Subaqueous Ambition…………#112 (the 60’s)

Oklahoma City Municipal Airport

Braniff Airlines having commissioned nine Turbo Prop Electra 188’s from the Lockheed corporation,  the airliner presenting a Synoptic extension to its adroit fleet of accommodations.  Gary and Kaye Willson arriving at the air-marshaling Portland Avenue location to-board the craft,  embarking on a well-deserved excursion  to New Orleans.

           

Gary’s mother-in-law Helen Street and Kaye’s grandmother Sarah, would be the guardian of Scott, the couple’s 7 month old son, while they venture on a belated vacationing journey.   The late February winter dampness embracing the two on the tarmac before  mounting the steps of entry of the Braniff flight to Dallas love field and their connecting eastern airlines flight.    Aloft in the transient of the sky,  the uniformed stewardess having less than 30 minutes to offer refreshments before the first officer announced an early Dallas arrival.  The advent of being early found an unexpected Eastern Airlines 727 Whisper Jet about to depart for New Orleans.  A hurried rush to the departure gate,  the couple able to  preclude a scheduled layover,  the travelers once again airborne.

Eastern Airlines Whisper Jet

Eastern Airlines Whisper Jet

                       

The no Smoking and fasten Seat Belt insignia was on, the aircraft buffeting,  followed by the captain’s announcement,  “the weather conditions are for scattered thunderclouds with minor turbulence on our approach to New Orleans and for all passengers to remain seated with their seat belts fasten.”   The buffeting continued,  with the silhouetted darken clouds convening an invitation,  the streaking lightning lashing downward like an illuminated spear,  the craft seeming to shudder with the looming sounds of thunder.  The arcadia darken zenith miraculously parted,  bestowing a sun adorned tinsel blue sky,  the whisper jet descending on its terrestrial approach across the brackish water of lake Pontchartrain, the airborne craft achieving New Orleans international airport.   the couple disembarking,  discovering their french quarter Hotel a distant over 10 miles from the airport and a shuttle service non-existent.   The cab excursion was almost as heroine as the buffeting aircraft, the driver vocal with the horn,  the couple finding the driver to be native of New York city,  giving credence to the experience.

     

Their lodging destination finally attained,  Gary discovering the Monteleone  a very capacious hotel with many luxurious rooms and suites,  but with the couples limited budget, their reservations only provided for  diminutive accommodations in the stately Hotel.   The Monteleone known for its exclusive roof top dining area, accompanied with a separate aquatic natatorium,  a swimming area high above the french quarter.  The downstairs cocktail lounge with its highly ornament bar and decor premiered  illustrious past.  Gary soon finding that the novelty of the lounge was not only its decorative past, but incorporating some very modern attachments.   Upon waiting for Kaye he seated himself at the bar to observe  the highly anticipated televised fight between Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston.   His ascertainment for viewing  was short-lived,  turning from his view to order a beverage and resuming,  finding  the television had altered  positions,  only then,  he recognized the area the television  occupied hadn’t changed,  it was the bar that had moved,  realizing he was seated at a carousel bar

          

          

The nocturnal hours finding the two on a discovery venture of the French Quarter, dining at the  Vieux Carre’ on St. Charles Street.   The couple discovering the inaugural of a linen draped arm maître d’, attentive for service during the repast, and when questioned, suggested an impressionable cuisine and a introduction to a new frontier in white wine,  the respected German Liebfraumilch, labeled Blue Nun, the dining regalement was complete.   The later hours finding the couple  continuing their exploration,  a musical haven, the dixieland and jazz interpretations featuring the trumpet of AL Hirt famed by the hit  song Java, the clarinet of  Pierre Dewey LaFontaine junior  better known as Pete fountain, both having secured their own nightclubs.  A visit to preservation hall,  the home of the old reservation Dixieland band,  Gary was surprised, the structure looked to be in a state of disrepair,  the musicians somewhat resembling the building, but their music proving otherwise,  discovering it was all part of retaining the anastomotic appearance

             

the following morning found the Mississippi calling the inquisitive to bestow her portion of ambiguity and to demonstrate her warranted endowment.  The couple boarding the Delta Queen,  witnessing the churning of the steam-powered paddle-wheel,  the reflection of a past era crested with the ambiance of the river breeze.   The overwhelming nostalgic presence  interrupted by the motorized sound of the modern water craft passing  by,  their trailing wakes cascading shoreward.    An inspection tour of the riverboat’s dance hall,  the decorative pavilion parading the revelations of an accomplished generation,  nostalgia represented by the fruits of their labor and the simplicity of life found in a bygone era of the paddle-wheel riverboat.  The Mississippi,  the longest navigational  waterway in North America was contagious,  possessing a beckoning aura,  its wandering way and display never-ceasing and on occasion unveiling a hidden  aspect, the bayou’s.  The Delta humidity was first welcomed,  a contrast from the cold  February weather of Oklahoma,  but soon compounded its fame of notoriety as the couple embarked aboard another  vessel    .

Bayou Country         

The Mississippi,  the longest navigational  waterway in North America was contagious,  possessing a beckoning aura,  its wandering way and  display never-ceasing and on occasion unveiling a hidden  aspect, the bayou’s.  The Delta humidity was first welcomed,  a contrast from the cold  February weather of Oklahoma,  but soon compounded its fame of notoriety as the couple embarked aboard another  vessel.   Gary  was taken back with the bayou cruise craft,  expecting an open air pontoon boat for the two-hour tour,  but discovering a vessel equipped with an air-conditioned cabin.  The tour craft exiting the river, entering what seemed to be the uncharted passages that make up the bayou, the tour guide reiterating that strangers to the waterway have been known to never find their way out, all said with a folklore hint.   The visitor finding the  denseness of the foliage,  the non flowing water with its green look of  heaviness adding to a cloaked  landscape presenting a life forbidding picture,  except for the sounds of the wilderness habitat,  yet as they continued deeper,  coming into view  a ramshackle  building,  a residence for those  accepting these cloaked  surroundings as home,  a bayou dweller.

       

This renown New Orleans restaurant displayed a commanding cuisine  with a pristine reputation,  finding habitué ‘ journeying  from around the globe to savor the applauded ambrosial subsistence.  The baroque atmosphere, the attired attendants,  the baronial wine list,  all gave presence to its celebrated name.  The Oklahoma City couple seated in this historic room once enhanced with the carriage of the prominent,  an expectation of grandeur waiting to be served,  but soon discovering a discord of sound,  the bustle of commercialism, the waiters scurrying in this hurried realm to render a menu selection,  because their table was situated near the kitchen entrance,  the world famous acclaimed and highly promoted Antoine’s was a disappointment    .

Grayline tours New Orleans            

The Grayline tour at times was only somewhat interesting, one of the stops,  provided for the investigation of  the above ground tombs for the departed,  the burial aspects holding little interest to group.  The tour continuing to the non-affiliated  landmarks outside of the French Quarter and an exploratory example of antebellum citadels,  the Grayline group assembling to absorb the essence of the historic marvels, the ascending pillars echoing the aristocratic chateaus of the expired south.

     

t

he Willson’s departing from Grayline, the two visitors from Oklahoma in a self-administered tour of Jackson Square,  entering  the famous St Louis Cathedral, with its inlaid sculptor and paintings,  although undergoing several renovations throughout the past two centuries it still remains an icon in New Orleans history.   The evening hour found the two strolling through the french quarter, a  dining opportunity at The Court of Two Sisters,  a gated period decorated establishment with an impeccable reputation.

 

The evening about to culminate, a last accommodation,  a beverage  from Pat O’Brien’s.  Gary acknowledging,   a visit to  the French Quarter wouldn’t be  complete without an O’Brien’s famous Hurricane cocktail.   The Hurricane,  a rum and fruit juice mixture served by the green and white attired waiters in a hurricane lamp shaped souvenir glass, endowed with a logo and the Pat O’Brien name   .

    

The morning before leaving New Orleans, Gary desiring to quell a curiosity if the historic riverfront atmosphere he had perceived as a youth was true.   Even though suspecting that she would decline, he asked Kaye if she wanted to join him.  Gary leaving the Monteleone, walking the four blocks to Front Street, then north along the river acknowledging the massive commodity transports displaying the flags of innumerable nations, as well as the labor emissaries, the vessel crew members and  longshoremen. Gary noticing a local liquor bar adjacent to the waterfront being patronized,  becoming inquisitive, deciding to partake of its atmosphere   .

     

Without hesitation he entered the rustic riverside beverage oasis’, noting the  long counter with placement stools,  the tap handles of beer dispensers protruding above the bar, proclaiming an identity of what was on tap and  the rise of smoke from workers leveraged cigarettes.  a gruff looking personality fixture stood stationed behind the counter, the waterfront patrons, longshoremen,foreign accented seaman seated, satisfying their thirst.   Behind the bar rested gallon jars of condiments, assorted editable assemblages and on a bed of crushed ice was the premium delicacy, oysters on the half shell.  Gary’s entrance to the waterfront bar was purposeful,   a brief interlude to experience the surroundings,  the  smoked ambiance permeated with the odor of the river and the appearance of the occupants,  the atmosphere fulfilling a scene from a long forgotten seafaring movie.

    

The Oklahoma visitor seated himself at the bar, ordering a mug of dark German-beer, proceeding to order and  slurp-down a token amount of raw oysters, savoring a moment in time,  thus satisfying a once in a lifetime venture and a subaqueous ambition, a fitting finale to his New Orleans visit.  The Oklahoma couple once again traversing the sky Oklahoma City bound.

 

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