Sentimental Journeys

Some relatives once recalled to me their honeymoon in 1945. They were married in central Louisiana shortly after he returned home from the war. During that time, many purchases were limited. An uncle gave her some of his ration stamps so she could buy new shoes for the wedding.

For the reception there was homemade cake and punch served in her family’s home and then it was off to the honeymoon. The trip began by taking a Trailways bus to New Orleans. It was so crowded he had to stand all of the way. From there they took a train, the Southern Crescent, to Biloxi, Mississippi.

Our cover story looks at romantic travel along the Gulf Coast, a ritual that has transcended decades. Much, of course, has changed through the years, but what remains constant is the mesmerizing appeal of sand, water and sunsets.

Today’s travelers are well acquainted with the white sand beaches and green water east of Biloxi along the Florida panhandle. Many have also experienced the Mexican coast, the Caribbean and the view from cruise ships. For the couple above, though, the experience was totally different. For her, raised in a rural enclave during the Depression, the day they arrived in Biloxi was probably the first time in her life that she had seen a beach. She had grown up near meandering shady bayous, but never experienced a waterfront. She had heard about sand, but never experienced stepping in it. And that sunset! So that’s where the sun goes at night.

For him, we know that there was a least one big beach that he had been to, back in ‘44, and it was a whopper. It was called Normandy and the reception committee was totally hostile. Sunburns would be the least of anyone’s worries.

“Sentimental Journey,” an elegant song about rediscovery of romantic interest, as recorded by Doris Day, was the nation’s most popular song that year. The recording had become the anthem of troops returning from the war and those waiting for them:

Gonna take a sentimental journey,

Gonna set my heart at ease,

Gonna make a sentimental journey,

To renew old memories. 

For the rest of their lives together, the couple would cherish that song as they remembered the place when the journey began.

Errol Laborde Signature