by Jeffrey Chitek (only surviving family member of the Washington legacy)
It is in our nature as humans to omit details from our history, that is, to only disclose the parts that help our predecessors learn the lessons we believe they should in an attempt to manipulate the future generations values using concepts from our past. They read what we write, and left unwritten, a bulk of our most notable historical events and characters disappear like sand through an hour glass. I’m here to flip that hour glass back over and tell a story of a man, a mental giant, who’s actions although completely undocumented, sculpted the atmosphere of modern America. I speak of course of Swamp Washington.
It was a humid and foggy morning in June of 1813. A woman’s screams penetrate the hot morning air from a cypress wood cabin just outside the Acadian village of Houma. A man exits the dusty cabin, dirt from his boots mixing with the ripe morning air, sweat drenching his overalls. “aujourd’hui, un garçon est né!!,” he screamed into the watery void.
From an early age Washington showed signs of masterful intelligence and universal exchange. He would train alligators to stand up tall on their hind legs, he planted his first garden from seed at the age of 6, and by year 8, opened up the first farmers market in Houma, selling his vegetables and eggs from the chickens he raised in the towns square.
Approaching his teenage years, Swamp W. became consumed with the massive world outside of his small town of Houma and decided on his 13th birthday that he would venture out to see the mysterious depths and shiny corners of the great nation he knew so little about. Swamp Washington took off on foot, due north, on a sunny afternoon in September of 1826.
He scoured paths from the rocky terrain of the west to the gentle plains of the north; collecting stories and knowledge from every variable and direction before finally returning to his home state, Louisiana. Along the way he influenced the invention of many avant-garde items such as the cowboy hat, the double bladed kayak paddle and the washcloth. One of these findings he brought back to the bustling port of New Orleans in the spring of 1932 with a grand idea….the kayak swamp tour. His paddle shape was revolutionary, allowing even the least athletic of persons to paddle swiftly through the beautiful bald cypress swamps that he knew so well. And so New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours was founded, and the rest is well……history. New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours is alive and well to this day thanks to the genius and innovation of this savant, the founder of contemporary kayak touring, Swamp Washington. For the full story; book a kayak tour today at www.nolakayaktours.com
pictured below: Swamp Washington with his revolutionary double bladed kayak paddle circa 1834