Saturday, February 2, 2019

Books in the mountains

This past week the weather has been so very cold that it has dominated the news.  It was colder in the state of Wisconsin than in Antarctica.  The wind chill factor in Chicago, Illinois, plunged temperatures down to -54 F (-47.7 C.)  Below are some photos of frozen Lake Michigan in Chicago, courtesy The Evening Express.

In other news, the US Government was reopened temporarily for 3 weeks with funding through  February 15, 2019.  Another news item which would have been known, if it had happened to the royal family in the UK, was hardly mentioned because it concerned France: Henri d'Orleans, Count of Paris and pretender to the defunct French throne, died on Monday 21 January, 2019; he was 85 years old.  The royalty was abolished during the French Revolution of 1789.  French King Louis XVI went to the guillotine on the same day but 226 years earlier - 21 January 1793.  Henri d'Orleans' funerals will take place at the Royal Chapel Saint-Louis of Dreux on February 2, 2019.  He was a direct descendant of the Duke of Orleans, brother of Louis XIV (after whom New Orleans, Louisiana, is named.)  Henri d'Orleans's son, Prince Jean de France, inherits the title.  However another pretender to the French throne is the descendant from the royal house of Bourbon, Louis Alphonse de Bourbon.  A third pretender is Jean-Christophe Napoleon, or Prince Napoleon, descendant of the Bonaparte family.  But not to worry, I don't think the French people will vote to recognize a royal throne in France and nominate one of these three men ...

Reading about the government shutdown and Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, I realized that she is my date of birth sister.  Nancy Pelosi was born on the same day, same month and year as me - 26 March 1940.  I like to have strong birthday sisters.  I checked to see if any other strong women were born within a couple of days of March 26 and found Gloria Steinem, the feminist and journalist and Aretha Franklin, the singer and civil rights activist were both born on March 25 (1934 and 1942.)  Lady Gaga, also a singer and songwriter, was born on March 28 (1986.)  Another birthday, sad this one, is of my late husband as he was born on February 2nd.  He was proud to have been born on the popular holiday Groundhog Day.  On February 2nd, when the groundhog comes out of his den, if he sees his shadow, it is believed six more weeks of winter will follow.  Below is a groundhog.

 But my post is about books.  I have been an avid reader since I was a wee-child.  In France, in primary school through high school, kids were rated monthly according to grades: if there were 28 kids in a class they were rated 1st of the class to the last one (am not sure if it is still the same.)  My mother would give me two new books if I was the first of the class, one book if I was second and none after that.  So I tried very hard to be first and was most of the time.  I accumulated many books, mostly from the green book series "La Bibliotheque Verte," red and gold series "La Bibliotheque Rouge et Or" and pink series "La Bibliotheque Rose" created in 1856.  As a child my favorite stories had been written by the Countess of Segur, born Sofiya Feodorovna Rostopchina in St. Petersburg, Russia (1799-1874.)  I think I still have some of these books.  I just checked and some have become "rare" I guess.  The green book Melle de la Seigliere below is worth more than 20 euros, and my Little Lord Fauntleroy in French is worth more than 35 euros in France, both from the 1940s.  I guess I'll have to sell them back in France rather than donating them to Goodwill here.  Below are samples of my old books plus an illustration from Countess of Segur's "Les Petites Filles Modeles" (Good Little Girls) written in 1858.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

When I arrived at the port of New York in 1961, I remember the US Customs officer asked me if I was a student because one of my steamer trunks was full of books.  I had taken many with me but not all of my French books.  When I married my husband he brought his book collection and I brought mine - we had many books but hardly any furniture.  Through the years we collected another large amount.  We placed them in bookshelves in each room of our house.  He loved to go to second-hand bookstores.  I don't think a week went by that we did not buy at least one book for us or later on for our daughters.  Once, in New York City - I think it was back in 2007, we walked by the St. Agnes Public Library on Amsterdam Avenue at West 81st Street (an old library branch opened in 1906.)  They had a sign saying there was to be a library sale the next couple of days because the library was going to be renovated.  The next two days we were supposed to go out of New York to visit West Point, but instead my husband insisted that we stay for the sale ... we did buy quite a few books then had to get a large cardboard box and mail it to our house.  Below pictures of the renovated St. Agnes Public Library in New York City, courtesy NYPL.

Toward the end of my husband's illness he would constantly count his books and place the numbers on little yellow stickers.  He also would hide documents, money and what not in the books, so now I have to carefully go through them.  I bought many second-hand books at estate sales, library sales and through Amazon and ABE Books.  My husband would love to walk down to the mailbox and if there was a book there he would take it, look at it, place it somewhere without telling me then quickly forget.  I still find many old books that I ordered and never had a chance to see or read, such as those below I found last week.  I just realized that I had bought the second-hand book below "Dinner at Belmont" by Alfred Leland Crabb (published in 1942) some years ago before I knew I would move to Nashville, just a few blocks from Belmont Avenue.  It deals with Nashville's most eventful years, 1858 to 1865.  I am pleased that I re-discovered it.  There was also the book "Elizabeth and her German Garden" by Elizabeth von Arnim, published in 1901, that I could not find on the shelves as well as the writings of Thomas Paine, book published in 1945.  They were behind his western books.

I also found more lost books that he had placed in weird places.  I show them under my lamp in the heading photo.  Below is a close up so you can read the titles.  I have never read "For Whom the Bells Tolls" by Ernest Hemingway but am not sure if I want to read this paperback published in 1949, with yellow pages and tiny print.  I think I had bought it at an estate sale about 5 years ago.

If we drove through a small town and went by a second-hand bookstore, we had to stop.  I had found a route through the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia to avoid going through Chattanooga.  I mentioned it on my post On the Road Again in Tennessee and Georgia in 2011. The little town of Trenton, GA, located at the border of Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee, had one second-hand bookstore.  We stopped several times but their inventory was not extensive.  A while back I remembered that bookstore and called them to see if they would be interested in purchasing some of our books.  It turned out that the store had been sold and the new owner was eager to buy books to replenish his stock.  Last September I brought 100 western paperbacks to Trenton from my husband's collection.  I brought more books in November, December, and last week in January.  Below is a picture of the bookstore with a view of the town around it (Trenton population is approx. 2,500.)  Trenton is in a valley in the Appalachian foothills surrounded by mountains: Lawson Mountain, Fox Mountain, Windy Mountain, Little Cedar Mountain, Raccoon Mountain, Lookout Mountain and more.

I watch the weather when I drive to Trenton on my way to Nashville because the road, SR136, meanders through hills and hollows.  It has many curvy turns and steep hills through the canyons and mountains.  It is scenic.  You can see the beautiful landscape while on top of one of the mountains but can't stop (or might fall down the cliffs!)  My husband used to take pictures from the car while I drove.  Bottom right picture is Trenton in the valley, taken from Sand Mountain.

When I am back in Georgia I go through all my late husband's books to select those to bring to Trenton (next will be my books, later on ...)  They are scattered throughout the bookshelves.  I had already donated about 1,000 books to the Cobb County Library in GA and the Goodwill there.  I am not sure how many books there are left, maybe 8000 or more.  The shelves are not in order.  Also the shelves in Nashville need to be re-arranged.  Some of the books were placed in moving boxes and taken to Nashville before I had a chance to look at them first.  My eldest daughter tried to help by placing many on the shelves, but one of top of the other, two rows deep, and it is difficult to see their titles - some are my husband's books, some are mine and some I did not want any longer.  I took some western paperbacks back from Nashville to Georgia already to bring back to Trenton (those books are traveling...)  Below I show three bookshelves in GA and one in Nashville to illustrate what I mean (there are many more.)  The top left bookshelf below has more western paperbacks on the top, and two rows behind it.  The top right bookshelf is the way they are stacked here in Nashville, two rows deep, one on top of the other.

Just before I left Georgia early last week, I found a box in the garage and, surprise ... more western books.  They are part of my late husband's Louis L'Amour collection, at least 90 books there.  That will be for my next trip to Trenton up in the North Georgia Mountains.  I have plenty of work to do with all his books and mine, and for a long time to come.  But I also found one of my favorite books written by Chinese philosopher Lin Yutang (1895-1976) "The Importance of Living."

There are many quotable passages in this book.  The jacket says: "Playfully serious, cynically kind, shot with comedy, and backed by science and the thoughts of the sages, the medicine Lin Yutang prescribes is the Chinese philosophy of life: Revere inaction as much as action, invoke humor to keep life sane, let others struggle for power while you bask in the joy of existence."  Here is one quotation from the book:

"Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone.  The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials."

I know my late husband would be pleased to have his books brought to the North Georgia Mountains where interested readers would have access to them, but I also know that he would approve of my taking a needed rest from all the book sorting.  Here is another quote from Lin Yutang:

"If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live."

I certainly can stop as of an afternoon, relax and have a cup of tea while perusing an old book, of course, before deciding what to do with it, and not feel guilty.  Below is "Quiet Pleasures" painted by Gustave Max Stevens, Belgian 1871-1946.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Stops along the way ...

A couple of days ago it was time again to drive to Georgia.  The only part of the trip I stress about is going through the mountains in Tennessee on U.S I-24; mostly the notorious portion that goes over Monteagle, TN.  It is considered to be one of the most dangerous sections of interstate highway in the US.  You have to climb up as your ears close from the height, and then the long dangerous downgrade begins with 18-wheeler trucks all around you - and your stomach is fluttering under the strain.  Damages on the median barrier show that many vehicles have experienced problems.  Tough truck drivers avoid the Monteagle mountain stretch and call it a "white-knuckle" highway.  Country singer Johnny Cash had a song about it "Your life is in your hands when you start down that long steep grade on Monteagle Mountain," and so forth.  The scenery is gorgeous is you are a passenger and able to look at the icy rocks, the lovely waterfalls and way down in the valley.  As a driver my eyes are glued on the highway, hoping for no brake failure happening on a large truck but knowing that it did happen by the marks left on the runaway truck ramps on the side of the road.

Usually I stop at the South Pittsburg rest station a few miles past Monteagle, as I have shown on my posts before, but this time I decided to stop first in rural Monteagle, where I had never been.  "Keeping by the main road is easy; but people love to be sidetracked."  Lao Tzu (570 BC-490 BC, Chinese philosopher.)  Because of the elevation it was cold and also quite foggy.  I stopped at a shop called "The Amish Hippie" on Monteagle Main Street.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

Inside it was a bit warmer, with a whiff of incense in the air.  A young woman, covered in several layers of sweaters, greeted me.  She invited me to look around and then asked me if I was German - wrong! (because of my accent.)  I walked slowly around the store, looking at the eclectic merchandise.  There were Amish jams, honey, jellies, creams, homemade toys and some vintage items scattered all around.  Rock music was playing.

The other two rooms had a mixture of tobacco paraphernalia, hookas, jewelry, souvenirs, dyed clothing, tee shirts, capes, sweaters and more.  The walls were covered with hippie photographs, rock stars of the 60s and 70s, and peace symbols.

Back outdoor, it was still cold.  I walked around taking pictures of old cars, yard ornaments, and assorted eccentric items.  The store offered coffee - there were some old tables and chairs outside but uncomfortable looking, even in summer.

As I drove away I remembered a poster I saw in the store, "The Wall" an album by the rock group Pink Floyd.  Pink Floyd was an English rock band of the 1960s with psychedelic music, sonic experimentation and philosophical lyrics.

The word wall in French is mur, le mur.  That word reminded me of something.  Yes, that's it; it was a book I studied in college Le Mur by Jean Paul Sartre.  J.P. Sartre (1905-1980) was a French philosopher, novelist, playwright, political activist and more.  He is one of the best known French 20th century philosophers, a leading figure of the existentialist movement.  He wrote this book of short stories in 1939.  It included the story Le Mur set during the Spanish Civil War.  It was about prisoners condemned to death, not a fun story.  It depicted a wall separating life from death, the living from the condemned and represented brute matter.  I have this paperback in French on one of my bookshelves still.

I stopped at the rest area for my small lunch and then back on the road for the almost 3 hours of driving left and much time to think.  My mind returned to the wall.  I walked on several old walls, ramparts actually, such as in Dubrovnik, Croatia, began in the 8th century and the ramparts in Lucca, Italy.  In France as well there are so many small villages to large fortified cities with heavy walls or ramparts.  I'll show several below.

These fortified walled cities were built centuries ago for protection, with watchtowers for observation against any attack.  During the day the gates were opened to welcome anyone looking for refuge.  Still these walls were breached numerous times such as during the Crusades (conquest of Jerusalem in 1099.)  For protection I guess I could have a wall built around my house in Georgia like in medieval times, but I prefer using an electrical security system with motion sensors and cameras, because this is available in the 21st century, you see.  This brings me to President Trump's wall on the southern border with Mexico.  Even a republican, Will Hurd of Texas, said that a border wall strategy is ancient and borders can better be protected with drones, satellites and aerial reconnaissance (his district includes 820 miles on this border.)  I also found out that even though D. Trump said 4000 known or suspected terrorists were stopped at the border, the number was only 6 people (4000 was the worldwide number) and 91 people were stopped at the US-Canada border.  So, the wall should be at the Canadian border?  The State Department said that there is "no credible evidence that terrorists enter through the southern border."  In fact they come through entry points airports.  I enjoyed the cartoon below from Marian Kamensky.

U.S Border Patrol reports "Apprehension of people trying to cross the southern border peaked most recently at 1.6 million in 2000 and have been in decline since, falling to just under 400,000 in fiscal 2018."  This is not an emergency.  Actually, Germany which is a tiny country compared to the US, gets about 722,000 asylum seekers.  But there is an emergency and that is to send all the government employees back to paid work.  My daughter was at La Guardia Airport in New York 3 days ago trying to fly back home to Pennsylvania.  After waiting several hours because of the weather the passengers were told to just board the plane with their hand luggage as there were no TSA employee available.  They went on without taking their shoes off, or anyone checking their luggage or themselves, just like we did in the 1990s.  Bewildering!  I need to stop thinking about walls.  Still I'd like to return to Carcassonne in France with my camera as I only spent 3 days there with my film camera.  It is the largest city in Europe with its walls still intact, built in the 12th century.  Below are an ancient engraving and a modern aerial view of the city.

I have been busy clearing out my youngest daughter's bedroom.  After she left for university years ago the room was mostly used as a closet and was packed full.  I am slowly tidying it but stop sometimes to look and take pictures of what I find.  For example the Raggedy Ann dolls, shown below.  She says she does not want them for the granddaughter.  What should I do?  Give them to the Goodwill I guess.

There were more packages of old photographs and vintage postcards.  I had found some earlier and just took them to Nashville without looking but this time I stopped to take a look at them, not all, just several.  Unfortunately the photos were not dated.  I know though that the pictures of New York were taken near Ground Zero about 4 weeks after 9/11/01 when I flew there to bring support.

I'm not sure of the date of the photos below.  On top left I was taking a group of aeronautic trainees,
Chinese and Saudis, on an excursion in Chicago, IL.  Next is my eldest daughter in Paris in winter.  Below is my daughter at my French cousin for lunch and her "plateau de fromages" (cheese tray) she had gathered for us.

I also took photos of several vintage postcards.  Below is an old (1903) postcard of Queen Victoria, who had died in 1901.  Next is the family of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia with St. Petersburg below.

Every month I used to go to the Scott Antique and Flea Market at the Atlanta Lakewood Fairgrounds with a friend.  There were several booths then of vendors of vintage postcards.  One of them used to offer old photographs, for 50 cents or so.  I did buy quite a few - loved the hats!

I have to stop all this and get back to work.  Although after a while it gets tiresome to constantly clear up, clean up and gather up to give away.  I went out to look at the wind in the trees.  You can't see from the pictures below, but the wind was moving the pine trees back and forth.

Today it was sunny but still cold - only in the low 40s F (4 C.)  Tomorrow it is supposed to get back into the 60s F (15.5 c) but even so, I'd rather be in the postcard below, building a wall in the sand with children in Ramsgate (UK.) ...

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Fast trip to 1900 Paris

Christmas was celebrated early, on December 23, 2018, at my daughter's house (both she and her husband had to work on Christmas Day.)  On Christmas Day I was with my cats and tried to stay busy.  I had set a small holiday area on the butcher block.  The little tree under the globe turns and plays several Christmas carols.

While packing away gift wrapping for next year I found a very slim package between two wrapping papers.  It was a present my husband had bought for me some years ago but had told me he had lost somehow, or misplaced and so never given to me.  I opened it - surprise: a new present from my late husband, a pretty scarf.

A month or so ago I saw on the Net that a museum had an exhibition on Paris 1900.  I did not know the museum and thought it must be in New York City.  Then several days ago I read some more on this exhibition and wondered where in New York this museum was located, the Frist Museum.  It turns out that it is the art museum in Nashville!  When I searched the address I realized it was on Broadway, downtown Nashville, only 3 miles from my house ... so I decided to go and see the exhibition last Thursday December 27, 2018.  I walked up and down the foyer, admiring the art nouveau details, the cast aluminum doors and grill works.  This was originally the main post office for Nashville, built in the 1930s and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The white Georgia marble building with gray-pink Minnesota granite was renovated and converted into the Frist Art Museum when a new post office was built near the airport.

The exhibit named "Paris 1900: City of Entertainment" opened here on October 12, 2018 and will close on January 6, 2019.  I am very pleased to have found out about it before its closure.  It will travel to only three US cities: Nashville, then Cincinnati, Ohio from Mar-1 to May-12, 2019 and to Portland, Oregon, from June-8 to Sep-8, 2019.  It was like a special present to me - a quick holiday trip back home to Paris.  The brochure given at the entrance showed the groupings of the exhibit - 1) Paris, Showcase of the World, 2) Art Nouveau, 3) Paris the Capital of the Arts, 4) The Parisian Woman, 5) Traversing Paris and 6) Paris by Night.  The exhibition, originally on view in 2014 at the Petit Palais, Fine Arts Museum of the City of Paris, brought over 250 objects - paintings, prints, decorative arts, sculptures, costumes and fashion accessories, posters, photographs, souvenirs, etc., usually only seen in several Paris museums.  There were also videos of films of the period.

Paris, Showcase of the World - this was Paris at the turn of the 20th century during its prosperous golden age, with technological, political, social and economic advances and progress.  After World War I, in retrospect, this period was called "La Belle Epoque" (the beautiful era) with nostalgia for its modernity, carelessness, luxury, peace and joie de vivre (and excess.)  Paris attracted the whole world and was the undisputed capital of arts, elegance and pleasure.  Baron Haussmann rebuilt the city with large avenues and parks - everything brightly lit and why it deserved to be called The City of Lights.  At the time France was the world's biggest exporter of automobiles with 600 car manufacturers in France and 150 different makes.  The Sacre-Coeur basilica of Montmartre was built then, the large department store Les Galeries Lafayette was opened.  The first section of the underground Metro was built.  Below are paintings illustrating that time by Louise Abbema (1858-1927) with Allegory of the City of Paris, 1901, standing up on the left.  Two bottom right paintings by Henri Gervex (1852-1919) and top right is Jean Beraud (1849-1935) Le Boulevard Montmartre.  (Click on collage to see better.)

The Frist brochure says "The International Exposition of 1900 was the culmination of these projects and showcased the cultural power of the French capital to the world."  Two new rail stations were built - Invalides and Orsay.  This landmark world exhibition of 1900, welcoming the new century, drew 51 million visitors during its 212 viewing days (when France only had 41 million inhabitants at the time.)  It was a great moment of optimism and triumph for industry and technology.  Vintage film clips show French President Emile Loubet opening the exhibition on April 14, 1900.  People hopping on the revolutionary "moving sidewalks" are shown, too.  France had invited foreign nations to participate and 43 of them did, building pavilions to showcase their countries.  A huge print in the Frist museum gallery showed all these pavilions.

I assembled some postcards of these pavilions below.  In the center is the monumental main entrance door into the 1900 Paris Exhibition.  Click on collage to read the countries of the pavilions (Austria, Finland, Russia and Siberia, Italy, Serbia, Egypt, Mexico, English India, South Africa, Hungary, Ottoman Empire.)

There were many huge buildings too, called palaces such as the Palace of Electricity, of Metallurgy, of Education.  The pavilions and buildings were temporary apart from the Grand Palais and Petit Palais (great and small palaces) which were built to stay in Paris as museums.  Below are postcards of the Petit Palais on the left with the Grand Palais on the right, during the 1900 exhibition.  Below each is the way they currently look with their interior below it.

The Electricity Palace is in the center of the collage below.  There was also a reproduction of Medieval Paris, and more.  I have read some people saying that the Eiffel Tower was built for this 1900 exhibition.  No, Gustave Eiffel had his tower built between 1887 and 1889 as a centerpiece for the Paris 1889 World Exhibition celebrating the centennial of the French Revolution - it was inaugurated on March 31, 1889.

The 1900 Universal Exhibition in Paris was a huge event.  The following was not mentioned in the current Nashville exhibition, but I can add that Russia obtained the first prize for their sparkling wine thus defeating French competition for the Champagne Grand Prize.  Rudolf Diesel, a German born in France, exhibited his diesel motor.  Also, Campbell, the American company created in 1869, received a gold medal for their soup.  This gold medal is still printed nowadays in the center of their soup can labels.  Look at your cans!

Art Nouveau - In 1900, Paris was one of the European capitals celebrating this new art form.  To access the 1900 Universal Exhibition a new ornate art nouveau bridge was built, named Alexander III in honor of the Tsar of Russia (his son, Nicholas II had laid the foundation of the bridge in 1896.)  It had art nouveau lamps, nymps, cherubs and winged horses at each end.  Below is a postcard from the 1900 exhibition, the bridge as it stands now and a painting shown in the Nashville exhibition, painted by Auguste Leroux (1871-1954.)

As an aside to the exhibit in Nashville, I can explain that in 1900 the French Government wished to affirm their "Franco-Russian friendship" (hence the construction of the Alexandre III bridge.)  In addition to their pavilions, Imperial Russia was introducing their Trans-Siberian Express Railway.  It was the world's longest railway (not finished until 1916.)  At the Paris 1900 worlds exhibition Russia and French Wagon-Lits, the sleeping car company, let visitors experience the luxury on board real railway carriages which included an ornate Russian Orthodox church.  Moving panoramas provided the impression of the journey going through the Urals, Siberia and Manchuria.

Some art nouveau pieces, ornaments, furniture, prints and paintings were exhibited here in Nashville.  An art nouveau Paris Metro entrance was shown in a very large photograph covering a wall of a gallery.  Click on collage below to enlarge.  On left is art nouveau painting of the drowning of Ophelia by Paul Seck (1866-1924) and in the bottom a stained glass study by Alfons Mucha (1860-1939.)

I have many photos from the remaining sections: Paris the Capital of the Arts, The Parisian Woman, Traversing Paris and Paris by Night.  This will be for my next post because it would make this post way too long.  This post will be next year as 2018 is ending.  For 2019 I wish you all much happiness, good health, fun and joie de vivre.  (Click to enlarge to read cards.)

Friday, December 21, 2018

Christmas time in New Orleans

It has been raining all day here in Nashville.  I came back from Georgia on Wednesday December 18, 2018, as I did not like to fight the rain on the highway; the trip is tiring enough as it is.  Thinking now about New Orleans is pleasant.  From the start New Orleans was a party city.  In my last post I mentioned that 2018 was New Orleans 300th Anniversary.  The city was founded in May 1718 and named La Nouvelle-Orléans  in honor of Philippe II, Duke of Orleans, a nephew of French King Louis XIV.  Philippe loved music and to party.  Already the first Mardi Gras in the United States had been celebrated there in March 1699.  The music, parties, creole cuisine and festivals have kept up.  New Orleans is fun and keeps sadness away.  Music is everywhere.  Walking along Royal Street after visiting the Gallier House I went by a band playing in the middle of the street.

Later on, as I stopped in Jackson Square to rest on a bench, there was a band playing in front of me, under the sign "Church - Quiet Zone."  :-)

Then I heard more music coming down the side of the road.  I walked up to it - it was a "second-line" wedding parade.  "Second Line" is a brass parade tradition in New Orleans.  It is believed that it started in West African circle dances from a long time ago.  The "first line" of the parade consists of the band, the grand marshal and the people who obtained the parading permit.  The second line is made up of the rest of the party and anyone who would like to join the parade.  Second line parades for funerals are well known but these other parades are also used in many types of celebrations such as the opening of a business, or the anniversary of a neighborhood, or a wedding, or a birthday, or Mother's Day, or the birth of a baby, or the start of a convention, or any reason, really.  So, as you may be walking in the French Quarter, a second-line parade with a brass band can be coming toward you, with people following with handkerchiefs, parasols or umbrellas and, if you like, you can join the fun.  As I was watching this second-line parade the new married couple came after the band, each with a Champagne glass in hands, the guests were behind dancing and twirling their napkins in the air.  Below are examples of second-line parades.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

I walked back from Jackson Square to our hotel on Canal Street (helped by my cane.)  The French Quarter, unchanged since 1721, is about 13 blocks wide and easy to navigate.  Below is a map of it, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Along the way, I walked first by an interesting couple wearing period clothes, just talking to each oher then I saw some pretty Christmas decorations on balconies and doors.  The two little snowman and woman were Saints fans.  The Saints is New Orleans famous football team.  The fleur-de-lis is the symbol for the city of New Orleans and you will see it everywhere.  The New Orleans Saints' team has a variation of the fleur-de-lis in their logo since 1967.

My two youngest grandchildren were flying in from Nashville with their Chinese au-pairs later on that afternoon.  I was looking forward to taking them to a couple of historic hotels to look a the Christmas decorations.  Our hotel had a pretty Christmas tree in the lobby.

In May 2012 our daughter attended a conference in New Orleans as well.  My husband and I stayed at the Hotel Monteleone then.  I wrote about the hotel in a post called The Ambiance of New Orleans (click on it to read it.)  The hotel was founded in 1886 by an Italian family and their descendants still own the hotel.  It is one of the last family-owned hotels in the USA.  It is an historic landmark and a member of the "Historic Hotels of America."  It has been a favorite of many southern authors.  When in New Orleans Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote and many others were frequent guests.  Below is a vintage postcard of the hotel.

A girl choir was caroling in the hotel lobby, with gusto and great voices.  Bright lights were all around - coming from the polished marble floor, the gleaming brass appointments, the glittering chandeliers, the sparkling lights in the Christmas trees.  Even the old grandfather clock was surrounded by a garland of lights.  The antique grandfather clock dates from 1909 and was hand carved.

In the evening my two grandchildren and I walked to another historic hotel close by, the Roosevelt Hotel.  This hotel was originally named Hotel Grunewald and was opened in 1893 by a German immigrant, Louis Grunewald.  A new tower was added to the hotel in 1900 to house 400 more rooms.  A nightclub there, called The Cave, was one of the first in the US.  The hotel stayed in the family until 1923 when it was sold to a business group and renamed The Roosevelt Hotel in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt.  It was rebuilt with nearly 800 rooms.  Some of their past guests included Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Marlene Dietrich, Audrey Hepburn, Bob Hope, Ray Charles and more.

The Roosevelt Hotel is now managed by Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts.  It has had a $145 million renovation since Hurricane Katrina.  Walking in the block-long lobby under the fantastic display of arching lights and shining trees is quite an experience.  Before I could take some pictures we heard a band coming down the lobby.  Yes, it was a second-line parade for the opening of some conference with the attendees walking noisily behind with drinks in their hands.  I took some photos, but because of the large group walking so close the pictures came out blurry.

While they passed by we stayed on the side near the classic furnishings.  We had time to look from the mosaics tile floor to the lights in the ceiling as well as the grand piano and paintings on the wall.

We slowly walked under the trees covered with lights and ornaments.  There has been a Christmas display in the hotel since the 1930s.  It includes 112,000 lights, 1,610 feet of garland, 300 bows and 4,000 glass ornaments decorating 46 Christmas trees and 78 birch trees.  It certainly was stunning!  We ended by the central French clock, called "The Paris Exhibition Clock" crafted by Farcot and Carrier de Belleuse around 1867.  It stands about 10 feet high on a large base carved from solid Algerian onyx.  A bronze sculpture of a robed woman holding a scepter sits on top.

All the glitter, glitz and glamour are back in the Crescent City, as New Orleans is called.  Now I am here in Music City, as Nashville is also called.  No decorations and lights around me, just my faithful Christmas cactus, showing abundant blooms.

It had been a fun Christmas time in New Orleans, just like Louis Armstrong sings in his 1955 melody.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, if you celebrate it, and a very Happy New Year.

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