Today was a day for repeats and relaxing. I misread my watch and overslept, getting up at ten when I thought it was nine. I wasn’t that interested in breakfast anyway, after crawfishpalooza, but I got some tea and strawberries and we got our touring underway.
We spent a good part of the day touring historic homes (and a historic convent, where an overenthusiastic docent cornered us and wouldn’t let us get away until she had told us the entire history of the church and its contents, plus a highly suspect account of the Battle of New Orleans (see above)). I feel well informed about the lives of wealthy residents of the French Quarter in the early- and mid-nineteenth century. For example, did you know:
- Houses had very high ceilings because heat rises, and some foolish people lived in New Orleans before the invention of air conditioning.
- The ‘daybed’ was for the lady of the house to use if she got tired during the day, because the mattresses were (all three of the tourguides told us this) ‘stuffed with horsehair and Spanish moss and had to be rolled out (by the slaves, of course) with a big wooden roller after each use.
- Said lady of the house would wash her own fine china, because said slaves might accidentally-on-purpose break a piece, possibly because there was no one to roll out their beds in the morning.
- Absolutely insane numbers of people lived in these big (but not that big) houses. One four-bedroom place housed thirteen people (not counting the slaves or their bedrooms).
- You are very glad you were born in the twentieth century.
One of the houses we visited was interesting both in that the woman who lived in it and restored it was a mystery writer (Frances Parkinson Keyes) who collected interesting things, and that our tour group contained possibly one of the most obnoxious women in the history of tour groups. When we were gathering to start the tour she asked if she could take pictures. The docent told her no, not inside the house, but she was free to take all thee pictures she wanted outside. Well, that wasn’t good enough for this lady, who waited until the docent was gone and then badgered the other one, our guide, into letting her take pictures anyway. I believe he said it was okay, as long as she didn’t use a flash. But I guess she just couldn’t get the pictures she wanted, because in a few minutes there she was, flashing away. And I’m not talking about a couple of snapshots here; this woman seemed determined to photograph every square inch of the house. (In Mom’s words, "It was like she was casing the joint for a robbery.")
The only other task on schedule for the day was a return to the shop where I had gotten the beads. I had spent a good part of the night thinking about one of the necklaces I hadn’t bought, with beads shaped like leaves on it, and I decided that a return trip was necessary. Unfortunately, eccentric stores run on eccentric schedules, and that one was closed Wednesdays and Thursdays. But I’m not giving up; I wrote down the address that shop hasn’t heard the last of me.
For lunch we had another mufalletta, because the first one was so good. Then we went back to the hotel and sat around and read for the rest of the afternoon, because, why not?