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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.

Monday, November 01, 2021

⚓ Making Groceries at Rouses / November 2021



Making Groceries

at Rouses

~ Fiction ~
Roman à clef, cher! 
by Leonard Earl Johnson 
© 2021, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved 


Silvia and Dillard detrained in Lafayette at the Rosa Parks Transportation Centré and walked up Jefferson Street to Carpe Diem Gelato to rendezvous with L. A. Norma.  She has promised to help them 'make groceries.'  Making groceries is New Orleans speak for stocking the kitchen.

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

The Cathedral Oak

In a direct sightline up Rue Principal (Main Street) from the Cathedral to Parish Prison to Parish Court House to the bank formerly known as the Chase Manhattan.  All Institutions in an alliance as outsider-friendly as money and faith will allow.  In Louisiana such allowances are nearly infinite.  

L. A. Norma calls it the three Fs, "Faith, Force, and Finance. As nourishing as the Cajun gumbo," she adds, dipping the ladle, passing the potato salad, exhaling Camel Cigarette smoke.

Here, gumbo is a wholesome seafood banquet.  Lapped up with cornbread as 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 culinary curiosity seen as Satanic in New Orleans dining halls.  

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


The two Red Women each take a slice of pizza from the hot counter at Rouses Market near Cajun Field; and a bit of green salad from the cold counter.  

They find seats at tables beside large windows overlooking an ample parking lot off a freeway of streets with many lanes and complex traffic configurations.  Lafayette is a wonderfully stimulating place for automobiles and trucks. "And football," L. A. Norma adds.

Flat on the table beside their food trays they fan out black, white, and red stickers along side 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 lettering:
!Turn Back 
Voter Turn Out!

Two black women toting black shopping baskets look at the stickers, then at the women, then walk away.  A redheaded pizza baker picks up two stickers, slips them into his white cook's jacket, and returns to the ovens.

Outside, through the windows 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.
🍕  🍕

Sylvia spots the boots and recognizes the young man from their bus 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 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-eight 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.

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Photograph © Leonard Earl Johnson 

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.

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 LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.world
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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