Day Twenty – St Charles Street Car
I have breaking news, as unbelievable as it is, it has stopped raining. There is even a blue colouring to the sky! Our very good friend Pat has offered to pick us up during her lunch break and take us for lunch in the Bywater area.
It was great to catch up with Pat and chat during the car ride over to Elizabeths for lunch. A true neighbourhood restaurant. I went for two small dishes, the Boudin balls and praline bacon. I had to ask Pat what were the ingredients of the food I had ordered. Boudin is a meat and rice ball that is deep fried and sits in a lake of seeded mustard. The bacon is covered with brown sugar and then cooked and crisped. Although Pat did comment that the bacon could have been crispier and we look forward to eating some of her home-cooked praline bacon. Wendy went for the fish po’ boy and Kate the cheese burger. My meal was washed down with a nice and spicy bloody mary.
Pat is a really lovely person as is her partner Bob Gentilly Jnr. They have both looked after me and Wendy (on her last visit) and taken us to places outside the normal tourists haunts.
After a real nice lunch Pat very kindly dropped us off at Armstrong Park so as I can show Kate around. The park sits just over Rampart St (back of town) which is the divider between the French Quarter and the historic Treme district. Within the Park are many fine sculptures of legendary music icons. Louis Armstong, Buddy Boldin, Sidney Bechet and Mahalia Jackson. Indeed the Mahalia Jackson performing arts centre sits within the park. Integral to the park is Congo Square where in days long gone by, African slaves were allowed to congregate on Sundays and sing and dance to the rhythms of their drums. These very rhythms that eventually morphed into the jazz and blues that we know today. Kate has noticed that there are hundreds of caterpillars out for their constitutionals (being stalked by lizards) and had deemed the park to dangerous for her.
We walked a couple of blocks over to what remains of the old Basin Street railway station (Basin Street Blues.) The station sat within and area known as Storeyville. Storeyville housed most of the brothels of the late 1800’s and into the 1900’s. I have wrote extensively of this historic area before and don’t want to repeat myself. If you want to learn more about the seedier side of New Orleans well over a century ago then I suggest you call on Mr.Google,
Very close to the Station is St Louis No. 1 cemetery. The cemetery where Marie Laveau is buried. Tourist guides are frequently taking their paying customers for a look. We don’t need to pay as I am nearly qualified as a tourist guide. Wrong we were not allowed in. As of March the 1st this year you need to be with a sanctioned tour guide to gain access. I sort of understand as inconsiderate tourists have been known to want to take home souvenirs But please Mr Smith, no smoking come April 22nd and now a ban on cemeteries. What is happening!
Next off we walked for 10 minutes to catch the famous (a street car named desire) St Charles Street car and as the name implies we head down St Charles. Before we hit the beautiful area known as the Garden District we go past Lee Circle. A very impressive statue of Gen Robert E. Lee sits very high above the ground ( looking north, never turn your back on a Yankee.) The Garden District is the Toorak of New Orleans. The mansions here are something to behold. House after house of ‘Gone with the Wind.’ A lot of the tourists alight at Washington Avenue and then walk around the sides streets to view the homes. We decide to ride to the end of the line. Our plans are thwarted when about three quarters of the way down we had to get off our car and jump on a car going back to Canal, a Street Car ahead of us has caught fire.
It is pleasant sitting on the street car, all the windows are open including the front drivers and a nice breeze comes down to us. With the rain ceasing the humidity sets in.
Back on Canal and Kate has found a kids Foot Locker shoe store. She can fit into a kids size and the shoes are cheaper here than in the grown-ups store next door.
We started walking down Bourbon around 4:30 to get back to our apartment. Guess what another thunder storm has just rolled in. Next thing I know I get a tap on the shoulder, we have run into Williamstown’s Brett Stammers and his wife Jeannie and a couple of their Oz travelling companions. I knew Brett was coming to town but to meet up so unexpectedly was a surprise. We all sought shelter in a Daiquiri store and exchanged notes. A tornado alert has just come through on Kate’s phone. I reassured all that, ‘not to worry’ as the warnings come through regularly. Not sure I reassured anyone really.
Back home and I got the wandering urge at around 6:30 and am keen to head over to Frenchman for some music. We had to ask Kate if we could go out for a couple of hours by ourselves. She reluctantly agreed by told us not to be too late!
We called into the first club we came upon. Vaso’s sounded like they had a blues band playing. We made a bad mistake by going in for a drink here. The band is awful and they absolutely murder a Stones song. The singer screams and the guitarist is a shocker. They wouldn’t get a gig at the Pirates Tavern! The beer was cold though.
As soon as we could we moved on to d.b.a. Three piece band playing and local artist Washboard Chaz is part of the band. They are o.k. for a listen and we have a good position at the bar. Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington & the Roadmasters (he is a favourite of mine) are the main act and they are due on at 10. Decided to stay and catch the Wolfman’s first set. We don’t want to break curfew with Kate.
As the sound engineer was setting up between bands he was nervously glancing toward the basketball game on T.V. The New Orleans Pelicans are playing the San Antonio Spurs. If the Pelicans win they will go into the conference play offs for the first time in many, many years. With 5 minutes to go the Pelicans are 7 points up. I spoke to the sound man and said ‘the Pelicans are gunna win.’ He said, ‘this is New Orleans we are used to losing when being ahead.’ The good news is the Pelicans are through not like that other side favoured by Kate, the Miami Heat.
We called into the Verti Marte on the way home for a take-out lasagne and a cheesy mac. All in all a full day.