No amount of words can express how wonderful most of the people are here in New Orleans. A few encounters today encapsulate the best of my experiences.
I went out and did some shopping before the holiday, and as I walked down Magazine Street, I stopped to photograph a charming storefront. It was Probst Decorating and Interior Design. I liked their old time lanterns, potted plants and worn brick building combined with green holiday wreaths along with the requisite NoLa bicycles out front.
After taking the photo an older woman looked at me from inside the store – even though the sign on the door said Closed. I walked up to the door and wondered if I was in trouble for taking photos of her store. When I got to the door she said through the closed door, would you like to come in? Yes please, I answered. So she walked into her back workroom to get her door keys then back to the front of the store where she unlocked the door, let me in and started turning on all the lights.
I’m not open today, but I saw you wanted to come in. I don’t keep the door open when I’m here by myself, she said. That turned into a wonderful conversation about how her family has owned this 130 year old building and run this decorating shop in it for the last 60 years, and she has worked in it all 60 of those years. She told me about her mother opening the shop, and how after 60 years she is ready to turn things over to her daughter. She mentioned she makes all the pillows and curtains and is now referred to as “the lady that works in the back.” I joked with her that they only needed to call her one thing: Da Boss. She laughed at that. We said our warm goodbyes and she encouraged me to come back around sometime to visit.
I went across the street to pick up some groceries and walked to the bus stop to grab it going back home. A man approached and struck up a conversation with me while we waited together. He asked me if I was from New Orleans, because he thought I was. When I told him no, but that I’d been in town for about 2 weeks, he asked if I was staying for Mardi Gras. Unfortunately no, I said. That’s too bad, he answered, because I’m about ready to adopt you as a native once you been to your first Mardi Gras. And anyway, he continued, by the end of this conversation we’re gonna be just about family.
And that sums it up for me: we’re all just about family – the human family. New Orleans can be such a great example of how people rise up to meet their humanity. The family of compassionate souls includes people like that woman, making pillows and curtains for 60 years running her decorating shop. Or the man at the bus stop, who got up early today to deliver donated toys to children on his way to work as a painter and said gently yes, he was a little tired. When he shook my hand with his paint covered hand, I felt like I’d never done an honest day’s work in my life.
New Orleans is a very special place, and I’m extremely glad I decided to come here and stay awhile. These vignettes and experiences in the neighborhoods are, I’m convinced, the real gumbo of NoLa with an extra helping of love.
This is a collection of photos of the wonderful people of NoLa I’ve spotted in my wanderings here…please enjoy.
Of course the French Quarter is an endless source of wonderful images of musicians…
This gal sure could sing. She was belting it out without a mic. She projected loud and strong, along with her back up band doing a great job.
The personality of New Orleans pours out of every brick and lantern in the city, and of course from the hard working people…
There are quiet moments when you can’t help but be charmed by such a place….
And take in so many smiles and good wishes…
…yes, these things and more are what gives New Orleans its flavor.
Enjoy this wonderfully moving song by Susan Tedeschi called 700 houses, her impressions of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina…
and Happy Holidays everyone.