Author: Illustration by Arthur Nead

Streetcar: 5 Worst Calamities in New Orleans History

At this point the pandemic is still a current, live tragedy, but before passing judgment we’ll wait until the incident is buffered by time. Besides, it is not just local, but global. Focusing instead on the regional disasters, here’s my…

Italy

A tour guide at the back of the boat was pointing to some of the sites as the craft raced toward Bellagio (the real village not the hotel in Vegas.) Italy’s lake region is one of the most picturesque spots in…

Filé Jumbo

When your great uncle was known as “Blind Willie,” and when the tools of his trade, which are still in use, are 116 years old, you have to figure there is a story there. And there is. Baton Rouge resident…

Streetcar by Errol Laborde: Lady New Orleans

Imagine that your dad was known as “Jack the Cat.” That would have probably given you a little more standing on the school playgrounds, especially since dad was a radio DJ at a time when record spinners were idolized by…

Streetcar: Stirred In New Orleans

A very gracious lady seated next to the ice chest in the back of the bus made me an offer. She asked, as I understood her, if would I like “an old hen?” My reaction, I am afraid, was less…

Streetcar: Meyer the Hatter

Several years ago, my wardrobe for spending an afternoon at the French Quarter Fest included a spiffy new Panama hat. Somewhere along the riverfront a fellow fest-goer stopped me and said, “nice hat.” With local pride I replied, “I got…

Streetcar: The Secret

One Christmas season as a kid, I took it on myself to contain a terrible secret, as though I was sparing the world from ever finding out. But the moment of truth was coming. A thing to do during the…

Streetcar: The Season of ‘99

As season openers went it was promising. The Saints began the 1999 season on the road against the Carolina Panthers. Featuring a squad that carried two Heisman trophy winners: Danny Wuerffel, a quarterback out of the University of Florida, and…

Streetcar: The Arrival

We were up early to see a lady who would be standing on a small island in the harbor. According to the cruise ship’s captain, we should be passing the Statue of Liberty around 7 a.m. The cruise director suggested…

Streetcar: Back Street of Naples

Our group was walking through a back street of Naples on the way to an historic cemetery when the tour guide assured us that our destination was only about a kilometer away. We Americans are often illiterate about the metric…

Streetcar: A Fair’s Farewell

On the closing night of the 1984 World’s Fair, Congressmember Lindy Boggs stood on the big amphitheater stage. With the passing ships on the river as the background, Boggs and Seymore D. Fair, the event’s pelican mascot, plus some miscellaneous…

Streetcar: A Dirge from the Pantheon

At nearly 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 8, a crowd gathered at the edge of the old Treme neighborhood outside the new Seven Three Distillery, where the locally made products include Gentilly Gin, Bywater Bourbon and Marigny Moonshine. Many in…

Streetcar: D-Day Through Time

Some kids were playing on Omaha Beach, building sand castles. Nearby an adult couple walked along the sand at shore’s edge, presumably looking for shells, the nautical kind rather than those fired from cannons. The shards of war have long…

Streetcar: A Mardi Gras Strike

Forty years ago this Mardi Gras season, New Orleans and its Carnival faced a crisis together. Both would be enriched by the experience, though there would be plenty of pain and stress along the way. At issue were the New…

Streetcar: Season of the Boucherie

An aunt in Avoyelles parish traditionally would give me a pack of boudin for Christmas. It was a wonderful gift, except for the Christmas after Katrina when the car trunk tended to be loaded down with paraphernalia for survival in…

Streetcar: A Russian Landing

  A woman I know tells the story of a day when she, as a young girl, was riding her bicycle. Right at noon there was a loud blast in the otherwise quiet summer day. She was so startled by…

Streetcar: The Wrath of Gustav

For as long as there are occasional ill winds, those who experienced it will remember September 2005, with Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Forgotten, but worthy of its own spot in the book of urban turmoil is Hurricane Gustav which…

From K&B, Rite Aid and Onward

When I first saw the signs on the Rite Aid drug stores showing the switch to Walgreens, it reminded me of the day in 1997 when I was driving on Canal Boulevard and saw a work crew taking down a…

Streetcar: A Korean Star

Korea is a place, the mention of which seldom ignites happy thoughts. When that country has been mentioned lately, a butterfly flitters from beyond an imaginary wall as a reminder of a certain Korean man who once lived in New…

Streetcar: The Goats of Canal Street

Their names are Artie and Miles and they live on Canal Street. Research is limited on this particular topic, but I have a hunch that of all the grand streets in the world, Canal Street is the only one that…

Streetcar: A Mayor, An Inauguration and Two Crises

May 1, 1978 was a fine day, especially for Dutch Morial who stood at the place of honor on the grandstand erected in front of City Hall. The crowd watched as Morial, dressed in the traditional white suit of mayors-elect…

How Bienville Got His Name

His name was Jean-Baptiste LeMoyne. His brother’s name was Pierre. Because of the intricacies of 17th century peerage and tradition, both would have extra words tagged to their name. Both would be more commonly known in history by names that…

The Games that Were

It was one hour before kickoff to the Saints game at the Superdome and lunch, as prepared in the plush club lounge, offered some savory choices. I was tempted to go for the barbecued brisket plate but I had that…

4 Suggestions

My letter from the managers of the Waldorf Hotel group, asking me what they should do to convert the former Fairmont (once Roosevelt) Hotel to incorporate it into their own brand, hasn’t arrived – yet. Since they might be too…

STREETCAR: A WITNESS To HISTORY

Joe Sabatier, M.D., was a Tulane medical student, who in 1935 was assigned to work at Our Lady of the Lake hospital in Baton Rouge. “I’m not sure what my title was,” Sabatier recalls, “but I think I was really…

STREETCAR: THE FIG AND ME

On the morning of Fri., July 6, 2007, I spotted the bulb as though it was staring back at me from beneath a leaf. This was a moment that had been a long time coming but would not have come…

ALEC BALDWIN AND FAMILY

Alec Baldwin had a request as the limousine sped from the airport to the Windsor Court Hotel. He asked the two board members of the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival who were escorting him into town to “take [him] to…

STREETCAR: Oscar and the Spider Monkey

Oscar could relate to our experiences though he’s too busy trying to resolve his. Until Hurricane Wilma flattened Cancun in October 2005, Oscar worked at a hotel there. The hurricane destroyed the Mexican resort town’s only industry – tourism –…