Antique Putt Putt Boat Club visits Crescent Elementary School's Atchafalaya Basin Academy

Staff Writer
Plaquemine Post South
Crescent Elementary School's Atchafalaya Basin Academy second graders Hannah Berthelot and Andrew Rodrigue look over one of the five antique boats on display at the school during a visit from the Antique Putt Putt Boat Club and members Tom Pirie and his wife, Karen.

PLAQUEMINE - Crescent Elementary School's Atchafalaya Basin Academy learned first-hand about antique Louisiana boats from members of the Antique Putt Putt Boat Club during a recent visit from members to the school.

The club consists of approximately 50 members throughout Louisiana and Texas.

On this visit, five boats were brought to Crescent Elementary by club members.

The Iberville Parish School System started the Atchafalaya Basin learning program this school year at Crescent Elementary School to help students to learn and write about their heritage here in Iberville Parish.

Students were able to see and learn about the pirogue, oaring skiff, and putt putt boats that were once commonly used in the daily life of occupants of the Atchafalaya Swamp. All of the boats were constructed of cypress.

The pirogue was originally used when cutting timber in the Atchafalaya Swamp. It was small and could be easily maneuvered to paddle from tree to tree during the cutting process. The oaring skiff was used for transportation to come from the Atchafalaya Swamp into cities or towns to pick up needed supplies.

Often the occupants paddled 10 -15 miles to pick up these supplies. The putt putt boats were used to pull the timber out of the swamp and to the sawmill.

Construction of these boats is a fading art. All of the boats viewed by the students were built from no written pattern. Instead, the boats were built from a mental image in Ory Mendoza's mind.

Mendoza has been building these pirogues, oaring skiffs, and putt putt boats in an effort to preserve this part of the Atchafalaya Swamp's history.

His son, Dana Mendoza, and grandson, Dana "Laney" Mendoza, Jr. are working with him to continue this tradition of building cypress boats.

Thanks to the members of the Antique Putt Putt Boat Club for restoration work being done on the motors for the boats. The motors were originally made by Nadler's Foundry in Plaquemine.

The Antique Putt Putt Boat Club thanked the school and its new Atchafalaya learning program at Crescent Elementary for being the first school to invite them to show their boats and discuss their uses with the students.

Club members participate in many festivals throughout the state and Iberville parish events in an effort to preserve the history of the Atchafalaya.