The first stop on our escapade to New Orleans led us to the “Samuel Guy House” (SGH) in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Natchitoches is interesting for quite a few reasons: First, it’s the basis on which the city of New Orleans was conceived; it’s also the home of Northwestern State University of Louisiana — they’re called the Demons; and finally, it is home to the oldest cemetery in Louisiana.
The pronunciation of the town’s name is peculiar; it looks like it would be four syllables, yet indeed it’s only three. It’s pronounced Nack-o-desh. Established in 1714 by a Frenchman and named after the local indigenous Natchitoches American Indian tribe, it’s the oldest permanent settlement in the region.
My wife and I were enamored with the town, but we had to get down to Baton Rouge that evening for a meeting. Before we left, though, we checked out the SGH and spoke to its caretaker. Fortunately, the downstairs suite was available for a stay on our way back to Dallas from New Orleans later that week. It was getting close to Halloween and we were going to be staying in an 18th-century plantation house next to one of the oldest cemeteries in the country.
Meetings concluded in Baton Rouge, so we saddled up in the Porsche 911 for a high-speed drive down to New Orleans.
In the early 1900s there was a dance hall in New Orleans called “The Big Easy.” But the nickname did not become famous until later when a Louisiana newspaper writer began calling New Orleans by this name. She compared the easy-going way of life there to the hurried pace of life in New York City. In 1970, James Conaway wrote a crime novel called “The Big Easy.” The story was set in New Orleans. In 1987, that book was made into a film which made the nickname even more popular.
We had only one night in New Orleans. We’ve both been there many times, but this time we wanted to make it special and really savor the foods and the jazz. After checking into the hotel, it was already pretty late, so we Ubered over to the jazz bar of choice, Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub on Bourbon Street.
Scenes from the drive between New Orleans and Natchitoches.
The return route to Dallas brought us back through Natchitoches. We met a lot of the students working in the restaurants and bars — they were all super accommodating and polite. They all had stories, though, of the spiritual nature of the town and the NSU campus. Evidently ghostly encounters are the norm, on and off campus.
Before we departed Natchitoches, we spent some time in the cemetery next to the SGH. While there, we met a group from The Sons of the American Revolution. They were honoring the soldiers who were buried there after serving in the American war of independence. A fitting tie-in to Veterans Day, which occurred shortly after our journey.
Unfortunately, I did not have any run-ins with spirits, ill-willed or otherwise. A&A