Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mardi Gras In New Orleans 1960 With Dick And Vinnie

This whiskey was very cheap in price in 1960. I think in New Orleans I bought it for $2.99 a fifth.
   I went to New Orleans when I was a sophomore in college with 3 friends from my fraternity. Two of the guys were from New York. One of them knew how to make our money last. We went first thing to Schwegmann's Supermarket in New Orleans.
We bought cheese and french bread and bottles of chianti. I also bought a fifth of Ten High whiskey. The link below will tell you about this famous supermarket chain.
   We went to the Schwegmann's supermaket on old Gentilly Road mentioned in the link above. It truly was super. And the liquor department was enormous. And the prices were low. Liquor was sold in supermarkets in New Orleans. A new idea to me at the time. I had never seen that before.

This is a photo of the back patio of Pat O'Brien's in New Orleans.

   So off we went into the old French Quarter. And more or less straight to Pat O'Brien's bar.  In the back patio large football players were playing "king of the mountain" on top of the covered fountain. All chairs and tables had been removed and the fountain covered to protect it from damage from the large standing room only crowds. The big guys would throw each other off the covered fountain to see who could be the last man standing.

  I remember also that year drinking whiskey sours in the front bar. It was once listed in Esquire magazine as one of the best bars in the country. Then they had nice soft leather chairs. All that is gone now. Pat O'Brien's is not what it once was. It has been sold to some corporation who has watered down the drinks and opened Pat O'Brien's in other cities.'Brien's_Bar
As the night wore on I had managed to drink all but one swallow of the Ten High Bourbon over a period of maybe 8 hours. But I was so drunk they hung me over a tree limb in the back patio. My friend Dick said" You can't finish that let me have it". I said no and finished it myself. That is the last thing I remember.

What had happened I found out later. The place had gotten so full the police closed the front door and would not let more people in. Someone had gotten mad about that and shot or shot at someone. So the police arrested a large number of people and I was just carted off unconscious in the paddy wagon because I was passed out in the back patio by the tree.
In the morning I woke up in a tiled room that I at first thought to be the men's room in a bus station or hotel. I sat up. Some guy said "That kid doesn't even know where he is." You are right I thought. I looked around some more. It was a large room filled with men. Finally I saw some bars on a window and wised up. We were in jail. In the drunk tank as they called it then. In New Orleans at that time in 1960 if you were hauled off as a drunk they would take you to jail for 6 hours to sober up and then let you go. As it happened I was unconscious the whole time I was in jail.  Within a few minutes they called my name and and let me go. I had been in there sleeping from around midnight until 6 a.m.

 I walked back to where our car had been. It was gone. It was daybreak on a Sunday morning. I walked along Canal Street and found one of the guys from New York named Vinnie happily drinking at the Jungle Bar. He didn't seem to care that the other guys had left us in New Orleans and gone on back home.

   So Vinnie and I walked down Canal. He was tired and wanted to sleep. So he went over and went to sleep on the Simon Bolivar monument on Canal Street. I went to a nearby A&G cafeteria to eat some breakfast. There I met a guy from Indiana who had come down on a Greyhound bus and he and I sat and talked and I looked out the window.

    After a short while I saw a police car pull up to roust out Vinnie. They were waking him up when I got over there across Canal Street. They asked for our ID's and if we had any money. We had ID's but really no money left. They told us we had to leave town right away. We said  Ok. They left and we just went on back down in the French Quarter and resumed partying.

    Pat O'Brien's was really pleasant that Sunday. The weather was nice and many people were dressed in costumes. I remember a pretty girl dressed in a polka dot dress.
  Vinnie met a man who had sailed his sailboat around from San Francisco or so he said and he was buying us drinks.

   Late that evening we decided to go home. We hitch hiked out of New Orleans. It took some time.  We were stranded out in the middle of nowhere when a car full of students from our school stopped to pick us up. Inside was one of the campus beauty queens. She told us they had been to The Blue Room in the Roosevelt Hotel to see Frankie Laine.
    It was nice and warm in the car.  It was a pleasant surprise ending to a long day.