I retired after teaching two classes at Delgado Community College in New Orleans. One was Professional Tour Guiding I and the other was Tour Guiding Research & Storytelling II. Originally this set to be a blog created to share notes from books I read that became part of my New Orleans storytelling. They comprise some of my sources for great stories. Much of the history of New Orleans and Louisiana is outlined in my early blog postings.
This book is a raconteur’s account of the history of the city. The new book, DOWN IN NEW ORLEANS: True Stories of a Fabled City, is available on Kindle and a printed version with an index is available on Amazon. This new book presents the great stories that comprise the city’s narrative. You’ll meet the people and events that made the city special.
I am often asked, “Where did you get your storytelling skills?” I lived in the area of Louisiana called the Felicianas, also known as the Florida Parishes. As a child I lived in Clinton LA. After moving to Baton Rouge I often returned to visit with relatives in that community. The area is one of great storytellers. I listened to the stories, yarns, fabrications, gossip and lies that the region relished. My dialect, intonations, and speech are the fabric of the Felicianas.
Among the earliest stories I heard were Bible stories. Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Noah and the flood were preface to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. No storytellers were more captivating than Jesus, John, Peter and Paul. Outside of church, the streets and country roads were fun places to go for intriguing stories about families, farms, plantations and people. African-Americans always had stories to tell. Their dialect added to the intrigue.
As a young adult I studied in detail the Biblical stories and learned to retell them. I reached the point where the stories I told were not out of memory but were recounted from the images going through my head. I could see what was happening in the story, relating that to an individual or audience. The story was a movie in my mind that I described for audience.
In 1990 my wife and I moved into the French Quarter as an interesting place to pass our senior years. The Quarter, the city and the state simply oozed with stories. We took Mary Helen Schaefer’s Professional Tour Guiding Class at Delgado Community College. I went on to the Friends of the Cabildo class, following that with an audit of Historic Architecture at Tulane University. Soon I found myself enjoying telling the stories to residents and tourists. Mary Helen asked me to take over her class when she retired after Katrina, which I did.
The tours I enjoyed giving best were the French Quarter and the Garden District. The former was filled with stories of the French and Spanish colonial periods and the latter with the American period after the Louisiana Purchase. In the classes I taught at Delgado we went on plantation tours at Laura, St. Joseph, San Francisco, Evergreen, and Oak Alley plantations.
DOWN IN NEW ORLEANS: True Stories of a Fabled City is the result of telling these historical stories over the past fifteen or twenty years.