My fellow Army Engineer Officer Candidate School (OCS) classmates (516 Alpha Company), along with two of our Command officers had our 47th reunion in August last year in New Orleans, Louisiana, reuniting to reminisce not only about our 6 months of rigorous training, but also to catch up with old friends and remember those of us who are no longer here . . . several of whom did not return from Viet Nam with the rest of us in 1970.
Since I always like to explore a city’s architecture and unique cultural aspects, I flew down to the “Big Easy” a few days before our get-together and checked out several of the intown neighborhoods . . . The French Quarter and the Marigny District were only a short walk from our hotel, located at the end of Poydras Street and nearby Canal Street, along the Mississippi River.
The French Quarter
When one thinks of New Orleans, the French Quarter is at the top of everyone’s list; it is certainly deeply rooted in the history of the city and its culture, and for these reasons has become synonymous with New Orleans. Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral anchor the French Quarter at the river; and, famous Bourbon Street divides the district north and south. From an entertainment perspective, Bourbon Street is the tourist destination for the loud and rowdy crowd looking for an uninhibited good time among the throngs of visitors from all over the world. Restaurants, bars, art galleries, shops and other business and retail establishments line every narrow street, many of which are still paved in cobblestone. Some of New Orleans’ oldest and most famous restaurants are located in the Quarter and are landmarks of their own.
All that Jazz!
Bourbon Street is not the only place you can experience “the Blues” . . . it exudes out of almost every part of the city. New Orlean’s musical history includes its most famous statesman Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson, and a long list of jazz singers and musicians. Louis Armstrong Park, adjacent to the French Quarter on its northern boundary lays tribute to these two world-renown entertainers. Others, such as those shown in the slideshow below, are memorialized in other venues throughout the city.