October 07, 2010

July Bead Journal Page
Love, New Orleans Style
April 2003
October 2005-March 2008

The weekend before we got married, Tommy and I went to Baton Rouge for a workshop I was doing with the LA Ag Dept.  We checked into the hotel and headed to New Orleans, only an hour away.  We took a horse drawn carriage ride through the French Quarter followed by beignets and hot chocolate at Cafe Dumonde.  It was so romantic and wonderful.

August 29th of 2005, The Big Easy got hit by Hurricane Katrina.  The company that owns the hotel Tommy was chief engineer at in New Hampshire also had a property in N.O.  They wanted a chief with LA experience to be in charge of putting it back in order.  So in early October, we left NH for NO.  Between the time the storm happened and we were sent south, the chief at the NO property retired and a new one was promoted.  Tommy went in as Asst. Chief, which suited him just fine.  The hotel we were moving into was The La Pavillon on Poydras St.We lived here from early October til just after the first of December.  I will never forget being introduced to the general manager and then being told by him that I was not to leave the hotel for any reason unescorted.  New Orleans was under martial law.  I could not even go across the street to the parking lot where our truck was parked alone.  We had a nice room on the sixth floor overlooking Baronne Street.

Life in post Katrina New Orleans was something I hope to never experience in anyway again.  I will never forget National Guardsmen with M-16s on every corner; hundreds of "drowned" vehicles under I-10; circles with X's through them made by the searchers looking for survivors or bodies;  high water marks in the middle of buildings and homes; boats in the middle of levees, roadways, and highways; overturned cars in lawns; refridgerators lining the streets; gunshots at night; a sea of blue roofs (tarps).

There were also lots of good times.  We lived in the French Quarter on Royal Street.  There was a nice little Italian restaurant a block from us.  The owners walked past our place each day on their way to work.  They made friends with Zoe...and of course us.  Each time we would get a pizza delivered they would include a little package for Zoe filled with pepperoni and cheese bread.  She is so spoiled.  Each Mardi Gras there were atleast a thousand or more colorly costumed people that paraded past the apartment.  Tommy, Rafal, Zoe, and I would sit on the balcony and people watch for hours.  Tommy wouldn't let me go downstairs til he knew I didn't have a pair of scissors in my hands...boy those costumes were beautiful and would have look wonderful on the floor of my studio and in my work...lol.

The gentleman who lived in the lower half of the house was the retired curator of the NO Jazz Museum.  He was a great neighbor.  Each Mardi Gras he would keep a sign in list for everyone who stopped by his place.  The first year we were there, 2006, he had almost a thousand names on that list.  My inlaws were visiting and my fil sat down there with him and loved every moment of it.  He talked about it for years.

Looking back, New Orleans was a really happy time for us. 

1 comment:

cq4fun said...

Wow, Mary, what a post. Sort of the best of times, the worst of times. I loved the little insights on both the post-Katrina times and the Mardi Gras moments. What a wonderful memorial piece you made.