Aug 30, 201012:00 AM
The Editor's Room
Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde
Errol Laborde: The Lost Labor Day
We all need to celebrate doubly hard this Labor Day to make up for the one we lost five years ago.
That Labor Day fell exactly one week after the Katrina levees broke.
To this day I still do not know (and don’t want to know) who won the 2005 U.S. Open Tennis tournament, which is usually a part of my viewing ritual that weekend. Instead, I just remember some words spoken in front of a television at the bed-and-breakfast in Mansura, where we stayed the first few days. Two women from St. Charles Parish were looking at the horrible scenes of the flooding and the destruction of their homeland. “When I look at that, I want to cry,” one woman told the other. “Me, too,” the other one said, “but I am afraid if I start, I won’t be able to stop.”
On Labor Day afternoon we had the big idea to buying some fried chicken and potato salad and have a late-afternoon picnic at the retirement community where an aunt, my mom and their brother were staying. Sitting on a picnic bench beneath a shade tree seemed like a nice way to get away from the horror that was never too far away from out thoughts. What we hadn’t counted on were the flies, which made the picnic more of a competition to cover food than to relax.
What I will remember most from that day was sitting on the tiny porch of my aunt's unit. A neighbor, two doors down, an elderly black man, was sitting on his swing and overheard our conversation. “Did I hear you all say that you are from New Orleans?” he interrupted politely. “I’ve seen those scenes on television, and I want you to know you have my deepest sympathy.”
I thanked the man for his comments and then noticed that he had no legs. That was when I first realized that we refugees were now subjects of pity, even to those with lost limbs.
Nothing was going to make that Labor Day right, except for the hope of better Labor Days in the future.
Krewe: The Early New Orleans Carnival- Comus to Zulu by Errol Laborde is available at all area bookstores. Books can also be ordered via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or (504) 895-2266)
WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS AT 7 P.M., REPEATED AT 11:30 P.M. ON WYES-TV, CHANNEL 12. NOW ON WIST RADIO, 690 AM, THE ERROL LABORDE SHOW, 8 A.M. AND 5 P.M. SATURDAYS AND SUNDAYS AND 6 P.M. MONDAYS.