Dear New Orleans,
I was born at the old Ochsner Hospital on Jefferson Hwy back in the early 60s. My early childhood memories were plentiful. While I lived in Metairie, my grandparents lived uptown on Octavia Street, three houses off Freret. I remember during your hot summer months swimming in the backyard pool waiting to hear the bell coming up front from the Roman Candy Man .
I remember his cart well, being pulled by a mule as he made the fresh taffy. He would sometimes let us climb on the wagon and make our own pull of taffy. The long fat wax paper wrapped toffee was only a nickel a stick or six for a quarter.
Later in my childhood years, I grew up playing baseball in the heart of Mid-City for Carrollton Boosters. The field was behind the old Burton Orphanage off Carrollton Avenue. My dad was the coach of our team for a few years along with former mayor Moon Landrieu. Current Mayor Mitch Landrieu was an old teammate.
After most games, we would head over to the old location of the Ye Ole College Inn when the Rufin family owned it. Old man Rufin used to give us quarters and allow us to go into the front bar to play pinball and video games that at the time were three games for a quarter. We would also go to eat Chinese food at the How Toy Restaurant on Carrollton which is now the longtime Five Happiness.
New Orleans has always been filled with many types of characters. Whenever we would go downtown, I remember loving the street performers and musicians that are still going strong today.
Growing up in Metairie, I lived in a great cul-de-sac neighborhood. My next-door neighbor to the left was Danny Abramowicz, #46 of the New Orleans Saints. He would get us tickets to the games, and back then, fans were allowed in the tunnel of the old Tulane stadium to high-five players and coaches as they ran onto the natural grass field.
Whenever the Saints were in town during the Thanksgiving weekend, Danny would have players over to eat the holiday meal. Names like Billy Kilmer, Dave Whitsell, Jimmy Taylor and Archie Manning.
Danny has two sons Danny Joe and Andy. We would meet for a street game of touch football after the turkey and dressing went down. I caught streetball passes from the greats of Kilmer and Manning at the ripe young age of 13 years old. Peyton, Eli, and Cooper were there but too young to play. This is an only in New Orleans kind of story.
I am so fortunate to be working in my hometown predicting the crazy weather thrown at us and the city that I love and grew up in. Every city has their own set of issues including New Orleans.
NO OTHER CITY IN THE WORLD HAS THE CHARACTER OF NEW ORLEANS.
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