Pinsteps. The dormitories, the medicine and the laundry in Oak Alley Plantation
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Enslaved people at Oak Alley Plantation lived in dormitories that starkly contrasted the grandeur of the Big House. These dormitories were simple, one-room structures made of wood with thatched roofs. They were arranged in rows and located behind the Big House and outbuildings. Life in the dormitories was difficult and overcrowded. Enslaved people slept on pallets or straw mattresses on the floor, with little privacy or personal space. The dormitories were often infested with vermin and lacked adequate ventilation, which made them hot and uncomfortable in the summer and cold and damp in the winter.

The plantation was once home to Dr Merricq, a former surgeon in Napoleon's army who gained a reputation for his precise and successful amputations. Unfortunately, accidents were common on sugar plantations, and amputating a limb was often more accessible than repairing a fractured or crushed bone. So Dr Merricq buried the amputated limbs, believing they would be reunited with the patient in the next life. Three enslaved field workers at Oak Alley, Louis, Vincent, and Charles, received arm amputations from Dr Merricq.

Pognon worked as a seamstress and hairdresser for Celina Roman and her daughters. She was at their beck and call, brushing their hair and mending their clothes as a house-enslaved person. Pognon's appearance allowed Celina to show off her wealth; she wore better clothes and shoes than most enslaved people. However, this also meant that Pognon was expected to be presentable at all times, and if her appearance did not meet expectations, she was punished.

Enslaved people at Oak Alley Plantation were also responsible for doing laundry, which the plantation mistress often oversaw. Laundry kettles were used to heat water for washing clothes and linens, and they were positioned near the kitchen or work area where enslaved people monitored open fires. Although laundry kettles were similar in size and weight to sugar kettles, most plantations had a fixed set of kettles and tubs explicitly reserved for laundry.

Despite the difficult living conditions, enslaved people at Oak Alley Plantation found ways to make the dormitories feel like home. They decorated their living spaces with personal items and create community through music, dance, and storytelling. The dormitories also served as a place for enslaved people to support each other and find solace in the face of the dehumanizing conditions they were forced to endure.

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Evgeny Praisman
Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie of May 20, 2021

It was an incredible adventure! Vacherie is a small St. James Parish, Louisiana, USA community. It is known for its historic plantations that offer visitors a glimpse into the area's antebellum past. One of the most famous plantations in the area is Oak Alley Plantation, renowned for its oak-lined driveway and Greek Revival-style mansion. Visitors can also explore the Laura Plantation, known for its Creole architecture and offers tours that delve into the history of the area's enslaved African American population. Vacherie is also a popular spot for Cajun and Creole cuisine, with many restaurants offering dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya, and po'boys.

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Evgeny Praisman (author)
Здравствуйте! Меня зовут Женя, я путешественник и гид. Здесь я публикую свои путешествия и путеводители по городам и странам. Вы можете воспользоваться ими, как готовыми путеводителями, так и ресурсом для создания собственных маршрутов. Некоторые находятся в свободном доступе, некоторые открываются по промо коду. Чтобы получить промо код напишите мне сообщение на телефон +972 537907561 или на и я с радостью вам помогу! Иначе, зачем я всё это делаю?
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