Thursday, March 5, 1987

1987 New Orleans I (3/3-5/1987)

Tuesday, March 3, 1987
We said our thank-yous and goodbyes to Kent’s parents and went to wait for the 17:30 Northwest flight from Fort Myers to Memphis, arriving at 19:30, or 18:30 local time. Caught the 19:45 flight to New Orleans where we just had drinks and no snack. Arrived 20 minutes late at 21:10. Decided to take the taxi for $18 rather than to wait for the $7 airport van.
After checking into the Howard Johnson's Hotel, we walked a few blocks over to Canal Street. It was a littered mess and people were walking in the opposite direction, wearing numerous colored beads around their necks, the “throws” from the Mardi Gras parade floats. Apparently we had missed the parade, so we walked to the French Quarter and down Bourbon Street. Only a few costumed or masked figures. Returned to the hotel via Poydras Street. I picked up a few throws from the ground, and so now have my own collection of Mardi Gras beads. Back at the hotel we were joined in the elevator by a fat bearded “nun.”

Wednesday, March 4, 1987
Went downstairs to the John James Audubon Room for breakfast, and all around were his drawings of birds. We discovered breakfast was now buffet-style, and they didn’t have any more help than they did last year at the counter. But at least we could serve ourselves to begin eating right away! There were grits, home fries, biscuits, waffles and pancakes with syrup and butter, bacon and sausage, and regular and confetti scrambled eggs (the latter with onions, green pepper, and mushrooms). There were also giant blueberry muffins. The bill came to $15.53 and I left the $2.25 tip. We couldn’t eat the muffins, so I took them to the room before leaving at 8:30 to sightsee.
I walked over to Canal Street, thinking to photograph the mess left by the Mardi Gras parade, but most of the litter was already cleaned up! Saw the bannered viewing stands being taken down, security gratings being removed from window storefronts, and lots of beads hanging like Christmas ornaments from tree branches.
Viewing stand
Mardi Gras beads on tree branches

Some Mardi Gras parade trash
It was fairly quiet in the French Quarter, with only the people sweeping or hosing the sidewalks. I found my way to Jackson Square and entered the St Louis Cathedral along with a tour group here to receive ashes. I joined them to receive mine. The cathedral was relatively simple with widely-spaced stained glass windows. I sat in a pew to review the tourbook, but after the tour group received their ashes, everyone was ushered out.
Jackson Square with St Louis Cathedral
I wandered past the artist display around Jackson Square’s fence. A guy was playing his trumpet at Washington Artillery. I took the “moonwalk” across the railroad tracks. To my right was an old brewery building, the “Home of Jax Beer,” which has been renovated into shops.
Jackson Brewery
Notable on the ground floor was the Louisiana Grocery and Feed Company Store, supposedly home to the chef Paul Prudhomme.
Louisiana Grocery & Feed Company
Deciding to tour the Gallier House Museum, I walked along St Peter Street past Preservation Hall and all the way to Rampart Street with the tall double lamp streetlights in the median with palms.
Preservation Hall
Along the streets of the French Quarter I had seen a few real gas lamps. I passed a darkened garage-type building where a guy was inside shucking a pile of oysters, on Toulouse near N Rampart.
Balcony decorated for Mardi Gras
Another balcony
Rampart Street
I went down Royal Street past the Cornstalk Fence.
Cornstalk Fence
Found the entrance to the Gallier House at a gift shop with the door handle at knee height! I was just in time for the 10:30 tour and bought the $3 ticket.
Gallier House Floor Plan
Our tour leader was a tall thin black man who looked like he might have dressed for the 1920s, except for the two-toned jeans. He had silver-framed glasses in the shape of Risky Business sunglasses, and wore a variety of plaids. The house was designed by the architect James Gallier, Jr, who apparently designed the French Opera House on Bourbon Street, in 1912. The Gallier House was restored to the appearance of the 1860s. We first entered a small courtyard with shrubs in bloom, camellia’s, I think. There was a tiny fountain and the balconied house on two sides. In the back wall an opening was cut for a doghouse. Behind the back wall was a cistern to collect rainwater, and the servants’ privy. We entered the house through the “modern” kitchen with its hot water system and enclosed range rather than an open hearth. Lots of shiny copper and an apple smell. I noticed that two girls on the tour spoke Swiss-German. We passed the cool storage area with a rat trap, and the dinnerware pantry on the way to the dining room. There was much decoration as was typical of the period. Hand-painted shades and lace curtains, and heavy drapes with fancy valances for the windows. Cookies were nicely displayed on a dish at the side table. Gas lamps on pulleys to lower them for more light. Candelabra with many crystals to increase the light. Very colorful wallpaper and carpeting. We went to the double parlor with all the entertainment. Lots of chairs, with books, a half-circle table on which to play solitaire, a piano, a tea service with macaroons, sewing paraphernalia, etc. The chairs were on coasters to be easily grouped. Custom-made cornice of monkey heads, and cypress doors were grained to look like oak, and floorboards like marble. I loved the carpet with its birder that was made to fit the parlor hall, upstairs library and hall. We continued upstairs where the central area was a library with a skylight. The lady’s bedroom had a day bed, the master bedroom had air vents in the ceiling that looked like vents on a barbecue grill! There was a mosquito net-covered cradle, and the children’s bedroom was done up as in the summer, where drapes and quilts are removed for lighter fare, and carpets removed to be replaced with straw mats. We saw the “modern” bathroom with a copper tub and ceramic toilet or water closet. Next was the servants’ quarters, simply furnished, but in what we would now consider valuable antiques! Had a marvelous view of the courtyard.
Gallier House courtyard
Gallier House cistern
It was very sunny, warm in the sun, yet cool in the shade. The tour went to the exhibition area with quilts, and a room up front had complimentary iced tea, coffee, and cookies. I took an iced tea and sat on the balcony. What lagniappe/an unexpected extra or little gift!
View from the Gallier House balcony
Howard Johnson's Hotel
Howard Johnson's Hotel room
After the refreshment, I returned to the hotel to find Kent in the room with Scott S, whose own room was not yet ready. They left to get the booth ready. My camera bag feels heavier, perhaps because of soreness from paddling the canoe. Wrote some postcards and went to the post office. Returned to the hotel at about 15:00, as did Kent and Scott. Kent had a cold and fever that was knocking him out, and he took a nap. Later he called Scott to beg out of the Convention Reception tonight. After 17:00, we walked over to Canal Street and then over to Iberville Street towards the Mississippi River. Turned on Royal Street to find the Bergen Galleries with an exhibit called “A Decade of Mardi Gras Posters.” I don’t think every year was represented, but several years had numerous posters. The year 1987 must have had ten different ones. We headed towards the river and crossed over to the Jackson Brewery, the mill and brewery now converted into shops and restaurants on several floors. We went to the third floor of the brewhouse to JaxFest, a potpourri of eateries representing cafés and restaurants in New Orleans. We decided on one dinner red beans and rice from Buster Holmes that came with cornbread and a meat. I chose fried chicken that was deliciously spicy. We were going to get a sampler of five dishes from Putouts, but they only had four choices, so we got a sampler of three: shrimp remoulade/a spicy Creole shrimp salad in lettuce, boudin (a soft liverwurst-type sausage), and a shrimp and tasso (smoked meat) pasta with cream sauce. All very good and we had more than enough to eat. But we went ahead and got dessert at the Brewhouse Bakery. Kent chose a chocolate doberge cake (vanilla cake layers separated with chocolate pudding, and covered in chocolate icing. I had the rolled Florentine with chocolate mousse inside and the ends were dipped in dark chocolate. Kent also had a cup of coffee, but didn’t like it. We explored the shops and Kent got in a conversation with the proprietor of a shop that sold Japanese baseball uniform shirts and yukatas, and with the guy who took photos of people with life-size enlargements of celebrities. We wandered through the French Quarter and along Bourbon Street to listen to music (no jazz tonight) and watch a magician. Also passed a saxophonist, and the break dancers with their square of linoleum and a can of Pledge!

Thursday, March 5, 1987
Kent’s 9:00 meeting was cancelled, so we had a leisurely breakfast at the John James Audubon Room. No buffet today. An order for biscuits includes two biscuits! Left $10 including tip. On our way out we saw the ISPO contingent at another table. Scott was there with Perry who had called in the middle of the night to inform us of the cancelled meeting. And Rick F. At 9:00 Kent went to see about imprint badges and I started another walking tour.
Walked over to Poydras and down Carondelet Street where I followed the streetcar tracks. Fellows were cleaning the street gutters with brooms as they dragged along a trash can. Garbage trucks stopped and emptied the public trash cans at most corners. Cars pulled in to be parked by attendants in wall to wall lots, some having lifts to create a second story for parking. Ran into several very friendly blue collar workers. The wooden dark drab green streetcars passed frequently.
St Charles Avenue streetcar
At Howard, I turned to go to Lee Circle, with a statue of General Robert E Lee atop a very tall column. There were viewing stands around half the circle. An old black man asked my help to get to a place offering a free breakfast to men only near the YMCA that was on the circle. I was of no help. I was standing next to a Gothic-looking red stone building that turned out to house the Confederate Museum.
The Confederate Museum (1891 in Richardsonian Romanesque style)
I went over to the K&B office building that has a plaza filled with modern sculptures.
The Mississippi (1962) by Isamu Noguchi
Cosmos (1973) by Seymour Lipton
Covered Flight sculpture and
statue of General Robert E Lee
I also went in the building’s lobby to see smaller sculptures and paintings.
K&B lobby
The guard at the elevators gave me a booklet telling about the sculptures, then pointed out that the lady standing next to her was not real! Wow! There was a small Calder sculpture.
3 People on 4 Park Benches (1979) by George Segal
Outside I had taken a photo of an interesting canvas sculpture, but on my way back, I saw the canvas was removed to reveal the “Flight” sculpture! A couple of the sculptures decorated the streetcar stop.
Streetcar Stop II (1982) by Frank McGuire
I continued along St Charles Avenue, seeing the Mardi Gras beads in the trees in the median where the streetcars run. Joggers also use the median with not much room to spare between the tracks. I salvaged a few more strands of beads to give away as souvenirs.
The shops and hotels became ritzier as I approached the Garden District. The avenue was lined with live oaks and palm trees.

Garden District mansion
I started seeing stately homes and started the walking tour at First Street, walking down to #1407 with a two-story Greek façade forming a veranda on a frame house dating in the 1840s.
1407 First Street
I could smell something flowery, but never identified it. Tulips, pansies, azaleas, magnolias, and cherry trees were in bloom as well as Japanese roses. Camellias were at the end of their season. I continued to pick up “throws” from the Mardi Gras parade, beads and a few doubloons as well!
Rex doubloon heads
Rex doubloon tails
Part of Zulu doubloon
Mardi Gras pin
Turned right on the brick sidewalks of Coliseum Street, where there was an immense house at #1415 at the corner of Third Street. This was the more expansive style of the antebellum period, with a Greek façade and two stories of white iron latticework on the side balconies.
1415 Third Street side balconies
1415 Third Street
Azaleas in bloom
Turned left on Prytania Street and left on Fourth Street where a couple homes were fronted by a cornstalk fence.
1448 Fourth Street cornstalk fence
1424 Fourth Street cornstalk fence detail
The Garden District was the first suburb of New Orleans, originally developed as the “American” section. Now there are many southern-type mansions in various states of repair from very luxurious to very shabby. Many of the houses were for sale or rent. Some were in the process of being renovated, others seemed to have established themselves with good maintenance. In front of most homes was a sign indicating Dictograph Security Systems, or some kind of security alarm.
Security system sign
At each corner, ceramic letters placed in the sidewalk spelled out the street names, much like the brass names along Canal Street and in the French Quarter.
Street name in sidewalk
The French Quarter’s more elaborate tile street names (in Spanish) were on building walls.
Brick sidewalk
Magnolia blossoms
Left on Coliseum again, right on Third, and along Chestnut Street to First Street where on the corner was a lovely home with floor to ceiling windows with great curtains and drapes in every window. There was a wicker two-seat swing and a plush sofa on the porch! Also plant stands in the windows. Very impressive!
Wicker swing
Caught up with a British-speaking couple following the same tour. At #1239 First Street was a house fronted by huge moss-covered live oaks.
1239 First Street
(N.B. This later was to become
the home of author Anne Rice.)
Raised fire hydrant
(needs to be above the flood line)
Across the street at #1236 was a Greek Revival home. At #1134 First Street was the home where Jefferson Davis died in 1889.
1134 First Street
Back to Camp Street to a house with a "roofed-over" chimney.
"Roofed-over" chimney at 1201 First Street
Redbud tree in bloom
Then to #1220 Philip Street, the former home of Isaac Delgado, with an ivy-covered wrought-iron gate. A painter was busy on the front door.
At #1238 Philip Street were Doric columns on the first floor/lower veranda, with “composite” columns on the upper balcony, characteristic of the period. I liked their Mardi Gras decoration on the front door.
1238 Philip Street decoration
I went up Coliseum to Jackson Avenue to see the former Soulé College, now a huge drab white elephant that was for sale. Continued along Jackson to Prytania Street. Many of the homes seemed to have ash bins built into the sidewalk, and today garbage cans were placed out there. At #2340 Prytania, hidden behind greenery, was the oldest house in the district, dating from 1838. It was a raised cottage with square columns rising to Greek cornices, nicknamed Toby’s Corner.
2340 Prytania Street, the oldest house in the district
Across the street was the private Louise S McGehee School for Girls, a more modern (“free-swinging Renaissance style”) mansion, with modern buildings alongside.
Continued up Fifth Street to St Charles Avenue to take photos of the streetcars.
A red sports car passed me and beeped. I was surprised to find him waiting at the next corner, a slick older man with what looked like multiple college rings on his hands. He asked where I was going, honey. I ignored him and switched my ring to my left hand and kind of displayed it when I passed him waiting at the next corner. He then turned around and drove off in the opposite direction! The gas some fellows waste!
Back at Lee Circle, the same guy was lurking under the statue of General Lee, which caused me to trip and stub my toe! The viewing stands were being taken down from around Lee Circle. I stood at St Charles near Poydras Street to wait to photograph a streetcar, then returned to the hotel.
St Charles Avenue streetcar on busy Poydras Street
It was about 13:00, another four hours on tour. I ate a blueberry muffin and had water. I walked over to the Hyatt Regency hotel through the shops and thought about going to the Superdome, but would have had to walk all around due to construction, Back to the hotel by 15:00 when Kent returned.
At 17:00 we left to walk down Common Street to Carondelet to Canal. We thought to eat at Popeye’s, but the next batch of chicken wouldn’t be ready for 12 minutes. We continued down Canal Street past the Canal Place/Fashion Mall, to the ferry dock and Riverwalk, which was the location of the World’s Fair. Now it is an extensive “mall” of shops and restaurants. First the Spanish Plaza with a huge fountain, and where the old President steamboat was docked. Then inside to the sections of shops: Riverwalk, Colonnade, Levee, and Bon Fête. There were a couple stages; on the first was the glass harpist Jimmy Turner playing glass goblets filled with varying levels of eater. One shop window had a fat mannequin of a Mardi Gras reveler whose stomach rose and fell. In the Bon Fête section we had to decide what to eat. We shared a seafood gumbo from Mike Anderson’s, a somewhat spicy rich dark stew of beef, shrimp, crab legs, and oysters with a little rice. Also shared a bowl of Texas chili with sour cream and grated cheese, also spicy hot, from Abilene Chorus Girl Chili Co. Kent got us medium iced teas, which were gigantic, and a gigantic barbecue beef Po-boy, over a foot long, from Messina’s. The sandwich was on French bread, overflowing with barbecue, with some lettuce, tomato, onions, and mayo. We wandered back through the shops, buying plastic duck and mouse noses for the boys. Back at the hotel, Kent called Kyle and Erich. The telephone message light was on, and Kent went down to get a telegram that was from Ruth D. They would not be able to get together with us in New Orleans.

 Next: 1987 New Orleans II.

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