NARRATOR: When you turn off highway one onto highway 495 going into Cloutierville, you have to wonder if Kate Chopin named her collection of stories, "bayou folk" because of the bayou going into town. Cloutierville has changed in some ways since Kate moved on in 1885. In other ways it has stayed the same. Back then, between 500 and 700 people kept the town humming with everyday affairs and small town gossip. Now, the population is only about 120. If Kate could pass through Cloutierville today�she'd still see some of the old houses and business that were here in the 1870s and 80s. Some of the old houses are in good shape. People still live in them.
Other houses and businesses have boards covering the windows and wild vines growing up the walls. There are no signs of growth. Most folks have given up the cane and cotton fields for jobs in the city. For those who stayed in Cloutierville, they are reminded every day of Kate Chopin.
That's because her old house is one of the few attractions that draws folks to Cloutierville. It's now called "The Bayou Folk Museum." About two-thousand tourists visit the house each year. The museum is getting busier, now that it's finally gotten central heating and air conditioning. And, Cloutierville residents can tell even more folks how proud they are that Kate Chopin lived for a while in their town.
SOUNDBITE: Amanda Chenault/Curator/Bayou Folk Museum
She was as far as I know the first woman writer who lifted he fa�ade and showed women as they truly were and are because women are dealing with these same problems today
NARRATOR: The house doesn't contain many furnishings from Kate's days there, an old dresser and a few pieces of silver, plus a couple of paintings donated by Kate's granddaughter, Marjorie Chopin McCormick. The rest of the museum's contents come from donations from people throughout town. Items from the mid to the late 1800's abound. Several residents of Cloutierville eagerly share their own stories about Kate's days in their community.
SOUNDBITE: Leona Sample/Cloutierville Resident
She got around and she always rode that horse. That's where she would see a lot of people cause they'd walk the streets. You don't see too much of that now, gathering, back there they had two or three places they talked and gossiped.