There have been many trips to New Orleans since my first memorable college experience--other conferences attended--with graduate school and working in education, academia has been a major part of my life. One of my favorite conference experiences was when my ex-husband and I lived and taught at Sinte Gleska College, now University, on the Rosebud (Sioux) Reservation in South Dakota.
Shortly after our arrival, we attended a Native American Education Conference with our friend who was tribal chairman of the Rosebud Sioux. Our friend was open-mouthed during our tour of the French Quarter and looked on in puzzlement as small boys accosted him in the Quarter, yelling, “I bet you a dollar I can tell you where you got dem boots.” Our friend was dressed in the traditional Indian cowboy attire--jeans, ribbon shirt, silver and turquoise accessories, cowboy hat and boots-- and presented a handsome silhouette on Bourbon Street, so ladies of the evening also called out to him, much to his embarrassment.
At another academic conference when we were still grad students, my ex and I had to travel on our own meager budget. I remember this conference because we stayed in some small Canal Street store-front hotel where you had to get buzzed in. The rooms had high ceilings, ours was spacious and kind of sectioned off, so we shared it with my husband's major professor because we were too poor to get our own room! We presented academic papers on Social Foundations of Education at the conference, enjoyed the intellectual give-and-take of the discussions, and explored the city with colleagues after the sessions ended each evening.
|Dauphine Orleans Hotel, New Orleans|
Later, I went to work as a regional preschool coordinator for the Louisiana Department of Education, a project then housed in the School of Allied Health Sciences, LSU Medical Center in Shreveport. Preschool coordinators were then part of a summer seminar in New Orleans. My colleagues and I stayed in the French Quarter on Dauphine Street, enjoyed late afternoon teas at our hotel and compared seafood dishes at various restaurants around town.
|Courtyard, Dauphine Orleans Hotel|
My husband Ricky and I love New Orleans. Before we were married, we attended Mardi Gras where we dived for beads and slept in passion tangled sheets on a pallet on the floor of a friend's small St. Ann Street house. We attended Jazz Fest to hear famous performers, then ended up in a tiny neighborhood club where a sensual man played the saxophone in a smoke-filled room and mesmerized patrons swayed to the music like snake charmers.
|Our friends' second story front porch where we sit and people watch|
When I first visited New Orleans so long ago, I never imagined this unique and troubled city would become part of who I am.