‘Boopie’ and the Golden Age of Plaquemines Parish

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PLAQUEMINES PARISH, La. -- The boat sloshed through the chilly, powerful Mississippi River as Boopie recalled his memories about the golden age of Plaquemines Parish.

"I love south Louisiana, I'll never leave," says Felix J. Hoskin Jr., who is affectionately known as "Boopie."

Down south in Louisiana, you'll find the parish that stretches 90 miles long.

It's surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico on three sides, traversed by the mighty Mississippi, and covered with marshes.

Here lies the remnants of historic Plaquemines Parish like Fort Jackson, Fort St. Phillip, and vibrant personalities like the one that Boopie flaunts.

"Me, I'm a coonass, French, Italiano. The rich people they call them high cockaloors, huh? How ya read?" Boopie says with a laugh as he gives us a taste of some of the old Cajun talk.

Born and bred in the heart of this peninsula parish, Boopie gets nostalgic as he talks about his past and his parish.

"You didn't have to go far to get a job, now you can't get no work down here. It's pitiful and it's still a gold mine, just nobody wants to do nothing. After Katrina everything changed. The whole world," says Boopie.

Scars of the storms like Hurricanes Betsy, Camille, and Katrina have manipulated the past and turned it into an uncharted present for Boopie.

"The storm tore up everything down here, but its a shame the way it's coming back, but it could come back more better," says Boopie.

Pre-Katrina, the parish was populated with more than 28,000 people, but that has changed.

Now, southern parts of the parish feel like a ghost land and are filled with mobile homes and scattered risen properties.

Many properties were never rebuilt.

Traveling out to Port Eads, there is a small marshy island that sits at the edge of the gulf on the Mississippi River's southwest pass.

Here is where Boopie tearfully told me about old family and friends.

"They had ole Kopkop Blanchard, he use to act like when he was at the American Legion, he was a little short guy who use to work for the parish down here, he would do like a donkey's like. He'd take his lip and go hee haw hee haw," Boopie says with a cheesy grin.

"My mother had orange trees and all of that years ago and the women used to pick the oranges and the guys use to bring them to the office and I use to go with my daddy to the French Market. That's how it is, you know? Everybody tries to help everybody, you got to, ya know? We're here to help people and that's what we've gotta do," says Boopie.

Boopie says the best way to see his Plaquemines flourish again is to rely on its biggest resource.

"The only thing keeping us going right now is the fishing. They say the oil will come back up, but I don't know how much it is a barrel. Everybody has got to stick together and you've got to love each other and you've got to pray, because we have too much to lose down here. It's beautiful down here, and we've lost a lot of good people, so, ya know?" Boopie says.

It's a parish full of life that refuses fade away due to the ghosts of ferocious storms and companies that have retreated.

Southern parts of the parish look towards a bright future.

Port Eads even won the Sporting Classics Award of Excellence this year as the best spot to fish.

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