History: Happier days at the Old Wyche Home

1632

Last week’s article ended with the purchase of the old Wyche Home by the Parker Family who cleaned the house and yard and made it a place where they could entertain.  The March 29, 1956 Bossier Banner Progress article continued  with details of how the old house came to life again.

“The Parkers were a friendly family and they had two pretty daughters that were of courting age and it didn’t take long for the beaux of the countryside to find it out.  They were not of the aristocracy, but they could entertain the folk of the rural neighborhood in a very hospitable manner.  It wasn’t long until the rural youth made the  renovated ante-bellum house the scene of much festivity.  They came from all about, from Rocky Mount to Bradley,  from Red Land to Chalybeate Springs.”

“Saturday night was the time for the social events and the great halls and long porch of the old domicile were ideal places for their ‘play parties.’  If the moon shone through the cedars the scene was more romantic, and there  [was where] little nooks [and] corners permitted tete-a-tetes to go on without annoying interruption. That made things more romantic. Besides the ‘old folks’ usually sat in one of the big rooms and chatted about things that didn’t interest the youth at all.   Time has not changed human nature.”

“Now the ‘play party’ era was that period that came just after the ‘gay nineties’ which brought on such a wave of puritan piety that the fiddle and bow which played such an important role in grandmama’s youth were virtually banished from the land.”

“The repercussions to the ‘gay’ nineties were terrific.  When the whistles blew and bells clang to announce the arrival of the twentieth century, they also sounded the death knell to some of the customs of that era of social whoopee.  The Caseys had danced the strawberry blondes to exhaustion and the bands had played and gone.  Parental and ecclesiastical rule clamped down and going to a dance was ‘the pathway to hell.’  Out went the fiddle and bow, and the pulpits rang out against sin and fun as well.  Caught in the vortex of this maelstrom of social change, were the youth whose hearts were young and gay and whose feet tingled to step to the light fantastic as  their parents did before the ‘great revival.’  They were between the devil of the ‘gay nineties’ and the blue sea of puritan and ecclesiastical law.

“But youth must be served, and hearts that are gay cannot be restrained for love knows no locksmith.  So what did the sons and daughters of this rigid era do?  Why they just ‘whipped the devil around the stump.’”  Some smart yokel, may heaven bless his soul, devised ways and means for the youth to enjoy itself before the model T arrived.”

Ann Middleton is Director of the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. She can be reached at (318) 746-7717 or by e-mail at amiddlet@state.lib.la.us