Mina Lea Crais was born Mina Lea Sinske in Watertown, Wisconsin in 1924. A devoted fan of New Orleans jazz, she first moved to New Orleans in the early 1950s. Throughout her years in the city, she worked as a librarian at Charity Hospital School of Nursing, Tulane University and the World Trade Center, New Orleans. They would later become part owners of Carnival Records and talent scouts for Golden Crest Records.1 In 1953, local musician Louis Marion Marcotte would record two sides, one entitled "La Nos A' Rosalia" (#4300) on Carnival records.
Quand j’ai été à la noce à Rosalia, j’ai tout été surpris,
Quand y ont passé la collation, j’va dire vous s’qu’ils ont servi:
Boulettes de poisson d'armé, des gros-bec et des plaquemines,Du choux bouilli et du choux farci avec des écrevisses.Quand on a eu fini d’souper, y n’a une soif qui m’a pris,J’ai sorti dehors la loge de chevaux et j’ai bu de l’eau du puit,Ça a commencé à me faire du mal, dans l’creux d’mon estomac,Que d’être coucou j’avais été là, à la noce à Rosalia.Quand j’ai rentré dans l’camp, j’ai été introduit,à Rosalia et son mari qui s’appelle T-Valery,Il semblait avec une lancette et elle ressemblait à une cagette(?),J’ai jamais vu une femme comme ça, comme madame Rosalia.Elle a commencé à me charmer, comme un écureuil,Quand son mari guettait pas, elle m’faisait des clin-d’oeil,J’étais bien embarrassé, avec cette nouvelle marié,J’ai jamais vu un ça-s’a-quoi, à la noce à Rosalia.Elle dit "monsieur Marcotte: Pourquoi tu danses pas avec moi?""C’est toi l’seul dans la place qui peut m’faire sentir bon.""Mon mari c’est bien saoulé, j’aimerais faire des à-côté."C’est pour ça j’ai resté à la noce si tard, pour soigné Rosalia.
Marion's use of lyrics was a unique one in which he talked about life along the Cajun countryside. He'd commonly describe things only natives would be familiar with and his stories are different because he has such a big vocabulary. Being from Marksville, he used a lot of regional phrases. In his song, a "gros-bec", translated to "big beak", is the Cajun name for the yellow-crowned night heron. Given his experience with bride's flirtation, his phrasing of "ça-s’a-quoi" seems to be common to the phrase "what in the hell?", but with more a negative tone such as "WTF!" Coming from a comedic background, it's no surprise in Marion's use of language and his "cross the line" sexual innuendo.
When I was at the wedding of Rosalia, I was very surprised,
When they passed around snacks, I'll tell you what they served,
Gar fish dumplings, with gros-bec and with persimmons,Boiled cabbage and stuffed cabbage with crawfish.When we had finished the soup, a thirst came over me,I went outside the horse barn and I drank water from the well,It started to hurt, feeling pain in the center of my stomach,It was cuckoo being there, at the wedding of Rosalia.When I returned to the camp, I was being introduced,Rosalia and her husband called T-Valery,He looked like a lancet and she looked like a crate,I've never seen a woman like that, like Madame Rosalia.She began to act cute, like a squirrel,When her husband wasn't watching, she knowingly wink at me,I was embarrassed for this new groom,I've never seen that, what the hell was that, at the wedding of Rosalia.She told Mr. Marcotte: "Why do you dance with me?""You're the only one in the place that can make me feel good","My husband is completely drunk, I would 'cross the line'",That's why I stayed at the wedding so late, caring for Rosalia.
In January 1958 Mina and her husband, Bill Crais, took over ownership of the Vieux Carré Music Shop at 706 Bourbon Street. Mina was also an active member of the New Orleans Jazz Club, even serving on the board for several years. Returning from more than a decade away from New Orleans, she brought out the first issue of MECCA, a magazine devoted entirely to traditional New Orleans jazz in January 1974.2
- Mina Lea Crais papers, 1953-2005. Hogan Jazz Archive. Tulane.
- Lyrics by Stephane F, Bryan L, Marc C, and 'ericajun'
Cajun Capers: Cajun Music 1928-1954 (Proper, 2005)