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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.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Remembering Cokie Roberts / October 2019

πŸ’”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   
October 2019

Remembering Cokie Roberts

An American Aristocrat

27 December 1943  /  17 September 2019
courtesy of NPR


"What A Time It Was!" ~ L. A. Norma

BY  Leonard Earl Johnson
Β© 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved

LEJ.org  πŸ’

Archbishop Wilton Daniel Gregory served as principal celebrant and homilist at the service for Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne`nee Boggs aka, Cokie Roberts.

Roberts was an American aristocrat born in New Orleans and raised in Washington, D. C.  ~  a descendant of both pre-revolutionary Virginia and antebellum Louisiana.

 ~ Wikipedia
image courtesy Louisiana State University
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 β™ͺ   β™«    β™¬
She is a descendant of Louisiana's first American Governor, W. C. C. Claiborne, 1804 to 1817.  He was born in pre-revolutionary Virginia, and moved to Louisiana at the time of President Jefferson's Purchase from France of the 'Orleans Territory,' in 1803. 
Here he begat folks who begat folks who begat 
Marie Corinne Morrison Claiborne aka, Lindy Boggs.  She begat Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne`nee Boggs aka, Cokie Robertsa founding voice of National Public Radio ~ NPR, from its beginning until her death recently at 75, from complications following recurring-cancer treatment. 

Congress Members Hale and Lindy Boggs home, 
nestled between the bars and barkers
of Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Courtesy Library of Congress
Her commentary steadied America's nerves, as increasingly stormy news-cycles roiled out over NPR's radio waves.  And later in her career at ABC-tv. 

Stay calm and The Seas will settle, she always made us feel.  

Her voice, strong and warm, soothed us with its subtext: Look at all my Family has been through and we are still here!

Her Father, Thomas Hale Boggs, and after his death in 1972, her Mother, Lindy Boggs, were popular United States Congress Members from the bawdy French Quarter of New Orleans.  

He was raised on an area of Mississippi's Gulf Coast considered by New Orleanians as their own beach-escape.  Lindy was born upriver from  New Orleans, on the Brunswick Plantation near New Roads, Pointe Coupee Parish (the area of Ernest Gains' novel, A LESSON BEFORE DYING). They met at Newcomb/Tulane University, New Orleans.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans, a few blocks from the home where 
Congress Members Hale and Lindy Boggs lived in a house she inherited from her aunt, 
Frosty Morrison Blackshear. 

When Husband Thomas Hale Boggs disappeared in a lost airplane over Alaska, Lindy won his Congressional seat in a special 1973 election.  Essentially she took over the Family business of being the Boggs of Bourbon Street.

She easily won every re-election until resigning in 1990, to nurse her firstborn Daughter, Barbara Boggs Sigmund, dying with terminal cancer.  At the time, Barbara was Mayor of Princeton, New Jersey.  Following Barbara's death Lindy moved back to the house on Bourbon Street.  During that period President Bill Clinton appointed her Ambassador to the Vatican and she lived in Rome and New Orleans.

In 1972, when Thomas Hale Boggs left for Alaska, a young political operative from Arkansas drove him to the airport.  It was Bill Clinton.

Cokie's funeral mass took place at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, site of President John F. Kennedy's funeral in 1963.  Every Fall, this Cathedral hosts the 'Red Mass,' marking the beginning of a new Supreme Court term; and it has twice been anointed as a 'Basilica Cathedral' ~ Catholic-speak meaning two Popes have preached here. 
"A funeral site to die for," 
L. A. Norma says, blowing Camel Cigarette smoke out the dormer window.

President Barack Obama released a statement calling Roberts a "trailblazing figure," adding that she was "a role model to young women at a time when the profession was still dominated by men; a constant over forty years of a shifting media landscape and changing world."  

"Such text," Norma snorted ~ smoke drifting from her mouth over her upper lip into her nostrils ~ "must come from professional scribes, or Constitutional lawyers!"  She guffawed sending smoke everywhere πŸ’¨.

Norma crushed her cigarette in a gleaming amber ashtray.  The kind of large ashtray seen in hotel lobbies, once.  And found today sporting a modern bed-mould dentil around the Park Island home of former New

Ray Nagin's Ashtray Dream House, Park Island, NOLa
Architect: Albert Ledner, student of Frank Lloyd Wright
Orleans mayor and Federal Prisoner (until 2024, but early released in 2020 because of COVID Virus).  Prisoner No. 3275-034, Ray Nagin.  He issued no obit for Cokie.

President Donald Trump let one fly featuring himself:

"I never met her," the Trumpster twitted, "She never treated me nicely.  But I would like to wish her family well.  She was a professional, and I respect professionals." 

President George W. Bush memorialized Roberts: "A talented, tough, and fair reporter.  We respected her drive and appreciated her humor," the nation's 43rd President said.  "She became a friend."

Speaking at the service, United States Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi said, "Her life and leadership took our nation closer to its fundamental founding ideal of equality.  It was in her DNA.

Cokie's husband of 53 years, journalist Steven Roberts, told mourners, "Over the years, Cokie encouraged us, inspired us, taught us, and touched us, cajoled and consoled us."  The couple co-wrote a popular syndicated column.

Donna Brazile, New Orleanian, Washingtonian, Democratic political black female power broker did not speak but was heard simply by her presence.  She is strikingly handsome and was

Donna Brazile greeting Pierre Thomas 
at Cokie Roberts Funeral, 19 September 2019    
dressed in mourner's black with a Church Lady Hat of the style favored by Louisiana church ladies.  A scarf around her neck ~ plaid-ish African American browns, golds ~ it flattered the fringed brown and gold skirt
 draping the lectern.  A nice touch.  Wonder if it was accidental? 

It also made us recall, Steven and Cokie Roberts were in a mixed marriage.  He is a New Jersey Reform Jew, she a Louisiana Roman Catholic.

Were there cultural/theological conflicts between a New Jersey Jew and a Louisiana Catholic?  We assume there were, but none aired in public.  In 2011, they co-wrote and published OUR HAGGADAH; UNITING TRADITIONS FOR INTERFAITH FAMILIES.

πŸ’œ  πŸ’š  πŸ’›
We saw Cokie last at the Louisiana Book Festival, in Baton Rouge, three years ago, and talked then about her late Mother ~ every New Orleanian's friend, Lindy Boggs. I bought an older book (1998) of Cokie's for my Sister, WE ARE OUR MOTHER'S DAUGHTERS.

Cokie and her Mother bore the name Claiborne in their string of Early American and Louisiana names.

 I was born the same year as Cokie, and it is heartening, if not true, to hear how young that is to be passing on to the great editor in the sky. We will miss you, mon amie, for however many years we have left, and then maybe get you 
Claiborne Mansion                                           Faubourg Marigny

to help us edit that book on Governor Claiborne's kin in the Faubourg Marginy mansion on Rue Dauphine. 

It is an antebellum Claiborne Mansion, circa 1859, across from Washington Square Park, in gentry neighborly Faubourg Marigny.  It was up for sale a few years ago, for 3.8 million U. S. $.  

The Claiborne who first lived there would be Cokie's great, great, great, something.
    ~  LEJ.org πŸ’ 

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~ Your Comments and Corrections are Welcome ~
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Lagnaippe du jour
Donna Brazil greeting Pierre Thomas
Cokie Roberts Funeral
NPR's remembrance
19 September 2019

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Nancy Pelosi
funeral lectern 
(note skirt)
ABC-tv's remembrance

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Claiborne Mansion
Faubourg Marigny
Architectural Digest, 30 April 2014

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Ray Nagin's 
Ashtray home
25 photographs 
~ NOLa.com
Ray Nagin house, Park Island, NOLa
Architect: Albert Ledner, student of Frank Lloyd Wright

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Lindy Boggs' inherited-home
600 block of Bourbon Street.
From her aunt,
(preservationist / realtor)

~   ~   ~
Lindy Boggs was the last resident of
 Bourbon Street.

πŸ’œ  πŸ’¦ πŸ’›

~ With floor to ceiling doors flung open to the street traffic,
 a hundred years or two earlier. ~

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"What their seed begat!"
~ L. A. Norma
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Poster from 1968 movie
β™ͺ β™« β™¬
The Begat - 
2009 revival on Broadway
~ You Tube
The show was nominated for 2010 Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Musical, Best Leading Actress in a Musical (Kate Baldwin) and Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Christopher Fitzgerald)
A fully staged Broadway revival opened at the St. James Theatre 29 October 2009
Wikipedia β‡¨

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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
The monthly column is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
Archives: www.LEJ.org

πŸ’œ  πŸ’š  πŸ’›

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Β© 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson, all rights reserved.

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