where easy rider rode
Admittedly there is not much quirky about the abandoned, derelict building that stands along Louisiana Highway 1 near the corner of Fordoche Bayou Road in the Pointe Coupee Parish town of Morganza. But there was a day when the building was a symbol of the world’s counterculture movement, and groupies, invariably in search of the American dream or something to smoke, would visit the spot to pay homage.
In 1969 the movie Easy Rider began its trek toward becoming a film classic. The film, starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson, told about Fonda and Hopper biking from California to New Orleans both to experience the Mardi Gras and to discover the meaning of life. (Which, of course, is easily found in New Orleans at Mardi Gras.) In one famous scene, Fonda and Hopper, along with Nicholson, whom they have picked up along the way, stop at a café. The threesome cause a stir among the townsfolk –– who haven’t seen much of their kind. A couple of rogue cops keep a suspicious eye on them and follow the three to a spot along the river where they camp out. That night they are attacked, and Nicholson is killed —- thus was the conflict of the world’s values played out, right there along La. Highway 1.
For years after the film’s release, the café was a must- stop for devotees of the film, and there were many. The lunch spot continued to operate as normal, never really taking advantage of the fame that the film brought. Then, perhaps spurred on by the completion of Interstate 49 to the west, the café closed, and the building has remained empty since.
When Dennis Hopper died this past May, there was a spark of revived interest in the movie, though we suspect there was no memorial in Morganza. Times change. Memories are short. And the free spirit remains elusive.