Along the Avenue

October and November were a blur of benefits and book signings, soirees and send-offs, parties and presentations, all squeezed in ahead of the holiday crush. I am a gal who starts shopping for presents in July, and yet am always surprised that December seems to arrive so early. As everyone’s cramming in events and shopping, let’s see how many we can squeeze into this column before we check the list, twice.

Add to your holiday gifting with books one wants to read, savor and receive: super-chef Donald Link’s Real Cajun … the only problem with the book is it’s such a fun read, one never wants to stir the pot! So bring me another glass of wine, I’ll curl up in front of the fire and read this book while eating take-out from Butcher. (You do know Butcher does take-out, don’t you?) Peggy Scott Laborde and writing partner John Magill just released another nostalgic look at life with Christmas in New Orleans; a stroll down memory lane for those who clutched Mr. Bingle during Teddy Bear Teas, enjoyed trips to the lobby of The Roosevelt New Orleans and visited the “lights” on St. Charles Avenue.

Former New Orleanian Charlotte Hays and co-author Gayden Metcalfe’s third book is Someday You’ll Thank Me for This: The Official Southern Ladies’ Guide to Being a “Perfect” Mother. They read, talked and signed books for a couple of hundred readers at Trinity Church to benefit its Mobile Loaves and Fishes ministry. Catherine Freeman and a volunteer crew of 50 cooked up recipes from cream cheese canapés to roast beef, featured in this book and the two previous ones. Laughing along were Phyllis Schmidt, Maureen Gilly, Betsy Crusel, the Philip Wogans, Nell Saussy, event planner Claudia Kelleher, decorators Mary Ferry Bigelow and Priscilla Jordan, and Ethel Clay (who’s gearing up as chairman of the Historic Houses party).

Using Kerri McCaffety’s Obituary Cocktails as her guide, former debutante Anne Tufton celebrated her 21st birthday in style. She rounded up pals Megan Barry, Allison Briede and Courtney Echols among many others, and started the evening at Commander’s Palace. The girls moved on to Carrollton Station, Columns Hotel, Sazarac Bar, Arnaud’s, Carousel Bar and ended at Miss Mae’s. Sisters Ashley and Margaret were designated drivers. Parents Peter and Linda weren’t along for the ride, but approved, which is one of many reasons the couple just received this year’s “Outstanding Service Award” from Rhodes College.

Books, words and music were very much evident at the recent English Speaking Union’s seminar, which included parties, concerts and diverse lectures. Dr. Quinn Peeper, who’s as good-natured about his name and profession – he’s an OB/GYN – as he is serious about his duties as president of ESU’s local chapter, went to great lengths to balance the programs light and serious. Lady Lucinda Shaw-Steward of Scotland’s Ardgowan house spoke on her homeland’s architecture; Julia Reed explained “Southern English;” and Flora Fraser, a biographer, waxed thrillingly about the new book on Pauline Bonaparte. Great Britain’s Honorary Consul General James Coleman and his lovely wife Minnie lent a proper presence.

The Poydras Home Art Show is as special as the home itself. This year, on a perfect evening, the patron party committee set up tents, hung paper lanterns around the entrance and put together small tables awash with candlelight. Peggy Scott LaBorde and husband Errol were honorary chairs; Deacon John brought the band inside and the residents, patrons and even the staff rocked out among the art for sale. Architect-photographer Donald Maginnis and wife Jeannie, Claire and John Stewart, Dr. Howard Russell, board member Blair Wehrmann and husband Bob, Libby and Jim Landis, Diana Earhart, the David L. Eustis were but a few guests that night. Even the residents requested them to, “Turn the music up!”

Cocktails, dinner and decorations were out in full force at the Military Order of Foreign Wars’ Louisiana Commandery Banquet, which seemed an extension of the revelry surrounding the opening of the new addition to The National World War II Museum. Held at the country club, the affair was more sedate than jive dancing at The Stage Door Canteen the night before, but just as enlightening. Rear Admiral Mary E. Landry, USCG, Commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District and Commander of Task Force 198.8 (who’s responsible for operations covering 26 states, more than 1,200 miles of coastline and 10,300 miles of inland waterways), was the keynote speaker. While the likes of the Robert Coyles, the John P. Labordes, Judge Joy and Rutledge Clement, Anne and Herschel L. Abbott Jr., Janet and Doug Douglas, the James Giberts, the John Dicks, the Frank Stewarts and Brigadier General Thomas Beron, U.S. Army Reserve were impressed with the speaker.

And now it’s December, which ushers in debutante and duck seasons, holidays and Holy Days, mirth and merriment … No matter what or how you celebrate, may your celebrations be filled with joy and may your days be filled with peace.

Heard something interesting for “Along the Avenue?”

If so, please send it to:

St. Charles Avenue
110 Veterans Blvd., Ste. 123 Metairie, La. 70005
Attn: Diane Sustendal or e-mail Diane at:

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