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Proud to Swim Home

Updated on May 21, 2017
Marsei profile image

I have lived in a suburb of New Orleans for 40 years. I work at home with my two cats, Lucy and General, and my husband of 50 years, Joe.

Beauty of Louisiana

Arkansas to Louisiana: From Venison Steak to Boiled Crawfish

I moved to New Orleans, or a suburb of New Orleans, 45 years ago. This photo of Lake Maurepas is just outside New Orleans. Being a country girl from Arkansas, the beauty of the natural environment is what I love best about Louisiana. I grew up in rural Arkansas. When my husband was transferred here, we flew down to New Orleans to look for a house. While driving on St. Charles, we saw a streetcar. We didn't bother to move out of the way because we thought it was a museum piece. We were almost killed. Yes, we were truly that naïve.

MY FAVORITE THINGS

One of the things that won my heart about this area was the chicory coffee. There is nothing on this earth like a cup of coffee and chicory with boiled milk. I was hooked on the first cup. One of my favorites and something almost all native New Orleanians have every Monday for dinner is red beans and rice. I like the garlicky flavor and the smoked sausage we eat with it. I've come to be a crawfish lover. When we moved here and went to a company crawfish boil, I was almost nauseated, watching my husband's coworkers sucking on the end of what we in Arkansas called mudbugs. Now the smell of crawfish boiling at all the different houses on our street around Easter-time is pure heaven. One thing I have learned and that has changed me from a size 7 when I moved here 40 years ago to a size 12 is that in New Orleans, you must celebrate. And a celebration in this city means food, family, booze, and wonderful times.

When I first came here, I had trouble deciphering some of the local expressions, although now they seem the norm. When I first heard a friend say: "I had morning sickness when I was pregnant for my first child, " I wondered if she was a surrogate mother. Now I know it's just the New Orleans version of "pregnant with." My neighbor told me she was going by her mother's house, and I assume she meant driving by it for some reason. Now I know it means "going to." Although they have faded, there are other expressions, "making (buying) groceries; lockers (closets); banquettes (sidewalks)"; and on and on. My children, who moved here at four and five, use those expressions themselves now.

The people here are friendly, mostly religious, generous to a fault, love a politician who's a "rascal," and seem at their best when partying and playing, although they work hard too. I left my very expensive camera in a taxi years ago after a trip to Canada. The cab driver found me, returned the camera and adamantly refused the reward I offered, becoming a little huffy that I even offered it. That type of gesture is typical of most New Orleanians.

Although I'm not a fan of Bourbon Street, I like taking the street car ride through the Garden District in early spring when the azaleas are blooming. There's nothing more beautiful. I love Christmas in the Oaks in City Park and the lights in LaFreniere Park, which once decorated the home of our fried chicken king, who has since died. The grandboys had such fun watching our neighborhood light up with fireworks on New Year's Eve this year. I don't think it's legal, but every year for 40 years, it's been the greatest show ever. I enjoy taking my grandchildren up on the levee to look at the river. The youngest one is a big boy now, but he still talks about when he was little and had to go real bad and Grandma let him pee on the levee.

TAKE ME TO THE MARDI GRAS

When our children were small, we took our ladders with seats attached down to St. Charles and Girod and met friends at 8:00 a.m. on the Saturday before Mardi Gras. We stayed there watching parades, drinking beer, and catching beads until the last parade rolled after 8:00 p.m. At noon, we went around the corner to the park where we ate our fried chicken lunch. One year two homeless men who kept asking for money, saying they "just flew in from St. Louis," stole our whole container of fried chicken. I read them the riot act, but the chicken was gone forever. Later my friend, who looked a lot like me, said one of them came over and said he was going to choke her to death for yelling at them. She was furious because she got threatened instead of me. We were all somewhat buzzed, so it all seemed hilarious and we still laugh about it now.

One year, a young guy was wrapped around a stoplight, watching parades and catching beads, yelling a lot and having a ball. Suddenly there was a huge crash as the light fell over. The crowd went totally silent. He lay there for a moment, then staggered to his feet, yelling, "Throw me something, mister." The crowd clapped and yelled. He was so drunk he wasn't hurt at all, or if he was, he didn't feel it.

We always went to our spot on St. Charles every day until the end of Mardi Gras day and the last truck parade. Some of the trinkets we fought over, we wouldn't have leaned over to pick up anywhere else, but what wonderful happy times. I don't remember ever seeing anyone get angry in all those years. The biggest problem we ever had was when our friend dressed as a toilet and everyone kept trying to sit down on his lid. That is always a problem, no bathrooms except dirty portable potties. Back then, we paid a quarter a trip to use the facilities in a small hotel on St. Charles. Those days are over.

At some point, we burned out. These days, we go to our cabin in Arkansas during Mardi Gras. I wouldn't trade those crazy memories for anything, though.

New Orleans is unique. I wanted to give you a feel for what it's like to actually live a life here. It is a testament to the people of the city that New Orleans is thriving again after the devastation in 2005. I don't even want to mention the name of that wretched storm. I'll just call it the B**** as most of us here do. The city is emotional. Many of us cried when Jim Henderson said: "Hell has frozen over; pigs have flown; the New Orleans Saints have won the Super Bowl." We're emotional about sports, politics, family -- can one be emotional about food? It's a city that has life, breath, "flavor," and love. My son is in Paris currently and says it reminds him a great deal of New Orleans. I think of it as a city with its arms and heart wide open, waiting to show us all the art of living.

Although I grew up in Arkansas and still visit often, when we head south on I-55, we are definitely "going home."

Shoes of a Zydeco dancer during Mardi Gras

A Brief Quiz

Quiz. (Cover answers below before beginning.)

1. Who is the coach of the New Orleans Saints?

2. What is the name of that great place that serves coffee and begneits in the quarter?

3. What is the name of the famous voodoo queen supposedly buried underneath the Superdome?

4. What name were the Saints called during their losing days?. .

5. What did N.O. Saints fans wear over their heads to the games during the losing days?

6. Who was mayor of New Orleans during Katrina?

7. Who is mayor of New Orleans at present?

8. Who is the famous stripper on Bourbon Street who is rumored to be getting close to 70 years old and who has never really stripped?

9. What was the redlight area in New Orleans called in days past?

10. What former governor of Louisiana recently got out of prison?

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How did you do?

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1. Sean Payton

2. Cafe Du Monde

3. Marie Laveau

4. Ain'ts

5 Paper Bags

6. Ray Nagin

7. Mitch Landrieu

8. Chris Owens

9. Storyville

10. Edwin Edwards

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    • Parks McCants profile image

      Parks McCants 5 years ago from Eugene Oregon U.S.A.

      well written discriptive commentary.

      Anyone reading this article will most likely wish to travel to New Orleans.I know I do.

      Well done!

    • Marsei profile image
      Author

      Sue Pratt 5 years ago from New Orleans

      Thank you, Parks. I love the city, the good and bad. It's home.

      I can't wait to read the orb house report that just came. As I said I'm facinated with your photos and my husband thought what you said about the deer with the orb was way cool.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, New Orleans has always fascinated me, coming from England, when I see it on tv I think its so colorful, and amazing, thanks for the great tour, I learned something new! Banquettes! lol!

    • ananceleste profile image

      Anan Celeste 5 years ago from California

      Hello Marsei;

      It so funny that you found my hub and I was looking for your profile. For some reason I always had this fascination with New Orleans. There is something about the city that is so familiar. The rich history of town and the mysteries of the old world in those streets.

      The folklore and myths surrounding New Orleans, adds to the charm of the city.Voted up chéri!

    • Marsei profile image
      Author

      Sue Pratt 5 years ago from New Orleans

      It's a wonderful city, especially this time of year with the azaleas in full bloom. My son lives in England now and visited Paris over the weekend. He said it's a lot like home (New Orleans). We will never see it all!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Nice article. Makes me want to see New Orleans as I have never been there.I hate the cold weather we get in the north but my wife hates the hot weather in the south.

    • profile image

      Derdriu 5 years ago

      Marsei, What a charming, endearing, personal look at life in New Orleans! Me too, I enjoy the memories of my time in the city and the state. It's a unique experience which I relive through my memories of beans and rice, chickory coffee, French (= Spanish in actuality) Quarter events, lake travel, and saintly (;-]) games.

      Thank you for sharing, and Welcome to HubPages,

      Derdriu

    • Marsei profile image
      Author

      Sue Pratt 5 years ago from New Orleans

      There is no other city like it. As we saw on bumper stickers so often after Katrina: I'm proud to call it home!

    • profile image

      Donna C 5 years ago

      I have no idea where this url came from about dentures, but this is a good article about New Orleans, Mardi Gras, etc.

    • Marsei profile image
      Author

      Sue Pratt 5 years ago from New Orleans

      Ha! I realized it too late, besides, traffic was good so I left it.

    • profile image

      markcrosby 3 years ago from United States

      This is a very interesting article. I love Louisiana, but have never made it to New Orleans. I want to visit the city soon.

    • Marsei profile image
      Author

      Sue Pratt 3 years ago from New Orleans

      I hope you do visit. There is no place like it! Thanks for your comments.

      Marsei

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