Once Upon a Time in New Orleans…
Today we would like you to meet your guide – Joan Chatelain. Once upon a time in New Orleans, a child was born in the old Hotel Dieu hospital on Tulane Avenue. That was me – and the start of my love affair with my city on this beautiful, mighty river.
We lived in an apartment above my Sicilian immigrant paternal grandparents’ neighborhood bar and deli. And I had a blast! My twin brother and I were in and out of that bar, getting candy bars, pickles, chips, anytime we wanted. Grandpa never said “no!” A kid’s dream!
This was the 1950s and the krewes of Carrollton and MidCity paraded one block away down Canal Street (way before they moved Uptown). On Mardi Gras, we would go six blocks downtown to my Cajun maternal grandmother’s apartment on Basin Street in the Iberville projects. There we’d spend the day going to the parades on Canal, until we trudged home after the last parade of the day (Comus).
Influences Of The City
Our apartment had a large second story porch overlooking Galvez Street. That is where I remember watching the jazz funeral processions pass by. I’d watch them heading to the cemetery and listen to their slow dirges. Then a little later, I’d go back out on that porch when I’d hear their joyful celebration coming down Galvez after laying the deceased to rest! All of it fascinated me!
I was a holy little Catholic girl, and standing on that porch I would talk to God and express awe at my amazing blessing that I had been born in this most special of places. I loved everything about it – the ship horns on the river, streetcars a block away, beautiful City Park, swimming at the Old Beach on the lake…
But when I was twelve years old, my parents wanted “land!” So we moved across Lake Pontchartrain. As they say, the rest is history – and now, in my retirement years, I’m finally back in the city!
It All Comes Full Circle
I see New Orleans for all she is; the good, the bad, and the in between. Becoming a tour guide is the best decision I could have made for this stage of my life. And I love this city more than ever!
If you are already in New Orleans or headed this way I would love to show you around! Click below to see all of our tours.
The Savvy Native is a group of experienced local tour guides who were either born in New Orleans or wish they had been.
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