I was doing research for a new book when Hurricane Mathew visited Eastern North Carolina last month. Mathew provided a timely background for my writing. The color had been sucked from the world, everything looked gray, while winds threatened. We lost internet for awhile, terribly inconvenient, until you consider those who were flooded out, and lost a lot more. Part of the new story takes a woman, who lives in New York, back home to New Orleans a few days before Katrina hit August 26, 2005. Katrina research led to a man named Chris Rose, and his book, 1 Dead in Attic. I fell in love again. This happens to me a lot depending on who and what I’m reading, male or female, I’m bi-sexual when it comes to reading books and love.
The lines of a song kept running through my mind throughout this fabulous book, which is a collection of columns Rose wrote for the Times-Picayune between 2005-06, I know time is short, but PLEASE, click on and listen to this Harry Connick’s version of Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans from a Youtube video. You’ll have a better day for it, I promise.
Now, we can continue….I was in New Orlean in January 1886 when the Chicago Bears played The Patriots in Super Bowl XX. The Bears won 46-10. It was a sublime ending to a cooperate perk that often came our way because my husband worked in advertising in Chicago for Leo Burnett Co. We stayed in a small boutique hotel, wandered the French Quarter, looked in the windows of little antique shops that offered vintage perfume bottles and miniature tea sets. We took a street car ride, let powdered sugar dust the fronts of our clothes, and enjoyed several famous restaurants. New Orleans delivered the tourist’s dream as promised.
Thanks to Chris Rose and his writing, I have a better understanding of how New Orleans survived this unbelievable tragedy, forever changed, yet retaining what makes the area what it is. If you love New Orleans, or love reading non-fiction in the Studs Terkel tradition, don’t miss this book. Katrina happened a long time ago, you know the story, or think you do, and how it came out, but this is writing at its best about a myriad of topics as viewed through the eyes of a reliable witness. I wish I could read whole columns to you out loud as I do to poor husband Bob, who sits through my exuberance when I find something too good not to share. I say, “You have to listen to this!” To you, I say, “You have to read this!”
I’ll leave you with this Rose bit of magic: New Orleans is the Purple Upside Down Car. A bright color with no sense of direction. A stalled engine. A thing of once-beauty waiting to be righted and repaired. Something piled up on the side of the road.