Posts Tagged ‘New Orleans’

I promised to be regular with my posts and that is what I intend to be. This week has to be early since we (Patricia and me) are leaving town on Thursday.

Lions Street is where our family moved sometime after Big Lou returned from WWII, and things were getting crowded, me and Terrence appeared on the scene, on Magazine Street. The Mullen/Crotty compound on Magazine Street was in a section of New Orleans that had the tony Garden District on one side and the fringes of the Irish Channel on the other side. That house was in the heart of everything! At least, that’s what I thought as a little boy.

This is what we probably looked like when we moved to Lions Street.

I could walk a couple of blocks to the Happy Hour Theater, or to Berman’s Dry Goods Store. There were other little stores along Magazine Street that were full of wonder for me, candies, toys, odds and ends that always seemed important. In either direction there were little stores, some with groceries and sodas, others with a variety of goodies. I could walk to any of them without fret or bother. And if I had a nickel, a dime, or quarter I could get almost anything I wanted! Lions Street was different.

Lions Street was no Magazine Street! It was in an unincorporated area of Jefferson Parish. Lions Street was the country compared to Magazine Street, the heart of everything. It was new and not all the houses were built.There were vacant lots! There was no Happy Hour Theater or Berman’s Dry Goods Store. No candy stores or variety stores that I could walk to no matter how much money I had in my pocket. There was a Frost Top, a Drive – In Theater and Tucker’s Steakhouse. There was a roadside farmers’ market, a couple of drug stores, and a Firestone Tire Center. But these were on Jefferson Highway, a busy two lane highway!

There were good things about Lions Street. There were those empty lots and houses under construction. To a boy these were really private little playgrounds. I could sneak through the lots to get to Jefferson Playground, a huge recreation center with a shop that sold chocolate malts! I could walk to school or to the Winn-Dixie Supermarket. As I grew older Lions Street started to look better to me. New families were moving in and I met Mary Ellen H. I went to grade school with Mary Ellen H. What memories!

Big Lou had a few cars that I remember. One on Lions Street had a rumble seat, I think. Dad was mostly a GM man when it came to cars, but he occasionally would buy a Ford and even a Chrysler. Big Lou would let me think I was helping work on the cars. I was probably causing him more work, but he would never say anything…although, he did run me off a few times!

The boys, Louis, Jr., Terrence and me, learned about a new world on Lions Street! No longer in the heart of everything like on Magazine Street. No more Happy Hour Theater or Berman’s. But Lions Street offered so many things. The empty lots, the homes under construction, the short cut through the empty lots to get to the playground where I could buy chocolate malts! Oh, did I mention meeting new people? To quote Joey: “How you doin’?!?”

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I started thinking about my time at the Jefferson Parish Recreational Department’s (JPRD) facility I called Jefferson Playground. It is a large facility and includes a tennis court, a football field,  baseball diamonds, a gym with a great basketball court, and my favorite thing, The Canteen. The Canteen was the place for snacks, sodas, ice cream, milk shakes, and the best malts in Jefferson Parish!

I started going to the Playground when the family moved to Lions Street off of Jefferson Hwy (US90). I was a very little kid back then, but I remember we would take short cuts through vacant lots on what is now Riverdale Ave, and where Riverdale High School is located. Then we moved to Ellen St., where it crosses Central Ave.. Going to the Playground from that house meant crossing both Central Ave. and Jefferson Hwy. Back then there wasn’t nearly the issue with traffic that there is today, and it was pretty safe for us to ride our bikes back and forth. When we moved to Jefferson St. we were closer, but it was still a bike ride or a long walk.

I played basketball, but baseball was what I played best. I played Little League, Dixie Youth League, American Legion, and some softball. What I remember most was that i was a pretty good hitter in any league. I had a high batting average and usually was at the top of the league in home runs. What I remember most is after the game going to The Canteen for a malt.

My brother, Terry, still goes there to play tennis. Terry was not  a great baseball player, but he is a very good tennis player. Terry sent me a picture of the gym recently. They had just completed renovating the gym including replacing the hardwood basketball court. Now I live in Mt. Pleasant, SC and I haven’t seen The Playground in some time, so the pictures brought back great memories of a fun childhood.

I often think about The Playground. Especially when I go to the Mt. Pleasant Recreational Departments facilities in Park West. Football and soccer fields, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, and both an outdoor and indoor swimming pools. It is great to live in an area that provides recreational facilities for all the family. But there is no Canteen and that means that after a game you can’t get a chocolate malt! Oh, well, things do change don’t they?

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French Quarter, 2002

Image via Wikipedia

I remember when I was a child in New Orleans. My family lived in Jefferson Parish, but Mom’s family lived in the Irish Channel (OK, technically it wasn’t the Irish Channel). Dad’s family had lived above the French Quarter and moved to various sections of the city. We spent a lot of time with mom’s family. We would go to movies at the Happy Hour theater a few blocks away across from Berman’s Dry Goods Store.

We got our school clothes from Berman’s and when we were old enough, our parents let us pick our own clothes. That’s what we thought! What really happened was that dad and mom call Mr. Berman and told him what we needed. Being a good business man, Mr. Berman gently guide us to the selections we needed to make. It was really a village back then. Mr. Berman’s business benefitted from the network of families in the area. He had cultivated a relationship with some of them and depended on word of mouth advertising to build his business. He was building a network.

Businesses have benefited from this model for years. Become part of the community. Find a few good customers and build a network to increase business. The Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce refined the networking idea. Business men would become members to connect with other business men in affiliated businesses in the hopes of developing leads that would become customers seeking their goods and services. There are also leads groups meeting weekly, or monthly with the specific purpose of finding leads for the members of the group.

Then things changed and the village spread out. Along comes social media, a new type of village.  Soon, businesses saw the potential of social media to expand their markets. People will buy products and use services recommended by friends before those advertised on TV, radio, or in print media. What I saw in the Irish Channel as a boy, is being repeated on the web.

As social media has grown, it has also changed the way business is transacted. Such fast growth has not come without challenges as can be seen in the issues with Craig’s List’s and the privacy discussions on Facebook. Recently, in Charleston, SC, changes is taking place again. The Lowcountry Business Network  (TLBN) is combining the best of the old school, with the best of social media. TLBN is shrinking the village and making it more like what I experienced in the Irish Channel. Local businesses doing business locally building local networks to increase business opportunities.

Mr. Berman would be so proud!

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Art and music surround Jackson Square.

I received this clip the other day  <http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=2539741>. The clip is a collection of various musicians playing a single piece of music. It is a very skillful complication jumping from one musician/place, to another musician/place on the beat of the song. Very clever and inspiring in a certain way. I was inspired to write this post.

I started thinking about not only what I was seeing and hearing, but also how coincidence comes into play in the lives of all of us. All of these musicians were skilled. They all had great voices for this piece. Yet none of them are well-known outside of the place that they are in. Most aren’t even known by name as much as they are by the place. Several were in, or near Jackson Square in New Orleans. Others, in countries we might want to visit someday. We might even want to see the musician from that country that we saw in the clip. But here is the point: None of these musicians is famous outside of their little stage! Time, place and coincidence are at play.

I’m reminded of a passage that reads: “Time and unforseen occurrence befalls us all.” Often when I remember this passage, I think about the negative unforseen occurrences that can befall us. But the passage doesn’t say anything about the occurrences being positive or negative does it? Some musicians are in the right place at the right time and they become famous, even rich with material things. Is that a positive occurrence for them? But not all musicians have that experience. Is that a negative occurrence for them?

An unforseen occurrence happened to me when I received the video clip. I thought it to be a positive thing. After reading this you may see it differently even if you enjoyed the clip. Some might see the post as a positive unforseen occurrence for themselves if it causes them to think differently about the clip.

Whatever the case, art was created over time in a place and we coincidently got to share that art in our own time and our own place.

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Patricia and Chris made it a fun night!

Last week our friends Ed and Chris were down in Hilton Head at their condo for the week. They invited me and Patricia to visit for a couple of days. We have known Ed and Chris since before we were all married. In fact, Ed and I owned a house together in Morristown, NJ, but that is a story for another day!

We started our trip on Sunday afternoon arriving at their condo around 6PM. So on Sunday night we had dinner at the condo. Chris and Patricia put things together and Ed and I did the grilling. Turned out pretty good, I think.

We decided to go to Savannah and enjoy the River Walk late Monday afternoon. Savannah is a beautiful town and the way the city has renewed the area near the river makes it a very comfortable place to walk (there are cobblestones to consider, maybe flat shoes, ladies) and enjoy the sites. River boats ferry guests on short cruises, musicians playing their instruments all along the Walk, and artists working in several different media reminded me of the French Quarter of New Orleans, only smaller.

We walked past the Hyatt Hotel and there was the Rock Bohemian Hotel! The sign at the door invited us to the Top of the Rock. It was a lovely evening and sunset would soon make its appearance, so being on a roof top seemed to be the perfect choice to end our day in Savannah. The hotel is faced with river rocks of various sizes and the floors had a very interesting finish. The lights were eclectic and very attractive. Some had colorful lamp shades of glass, and the chandeliers reflected the local seafood business. They were made with oyster shells hanging at various lengths. How very Bohemian!

We enjoyed appetizers on the roof top as the sun was slowly setting. The food was tasty. The breeze was refreshing.  And the company was perfect.

It has been a while since we were with Chris and Ed and a lot of things have happened in our lives. How fitting that we spend an evening enjoying each others company as the river quietly flowed by with us sitting on the Top of The Rock!

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A view from the roof at Morgan Creek Grill.

I just love where I live! I’m guessing that you love where you live, but if you don’t, the Low Country is a place that you will fall in love with very quickly. I took this picture with a Blackberry from the roof top at Morgan Creek Grill one afternoon this past week.

We were having a nice visit with our friends, the Samuelsons, and enjoying the food at the Grill. It has been very hot for the past several weeks, but on this evening the breezes were cool and comforting. Great friends and good food!

Patricia and I have lived here since 2002. We moved from Morristown, NJ where we had lived on and off for over 25 years. That last winter in New Jersey was difficult in many respects, but the weather was really nasty. We left in a snow storm that followed us down I-95 for many, many miles. When we finally arrived very late at night, there were our friends, the Samuelsons, who greeted us and helped us to settle in for the night.

Living in the Low Country has always reminded me of New Orleans where I grew up. There is so much in common between the two. In New Orleans we had swamp. Here we have marsh. There the canals in New Orleans that were like the area around Shem Creek, in some cases. In New Orleans we had heat and here we have heat. On the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain there were places like Morgan Creek Grill. We always had fresh seafood, just like we have here. Great friends there, just like here.

All of these things are in common between here and there, so for me it was easy to fall in love with this place. After all, it was like I had come home! You can make this your home, It is an easy place to fall in love with, and as Mikey’s brother say: “Try it! You’ll like it!”

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One of my cousins, who still lives in New Orleans, sent out a YouTube link that reminded me of so much that I loved about New Orleans. The video talked about how New Orleans became a part of its residents. I suppose that is true for most of us. The place we grew up becomes a part of us.

New Orleans was, and still is a very unique place. My family lived in Jefferson Parish. Dad, mom, and my brothers Louis, Jr, Terrence and eventually Garry Owen. Dad’s family was from the Faubourg Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods. His father was a candy maker for a store in the French Quarter. He was well-known for his pecan pralines. Mom was from the Irish Channel. Her father was a New Orleans police officer who was killed in the line of duty. His name was Garry Owen Mullen. My youngest brother was named for him.

What I was reminded of by the YouTube video from my cousin was how much fun we had as children. I remembered the TV commercials for Rosenburg’s Furniture, MacKenzie’s Bakery, and Schwegmann’s Grocery Store. So I started looking in YouTube and found this one for Ponchartrain Beach Pontchartrain Beach Remembered.

It’s great to travel back in time occasionally. Having access to these old commercials on YouTube makes it easy. Maybe you’d like a trip down memory lane after reading this. I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I did.

A Picture from Long Ago!

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