Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The View from the Balcony

The above picture is the picture of the hotel we stayed at on our last visit to New Orleans. Or, at least I hope we didn’t get taken, we bought it in the lobby. The picture normally hangs in our hall (when it isn’t resting on our scanner).

If you click on the picture to see the details you will see it is on the corner of Royal Street – that is about right.

I promised I would do a posting on the balcony of the room we stayed in the French Quarters of New Orleans, in the mid 1950s. It was no Hitchock’s Rear Window, but interesting from one fleeting moment to the next. We had places to go and things to do, so I did not spend a lot of time on the balcony looking down, but it seemed there were always some interesting movement down on the street level.

No, I didn’t hear anybody in the daybreak hours of the morning hollering, “Crawfish!!!”

We went during the school spring holiday week, which that year the day we arrived was a holiday we had never heard of. It was the day after lent. Which was after Madi Gras.… which meant there was a lot of partying catching up to do.

Brass music was honking and people were staggering and stumbling – which might be ordinary there.

As I mentioned before the pink building we stayed in had been there for centuries and it had been reported this hotel was the one Anne Rice had in mind for the interview in her book INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE.

The courtyard, not seen from the street had a beautiful fountain. Our room was on the second floor. I remember walking down the hall and feel the slope of the hall. I’m sure if you had dropped a marble, it would have rolled down the hall, bounced down the steps to the fountain in the courtyard.

Our room was either two or three rooms. It was very roomy for us four. The last room had double doors going out to a balcony. The balcony overlooked a street that headed down towards Jackson Square, the big church, and the Mississippi River.

When we first brought the first of our luggage in and looked around the room my two boys and I had to go out on the balcony.

We got on the balcony just in time to see an angry mob of men with ball bats, sticks, and I forgot what else march up to just below our window and started shouting. We finally figured out there was a bar beneath us. The men was not too happy with the clientele of the bar. It seems one man ran in just before the mob that was dressed in some kind of feathery-looking outfit.

Across the street was another bar. It was always opened. I think it was opened 24 hours a day. I think it was probably a straight bar. I think that year Rocky had been 18 just a few months and in Louisiana the legal drinking age was 18, so Rocky had his first drink in a bar. I went with him the first time, but he went a couple times after that.

Looking down from the balcony for the several days we stayed there we were always seeing a flow of interesting people: street musicians, paper sellers, panhandlers (I think New Orleans has more than its share of homeless people begging for the price of a drink – who cares about food), mimes on the way to the river front to perform, and so on.

A couple of blocks away was a big seafood restaurant. They had all the Cajun and Creole dishes plus Bayou dishes such as frog legs and ‘gater meat.

I forgot what I ordered and what I didn’t order now, but that night it was fresh on mind. When the food was brought it was not what I orders so I called the waitress over and told her so, in a nice way. She rudely disagreed with me. The rest of the time in the seafood restaurant the waitress glared at me.

That night, at bed time I became deathly ill. I threw up… I threw up when there were no more to throw up… I thought I was going to vomit myself inside out.

I think there is a possibility the waitress wished me ill and either she added something to my food or put some kind of hex on me. I think I have the strongest stomach of my family. They have stomach sickness far more often than I do. I think I was “selected” at our table for one reason or another.

Whichever, I spent part of the night hugging the commode and the other part lying on the balcony to feel the cool air and hearing party goers coming and going at all hours.

I lived.

I can see the voodoo chick holding her voodoo doll, snatching her fingers and saying, “Curses! Foiled again!”

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Anonymous J3 said...

Ah, NOLA! What a magical place. Spending 4 years in Starkville, MS - it was only a few hours away and became a regular road trip. Judging from Rocky's age in your post, my first visit was probably a year or 2 later. I never went for Mardi Gras - but I had friends from the Bayou who disappeared for the 2 weeks prior to Fat Tuesday to be in parades & balls and it was considered an excused absence! Too many stories to post here - but even our daughter Brenna, when she was just 3 months old, enjoyed some late night night revelry in the Quarter after attending a wedding there 8 years ago.


5:17 AM  
Blogger ET said...

That was our last trip. I have been there three times that I remember. Once in the Navy, our ship met a British ship there in January 1965 on the anniversary of the Battle Of New Orleans; Anna and I went shortly after we were married, and this time.
I love that Dixieland and the unpredictability of the eccentric people there, as long as they keep their hexes to themselves.
I think if I was closer I and we, like you, would visit more often.
Is a wedding as jazzy as a funeral?

5:34 AM  
Anonymous j3 said...


not as jazzy, but some of the best food I ever had! The eccentric people are great. When I was in school, we always saw a guy we called "Bourbon St. Superman" cause he, well, dressed like Superman. He would just walk up and down Bourbon St. and not say a word. I saw him on every visit. Almost as crazy as the lady in the horse-drawn carriage who pulled her dress over her head and shook everything that needed to be seen - at 1:00 in the afternoon! What a town!


9:46 AM  
Blogger ET said...

On my Naval trip I ran into some woman named Rose who sold her poetry magazines (that she wrote, edited, and washed the bottles) that were dangling on a clothes line.... along used *TRUMP magazines. What a combination!

*TRUMP magazine was created by the same people who created MAD comic book.

That same trip in the bar part of Pat O'Brien's an old lady came in selling roses. She asked me to take her picture, her son has never seen her since he had grown up and she wanted to send him a picture. She gave me her address and later I mailed her a print of herself. I never even got a 'thank you'.

11:20 AM  
Blogger deborah wilson said...

Sounds like you and Anna had a good time - except for the 'hex'.
I have to smile about this because my ex-Aunt would agree. She was born and raised in New Orleans and finally moved away about 2 years before she met my Uncle (he was in the military). She said that she began to fear the levees and kept having dreams about them breaking.

Premonitions or what?

I ask her alot about the city, she said it was wild - but cozy.

She also believed in voo-doo. She said some of the people there were real serious about it and some of the things they did would scare the crap out of an outsider.

1:18 PM  
Blogger ET said...

The Crescent City is a mystic city for sure.
We did have a good time, except for my bout with the witch.
Rocky and Adam did too. If I remember correctly, Adam bought a voodoo doll from a voodoo house - I wonder what ever happened to that? I might want to use it on a couple of neighbors.

2:24 PM  

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