I’ve embedded at the end of this post a picture of the house my beloved late wife Ellen and I lived in for our first seven years in New Orleans, starting way back in 1973.
This classic house had four apartments. Two on the first floor and two above. Our crib was on the second and third floors on the right hand side of the house.
Ellen and I enjoyed really good years in that old place.
Some hopefully interesting details about the house: The landlord said it was built in the 19th century by a rich sea captain for his beautiful young wife. At the time (and still true today after checking Google Maps) this was the only house in the surrounding area with three stories, and the captain included the “widow’s walk” balcony outside the third floor so his beloved could watch for his ship coming up the Mississippi River when he returned from whatever voyage he’d gone on.
As legend would have it, the captain raised a special flag to the top of the highest mast of his ship upon getting close to New Orleans so his wife, who must have spent a lot of time on the third floor balcony pining for his return, would know he would arrive home soon.
I don’t know if she would then rush to the kitchen to prepare red beans and rice with a side of gumbo. Maybe so, maybe no.
Ellen and I couldn’t see the Mississippi River from the third floor balcony when we lived there because the area had been developed to a point where the view was blocked, but The Father of Waters was probably about, maybe, a half mile directly in front of the house.
I swear this next part is true, though it might sound like a writer’s fabrication.
During our first month in this apartment on Tchoupitoulas Street, Ellen saw the ghost of the captain’s young wife in the middle of the night, standing over our bed and staring down at us, visibly angry.
Ellen was frightened and physically shaking when she woke me up to tell me what she’d just seen, that the captain’s wife was practically in a rage that we were in their bedroom.
That she held her pale white arms over her head, her hands twisted into angry and shaking fists!
“Her eyes were pinpoints of hatred,” Ellen explained. “I’ve never seen anyone so angry.”
Geez, I’m getting goosebumps right now revisiting this memory.
That was the only time anything that might have been supernatural occurred, thank goodness, but our apartment often seemed to vibrate with ancient memories from all those who had lived in it before us.
Almost fifty years have flown by as I type these words, and now I find myself alone with ancient memories.
I still occasionally dream about this apartment, a small but truly wonderful place for a young couple to call home in a crazy and fascinating city.
Oh, one more thing. At some point, the owner of the apartments in this historical home in New Orleans converted them into four condominiums, and the last time our little apartment of 960 square feet was up for sale at few years ago I vaguely recall the asking price was around $411,000.
We paid $175 a month rent in 1973, gradually going up to $250 when we moved right after Ellen got pregnant with our first son, Josh.
A buck sure doesn’t go as far as it used to, eh?