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Friday, September 09, 2005

My memories of New Orleans

I visited New Orleans twice, first in the early 90's then later in the decade and both visits left an indelible mark on me. I remember with a sad nostalgia my walk of wonder through the time-frozen boulevards of the Garden District (home to Anne Rice and also the location of an illustrious home designed like a wedding cake as well as the prestigious Academy of the Sacred Heart for Girls, which a tour docent once related was so sought after among the gentry that expectant parents added their names to the waiting list soon as they learned they were pregnant).

I remember my tour through The City of the Dead (sadly ironic given recent events); my block-by-block stroll down the French Quarter, in search of the St. Ursuline's Convent, and the site of the home of the infamous Delphine LaLaurie, whom I featured in a short story entitled "Horror on Royal Street" . I remember my first catfish po' boy, the jambalaya I tasted at Chez Paul's, the strains of wailing saxes and the rhythmic poundings on bongos streaming from Preservation Hall.

I also remember the strong sewer smell in the hot summer, mixed with the melange of spices coming from various restaurants. I remember the heat, sometimes discomforting, and the thirst it inspired (which enhanced my empathy for those souls who went without water for days after the disaster). I remember docent stories about the late 19th and early 20th century red-light district and the origination of the term "hooker," whereby a prostitute would stand on a balcony and hook a passing gentleman's hat from his head; retrieval took anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.

I've seen the latest reports referring to this New Orleans beauty and charm as antediluvian, which is defined as "before the great flood." (Noah's, of course). Let's hope that the charm can be restored "after the flood", even though some of its history is irreparably lost now. Below are some sights I tried to capture with a camera, not very successfully, though (and yes, some of them are slightly askew). Included are homes along the Garden District, the Sacred Heart Academy; a statuary of a woman that I spotted in one of the lovely courtyards in the French Quarter; a shop that was actually selling Mammy memorabilia, which has made a comeback in the last couple of decades; and balconied apartments in the French Quarter whose architecture speaks of its French/Spanish heritage.

Click on pics for larger view.

Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 9/09/2005 04:05:00 PM Permanent Link     | | Home


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