Every year on this special Tuesday, I think back to Mardi Gras 2006, the one after the floods following Hurricane Katrina nearly washed away the celebration, along with much of New Orleans.
Lady Katherine's sister Valeri had left her Royal Street apartment and headed north to Pennsylvania after Katrina, so she said we could use it.
So there we were at dusk on Lundi Gras, standing in front of the apartment — realizing we had left the key in Baton Rouge.
I looked down Royal Street, saw the lighted Hotel Monteleone sign, took a chance and called. They had two rooms left.
So on Mardi Gras morning we had eggs Benedict in our hotel room before heading out to the Zulu parade, our favorite.
The crowd was thin, but the people were unusually friendly, sharing Katrina survival stories and telling each other about stores, restaurants and bars that were open or about to open around town.
We chatted with one guy and his wife a while, and when some of his friends on a Zulu float came by, he got a treasured coconut for us.
Friends from Baton Rouge showed up, telling us of New Orleans people staying with them.
Later we strolled through the Quarter, seeing many familiar places still boarded up, and realizing that other parts of town had it much, much worse.
Of course we had fun — it was Mardi Gras, after all — but with the sad realization that lives were changed forever as that beloved old town struggled to recover.
The one encouraging sign was that no one we talked to — absolutely no one — suggested that Mardi Gras should have been called off that year.
"I saw the recent column about banana splits," says Dr. Joseph Biundo, of Metairie. "That prompted my recollection of the delicious banana splits we used to make in our family store, Biundo’s Drugstore, in Independence in the '50s.
"We lived above the drugstore, and basically grew up in the business. My sister, Geri, my brother, Bruce, and I all helped, waiting on customers, stocking merchandise, and cleaning.
"All three of us obtained pharmacy degrees, and I went on to medical school. Including in-laws, we had seven pharmacists and three physicians in the family.
"The banana split was served in a special dish, and consisted of a scoop of Brown’s Velvet chocolate ice cream covered with chocolate syrup; a scoop of strawberry ice cream topped with nectar syrup, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream covered with crushed pineapple, plus nuts and whipped cream, topped with a cherry. A whole banana was split and put lengthwise into the special dish.
"That entire feast cost only 35 cents. Those were the days."
A better mousetrap?
Alex "Sonny" Chapman, of Ville Platte, says, “ ‘Someone is always trying to build a better mousetrap' is a classic entrepreneurial slogan.'
"Well, let me tell you, I just had my first real-life experience with the 'new and improved' mousetrap. They’re advertised as being more humane and easier to use than the 100-year-old spring trap.
"The new gadget is a rectangular dish with super sticky scented gel. The vermin steps into the gunk and gets stuck like Br'er Rabbit in the tar pit.
"And then the fun begins. You’ve got to take the apparatus with the still alive mouse struggling mightily to get unstuck and figure what to do next.
"I carried it outside, being careful not to be mouse-bitten, and realized I had do what the old trap does for you in the trapping process — dispatch the mouse. Once sending him to Mouse Heaven, I had to unstick the carcass.
"I’m here to tell any consumer products organization that this is NOT a better mousetrap."
Special People Dept.
Dorothy “Dot” Hebert, celebrates her 97th birthday Tuesday, Feb. 25.
Quite a hike
Michael W. Tifft adds to our misheard song lyrics (aka mondegreens) collection:
"My daughter’s Australian boyfriend is being introduced to New Orleans’ culture.
"On hearing Fats Domino's 'Walking to New Orleans,' he heard 'Milwaukee to New Orleans.’ ”