Historic New Orleans Collection

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.

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.

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