Laissez le bon temps rouler! (Let the good times roll) is the motto for New Orleans and roll they did for 28 Classmates and guests who traveled to this beautiful, incredibly fun and historic treasure, in late March for a four-day mini-reunion. All remarked at the open, fun and inclusive nature of a group of Classmates and spouses coming together to celebrate a ’71 connection, to share life stories and experience some of the greatest culinary and music traditions in the country.
Abundant and unique Creole dinners were held at Frenier Landing on Lake Pontchartrain (photo above), the Gumbo Shop and Royal Oyster House in the French Quarter and Joey K’s in the Garden District. Some of the group participated in a cooking class to learn the multiple ethnic origins of New Orleans cuisine and preparation techniques for Gumbo’s, Jambalya’s and Pralines, of course enthusiastically consuming the results.
A tour through a swamp filled with alligators on a private boat driven by a colorful, knowledgeable Cajun, allowed the group to learn details of the flora and fauna and the effects of Climate Change on this complex ecosystem. The guide described the local gathering tradition of a crawfish boil including the length of time for the various hunting and preparation processes using the time-unit of beers consumed.
The tour of the Whitney Plantation, which focuses on the slave experience of plantation life, left the group in respective contemplation of that 150-year dark chapter of our history and it its subsequent nearly-as-dark 100-year aftermath.
Abundant free time was also available, along with streetcar passes for all participants to enjoy museums and parks outside of the French Quarter where the group stayed in the venerable Hotel Monteleone, with its slowly-rotating Carousel Bar.
Violent weather hit New Orleans Tuesday evening, including some tornado touch-downs within 20 miles, and temporarily took out the power at the restaurant in which we were dining. Power was restored quickly, the weather cleared and allowed us to stroll to the French Quarter’s Mahogany Jazz Hall where the group listened to talented local jazz saxophonist, Leroy Jones playing with an outstanding band. How quickly we all accept the contrast of a pleasant evening of dining and music just 20 miles from the devastation of tornados which locals say never used to occur at this time of year.
The New Orleans event organizers, Julie and Mike Cherry, Lex Kelso, Annie Patton and Art Lowenstein, Jill Brooks and Jeff Hammond, and Julie and Geoff Smith were joined by: Linda and Tom Stubbs, Laura Rojas and Tom Connell, Ellen Higgins and John Brower, Hildy and John Drummond, Lois Phillips and Dennis Thompson, Ginnie and Luther Munford, Karen and Alan Usas, Liza and KP Kirkpatrick, Debra and Mike Decker, and Kevin Mackey.
All enthusiastically said they are ready to do this again in another part of the country in 2023. Click for additional photos of the event.