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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 books 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.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Leah Chase, Cutting Loose the Body / July 2019

"Everybody has got to die,
 but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case." ~ William Saroyan

💔LEJ's Louisiana

Yours Truly in a Swamp

A monthly e-column by Leonard Earl Johnson, 
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
 E-mail: Subscribe@LEJ.org
 Archives: www.LEJ.org  
*********************************
July 2019

To all those who fed us and led us in Life's Dance, 
may your Spirits live on and take us once more 
round the floor. ~ LEJ.org
© 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved
    🔻 🔻 🔻 
   🔻 🔻
   🔻

The Passing


of Leah Chase


and


Cutting Loose the Body

by Leonard Earl Johnson


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*  *

 We have been busy with Funerals.  Oddly enjoyable gatherings of old friends and new tears.  

Saint Peter Claver Catholic Church, NOLa

"That is about all you can ask of a funeral," L. A. Norma said to an elegant lady in black frock and white pearls.  

She was from Rhodes Funeral Home and escorted us to the line into Saint Peter Claver Catholic Church, Faubourg Tremé, for the Funeral Mass of Leah Chase, world-renowned Creole Chef of 
New Orleans.  

Inside the Church, hugs from Family, politicians, Carnival Krewe dignitaries, musicians and artists spanning the forty plus years we knew this great woman who blessed the gumbo and passed the ladle to us all.



 
Passing through the crowd, Jackie Clarkson, New Orleans long time District-C Council Woman, retired, gave us air-kisses and remembrances. 

Leah's handsome children gave deep embrace.  I told them how I loved their Mother who had taught me how to make a roux, when first I splashed down in 

Big Swamp City.  

"Not hard to do, but till you know how you don't know," 

Norma said.  


Leah Chase famously admonished President Barack Obama,
"You don't put hot sauce in my gumbo."
 

More dignitaries have dined at Dooky Chase's than can be listed here.  A few include President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, Hank Aaron, Ernest Gaines, James Baldwin, Bill Cosby, Duke Ellington, Lena Horne, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King, and a host of others.  



Leah Chase, President George W. Bush, 
Dooky Chase (preceded Leah in death, 2016)




As noted by the James Beard Foundation, “Chase’s original dishes would help pioneer the Creole food movement and her recipes for dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, and fried chicken have gone on to become kitchen staples.” 

Leah Chase even served as the inspiration for Princess Tiana in Disney Studio’s 

Princess and the Frog.

Mac Rebennack, aka Dr. John, The Night Tripper, whose own Funeral was the following week in New Orleans, sang “Down in New Orleans” on the soundtrack. 



Leah Chase / Princes Tiana
As a writer of two cookbooks; And Still I Cook, and The Dooky Chase Cookbook, and winner of countless food and humanitarian awards, Chase was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America in 2010.

Leah Chase has received many other awards, including multiple awards from the NAACP, the Weiss Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the New Orleans Times-Picayune 1997 Loving Cup Award, and the Outstanding Women Award from the National Conference of Negro Women. 

Southern Foodways Alliance presented her with a lifetime achievement award in 2000. 


  She received honorary degrees from Dillard University, Tulane University, Loyola University, Our Lady of Holy Cross College, Madonna College, and Johnson and Wales University. 


Ms. Chase is also recipient of the Francis Anthony Drexel Medal, the highest award presented to an individual by Xavier University.


In 2009, Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans named a permanent gallery in Chase’s honor.

And Ray Charles sang of Dooky Chase's famed restaurant in his song, Early in the Morning.




In celebration of Chef Chase’s longstanding contributions, the New Orleans Museum of Art presented an exhibition of twenty paintings that capture Chase at work in the kitchen of her restaurant. The series, painted by New Orleans raised Gustave Blache III, captures her lifelong dedication to the Culinary Arts. One of the images was included in the collection of iconic 


Cutting Squash (Leah Chase) by Gustave Blache III / 2010, Oil on panel / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the artist in honor of Mr. Richard C. Colton, Jr.

 American images in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C.


Following the Funeral Mass, a prized honor dirge was provided by the members 



Seven Mystic Sisters
 of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, ending with the joyous 'Cutting Loose of the Body' (to fly away Home) and Second Line jubilation with the Seven Mystic Sisters 

Today, Dooky Chase's continues under the Family operation.
click image for clear readable resolution
Leah befriended me when I was a young Yank from the Land of Lincoln, newly splashed down in The Swamp.  She taught me how to make a roux.  Listened patiently when I ~ naive white boy ~ explained the civil rights movement of my college daze at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. (She knew Thurgood Marshall, James Baldwin, and Martin Luther King, to name a few.  I knew John and Wendell O'Neal, Ray Lenzi, and Jane Adams.)  My most cheeky act of all, I once baked her an apple pie. She told me it was good. But talk about taking Shrimp to Delcambre!
Like I said, she was patient.

She shared the awful days after Katrina, often taking my friends and me around to look at the devastation inside Dooky's. She and Dooky lived in side-by-side FEMA trailers across the street. Once, when I mentioned we were having lunch at nearby Willie Mae's Scotch House, she said, "My red beans are better." They were, but her stove wasn't working that day. 


Shrimp Clemenceau

We had a favorite Leah Chase dish, Shrimp Clemenceau named for Georges Eugene Benjamin Clemenceau (1841-1929), French statesman who played a key role in negotiating the Treaty of Versailles.  His Grandson, Pierre Clemenceau (1904 -1995) lived as a noted bon vivant in New Orleans, married to local socialite, Jane Grunewald.

As we passed along the aisles of Saint Peter Claver Church we met the great Baton Rouge / New Orleans artist, Clifton Webb, who invited us to view a new work dedicated to Leah Chase: On The Shoulders of Ancestors. 
On the Shoulders of  Ancestors, Clifton Webb
On display in The Church of the lovely new boutique Hotel Peter and Paul, a deconsecrated Catholic church, in adjacent Faubourg Marigny.

Leah died the first day of Hurricane Season, 2019.
As fate would have it we had a last meal together at Dooky's during last October's New Orleans Film Festival ~ talking about friends and years. I loved her, and am so glad we were / are friends. 
LEJ.org  
LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.org
~ Hosted on GOOGLE Blogger ~
and periodically 
at Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans,
publication of the
It is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
Archives: www.LEJ.org
© 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson, 
All Rights Reserved.
*    *   * 
Coming August's column

More Yours Truly in a Swamp 
Post date August First 2019
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Editor's note: 
LEJ's Louisiana / YOURS TRULY IN A SWAMP 
column titled
More Tales of the Festivals
 was published, 1 June 2019, the day Mrs. Chase died, and was also dedicated to her memory
Dedicated to Leah Chase
6 January 1923  ~  1 June 2019


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 


Don't hold your breath on my figuring out le Internet.  I am a 
storyteller, not a computer-pinball gamer, but contact me 


if you want on the list ~ that may get e-mailed a monthly heads up. 

If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.org 
anytime. 

They are posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years.
© 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson, 
All Rights Reserved.
Your Comments and Corrections are welcome
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Saturday, June 01, 2019

More Tales of the Festivals / June 2019

Park International  /  Courtesy: Festival International de Louisiane, Lafayette

LEJ's Louisiana

Yours Truly in a Swamp

A monthly e-column by Leonard Earl Johnson, 
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
 E-mail: Subscribe@LEJ.org
 Archives: www.LEJ.org  
*********************************
June 2019
6 January 1923  ~  1 June 2019

© 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved
NOLa to LFT to LA to SF                                          Courtesy: Amtrak.com 
    🔻 🔻 🔻 
   🔻 🔻
   🔻

More Tales of the Festivals



*

*  *



by  Leonard Earl Johnson
www.LEJ.org


New Orleans is a rail head town, meaning all trains in and out terminate and originate here.  Good for on-time departures.

But, when an inbound train is next-day late, the schedule folds like a yard-sale tux (see last month's column).   

Today, we are aboard Amtrak #1, the Sunset Limited ~ West, smartly on time, high up on the tall Huey P. Long Bridge looking down at the Mississippi River.  

Great ships pass below on their way out to Sea ~ and skyscraper buildings along the bank reach up to spear tourist-filled airplanes descending to rain money like candy from Cinco de Mayo piñatas.

It is the season of festivals in Louisiana, a state that knows a thing or two about partying. 


Our next stop:
Festival International de Louisiane, Lafayette.

🔻🔺🔻


Lafayette is nicknamed "The Hub City" of French Louisiana. 

It is where French Canadians settled after expulsion from Nova Scotia by the brutish New England British, in 
Le Grand Dérangement.

 This diaspora come-lately, 1755 (New Orleans had been a settlement since 1699) established Louisiana's second French colony ~ isolated by the Atchafalya Basin ~ with motherland ties to French Canada.


🔻Isolation🔻

It was more than a hundred years ~ not until 1881 ~ before a railroad was built connecting Lafayette to New Orleans, and it was only in the 1960s that President Dwight D. Eisenhower's post World War Two Interstate highway system finally reached across the Atchafalaya Basin to Baton Rouge.

Prior to this, travel between these regions was cumbersome and slow, involving many water crossings. 



Festival International de LouisianeLafayette is a celebration with the stated purpose of bringing together French colonial cultures from all over the World, as expressed in music, art and food. 

Keep in mind, 

the United States ~ most surely Louisiana ~ is a celebrated part of Worldwide French colonial culture.  


Flying Balalaika Brothers

Curiously "Festival," as locals call it, also includes acts from such non-French outposts as Russia, homeland of one of Festival's perennial favorites, the Flying Balalaika Brothers, performing on Scene (French for stage) LUS International, on opening night, and on two additional Scenes during the the next three days.  



Parc San Souci  /  photo: Tom Vaught
click image for higher resolution
Festival boasts many Scenes around downtown Lafayette, along with art, craft, and food pavilions scattered among green spaces.  Also a selection of excellent  downtown restaurants, music bars, coffee shops, art galleries and museums afford comfortable indoor respite

 Three favorites ~ among the many ~ are Pamplona Tapas Bar ~ where we always find a mini-festival loose inside; 
Rêve Coffee, where lap-toppers and book-readers gather; 
and the terrific new Cloves Indian Cafe ~ with amazingly low prices and huge windows overlooking Boulevard Jefferson's
 Festival activity. 

🔺🔻🔺


"Open and free for Joie de vie,"
L. A. Norma says, stepping off the train, in full view of Parc International, a few hundred yards away, and permanently painted round its grand proscenium with the flags of the World's French heritage countries. 


SOLA Violins  /   Photo: Anya Burgess


On the corner from Parc San Souci, at Rue Vermilion and Boulevard Jefferson is the 





luthier, Sola Violins.  
Operated by owner Anya Burgess, who also plays along with Christine Balfa, and Kristi Guillory in the popular group, BonsoirCatin  performing widely throughout Acadia, and at both New Orleans and Lafayette festivals.  Burgess, along with shop assistant, Chris Segura, are noted violin makers.

 Directly across Boulevard Jefferson from SOLA are the exhibition galleries, workshops and theaters of the 

AcA / Acadiana Center for the Arts


AcA  /  photo:  Philip Gould
A bit further, in front of the United States District Court we found SceneTV5Monde.  

Performing there where Anders Osborne, with Tiffany Lamson (founding member of hometown gone-world-touring, indie-pop Givers) and the Belgian ~ now living in New Orleans ~ showstopping cellist, Helen Gillet.  


"It doesn't get any better than this," L. A. Norma tells a Parisian family we had met on the train in from New Orleans.


We stayed in Acadiana after Festival International ended to accept an invitation from Floyd LeBleu, one time Lafayette High School football coach who returned to law school, at age forty, to become a local barrister renowned.  LeBleu took us to his hometown of Opelousas (founded in 1720).


"Louisiana's capitol-in-exile during The War Between The States," LeBleu tells us on the thirty-minute drive north of Lafayette, on Interstate-49, "The Cajun Freeway."


"During the tenure of Sheriff Cat Doucet, from 1936 to 1940 and again from 1952 to 1968, the section of Opelousas along Highway 190 was a haven of gambling and prostitution, the profits from which he skimmed a take." ~ Wikipedia


We are led by LeBleu not to sin, but to seafood heaven for those who live to lunch, as we La do.

 SOILEAU'S (pronounced Swallow's), at 1618 N. Main St., "since 1937,according to their card.  

"Mon Dieu, quel repas!"
(My God, what a meal!)


Peppers stuffed with seafood, stuffed potato, crabs, shrimps, and more. Tartar Sauce that cries to have other chef's claiming such arrested on site.  


"Bon appétit et venez chez Acadia, cher!" 
("Bon appétit and come to Acadia, dear!")


LEJ.org ✍️
Photo credit:  Alyce Morgan
Corrections and Comments welcome  

♪ ♫ 

For music links scroll down to
Lagniappe du Jour, Today



For archived 
L. E. J.'s Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp  
go to www.LEJ.org

Subscribe@LEJ.org  (free)

© 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson, 
All Rights Reserved.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
Don't hold your breath on my figuring out le Internet.  I am a storyteller, not a computer-pinball gamer, but contact me 


if you want on the list ~ that may get e-mailed a monthly heads up. 

If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.org 
anytime. 

They are posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years.

Lagniappe du Jour, Today  



♪ ♫ 


The Traveling Wilburys - 
Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, George Harrison

 End Of The Line
(not on stage at Festival but on a train and in the spirit) 
YouTube

♪ ♫ 


Givers, NPR Desktop Concert


♪ ♫ 


Flying Balalaika Brothers


Festival International de Louisiana, Lafayette


♪ ♫ 


BonsoirCatin

YouTube

♪ ♫ 


Anders Osborne


website / music


♪ ♫ 


Helen Gillet


website / YouTube


♪ ♫ 

LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.org
~ Hosted on GOOGLE Blogger ~
and periodically 
at Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans,
publication of the
It is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
Archives: www.LEJ.org
© 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson, 
All Rights Reserved.
*    *   * 
Coming July's column    

🔻   🔻  🔻 
🔻  🔻
🔻


*
*  *
 
Post date July First, 2019
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© 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson, 
All Rights Reserved.
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