Sunday, September 30, 1984

1984 New Orleans, LA (9/28-30/1984)

Saturday, August 25, 1984
Sneaking in a photo from Sand Hill Cove Beach, RI.
Kyle and Erich

Friday, September 28, 1984
Left at 6:15 to drive to the airport in pouring rain, and had to park in the farthest lot. Checked in for the 7:20 Piedmont flight to Baltimore, arriving at 8:25. The flight to Charlotte left a half hour late at 11:55, arriving at 13:00. The 15:25 flight to New Orleans left 15 minutes late. I had full cans of soda, little bags of almonds, and a snack pack on the first two flights, and on this one we had lunch.  Arrived in New Orleans at 17:36, or 16:35 local time. This time Kent met me with his rental car. We went to eat at the Catfish Shack, endorsed by the “Cookin’ Cajun.” It reminded me of Po Folks in Charleston, SC. I tried the seafood gumbo, a thick stew/soup of vegetables, rice, and seafood. Kent tried it after dousing it with Tabasco and a hot pepper sauce. The bill came to $12.44.
We drove into New Orleans on I-10, getting off at the Superdome exit, and saw the extraterrestrial vehicle that had landed at the downtown’s edge. It was huge, but didn’t look big enough to hold a football field! We drove down Poydras Street, but were blocked by a parade. We turned left on Tchoupitoulas Street and stopped in bumper to bumper traffic. Five minutes later we began to move, and ended up on Decatur Street as it passed the wrought-iron fence of Jackson Square on the left, and behind it was the oldest cathedral in the U.S., St Louis Cathedral. On the right was a hillock of Washington Artillery Park that hid the view of the Mississippi River. We turned up Dumaine Street into the heart of the French Quarter with narrow Old World streets and buildings in a rainbow of colors, with wrought-iron balconies covered with plants. There were some smaller framed houses with closed shutters over both windows and doors, and gingerbread eaves. We turned left again on Dauphine Street to pass the antique shops and hotels. Back on Poydras we went to the Hyatt Regency Hotel. We stopped at the front, and a valet hurried over to park the car. But first a bellboy had to unload all the liquor for the BIF hospitality suite, and take it to the room. We took the speedy elevator that had a view down on the mezzanine and out a back window. Our corner room #2423 had a view of downtown and the site of the 1984 World’s Fair.
View of the Superdome from the Hyatt Regency Hotel
View down on the mezzanine level of the Hyatt Regency
Kent had to go to the front desk for business purposes, and then we went out to walk down Poydras Street, trying to find the building that was topped by a brightly lighted spire, sort of like Niagara Mohawk in Buffalo, NY. It was the Hibernian Bank. We turned on Carondelet Street to Bourbon Street, and wandered along past the souvenir shops, small restaurants, and bars. Then on to the girlie and men shows. Vendors in red and white striped shirts were selling hot dogs from hot-dog shaped carts. We went into a couple print galleries. We turned right on Orleans Street towards the cathedral, then right on Royal Street for a block. On Toulouse Street we found a neat boutique selling a variety of things, like ceramic vases, papier-mâché piggy banks, woven baskets, wooden toys, hand-sewn greeting cards, etc. Kent bought a couple magnets, one a pig face and one an old advertisement.
We turned on Chartres Street to arrive at St Louis Cathedral, said to be the most photographed church in the country! It had a blunt Greek Revival portico that does not seem typical to this area. We continued down St Ann Street, stopping at an Italian ice cream parlor. Kent was accosted by a drunk asking for help to get a new drink! At Decatur Street, a huge telescope was set up to view the moon, as it was a clear night. We climbed over the Washington Artillery Park hill, and over the railroad tracks to the levee with its “moon walk” to view the river. We sat and watched the river traffic. A dredger was at work, and a car ferry plied the waters along with several tourist boats and a paddlewheeler lined with colored light bulbs.
Next we headed up St Peter Street. A young shoeshine vendor asked to shine Kent’s shoes, then looked at his boaters, and said he couldn’t shine those. However, he bet that he could guess exactly what city and street where he “got them shoes.” They shook on it, but Kent beat him to the punch by saying he “got them right here on this street in New Orleans, Louisiana.” (Shouldn’t he have said he “gots” them?)
We saw horse-drawn carriages full of tourists. We passed Preservation Hall, hearing some jazz music. We had been hearing jazz from most of the clubs and bars we passed. We continued to Dauphine, went up Canal Street a ways, then over to Poydras to return to the hotel. Later we watched the fireworks ending the day at the World’s Fair.

Saturday, September 29, 1984
This morning we walked over to Brennan’s Restaurant in the French Quarter, and even though we didn’t have a reservation, we were seated at 8:15 (the restaurant opened at 8:00). After looking at the menu, I decided to go ahead and splurge on a “typical” New Orleans breakfast. Kent started with an eye opener, the Absinthe Suissesse, a licorice-flavored egg nog? Kent and I split an appetizer of a spiced (cinnamon) baked apple in double cream. Yum! We were also given a basket with three rolls of French bread that was excellent. Kent then had a crabmeat omelet, and I had Eggs St Charles, two poached eggs over a lightly sautéed trout steak, with Hollandaise sauce. Also a nutmeg covered half tomato that was real meaty. We ended with the signature dessert of Bananas Foster. They were baked banana quarters dusted with cinnamon and soaked in syrup, over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I also tasted the coffee, which is said to have chicory in it. Kent treated for the $23 meal.
We returned to the Hotel via Royal Street. We saw several small dead birds, and saw one fly into a window. The effects of air pollution?
After a pit stop at the hotel, we walked over to the Superdome, where Kent got to stand in line to get the badges for his colleagues and then walk around to the other side of the stadium to get me a one-day badge. Inside, set up for a convention, it still didn’t look big enough for pro football. We climbed to the loge to the BIF booth to see Bill N and his girlfriend, Susan, and her daughter, Leah. From up here, it was easier to see how big the place was.
Next we walked down Girod Street to the 1984 Louisiana World’s Exposition.
Trompe l'oeil building on the left
We saw more of the unique telephone booths in dark green iron boxes set up during the Fair.
Telephone booths
We paid the $15 admission fee to enter through the City Gate, covered with giant papier-mâché figures of the sea/water theme.
World's Fair ticket
We first checked a map, and headed to the Vatican exhibit. We passed the WonderWall (designed by Charles Moore and William Turnball), sort of a cardboard Disneyland of pastel shapes and characters, with shops and snack bars below along with benches and shade.
In an old brick warehouse were more shops and boutiques, and on Fulton Street were bars. Notable was a huge wooden carved kangaroo with a couple joeys at Sheila’s, the Australian place. Down at the end of this street we saw the landmark dome of the Vatican exhibit with its cross that had three lateral bars of increasing size as they descended. We paid $5 each to join the line, which moved fairly quickly.
Vatican Pavilion ticket
First was a statue of St John the Baptist by Auguste Rodin, then displays of altar paraphernalia from the Sistine Chapel Sacristy, including a reliquary of St Francis Xavier of Goa and a chausable/priest’s vestment designed by Henri Matisse. In the next room was to be the Barque of St Peter, and I got very excited because I thought this was the real/alleged piece of St Peter’s boat kept in the altar under the dove window in St Peter’s Basilica. But it was a sculpture. There was a 20th century Madonna of Częstochowa, done in Byzantine style, and many works in silver from Canada. Notre Dame University “de Indiana” sent the life-size statues by Ivan Meštrović of Christ and the Samaritan woman at the well. Many old crosses representing many different countries, including African, and a Nigerian carved wooden door from Tenafly, NJ. The next room highlighted the 1938 National Eucharistic Congress Monstrance, which was a bejeweled work of art in gold and silver, having much significance and being priceless. There were several tapestries, one being from the Cluny Museum in Paris. The next room was an art gallery with the “Madonna of Port Lligat” by Salvador Dali, and a tapestry designed by Raffaello. A couple paintings of Christ by El Greco, and a St Joseph with the Christ Child by Georges de la Tour. There was the classic Caravaggio painting of the Deposition that Marsha and I missed in the Vatican Pinocoteca. The next gallery had a small carved ivory diptych and several memorial glasses (only the bottoms left). There was the reliquary of the True Cross, and the restored Giotto mosaic of an angel. A carved stone sarcophagus showing scenes from the Bible, and finally the huge Raffaello-designed tapestry of the Resurrection. We checked out the gift shop, where they were having a going-out-of-business sale! We saw an exhibit of the Shroud of Turin, then followed the WonderWall a bit farther. Then we followed the monorail track to the far corner of the Italian village with eateries and souvenir shops.
WonderWall and Ferris wheel
Kent saw salt and peppers shakers that matched his Italian mugs. We saw an exhibit on famous local and sport Italians. Another old warehouse had a German beer hall and folk exhibits of Louisiana with boats, Carnival costumes, toys, voodoo dolls, baskets, straw hats, etc. We wandered to the Aquacade and had some beignets. The fried dough was airy inside, and the wind blew the confectioner’s sugar all over me. They were having the National Arm Wrestling Championships in the Jazz and Gospel tent. Being intrigued by what we could hear, we went to watch. Next we passed the Chrysler Building, and the Union Pacific railroad movie that had long lines. We stopped at the huge Louisiana Pavilion to find a lot of space with exhibits of various organizations scattered around. There was a man on the stage talking about the baby black panther in his arms who was pawing his face and trying to eat the microphone. Most of the exhibits tried to follow the theme of the exposition: “The World of Rivers: Fresh Water as a Source of Life.” There were ponds and fountains throughout the park, and in this pavilion. The National Wildlife Department had fish tanks set up, and the National Parks had a display. A choir was singing in the far corner. When we left we passed the Mississippi Aerial River Transit/M.A.R.T. station where people caught the gondolas that took them over the Mississippi River to the other side.
We went to see the international exhibits, first stopping at the International Bazaar with Alaskan (!), Korean, and Scandinavian souvenir shops. Even though Kent’s feet were mighty sore, we kept going, having to go up and over the railroad tracks. First was China, where the exhibit looked old and used, and they were stretching it to go along with the water theme. with hydroelectric dams and rice paddies. Then it was display after display of Chinese crafts and goods. All these things, including a dam motor, were available for purchase through Mr. Wong, according to hand-printed signs! Kent bought a couple cute panda buttons. He also got a Chinese beer and we sat out on the terrace on the Mississippi River.
Paddlewheel boat on the Mississippi River
Gondola ride
Gondola ride crossing the Mississippi River
Kent timed the gondola ride to be about five minutes one-way. Some ladies sat down next to us and highly recommended the gondola ride, even though it was terrifying! These ladies, like many other local women I have seen, all have huge diamonds on their fingers. Saw a paddlewheeler turn in the river.
Kent was then ready to try one more pavilion, and we went to Japan exhibit, which was of the fine quality we expected.
Japan Pavilion map
In the entrance was Small World type gadgetry, and a huge photo of Mount Fuji. We walked through a tunnel of backlit photos of scenes and seasons in Japan. The next room was where Japan did a fine job of digging to meet the water theme (flood and river management)! The next area simulated a Japanese garden, then there were displays of various industries; ceramics, silk, etc. Another area showed the flavor of Japanese festivals. Kent’s feet had had it, so we left and walked back up Girod Street. We made a detour when we heard music. A band was playing in a park where the magnolia trees were dropping their odd seed pods. We got to the hotel at about 17:00, and Kent’s top chief, Art, and his wife, Leila, stopped for a brief visit. I was getting sleepy, and it was too early for bed, so I was going to take a walk. Kent decided to come with me to look for a place to eat. From an indoor balcony, we could look down 20 stories to the mezzanine level where a buffet and oompah band were set up for Oktoberfest. We went to the fifth floor to look at the outside pool there. It was cool outside!
On the mezzanine level there were people in tuxes and fancy dress. We checked out the buffet of German specialties, and decided to eat there, paying $14.95 each. The salad bar was the usual. The entrees included spaetzle (tiny ones mixed with ground beef), fried dumplings, Rinderfleisch/roast beef, pork schnitzel, roasted chicken, ham and sauerkraut (mis-labeled as Sauerbraten), and two types of Wurst/sausage (Blut und Brat) with pickled beets, and cheese crêpes. The oompah band played mellow André Kostelanetz-like polkas and Lara’s Theme type songs. For dessert we shared pieces of Sachertorte, a mocha cake, and fudge. We then rolled over to the elevators to join several girls in strapless crinoline dresses for the ride up.

Sunday, September 30, 1984
Kent bought a newspaper for only 50-cents. The daily is 15-cents, but will go up to 20-cents on Monday. We opted to go to Howard Johnson’s for breakfast, where one waitress was managing the crowd poorly. We waited and waited for our check, before Kent broke a $20 bill, and left enough money as payment. We left at 9:30 and had to hurry back to the hotel. We got the car, and Kent dropped me off at Canal and Bourbon Streets, as he went off to pick up people from the airport. I walked up Bourbon Street where the proprietors were hosing down their sidewalks, Old World style! The French Quarter was the original settlement site of New Orleans, which has burned down several times. The buildings of today are in the Spanish flavor, with street names given in Spanish in blue and gold tilework on corner buildings.
French street sign
Spanish street sign
As noted before, many buildings had wrought-iron balconies filled with plants, and the streets were narrow and often cobblestoned. I followed the AAA walking tour, starting at Bourbon and Bienville Streets, with one of the oldest establishments being the Old Absinthe House (1806), which became a barroom in 1826, and has been one since, except during the Prohibition.
Old Absinthe House
In 1970, the absinthe frappe was invented behind its marble-topped bar.
At Bourbon and Conti was The Famous Door, where a roster of luminaries who have entered these portals is listed. Left on Conti Street, and then right on Dauphine to walk a block of the residential street.
Conti Street
I turned right on St Louis to the Hermann-Grima House, built in the early 1820s.
Hermann-Grima House
It was closed, so I couldn’t see the restored home with the exemplary courtyard. It was colonial in architecture and had an American impact on Creole New Orleans. A block farther I noted Antoine’s, the restaurant. I returned to Bourbon and headed east past nightclubs, restaurants, and a balconied hotel.
Bourbon Street
Bourbon Street balcony
I turned down Toulouse Street to see the Lion Gate, two small lions on either side of a gate, which is a favorite subject of painters. Across the street was supposed to be the Casa Hove, a perfumery museum, but I only saw Casa Hinard. Later I saw a Casa Hove perfumery on Royal Street. Returned to Bourbon as it became more residential. I went down St Peter Street to see the unpainted façade of Preservation Hall. I followed Bourbon to Dumaine Street, then turned left on Royal Street to find the Cornstalk Fence Hotel (1816), with its cornstalk wrought-iron fence (1840).
Cornstalk Fence Hotel
Royal Street balconies
I continued down Royal to pass the Gallier House (1857) built by a New Orleans architect. It was also closed. Nearby was the Lalaurie House (c. 1832) with a beautiful white-painted carved wooden door behind an iron gate.
Lalaurie House door
It is said that this house echoes with the screams of slaves chained in the garret and tortured by Madame Lalaurie!
Governor Nicholls Street balcony
I went down Governor Nicholls Street and turned left on Chartres to the Beauregard-Keyes House (1826), where General Beauregard once was headquartered.
Beauregard-Keyes House
It was designed by François Correjolles who combined the features of Greek Revival and Creole cottage architecture. Francis Parkinson Keyes restored the house and garden, or so stated a plaque on the brick wall. Keyes wrote novels set in New Orleans.
Across the street was a cream-colored wall with a green gate leading to the Ursuline Convent, the first nunnery in New Orleans, established in 1724, and it is the oldest building in the Mississippi River valley. It was later the legislative seat, an archbishopric, and a presbytère. I went down Ursuline Street to Decatur, and began to walk along the arcades and restored buildings of the French Market, now housing boutiques and shops, and eateries.
French Market
A pianist and female trio performed at the courtyard bar. I found a ceramic Carnival mask to buy, and more postcards. I came to Jackson Square and walked up on Washington Artillery for a photo.
Jackson Square
Saw the equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson (1856 replica of the one by Clark Mills in front of the White House), and across the square was St Louis Cathedral (rebuilt 1850, in Spanish Colonial style). The park was fronted with horse-drawn carriages, and surrounded by painters who set up their wares à la Place du Tertre in Paris. It was noted that the large edifices to the right and left of the square were the stately Pontalba Buildings, Renaissance style apartment buildings, but now city and museum facilities.
Pontalba Building
Washington Artillery Park
St Louis Cathedral behind
statue of Andrew Jackson
On either side of the cathedral were also twin buildings. To the right was the Presbytère, now part of the Louisiana State Museum. To the left of the cathedral was the Cabildo or statehouse, now also part of the museum.
Chartres Street at Madison Street
Up Chartres to Dumaine Street, passing Madame John’s Legacy, an example of a raised plantation cottage. Next I turned left on Royal Street and could not find the Café d’Exiles, but I did see the well-known Court of the Two Sisters, another well-known restaurant. I passed the sedate St Anthony’s Garden, once the site of duels. A left turn into Pirate’s Alley and right at the next corner brought me to what appeared to be the Petit Theater. At the corner of St Peter and Royal Streets was the Skyscraper House (1811), built at first to three instead of its present four floors for fear the ground could not support it.
Skyscraper/Le Monnier House
Across the street was the LaBranche Building (1835-1840) with the intricate acorn and oak leaf iron grillwork.
LaBranche Building iron grillwork
I could not get into the Broulatour Courtyard farther west on Royal, and continued past Brennan’s Restaurant.
Brennan's Restaurant
Up Conti to Bourbon, and down Bourbon to Canal Street to return to the hotel.
Parking lifts
On Canal Street there were realistic statues of people, including a man reading a newspaper, two tennis players, a policeman, two businessmen, and an artist with a sketchpad and books, but wearing a tie.
Tennis player statues
Policeman statue
Coming back from the Superdome the other day, I saw two more “people” leaning on a railing 10 stories up, on a roof terrace!
I meant to use the bathroom in our room, but saw the doors were wide open to the suite. So I went to the mezzanine to find a restroom, then went to reserve a spot on the airport transport van for 14:40. I checked in a phone book for the nearest Popeye’s Fried Chicken joint. Walked back down Poydras and over to Canal Street beyond Royal to find one. Spicy fried chicken; yum!
Hyatt Regency Hotel
Back at the hotel, things were still happening in the suite, but I sneaked by into the bedroom to leave Kent a Creole praline from a shop in the Poydras Place mall, and got my bags. Finally there was someone at the airport transport desk to sell me a ticket for $7 and confirm the 14:40 departure. The van was on time and the driver was talkative, telling me this was the beginning of the best weather season. We made a pickup at the Intercontinental Hotel, and the driver complained of the narrow driveway. Then into the warehouse district where he was really proud of the urban renewal. We made a pickup at one renovated warehouse, the Sugar House Hotel. The van was full, so we headed to the airport. The unique cemeteries were pointed out, where the solid masonry tombs are all above ground because of the moist soil; New Orleans is 35 feet above sea level. There were several cemeteries on both sides of the road in Metairie, pronounced "mettery."
Arrived at the airport at 15:20 and checked in to the 16:15 flight to Baltimore, which left 15 minutes late. Arrived about 19:55, and checked in for the 20:19 flight to Providence. That left nearly a half hour late. I had an aisle seat and the guy at the window immediately started interrogating me for my life story. A girl came to take the middle seat, and she was interrogated for the entire flight! Arrived in Providence at 21:50. Paid $9 to release my car and drove home.