The Train to New Orleans / July 2015
Monthly e-column by
of Lafayette and New Orleans
The Sunset Limited bound from Los Angeles to New Orleans, was listed to stop at 5:12pm, Friday, but did not pass through Lafayette -- 140 miles out from NOLa -- until 1:30 Saturday morning.
|Sunset Limited / photo courtesy of Amtrak|
The passengers were grumpy. The exhausted crew grumbled they were expected to sweep out the train and be up for a turnaround scheduled for 9a.m. (It actually left five hours late.)
The sun was rising when we stepped out of Union Passenger Terminal on Loyola Avenue, next to the Superdome, and climbed in a United Cab headed for a French colonial breakfast of beignets and café au lait at Café du Monde, next to the Riverfront flood wall.
|click image for information|
There had been a derailment two days before, way out West. For the next two days Amtrak could not tell us anything. Except that the "Incident" was not an "Amtrak Incident."
We did not know what that meant, because the only part of the "what-ever incident" that concerned us was Amtrak's delay.
"If that isn't an Amtrak-incident," Norma bellowed, "Ray Nagin is an honest man." The cabbie pulled up to the curb and turned around and stared at her.
Since Katrina, The T-P has been pushing her faithful scribes out the door. Now, she is pushing them out windows, too, and breaking our hearts all over again with news of more lashes from the Demon Change.
On the decadently optimistic side, however, she has given us yet another forget-me-not theme for fundraiser dinners, parties and coffee shop chatter for years, nay, centuries to come.
"That will fill our T-P-less days," Norma said, standing beside the cab lighting a cigarette. She blew smoke in the cabbie's face and handed him a large bill, "Keep the change."
"Debby's the name, flooding's the game," Norma said through a cloud of cigarette smoke. "She's headed for Florida."
We prayed for Florida, but worried the storm might slip past the point of our prayers and come here.
"Thank Gott, we have a flood wall sturdy as the one that failed last time," L. A. Norma told the checkout clerk at Rouses on Baronne Street.
On our way back to Faubourg Marigny we reminisced over storm preparations of long, long ago. When the effort was no more than stocking up on Camel Cigarettes (for Norma), Chocolate Ice Cream (for me), and batteries for a little transistor radio that had traceable DNA directly back to the 1950s.
Norma called Amtrak and found out the morning train West would not be leaving until the afternoon. She booked two sleepers to Lafayette.
He said, "But is it worth it?"
"We will be back in a couple weeks for
|Amtrak / photo courtesy of Amtrak|
"The big one looks like the box the little one came in," Norma said, before snoring.
Leonard Earl Johnson
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(Note: this story appeared in other years in slightly varied forms. Its recurring currency is as true as hurricanes, late trains, crumbling bridges and Republicans.)
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