Landry-Manes family Continues to Shed Light on Hansen’s Disease

For most of their lives the grandchildren of Edmond Landry were silent about their grandfather and aunts and uncle who were patients in the United States Public Health Hospital in Carville, Louisiana for the treatment of leprosy.  With the recovery of letters from their grandfather and a desire to acknowledge their family’s history, many of Edmond’s descendants have now spoken out about this man they never met. Claire Manes’ book Out of the Shadow of Leprosy: the Carville Letters and Stories of the Landry Family includes letters from her grandfather as well as her personal scholarship; Edmond’ great grandson Christopher Manes has written moving poetry and a Masters’ thesis inspired by the letters; Michael Manes and Paul Landry  use every opportunity to educate people by distributing copies of the book Alone No Longer, Stanley Stein’s account of living in the Carville Hospital; and Paul also  makes frequent public presentations about his grandfather and the family’s story. This April offered the family several opportunities to spread the light on Hansen’s disease.

Paul Landry spoke at the New Iberia Knights of Columbus Council 1208 Awards Banquet talking about leprosy, the history of the Carville hospital, and the story of  the Landry family’s personal connection to the hospital.  He had been invited to speak by John Manes, also a grandson of Edmond and Grand Knight of the New Iberia Council, a position their grandfather, Edmond, had held before he entered Carville in 1924.

Claire Manes participated in a program at the National Hansen’s Disease Museum in Carville, Louisiana, for visiting graduate students. Elizabeth Schexnyder and the National Hansen’s Disease Museum hosted graduate scholars from Rice University for a weekend visit and panel discussion. The students were participants in a Mellon Graduate Research Seminar “Frames of the Beautiful, the Criminal and the Mad: The Art and the Science of Excess” lead by Associate Professor of French, Deborah Harter.  Their visit to the museum was spearheaded by seminar participant Sarah Seewoester Cain in collaboration with curator Schexnyder and Claire Manes author of the book Out of the Shadow of Leprosy: the Carville Letters and Stories of the Landry Family (University Press of Mississippi.)  In addition to Harter and Cain the other Rice students included Linda Ceriello, Nathanael Vlachos, Emily Nichol and Rachel Schneider Vlachos.

The group toured the  museum and grounds and viewed  the PBS video Triumph at Carville, then engaged in formal and informal conversation with Dr. David Scollard, national director of the Hansen’s Disease Clinics, Simien Petersen a long time Carville resident and Claire Manes, author.  The conversation gave the students both medical and personal perspectives on the disease, one that is still a source of misunderstanding and stigma. Google “rice students visit Carville” for a fuller article on the students’ visit.

A and E Gallery in New Iberia hosted a poetry reading in April featuring Darrell Bourque, former Louisiana poet laureate, reading from his soon to be published collection Megan’s Guitar and Other Poems from Acadie.  Claire Manes read a selection from her own book Out of the Shadow of Leprosy.  The works by both Bourque and Manes recognize the displacement of peoples (the Acadians and the Landry family) but also their ultimate triumph.
Landry-Manes family Continues to
Shed Light on Hansen’s Disease
Paul Landry great grandson of Terville Landry and grandson of Edmond Landry, both Knights of Columbus, addressed the New Iberia KC council 1208 at their recent awards banquet.  Paul spoke of the two men and the family's history of leprosy.