REMEMBERING NEW ORLEANS
The mighty Mississippi is like a satin belt cinched around the city of New Orleans. The French Quarter sits like jeweled ornaments attached to the edge of the wide brown sash.
Saturday mornings awake like an old man. Everything takes time. At the edge of the river the sternwheelers beginning to turn signal the day has begun.
The morning mist rising off the river revealed the merchants setting out their wares. The cool weather couldn’t dampen Artie’s reserve to show up. As he walked past the riverboats and got closer to the Plaza, the humid smell of muddy water and fish gave way to the enticing aroma of cinnamon beignets and steaming coffee brewed with a touch of chicory.
The French Quarter on Saturday mornings was Artie’s salvation. The sound of jazz and the happy activity kept him from thinking.
The Dixie 5 Band was waiting for him. They opened the large basket and placed it in front of the drummer. The band began to play as if they were hosting a wake.
Artie looked especially dapper wearing a pale pink sport coat. He wore it unbuttoned over his white linen pants. His silver hair was perfectly combed.
Admirers would toss bills and coins and Artie would pick them up and two-step up to the basket and plop them in. His light-hearted attitude spread from person to person causing foot tapping and hand clapping that urged Artie to leap higher and twirl faster. His brown and white saddle-shoes seemed to be tapping out his destiny.
People draped in plastic purple Mardi Gras beads and bright colored jester hats began to circle around and join in with the dancing and clapping.
The band stopped for a few seconds and the leader said,
“Hey Artie, Flo’s here.” He gestured with his saxophone, toward the crowd.
Artie turned and shuffled up to a white-haired lady in a crisp pink shirt.
“Hey, Flo, looks like we belong together.”
He bowed and extended his hand, “Shall we?”
The sultry notes of Do You Know what It Means to Miss New Orleans poured out of the trumpet. Artie whisked Flo into his arms embracing the memory of her scent of lavender. He kissed her forehead.