HNOC Oral History Initiative

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.

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. 

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:

Angelo Brocato's neon sign on N. Carrollton Avenue has been a neighborhood fixture since the late 1970's.
b. rox / Infrogmation/Flickr

The next time you’re strolling the French Quarter, look for some ceramic tiling in front of 615 Ursuline Street. That tiling spells out ‘Angelo Brocato’, who New Orleanians know as the namesake of an old-world gelateria that used to be located there.

The business moved out of the neighborhood when it gentrified in the 70’s, but remains iconic to locals. So how’d it survive the transition? We turn to Arthur Brocato for that story and other family secrets. 

Historic New Orleans Collection

Call them whatever you want: hipsters or hippies, beatniks or punks, New Orleans has always been an attractive place for American bohemianism. But despite its laid back attitude, the people down here often think these subcultures threaten the way things are done. Amzie Adams encountered that kind of opposition when he moved here in the late 60’s, but then quickly found a way to participate in New Orleans’ culture. 

John Menzser

The latest edition of NOLA Life Stories takes place at a department store in Gretna, 1937. This is a time when families lived above the store, when advertisements were delivered door to door, and babies got their first pair of shoes for free.

This was also a time of separate but equal, of back-of-the-bus politics. But not every nook and cranny of the city was gripped by segregation. As Sam and John Menszer remember, the customers at their family’s shop kept any racist attitudes– and their bags – at the door.  

Historic New Orleans City

It’s estimated that local non-profits have annual expenditures of over $550 million and must rely on government subsidies, fundraising campaigns and grant proposals to complete their missions. Philanthropic groups, like the Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation, develop their own mission statements to support those institutions and spend the year deciding where to allocate funds.

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