Saturday, November 14, 2009

Vintage Airplanes, Cajun Sushi and Southern Hospitality

Yesterday, as we wandered the streets of Natchitoches, LA (pronounced I am told by the locals “Nack-a-tish”although it seems to be missing a syllable) I saw a poster for a Vintage Aircraft Fly-In and 1940’s Hanger Dance. Always a sucker for vintage aircraft, and looking for a place to spend the night, we decided to drive out to the airport where this event was scheduled to begin later in the day. We found the “terminal” as it were, a small nondescript building near the entrance, and I wandered inside. I told the young man at the counter that we were “here for the air show”, and asked if he knew if there was anyplace we could park the Airstream for the night. He did not, but he quickly introduced me to a very friendly gentleman named Larry, who it turned out was the Airport Operations Manager.

As soon as I mentioned that we were here for the show and told him a little about our vintage Airstream, Larry’s southern hospitality gene went into overdrive, and two phone calls, one locked gate, and a drive across the tarmac later we had ourselves a choice spot on the grass right between the hangers and next to a small lake! We also got a Welcome Kit from the Chamber of Commerce and two free tickets to the “Aviator’s Reception” party to be held that night at a local restaurant. We felt like royalty, and after a visit from some curious members of the staff at the airport, we set up camp for the night.

As evening approached, and armed with the secret code that Larry had given us for the automatic gates that control entrance to the airport property, we headed into town for the reception. We had met one of the promoters Marc earlier in the day, and as we came around the corner still nearly a block away from the restaurant, he began waving us down and then welcomed us warmly. We were beginning to understand that southern hospitality is more than just a cliché. These people are some of the friendliest folks we have ever met, and throughout the evening, people would come up and introduce themselves to “that couple from Oregon” and welcome us to their community.

The Aviator’s Reception was being held oddly enough in this land of Cajun and Creole, in a Japanese restaurant, and we were treated to a huge spread of Sushi and other Japanese delicacies. Before long a local band set up and began a great evening of cover songs done in a decidedly Louisiana style. I ended up on stage playing a tambourine for their rendition of “Brown Eyed Girl” and as we excited the building later that night, the lead singer called out his thanks to “John from Or-y-gone!”

After a surprisingly quiet night at the airport (not much coming and going here in this small town) the next morning we watched as the planes flew in and then wandered around the grounds looking at vintage aircraft and making some more new friends. Tonight we can listen to the Big Band sounds of the 40’s as the dance is in the hanger we are camped behind. Our special thanks to the wonderful people of Natchitoches!


  1. Vintage aircraft and sushi ... sign me up! I like how the story starts and ends with old aircraft (a great attention grabber, especially for me), but it's really about southern hospitality and its timelessness--or so I gathered. Well done, John!

  2. Thanks Choc! The show was a little short on planes, it was their first year, but long on hospitality! On to New Orleans!