Storms seem to follow my family or maybe we create them. I don’t know, but Katrina is a memory we will never be able to obliterate, Alzheimer’s notwithstanding.
We were in New Orleans when Katrina focused her evil eye on The Big Easy – easily our favorite city in the world. My family lived in New Orleans from 1981-86 and we feel like we singlehandedly hosted the World’s Fair. Both my sons returned there when they finished college and my car always wanted to head south whenever I got near I-55.
On the day before Katrina settled her itinerary we were there to celebrate Justin’s 31st birthday. He is now “William” and lives in Nashville and hosted the great flood of 2010 which some of you might remember. We were in the middle of it as usual.
But back to Katrina. We had been in New Orleans since Wednesday eating as unhealthily as possible for two days. (at left you can see our typical breakfast) at Parasol’s.
Justin (now William) lived on Magazine Street where we had spent the day bar-hopping and hunting for antiques or “junque” as I like to think of it. The boys left me at home to go play some golf at “The Bulldog” when I clicked on the TV and the mayor was telling us to get out of town fast!.
“Ha, “ I thought. “No hurricane since Betsy had been more than a blip on the screen.”
I went to the Bulldog and dragged them home to pack the car. Justin (now William) refused to go until I told him I would live with him for the rest of his life if he didn’t come with us to Mississippi!
Somehow I new this wasn’t going to be easy like all those others. So we began that last trip north listening to WWL-Radio which didn’t shut down until Katrina shut off the lights and killed 1800 people.
Justin (now William) didn’t even bring his laptop because he thought we would be back by Monday. He wasn’t allowed to return to the Irish Chanel for six weeks and even though his home was still standing, it was minus a roof and Parasol’s bar around the corner was closed.
Parasol’s, Justin, New Orleans, and my friend, Gary,will always be inextricably connected in my memory.. Parasol’s was where we celebrated St. Pats which was bigger than Mardi Gras for us. Gary was my high school friend (we sometimes called Flo-Mop because we couldn’t pronounce “Florreich”) lived and owned part of the Irish Chanel. All our memories of New Orleans involved Gary who died two years ago.
Katrina is a time to remember Gary, Jujstin (now William), and New Orleans the way it was the day before Katrina ruined so many lives. We had dinner last night at a restaurant like nothing I ever experienced in New Orleans – a Brazilian place in Nashville with 52 items on the salad bar.. (Phil, remind me to tell you about it).
I still missed the peeling paint on the wall, feint small of boiling crawfish and a guy breathing into a saxophone. Ah… a little heaven.l