After reading James Guilbeau's great letter in 2018 opposing the building of a hotel by the tourist commission, I was disappointed to read the recent letter about the Claiborne Avenue corridor of Interstate 10 in New Orleans.
The last paragraph about our use of this monstrosity, which the expressway is to many of us, reminds me of how Blacks were described by slave owners — because they laughed and danced, “they were happy.”
We, as Blacks have had to make the best of many of the situations in which we have found and find ourselves. What you now see happening under the I-10 is making do of a bad situation. I lived near this corridor and enjoyed the beautiful oak trees and the businesses that were on Claiborne Avenue before the I-10. I shopped at Steve’s, got haircuts at Dave’s and worked through college at LaBranche’s Drugstore at the end of the 1950s and into the 1960s. In fact, I met my husband on Claiborne Avenue.
I bought my first child’s first shoes at Howard’s shoe store; made purchases at Reed Drugstore and of course Circle Food store; went to the Gant Beauty school for my friend to dress my hair and attended many a funeral in the numerous funeral homes along the avenue. These were thriving businesses and I have only named a few.
You may be correct in one respect, that time would have changed this avenue; but not to the extent that the building of the I-10 did. Throughout this country interstate highways were built right through Black neighborhoods. My cousins lost their home to one in Birmingham, Alabama.
If you didn’t live through this history, you will never know.
MERLE T. HARRIS