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We have all heard one version or another of the song “The City of New Orleans”. The song performed by the likes of Arlo Guthrie, Willie Nelson and John Denver was actually written by Steve Goodman about riding the rails in an observation car.
I knew the song but had never ridden a train, much less a renowned Pullman, so you can imagine my excitement when I had the opportunity to do just that. My husband was invited to a business function being held on the railcar, and spouses were included. Think Jim West and Artemis Gordon’s ‘rail-ride” on Wild, Wild West, but better.
Built in 1927 by the illustrious Pullman Company, The City of New Orleans parlor observation railcar is used primarily for charitable auctions and business-related meetings supporting New Orleans-area commerce and business development. Acquired by Gregory Dodd and relocated to New Orleans in 1998, the railcar had had a long and colorful life that spanned states and rail companies. In 2002 the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad acquired and renamed it The City of New Orleans.
The railcar has raised over $800,000.00 for local charities since its renovation in 2002. Accommodations include seating for up to 20 persons and full service catering capabilities for both food and beverage. Our group included 40 people so they hitched on a second car, The Louisiana.
Plush club chairs, beautiful brass appointments, wood wainscoting and marble ledges were only topped by the food-laden waiter and bartender at our beck and call. The 3 hour route took us from the rail yard in Metairie, to the top of the Huey P. Long Bridge, all along the river to the French Quarter and even slightly past the curve of the river beyond the French Market which is a restricted area. The view looking back on the city is amazing!
by Sharon Denise Talbot
For more information on how to hitch a ride on The City of New Orleans see the following website:
Chances are if you have walked down any New Orleans French Quarter street in the last few years you have seen my friend, Ray Hostetter. He might have the phone to his ear or a tool of some kind in hand, but he always has a smile and a “Hey there” for passersby. Now that may have been the extent of our association too, except for one thing (ok, two) I love construction, reconstruction, building, renovating, decorating. Whatever name you put on it, the creative process is fascinating to me. Oh, and the second thing – I’m just nosy.
In my “ratting” around the Quarter, I had seen Ray at times working on a particularly beautiful place on the corner of Dauphine and Orleans. I could see the intensive work being done to the outside, but it was just killing me to know what they were doing to the inside. Come on, I know you know exactly what I’m talking about. I saw the nose smudges on the windows. (Oops, sorry. I guess those were mine.) Lo and behold, on this particular day a couple of years ago the door was wide open, so um, what to do, what to do? Exactly, I went in.
Ray grew up in the construction business and was working in California until a series of events changed life as he knew it. Work got scarce in big CA, Katrina hit New Orleans, a family member living in New Orleans said “Bring the wife and new baby over and work here”. After doing a couple of flood houses in mid city and a 20 unit apartment complex Ray was introduced to the owner of the Orleans Avenue project, who we will call Mr. C. It is interesting how one thing leads to another. Mr. C. had rented a Bourbon Street balcony one Mardi Gras from Ray’s relative years ago and they became friends.
While into the Orleans Avenue project, Mr. C. decided to acquire the property at 435 Bourbon and turn it from a t-shirt shop into a bar. (Incidentally, this was the same place that he had rented all those Mardi Gras’ ago.) The whole bottom floor had to be taken out for the new electrical so while Ray was digging trenches between floor joices he made a discovery, an 1850 bottle of “Dr. J. Hostetter Stomach Bitters”. This concoction of vitamins and herbs and 94% alcohol was sold to the Union army by train car from Pennsylvania during the first prohibition. Cool, huh? But it gets better. Did you notice that Dr. J and Ray share the same last name? After doing a little research Ray found he and Dr. J were actually related. That was when it all made sense for Ray, “I am in the right place doing what I am supposed to be doing.”
The Orleans Avenue project had discoveries of its’ own. The first came when removing walls, Ray came upon the initials A.H. (another relative??) carved in a board with the date 1901. Attached was a 1901 silver coin which today is worth $6,000.00. These old New Orleans French Quarter buildings are treasure troves and that is exactly what Ray thought when he uncovered the next surprise. Extensive work was being done on the previously lathe and plastered walls. Mr. C wanted the old brick walls exposed, cleaned and repointed. In the process it was noticed that there was a definite brick archway visible just above floor level in the downstairs bedroom.
At this point, you know a vision of Lafitte’s treasure was dancing in Ray’s head. The old wood plank floors were pulled out and what looked like a tunnel opening was uncovered several feet under the existing floor. Alas, the only thing inside was years upon years of mud and muck, no treasure. But could it have been a bootleggers’ tunnel from Orleans Avenue to St. Peter and Dauphine, where for years the Tunnel Bar sat on the corner? Research seems to lean more toward what was called a “cabinét”, something like a root cellar and not a tunnel at all. Rather than cover up this historic piece of architecture, lightning and special glass flooring was installed to show it off. It is breathtakingly beautiful, just like the rest of the New Orleans three story structure and “slave quarters” included in this compound.
Restoring this exquisite showplace to the splendor it deserves was a demanding, detailed project three years in the making and is today a phenomenal piece of workmanship. A credit to a man who truly loves what he does. The mastery of his craft is so obvious in even the smallest detail. Bo might know sports, but Ray definitely knows renovation. You rock Ray!
By Sharon Denise Talbot
*Stay tuned for more New Orleans Renovation Reports with Ray.
Wild Wayne TV presents KERMIT RUFFINS, LIVE AT VAUGHAN’S, Guest appearances R&B Singer ROI ANTHONY and by Kermit’s own BBQ Swingers
Duration : 0:11:1
Woe to me, battered man
Raise the monolith
Deities my spirit rise
Like days the world forgets – down the
Drain – laid to lame
A fool-ass hearty bliss
Celebrate before my death
Your promised land divide,
That’s why the world lies.
I give up.
That’s enough. I give up.
I’m underneath my life.
Dog in heat, beware the street
Its there you’ll meet your end
Poverty is not for me,
But I’ll take her back again
To prove a point,
To laugh it off, to cross you off my path,
Grip the night, pull the cord,
A much inspired wrath.
Your promised land divide,
That’s where the world lies.
I give up.
That’s enough. I give up.
I’m underneath my life.
Carry me back from the war
And from the lord.
Duration : 0:4:47
Stevie ray from from 22 April 1988 SS Presidente, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, New Orleans. Life without you. about charley!
Duration : 0:5:58
Gustav is predicted to hit New Orleans – based on AGW logic, shouldn’t people stay?
Life is based on predicting future outcomes (note the plural). It is one of the things that distinguishes humans from animals – the ability to make predictions beyond the immediate future and to make appropriate decisions based not just on the likelihood of the prediction but on the impact of the predicted event.
If we are 99% certain it will rain tomorrow, we may still not pack an umbrella because getting wet isn’t such a big deal.
If we are 25% sure that company X is going to go bankrupt next week, we will probably sell our shares today.
If there is a 1 in 200 chance that the ice is not thick enough, we tell our kids not to skate on the lake.
Scientists predict (at the time of me writing) less than a 90% chance that Gustav will hit New Orleans and yet the Governor of Louisiana has declared an emergency, Britons are told to leave the city and the mayor has imposed a curfew:
Scientists – not Al Gore, et al – from around the world – not just the USA – have said there is a 90% chance that humans are causing GW that will drastically affect all life on this planet and potentially (yes, low likelihood but high impact) cause the death of billions (note, not millions).
So, are there any AGW sceptics out there in New Orleans & Louisiana? Are you going to go about your normal business – no evacuation, no shattering of windows, no emergency rations, drive off calmly to work as usual… after all, it’s just a prediction…
eric c – "Skeptics do not believe that there is a 90% or even a high probability that humans activity will cause catastrophic warming".
Precisely my point.
There are some people who choose not to believe experts – even if those experts are in the majority, etc, etc.
So I am asking where are the people who choose not to believe experts re hurricane Gustav?
It seems more likely to me that some people are more likely to ignore the experts when they aren’t the ones going to get hurt (the developing world will bear the brunt of AGW at least in the first instance)?
In other words, it is selfishness that drives the choice rather than any real counter-argument or alternate theories.
Most sceptics now seem to accept that GW is happening just not caused by man – I am waiting to see any sort of model or calculation that describes this warming without taking into account human activity.
What can we expect the future climate to be if AGW is not happening?
I wonder how many hurricanes are going to hit New Orleans like bowling balls before conservatives notice that something is up.
It used to be Florida that got all the big hurricanes, but even then Miami and Orland were never completely destroyed.
Even before the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, the educational system in New Orleans struggled. As the city has fought to come back to life, one organization has provided critical education support to New Orleans schools. New Orleans Outreach has matched dedicated teachers, administrators, community volunteers and parents willing to do whatever is necessary to improve public education for children in New Orleans.
The number of children that Outreach can help is limited only by funding. During the coming school year, the goal is to increase access to New Orleans Outreachs programs by 20 percent.
With a $40 donation, you can give a child a weeks worth of after-school programming. With a $1,200 donation, you can fund after-school programming for an entire year.
Help us improve the futures of New Orleans children. Share this video with everyone you know who cares about education. Even the smallest donations make a big impact.
Duration : 0:4:33
Hey yall, I’m from Slidell Louisiana, and have lived here my whole life, I was just wondering if theres anyone else here from the NOLA area that was here before Katrina and stayed after. How are you doing…everything fixed or in the process? Our house had no damage whatsoever, but I know SO many others did. I was just checking up on everybody in New Orleans/Slidell area :]
Heres my house a little bit over a year after Katrina:
I’m live in N.O. but i am not about to put a picture up of my place. You should be more careful =)
WOW I was so nervous doing this so it is not my best. I am not a guitarist. Have only been playing a year. I have to dumb stuff way down cuz I can’t play bar chords very well. BUT I am a singer and have been singing my whole life.
This is my first of hopefully many videos sharing my voice.
As we say down here in Nawlins:
BE NICE OR LEAVE!!!
Duration : 0:4:6