True Southern Comfort


There are allot of reasons why becoming homogenized as a country is a good thing. The blending of cultures and races. I think we see the benefits now in the Presidential primaries, and in recent elections around the country. The one here in Louisiana for governor is a good example.

But we need to be careful, because if we get too much like each other, and every place starts looking like every other place, we'll sacrifice some of what makes us great as a country. A sense of somewhere special, someplace different. This is one of those places, The Woodland Plantation in West Point a La Hache, about 35 miles south of New Orleans.

It was built in 1834 and at one time was one of 65 plantations south of the Big Easy. Today, it's the last one. It is owned now by Foster Creppel and his family, they bought it 11 years ago. It has become a well known lodge for sports fisherman and bird watchers. It is steeped in history. The food is off the charts. And perhaps most importantly, it's a survivor of Hurricane Katrina.

"The eye of the storm passed right over us. But because we were on the western side, and because of the marsh across the road, we only got two inches of water in the main house here." Creppel and I are standing on the front porch. "Because there wasn't a second levee behind us, the water was allowed to just dissipate, spread out. If that hadn't happened, if it had been caught up and trapped, the wind would have whipped it like a washing machine. And that would have been it." Unfortunately that's what did happen in other places.

Woodland sits along Highway 23, which is a thin ribbon of concrete that runs all the way out into the marsh land and delta regions at the end of the Mississippi River. It's down where the Big Muddy eases itself into the Gulf of Mexico. It is the first line of defense in the low land battle against future storms.

"We've been taking and taking from the river for decades. Changing it's course, changing how and where it goes. Now it's time to give back." Creppel and I and four other fishermen are standing in boats in the intricate marsh system that surrounds the area. "We need to come up with a better way. We need to rethink the levee system. Work with the river not against it. Figure out how to control the storm surges. Everybody understands that now. They had better. It's our last chance."

Back at the Plantation, we're settling in for an evening of good food, conversation, and perhaps a cocktail or two. "Bring over that bottle of Southern Comfort," I say to the bartender. Sure, enough. I thought I'd seen this place before. Take a good look at the label on the Southern Comfort bottle. That Currier and Ives print that has graced the front since 1934 is The Woodland Plantation. Taken from a drawing done in the 1850's and put on the label of SoCo when new owners bought the brand, now owned by Brown-Forman, in the 30's.

"They did it to connote true Southern living, Southern Comfort, " Creppel says as we touch glasses in a toast.

"Here's to Woodland Plantation," I say. "Here's a to a real sense of place."

You can catch 'Mike On America' weekly on CNBC's "Power Lunch." Here's to you, and I'll buy the next round.

Questions? Comments?