territory.  Turmoil often accompanied sickness, tragic events and death.  Sometimes negative forces seemed to exhaust our breath of life. But throughout the journey I realized that unity could help everyone through tough times.  In spite of all odds I refused to let anything smother or defeat our community, so I rallied on.  I do realize that at times you did feel alone, afraid and abandoned.  But no matter what happened, I was there.  Although you may not have been able to feel me, believe me, I was always there with you.

I was there through the flood that inundated the area in 1940, 1984, 2001, as well as for storm surges for Hurricanes Rita and Ike.  Your homes, personal items and hearts were destroyed, but I was holding your hand... I was there.

I was there through destructive fires, natural tragedies, wars and illnesses. Although you may have felt alone.... I was wiping away your heartfelt tears.  I was there.

I was there when Hurricane Hilda spun her deadly winds and destroyed the families of the eight men that died.  Everyone was numb with grief and couldn't feel anything.... But I was in your midst, I was there.

I was there when your children felt victory and pride in school successes. Everyone was bursting at the seams from overwhelming sense of unity during those great times.  I felt so vital and alive.  The sense of pride felt was like an unending waterfall that never ceases.  It felt so great and I was there.

I was there when the young people experienced defeat in the depths of their heart and soul. Ironically, they looked at the scoreboard and saw defeat, but I looked at "them" and saw a great fight. Though no one may have felt my presence... I was standing so tall next to you... I was there.

I was there when challenges arose and the town divided.  Broken hearts emerged when division engulfed our community and you split.  Although you have felt that I abandoned you... I was walking right beside you.  I was there.

I was there as loved ones died through the years, especially when children were taken from their earthly homes.  Though the town may have been solemn and hearts were broken.  I was holding your saddened heart, so close to mine.  I was there with you.... Through it all... I was always there....

I emerged over one hundred years ago as a vision in the hearts of our founding fathers. I grew through the triumphs that emerged and I strengthened with each horrible tragedy.  Today after more than a century of life, I lie strong and steadfast in the hearts of so many, just as I did over one hundred years ago. You see, I am the pride of "your" past, present and future... I am the "Spirit of Erath!"

 

Written  by Stacy Bodin (For the Erath Centennial in 1999)
 (Revised After Hurricane Ike September 20, 2008)

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Spirit of Erath Articles (Keys to the Past Series)

Written by Stacy Bodin, Erath's 100th Anniversary Erath Centennial Historian (1999)

A Special Thank You goes out to Attorney Warren Perrin;
 the
Acadian Museum in Erath;
Kermit Bouillion;
Curney Dronet, (Erath Author);
the
Abbeville Meridional (Local Newspaper);
(The late)
Clement Bourgeois Jr., (Erath Historian);
John LeBlanc (Town Official);
The 1999 Centennial President Jackie Vincent;
Robert Vincent (Acadiana Museum Director);
and my parents Larson "Cap" and Gertie Hebert Bodin
who assisted me in my research in this project.

The articles presented in memory of
Relie LeBlanc III
whose enthusiasm and love of Erath
inspires me still today in my quest of
researching and writing about our community. 
His "Unity in the Community" motto
will forever remain in my heart.

Photo of LeBlanc is
Courtesy of Dickie Durr's Thrifty Way of Abbeville

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