Trip to New Orleans

Mike and Judy Henderson
June 21, 2012 to June 25, 2012

My family, on my mother's (Laiche) side, organized a family reunion in New Orleans for Saturday, June 23. Judy and I traveled to New Orleans on Thursday and had a full schedule of events and visits with relatives and friends. 

We stayed at the Windsor Court hotel, a very nice hotel at the foot of Canal Street.  It's easy walking to the French Quarter or almost anyplace downtown.  The problem was that it was HOT in New Orleans - it was pretty tough to walk anywhere without getting all sweaty.  Here's a picture of the Windsor Court entrance.

As you first walk into the lobby, they have this enormous arrangement of roses - real roses.

I had communicated with a high school friend, Bill Culver, and we had arranged to have dinner with him and his wife, Cheri, Thursday evening.  Our flight didn't arrive in New Orleans until about 4:30 so we just had time to get to the hotel and check in before leaving for dinner.

Bill and Cheri took us to Tony Angello's restaurant on Fleur de Lis Drive, a very nice Italian restaurant in their neighborhood, and that's where these pictures were taken.

First, here's Bill, or as we always called him, Culver.

Cheri and Bill

Bill and me

Bill, me, Judy and Cheri

For Friday, I had made reservations at Brennan's for brunch and had invited Aunt Patsy to join us.  Brunch wasn't until 10:30 so we wandered around the French Quarter for a while first.  Here's Judy in Jackson Square, in front of Saint Louis Cathedral.

And then we went to Brennan's.  Brennan's is one of the old New Orleans restaurants, located in the French Quarter on Royal Street.  The only other time I'd gone to Brennan's was back in about 1973.  Back then, Brennan's was very formal - you wore a suit to go to Brennan's.  No matter when your reservation was for, they couldn't take you immediately and you'd sit on the patio sipping a New Orleans drink, like a brandy milk punch, a sazerac or a Ramos gin fizz.  Then the maître d' would come out to the patio and, in a loud voice, call out the reservation name.

Now, Brennan's relies on the tourist trade and tourists are not known for dressing up.  While Judy and I were waiting for Aunt Patsy we saw people (men and women) in shorts, flip-flops and tank tops coming into Brennan's, and being seated.

The food was only okay - not bad but not great either.  Certainly not worth the very high prices they charge.  The only reason I took Judy to Brennan's was so she would have the experience.  I doubt if we'll go back.

Patsy met us at Brennan's and we took pictures while we were there.  Here's Pasty and me.  Patsy was like a second mother to me so it was very, very nice to see her again and to spend some time with her.

And the three of us.

Later that afternoon, Judy and I went to the D-Day Museum.  It was close to closing so we only got to see a small amount of it.  This first picture is of me in front of a "Deuce and a half" - a 2 1/2 ton truck(capacity) - the truck is the one in the right side of the picture.  When I was an enlisted man in the army (in AIT and OCS), I was a truck driver and used to drive a more modern version of this to haul troops.  These pictures were taken with my cell phone so they're not as clear as the others taken with my regular camera.

And here's a couple more pictures, a Jeep and a Sherman tank.  I also drove jeeps during that time in the army - I never drove any tanks.

Friday evening we got together with my cousin Phil and his wife, Cindy, for dinner.  We went to a French restaurant on Magazine Street by the name of C'est la Vie. Here we are in the restaurant - me, Judy, Cindy and Phil.

Saturday was the reunion.  Lots of pictures were taken but I'm only going to post a few.  The others will probably be posted on a reunion page.

There were sixteen children in the Laiche family but only four are surviving - and here's a picture of those four.  From the left, Catherine, Theresa, Patsy, and Paul.

And here's a picture of the four surviving children and the descendants who attended the reunion.  I won't even try to identify everyone.

Getting closer to home, this next picture is of me and my sister, Eugenie (also known as "Madam").

And, a last picture of the reunion, this time of Judy and Eugenie.

On Sunday, some of the family met at Ralphs on the Park.  Ralph's is owned by a couple who are members of the Brennan family, but as far as I know, different people than those who own Brennan's on Royal street.  And while the food at the French Quarter Brennan's was quite ordinary, the food at Ralph's was excellent.

Here's the gang - from the left, Judy, Patsy, me, Boyle (my twin brother), Cindy, Phil, Cindy, John and Donna.

And a few closeups.  Donna and John

Phil and Cindy - sorry, Cindy - you got blasted by the flash and I couldn't correct it.

Twin brother Boyle and wife, Cindy

And Judy, me and Patsy.

Sunday evening, Judy and I drove to Destrehan for dinner with Madam and Donald.  We went to Michelle's on Loyola Drive in Kenner.  Michelle's used to be in the French Quarter across from Pat O'Brian's but they moved to Kenner about a month ago.  Michelle's was recommend by Donna and John, who told us to ask for "B", a waiter who works there - which we did.  The food was great - Madam had soft shell crabs, Judy had tilapia, Donald had shrimp stuffed with crab meat, and I had stuffed crab.  It was all very good.

We shared a bread pudding for desert.  It was perhaps the best bread pudding I've ever had.

Here's a picture at the restaurant with B.  From left to right, Madam, Judy, B, and Donald.

And here's a picture of the four of us - Madam, Judy, me, and Donald.  Those are alligator spring rolls that we're snacking on.

After dinner, the chef, Tho Nguyen, came out and talked with us, later joined by his wife.  He gave Donald a couple of pounds of frozen alligator tail meat and wouldn't let us pay him for it.  Very nice people.


When we left Donald and Madam, we took the Destrehan bridge across the Mississippi River and then drove the river road on the west bank to the Huey P. Long bridge, which runs from Bridge City on the west bank to Harahan on the east bank.  They're widening the traffic lanes on the Huey Long bridge but they're not finished yet - so the lanes were still very narrow.  Before this widening project, the lanes were extremely narrow - it used to scare me to drive across the Huey Long bridge. 

Once we crossed the bridge, we took the Jefferson Highway (which turns into Claiborne Ave) into New Orleans.

On Monday, we checked out of the hotel and headed toward Commander's Palace which is located in the garden district, close to Audubon Park (on Washington Avenue)  Across Washington from Commander's is Lafayette Cemetery #1, where the Henderson family's crypt is located. 

I had never seen the crypt and didn't know exactly where it was located but we went looking for it.  Turns out, it's on the main walkway from Washington, about 20 feet in, on the right side.

A few more pictures:

Then we went to Commander's for lunch.  The food and service was nice, but by then, Judy and I were restauranted out - too many good restaurants in too short a time.  But we enjoyed lunch.  Commander's has a very high reputation for their food.  A number of well known chefs in New Orleans trained at Commander's.  And the prices (at lunch) were reasonable for the level of the restaurant. 

Commander's is also owned by the Brennan family.

[Side comment:  My favorite restaurant in New Orleans is still Galatoire's in the French Quarter on Bourbon Street.  But we had gone to Galatoire's and Bayona last time Judy and I came to New Orleans and wanted to do other restaurants this trip.]

Here's an exterior shot of Commander's Palace.

And here's Judy and me in the main dining room.  We asked for seating in the Garden room but they were not seating in that room that day.

After lunch we went shopping for some gifts to take to friends back home, then to Cindy and Phil's house to change to more comfortable travel clothes.  We made it to the airport in time - although it was close - and the flight was uneventful.  We actually got to Los Angeles early.

And that was our trip to New Orleans.  We're going to have to diet seriously to get rid of the pounds we packed on eating ten days' worth of meals in four days.

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