A Note To Raconteurs

Whether step-on guides, walking tour guides, plantation guides, swamp guides or armchair tour guides, need to know the basic stories of New Orleans and Louisiana. DOWN IN NEW ORLEANS: True Stories of a Fabled City is the book that presents those stories. Giving tours of the French Quarter, Garden District, cemeteries, city, plantations, or south Louisiana benefit from the stories of the intriguing people of our rich heritage.

To get training and take the City of New Orleans tour guide licensing test I took the Professional Tour Guiding Class at Delgado Community College almost twenty years ago, followed by the Friends of the Cabildo’s Walking Tour Guide Class intensive course on tour guiding. I followed those with Tulane University’s class on historical architecture. Those classes stimulated my intensive reading of books and attendance at lectures about the city. For years I worked on the streets of the city as a guide and raconteur. Loved it.

After Katrina I was invited to teach the Delgado course. When I started teaching there were a dozen or so students three semesters per year. Usually half the class signed up as a path to getting a City of New Orleans Professional Tour Guide license. The rest were there to take in little New Orleans history. After a few years word got out that the professor told great stories of New Orleans history as well as the art of storytelling. Then one semester enrollment exploded growing to forty-five to fifty students per semester, only limited because of the size of the classroom required. The storytelling had become part of the draw for a class about history and storytelling. When I retired, it was the time to write those stories down. They had been tested on a thousand Delgado students with rave reviews! Hence, the book, DOWN IN NEW ORLEANS.

Use this Amazon previewer to read a few pages of chapter one FRENCH LOUISIANA  1682 – 1763

There is a difference in a history book and a story book. The history book looks at the past through the people, places, events and the dates. The story book looks at the same, but with an eye on making the information entertaining to a reader or listener.

DOWN IN NEW ORLEANS tells the popular stories of LaSalle, Iberville, Bienville, the Ursuline nuns, Civil War times, Louisiana Purchase, Prohibition and historic preservation, but it also includes intriguing stories of little known unique people. There are the stories of Madeleine Hachard of the Ursuline nuns, who in 1727 wrote letters to her father about the journey to New Orleans as well as what she witnessed when she arrived. He published them in Rouen, France, becoming the first book published about New Orleans. Her observations are a window into the nascent city. Then there was General James Wilkinson, military commander of Louisiana appointed by President Jefferson, who was known in the Spanish archives as “Agent 13.” The leadership of persons of African descent, the generosity of leading citizens, the feats of prominent women and the struggle for equality revealed the unique cultural brew that evolved.

Persons interested in taking the City of New Orleans Tour Guide License test, necessary for giving tours on the streets of the city, will find this book an essential tool for preparation. Men and women interested in the Friends of the Cabildo’s tour guide course or Delgado’s Professional Tour Guide class will find DOWN IN NEW ORLEANS – True Stories of a Fabled City to be a valuable companion to the official textbook Beautiful Crescent: A History of New Orleans by Joan B. Garvey and Mary Lou Widmer. If the class schedules and cost are not compatible with your schedule you’ll do well with both books.

Good stories elicit good tips. And, effective storytellers satisfy tourists’ curiosity. The name of the game is your personal income. Learn the craft of storytelling and equip yourself with a cadre of good stories.

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