Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

December 1, 2012

Good times in the Big Easy

By Deanna Kirk
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — By now I suppose most or all of you know I married Mr. Kirk the day before my birthday. That week we took a quick little weekend trip to Galveston, but the week of Thanksgiving, we took a real vacation and went down to New Orleans.

I had never been there. Will had been twice, but his memories were hazy. And, since we’re both teetotalers now, there’s something to be said for strolling down Bourbon Street stone cold sober.

The first night we were there we discovered that a) it is best to walk from your hotel downtown to the French Quarter rather than taking your car, b) there are many great smells, sounds, and tastes and c) it’s really not a place for impressionable children.

We ate wonderful things like gumbo, jambalaya, etouffee, red beans and rice, then learned about Willie Mae’s Scotch House from a local working in a shop. With preparation going on now for hosting the Super Bowl in January, the streets were in a dreadful state of construction. It kinda resembled Corsicana there for a bit, where nearly every other street had road construction.

We programmed Willie Mae’s into the GPS, and I honestly lost track of how many times she said, “Rerouting.” It’s a miracle we ever found the place, which is in the Seventh Ward.

But once there, it really is the best fried chicken you may ever put in your mouth. The red beans and rice and cornbread rocked, too.

We saw the Times Picayune, which has been in operation since 1837 (longer than the Daily Sun, but not by much).  We saw the Ninth Ward, Musician’s Village, the Superdome, a lot of the Hyatt Regency downtown (which was hit so hard by Katrina, this is where we stayed), a couple of the many cemeteries, and the beautiful homes and trolleys on St. Charles St. We had coffee and beignets on the Riverwalk and down in the French Quarter, and had some of the best people watching I’ve ever had anywhere.

Until now, the source of my enamoration was only books and movies. I am pleased to report that after actually being there, I’m even more “in love” than before. The Saturday night we were there, we saw no fewer than three wedding “processions” stroll by, complete with jazz, parasols and waving of hankies. We saw mimes, gymnasts, street artists, some performers I can’t really describe (think silver spray paint) and an angry white man who sang Neil Young and Lynrd Skynrd songs, when he wasn’t cursing another gentleman very loudly from across the street. The ones who really caught my attention though were a group of black male teens. Each of them had a rather battered instrument, but boy howdy, could they wail on those horns, not to mention the awesome drums. We saw and heard other groups perform during our stay, but I have to say this one group of young musicians blended their sound better than all the rest. And anywhere we stopped to watch them, you could bet on at least one (usually more) people dancing to the beat.

One particular night we happened to stumble into the St. Louis Cathedral, just in time to take in a group of college kids playing some Beatles’ tunes on cellos. They brought in some horns and added a piano and did “What a Wonderful World.”

I don’t know where else you can go that would have the music, the food and the sights like the French Quarter. I have full intention of making several more trips. I didn’t get to see even a fraction of what’s there — but we sure had a great time!

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Deanna Kirk is a Daily Sun columnist and editor of Explore Magazine. Her column appears on Saturdays. She may be reached by email at dkirk@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “Soundoff” on this column? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com