Sunday, October 02, 2005

Sunday Special

Old New Orleans Revisited

Ellie has been urgently interested in what's happening over there; her brother was allowed yesterday to enter to survey his property, but we haven't heard the outcome.

The Atlanta Constitution had an article on its front page yesterday re residents who were visiting their property. one caught my eye and seemed worth repeating:

"Naydja Bynum, 57, who was born in the city but moved away for a few years before feeling drawn back to the place of her roots, 'We've got culture and family and it just feels like home.

"I lived on the East Coast for a time, and it's got a lot of sophistication but no character. People here will tell you their whole life story in five minutes, then invite you to dinner and stay the night. It's not like other places."

She said it like it is, Friends, or at least like it was, for me and mine. Like Naydja I lived on the East Coast, but I didn't go back (often). And then I found it wasn't like it used to be. The minority had become the majority, largely unlettered, with more corrupt politicians than N.O. had had in the past, if that's possible. The streets of the minority were buckling and never attended to. The shoe was on the other foot.

Still there were islands (ghettoes actually) of Old New Orleans: uptown, where I was born, Lakeview, where brother-in-law lived, The Quarter, where I lived as a youth-- islands of peace, tranquillity, and pleasant memories.

I had one story to match Naydja's, already written of in my other blog: In 1949, as a student I lived way uptown and studied at Charity Hospital and the adjoining Medical School. The battery in my poor old car went down. With no funds available I used to go out into the street, push the car out, then stand and hold up my hand. Almost invariably the first car to come along would stop, push me off and away I would go to the city center. That's N.O., or was in my day. Glory Be.