Monday, September 05, 2005

Not another Katrina post....

This is not another Katrina post. It's just an update of My One and Only Katrina Post.

While those areas of New Orleans under government control like the Superdome quickly deteriorated into hellholes and civilization ceased to exist in large parts of the city, the folks in the Quarter seem to have kept their heads in a way that the rest of the city hasn't. (Coming through the storm and it's aftermath relatively unscathed no doubt goes a long way towards head-keeping, even in the absence of police 'protection,' running water, electricity, transportation, and other niceties of modern life.)

But this is only an update of my One and Only Katrina Post, and that post dealt primarily with Johnny White's Sports Bar, which stayed open throughout the hurricane and provided Quarter residents a place to go after the storm had passed and much of the city degenerated into chaos.

It seems that some found my admiration of the never-say-die spirit of Johnny White's somehow misplaced. "What sort of people would be 'living it up' at a bar at a time like that?" "Why weren't they out helping their fellow man?" And so forth.

I never did figure out what folks stranded in the French Quarter were supposed to do to help folks in other parts of the city. I thought their unflappabble, business-as-usual attitude was exactly what the situation called for. It's the sort of thing that maintains civilization in the face of adversity.

Anyway, here's the latest news from Johnny White's:

Johnny White's is famous for never closing, even during a hurricane. The doors don't even have locks.

Since the storm, it has become more than a bar. Along with the warm beer and shots, the bartenders passed out scrounged military Meals Ready to Eat and bottled water to the people who drive the mule carts, bus the tables and hawk the T-shirts that keep the Quarter's economy humming.

"It's our community center," said Marcie Ramsey, 33, whom Katrina promoted from graveyard shift bartender to acting manager.

For some, the bar has also become a hospital.

Tryphonas, who restores buildings in the Quarter, left the neighborhood briefly Saturday. Someone hit him in the head with a 2-by-4 and stole his last $5.

When Tryphonas showed up at Johnny White's with his left ear split in two, Joseph Bellomy - a customer pressed into service as a bartender - put a wooden spoon between Tryphonas' teeth and used a needle and thread to sew it up. Military medics who later looked at Bellomy's handiwork decided to simply bandage the ear.

"That's my savior," Tryphonas said, raising his beer in salute to the former Air Force medical assistant.

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Blogger Laurie said...

Thanks for keeping track of the Quarter. Great post!

Monday, September 05, 2005 3:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Susan in St. Paul said...

As the person who found your admiration somehow misplaced, I would like to point out that it was not the bar's never say never spirit I objected to but the admiration for people who would go to a bar before even checking on their neighbors. There were pictures shown online at that time of damage in the French Quarter, tumbled brick walls and stuff.
That was my objection. I am glad to hear that the bar has become more than a bar, some I admire a hell of a lot more.

Monday, September 05, 2005 9:53:00 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

There was only one tumbled down brick wall and the people who lived next door to it and who had stayed throughout the storm rushed over to check on their neighbor who had been inside at the time (it was what is called an out-building which was being renovated and was in bad shape). The neighbor walked out of the building unhurt. Other than some looting and minor flooding near Canal, that was the only damage I heard of in the French Quarter and I've been paying very close attention. I think that was why I was so surprised at your comments.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005 5:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Susan in St. Paul said...

Laurie- If you look back at Wang's original post, you will find that there is no mention that the couple checked on anything or anyone they just "found their way to Johnny White's Sports Bar before the winds even stopped blowing."
What was became known afterwards is irrelevant. I made my comments based on his original post and seeing the pictures from the french quarter on tv, since initailly that seemed to be all the media cared about.
I find Wang's second post about what the bar was doing afterwards much more admirable than a couple who makes their way to a bar "before the winds even stopped blowing."

Monday, September 12, 2005 12:03:00 PM  

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