When Eldgridge Cager was growing up in Fazendeville in the 1950s, he and his friends would look for cannonballs, broken muskets and swords on the other side of the Mississippi River levee — just a few blocks from his house in the all-black community. They’d bring the rusty treasures to “Old Man” Linch, the Park Superintendent of the Chalmette Monument, a tall white obelisk towering over the cow pasture across from Fazendeville.
The youngsters called the monument “the Castle,” and in exchange for cannonballs the size of bowling balls, Linch let them run up the circular stairs, round and round to the very top. “We used to have races to see who gets up there the fastest,” recalls Cager. “I’m in my 60s now. I’ve tried to walk up there. Oh, boy.”