ARNAUDVILLE, LA (WVUE) - Once a month, they gather in the town of Arnaudville at an old lumber yard–turned-arts-collective for a meeting that always starts with the Pledge of Allegiance recited in French.
Mavis Fruge leads the group. She has deep roots in this old Cajun community, located at the junction of Bayou Teche and Bayou Fuselier.
"My maiden name was Arnaud," she said. "I am a descendent of Jacques Arnaud, who is Arnaudville's namesake. There are a lot of French speakers yet here in this little community."
Several dozen people, mostly from Southwest Louisiana, attend this monthly "French table" where people who have grown up in a French-speaking home, or those interested in learning a second language, share phrases and stories.
They've been doing these French tables around Louisiana for more than two decades. The one in Arnaudville started 10 years ago. Part of the experience is hearing almost-forgotten Cajun traditions.
"It's so many old stories that we don't want these old stories to die off, and the less if you speak to some of these old timers - even much older than I am - you won't know about it," said Mike Bruce.
This French table is meant to be a learning experience, and it's supposed to be fun.
Fruge translates a drinking song.
"It says where you going my dear old husband? And he's going to the bar," Fruge said. "So what would you do there? You will get drunk!"
And then another drinking song.
"And the moral of the story is that men are pigs. And you say that men, yes, yes, yes, and the men, no, no, no," said a woman in the group. "The men have to say no are pigs. But the moral of the moral is that women like pigs."
It's through the laughter, the songs and stories and the French language that Louisiana's rich Acadian culture has its best chance for survival. The French table meets on the last Saturday of the month at 9 a.m. at NUNU Arts and Culture Collective in Arnaudville.