Memoirs of a Cajun Boy
Dispatches from the childhood of a Louisiana son raised in a roadside motel
Stone Motel: Memoirs of a Cajun Boy is the story of a gay preteen, his seven siblings, their violent father, overwhelmed mother, unstoppable grandmother, and the sordid array of customers they encounter at their family’s roadside motel, situated in the hot, prairie town of Eunice, Louisiana. When half of the motel burns in a Christmastime fire, the family scrambles to get back on their feet and get things moving again. The fire rekindles the father’s long-repressed violent nature, and while he attacks several of his children, he reserves his most ferocious beatings for his second son whom he feels needs “fixing. ”
When they were not working at the Stone Motel, Morris Ardoin and his siblings played canasta, an “old ladies” card game, which provided a refuge from the blistering summer sun and helped them avoid their mercurial father, a man unable to shake the horrors he had experienced as a child and, later, as a soldier.
In this memoir, Ardoin provides an episodic narrative, detailing the sweet, sometimes awkward, often funny memories of his family, but moves beyond the personal to also document Louisiana life in the 1960s and 1970s. Through his descriptions of the regional French dialect spoken by his elders, to nostalgic images of places lost to time and progress, a unique portrait of a small community in Cajun Louisiana unfolds. Moving from childhood into adulthood, Ardoin’s story speaks to what shapes a life—location, culture, language, heritage, and family.
Focusing on tradition, family, and food, Morris Ardoin’s Stone Motel will resonate with those searching for personal identity in an unaccepting time or place. Intensely personal and incredibly emotional, there is a sense of victory in his survival.- Valerie J. Andrews, School of Communication and Design, Loyola University New Orleans