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Roque's Blues Hall in Natchitoches, Louisiana

Tuesday, September 18, 2018 0
Roque's Blues Hall in Natchitoches, Louisiana

Roque's Blues Hall in Natchitoches, Louisiana

site originally mirrored at https://web.archive.org/web/20111007181319id_/http://deltablues.net/ credits go to John L. Doughty, Jr. https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thetowntalk/obituary.aspx?n=john-lee-doughty&pid=171597632&fhid=12057

If you have the know-how, time, and ability then the Delta Blues website, linked above at archive.org, is definitely worth downloading and mirroring elsewhere. Multiple archives are better than one.

The Delta Blues site contains a whole collection of info, history, and photos that are worth preserving. Which includes history and information about many people who are no longer around and many places that no longer exist.


Map to Roque's

Roque's Blues Hall
235 Carver Avenue
Natchitoches, LA 71457



On a map of Louisiana, you'll find Natchitoches in the northwest part of the boot, south of Shreveport. You'll find Roque's Blues Hall in East Natchitoches, across Cane River from the historic district.

Natchitoches, founded in 1714, is one of the most historic towns in the United States. But if it's close to the end of the month, forget history and get your blues-loving butt to Roque's Blues Hall in Natchitoches. You will find yourself in what I consider the best juke joint/blues bar in the South and, therefore, the world.

Stanley Roque (pronounced "Rock") inherited Roque's Blues Hall from his father, who opened it in 1938. Think about that: With the exception of a short period in the 1960s, Roque's Blues Hall has operated continuously and in the same building at the same location for almost 60 years. If another juke joint can match that record, please send me its name and address.

Roque's Blues Hall
Here's a shot of Roque's. That's Stanley standing in the shadow outside the front door. Stanley runs a tight ship. In my 100+ visits to Roque's, more than any other juke joint I've visited, I've never witnessed a fight. Roque's clientele consists mostly of black and Creole folks with a splattering of white folks, especially on band nights. Those white folks are about half local couples who know where to party and about half college students. But many nights, I've been the only white person in the joint.


Roque's beer prices fit my thin wallet. Even on band nights, 12 oz premium beer costs $1.25. You can buy--as I do--one of several 16 oz non-premium brands for the princely sum of $1.10. Believe it or not, I've seen 16 oz beer on sale for 75 cents--on band night!

On the last Friday of every month, Stanley hosts what he calls (of all things) "Last Friday Blues Jam." Below are some photos taken during the blues jam on July 25, 1997.

Hardrick Rivers
The gentleman on the right is Hardrick Rivers, the leader of Roque's Blues Band. He has blown that golden and mellow saxophone all over the United States and Europe. He's at home near Natchitoches, now, luckily for the folks in northwest Louisiana. You should hear him sing. His smooth voice reminds me of a younger Bobby Blue Bland. It's every bit as golden and mellow as his saxophone. One of these "last Friday" nights--he keeps telling me--he's gonna sing "St. James Infirmary." He's back in college, but as far as I'm concerned he has a Ph.D. in bluesology.


Pop HymesThe fellow on the left is Pop Hymes, the drum-beating man. Look at that look of concentration on his face. He's the guy you hear but seldom see because he's stuck in a corner. But, hey, you can't have a blues band or any other kind of a band without a drummer. So, Pop, this Bud's for you.

James LeeTo the right, cast your eyes on James Lee, keyboard player extraordinaire. That brown face is never without that smile. I suspect he smiles when he sleeps and even when he argues with his wife. I know for a fact that the only kind of Beethoven his keyboard will play is the roll over variety.

Rick Seale
Nowadays it's hard to have a blues band without a white boy, and Roque's Blues Band has two. James Wagley plays bass guitar, and Rick Seale plays lead guitar. Here's a photo of Rick. You can't tell it by looking at the picture, but he's an anthropologist. Maybe he's really a preacher because he can play the hell out of that 6-string guitar.

the band in actionOver on the right is a photo of the band in action. You can't see James Lee at all because he's hid behind Rick Seale. Look behind Hardrick Rivers and you can see the top of James Wagley's head. The white boy in the black T-shirt is Kenny Cardino, and he drove all the way from Shreveport for the blues jam. Y'all, he could play!

You see that fan down on the floor? They put it there to keep those two guitars from catching on fire. This was in the middle of a blues guitar war. If you wonder who won, well, I did.

Mr. Overton "Dr. Drip-Drop" Owens
Here was my favorite part of the blues jams at Roque's. At the left, the old gentleman at the microphone is Mr. Overton "Dr. Drip-Drop" Owens, the granddaddy North Louisiana bluesman. He passed this life at the age of 74 on November 20, 1998.


Dr. Drip-Drop learned the blues from none other than Lowell Fulson, who lived in Natchitoches for a while back in the 50s. Dr. Drip-Drop told me that his favorite song was Lowell Fulson's "Reconsider Baby." Listening to Dr. Drip-Drop was like going back in time. It was like no music touched his ears after 1960. He always sang Big Joe Turner's "Flip Flop and Fly." In this picture, he's in the process of yelling, "Caledonia! Caledonia! What makes your big head so hard?!"

Me and B.B. Majors
This is me and the best bluesman in Louisiana--B.B. Major. I ran out of film before B.B. got on the bandstand and plugged his six-string Gibson into an amplifier and took the microphone in hand. Y'all, this man can sing the blues. He's lived the blues. He is the blues. He works days in a cotton warehouse, believe it or not. He's played in juke joints for $20 and slept outside in the back seat of his car and ate bologna sandwiches.


He can play and sing B.B. King's "Sweet Sixteen" like B.B. King. And you ain't heard Larry Davis's/Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Texas Flood" until you hear B.B. Major sing and play it. I shouldn't tell my own secrets, but every time I show up at Roque's with a date, B.B. plays "Sweet Sixteen" for me.

Lordy, Lordy, Lordy Miss Claudy, I have a fine time at Roque's.

B.B. Major recently recorded a CD titled Evil Woman/Evil Ways.   You can find ordering info and B.B.'s schedule on the new B.B. Major web site.

Here's some photos of the blues jam on January 30, 1998.


Rivers and Seale, bluesmen
In this shot taken a few minutes before the band started, Hardrick Rivers and Rick Seale look very happy. You'd be happy too if you could play the blues like these two guys.

Hey! Something tells me that they're laughing at something somebody's doing to the cameraman--me--behind his back!

Okay, guys, tell the truth. Somebody's mooning me, right?

Looks like Rick's about to grease up his vocal cords with a cold Bud.


The band on the stand
Here's most of the band on the Last Friday Blues Jam in January, 1998. From left to right you see Luke Brouillette (pronounced "Brew-yet") on guitar, James Wagley on bass, Pop Hid-In-A-Corner Hymes on drums, Hardrick Rivers on sax, James Lee on keyboards, Rick Seale on guitar and James "Bubba" Prudhomme on guitar.


Rick and Bubba both work at the replication of Fort St. Jean Baptiste, a fort built in Natchitoches by the French way back in 1722. Maybe next blues jam Rick and Bubba will wear their 1720s French soldier's uniforms. Very cool blues juke joint attire. Might start a trend.

Cane River Writers
This fine group of folks having a blast to the juke joint blues are some members of my writing group--Cane River Writers. Our fearless leader, Kate Myers-Hanson, was way out in Iowa attending the U of A so she could perfect her already-perfect as-far-as-we're-concerned fiction writing abilities.


Hey, Katie! Don't let those damn Yankees get you down!

The dark-skinned lady leaning over my buddy's shoulder wanted to know if all us white folks were having a good time. We were!

Dr. Drip Drop
Here's the good Dr. Drip Drop in the healing process of curing what ails almost anybody--a good dose of Dr. Drip Drop's special Grab Yo' Honeychile Babylove Sweetthang an' git yo' butt on this floor an' git downto the blues, y'all! medicine.


He's in the act of singing, "I gave you seven children, and now you wanna give ‘em back!"

Sorry, Dr. Drip, some women are like that.

Dr. Drip Drop and Roque's Blues Band recorded a CD titled The Next Time You See Me. They also completed a CD of Christmas music.

You can order both great CDs direct from the Roque's Blues Band web site (mirrored link, no longer available for purchase there). Check out their web site for more info on this fine bunch of guys.

Mr. Miles Armstrong
Introduce yourselves to the elderly gentleman on the right, Mr. Miles Armstrong. He's drinking his usual Old Milwaukee, and he's toasting us all. Here's to you, too, Mr. Miles.


I call him Mr. Miles because, well, because I like him and respect him.

Mr. Miles and I have a lot in common even though he's an African American gentleman from East Natchitoches and I'm a wild-assed redneck white boy from East Tullos:

We both like Roque's
We both like blues.
We both like to drink cheap beer.
We both like to shoot pool, especially with each other.
Neither one of us can shoot worth a damnwhen a good-looking woman walks by.

PgUp and look at Mr. Miles's picture again. Notice the merchandise on the shelves behind him. Yep, it's toilet paper and paper towels. The actual name of Roque's is Roque's Grocery, Pool Hall and House of Blues.

There's canned goods on the shelves out of site to the left. Roque's is a combination grocery store and bar. That ain't unusual at all in the Delta. The B & B Quick Mart in Greenville, Mississippi, is like that for example.

That's good for, let's say . . . oh, heck, your wife sends you to the store on Friday night for a can of pork ‘n' beans, a roll of toilet paper and a bar of soap. Where you gonna go? To a 7-11? Hell, no! Not if you live in the Delta!

Mr. Miles and friends
Here's some more fine Roque's folks. From left to right you see Mr. Miles Armstrong, Earl Jefferson, Michael Dupree, and in the lower center you see Earl's sister Helen. Now, I met Earl and Helen the night I took this picture. Mr. Miles I've known for several years, as you know.


I've also known Michael Dupree for several years. I'd guess the pool game score between me and Mr. Miles is maybe Junior 500 and Mr. Miles 495. Mr. Miles would probably say it's Mr. Miles 500 and Junior 495. Between me and Michael Dupree there ain't no doubt that it's probably Dupree 700 and Doughty 300. It's a hell of a note, is what it is. A damned shame.

But the real damned shame is the score between Junior Doughty and Stanley Roque. Folks, I'm gonna guess that it's Roque 950 and Doughty 50. (It takes a lot for a redneck boy to admit that.) When I think I'm hot and the other rednecks are getting mad and won't shoot pool with me, I'll ease up to the bar at Roque's, drink a beer or two so Stanley will think I'm in there for the blues and so it'll loosen up my muscles, and I'll say, "Hey, Stanley, I can tear up yore ass on that pool table."

He says, "Rack ‘em up!" and precedes to tear up my ass 12 games to 2 or 10 to 1 or something ridiculous like that. It's a double-damned shame is what it is.

Mike Dupree lives in a shotgun house one block behind Roque's. He doesn't have a problem with cops and Driving While Intoxicated because he walks to Roque's. Sometimes he rides a bicycle. Mike's a Cane River Creole, and his brother Patrick still lives, as Natchitoches folks say, "down Cane River."

Patrick is a bar-b-que man and looks the part. He makes the best damned bar-b-que hot-link sausage sandwiches this white boy ever tasted, and he wears size 54 x 32 blue jeans. He used to set up shop at the corner of Roque's bar, near the front door. His equipment consisted of a fork for spearing sausages, a spoon for dipping sauce, five or six packages of hot dog buns, a roll of paper towels for napkins and an electric crock pot filled with thick round sausages and secret-recipe bar-b-que sauce. His entire restaurant fit inside an empty cardboard box.

A sausage on a bun and dripping with sauce cost $1.50. That was probably the world's greatest fast food bargain.

One night a date and I were the last customers to leave Roque's after the 2 am closing time. It was a warm summer night illuminated only by a street light down at the end of the block and by a low-wattage bulb on Roque's front porch. As my date and I started across the dimly-lit street and toward my car, we passed Patrick Dupree in the process of placing his restaurant in the trunk of his car. "Hey," I told my date, "I'm hungry. Want a hot-link sandwich?"

"Sure," she answered.

So Patrick opened his restaurant and the trunk of his car and served us a sandwich. We stood there at the rear of Patrick's car, munching and talking to Patrick. Up rode Mike Dupree on his bicycle. He stopped beside us and, still siting on the bicycle's seat, stated, "Do y'all know that Patrick's bar-b-que has killed about a dozen white people?"

"That so?" I replied through a grin, knowing that Mike was kidding and knowing that if I died from eating Patrick Dupree's bar-b-que I'd sure die happy.

"Yep, it's a fact," Mike informed us. "Their systems can't take it. Ain't used to good food."

My date grinned then, realizing that the chubby black guy on the bicycle was kidding us and the fat black guy standing beside us. I then introduced her to the two brothers. Mike then asked us, "Do y'all know what kind of meat's in Patrick's bar-b-que?"

"Nope," I answered. "What kind?"

"Dead ‘possums and armadillos. He finds ‘em on the side of the road."

We laughed long and hard and continued eating those delicious bar-b-qued opossums and armadillos. From the darkness behind us and from the direction of Roque's, someone said, "What's so funny?"

I turned and watched Hardrick Rivers place his saxophone case in the cab of his pickup. Then he closed the door and walked toward us. He wore dark pants and shoes and a white shirt. His black skin looked invisible against the black of the night. The effect was like a white shirt walking toward me. When Hardrick reached us, I said, "Mike's telling us that we're eating ‘possums and armadillos."

Hardrick laughed and reached in his pocket for money. "Give me one," he told Patrick. "Need my daily dose of ‘possum."

So we all stood there at the rear of Patrick's restaurant and munched and talked and laughed. Mike Dupree soon pedaled away, headed around the corner and home. Patrick Dupree soon closed his trunk lid and his restaurant and got in his car and drove away, headed down Cane River and home. Now only Hardrick and my date and myself stood there, munching and talking and laughing in the dark and empty street outside a closed juke joint. At some point, I said, "Rivers, when you gonna play ‘St. James Infirmary' for me? I wrote down the words on a napkin for you. Still got it?"

"Yeah. It's in my saxophone case. I'll do it one of these nights."

After a minute or two, my date tugged my shirt sleeve. Time to go. We told Hardrick goodbye and turned and started walking toward my car. Just before we reached the car, I heard a voice behind me, mellow and like a whisper and slowly singing, "I went down to St. James Infirmary. . . ."

I froze in my tracks. I waited, listening for the rest of the verse. Nothing came. I turned. There far down the dark street stood that ghostly white shirt. Waiting, I then realized, for me to finish the verse. I sang, "And I heard my baby moan. . . ." And I stopped.

And the ghostly white shirt sang, "And I felt so broken hearted. . . ."

Back and forth and a few words at a time we sang the song. When it ended, Hardrick got in his pickup and drove away. And that was the only time I've ever heard him sing "St. James Infirmary."

It was a magic night, one of many I spent at Roque's.

Goodbye Roque's
In this picture, the camera points toward the bandstand. The bar sits to the left and turns the corner and extends out of sight to the far left.

I took this picture while standing in Roque's front door. I now turn and go out that door.

We'll return again some day.



God, I hope we do. . . .

Page 2 and Page 3 mirrored on archive.org


Akwesasne Notes Archive - Kahniakehaka Nation

Friday, August 17, 2018 0
Akwesasne Notes Archive - Kahniakehaka Nation
Some of the Akwesasne Notes are available for reading at the link below. They are a series of (albeit incomplete) archived articles that served, and still serves, as a voice of Indigenous Peoples.

As one source puts it:

Akwesasne Notes is a Journal for Native and Natural Peoples and has been known for the last 26 years as "the Voice of Indigenous Peoples."Akwesasne Notes is a news journal dedicated to reporting on the issues and concerns of Native Peoples. It is also dedicated to the presentation, preservation, perpetuation, and portrayal of Native cultures of the Americas and throughout the world.

"Akwesasne Notes" Subscription Information

Kahniakehaka Nation Akwesasne Mohawk Territory P.O.Box 366 via Roseveltown, NY 13683-0196 Phone (518) 358-3326 FAX (518) 358-3488 Subscription Information
Flag of the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne
 Flag of the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne
By Xasartha [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons


Life and Struggles in Louisiana in the 1930s

Saturday, August 04, 2018 0
Life and Struggles in Louisiana in the 1930s
Life in Louisiana, much like the rest of the United States, moved at a lot slower pace in the 30s than it does today. Yet, there were no shortages of troubles. The song by Alabama folk singer Vera Hall comes to mind.

The Great Depression was one of the largest troubles throughout most of the 1930s and affected economies worldwide. With Louisiana being a major agricultural state in the South, these economic problems led to the downfall of many farms. Especially those owned by poor whites and poor blacks alike. Prices of goods fell to all-time lows and many farmers couldn't afford to keep their farms. In turn, workers weren't able to get paid or had to settle for even lower wages at plantations or at other jobs. It was bad enough that many families in rural Louisiana already lived in poverty. The Great Depression made it far worse. As had the drought of 1930-1931 where many families had to apply to get aid from the American Red Cross. More on this can be read at http://www.knowlouisiana.org/entry/great-depression-in-louisiana

A poem by Langston Hughes, Let America Be America Again, was written during the time of the Great Depression. In it is a section that is an expression of how many citizens felt at the time. Especially in the Southern States where many working-class citizens were affected. Most of us have not learned about the details of this shared history but it was immigrants, more recent descendants of immigrants, descendants of slaves, Native Americans, and owners of small farms who were mainly affected. This while larger farms (wealthy plantations) in the South thrived due to the cheaper labor and other factors. They proudly took advantage of the economic troubles to the detriment of nearly everyone else. See: Were there successful farming plantations during the Great Depression?

"I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak."

Those who were just scraping by before the Great Depression, many of them felt the brunt of the blow of economic troubles. Yet they persevered. Many of these photos display the strong character of those days and of the past. Which was not only a trait of Louisiana but also of Americans from other states and walks of life during the Great Depression.

UnemployedTrapperPlaqueminesShahn
Florestine Carson, unemployed Creole Negro trapper, and daughter, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.
By Ben Shahn (FSA photo by Ben Shahn via [1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Citizenship Class in the Hungarian Settlement in Livingston Parish Louisiana
Citizenship Class in the Hungarian Settlement in Livingston Parish Louisiana - Albany, Louisiana
By Uncredited photographer for the WPA (Works Progress Administration photo via [1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

KennerNegroNightSchoolWPA
1936; Works Progress Administration night school for African Americans in the town of Kenner, Jefferson Parish
By Uncredited WPA photographer (Works Progress Administration photo, via [1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

DestrehanNegroSchoolRussellLee1938
"Negro school, Destrehan, Louisiana", September 1938
Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Zydeco players Louisiana 1938
Musicians playing accordion and washboard in front of a store, near New Iberia, Louisiana. November 1938
Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

StClaudeMandevillePavingStreetcarWPA
WPA work repaving and widening on St. Claude Avenue, view at the corner of Mandeville Street, with St. Claude
By Uncredited Works Progress Administration photographer (WPA photo via [1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

New Roads Louisiana 1938 Negro Section by Russell Lee
New Roads Louisiana in 1938. Looking across the railroad tracks into the African American section of New Roads, Louisiana. Store sign reads: Felix Fazenda Fine Wines and Liquors. Morning Treat. Signs also for Jax beer, RC Cola, and the Cresent Saloon.
Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Cleomabreaux
An image of musician Cléoma Breaux with her husband Joe Falcon
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

StJosephNightGuitaristsNOLA1930s
African American musicians playing guitars on St. Joseph's Day Night,St. Joseph's Day is the traditional post-Mardi Gras last gathering of the season for the "Mardi Gras Indians" organizations.
By Unnamed WPA photographer (WPA photo via [1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

GirlWithUmbrella1937Lange
Young woman with umbrella, Louisiana, July 1937
Dorothea Lange [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


FERA New Orleans 1935 Looking
Men standing on the sidewalk outside Federal Emergency Relief Administration office. October 1935
Location seems to be S. Claiborne Avenue between Washington Avenue and 4th Street, on the lakewards side of the street.
By Ben Shahn [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Spiritual Meeting at Father Treadwells Church NOLA
Spiritual meeting at Father Treadwell's Church in New Orleans Louisiana in the 1930s. Church of God in Christ. Rev. Lucien H. Treadwell, Pastor.
By Unnamed WPA photographer (Works Progress Administration photograph via [1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

CreoleGirlsPlaquemines1935
Three Creole Girls, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, October 1935
By Ben Shahn [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

JeaneretteConversation1938Lee
Men talking on a porch of a small store near Jeanerette, Louisiana. October 1938. Iberia Parish, Louisiana
Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Raceland Louisiana Beer Drinkers Russell Lee
Drinking at beer the bar, Raceland, Louisiana. September 1938
Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Two Boys Leaning on Fence Donaldsonville LA 1938
Two boys leaning on fence watching parade, state fair, Donaldsonville, Louisiana, November 1938
Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

TransylvaniaStoreCounter1939
Men in cooperative general store. Transylvania, Louisiana, January 1939
Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

TransylvaniaTheRainAreFallin
Mother teaching children numbers and alphabet in the home of a sharecropper. Transylvania, Louisiana. January 1939
Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Mardi Gras Clowns in New Orleans Louisiana in 1936
New Orleans Mardi Gras, 1936. 3 street costumers dressed as clowns.
By Unnamed WPA photographer (WPA photo via [1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Conquian Players Louisiana 1938
2 African American men sitting playing Conquian (card game), September 1938.
Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

RacelandBarDancingRussellLee
Dancing at bar in Raceland, Louisiana, September 1938.
Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

CrowleySteelGuitar1938
Steel guitarist at microphone, Cajun band contest, National Rice Festival, Crowley Louisiana, October 1938
Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

OrleansParishPrisonLiteracyClass1937
Literacy class at the Parish Prison, New Orleans. February 16, 1937
By Uncredited WPA photographer (WPA photo via [1] # 17.33) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

WPA-Radio-Class-1937
Photograph of WPA Education — Radio Class, Magnolia School, 2246 Carondelet Street, New Orleans. January 18, 1937
By Works Progress Administration [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

WPANOLATrumpets
Trumpet players with WPA band, New Orleans, November 30, 1937
By Uncredited photographer for the Works Progress Administration, a U.S. Federal Government agency. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

RiceIsKingCrowley1938
Children on parade float with the inscription "Rice Is King", National Rice Festival, Crowley, Louisiana., October 1938.
By Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

CrowleyCajunFiddler1938
Musicians in Cajun band contest, National Rice Festival, Crowley, Louisiana. October 1938
By Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

CrowleyStreetDance1938RussellLee
Street dancing, National Rice Festival, Crowley Louisiana, October 1938
Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A store with live fish for sale, vicinity of Natchitoches, La. LCCN2017877474
A store with live fish for sale, vicinity of Natchitoches, Louisiana. 1939
By Wolcott, Marion Post, 1910-1990, photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A cross roads store, bar, "juke joint," and gas station in the cotton plantation area, Melrose, La. LCCN2017877468
Title: A cross roads store, bar, "juke joint," and gas station in the cotton plantation area, Melrose, Louisiana. 1939
By Wolcott, Marion Post, 1910-1990, photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons