Today is:......
Les Cenelles Calinda Dance Tignon
Creole Folklore
Creole Folklore


Enola Matthews

a Creole of color from ......Jennings, Jefferson Davis Parish

A bit of Down home Louisiana Folklore never hurt anybody but it does bring back the times when People lived without cell phones, answering machines, Computers ,E-mail and Television...


Enola Matthews

is a Creole of color now living in Jennings who draws upon two story telling traditions: Irish and Creole. She was born and raised near Durald. Her grandfather came to New Orleans from Ireland at the age of five, and he and his family brought with them wonderful magic tales with which he would eventually regale his grandchildren.

Enola also tells Bouki and Lapin animal tales and Jean Sot numbskull tales reflecting the blending of African and French traditions. Bouki and Lapin became Americanized as Brer Rabbit tales. Enola continues other aspects of a traditional lifestyle including quilting and making lye soap.



Enola Matthews

Swaping stories .....Click here

Creole of Color
From Jennings, Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana

Collected by Annette Huval on April 2, 1993.


English translation...... of this story follows.


Les trois jobs (The Three Jobs)
Creole Language


Il y avait un homme qu'avait une jolie fille. (C'est toujours dans les filles. Ça m'a revenu dans la tête.) Il a demandé à le vieux homme pour marier sa fille. Ça fait il a dit, "Avant tu maries ma fille," il dit, "J'ai trois jobs pour toi faire. Et si tu fais ces trois jobs là," il dit, "Je vas te la donner."

Il dit, "Qui c'est?"

Il dit, "Je veux que tu prends un bassin qui était plein de trous. Et je veux que tu vas à la rivière et" �à peu près, lui il disait deux arpents, that must have been éyoù il restait�" aller chercher l'eau avec ce bassin qui coule et remplir le carçon."

Et chaque fois il attrapait l'eau, ça tombait.

La fille a été le rejoindre. Elle avait une baguette. Et elle a dit à l'homme, elle dit, "Cogne trois coups par terre et trois coups sur la rivière et dit à la rivière qu'elle va remplir le baril, le carçon."

Ça fait il a cogné trois coups par terre et il a cogné trois coups sur la rivière. Il dit, "Va et remplis le baril là plein d'eau."

Il a été, il dit, "Well, j'ai fini mon job cil-là là."

"O," il dit, "Tu l'as rempli d'eau."


"Bien," il dit. "L'autre, ça je veux que tu fais, et il dit, "Je veux que tu vas séparer l'eau et la rivière." Il dit, "Je veux que tu sèches la rivière pour moi passer."

La fille a entendu, elle a fait le tour. Elle a dit, "Va cogner ma baguette par terre. Trois coups par terre et trois coups sur le côte de la rivière et dit à l'eau de sortir, que l'eau s'en va." Puis il a été, il a fait ça. Il a ouvert la rivière. La terre était sec. Il a été. Il dit, "Asteur je crois mon job est fini."

Ça fait il a été. O, la rivière était sec.

"Là," il dit, "Le job je veux que tu fais." Il y avait un arbre en glace. C'était tout de la glace. C'était haut. Il dit, "Je veux que tu vas attraper les deux �ufs en or qui est en haut." La fille a fait le tour. Elle a été le rejoindre. Elle dit, "Qui tu fais?"

Il lui a dit, il dit, "Ton père veux je vas monter dans cet arbre là, attraper ces trois �ufs d'or (golden egg) qu'est là-bas en haut et je peux pas grimper ça," il dit. "J'essaie et je glisse, chaque fois j'essaie et je glisse."

"O mais," elle dit, "C'est pas rien." Elle dit, "Souffle trois fois sur moi." Et elle dit, "Je vas tomber. Je vas mourir." Là, elle dit, "Prends tous mes ossailles." Et puis elle dit, "Tu les colles. Ça va coller. Ça va faire ton échelle pour toi monter." Là, elle dit, "Quand tu vas revenir, tu vas ramener mes ossailles et tu vas me les remettre. Et souffle trois fois sur moi, je vas revenir."

So il a fait ça. Il a monté en haut. Il a attrapé les �ufs et il a revenu. Là il a attrapé les ossailles et puis il a remis. Mais il a oublié le petit doigt en haut. L'ossaille du petit doigt.

Ça fait, là il s'a mis à brailler mais elle a parlé. Elle dit, "Je suis all right." Elle dit, "T'as quitté l'ossaille de mon petit doigt en haut dans la tête. Faudra tu retournes."

Ça fait, faut il reprend ses ossailles de la fille encore et il a grimpé pour aller chercher le petit finger qu'avait resté. Ça se fait, il est revenu. Il a mis les ossailles et il a soufflé trois fois sur elle et elle a revenu.

Ça fait, sa mère lui a demandé, elle dit, "Mais qui t'as fait aussi longtemps? Eyoù tu sors?"

"O," elle dit, "J'ai été marché regarder les fleurs farouches dans la savane."

Ça fait, il a venu apporter les �ufs à son maître. Et il dit, "J'ai été les attraper et je les ai apportés." Ça fait, le maître a jamais pu comprendre comment que le garçon faisait. "Bien," il dit, "tiens prends-là. Je te la donne." Il lui a donné sa fille.




The Three Jobs
The English Language


There was a man who had a pretty daughter. (The girls are always pretty in these tales; I remember that.) [A man] asked the old man if he could marry his daughter. Then [the old man] said, "Before you marry my daughter," he says, "I have three jobs for you to do. And if you do these three jobs," he says, "I am going to give her to you."

He asks, "What are they?"

[The old man] says, "I want you to take a bucket that is full of holes. And I want you to go to the river and--about two arpents away, that must have been, from where he lived--to go for water with that leaky bucket and fill the cistern."

And every time he got the water, it leaked out.

The girl went to meet him. She had a wand. And she said to the man, she said, "Strike the ground three times and the river three times and tell the river to go fill the barrel, the cistern."

So he struck the ground three times and he struck the river three times. He says, "Go and fill that barrel full of water."

He went. He says, "Well, I finished that job."

"Oh," [the old man] says, "you've filled it with water."


"Good," he says. "The next thing that I want you to do," he says, "I want you to go and take the water out of the river." He says, "I want you to dry up the river so I can cross it."

The girl heard this, she went there. She said, "Go strike my wand on the ground. Three strokes on the ground and three strokes on the river bank, and tell the water to go out. Have the water go away." Then he did that, he did that. He drained the river. The river bed was dry. He went. He says, "Now I believe my job is done."

And it was. Oh, the river was dry.

"There," [the father] says. "The job I want you to do." There was an ice tree. It was made completely of ice. It was tall. He says, "I want you to get the two golden eggs that are up at the top."

The girl went over there. She met the man. She says, "What are you doing?"

He told her; he says, "Your father wants me to go climb that tree, get the three golden eggs that are up there on top--and I can't climb that," he says. "I try and I slide down; each time I try and I slide down."

"Oh," she says, "that's nothing." She says, "Breathe on me three times." And she says, "I'm going to fall down. I'm going to die." Then she says, "Take all my bones." And then she says, "You stick them together." They will stick together. They will make a ladder for you to climb on." Then, she says, "When you come back, gather up my little bones and put them back in me. And breathe three times on me; I will revive."

So he did that. He climbed up high. He got the eggs and he came back. Then he got the bones and then he put them back. But he forgot the little finger, he left it on top. The bone of the little finger.

So he began to cry, but then she spoke. She says, "I am all right." She says, "You've left the bone of my little finger up there at the top of the tree. You must go back."

So he took the girl's bones back and he climbed up to go look for the little finger that remained. So then he came back. He put the bones down and he breathed three times on her and she revived.

Then her mother asked her, she says, "Well, what have you been doing for such a long time? Where have you been?"

"Oh," she says, "I have been out walking to look at the wildflowers on the prairie."

So he came to bring the eggs to his master. And he says, "I went to get them and brought them here." So the master couldn't understand how the boy had done that. "Well," he says, "come take her. I give her to you." He gave his daughter to him.



This is one of the few European-derived magic tales that is enormously popular in African-American culture, often emphasizing the evil of the girl's father, who is identified as the devil. European-American versions sometimes feature the father as a devil, but often identify him as a king, especially as King Marrock, a name derived from Irish tradition.

In most American versions, as told by both blacks and whites, the most common tasks set by the villain father are all ordinary farm jobs, but magnified to an enormous scale: cleaning huge stables, chopping down an entire forest, sorting hundreds of pounds of seeds, gathering feathers from flying birds, and draining a well with a leaky bucket. Only the last of these--the leaky bucket task--appears in Mme. Matthews's version.

The other two labors are filled with imagery more characteristic of French and other European fairy tales: climbing a glass mountain, mounting a ladder of bones, and securing three eggs from the top of a glass tower--motifs found in French, French-Canadian, and French-Caribbean tales. The girl's sacrifice of her body and magical revival with a missing finger, relatively rare in English-speaking American tradition, is found fairly often in French-American versions.

For more information about this and related tales, refer to the book Swapping Stories: Folktales from Louisiana, published by University Press of Mississippi.


Copy of Original text in it's original form..





In this world of high technology, one may wonder why something as simple and low tech as storytelling is important. On the surface, folktales may appear to be simply entertainment with no real significance. But the stories told by a group of people offer a window into that culture that reveals its values and worldview.

Probably of more significance is the fact that stories offer each one of us an opportunity to participate within our community and connect with other people in meaningful ways. Everyday, each one of us tells stories. While, admittedly, some are more talented than others, all of us relate events in our lives, tell jokes, or share legends about local people, beliefs, or events. Each of us knows individuals who excel in their ability to draw a crowd and pull us into the story being told.

Some tell animated jokes, while others surprise us with a tall tale that begins in a matter-of-fact style and moves to a fantastic ending. Some of us even share stories passed down within our culture that are not as common as in the past: myths, magic tales, and animal tales. The tales or stories provide opportunities for us to feel connected to others and belong to a group. Just as each one of us is a storyteller, each group or community has storytelling traditions. One group may excel at jokes, while another may still have individuals telling magic tales. Sharing tales of haunted houses, supernatural creatures, fooling strangers with tale tales, or teaching lessons with animal tales, such activities reflect the shared values and perspectives of our communities.

Our priorities, ethics, and sense of humor are revealed in our stories. The traits that mark our stories as unique and set apart from other stories also reveal our cultural differences and help to define the group. Such differences do not have to divide us. But rather, they can help us to appreciate the unique cultural art forms and contributions that diverse groups have to offer the world.

Our own stories, like our other distinct cultural traditions and art forms, offer us the opportunity to celebrate our diversity and the boundless expressions of human creativity. The multi-faceted project, Swapping Stories: Folktales from Louisiana, examines Louisiana's cultural diversity through its traditional storytellers. Since 1989, the project has presented storytelling in communities, published a book with the University Press of Mississippi, and produced a video documentary and this website with Louisiana Public Broadcasting. The next step will be the development of study units for classroom use. The book, video, and website offer examples of the different types of stories told by various Louisiana cultural groups.

Recognizing storytelling as an expressive art form,

Swapping Stories: Folktales from Louisiana demonstrates that oral traditions are both extremely personal creations and broad cultural statements, reflecting at once the skill of a single teller and the tastes of an entire culture.

We encourage you to consider the tales told by your family, neighborhood, ethnic group, work group or region and join us in celebrating our cultural diversity.




Photo: Enola Matthews

Enola Matthews
Jennings, Jefferson Davis Parish

Collected by Annette Huval on April 2, 1993.

An English translation of this story follows.


Bouki, Lapin et Rat de Bois
Creole Language

Il y avait Bouki et Lapin et Rat de Bois. And Lapin était canaille. Et Bouki et Lapin et eux autres, ça travaillait. Ça fait, ils aviont plus d'eau.

Ça fait, Bouki et Rat de Bois, dit à Lapin (that is your [word for] "rabbit"), "Allons fouiller un puits d'eau."

"Oh," Lapin dit, "Moi," il dit, "Je vis sur la rosée."

Quand ils fouillaient le puits--mais le soir, quand ça allait le lendemain matin, le puits était sec. Lapin allait le soir, il volait l'eau.

Ça fait, Bouki dit à Rat de Bois, il dit, "O, je vas faire une dame en goudron. "Et," il dit, "Je vas la mettre là." Il dit, "Je connais c'est Lapin qui vient prendre l'eau et il aime beaucoup les filles."

Ça se fait, il a fait la catin en goudron puis il l'a mis au ras du puits. Quand Lapin arrivé avec ses baquets d'eau, il a vu la fille.

"Bonjour, petite mamselle," il dit.

Elle disait pas de rien.

"Bonjour, petite mamselle." Elle disait pas de rien.

Ça fait il l'a touchée. Well, il l'a touchée et il a resté stuck.

Il dit, "Petite mamselle, lâchez-moi." Elle lâchait pas.

Il dit, "Mo vas cogner vous, oui." Ça fait il l'a foutu la tape. Sa main ça a resté collée.

Il dit, "Petite mamselle, ma foutre vous un coup de pied." Elle la lâchait pas. Il l'a foutu un coup de pied. Il a resté collé.

Quand il a revenu, il dit, "Mon gain un autre pied oui." Il l'a foutu l'autre coup de pied. Il a resté trap, c'était du goudron. Il pouvait pas s'échapper.

Ça fait quand Bouki et Rat de Bois s'a élevé, ça dit, "Oh c'est toi, le coquin qui venait voler notre eau."

"Non, mais," il dit, "c'était la première fois moi t'apé vini pour l'eau. Mo vois petite mamselle, elle veut pas me lâcher."

Ça fait il l'a ramassé. Et force Lapin était canaille, il dit, "Jette-moi dans l'eau. Jette-moi dans le feu. Mais," il dit, "Jette pas moi dans les éronces. Parce que," il dit, "les éronces va tout gratter ma peau." Il dit, "Tu peux me jeter dans l'eau, n'importe d'autres choses, dans le feu, mais," il dit, "Jette pas moi--" parce qu'il connaissait ils l'auraient jeté dans les éronces. C'est là où il voulait aller. Ça fait quand il a été, "O mais," il dit, "c'est là où je veux être mettre." Quand ils l'ont tiré dans la talle d'éronces, il dit, "Ehhhh," il dit, "je suis dans mon pays." Il dit, "C'est là où je voulais tu me mets." Il les a toujours embêtés.


Bouki, Rabbit, and Possum
English Translation

There were Bouki and Lapin and Possum. And Lapin was naughty. And Bouki and Lapin and the others, they were working. It happened that they ran out of water.

So Bouki and Possum say to Lapin (that means "rabbit"), "Let's dig a water well."

"Oh," Lapin says, "I," he says, "live on dew."

While they were digging the well . . . that night -- when they came the next morning, the well was dry. Lapin went in the night and stole the water.

So Bouki says to Possum, he says, "Oh, I'm going to make a woman out of tar. And," he said, "I'm going to put her there." He says, "I know that it's Lapin who comes to take the water -- and he loves girls."

So he made the doll from tar and he put it near the well. When Lapin came with his water buckets, he saw the girl.

"Bonjour, little miss," he says.

She said nothing.

"Bonjour, little miss."

She said nothing.

So he touched her. Well, he touched her and he got stuck.

He says, "Little miss, let me go." She didn't let go.

He says, "I'm going to hit you for sure." So he gave her a hit. His hand got stuck.

He says, "Little miss, I'm going to give you a kick." She didn't let go. He gave her a kick. He got stuck.

When he revived, he says, "I have another foot for sure." He gave her another kick. He was trapped, trapped by the tar. He couldn't escape.

So when Bouki and Possum got up, they said, "Oh, you're the rascal who came to steal our water."

"No," he says, "that was the first time that I've come for water. I see the little miss, and now she doesn't want to let go of me."

So they seized him. And because Lapin was naughty, he says, "Throw me in the water. Throw me in the fire. But" -- he says -- "don't throw me in the briars. Because," he says, "the briars will scratch my skin all up." He says, "You can throw me in the water or in the fire, but," he says, "don't throw me" -- because he knew that they would throw him in the briars.

That's where he wanted to go. When he was [in the briars], "But, oh," he says, "that's where I want to be put." When they had thrown him in the briar patch, he says, "Ehhh," he says, "I'm in my home." He says, "That's where I wanted you to put me." He always made fools of them.


This story is extremely popular in Louisiana. Already rendered famous by the nineteenth-century version appearing in Joel Chandler Harris�s Uncle Remus (1880), the tarbaby tale attained even greater popularity through the animated version presented in Walt Disney's Song of the South (1946), a film that deeply affected Mme. Matthews.

The widespread motif of the briar patch punishment is found at the end of this tale. In this variant, as well as in many other Louisiana versions, the trickster steals water from a well that he has not helped dig. There is no mention of the water well in Uncle Remus, but Klipple lists ten variants from Africa that include water of some sort (1991, 213-33). In this variant, there are three animals: Bouki, Lapin, and Rat de Bois (or Possum).

Bouki and Rat de Bois use tar to fashion a catin (a doll in the image of a lady) to catch Lapin. Another interesting aspect of Mme. Matthews' version is the way in which she tends to switch from Cajun to Creole French when Lapin begins to speak in anger; the angry Lapin uses such Creole phrases as ma foutre, mon gain and t'apé vini.

For more information about this and related tales, refer to the book Swapping Stories: Folktales from Louisiana, published by University Press of Mississippi.



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