Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Canal Street by Peggy Scott Laborde and John Magill

When I was growing up, going shopping meant visiting the various department and speciality stores on Florida Street in Baton Rouge. Downtown Baton Rouge was already dying and had little to offer in terms of retail business--mostly discount houses and a bar or two.

Occasionally, when my dad had to go to his New Orleans office while I was out of school in summer I got to tag along. And, more occasionally, when he was tied up I was allowed to wander downtown New Orleans alone (with a strict promise to NEVER mention it to mom!). What a wonderful experience that was. I wasn't allowed to go into the French Quarter, but Canal and Poydras and the business section were exciting enough. There was the ultra-modern (for the time) downtown library, the fountains and statues and plazas and buildings. But mostly it was the crowded streets filled with well dressed and busy people.

That world has come back alive for me through the photos in Laborde and Magill's Canal Street. While downtown New Orleans has physically recovered from Katrina, it will never return to the New Orleans of my memory. We still enjoy visiting and being tourists for a while, but haven't found that sense of community and place that used to be there.

So check out this book and get an idea what it was like to be a young boy with a few dollars for lunch in a real city!

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