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 Oral History Program, an ongoing effort to record and archive the voices and experiences of the people that have made New Orleans what it is today.

Sarah Holtz, Producer

Mark Cave, Executive Producer

The Hearse Driver of Angola

Jun 15, 2017
Lori Waselchuk

At the Louisiana State Penitentiary, better known as Angola, people are serving life without parole sentences in greater numbers than in any other prison in the country. With so many prisoners passing away on the inside, funeral processions have become a tradition of their own. Lloyd Bone has been in Angola for 46 years now, and serves as the prison’s funeral hearse carriage driver. In this edition of NOLA Life Stories, in the noisy Mule Barn at Angola, Mr. Bone describes how he found his calling and what it means to him.

Croissants from Dawn 'til Dusk: A Baker's Story

May 18, 2017
The Historic New Orleans Collection

French bakeries have a unique place in the cultural landscape of New Orleans. The Vieux Carré just wouldn't be the same if you couldn't find French sweets there. Maurice Delechelle can take much of the credit for that. Hailing from central France, Maurice brought his traditional French pastries to the Quarter with the opening of La Marquise and Croissant d'Or. From his vantage point at the bakery, the French Quarter shared a distinct resemblance to his memories of bohemian Paris.

Birth of the Bunch: The Life and Times of Benny Grunch

Apr 20, 2017
Benny Grunch & The Bunch

Musicians and artists often describe how their influences find them. In Benny Grunch’s case, his divine inspiration came from a handheld radio, and took the form of humor, deft storytelling, and a love for his hometown. Benny “Grunch” Antin is the founding member of Benny Grunch & The Bunch, a group that for decades has performed songs of satirical nostalgia for New Orleans. In this edition of NOLA Life Stories, Benny takes us on a highly musical memoir, from childhood to the origins of his band.   

Eyes on the Prize: Movement Moments from a Civil Rights Activist

Mar 30, 2017
The Historic New Orleans Collection

The March on Washington, the bus boycotts, and sit-ins across the country: these are all images of the civil rights movement that we may familiar with. What may be less obvious are the turning points that pushed individuals to join the struggle. William Rouselle's career spans decades of activism, from his groundbreaking work as a television reporter to his cultural organizing with the Free Southern Theater.

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.

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