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Keith John Paul Horcasitas

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A Streetcar Named Desire - Thanksgiving to God for Renewed Friendships
By Keith John Paul Horcasitas
Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rated "G" by the Author.

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A Streetcar Ride in New Orleans to get to a reunion with a long lost friend. Renewing a friendship with another volunteer. Sharing and making new memories in thanksgiving to God for all Blessings.

"A Streetcar Named Desire" - Thanksgiving to God for Renewed Friendships and All Blessings!

Recently, I went into New Orleans to visit with Maria, an out of town friend who was attending the annual NEA conference for teachers. Maria had wanted to take a short road trip to visit with us in Baton Rouge but couldn’t find any available rental cars. After doing some checking, I realized that the Essence Fest was occurring on that same weekend, so with all of the hotels being booked in the Big Easy, it was no wonder that renting a car was a very unlikely occurrence.

How could I get to downtown New Orleans from the Red Stick on a Friday after work to make it to the Palace Café on Canal Street for 6:30 PM? I didn’t want to have to pay $ 20 + just to park for a few hours like I had a few months earlier when I went to have lunch with Howard at NOLA, an Emeril restaurant, during one of the Jazz Fest weekends.

I really looked forward to getting with Maria for dinner, since we hadn’t seen each other for 32 years. We had both done volunteer work during the summer of 1978 per the Eucharistic Missionaries of St. Dominic and were assigned to help in outreach ministries at San Pedro Pescador (St. Peter the Fisherman) Church in Yscloskey – way down in St. Bernard Parish, which unfortunately was closed after all the devastation in that area from Katrina.

Maria and I had been a part of the volunteer program with about 12 others from around the country doing various church and social service assignments for the sisters. Being the only volunteer who was a native of ‘Yat’s town, it was fun at orientation and other gatherings to show the other volunteers around, such as to the French Quarter, Lake Ponchartrain and on an actual oyster dredging ride with some fishermen. I will never forget the sight of Patty regretfully eating a freshly shucked oyster from the bayou for the first time ever!

Like so many other people, we were able to track each other down per Facebook. While it has been fun to relay messages about our memories and stories online, there is nothing like being able to reunite after all those years. Since Maria’s hotel was in the French Quarter right off of Canal St., I picked the Palace Café, a Brennan restaurant, so it would be in walking distance for her and I’d always heard about their fantastic cuisine! Also, it is the site of the former Werlein’s Music Store, where I got my first guitar in 1973. The Epiphone that I got subsequently and still have was used a lot at Masses and outings during that summer volunteer service with the nuns.

With all the concerns on my mind about the terrible oil spill that is going on in the Gulf as I was anxiously awaiting this reunion gathering, I certainly hoped that I would still be able to get some oysters then, as we have been encouraged to support our state-wide fishing industry in whatever way we can. The online menu had noted fried and poached oysters, as well as something I hadn’t had in a long time, turtle soup with sherry, so I was really looking forward to the entire meal and get together!

So back to my herculean task of driving from Baton Rouge to New Orleans at rush hour on the Friday before the 4th of July in two hours, since I couldn’t get off work early – it all of a sudden hit me: why not park somewhere safe off the beat and track of the downtown area where I could take a streetcar and have a little more fun while saving a bunch of money? After getting out of the Red Stick at 4:20 PM fairly quickly per Airline Highway, Baringer Foreman and getting on to I-10 East to bypass most of the heavy traffic, I was on my way into the Big Easy in no time flat.

At about 6:10 PM, I found a great place to park right at a metered spot right off the St. Charles Ave/Barone Street Exit near Lee Circle in a well lit area by a gas station. And the greatest thing was that you didn’t have to feed the meter after 6 PM! No sooner had I parked my car, put the “club” on my steering wheel, rejoiced at not having to put any money in the meter or worry about a “Lovely Rita, Meter Maid,” as the Beatles noted on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band LP that I spied a street car coming nearby. So I dashed to the streetcar line pick-up spot about 1 block away wearing my “All American 4th of July” hat and only had to dish out $ 1.25 for the fun filled ride downtown about 1 ½ miles.

By 6:20 PM, I had disembarked the streetcar on Canal Street and walked a few blocks to the Palace Café and called back home to my wife who couldn’t attend the gathering that all was well! A few moments later, I was reunited with my long lost friend, and we had a blast catching up on old times and thanking God for all of His Blessings during that patriotic weekend. While the food was certainly scrumptious, especially the oysters, the fellowship and friendship renewal in the Lord was overwhelming. As I was departing the Café and wishing my “Godspeeds” to Maria, I headed back for another fun filled streetcar ride to my car to head back home. While it may have not been called “Desire,” that streetcar certainly filled all of mine that day!

Keith John Paul Horcasitas, 1133 Knollhaven Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70810, khorcasitas.yahoo.com, July 4, 2010.


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