Nathalie Owings met Louis Read for the first time at the New Orleans Country Club’s Saturday night stag dance when she was 16 and he was 22. The country club’s dances were legendary, and everyone who was anyone went to dance the night away with many different partners. In those days, everyone dated lots of different people, and so it was with Nat and Louis. She attended Newcomb’s Art School and Louis went to Loyola University New Orleans, graduating cum laude. He then went into the Navy as a Lieutenant. Finally, Louis decided it was time to ask Nat to marry him; he asked her on a date to the Fountain Lounge at the Roosevelt Hotel. His brother showed up and made it impossible for him to ask her that night. Nat was asked out for New Year’s Eve by a dashing young man, Carlton Putnam, the then-President of Chicago and Southern Airlines, who was flying in from Chicago for his special date.
Louis heard about it and immediately asked for her hand in marriage. She said “yes!” and the date with Putnam was canceled. Instead, Nat and Louis spent New Year’s Eve at the Roosevelt New Orleans.
They were married on February 22, 1943, in the middle of the war years at the original St. Rita’s Church that has since been torn down. The reception was at home with only family and close friends in attendance. Her sister, Jane Owings (Mrs. Daniel Le Gardeur), served as maid of honor, and Louis’ brother, Howard Read, served as best man.
Miss Dodie made her wedding dress; The Swiss Confectionary Bakery fashioned the cake; and flowers were created by Kraak’s Florist. Their honeymoon was a week at The Grand Hotel in Alabama. Nat jokes that the bill for the whole week including hotel and meals was $88.50.
Nat is 90 years old this year, and had a beautiful and long marriage to the love of her life for 46 years. Louis Read was a pillar in this community, receiving The Times-Picayune’s Loving Cup for all of his charitable efforts; he passed in 1989. He and Edgar Stern were pioneers in the television industry, founding one of the first television stations in the United States: WDSU-TV.