Little Miss Tour Guide

Enjoy the latest story from the blog,
“Wrong Turns Write Life”

We took a cab to New Orlean’s Garden District for a tour of Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.  We had been warned not to explore cemeteries – even by day – unless you were with a group. Some are unbelievably huge, and every burial site is above ground because you can’t dig down and not hit water. This created a paradise for muggers.

We watched tour group after tour group gather and depart. Finally, a little old lady asked gravelly, “Are you my tour?”

Apparently so.

At first, I didn’t know what to make of our 81-year-old, four-foot-eleven guide. She was very kind and thanked us about 16 times for coming despite the rainy weather.

She stumbled and said, “That’ll happen when you have too much to drink in the morning.”

I hoped that she was kidding.

“Can I persuade someone to carry my bag for me?” she asked, giving puppy dog eyes to my teenage daughter. She looked around for help before reluctantly accepting and holding the lady’s purse.

This guide was good. She was really good. I could overhear some younger guides in nearby groups, and they had a command about them, but the information didn’t match the level of knowledge and style of delivery we were getting. She even wobbled over and corrected another tour guide from another company in front of his group. It was hilarious.

“Watch your step. Don’t trip,” she often cautioned like a grandma might.

“Did I say I’m really glad you all came even with the threat of rain?”

“I’m glad this is such a small group, so I can take my sweet time and just talk.”

Those were just a few quips of the many she dropped along the way. Her storytelling was much slower-paced and personable than the other guides buzzing about. Her tales were very interesting. We learned why burial sites were above ground and had multiple people laid to rest in each. She told us of movies like Interview with a Vampire that were filmed there.

“You can check these motion pictures out at your local library.”

We also learned the ins and outs of a jazz funeral. At times, people hung on the edge of our group, consisting of our family of four and one other lady. They were also hanging on our guide’s every word.

“You can join our group for just the cemetery portion of the tour for five dollars,” she’d bargain.

Every time, the freeloaders quickly disappeared.

We learned she was of Sicilian descent with some Irish, too. And we learned she could be feisty in an enduring way when she told us of a dashing young Spanish guide who once stole her tour.

“I wanted to wring his neck!”

As we walked the sidewalks of impressive mansions in the surrounding neighborhood, she told us about her chance meeting with actor John Goodman and other famous people who stayed at or owned this house or that.

During our leisurely walk with this wonder woman, she even described her personal experience living through Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath and recovery.

“We have a very nice young Spanish man in our neighborhood who is a contractor, and the other girls and I decided to go with him to rebuild our homes. All of us but Doris. Doris did her research and went with the best outfit. Our homes were done better than ever soon after, but poor Doris. Her people took her money and blew out of town with a job half done.”

When our 10-minute goodbye finally parted us, she pointed to where we could catch the St. Charles Streetcar to return to Canal Street. Halfway back, the streetcar stopped, and the operator explained that she couldn’t continue because it had lost its brakes. We waited a bit, and eventually, another streetcar came to rescue us.

By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun! 

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“Wrong Turns Write Life”