Sunday, March 8, 1987

1987 New Orleans II (3/6-8/1987)

Friday, March 6, 1987
This morning the waitresses were fighting to get customers to their tables in the John James Audubon Room. After breakfast, I met a few more ISPO people in the lobby.
Today I left at 9:45 to walk to Canal Street and down a block to N Rampart Street with the double-lamp street lights and palm trees in the median. I passed a theater where there was to be a Mr New Orleans contest. Down at #411 was the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe (1826), the patron church of the New Orleans police and firefighters, and the oldest surviving church in the city.
Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe
In the left chapel was the international shrine of St Jude. Several people were praying or lighting candles. One woman was holding the feet of the statue as she prayed to the patron saint of hopeless causes. In the right chapel was a statue of the Lady of Guadalupe. Went out to the right to an alley with boxes of empty glass candle holders. Towards the front was a small imitation mini-grotto of Lourdes, with the statue of the Lady of Lourdes. There were many thank-you plaques on the wall, and more candles. A gift shop sold religious paraphernalia and candles galore, and a 3-D postcard of the Lady of Guadalupe.
Returned through the alley to cross a broad avenue to the walled-in cemetery of St Louis No. 1.
St Louis No. 1 Cemetery
Because of the high water table, it was necessary to bury loved ones in above ground tombs. Today science allows underground burials, but tradition prevails. There were arrows pointing the way on macadam walkways and small bronze signs explaining details or telling of famous persons buried there, such as a surveyor, a writer of laws, etc. There were oven tombs with the arched holes looking like old bakery ovens.
Oven tomb
Single tombs, simply bricked over coffins, family tombs, ethnic tombs for poor groups, etc. a few glass flower vases, and more older stone ones. A tour group was being led by a park ranger, and sand blasters were cleaning a larger tomb.
Some under the ground graves
I walked down Conti Street past the wax museum to #514 Chartres Street where the Pharmacy Museum was closed for renovations. Peeked in the window at antique pharmacopeia.
Pharmacy Museum
Gas lamp
Nearby was the K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen where Paul Prudhomme is the chef. A neat place with linoleum tables, and very small, but entrées starting at $22!
Headed down Toulouse Street to the wharf behind Jackson Brewery to view the steamboat paddlewheeler Natchez. One of its engines was sitting in the parking lot!
The paddlewheeler Natchez
Jackson Brewery complex
Heading to the French Market, I passed one of the Lucky Hot Dog stands, which looked like a bun with two hot dogs in it.
Lucky Hot Dogs
I priced dried flower crowns at a cart, then passed the Café du Monde, home of beignets and café au lait. Wandered through the tourist shops and sampled Creole candy (like Mexican candy – sugar and pecans). I priced ceramic masks to possibly replace the one that fell to its demise in our bathroom at home, but didn’t see any I really liked. Continued past more restaurants, cafés, flower stalls, and arrived at the farmers market. Lots of garlic!
French Market garlic
Next a flea market. At the end of the French Market was the old US Mint with the Streetcar Named Desire in its backyard of crape myrtle trees.
The Streetcar Named Desire
I walked to the front of the Mint to pay the $3 admission to see the upstairs exhibits. Downstairs in basement alcoves were an old fire engine and a model wooden clock. In the back you could see the exposed foundation and a couple dugout pirogues/canoes. Back upstairs towards the back was an exhibit of photographs of working black persons. Then the permanent exhibits; first the one on New Orleans Jazz with instruments (including Louis Armstrong’s coronet), original sheet music, photos of people and places, music graphs, records, etc. Next an exhibit on the Carnival in New Orleans showing costumes, jewelry, and photos of old parades explaining the history and about the krewes (the “secret” clubs or Mardi Gras organizations that plan the parades). The original building was a US Mint from 1838-1861. It was then renovated by PGT Beauregard and for a few months in 1861 it was the only Confederate mint. It was re-opened as a US Mint in the 1870s to 1909. After the Mint, I returned to the French Market and bought a dried flower crown for $6.50.
French Market fountain
Walked along Decatur to St Peter Street. Saw the shop Bedazzled that I thought could have been the shop we were impressed with a couple years ago. Took Dauphin Street to Canal where I bought a Dr Pepper in a small deli to have with the other blueberry muffin when I returned to the hotel. My legs are starting to feel sore. Kent arrived at 15:00, and after an hour’s rest, we headed out together down Gravier Street to Baronne to see a building being retro-fitted with R-Wall.
Then over to Canal, Bourbon, Conti to Chartres to see K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen. Over to St Peter Street to check out Bedazzled, which was not the shop I thought it was. Down to Jackson Square to see the same hick band in the streets, the same squeaky-voiced balloon clown, a few mimes, several other bands, some with just kids who weren’t too bad. Up in the sky we saw a plane formation. We headed to Jax Brewery and the Louisiana Grocery and Feed Company for an early dinner.
Louisiana Grocery & Feed Company menu 1
Louisiana Grocery & Feed Company menu 2
Had wonderful jambalaya, like a paella with a true sauce piquant, great sausage (andouille?), and chicken in it. Also had an oyster loaf, half a loaf of French bread carved out and filled with garlic mayonnaise (choice of flavors) and fried oysters. The bread was wonderful. Two slices also came with the jambalaya. Also tried frings/very thin fried potatoes and onions. With a couple iced teas the total came to $11.
We wandered through the French Market to the Streetcar Named Desire.
Then wandered back through the French Quarter, past the Ursuline Convent and the Cornstalk Fence. Returned to the Jax Brewery to check out all the shops and get dessert of Mrs Field’s semisweet chip and macadamia nut cookies. Sat on the balcony to view the Mississippi. Back in the Brewery, we heard an announcement for free fudge, but had to wait through a demonstration on fudge-making with a comedic routine and crowd participation. Even singing.
We left the Brewery and walked past construction in front of the Bienville Wharf where the Dinamation exhibit was located. Continued through Canal Plaza/Fashion Mall across from the old US Customs government-looking building. Took the elevator up to the lobby of the former Iberville Hotel, now Westin Canal Place Hotel with its view of the Mississippi. Very ritzy! Down in the mall we window shopped, since all the stores (Gucci, Saks 5th Avenue, etc.) were closed. We used the restrooms and in the women’s restroom there was a man on crutches. The girls accompanying him called him a cripple to explain his presence. She needn’t have bothered.
Down on the Riverwalk there were a lot of sailors! The USS Lexington had just arrived; it is the oldest ship in the Navy and is used as a trainer, staffed by 1500! It was to be open for tours and was saluted by jet formations. We explored several shops like Sharper image and Brookstone, as well as one called Beyond, with electronic fashions of pink radios, etc. Stopped at the famous Omar’s for a mini-pie. The pecan pie was a bit of a disappointment, as it tasted like pumpkin pie with a few pecans on top. Maybe it was just too cinnamon-y. Kent got a café au lait at the Café du Monde branch here. Returned up Poydras to the hotel and saw the same man with his “Z” we had seen earlier, but this time there was a different woman with him.

Saturday, March 7, 1987
It was raining today! We walked over to the Hyatt Regency for their buffet breakfast in the courtyard. For $20 we had a choice of dry cereals, fruit (pineapple, watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, and strawberries), then grits, croissants, scrambled, eggs, fried potatoes, ham, bacon, sausage, apple crêpes, and a choice of strawberry- or orange-flavored whipped butter. Afterwards we returned to the hotel where Kent had left his wallet.
Whitney Hotel in former
Whitney National Bank building (1890)
Even though it was drizzling, I walked down Poydras to the Riverwalk to take photos of the oldest and largest paddlewheeler, the President.
Riverwalk fountain
The paddlewheeler President
I took the Alvin T Stumpf ferry, which was free, over to Algiers. I didn’t get off the boat and made the return trip within a half hour.
Alvin T Stumpf ferry
Some guy said his contact slipped, and did I have a mirror? There seemed to be a Jesus convention going on, according to the badges a lot of people were wearing. I walked along the outer side of Riverwalk on the river side to see the Bermuda Star cruise ship and the USS Lexington. Some sailors saw me admiring their ship, and made some comment. I noticed they looked at your hands first before talking to you, so I put my ring on my left hand again, and wasn’t bothered any more. Sailors everywhere.The Riverwalk also had a Fudgery show.  Stopped at Café du Monde for one order of beignets (you get three) smothered in confectioner’s sugar, along with a hot chocolate. As I started up Canal Street, the rain came down harder. I returned to the hotel about 13:00, and the maid came in, so I took my book to the lobby to read. Saw three black men, who seemed to be tour leaders, counting out $810.82. Two Swiss guys spotted the taxi to the airport, saying “Doh isch sie!” I checked out the 5th floor swimming pool and five guys were sitting in the steaming hot tub outside in the rain. Later I returned to the room to wash the Mardi Gras beads and doubloons.
When Kent arrived at 18:30, we headed for Galatoire’s Restaurant on Bourbon Street, but there was a block-long line and a sign saying a jacket and tie were required. So we went to the Riverwalk to try Mike Anderson’s jambalaya; lighter color and more subtle spices. I had a large soft pretzel from the Fritzel House and Kent got a few chunks of white chocolate from a chocolate shop. He also got a hot cup of Kona coffee. We walked past a Fudgery demonstration, a 50s band, guitarist in Mexican restaurant, and a glass harpist. Raining still as we returned to the hotel.

Sunday, March 8, 1987
Cloudy today. We headed to the Royal Sonesta Hotel to the Beque Restaurant for a recommended breakfast buffet but it did not open for another hour at 10:00. We wandered to the Jax Brewery, also not to open until 10:00. Ended up at the Café du Monde, which was crowded and did not have take-out for coffee and beignets. We checked out other restaurants, but by that time the Beque Restaurant would be open. But then we passed the Court of the Two Sisters, which Kent remembered was recommended by Nick!
Court of the Two Sisters restaurant
We went in for the $15/person buffet and got a table right away, beating the rush at 9:45. The buffet was unbelievable, and was inside near the courtyard. We were in an outer street-side dining room designed to look like a courtyard. The waiter, Charlie, brought bottomless iced teas and a biscuit with butter. We had to get the rest ourselves! We couldn’t possibly even sample everything, there was so much! There were twenty bowls of mostly different salads in the vegetable boat, and likewise in the fruit boat! There was a shrimp cocktail aspic, a spinach aspic, paté, shrimp cocktail, whole (but headless) steamed or boiled shrimp, shrimp salad, shrimp remoulade, shrimp pasta salad. Also tri-color pasta salad, chicken salad, tuna salad, zucchini salad, egg salad, macaroni salad, etc. There were all the melons, pineapple, mixed fruit, kiwi, several cheeses, crackers, whipped butter, mini-bagels and cream cheese. Herring and onions, herring in cream, and more!! After that “course” we had the egg dish. A chef was stationed to make it to order. I had a shrimp Creole omelet (like shrimp cocktail) and Kent had a seafood omelet (mostly shrimp, in white sauce). Next was the table of hot dishes where many were mislabeled. The oyster pasta looked like scrambled eggs, and the fried redfish looked like bacon. There were two types of sausage, a fat reddish one, and thin ones. There were grits, fried potatoes, croissants, crêpes Suzette (rolled crêpes in orange sauce), and a selection of quiches, roast pork with applesauce, the duck l’orange was ham and pineapple, and more! When we went for desserts, I noticed the oyster pasta, for real, had come out, so tried some of that. The oysters were gigantic. For dessert I had a parfait glass of mousse and Kent let me taste his pecan pie. He also had mousse. We had to pass on so many other desserts! As we ate, a three-man band played jazz selections or tried to sing. Here and there, groups had the waiters take photos at their tables.
We left fully sated to wander through the French Quarter. We passed Brennan’s, which had gone downhill according to a Gray Line’s tour guide who stopped us on the street earlier. We felt very lucky to have stumbled on the Court of Two Sisters, and now there were waiting lines here as well.
We stopped in a gallery of some very good and some very unusual stuff: Oriental-like posters, bronze sculptures of jazz personalities and their instruments, fancy mirrors, goddess and god-like statues, street paintings, and John Lennon’s etching on glass. Peeked in a couple other galleries as we headed back to the hotel. We checked out at noon and left our bags with the bellman. Walked down Poydras Street to St Charles Avenue to wait for a streetcar. Fifteen minutes later we paid our 60 cents each to board an SRO trolley; very modern coinbox with a red liquid display adding up the coins deposited. Once out in the Garden District, we were able to get seats. Passed some nicer, bigger homes, one looking like a Gothic chapel, one with tulips galore, etc. We passed Tulane and Loyola Universities and Audubon Park. We turned down Carrolltown Avenue, where we hopped off and began walking back to Tulane. I got a streetcar photo, then ran to catch the next streetcar back.
St Charles Avenue streetcar
Audubon Park
I had a seat and Kent stood for several blocks, before we could get seats together. There were several Japanese boys and they had pictures taken inside the streetcar. We got off at Canal Street and went back to the hotel. Kent wasn’t interested in doing anything, and I had seen everything within walking distance of the hotel. We thought about renting a car, but only had a few hours. So we decided to head to the airport at 14:30.
Got a cab and a talkative driver. When we checked in we asked about an earlier flight, but no go. While we waited, I had a Dr Pepper and a praline, and Kent had a couple iced teas. Boarded the 737 for the 17:45 flight to Pittsburgh. Served drinks and dinner. Kent saw a guy from the rival Dryvit, and later he found the guy’s penguin pin! Arrived in Pittsburgh 15 minutes late at 21:00. Boarded the 21:25 flight to Providence. Again faced backwards on a 737. Kent likened our fellow passengers to those found on an interstate bus. One woman was bedecked in large ugly chains and rings. An old woman had a small cooler for her medications. Arrived on time in Providence at 22:45. I took Kent’s briefcase and my bag and went to get the car. It was filthy with dirt and dust, and it initially stuck to the ground. Paid $36 for parking! Went to wait for Kent to come out with the checked bags and were on our way home by 23:30.

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