In a meeting at church last night, one of the elders reflected that whereas most of our lives, PK meant pre-kindergarten that now locally it means “pre-Katrina.” Katrina has become a point that permanently marks a before and after for the city. After the meeting, I began to ask myself, “Where would I go if I could journey back into the pre-Katrina New Orleans?” I came up with this list:

a. Ponchartrain Beach: New Orleans once had an amusement park that was like a small version of Six Flags. It had a great wooden roller coaster, a huge Ferris Wheel, a centrifugal force ride, and many others. Lots of memories.
b. Luigi’s Pizza: On the lakefront, there was a great old pizza place through the 60s and 70s that was really good.
c. The Robert E. Lee: A grand movie theater (back in the day when they only had one huge screen). We saw the Poseidon Adventure, the Towering Inferno, Star Trek the Motion Picture, and many movies, particularly on Christmas Day there.
d. K&B Drug Stores: They had everything, including a great old time soda fountain in many of them.
e. Lenny’s Records: Before Blu-Ray, before DVD, before CD…there were vinyl albums. And Lenny had whatever you were interested in.
f. Kolb’s, Ditcharos, Commercial, and many others: The CBD used to have many great restaurants from a famous German restaurant to many great poor boy shops.
g. Pelican Homestead: It was a great savings and loan with great customer service. I would go by every 14 days or so and get a printout to balance my checking account. Some of the old time banks would balk at this and say, “just balance your statement once a month like everyone else!” With our daily balancing on-line these days, it makes those memories particularly funny.
h. Superdome – as it was: I remember the dome in all of its 70s glitz…with its carpeted wide ramps, giant projection screens, and multicolored seating. It has been upgraded many times since but in its original format, I saw many a football game, rock concert, and even parade.

But, of course, the reason to “go” to all those places, at least in my mind, is because of the people who were with me back then and whom I miss now. Then again, if I could go back, I wouldn’t. Because going back would mean leaving all the people I love right now in New Orleans in 2010. And going back would erase so much good that has been done. Greater New Orleans in 2010 has plenty of merit all on its own. It’s just there are those I care for both before and after Katrina.

I trust in God to bring us all together in the end. In the meantime, happy memories of PK as we approach the fifth anniversary of Katrina.

All the best and until next time,

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