True Stories on False River, Louisiana
Pointe Coupée Museum | Sharon Henry
“False River is for fishing, skiing, swimming and… drowning!” says Kerrilyn Breazeale of the Pointe Coupée Museum. “It doesn’t happen often, maybe once a year. But you know, it gets so boring you kinda want to see a body floating along, just SOMETHING! You know?” she jokes. Kerrilyn’s obviously craving a little excitement in life.
What To See In Oscar, Louisiana
Born and raised in New Roads, Louisiana just four miles up the road she tells us she’s a Heinz 57 variety, “or pot liquor whatever you want to call it; I’m German, Jew, Russian, Scot and American Indian, I’ve got everything in me.”
We had popped into the museum and tourist centre here in Oscar, just north of Baton Rouge having been impressed by the picturesque lakefront properties lining Louisiana Highway 1 to find out about the area. That’s when we met Kerrilyn who was excited to welcome visitors.
False River and the Mississippi
“False River used to be part of the Mississippi River,” she tells us, “but in 1722 because of spring rains and high water it changed course.
“False River is actually now a lake that’s why it’s called ‘false.’ The homes around here are camps or belong to doctors, lawyers and such, usually from Lafayette, New Orleans or Baton Rouge. To rent one would be kind of steep. If you wanted to buy one, you’re talking almost a million,” she nods matter-of-factly.
Kerrilyn is very animated and speaks fast, it takes a beat to process what she’s just said, even so we hit if off from the get go.
Trying Not To Nod Off
“It’s great living in the area, I mean it’s quiet and peaceful, but when they have something going on, they have something going on; water sports, parades, festivals,” she concedes.
“What’s the biggest thing that happens here? I would say murder! Once in a while you have a murder. But it’s safe.
“Also I’d say, staying awake because it’s so boring! Yeah, that would be the biggest event, to stay awake.” The last census count in 2009 clocked a population of 900 in Oscar.
If you haven’t cottoned on by now, Kerrilyn has a crazy sense of humour, she’s a real character.
Allan Ramsey Wurtele and the Sugarcane Harvester
She tells us of Oscar’s most famous resident, Allan Ramsey Wurtele, inventor of the mechanical sugarcane harvester. “He was born and raised in Minnesota. In 1927 he saw in the paper 2,000 acres for sale in Pointe Coupee Parish that came with a house, bought it site as seen. Came down here, loved the area, noticed all the sugarcane and invented the sugarcane harvester. He authored ‘Continentalism: for Enduring Peace.’ He was in the navy for 14 years, he was a prolific man, very wise, I wish he were still alive and I wish he were our president,” Kerrilyn rounds off before rushing to open his book for us to inspect. “It’s amazing we would not have any taxes, no nothing. Yes, the man was amazing!” In 1974 Wurtele’s daughter donated this very museum building and land to the parish. His grave is on the grounds.
Kerrilyn has yet to travel outside of the US, “My husband keeps saying ‘you have to get a passport.’ I would love to go to England, it is my favourite place. I’m a big tea drinker, I love to shop (Harrod’s sounds great), and we both love art and antiques.
“The other place I’d like to go is Jamaica because my favourite musician is still Bob Marley.”
The Pointe Coupée museum is small and informal and has a lovely view across False River from the back porch. The property is an old Creole cottage that dates back to the 1800s. Two rooms exhibit the interior of a typical home of the time.