“We have come here to pay tribute to our town’s founders and to all of those who have come before us to make Basile the great place that it is today,” said Darrel LeJeune, editor of The Basile Weekly and chairman of the centennial celebration.
In March of 1911, the Village of Basile was incorporated with a population of 267 individuals, Basile Mayor Berline Boone said during a reading of a proclamation honoring the centennial.
For the occasion, the Basile High School Band performed, as did the Bearcat Voices, performing a song written for the Town of Basile and last performed during its 75-year anniversary.
Sunday also marked the Grand Opening of the Nathan Abshire and Cajun Musicians Museum. The museum was formerly the home of Abshire, a well-loved Cajun musician, and is filled with artifacts from his life and performances.
Throughout the day, Elaine Deshotels at the Evangeline Parish Library, Basile Branch, interviewed senior citizens who grew up in Basile about their early lives and experiences.
The stories that emerged were at times humorous, surprising, shocking and heartwarming.
Seniors described Basile as a small town, where the weekly mail was delivered by a train that didn’t even stop as it dropped it off.
It was also a very isolated town, but that ended with World War II, recalled one of the seniors.
“During the war, we had three nightclubs, and all the soldiers from Fort Polk would come in on Saturday night and mix the culture. Before that, you didn’t mix cultures; people married people close by. The soldiers really opened up the culture,” Courville said.
Philman Ardoin recalled knife fights at the nightclubs, and said Basile once had a reputation as a dangerous town.
“Basile was a tough place, and everyone know it, and it had a reputation for fighting. ‘Don’t go to Basile and mess with those girls, ‘cause they’ll mess you up’, everyone knew,” Ardoin said.
Many fondly remembered the school, even though they may have had to walk miles to get there and had to chop wood to fuel the heater, as Mattie Miller commented.
“We had good teachers; I remember all my teachers from the first grade on,” Courville said.
All of the interviews were videotaped and will be made available for viewing by future generations at the library.
A parade through the city followed by music closed out the day’s festivities.
More photos in Photo Gallery