Time travel made easy

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 19, 2010

By David Vitrano


DESTREHAN – Destrehan Plantation took a trip back in time last week as it hosted its annual Spring Heritage Days.

The event started as a way to educate area school children about the crafts and methods employed by their ancestors as part of daily life in the South. As in years past practitioners of formerly common techniques such as fabric weaving and dyeing, carpentry and open hearth cooking gave demonstrations throughout the plantation grounds. This year, however, the event was expanded to Saturday so the general public could take part in the activities.

In between intermittent rainstorms, visitors got the chance to see the numerous demonstrations as well as a Civil War reenactment.

As guests began their tour of the grounds, one of the first organizations they happened upon was the New Orleans Weaver’s Guild. Beverly Madere of the Guild explained the organization aims to raise awareness of the centuries-old craft.

“It’s still being done. It’s just that people don’t realize it,” said Madere.

Madere also demonstrated the plantation’s newest acquisition — a massive loom that took six weeks to fully install.

Further down the path, the band Bayou Bluegrass played period favorites outside the barn while other demonstrations took place inside. One of the most interesting of these was put on by Floridian Dawn Klug, who is single handedly trying to bring back the art of weaving Spanish moss. She said she is the only person in the country who is currently plying the trade on a commercial scale. She weaves Confederate-era saddle blankets from the rough twine she creates.

Klug said there exists very little literature on the matter. “I had to learn a lot that was lost just through experimentation,” Klug explained.

Klug said she recently acquired an apprentice, Laura “Billie Jo” Renkin, who she hopes will take up the trade full time eventually.

Despite the weather, the day provided a relaxing trip back to a simpler time that has been lost to many. As one of the plantation’s tour guides, Kitty Moreau, opined, “I absolutely love being here. I didn’t realize what I didn’t know.”