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Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Leonard Earl Johnson (photo credit Frank Parsley) covered Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005), and the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico for ConsumerAffairs.com. He is a contributor to Gambit Weekly, New Orleans Magazine, SCAT, Baton Rouge Advocate, Advocate Magazine, The Times-Picayune, Country Roads Magazine, Palm Springs Newswire and the anthologies: FRENCH QUARTER FICTION (Light of New Orleans Publishing), LOUISIANA IN WORDS (Pelican Publishing), LIFE IN THE WAKE (NOLAfuges.com), and more. Johnson is a former Merchant Seaman, and columnist at Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans; and African-American Village. Attended Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship at Piney Point, Maryland. Winner of the Press Club of New Orleans Award for Excellence, 1991, and given the Key to The City and a Certificate of Appreciation from the New Orleans City Council for a Gambit Weekly story on murder in the French Quarter.

Thursday, September 01, 2022

⚓ The Visitation / September 2022

  

http://www.LEJ.org

⚓ 



The Visitation

~ Fiction ~
Roman à clef, cher
by Leonard Earl Johnson 
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana

© 2022, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 


💀💀
💀
🠟

The Rector's housekeeper, Hildegard Bottlebrush welcomed the visitors and led them upstairs to The Rector's study.  They each took the priest's hand and reminded him where they had first met.  

Baltazar said it had been in Grand Coteau.  At a Sacred Heart Academy symposium where The Rector and The Bishop had each purchased reprints of his chat book, 'The Boy Behind the Altarfrom Big Mamou to the East Village'
🕮

Hildegard slipped away and returned with a rolling tray filled with pots, cups, cream pitchers, sugar bowls, warm pecan cookies, polished silver spoons and white linen napkins.  She poured and passed round the offerings.  

"We have taken rooms next door to the blue and white Mission House of Mother Teresa," Dillard, the taller of the two Red Women Warriors, told the smiling Rector.  

"We are planning on joining the Cathedral's congregation," Sylvia added, while selecting a shortbread and pecan cookie from a passing white porcelain dish.  The Rector's smile faded a smidge, and his silver spoon slipped from his fingers and bounced once on the hand-knotted burgundy rug.

🥏🥄
   
Dillard and Sylvia are the kind of parishioner-activists who make priests dream of quieter parishes with better wine.  The burgundy rug on which his silver spoon just bounced is from Bukhara.  It traveled the Silk Road from Uzbekistan to France before any one in The Rector's study this day were more than dreams in their molecular ether.  Centuries later it sailed to Louisiana aboard a ship made of wood and propelled by the wind.  Now it softens the footfalls of these interestingly holy, somewhat revolutionary, mostly mercenary, clearly bewildered, and fully beguiling folks.  Hildegard gave The Rector a fresh spoon.  

http://www.LEJ.org

💜💚💛

Sylvia lifted from her red KRVS-NPR tote bag the little package Baltazar had given her for safe keeping.  She handed it to him. 

He opened the tissue paper, folded back the bubble wrap and placed the little JFK forget-me-not rocker on the coffee table.  

Hildegard removed the cups and cutlery.

"I am asking five-hundred American," Baltazar said.   The Rector's eyes widened as he read the gilded monogram, JFK.  He looked up and said, "I am offering you three."

 In that little space of time the deal was struck.  Three crisp one-hundred dollar American banknotes left the Rector's alligator wallet for the fisherman-poet's bejeweled left white boot.  One yellow jewel was slightly larger than the others and covered a secret compartment revealing ~ when unlocked with a tiny gold key ~ nine mildly psychogenic emerald gummy bears.  Next to the gummy bears Baltazar placed the three perfectly folded and creased greenbacks.

🙏🙏
🙏🙏
🙏
💲

Hildegard Bottlebrush, The Rector's attentive housekeeper, had attended the prestigious Sacred Heart Academy in Grand Coteau, but chose not to speak of it to this assembled group.  

"Catholic hierarchy runs Gott-to-Cloth with only passing nods towards housekeepers," she once said this to the now deceased and canonized Mother Teresa.  They had met during the future saint's 1985 visit to Louisiana.  She had come to bolster the faithful in the roiling wake of Jason Barry's sexual-abuse exposé in the National Catholic Reporter.

Mother Teresa's visit had led to the establishment of the order's Mission House on Rue Saint John, in Lafayette, across from Dillard and Sylvia's new quarters and the magnificent Cathedral Oak.

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foot note
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Flaschenbürste
~ Hildigard's family name before assimilation from German to Cajun English.

  She is from a 1721 line of immigrants from German/French disputed Alsace/Lorraine. They were lured by the Compagnie du Mississippi, the bubble-destined "Mississippi Company" of John Law, the sometimes richest man in Europe, and Controller General of Finances of France under the Duke of Orléans.

Born a Scotsman, Law worked variously for English and French governments, in the process inventing paper money. On this high roll, he financed and promoted Louisiana's 'German Coast' as a New World colony promising riches derived from feeding the hungry flocks of Africans, French, Germans, Irish, Italians, and Spanish arriving daily aboard every ship in the booming nearby port of New Orleans.

This coastal region where the Flaschenbürstes eagerly settled, took the French name, 'Bayou des Allemands,' meaning in English, 'Bayou of Germans.'

Bayou Des Allemands
It is a scenic spot on the Amtrak line thirty-five miles west of New Orleans. Never incorporated it is still known and posted on signs and maps as Des Allemands (Of Germans).

A famed motor boat chase in the 1973 James Bond film, Live and Let Die, was filmed on Bayou Des Allemands.  Click the link below if you desire the thrill of armchair travel.

🧜‍♂️ 💀 🧜‍♂️

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💜💚
💛
💧


🗣😷

~    ~    ~   


💞
 
© Leonard Earl Johnson 


http://www.LEJ.org
If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.world anytime. 
They are posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years.

~   ~   ~

 LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.world,
Hosted by GOOGLE BLOGGER,
and historically at
Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans
publication of the

It is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
© 2022, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 

Monday, August 01, 2022

✍The Rector and JFK's Rocking Chair, plus / August 2022

 http://www.LEJ.org 

💜

💧

 The Rector and 

JFK's Rocking Chair, plus

~ Fiction ~
Roman à clef, cher! 
by Leonard Earl Johnson 
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
© 2022, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 


💀💀
💀

Dillard leans on the gate bell.
Silvia stands a couple feet behind her talking with Baltazar, the fisherman-poet they met on the bus to New Orleans.  They are talking about the colored jewels he has pasted to the tops of his white rubber boots.  In Louisiana such white boots ~ sans the jewels ~ are a shrimper's uniform and I. D.  

"The rubber keeps out the water," he tells her.  "No one knows why they are white."  They both laugh.

"Some people say boots are white so as to not scuff the deck," she says.

Baltazar replies"Those people have never been on a shrimp boat."

On the manicured lawn beyond the gate rests a path calmly guarded by magnolias and palmettos.  At the path's end sits the Rectory of the Cathedral of Saint John The Evangelist.  It is The Rector's home, office, and reception hall.

Cathedral of Saint John The Evangelist,
courtesy Dioceses of Lafayette
 
 Up a few stairs, windows line a broad gallery and sparkle in the morning sun.

 The Rector and his housekeeper, Hildegard Bottlebrush, watch unseen from behind double hung cut-glass windows set deeply in heavy mahogany doors.  

The Rector sees it is the two Red Women whom he does not care to see, and Baltazar Boudreaux, who he does.  

Baltazar has a JFK memento he wants to sell that would be a perfect Birthday gift for the Bishop of Lafayette.  The Red Women have banners, stickers, slogans, and madness.  And the ability to make a young priest dream of better wine.

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💧

The Bishop of Lafayette is The Rector's temporal and spiritual leader.  In 1963, when The Bishop was a child of eleven, his Father and Mother drove him from Basile Louisiana to Dealey Plaza, Dallas Texas, to see President John F. Kennedy get his brains blown out over the long shiny black trunk of his Lincoln Continental limousine.  Of course, the boy never forgot it.

He saved his pennant and lapel pin from that day, and  over the years he added to his JFK collection until it grew so large that LIFE Magazine once did a two page photo spread about it.  

Years later, one of the government's Assassination Full Disclosure hearings traveled to New Orleans and set up tent in the Old U. S. Mint, in the French Quarter.  That was 1995.  The boy, now grown and a rising Prince of the Catholic Church, was asked to put his collection on display and say a few words.  He did this gladly.

Yes indeed, Baltazar does have something The Rector very much wants.  Something to give The Bishop at his Birthday party.  

The something is a little porcelain rocking chair suggestive of one where the President was often photographed rocking, flexing back muscles injured in World War The Second. 

JFK Memento 

💀💀 The Rector turns to Bottlebrush and tells her to bring the visitors to his second floor study.  "And coffee, please."  These last words he spoke from an ascending electric folding chair attached to a steel rail bolted to the wall next to the stair treads.  Slowly, electrically The Rector rose.  The Housekeeper buzzed open the gate.  The visitors entered.
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🗣 😷
~    ~    ~

Leonard Earl Johnson, www.LEJ.WORLD 
 

http://www.LEJ.org
If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.world anytime. 
They are posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years.

~   ~   ~

 LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.world
Hosted by GOOGLE BLOGGER,
and historically at
Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans
publication of the

It is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 

Friday, July 01, 2022

⚓Making Groceries at Rouses / July 2022

 

💧


Making Groceries

at Rouses Market,

Après nous, le déluge
(After us the flood)

~ Fiction ~
Roman à clef, cher! 
by 
Leonard Earl Johnson 
© 2022, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 


💀💀
💀

Silvia and Dillard detrained in Lafayette at the Rosa Parks Transportation Centré after returning from New Orleans and a failed effort to revive the War in Vietnam.


    Photo credit: Eric Douglas
The two Red Warriors walked up Jefferson Street to Carpe Diem Gelato and Wine Bar.  

There they rendezvoused with L. A. Norma, who has promised to help them make groceries.  

Making groceries is New Orleans speak for stocking the kitchen.

The two Red Women are stocking a new kitchen in Lafayette across Rue Saint John from the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist.  Their rooms are airy, clean, and with a fine view of the ancient Live Oak Tree known throughout Louisiana as The Cathedral Oak.
  
Natures mystic carrousel.
The Cathedral Oak is thought to be over five hundred years old with a trunk that looks to be screwing up from the bowels of The Earth, and limbs flinging love, order, and discipline in a deadhead course straight up

The Cathedral Oak

Rue Principal (Main Street) from the Cathedral to Lafayette Parish Prison, to the Parish Court House, to the bank formerly known as the Chase Manhattan.  All are Institutions in friendly alliance.  Friendly as money and faith will allow.

L. A. Norma calls it "The three Fs of Faith, Force, and Finance." A socioeconomic system nourishing as Cajun gumbo.

Cajun gumbo is a fresh seafood banquet.  Lapped up with cornbread often as French bread.  And cemented to the Cajun heart with a big scoop of cold potato salad plopped at tableside into the bubbling broth (a curious practice seen as nearly Satanic in New Orleans dining halls).  

"But we are not in New Orleans," Norma says, "and we love the creamy cooling mix." 

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Cajun Dome, 
 University   of   Louisiana   at   Lafayette
Near the University of Louisiana's vast sports complex with its crown jewel, The Cajun Dome, the two Red Women each take a slice of pizza from the hot counter at Rouses Market.  From the cold counter a bit of green salad.  They find seats at tables beside large windows overlooking an ample parking lot off freeway-like streets with many lanes and complex traffic configurations.  Lafayette is a wonderfully stimulating place for automobiles, and trucks, and football. 

L. A. Norma adds, "And making money at any cost!"

On the table beside their food trays they fan out black, white, and red stickers alongside a hand lettered sign reading: "Free.Each sticker is a three inch black square holding a white circle inside of which is printed in blood red: Turn Back Voter Turn Out!

Two dark skinned women toting black shopping baskets look at the stickers, then at the Red Women, and then walk away.  

A redheaded pizza baker picks up a sticker and slips it into his white cook's jacket then returns to his ovens.

Outside, in the parking lot, a young man with jewels glued to his fisherman's white boots is seen waving his arms.  A square white van marked US POSTAL SERVICE stops and gives him a lift to the front door.  The postman knows doing so is a violation of postal rules but he reckons since they deliver page-after-pages of Rouses weekly sales ads to every postal address in Louisiana for next to no charge, that this little lagniappe is just a little bit more.

 👒
🍕  🍕

Sylvia spots his boots and recognizes him as the young fisherman-poet from their bus ride to New Orleans.  His name is Baltazar Boudreaux.  He thanks the Postman for the lift and walks into Rouses and over to the Red Women's table.  "I see you got back here good," he says, picking up a sticker.  

They tell him of their new apartment near The Cathedral Oak, and their plans to join the Cathedral congregation. 

L. A. Norma explains she has brought them grocery shopping and will give them all a ride back, if he needs a lift.

 In fact, he says, he does. He is on his way to see the Cathedral's Rector. To show him an artifact commemorating the murder of John F. Kennedy fifty-nine years ago this November, in Dallas. He shows them a little porcelain rocking chair with the monogram, JFK, in gold glitter. It sits empty. A what-not-shelf keepsake from 1963. Baltazar wants to sell it. The Rector is interested, he is in need of a gift for the Bishop's birthday. www.LEJ.WORLD

~  *  ~      ~  *  ~      ~  *  ~

💔

🗣😷

~    ~    ~

    
 

Photograph © Leonard Earl Johnson 

http://www.LEJ.org
If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.WORLD
They are posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years.

~   ~   ~

 LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.WORLD
Hosted by GOOGLE BLOGGER, and historically at
Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans
publication of the

It is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, 
Louisiana.
© 2022, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved