Upon the Ground of Legends
I’ve recently discovered that everything I own – all of my worldly possessions – fit inside of a 10′ x 10′ storage unit.
Not including my car.
I have pondered as to whether this is a good thing or a bad thing and I’ve settled on the good side. (Better still will be when I can fit everything I own inside of my car.) I have stowed everything away and moved in with my partner in Lacombe until I figure out what comes next in life.
My unit is at the Fountainbleau Self Storage building at the corner of Tulane and Carrollton Avenues. You probably know the place; the parking lot is filled with Rvs and bass boats. It used to be the Fountainbleau Motor Hotel, a hoity toity joint from back in the day. Better still, it sits on the land once occupied by Pelican Stadium.
The Pelicans, before they became our NBA basketball team, were our professional baseball team in New Orleans from 1867 until 1957. They used to play down the block at what was once called Pelican Park, but that stadium was eventually dismantled and it’s grandstands were carried by mule train to the corner of Tulane and Carrollton and reassembled on a spot of land owned by A.J. Heinemann, a principal owner of the team.
In fact, the ball park was originally called Heinemann Stadium. His was a great American success story. He started out as a peanut vendor at Pelicans games, assisted by his sidekick Henry, a chimpanzee who tossed out the bags for a nickel apiece.
But A.J.’s fortunes went south after the stock market crash of 1929 and he shot himself in the head in his stadium office in 1930. Shortly thereafter, it was renamed Pelican Stadium.
That’s another American story.
The fate of Henry is unknown.
Shoeless Joe Jackson played for the Pelicans in 1910. He won the Southern Association league batting title that year with a .354 batting average. He was banned from professional baseball after the 1919 Black Sox scandal, although his career was revived in spectacular fashion with the 1989 release of “Field of Dreams.”
Shoeless Joe was one of the guys who lived in the corn field.
Other notable Pelicans players over the years included Hall of Famers Bob Lemon, Earl Weaver, Joe Sewell and Dazzy Vance. He was Dizzy’s brother.
What the hell were their parents thinking?
Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell and Mule Suttles all played at Pelican Stadium. I have no idea who Cool Papa Bell or Mule Suttles are, but I just wanted to write their names.
The Home Plate Inn across Tulane Avenue was the pre- and post-game hangout, and about as close to home plate as the dugouts. It was the first bar I went to when I moved to New Orleans in 1984. It drowned during the federal levee failures in 2005 and never reopened.
They had amazing tamales. In fact, I had never had a tamale before I went there but had certainly heard of them – Hot Tamale Baby, and all that – and so when I was served, I didn’t realize that you don’t eat the husk that the meat and spices are wrapped in.
Tamales don’t come with directions. I went through a lot of dental floss that night.
I’m not making this up.
My books and furniture and heirlooms rest upon the ground of legends, memories, history, nostalgia and American dreams. The top two floors of the Fountainbleau are currently rented out to indie rock bands and rappers for use as studio space, presumably so they don’t drive their parents crazy.
The building shakes with music from sun up to sundown from headbangers and bounce boyz. Those are the guys I ride the elevators with. That’s where everything I own is stored.
Some day they might be famous. Who knows. The Fountainbleau is, in its own way, a field of dreams.