oral history

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.

President George W. Bush visits the restored Dooky Chase Restaurant in 2008 with Leah Chase, left, and Dooky Chase, right.
Joyce N. Boghosian / The White House

Edgar "Dooky" Chase, Jr., the patriarch of the Chase family who passed away at the end of 2016, helped in making Dooky Chase’s Restaurant the landmark establishment it is today. Here, his wife of 70 years, Chef Leah Chase, shares memories of her husband, his life as a musician and the quiet role he played behind the scenes in the Civil Rights movement.


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.

Terry Flettrich Rohe on the set of WDSU's "Midday" show, a popular news-talk program, which she produced and hosted.
Courtesy of Dominic Massa / WWL-TV

Terry Flettrich Rohe, a New Orleans broadcast pioneer and beloved host of WDSU's "Mrs. Muffin's Birthday Party" passed away on Thursday. In addition to co-creating and hosting the children's show in the 1950s, Rohe was producer and host of the network's popular "Midday" show.


On this week's show, we celebrate Commander's Palace and its visionary matriarch Ella Brennan, whose highly-anticipated memoir is coming out next week.

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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