Last Tuesday, May 10, a 76-year-old woman was beaten and carjacked outside her home in Mid-City. The thugs stole the woman’s cell phone and her 2005 Toyota Avalon. She was hit in the head, kicked and suffered a concussion.  

     Her name is Nancy Ochsenschlager and those who know her, as I do, recognize her as a person whose life reflects a passion for the city, its music and culture. She is a former associate producer for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and rarely misses a fest day. Wherever there is local music you might find her.

     Last Friday an article in The Times-Picyune, by reporter Emily Lane, quoted local man Bo Dollis Jr. expressing his outrage at the incident. Dollis has known many other victims of violent crime, but this one, he said, was “too close to home.” He is Ochsenschlager’s godson.

     It is entirely relevant to this story to point out that Ochsenschlager is white and Dollis is black. If the latter’s name sounds familiar it is because his late dad was the long time Big Chief of the Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indians. Now Dollis Jr. wears the bonnet.

     Historically, some of the Indians' chants have dealt with the violence in their community. In the song “Corey Died on the Battlefield,” recorded by the Wild Magnolias in 1974 there is the line:

                      But by some trick of fate

                      Some people who knew only hate

                      He throws a knife

                      And took for the night

                      Corey died on the battlefield

         That was just a song. Now 42 years later it can be said that Big Chief’s godmother lay hurt on the battlefield. Only we didn’t expect the battlefield to be so widespread.

       There was a time when the Indians shunned the white community, yet Ochsenschlager distinguished herself by being embraced into a tribe family.

       Those who stir up race as an issue don’t understand that there are many people in the city, black and white, who honor each other’s culture. They share a common bond and have a common affection with each other.

       According to Dollis, as quoted in Lane’s article, Ochsenschlager had to receive staples in her head. She is still aching but plans to return to the festivals.

     As for those who would steal from and beat a defenseless woman, charity restrains me from using the word “scum.” But any charity at all is more than they gave their victim. I hope they serve the time that they must but, most of all, I hope they always feel the shame that they should.


To further quote from the song about Corey:

                      A lot of folks know this story

                      And they won’t forget about his dream

                      Because love is the key

                      For both you and me

                      His dream will live endlessly


New Orleans needs you back on the scene, Nancy, so we can believe in ourselves.







BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s new book, “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), has been released. It is now available at local bookstores and on book websites.