Search This Blog

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Confederate Memorial Hall in New Orleans

To be more politically correct - they changed the name to The Civil War Museum at Confederate Memorial Hall.

Inside it looks more like a temple to worship their former warriors. Everything is made of cypress to make it last a long time.

I did not realize that New Orleans was the biggest city in the Confederacy. They provided a lot of soldiers and sailors to fight on the gray side of the war. No wonder when it came time to build a museum to honor their soldiers - they put it here. Next to the museum in Richmond - this is the largest collection of Confederate memorabilia.

Confederate Memorial Hall was buit in 1891. It reminds one of a church or temple to worship their defenders. Jefferson Davis lived here after the war. His body laid in state in this temple in 1893 - before it was moved to Richmond. 60,000 people paid their respects to him here in 36 hours.

The Confederate Memorial Hall is still controversial. It was built my the Louisiana Historical Society on land allegedly given to them by the Howard Museum. Eventually - the art museum grew up on both sides of the Confederate Museum. Legal efforts to move them out have been futile. A compromise was reached a few years back - when the historical society agreed to allow the art museum to run a tunnel through the basement. But now - 10 years later - still no tunnel and they are still there.

Admission is $7.00.

Battle flags - swords - hat - guns- letters - uniforms - medals - and proclamations - and one cannon.

The museum is basically one big room. This narrow side room was added later. The side room contained a lot of rifles under glass.

Lots of rebel flags for sale.

Robert E Lee Circle is out front. His statue faces north - always watching the enemy. The streetscars complete a full circle around the statue.

This page is dedicated to my late cousin Bob Schleicher. He was an expert on the Civil War.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Today I Visited Jean Lafitte and Barataria

Jean Lafitte - 1776 to 1823

When I was in 5th grade - I remember learning that Jean Lafitte helped America win the Battle of New Orleans. Today I learned the rest of the story. He liked to call himself a privateer - but he made his money by raiding ships coming and going from New Orleans and crossing the Gulf.

Today I drove south of New Orleans to Barataria. That was the name of a country on three islands in the Mississippi Delta. It is 70 miles from New Orleans to the Gulf via the river. No one dared tread in that country. Lafitte and 1000 pirates lived there. The town was very wealthy with all the loot they had from their raids. they would also capture the slaves and sell them at a discount.

In 1807 - Jefferson passed the Embargo Act. It simply meant that American ships could not go to foreign ports and bring back goodies. Jefferson was an isolationist and he wanted America to produce its own goods. Lafitte would raid ships from other countries - not American ships - so he was allowed to exist on those 3 islands.

Lafitte became very popular in New Orleans because he would smuggle "the good stuff" in to America - then sell it at low prices with no tariffs. He was the toast of the town. No one knew the bayou like Lafitte did. After a while - the governor of Louisiana put a bounty on Lafitte. Still he would come into town and no one dared arrest this modern Robin Hood.

Finally - in 1814 - the British were coming to attack New Orleans with 11,000 troops. New Orleans and Andrew Jackson only had 1800 men and few weapons. In exchange for a full pardon - Lafitte agreed to fight for the USA. He also opened his supply of weapons to Jackson. When the Brits came up the river - they were not ready for Lafitte and his 1000 pirates. Only 13 Americans died but 2000 British were killed. The Brits were driven down the river and back to Great Britain. Ironically - the Brits and Congress signed a peace treaty two weeks before the battle.

To this day - Jean Lafitte is considered a saint in these parts.

All of Barataria and the Town of Jean Lafitte were under several feet of water during Hurricane Katrina. The area is very isolated - and people do not move away much.

I stopped to see two old guys digging across the street from a cemetery. We talked for a few minutes and they loved sharing their stories with me. The guys were over 70 - and said that their grandmothers were sisters. They were buried in the cemetery right on their family property. There was an old school up the road covered with vines - that was where they went to school.

Properties along the bayou are long and skinny. That is because each landowner wanted waterfront property because for years that was the only way to get there from the rest of the world.

Since Katrina - many companies are making a fortune shoring the houses up. Some new house are built on a pile of dirt. Others are on piers - as high as 10 feet.

This country used to have lots of citrus trees - now the money crop is sugar.

A bayou is a waterway going through the swamp or delta. They meander all through the area and are famous for people getting lost there - and never found. No one knows for sure where Jean Lafitte came from and no one knows for sure where he went. But everyone down here loves him - and everything is named after him.

I drove this dead end road from New Orleans all the way to Barataria - the country of Jean Lafitte and his 1000 pirates.

This is the Intercoastal Waterway - it crosses right thru Barataria today.

The town of Jean Lafitte has maybe 2000 people - it is on a bayou.

Everything is named after this legend in the bayou.

This is a boat with a giant crane on it. They are built right there in Jean Lafitte. It can go anywhere in the Gulf and work on damaged drill rigs. This was the biggest one in the world - was new - and was for sale.

Each property needed water frontage like this one. It was 42 by 650 feet - with frontage on the bayou and the road.

This new house was built on an artificial hill about 10 feet high.

They were just finishing off the shoring up. It is an old 1950s brick house - shored up. They were still stucco-ing it. Companies make a lot of money doing this work - demanded by insurance companies for coverage.

This was a homemade vault in the family plot.

This was the overgrown school house of my two hosts.

This was one of their grandmothers - buried right on the family property.

The family plot - not 100 feet from my host's front door. My two hosts showed me their burial plots - all ready to go. They were in their 70s.

Nighttime in the City of New Orleans

You can't ruin a city with a hurricane - especially when the hurricane is the favorite drink here. Bourbon Street and the French Quarter remained dry during Hurricane Katrina. This area seems as magical and as vibrant as ever.

Farther back from the river - homes are still a pile of rubble. Remember - along the Mississippi - the land is slightly higher because of the thousands of years of floods and the mud they pile up. It is almost like the river is on a raised platform.

Long video - fast forward to 4:15.

Lulu had a big banquet last night. I took a little stroll down Bourbon Street with my camera at belt level. It was relatively quiet compared to Saturday - the night before.

Walking down Bourbon Street reminds me of the old days in the 1950s - walking down Broad St in Tamaqua PA. The only thing you are missing is the Railroad Crossing and Leo Schilling crank the gates up and down.

The lights of the city from our hotel suite beckon me to go for a walk. By the way - that is the same sky where President Bush did his slow pass flyover to show the people he cared.

Some people come to New Orleans for the action. What draws me are beignots (French doughnuts). The Cafe Du Monde along the river in the French Quarter serves them around the clock. 3 for $2. These are mine from last night. Lulu may have been at a banquet - but I was at a feast. Simple pleasures.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

World War II - D-Day Museum in New Orleans

The WWII Museum can be found in the warehouse district - in fact it is in an old 4 story warehouse. It is just a few blocks north of the Convention Center. If you read everything in there - it will take you days - but I suggest you allow 3 hours. It cost $18 a day - but I complained that I did not have enough time - and they let me back in the next day for $5. I am a slow reading.
Gen Patton said that three things won the war - the Jeep - the C-47 Goonie Bird transport airplane - and the Landing Craft.

Eisenhower said Andrew Higgins won the war by inventing and building all of our landing craft right here in New Orleans. 92% of all Navy boats were built here - that is why the museum is here. They are made of mahogany plywood. They could carry 50 men - jeeps and tanks. Without them we could not land on the beaches where there was no harbor. 19,000 were used in the war both in Europe and the Pacific.

According to the sign - this is the first machine gun. It was made in Russia in the 1880s. Unlike the Gattling Gun that require one to crank it - this gun was powered by the recoil of the bullets. It was watercooled. There is a little trapdoor over the barrel where soldiers put snow in to cool it.

The C-47 Transport followed our troops supplying them with everything they needed. These planes were also labeled as the DC-3 to carry passengers. They are still in use today - they were used in the Vietnam War. Ricky Nelson owned one and got killed in it.

River Traffic From Our Sheraton Hotel on Canal Street in New Orleans

The hotel offers complimentary breakfast and supper buffet in the hospitality suite on top of the hotel. From there you have a panoramic view of the city and river.

At 5 PM on Sunday - this Norwegian Cruise Liner pulled out heading down river to the Gulf. It is 70 miles of zigzagging to the open water. It will probably take them 5 hours. At this point - the ship is heading north - not south.

The ship docks at the pier next to the Huey Long Bridge. In 2003 - we parked our motor home under that bridge and took a one week cruise form here. It makes the U turn into the current. US R
oute 90 crosses the bridge heading west to San Diego.

At breakfast this tanker was heading up river. It is riding high - meaning it is empty. That is Canal St in the foreground. Bourbon St and the French Quarter are to the left. The Convention Center and Garden District are to the right. Note the streetcars.

This street car stops in front of our hotel. They offer a 5 day pass for $20. Streetcars go all around the city. This streetcar rides on a parkway up the middle of the street.

Norwegian Cruises Leaves New Orleans

70 miles of meanders from here to Gulf. We took a cruise from here in Feb 2003 to Mexico and Key West.

Tom Berner is in Tamaqua - He Sent This Picture of Our Old House

221 Catawissa Street - Tamaqua PA

Tom Berner used to be the sportswriter for the Tamaqua Evening Courier. He later went on to be a professor at Penn State University. After he retired - he moved to New Mexico about the same time we moved to Florida.

This week - Tom returned to Pennsylvania and bought a home near State College. You can take the boy out of the Coal Regions - but you cannot take the Coal Regions out of the boy. We are fellow Coal Crackers forever. A couple of months ago - we visited Tom in Albuquerque NM.

In 1973 - Lulu and I built this house from a cedar kit marketed by Lindal Cedar Homes of Seattle. The home cost $20,000 to build including the $3000 for the land. After living in it 30 years - in 2003 we sold it for $130,000. Except for a few decorations - and the trees being a little bigger - it looks just like we left it. Paul Dodson - my former shop teacher - did most of the building - I simply held the boards :-)

Lulu and I built our home in this spot because from the porch you could see the spot where we met in the summer of 1969 - the community swimming pool. I was the life guard - she was the cute girl in the bikini.

Lulu Reports on Library Disaster Relief Fund

Lulu's Library Video

Lulu had this original song composed for her theme song as the President of the American Association of School Librarians

Grand Finale of Lulu's Library Vision Tour

When Lulu became president of AASL last June in Washington DC - she vowed to visit an outstanding school media program in each state. 35 states identified school libraries as their top choice and Lulu visited them all. By car or jet - she crisscrossed this great country for one year. All 35 events were planned in advance in August - and she made it on time to every one - no snow delays - hurricane delays - or flood delays.

Now we are in New Orleans where Lulu is spending her last week as president helping promote the profession that she loves - being a school librarian.

Here is the video reviewing her visits all over the country - I can't believe that she did this all in one year. During that time she also taught a course in London for a month - was the keynote speaker at the international convention of IASL in Australia - and spent a week consulting Germany on setting up school libraries. I am looking forward to getting my wife back.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lulu Is Quoted in the New York Times Today

New York Times photo of an empty library in Brooklyn because of funding cuts.

Nancy Everhart, Joanna Rossman Tamplin, Pamela Tanner Monroe, Kathleen Popp Murphy, Shanna Sadler, Sylvia Knight Norton. First four earned master's degrees under Project LEAD. Sylvia is a current doctoral candidate. Taken at FSU Reception here last night.

Last night - Lulu and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary at Antoine's off Bourbon Street. When Lulu was 5 years old - we eloped to Miami. They said it would not last.

A reporter for the New York Times spent hours collaborating with Lulu on a story about school libraries and school librarians. The article appears today on the front page of the NY Times webpage ( It is also on page A17 of the paper edition today.

In this day of squeezed school budgets - librarians are one of the main places that school board are cutting to save money. Many administrators think that computers can replace libraries when it comes to student research.

Lulu is quoted in the article - but as they say in Hollywood - much of her best stuff was left on the cutting room floor. Some people say - you know you hit the big time when you are quoted in the New York Times. Here is her quote -

Nancy Everhart, president of the American Association of School Librarians, whose membership has fallen to 8,000 from 10,000 in 2006, said that, on the contrary, the Internet age made trained librarians more important, to guide students through the basics of searching and analyzing information they find online.

Libraries, Dr. Everhart said, are “the one place that every kid in the school can go to learn the types of skills that will be expected of them when it’s time to work with computers in class.”

See full story on front page at NYTIMES.COM

Friday, June 24, 2011

Today I took a Trip to Algiers

No - I did not go to Africa. This Algiers is across the Mississippi River from downtown New Orleans. There is a FREE ferry boat that takes you there. It makes a river crossing every 15 minutes.

Although Algiers is east of downtown - it is on the other side if the river - so it is on the West Bank. Algiers was not flooded during the Katrina hurricane because its levees held. Remember - New Orleans survived Hurricane Katrina. It was the levee failure that caused all the damage.

Algiers is a very quiet little community. It reminds me a bit of Staten Island in NYC - where you cross the harbor on a ferry for free - and then there are a lot of homes were commuters live. They work in the big city - then take the ferry home. Some of the locals reminded me that homes in Algiers have a 20% premium because you are only a free 15 minute boat ride from work. You are allowed to bring you bike or motor scooter on board for free.

You may re-call in the 1994 basketball movie Blue Chips starring Nick Nolte as coach Pete Bell and Shaq O'Neil as Neon Badeau - that Neon supposedly was recruited from Algiers by being offered a Lexus. In real life - Shaq played basketball at LSU.

This is what Algiers look like from our hotel. The current is very strong and the ferry must allow for the it when always steering upstream to cross.

The Huey Long Bridge carries US Route 90 over to the west bank. If you live in Algiers - you can take the bridge home too.

This is St Louis Cathedral - the hear of the French Quarter of New Orleans. Here you are looking at it from Algiers.

Cars cross on the ferry for $1. they ride on the lower deck - passengers ride on the top.

I took this picture from the levee - looking down into Algiers. From this spot I could tell that the water in the river is higher than the streets. In other words - if there were no levees - this area would be underwater all the time. The river is actually higher than the town because years of mud coming down the river have built up natural levees or piles of dirt to make a channel for the water.
I am guessing that Algiers is a Democratic hotbed - how else could a Carter bumper sticker survive 30 years.

This school group crossed the Mississippi with me on the top deck of the ferry.

Super Craigslist Sale - Money From Nothing

Stainless steel sink and Formica counter top

7 cabinets and 4 drawers

12 feet from end to end - gone in 60 minutes. Pictures taken in my workshop.

Money from nothing. A while back my neighbor replaced her kitchen cabinets. I caught her while she was attempting to put the old ones out for trash on Monday. She asked me if I wanted them. I assured her that I did - and hauled the rest of them away for her - before anything was damaged.

I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them. I would spend a few hours cleaning them up - just like cleaning an old car. First - I vacuumed the cobwebs - then I scrubbed them with clorox and water - to remove any old odors. Next I polished the steel sink - and removed any stains from the Formica countertop. Finally - I gave them a good coat of Armorall - an all-purpose coating.

After that I took several pictures and wrote a cool ad for - the free place to buy and sell on the net. In minutes the phone started ringing. The first caller drove 30 miles to buy them - with 7 more callers lined up. This was a hot item with the ladies.

They sold for $230.

Now - the cabinets are in a summer kitchen in Sopchoppy - a town south almost along the Gulf.

Yes - I did split the money with the neighbor - she never expected it - and is looking for a place to spend the extra cash.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

For The Next 8 Days - I Will Be On My Perch Above Canal and Bourbon Streets - "Writing On The City of New Orleans"

This week I will be writing from here - free wifi - overlooking the Mississippi - and enjoying this very different place.

This morning at 4 AM - Lulu and left Tallahassee - and rode "the car they call the City of New Orleans" west for 6 hours. We got here at 10AM - really earlier - we forgot to count the Time Zone change.

We will be staying at the Sheraton Hotel on Canal Street by the River. Lulu will be very busy because this convention is her swan song. Just like Miss America - she will end her one-year reign here - passing the torch to the next president of AASL. After visiting 35 school libraries in 35 different states - this short ride in the Prius was like a walk in the park.

While Lulu works - I get to enjoy this fancy hotel with all the trimmings. It has a pool on the roof- we have an executive suite - and a key to the hospitality room :-) As much as I hate it - the Prius is valet parked - and I have no idea where it is sleeping. The streetcar passes right by our front door - and I think I will buy a weekly pass for it.

I am taking suggestions on what to see and where to eat. Tomorrow is our 40th anniversary - and I would like to impress Lulu. Suggestions please!

On the way over - the sun was rising behind us - painting a beautiful rainbow in front of the car. I do not know where it came from - because it was not raining.

It was 390 miles over form our house. The Prius easily made it on one tank with plenty to spare. The computer said we were getting 46 miles per gallon. We were going 65 to 70 MPH.

After a month of high blue skies and 100 degree sunny days in Tallahassee - it is a bit of a relief to have 85 degrees and overcast - even if it is humid.

This is Canal Street with the palm trees and streetcars up the middle. In the background you see the Mississippi River flowing west to east here. The can see the green roofed casino just down the street. (click the picture to enlarge)

About halfway over is Pensacola - home of the Navy Blue Angels.

Traveling west on I-10 - when the sun rose - we had a rainbow out in front of us. We never did catch it - nor the pot of gold.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Last of the CRT Screen Macs - the Emac

Do you remember when Macs were big bulky boxes? When they cost thousands of dollars?

Yesterday I bought an eMac - with keyboard - mouse - and wifi airport card for $40. It looks like brand new - surfs the net - great for checking email. It has a 17 inch color monitor - 60 GB of storage - 1 GB of RAM memory - and a 1 GHZ processor.

The thing feels like it is made of lead - I am guessing maybe 40 pounds worth.

I told Lulu I bought it for the guest house so that visitors can check their email - or facebook home. Secretly - I just couldn't believe I could get a fully functioning Mac for $40. It even plays DVDs.