Cajun Survivor

A Lady Trucker's "Trail of Tears"

by Helen Boudreaux

For many years I have wanted to write about the memories of my youth.
And to do this before I grow too old to remember all that I have lived.
The memories returned to me in sketches and if some parts seem disconnected,
it is because I wrote much of it that way....

(Helen) Hélène Jeanne Boudreaux.

Among all of the many memories Helen has written about in her first book, she tells about her youth and growing up on her Papa's sharecropper farm in the rural community of Catahoula Lake in St. Martin Parish in the Swamps of South Louisiana. She was the 10th of 14 children. Her Papa and Mama and her siblings right there in their little four-room house surrounded her world. She loved to sing by age three. She would sit on their front porch and mimic singing the hillbilly songs that she would learn from their battery operated radio. When she learned to speak English, then she knew what the songs meant. They were dirt poor Cajun people. Her Papa harvested sugarcane in the winter months working his mules to do the planting and harvesting. In the summer he farmed cotton and pepper. She helped her Papa work their fields to help earn their family’s living. Her first pair of shoes came when she was seven years old. The clothes they wore were either second hand that was given to them or made of flour sack material by their mama on their old peddle foot singer sewing machine. By age thirteen her Papa had taught her how to cook for the family on a wood burning stove. She spoke only Cajun French as a little girl. She learned to speak English when she entered first grade. Already missing much school, it became impossible to attend by about age fourteen because she had to help her Mama with housework and her Papa’s fieldwork. She reminisces of the good and hardship times and an abusive childhood of that long ago life that still walks with her to this day.

Helen left home and married her first husband, a soldier, at age sixteen. She thought by running away from home that she would have had a better life. From that marriage, she has four sons. In that marriage was infidelity and physical abuse. Husband number two was the devil himself. Horrifying is more like the word to describe it. She has three beautiful daughters from it. And one daughter was born of marriage number three.

Helen, having so many kids could not afford to hire help. So she became her own carpenter, plumber, electrician, seamstress and so on.

Although she would not want to live her life over for fear of a repetition that is what she has had to live, and can say anyone can survive anything in this life.

Helen became an over the road line haul lady trucker at age forty. It was at that age she had returned to and attended nine months of night school and earned her G.E.D. equivalence high school diploma.

She ran cross-country and ran single from 1984 to 1990. Although she loved the road and her jobs, it did not come without the price of that awful and feared reality of discrimination. She faced that hardship from her work. She hopes work conditions have become better for woman in the trucking industry. Helen has begun writing her second book. In it she will write about her life as a retired lady trucker and her experiences as a lady Cajun music musician.

God enriches her life in all things and she thanks Him.