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Born on the Bayou


KRAEMER, La. — Roland Torres wants you to know a few things. He lives in a rural area where life is pretty straightforward. His family has been active on the bayou for five generations, witnessing a daily battle of survival of the fittest. The birds, animals and reptiles who inhabit the vast swamps of south-central Louisiana live only as long as their wits and luck hold out. They are on their own 24/7.

So is Torres.

A former game warden, Torres is of Spanish descent and still speaks the language of his Cajun ancestors: French. He makes a decent living giving tours of the bayou and asks for nothing from the powers that be. What he has, he earns. He does not understand why some Americans accept government assistance. In this very poor part of America, someone who works hard can still earn a decent living.

Torres also has guns. And they came in handy immediately after Hurricane Katrina, when a horde of folks fled New Orleans about 70 miles away. Torres tells me how "the good, the bad and the ugly" flooded his zone, looking for safety from the storm that just glanced his bayou. When some city thugs began to show menace, Torres calmly produced his arsenal. The danger quickly passed.

For almost 70 years, Torres has lived on the bayou. He has never ventured out of Louisiana, yet he loves America. He cherishes the values his family handed down to him. He and his wife have been married for 51 years. They met in high school at age 16.

Roland calls his wife an "angel."

They have three sons, two of whom work the bayou with Torres. They are entirely self-reliant. If he had to, Torres says, he could survive in the wilderness with a penknife, a spool of thread, some matches and a cache of dried rice. The rice is for luring the birds that he would trap with the thread and cook with the matches. He says he could live for years off the land, even explaining how to eat sawgrass. "That can keep you alive if you know what you're doing," he assures me.

Torres watches some of the news programs on cable TV. Almost every modest dwelling in the swampland has cable. He likes the conservative shows. He doesn't quite understand the big social changes taking place. He protects his family with guns. Why should that bother anyone, he asks. I have no answer.

To Torres, President Obama is an enigma. He doesn't understand "income redistribution." Torres charges a fair price to show you his world, and you can take it or leave it. If you leave it, he'll find other work. There's always something a man can do to feed his family.

Millions of Americans believe exactly what Roland Torres believes. But they are seldom heard. Not many live shots coming out of the bayou.

Veteran TV news anchor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show "The O'Reilly Factor" and author of the book "Pinheads and Patriots: Where You Stand in the Age of Obama." To find out more about Bill O'Reilly, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at This column originates on the website




3 Comments | Post Comment
Speaking of guns for self protection. What if the deal were: Fine, no assault rifles allowed, but federal law recognizes the constitutional right for any law-abiding citizen to obtain a conceal carry permit?

That would sure help me--I regularly have to walk city streets where not a single cop is to be found for miles should I be mugged. That same situation is a fact of life for a huge number of Americans who don't have the luxury of steering clear of crime zones the police seem powerless to protect innocent citizens from.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Masako
Sat Feb 9, 2013 7:10 PM
I woulden't take that deal. You might not need a rifle as you walk down the street, but they do have their place in home defense. Lets say a big storm rolled across your area. Food and gas was disrupted. Riots happened. Now you have angry mobs and gangs taking what they please. Your handgun with 10 bullets won't be enough stop them. But an AR15 with 30 rounds might.
Anyhow, I really liked this article. I like hearing stories of self-reliance. I'm trying to get there myself.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:27 AM
This story is no figment of the imagination. There are any number of folks who live like this. I was happy to have grown up this way, on Bayou Grand Caillou, in a little fishing community called Dulac, in the Parish of Terrebonne, Louisiana, where hard working people relied upon themselves daily, in addition to the kindness of their family, friends, and neighbors, during times of trouble and need.

Over the years, sadly, powerful Governmental actions have seen to it that this once self reliant people are fleeing the ravages of coastal erosion, and foreign seafood import competition. No one in Washington seems to care enough to reverse these trends, that they might preserve one of the richest cultures in the United States of America. Why not? This makes absolutely no sense to me, nor to anyone who comprehends the concept, and appreciates the value of self reliance.
Comment: #3
Posted by: J Scott
Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:23 PM
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