The Halloween parade on Frenchman Street was over and trick or treating had ended, but there was still an excuse to party today on All Saints Day. The Day of the Dead may be unknown in many parts of the country, but here in this Catholic city, it's a time to honor ancestors and take tours of ancient cemeteries.
I'd never before been into St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 on Basin Street, just outside the French Quarter, but plenty of people were wandering through the tombstones, including a few in 18th century costumes.
|The original Sugar Daddy|
I spoke for a long time to Etienne de Bore, the inventor of granulated sugar and New Orleans' first mayor. Audubon Park and Tulane University stand on the ground where his sugar cane plantation was cultivated and where the World Cotton Centennial, or World's Fair, was held in 1884.
|The playboy, Bernard Marigny|
Bernard Marigny was there for the occasion, as well, and kissing the hand of a real French woman, mais oui!
Born in New Orleans in 1785, Bernard was sort of a n'er do well, gambling and philandering away his inheritance. But he was fun and that's what we appreciate here in New Orleans.
He subdivided his father's plantation behind the French Quarter and made a subdivision, which is still named for him - Marigny.
Marie Laveaux was on hand and a jazz band too. Volunteers served complimentary red beans and rice
because it's Monday - a New Orleans tradition.
|Marie Laveau, the Voodoo queen|
It looked like all the family names were French until I stumbled on a mausoleum with Spanish surnames. French and Spanish amicably intermingled during New Orleans' golden age, 1820-1865. It was the uncultured Americans they didn't like.
De Bore pointed out that New Orleans was not built to be a pioneer outpost; it was founded to be a mini-Paris with a sophisticated opera house and fine restaurants. Seeing the elegant funerary statuary, I could only imagine what fineries they'd enjoyed in their lifetimes.
For the occasion of All Saints Day, St. Louis II and III were also opened for public viewing.
It gives one pause to think what full and comfortable lives those people had and are now buried almost underneath the Claiborne overpass.