Getting together to watch the New Orleans Saints play is a special ritual for New Orleanians, as important to us as the Jazz Fest and as essential to the character of the city and the region as Mardi Gras.
We live and die by our Saints, and our church is the Superdome. Well, it is for half the season — for the other half our beloved boys in black and gold are on the road, and we cram together in barrooms and living rooms to cheer them on… and to mourn their inconsistent ineptitude.
Those times we spend huddled around the television, turning the TV down and Jim Henderson’s voice up, picking at our Popeyes and swiveling on our barstools, are as central to our weekly lives as packing our plastic purses and pouring en masse into the Dome, and those spaces and places and people are as important — as true, as real, as sacred — as our other Sunday churches.
As a testament to that specialness, we’re chronicling those other places that mean so much, from the corner bar Uptown, to the TV studio in the CBD, to the living room in Metairie — the common places where we come together in uncommon purpose, like nowhere else.
Henry’s Uptown Bar is 113 years old, and has been drawing an eclectic crowd to the corner of Soniat and Magazine since the get-go. Lee Harvey Oswald drank here when he lived down the street, and history professors, judges and nursing students drink there now. Plus, just about everyone and anyone who happens to be in the neighborhood.
“Henry’s is everybody’s living room,” says Carmel Schneider Gogreve, who has reason to know — she’s married to the owner, who she met at the bar. “Some guys are here by 11 o’clock in the morning; it’s a tradition. They’ve got to come here.”
They come in, and they stay. Tim Thomas, one of Henry’s bartenders, was working on rescue boats during Hurricane Katrina and just stayed. “I started working [at Henry’s] about nine months post-Katrina and never stopped,” he says.
There’s even been a wedding, conducted by a now-retired judge, a regular who lives down the block who didn’t want his name used but who was honored with a permanent campaign sign hung on the back wall.
“There was only one wedding here,” says the judge, “but a handful of people that met here were married.”
The judge and Arabella the dog sat outside as the preseason game against Miami wound on and the sun began to set, and Henry’s regulars, new and old, toasted their hometown team again and again.
Do you have a special place? We want to know about it. Send us an email and explain why your place is like no other place, and we might feature it after the next away game.