oral history

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.  

Poppy Tooker and Leah Chase in the kitchen of Dooky Chase's Restaurant
Joe Shriner

What turns an ordinary woman into a legend? On this week's Louisiana Eats!, we attempt to answer that question by taking an in-depth look at four inspiring women who have conquered life's challenges and become legends in their own time.

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.

msppmoore

Prisons are built on the supposition that time, discipline and routine transform inmates into new people. Nelson Davis has lived with this idea since 1980, when he arrived at the Louisiana State Penitentiary to fulfill a life sentence.

Historic New Orleans Collection

If you kept tabs on local politics over the past several decades, then Jackie Clarkson’s name isn’t lost on you. This staunch Democrat represented many of the city’s downtown neighborhoods from Bywater and Treme to the French Quarter and Algiers, her childhood home.

But what influenced her to pursue a life in politics? Mark Cave found out when he interviewed Ms. Clarkson for this edition of NOLA Life Stories.

K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen staff photo, 1981.
Courtesy of Frank Brigtsen

Chef Paul Prudhomme changed the American food world forever with his creative, exuberant love for Creole and Cajun food. He was the first American chef to take the reins at Commander's Palace — where the world first had a taste of his culinary genius. He pioneered the now commonplace farm-to-table movement, as he championed Louisiana's farmers and fishermen. As Ella Brennan said, “He had magic in his hands.”

Joyce N. Boghosian / The White House

Leah Chase: say the name and New Orleanians know exactly who you’re talking about. She’s a great chef, a civil rights activist, and an avid art collector. And it’s not a stretch to say that – to some people – she’s the maternal figure of the city. On this edition of Nola Life Stories, Leah Chase, in her own words.  

This interview was conducted by Mark Cave for the Historic New Orleans Collection.

Marion Post Wolcott / Library of Congress

The historic Dew Drop Inn in Central City is in the midst of a revival. For many years it was the hot spot in the Jim Crow South where guests could catch a show, grab a sandwich, spend a night, and even get a haircut.

Thomas Walsh

People’s expectations about “entertainment” aren’t what they used to be. What passed for fun as little as 10 years ago can’t compete with the stimulating, instant gratification of our iWorld.

The owners of the Musee Conti Wax Museum know this too well: earlier this year they sold the building, which will close in January and be replaced by a set of condominiums. Sandra Weil gave tours there for nearly 30 years and shares the back story of the museum.

Historic New Orleans Collection

When Sal Impastato handed over the keys of the Napoleon House this past spring, it was an emotional moment.

Selling the business to restauranteur Ralph Brennan had been a difficult decision because the building had been in Sal’s family for generations – first as a grocery, then as a bar.

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