Sunday, August 31, 2008

Day 27/365 Keep My City in Your Thoughts

Being a government brat, I moved a lot when I was a kid. My dad worked for the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, under the Department of the Interior. I was born in Iowa, moved to an island off the Maryland shore, then bounced around Louisiana, while Dad worked with various
wildlife refuges in the swampy bayous. During most of my pre-school to middle school years,
I was someplace in Louisiana - more often than not in New Orleans. After we left Louisiana,
we moved to Colorado, back to Iowa, then Minnesota. I claim New Orleans as my home, and that's the first place I went when I was old enough to leave home.

The pic above is one my Dad took in the early 1960s. The ship is moving through the levee system, and the dirt levee is all that's holding back the Mississippi. Most of the ships that move through NOLA are incredibly huge freight vessels (oil tankers and the like), nevertheless, when you walk across the French Quarter, you can then climb up a staircase that will take you to Moon Landing, a levee-top walk, where the river laps about a foot below the top, and you are on
equal footing with the deck of the tankers.

This is a wet corner of Bourbon taken in the 1970s. I like it because there are no tourists. When you live in a tourist city, you have a love/hate relationship with the constant visitors. You love them because.....well.....because they make your city exciting and alive, and they help you pay your bills. And you hate them because they are *always* there, especially in NOLA because it's open 24 hours a day. You also get tired of the tourists who take things. Like, bricks out of your steps, to serve as souvenirs.

This was where I stayed while I was in college - the one second from the left. I'm still not sure whose house it actually was, since there were at least eight other people living there, and the roster changed from time to time. Everyone was responsible for either throwing money in the jar for rent, or bringing home dinner. At the end of the month the jar disappeared, and came back empty a couple days later. No idea who paid the bills, but there were always friends to hang with, and the eternal pot of gumbo on the stove, complete with crayfish and crab floating in it.

Again, no tourists. Probably because it's about 5 or 6 am and I took it on my way home from work. It was a couple years after this I ended up majoring in abnormal psychology, and I have always considered my employment during this period as what pushed me towards that field. Waiting tables in a bar in a 24 hour tourist town will give you a peanut gallery perspective of people and events that you never dreamed existed.

My favorite NOLA sign. The food and music are unlike anywhere else in the world, and more than ample reason to live in what can be an incredibly crowded, crime-ridden, poverty-stricken city. The previously mentioned seafood gumbo, baskets of crayfish scooped up fresh, andouille sausage po boys, shrimp jambalaya, crawfish etoufee, Cafe DuMonde beignets - I have never lived anywhere else with food as incredible as NOLA's.

At any rate, the next day or so I'll be watching the news channels watching to see if Gustav decides to take out what's left of my city. The people I was closest to there died in Katrina, so this time I don't have to worry about them. Now it's just landmarks and familiar places I hate to see disappear.

Keep them in your thoughts and hope the dirt levee keeps the water out.


  1. Carol, I loved "seeing" your past - and great old pictures. I love those balconied row houses (not sure what they're called in NO).

    Bettye <- thinking positive thoughts about the weather

  2. Thanks for sharing the photos, Carole. My sister went to med school and worked internship in NOLA. I have very good memories of the city. Loved the Cafe du Monde. . . .

  3. Thanks for posting this Carol. Your blogs are little mini stories -- you're a wonderful writer.

  4. Love the pictures Carole - was watching the Weather Channel earlier this morning, so that area has already been in my thoughts and prayers.

    I always enjoy your picture "info".

  5. Great photos. Looks like prayers were answered with the weakening of Gustav and the track.

  6. New Orleans has really had it rough with the hurricanes. I wish I'd have been able to visit there before Katrina. And even though I'd be a tourist...I wouldn't take bricks...just cool photos. :)