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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.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Houmas House on St Pat's Day / April 2015

Yours Truly in a Swamp 
LEJ's Louisiana

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a monthly e-column


Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans

Kevin Kelly, Lord of the Manor and Sugar Bear, Dog of the Manor
Photo credit:  Melissa Dronet

Houmas House
on Saint Patrick's Day 2015

by Leonard Earl Johnson

Riverboat, Mississippi River
Houmas House, Louisiana

Cold ManWinter loosened its chilly grip on the bayous, rivers and swamps of Louisiana. 

L. A. Norma and I headed out for parties, parades, and music festivals umpity thump-thumpin' from Laughingyette bayous to Big Swamp City bar rooms! 

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 la Grande Mère Marais 
 All over Grande Mère Marais (the Great Mother Swamp) azaleas are in bloom and trees bud promising green and reds. Spring chucks hope under Louisiana chins, from DC-dreaming Governor Bobby Jindal down to wee the people. Jindal is America's first Indian-American governor and he wants to take the brand national ~ at any cost.  

"Jindal preens for his Washington handlers." Norma snorts, blowing smoke out the driver's side window of her little red rental. 

We crossed The River at Baton Rouge singing Al Capps' ode to bad leadership:  
Li'l Abner
Jubilation T. Cornpone
 music by Gene De Paul and lyrics by Johnny Mercer

University presidents and state administrators wring their hands on television over Jindal's foolish Potemkin budgets designed to showcase how he could run a government without taxes and services. He could not. 

Jindal may or may not flee our ruins for new victims in  Washington, but his replacement -- widely expected to be fellow Republican U. S. Senator David Vitter -- will surely inherit a hard political rock announcing school and bridge closings. 

"Already, entire departments at the University of New Orleans have closed," Norma says, "and drawbridges tremble in fear for their maintenance." 

Governor-expect David Vitter is said to care little for the "Magic Maharaja," as Norma calls Jindal. "Would you, in Vitter's shoes?" She crushed her cigarette into a little tin box she carries for the purpose.

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Giant Sea birds overhead search for their rookery, and we tell each other stories of Br'er Rabbit, as our little red rental crunches white shells in the parking lot of Laura Plantation -- from where the East African Uncle Remus tales first took translation into Louisiana French Creole. Tulane University scholars later translated the French Creole version to English for the amazement of English speaking folks from Senegal to Cincinnati. 
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We drove along the West Bank to the Sunshine Bridge, named in honor of another colorful Louisiana governor, Jimmy Davis.  Davis was also a movie star and a saloon singer who wrote, "You Are My sunshine / My only sunshine..."

It is sometimes said by detractors that Louisiana is built along the Mississippi and organized around Mardi Gras. "O. K. by me," Norma says, "you'd prefer Senegal or Cincinnati?"

On to Houmas House, the grandest sugar plantation on The River.  It is on the East Bank, near Burnside, above New Orleans an hour and fifteen minutes by hard road (by River more).

 From: New Orleans, LA To: Houmas House Plantation and Gardens, 40136 Louisiana 942, Darrow, LA 70725

Lord of the manor is Kevin Kelly, a baronial Irishman (with dogs!) who also  
Kevin Kelly with beard, Kyle Edmiston, Doug Bourgeois and
Nippon News delegation

owns a mansion on Saint Charles Avenue, in New Orleans, that is site of his five-day Mardi Gras party -- with balconies on the parade route. Oh, my! 

Jim Blanchard and Bonnie Warren

Kelly attended his NOLa Mardi Gras party this year, costumed as the man who carried word to D. C. that the British had been turned back at New Orleans ~ the man lived at Houmas House Plantation. 

"Damn those wet blankets who claim the War of 1812 was already over!" Norma snorts. It was by a few months.
"As owner of Houmas Plantation, Burnside knew: Had the Brits got  to the steps of Gallier Hall we  might still be flying the British Jack!

 "The Yanks did, and we're still flying theirs!"

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(Gallier Hall opened as City Hall in 1845.  The Battle of New Orleans was 1815.  L. A. Norma speaks with poetic license.)

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Lorinzo Bergen, New Orleans artist
 and Leonard Earl Johnson, elderly scribe

Proper early fenced garden, Houmas House

Properly unfenced radio / tv stars: Bob and Jan Carr, WDSU - NOLa

Garden leprechauns

Garden with small fountain

 The Gardener:
Craig Black, Artist at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens

The Menu

The Chef, Jeremy Langlois

Some of the things you gave up for Lent.

The diners

The Master's table on Saint Patrick's Day,
Paul Arrigo and Kevin Kelly

The Dessert
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All Photo Credits:  Margarita Bergen,   Janis Turk,   Houmas House

French Quarter Fest 2015
April 9 ~ 12

Festival International de Louisiane, Lafayette

April 22 ~ 26

NOLa Jazz Fest
April 24 ~ May 3

Essence Festival New Orleans
July 2 ~ 5

Satchmo Summerfest New Orleans
July 31 ~ August 2

Bogalusa Blues and Heritage Festival
September 25 ~ 26


Copyright, 2015, Leonard Earl Johnson, all rights reserved

For more L. E. J.'s Yours Truly in a Swamp go to 
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Go here For T-Shirts, Koozies, LEJ.org icebox magnets
and such falderal ...

Your monthly e-mail notice may not come. New Yahoo's mail system is too cumbersome for me to continue using. Our mailings can not be done one-at-a-time. We have many thousands of e-readers. Too many, it seems, to keep getting free-mail from Yahoo, and we are not able to pay for the pay-mail system.  So there. 

You may not receive a monthly notice for YOURS TRULY IN A SWAMP, LEJ's Louisiana 
until / unless I figure out how to set up a new freemail system. 

(Don't hold your breath.  I am a storyteller, not a computer-pinball gamer). Contact me if you want on the list - that may get e-mailed.

If  you wish to read each month's story please go any time to www.LEJ.org 
(They are posted newly on the first of each month and polished for the next few weeks.) 
Hope you do, I love talking with you,
Leonard Earl Johnson,
Columnist to the elderly and early weary. 

© 2015, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved.
Comments are welcome,  post yourcomments

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