NOLA Life Stories

NOLA Life Stories features first person perspectives of the individuals who have helped shape our community.

Created by The Historic New Orleans Collection with the collaboration of WWNO, the show features excerpts from oral history interviews conducted as part of THNOC’s New Orleans Life Story Project, an ongoing effort to record and archive the voices and experiences of the people that have made New Orleans what it is today.

Thomas Walsh, Producer

Mark Cave, Executive Producer

Le Petit Salon: A Vieux Carré Memoir

Mar 17, 2017
The Historic New Orleans Collection

While most clubs in New Orleans come together to parade, one of the oldest is all about the written word. Le Petit Salon formed in 1924 as a space for women intellectuals in the French Quarter to gather after performances at Le Petit Theatre. The salon is still around today, and Genevieve Trimble is the longest running member. In this edition of NOLA Life Stories, Genevieve describes her return to New Orleans in the 1940s and the literary encounters that followed.

Coming up in the Quarter: Stories from Leah Chase

Mar 10, 2017
The Historic New Orleans Collection

Before Leah Chase became the culinary luminary of Dooky Chase's Restaurant, she had to start somewhere. Right out of school, Leah took her first restaurant job in a little cafe in the French Quarter. It was during that time that she found her calling as a restaurateur and met some memorable characters along the way. In this edition of NOLA Life Stories, Leah takes us back to her early days working in the Quarter.

The Science Fiction Writers of Valence Street

Mar 2, 2017
The Historic New Orleans Collection

A scientist and a poet might seem like an unlikely pair to write movies, but when Joyce Corrington and her late husband Bill began to collaborate, their stories took on three dimensions. Joyce and Bill’s screenwriting career transported them from New Orleans to LA and back again, into post-apocalyptic worlds on page and screen. In this edition of NOLA Life Stories, Joyce’s narrative begins during her time as an engineering student at Rice University in the 1950s.

Eugenie Saussaye, a French immigrant who founded the Vieux Carre Hair Shop in 1877.
Vieux Carre Hair Shop / Vieux Carre Hair Shop

Bill Saussaye’s family has helped decorate Mardi Gras krewes for generations. His family’s shop, the Vieux Carre Hair Shop, is not only a destination for the kings and captains of Mardi Gras, but a catalyst for keeping festival traditions alive and well.

The Vieux Carre Hair Shop was founded in 1877 by Bill Saussaye’s great-grandmother, Eugenie. The shop is now located Uptown on Maple Street and has extended hours for the Mardi Gras season. This interview was conducted by Mark Cave for the Historic New Orleans Collection and produced for WWNO by Thomas Walsh. 

A headshot from Lisa Suarez, late 1980's.
Lisa Suarez / Lisa Suarez

For nearly 20 years Lisa Suarez worked as a striptease artist on Bourbon Street and is often credited for reviving its burlesque scene in the late 80’s.

Bobby Grier speaks with representatives from the Sugar Bowl in 1956.
The University of Pittsburgh / The University of Pittsburgh

Bobby Grier was the first African-American to play in the Sugar Bowl. As a member of the Pittsburgh Panthers, Grier played against Georgia Tech on January 2, 1956 — only months after Emmett Till was lynched in Mississippi and weeks after Rosa Parks was arrested in Alabama.

Perhaps as expected, his participation was met with opposition: the governor of Georgia insisted that Georgia Tech boycott the Sugar Bowl that year. But the game was played, Grier was its leading rusher, and the Civil Rights Movement continued to gain momentum.

Blueberry and Almond pie
Kelly Sue DeConnick / Mindmatrix

Morning, noon, or night, anytime is a good time for pie. But for local businessman Omar Aziz, it is so much more than a delicious treat. He spoke with historian Mark Cave for NOLA Life Stories.

Doc Hawley first started working on riverboats in 1957 and stayed on board until his retirement a few years ago.
Historic New Orleans Collection / Historic New Orleans Collection

Every day in the French Quarter people are drawn – almost magnetically - to the riverboat calliope. There is an undeniable nostalgic sound to it and it may even remind you of childhood. But romance aside, this icon of Americana has its own history, which Captain Doc Hawley shared with the Historic New Orleans Collection and Nola Life Stories.

Rosalind Brown and Vernel Bagneris in One Mo' Time, written and directed by Mr. Bagneris.
Carol Rosegg / Historic New Orleans Collection

Vernel Bagneris was working in New Orleans’ theater scene for years when his musical about black vaudeville performers hit the big time. And while talent and luck play a role in every Cinderella story, Vernal says there was another key element to the success of One Mo’ Time. He spoke with historian Mark Cave.

A postcard from Antoine's Restaurant, circa 1930.
Antoine's Restaurant / Boston Public Library/The Tichnor Brothers Collection

Rebranding a business is one of the most challenging things a company can do. Rick Blount understands very well: his family has owned Antoine’s Restaurant for five generations, which has left a legacy not only in the restaurant’s dining rooms, but in public opinion. 

Antoine's is famous for many things, including Oyster's Rockefeller, which was invented by Jules Alciatore. Blount told the story of its genesis to historian Mark Cave:

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